Atwell, Melvin Kenneth, LT

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1941-1943, 131X, VP-91 Black Cats
Service Years
1942 - 1943

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Tommy Burgdorf (Birddog), FC2 to remember Atwell, Melvin Kenneth, LT.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Norfolk, VA
Last Address
1911 Llewellyn Ave
Norfolk, VA
(Wife~Helen Gwendolyn Atwell)

Casualty Date
Mar 05, 1943
Non Hostile- Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Sea
Pacific Ocean
World War II
Location of Interment
Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial - Honolulu, Hawaii
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Court 5 (Cenotaph)

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 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
VP-91 Black Cats
  1941-1943, 131X, VP-91 Black Cats
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1945 World War II
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Cape Esperance (Second Savo)
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Apr 14, 1942, War Time Service Entry Date & Serial Number O-148987
  Oct 01, 1942, Promoted to Lieutenant
  Mar 06, 2017, General Photos1
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Enroute Oahu to San Diego, Ca was Forced  to land at sea for unknown cause. Only information available relayed to another plane in flight. The other pilot states plane seen to spiral towards water. landing not observed. Plane and crew missing: Crew: Pilot. LT Samuel I. Ogden, LT Melvin K. Atwell, CAP John K. Koons, AMM1 Larned A.Carter, RM2 G. L. Young, AMM3 Frank K. O'Malloy, RM3 Thomas W. Adams and LT Abbott H. Hastings. 

Name of Award
Navy Cross
Year Awarded
Details behind Award:
Awarded for actions during World War II

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Melvin Kenneth Atwell (NSN: 0-148987), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Commander of a Navy Patrol Plane in Patrol Squadron NINETY-ONE (VP-91), in action in the Solomon Islands on 27 October 1942. At about 0030, PBY airplane 91-P-4, Piloted by Lieutenant Atwell, contacted a suspicious object about 30 miles distance. He closed to a point where the dark outline of a large ship could be seen moving in an easterly direction at a high speed. Shortly after contact the ship moved under a 1,500 foot overcast and stopped. Lieutenant Atwell circled over the ship twice at low altitude in an unsuccessful attempt to identify it. He then climbed back to 1,500 feet and at 0150 when about two miles from the ship the plane was fired upon by two bursts of 20-mm. followed by a 5" AA projectile which burst under its starboard wing. Lieutenant Atwell decided upon a dive bombing attack and attacked immediately from about 1,400 feet as the ship opened up with heavy anti-aircraft fire and commenced to gain headway. The Co-Pilot, Lieutenant Mather, dropped the two starboard 500-pound contact bombs at about 650 feet altitude. These bombs landed about 75 feet on the target's starboard quarters. The Pilot released the two port bombs of the same type at about 600 feet altitude while still in a dive. Both bombs were seen to explode abaft the first stack of the target which was illuminated by the explosion and identified as a Japanese heavy cruiser of the AOBA class. All anti-aircraft fire ceased after the last two bombs hit. The plane suffered numerous but not serious hits from shrapnel and the concussion from the bombs exploding blew out radio tubes and lights. Recovery from the dive was affected at about 20 feet above the sea. No personnel were injured. The pilot suspected gasoline leaks and immediately headed for his base. About 20 minutes later a large orange flash was seen in the vicinity of his former target. About ten minutes later a larger and more prolonged orange flash was seen in the same position. The plane and crew returned safely. Lieutenant Atwell's outstanding courage, daring airmanship and devotion to duty in single-handedly attacking an enemy ship in open waters were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
General Orders: Commander Southern Pacific Forces: Serial 020 (January 7, 1943
Action Date: 27-Oct-42
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Squadron: Patrol Squadron 91 (VP-91)
 Military Association Memberships
World War II FallenThe National Gold Star Family RegistryWWII Memorial National RegistryUnited States Navy Memorial
  2017, World War II Fallen
  2017, The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2017, WWII Memorial National Registry
  2017, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
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