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One of the many Naval Academy graduates to become an ace, George Duncan shot down 13.5 Japanese airplanes while flying with VF-15 off carrier Essex, gaining all his victories in the latter part of 1944.
George Chamberlain Duncan was born on 11 February 1917 in Tacoma, Washington and graduated from the USNA at Annapolis in June, 1939. After two years on the battleship West Virginia, he was accepted for flight training at Pensacola. He earned his wings in mid-1943, but did not join VF-15 on carrier Essex until September of that year. Flying Hellcats, he ultimately flew 54 missions, but did not score his first victory until 15 June 1944, when he shot down a Zero over Iwo Jima.
A few days later, on June 19, during the famous "Marianas Turkey Shoot," he claimed three more Zeros. He made ace on September 12, when he destroyed two more Zeros over the Philippines. The very next day, again over the Philippines, he claimed one Oscar, one Nate, one Betty bomber, and shared credit for another, running his total to 9.5. In late October and early November, he shot down four more Jap fighters; his final aerial victories -- a total of 13.5
He made a career of the Navy, rising to command VF-51 and Air Group 5 during the Korean War. Apparently he also survived a crash of an F9F Panther on the Midway in June 1951.
In July 1951, when the photographed accident occurred on USS Midway, the carrier was in the Mediterranean, VF-21 flying its F9F Panthers. Duncan's brief entry in the American Aces album did not mention the incident, nor his service with VF-21, but I cannot imagine that there were TWO naval aviators named George Duncan with the rank of Commander at that time.
Later in his career, as a Captain, he commanded the carrier USS Ranger, a coveted assignment and a fitting capstone to a distinguished naval career. He retired from the Navy in 1968 and went into law. He passed away in 1995.
Tally Record: 13.5 confirmed
Decorations: Navy Cross, Silver Star, DFC