Sanko, Joseph Daniel, LT

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Last Rank
Last Primary NEC
6302-LDO Pilot
Last Rating/NEC Group
Limited Duty Officer
Primary Unit
1952-1952, 6302, USS Valley Forge (CV-45)
Service Years
1942 - 1952

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Sheila Rae Myers, HM3 to remember Sanko, Joseph Daniel, LT.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
New Salem, PA
Last Address
90 Millview St
Uniontown, PA

Casualty Date
May 13, 1952
Hostile, Died
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Korea, North
Korean War
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
MH,0,487 (memorial)

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 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Lieutenant Sanko was a decorated veteran of World War II. In Korea, he was the pilot of a F4U-4 Corsair fighter with Fighter Squadron 653, aboard carrier USS Valley Forge (CV-45). On May 13, 1952, while on a combat mission over north of Munchon, North Korea, his aircraft suffered a direct hit by a 37mm shell, lost its wing, crashed and burned. His remains were not recovered.

Service number: 407105

Silver Star citation:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Joseph Daniel Sanko (NSN: 0-407105), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in combat as a pilot of a fighter plane in Fighter Squadron SIX HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE (VF-653), attached to U.S.S. VALLEY FORGE (CV-45), during action against enemy North Korean and Chinese Communist Forces over hostile North Korean territory on 13 May 1951. While carrying out a special interdiction mission against vital enemy locomotives located in the most heavily defended sections of Northeast Korea, Lieutenant Sanko, with a division of Corsairs, relentlessly pressed home repeated attacks in the face of a storm of heavy, medium, and light caliber anti-aircraft fire to destroy a locomotive, tender and sixteen boxcars, and severely damage a second locomotive in the vicinity of Hamhung. He continued his unrelenting pursuit of the enemy targets by flying low altitude through Kowon, an area normally prohibited to friendly aircraft because of the tremendous concentration of fire power, in his search for a reported train. Despite the fact that he was instructed by Commander Task Force 77 to proceed to the Munchon areas only at his own discretion because of the formidable array of anti-aircraft batteries surrounding that strategic location, he continued without hesitation to that village, and with his flight commenced an attack upon the train located there. During this coordinated attack upon the locomotive and the defending gun positions, Lieutenant Sanko, completely heedless of the vicious barrage of withering 37-mm. and 20-mm. fire, pressed home a ferocious and determined attack upon a battery of five 37-mm. weapons, to protect the other aircraft of the flight and enable them to carry out bombing assaults against the trains. Because of the tenacity and boldness of his attack, Lieutenant Sanko's aircraft was hit at a low altitude, causing the plane and pilot to crash into the ground. It was largely through Lieutenant Sanko's unselfish devotion to duty which caused him to press home his attack with such bold determination that he lost his life, that the enemy batteries were sufficiently suppressed to permit the flight to completely destroy one locomotive and tender and inflict severe damage upon a second. His intrepidity and gallant courage in the face of the gravest odds are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service and his Nation for which he gave his life.
General Orders: Board Serial 771 (September 5, 1952)
Action Date: May 13, 1952
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Company: Fighter Squadron 653 (VF-653)
Division: U.S.S. Valley Forge (CV-45)

Distinguished Flying Cross citation:
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Lieutenant Joseph Daniel Sanko (NSN: 0-407105), United States Navy, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while serving in Squadron SIX HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE (VF-653), embarked in U.S.S. VALLEY FORGE (CV-45), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 1 January 1952.

General Orders: All Hands (February 1953)
Action Date: January 1, 1952
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Company: Fighter Squadron 653 (VF-653)
Division: U.S.S. Valley Forge (CV-45

The information contained in this profile was compiled from various internet sources..
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Naval Aviator Wings

 Duty Stations
USS Yorktown (CV-5)VF-653USS Valley Forge (CV-45)
  1942-1942, 6302, USS Yorktown (CV-5)
  1949-1952, 6302, VF-653
  1952-1952, 6302, USS Valley Forge (CV-45)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1945 World War II
  1952-1952 Korean War
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Apr 19, 1950, Application for WWII Compensation1
  May 13, 1950, Korean War Casualties 1950-1957
  May 13, 1952, Korean War casualty listing
  May 15, 1952, Local Officer War Casualty1
  Jul 07, 1954, Saga of Lt. Sanko Appears in Magazine1
  Mar 04, 2003, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial
  Apr 04, 2005, Letter from Kathy Sanko Fennell
  Jan 04, 2013, The Ordeal of VF-653
  Aug 04, 2017, Korean War Memorials
  Aug 04, 2017, General Photos3
  Aug 18, 2017, WW2 draft card information
 Military Association Memberships
The National Gold Star Family RegistryKorean War FallenUnited States Navy Memorial
  2017, The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2017, Korean War Fallen
  2017, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
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