First published in Pasadena Star-News Local News on 1 January 1945
ENS W. C. Brooks, Jr. - Pasadena flyer who took part in heroic attack on strong Jap Task Force.
(The following account of the discovery of the Japanese fleet off the coast of Samar in the Philippine Islands the morning of October 25 has been officially released by the Navy. The ensign has been home on leave visiting his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Brooks, 940 Arden Road, since December 4 and is to report this week at Jacksonville, Florida to take over the training of a new combat team which he will command when it joins its carrier - Editors Note)
An eye-opening sight greeted Ens. William C. Brooks, Jr., pilot of a Navy Avenger torpedo bomber, as he swooped out of a cloud while on anti-submarine patrol on the now-eventful morning of October 25.
Operating off the coast of Samar as a member of Composite Squadron 65, based on the little escort aircraft carrier, USS ST LO, Ensign Brooks hastily flipped his radio switches as he continued to ogle what was blow him on the water of the calm Pacific.
"Enemy surface force consisting of four battleships, eight cruisers, and 12 destroyers, 20 miles astern and now closing on you!" he shouted into the microphone.
It was that message, from the Pasadena Navy airman which began a wild day's action for the tiny group of Hellcat fighter pilots and Avenger torpedo plane crewmen. It was on October 24 (in the U.S.) that his handful of air fighters, making up Composite Squadron 65, performed almost incredible deeds of combat in a vain effort to save their little carrier.
Brooks circled the whopping Jap sea force again to count the ships. Hastily computing their course and speed anew, he radioed the additional information to his carrier. Then, despite the fact that he carried only a small load of depth charges, customary cargo for anti-sub patrol, he plunged in to attack the force, and roared down on a heavy cruiser which he smacked squarely with his "ash-cans."
Three other pilots of his squadron were nearby, and they plunged down through the Jap flak to drop their bombs. Ensign Brooks then landed aboard another small carrier for repairs and was held there while awaiting their completion.
As aviation machinist's mates rushed the repair job, Ensign Brooks again roared into the fight, this time with two other Avenger pilots. The Trio crossed directly on the bows of the oncoming Jap fleet.
One of Ensign Brooks' wingmen scored a torpedo hit on a heavy cruiser, the other lost his torpedo when his bomb-bay latch gave away and Ensign Brooks, diving in a completely unorthodox fashion, dropped his torpedo directly amidships into a battleship. So low was his pullout from the torpedo run that his two crewmen were able to strafe the vessel's decks with their machine guns.
Pulling away from the flak - spouting battleship, Brooks headed for a heavy cruiser, making a dummy run. He flew over the cruiser and sped by a destroyer, flying all the time through a steel curtain of flak. Not a scrap touched his airplane.
Two other Southland men, both from Los Angeles, also flew with Composite Squadron 65. They are Ens. Harry J. Hall, USNR, 4447 Cromwell Avenue, and Edwin Berstein, aviation ordnanceman first class, 638 North Genesee Street.
Although achievements of its personnel October 24 overshadow those of the rest of the squadron's cruise, the unit had been in the Pacific combat zone since the Saipan operation in June.
Its fighter pilots shot down 16 planes involving strikes against ground targets in offensive and defensive air patrols at Tinian, Morotai and Leyte, as well as Saipan.
Although all squadron and group records went down with the ship, it is estimated that the small unit destroyed 48 trucks, 22 supply dumps, 19 ammunition dumps, 53 heavy and medium gun positions, two locomotives, two small cargo ships, nine barges, eight tanks and armored cars, and seven coast defense guns.
The squadron's 1200-odd sorties involved more than 4800 hours of combat flying and about 1900 carrier take-offs and landings.