ENS Wesley Frank “Wes” Osmus

ENS Wesley Frank “Wes” Osmus

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 4 Jun 1942 (aged 24)
At Sea
Burial Body lost at sea, Specifically: Killed by members of Japanese destroyer Arashi crew and thrown overboard
Memorial ID 173743212 · View Source
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Otto William Osmus and Louisa Caroline Peters were married about 1911. Otto was an electrician and worked in steel mills. They had at least two children; Wesley Frank and William H. Osmus. Both sons were WWII naval officers.

Wesley attended and graduated from Bowen High School in Chicago on 10 Jun 1936. His nickname was Wes and his high school activity resume included: Football, '34; Swimming, '34, '35, '36; Civics Forum, Treas; Bird Boosters; Star English, 3B; Student Board; B.A.A.; Catalyzers; Chess Club; Hall Guard; National Honor Society. He was a very active and bright student. After high school Wes attended the University of Illinois.

Wesley enlisted in the US Naval Reserve on 26 March 1940. He completed his preliminary flight training and was designated an Aviation Cadet on 4 Sept 1940. He completed his primary and intermediate flight training and advanced squadron training with the fleet before being designated a naval aviator on 25 March 1941. He was commissioned an Ensign, A-V(N), USNR on 3 April 1941 (date of precedence). Between 12 April - 14 Aug 1941 he was assigned to the Fleet Air Detachment, San Diego. On 15 Aug 1941 he was transferred to Torpedo Squadron Three (VT-3) embarked on the USS Saratoga (CV-3). After the Saratoga was torpedoed in early January 1942, she returned to the West Coast for repairs. Over the next five months, Torpedo Three was transferred to several naval air stations on Hawaii. Finally, on 28 May 1942, VT-3 was transferred to the USS Yorktown (CV-5). About a week later on 4 June 1942 Ensign Osmus and his gunner ARM3 Benjamin Ross Dodson, Jr. launched from the USS Yorktown (CV-5) with other elements of the Yorktown air group to attack the Japanese Striking Force approaching Midway. Although they had some friendly fighter protection VT-3 had to thread their way through a gauntlet of swarming enemy fighters and a hail of anti-aircraft fire. Of the twelve VT-3 planes that took off from the Yorktown that morning only two survived the attack. Ens. Osmus and Petty Officer Dodson did not return from this mission*, and they were listed as missing in action on 4 Jun 1942. Their remains were unrecoverable. On 5 Jun 1943 they were presumed dead. Ens. Osmus was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart.

* The actual fate of Ensign Osmus was not learned until after the end of WWII when US intelligence officers began debriefing Japanese participants in the battle of Midway. It was learned that Ensign Osmus apparently bailed out of his aircraft and was fished out of the water by the crew of the Japanese destroyer Arashi.** After he was threatened he provided information about US forces. After the interrogation he was taken back to the stern of the ship. Realizing that he was going to be thrown back into the water he grabbed onto a life railing. At that point a crewman grabbed a fire axe and struck Ens. Osmus in the head killing him. His body fell into the water and disappeared. It is believed that Petty Officer Dodson was killed by enemy fire or died when the plane crashed into the sea.

** The Arashi unwittingly led a group of US dive bombers to the Japanese fleet. After driving off the submarine USS Nautilus who had attempted to attack the Japanese Carrier force earlier that morning, the Arashi was racing to rejoin the main Japanese force. High above, Lcdr Wade McClusky was leading Enterprise's air group of 36 dive bombers which were running perilously low on fuel and had not been able to find their target, the Japanese fleet. Then McClusky spotted the Arashi's bow wake. He guessed that the ship was heading back to rejoin the Japanese carriers. He was right. They changed course and followed Arashi. A short time later three Japanese carriers were in flames after being attacked by these very same bombers.
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Ensign Wesley Frank Osmus, United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane of Torpedo Squadron THREE (VT-3), attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN (CV-5), during the "Air Battle of Midway," against enemy Japanese forces on 4 June 1942. Participating in a Torpedo Plane assault against Japanese naval units, Ensign Osmus, in the face of tremendous anti-aircraft fire and overwhelming fighter opposition, pressed home his attack to a point where it became relatively certain that, in order to accomplish his mission, he would probably sacrifice his life. Undeterred by the grave possibilities of such a hazardous offensive, he carried on, with extreme disregard for his own personal safety, until his squadron scored direct hits on two enemy aircraft carriers. His self sacrificing gallantry and fortitude were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 309 (December 1942)
His family also received a commemoration in honor from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It reads: In grateful memory of Wesley Frank Osmus, who died in the service of his country, SEA, Pacific Area, ATTACHED U.S.S. YORKTOWN 5 JUNE 1943 (Presumed)*. He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live and grow and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, he lives -- in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.

(Signed) Franklin D. Roosevelt,
President of the United States of America

(*Presumed dead on 5 Jun 1943. Actual date gone missing was 4 Jun 1942.)
Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) - 11 Jul 1942, Sat - Page 4
2 Chicago Boys Serving in Air Forces Missing

Lieut. Wesley F. Osmus, 23 years old, who when last heard from was a flying officer on an aircraft carrier, is missing in action in the Pacific, the navy yesterday notified his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Otto Osmus, 10330 Ewing avenue. Osmus played football at the University of Illinois and with south side professional teams. He was graduated from Bowen High school. A brother, Lieut. William H Osmus, is with the navy signal corps in Baltimore.
Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) - 04 Nov 1943, Thu - Page 14
Midway Hero’s Mother Will Sponsor Ship
Mrs. Louisa Osmus, 10330 Ewing avenue, mother of the late Ensign Wesley E. (sic) Osmus, navy flyer, will be the sponsor of a destroyer escort vessel named in his honor which will be launched today at the yards of the Defoe Shipbuilding company, Bay City, Mich. Ensign Osmus, 25 years old, was posthumously awarded the navy cross and citation by the President for gallantry in a torpedo plane attack on Japanese warships in the battle of Midway. He disregarded his own safety in engaging a superior number of enemy air fighters and his squadron scored direct hits on two Jap aircraft carriers.
USS Osmus (DE-701) was a Buckley class destroyer escort named after Ensign Wesley Frank Osmus. Ship was launched on 4 Nov 1943 and sponsored by Mrs Louisa Osmus, mother of Ens. Osmus. Commissioned on 12 Feb 1944. Decommissioned on 15 Mar 1947. One battle star (WWII).
Combat Action Ribbon (CAR) note:
None of the flight crews in the Battle of Midway were eligible for or awarded the Combat Action Ribbon (CR). See Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual (SECNAVINST 1650.1H of Aug 22, 2006, Chapter 2, Section 3, p2-34). It reads in part, “The CR will not be awarded to personnel for Aerial Combat, . . . “
[bio compiled by G47]

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  • Created by: G47
  • Added: 10 Dec 2016
  • Find A Grave Memorial 173743212
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for ENS Wesley Frank “Wes” Osmus (2 Feb 1918–4 Jun 1942), Find A Grave Memorial no. 173743212, ; Maintained by G47 (contributor 47281148) Body lost at sea, who reports a Killed by members of Japanese destroyer Arashi crew and thrown overboard.