When John “Jack” Joseph Savage, Jr. was born on 11 April 1920, in Polo, Ogle County, Illinois, his father, John Joseph, was 25 and his mother, Margaret “Blackburn” Savage, was 19. John’s father died on 28 June 1921 just a few months past his first birthday. John was raised by his widowed mother thru the 1930s according to Census records. By 1940 John’s mother had remarried to Robert Donald Doyle where John is still living with them in Polo, IL listed as John J Savage (step-son).
During 1941 John attended classes at the University of Illinois seeking a degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences. On 13 December 1941 John enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Called to active duty he would go on to become a Naval Aviator and pilot of a TBM-1C Avenger. Stations of record include but are not limited to Naval Air Station (NAS) Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Assigned to Air Group EIGHTEEN, Torpedo Squadron EIGHTEEN (VT-18) at NAS Hilo, Hawai’i, and NAS Kanehoe, Hawai’i training and awaiting orders to board USS Intrepid (CV-11).
On 8 March 1943 John “Jack” Joseph Savage, Jr was married to Jean Bond Gelein at St Anthony Catholic Church. 901 NE 2nd St Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jean was originally from Albany, NY and currently employed with the War Censorship Dept. Miami Fl. John and Jean would have one son named Michael Savage; postwar Jean and her son continued to reside in North Miami with Michael attending, North Miami Senior High School in 1960.
Air Group EIGHTEEN departed Pearl Harbor on 16 August 1944 aboard USS Intrepid. On 6 September 1944 the group launched its first fighter sweep and strike against the enemy at Babelthuap Island, Palau. On 8 September 1944, Lt (jg) John ‘Jack’ Joseph Savage was piloting TBM-1C Avenger, Bu No. 16923 on a bombing mission against Japanese positions on Babelthuap Island, Palau. As the aircraft reached the target area, Savage began a dive near Bokerugeru Point, coordinates 7.447181, 134.462525 and the crew released its 2,000-Lb bomb too low. While attempting to pull out of the dive, the bomb hit an ammunition/fuel dump and exploded. The explosion tore the tail from the aircraft, causing it to crash off-shore. All witnessed by other members of the VT-18 squadron.
Lt Savage and his crew ARM2 (radio) Albert Peter Rybarczyk and AOM2 (gunner) Ora H Sharninghouse, Jr. were reported missing in action, one year later declared dead. More recently (2014) local witness statements record that Lt Savage bailed out, then swam to shore only to be captured and executed by the Japanese.
The wreck site of Lt Savage’s TBM-1C Avenger, Bu No. 16923 has recently been located in a cooperative effort between Bent Prop and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego with support from the University of Delaware; known as Project Recover. This effort has permitted via advisory to the U.S. Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) the identification of both Rybarczyk and Sharninghouse with the recovery of their remains and return to their families in the United States. Lt (jg) Savage remains missing in action for now (24 Dec 2017) shore searches for his remains continue.
Lt (jg) Savage’s TBM-1C Avenger, Bu No. 16923 crewmember memorials
ARM2 (radio) Albert Peter Rybarczyk
AOM2 (gunner) Ora H Sharninghouse, Jr
Ancestory.com: Savage Family links
Newspapers.com: Savage Family links
TBM-1C Avenger, Bu No. 16923 wreck site discovery video here:
For those with fold3 access, USS Intrepid War Diary has a Lt (jg) Savage final mission description starting here:
VT-18 War Diary again with fold3 access, Savage crew specific:
University of Illinois veteran alumni project (source of Jill; F-A-G #46848524 image and content; unknown origin of the Lt (jg) Savage image from this source)
Air Group 18 Photo courtesy (Lloyd E. Karch Collection (AFC/2001/001/03798), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress)
Air Group 18 image caption; Intrepid Aviators: The American Flyers Who Sank Japan's Greatest Battleship
By Gregory G. Fletcher and photo courtesy Mrs Mildred Schonthaler
USS Intrepid (CV-11) image collection
Gravesite Details Entered the service from Illinois.