Second Lieutenant Elwood Ray Bailey

Insignia of VMF-223, “Bulldogs”

Service Number: O-010347

Birth and Early Life:
Elwood Bailey was the only son of Ray and Lula Bailey of Parma, Michigan. He was born around the year 1921.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
On June 26, 1941, Bailey was sworn in to the United States Navy. He was accepted into the aviation training program in Miami, passed his qualifications in Jacksonville, and was awarded a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.

Wartime Service:
After the outbreak of the war, Bailey was sent to Ewa Field in Hawaii, where he became a member of VMF-223 – the Bulldogs. Bailey, who was recently married, complained that he had only been able to spend one night with his wife. (1) In July, 1942, the squadron embarked upon the USS Long Island  and sailed for the Solomons. They flew from the carrier to the recently captured and completed Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, to the hearty cheers of Marines on the ground – they were the first fighter support to arrive on the island.

Date Of Loss:
The air raid siren blared across Henderson Field at around 1400 hours on August 24, 1942. A Japanese flight of 15 bombers, escorted by 12 Zero fighters, was on its way. VMF-223 quickly scrambled as many planes as possible, and intercepted the enemy at 1425. The first wave released its bombs with little effect, and the second was stopped altogether by the Wildcat fighters. Nearly every American who flew that day scored a hit; many had one or more confirmed kills.

Lieutenant Elwood Bailey was seen to flame two Zeros before breaking out of the fight. (2) His smoking Wildcat, F4F-4 02095, headed out to sea, and the pilot was observed bailing out near the occupied island of Tulagi, but he never returned to American lines. (3)

Next Of Kin:
Wife, Mrs. Elwood Bailey

Status Of Remains:
Lost at sea

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
(1) Wilcox, Richard. “Captain Smith And His Fighting 223” Life Magazine December 7, 1942. Page 121.
(2) Ibid page 124.
(3) Lundstrom, John B. First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign pg 118.

3 thoughts on “Second Lieutenant Elwood Ray Bailey

  1. I’m 2nd Lt. Bailey’s great-nephew and, as it happens, a Naval aviator myself. I’ve just learned more about Elwood in 2 minutes on this page than in 200 pages of reading his military record and correspondence to his parents and next of kin over 20 years following the war. Thank you for this site and for distilling research on these Marines from hundreds of books and magazines that I would not have time to read myself. This is an incredible service to the families. Take care and God bless.

    Scott Tompkins

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