Corporal William Ray Proffitt

Insignia of VMSB-232, the Red Devils.
Insignia of VMSB-232, the Red Devils.


Service Number: 311714

Birth and Early Life:
William Proffitt was born around the year 1926 in McCarney, Texas. His parents, truck driver William Sr. and Essie (Gotcher) Proffitt split in the mid-1930s; William dropped the “Junior” suffix and went to live with his mother and her new husband, John Tutt, in Greggton.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Proffitt left home at a very young age, enlisting in the Marine Corps on May 31, 1941. He went through boot camp at MCRD San Diego, and was posted to Base Air Detachment 2 in San Diego starting in October of that year.

Wartime Service:
When the war broke out, Private Proffitt was with Aircraft Engineering Squadron 24 in San Diego. By April, he was a PFC with VMSB-232 (the Red Devils) in Oahu, Hawaii. He qualified as a radioman-gunner on a Dauntless dive-bomber, and in August landed on Guadalcanal as a teenaged corporal. He flew his first recorded mission on September 1, 1942, with Second Lieutenant Charles B. McAllister at the controls.

Date Of Loss:
Corporal Proffitt was flying with McAllister in SBD-3 #03342 on the morning of September 6, 1942. They took off in ominous weather and headed for Gizo Harbor, where they bombed and strafed Japanese shipping and buildings. However, the weather worsened on the return trip, and the American planes were caught in a raging storm. The bomber carrying McAllister and Proffitt disappeared somewhere between Gizo and Guadalcanal, never to be seen again.

William Proffitt was declared dead on September 7, 1943.

Next Of Kin:
Mother, Mrs. Essie Tutt

Status Of Remains:

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.

2 thoughts on “Corporal William Ray Proffitt

  1. Born ten years after the war, my memories of my uncle, were based on his photo over my Grandmother’s mantle and her stories. She still had his medals and the letter from the CO of VMSB 232.

    She told us grandkids the story of how my uncles, William Ray and Jay Vee, had talked her into falsifying their ages to get jobs with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). They would both uses these documents later to enlist underage. Jay Vee survived the war having went into the Army where he ended up as a tanker with Patton.
    Many years later I would make contact with the survivors of the campaign thru there reunion address. One of the memories they told me was of packing up his belongings to mail home. He was remembered as being short in height and a boxer.

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