Koller Canine Brandon
|HOME OF RECORD
Deer River, MN
|NEXT OF KIN
Parents, Herman & Florence Brandon
|DATE OF BIRTH
December 4, 1918
March 31, 1941
|DATE OF LOSS
October 14, 1942
|CAMPAIGN / AREA
MIA / Declared Dead
19 February 1945
|CIRCUMSTANCES OF LOSS
Second Lieutenant Koller C. “Casey” Brandon, a fighter pilot assigned to VMF-121, arrived at Guadalcanal’s Henderson Field on 9 October 1942.
On 14 October, after a sleepless night under the guns of a pair of Japanese battleships, the Cactus Air Force scrambled no less than three times to meet reported air raids. They made contact on the third: Lieutenant Brandon, flying F4F-4 Bureau Number 5058, joined the fight over the field at 1303 but never returned to base.
Although native patrols reported finding his crash site – and returned Brandon’s dog tags to his buddies – the site was not recorded. Casey Brandon was declared missing in action; a presumptive finding of death was issued on 19 February 1945.
|LAST KNOWN RANK
Posthumous promotion to Captain.
|STATUS OF REMAINS
Missing in action
Manila American Cemetery
Coming soon. Contact the webmaster for information on this Marine.
Casey was an Irish-Norwegian farm boy, rugged, gifted, argumentative, and persistent. By the time he was sixteen he had breezed through high school at Grand Rapids, Minnesota. After junior college he went to the University of Minnesota, picking up medals along the way and graduating with high honors. He was smart — at Corpus Christi he got a 4.0 grade on the first third of his navigation work, leading the whole class….
Casey was a Boy Scout and, like many farm youngsters, belonged to the 4-H Club. When his dad was ill with rheumatism, he ran the farm, passionately trying to make his field of potatoes the best in the United States, and every calf, pig or chicken on the farm a county fair champion. Other boys liked to be with him, because he knew how to do things. Every week end he brought home friends who learned such diverse arts as the proper way to shovel manure or solve trigonometry problems.
Illness at home delayed his education, but Casey was graduated cum laude from Minnesota in March, 1941. He went right into naval aviation and that’s where he met Danny [Cecil J. Doyle], who was almost two years younger…. Both boys were original members of the eight-man flight that became known as the Flying Circus. When everyone was given a nickname for radio communication in the air, Casey was tagged “Fool” and Danny “Ish”— the Foolish Twins. They reveled in the name. In camp they were inseparable, and they always flew together. “I have to go along and look after Casey,” Danny always said, ignoring the fact that Casey was more than able to take care of himself.
On the night of October 13, at the height of the worst shelling the island ever got, Danny, Casey, Furlow, and Haberman were crowded in a foxhole. After two and a half hours of it, a near-by oil dump was shooting flames two hundred feet high, ammunition dumps were going off, planes were blazing around the field, and flares were hang- ing in the sky like an evening at the planetarium.
One day Danny’s plane needed repairs and he couldn’t go up. It was the first time he hadn’t flown with Casey. That night we waited uncomfortably for a plane that hadn’t come back. It was Casey’s. I don’t like to think of the expression on Danny’s face. He quit his wisecracking abruptly and became grim and quiet. By that time he had official credit for five planes shot down. “Those goonies are going to pay if it’s the last thing I do,” he said bitterly. “I’m going to double my score for Casey.”
One day Danny himself turned up missing. A flight mate told of seeing a Grumman chasing a Zero right into the sea. That was three weeks after Casey went down. Danny, who had sworn to avenge his friends death, must have been overtrying that day. We missed those two boys. Thinking later of their short and tragic history, the high promise and the glory of their youth, we fought more savagely against the enemy.
– Captain Joe Foss, VMF-121, in Joe Foss, Flying Marine: The Story Of His Flying Circus As Told To Walter Simmons, 1943
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