Cecil John Doyle
|HOME OF RECORD
503 Lynd Street, Marshall, MN
|NEXT OF KIN
Father, Mr. Owen Doyle
|DATE OF BIRTH
August 10, 1920
|DATE OF ENLISTMENT
March 26, 1941
|DATE OF LOSS
November 7, 1942
|CAMPAIGN / AREA
Out of Guadalcanal
MIA (Declared Dead)
November 8, 1943
|CIRCUMSTANCES OF LOSS
Second Lieutenant Cecil J. “Danny” Doyle, a fighter pilot assigned to VMF-121, arrived at Guadalcanal’s Henderson Field on 9 October 1942. He quickly earned a reputation as a top pilot, shooting down five enemy aircraft in the span of a week – spurred on by the loss of his best buddy, 2Lt. Koller “Casey” Brandon.
On 7 November 1942, the Cactus Air Force received word of a Japanese destroyer flotilla approaching Guadalcanal. Twenty-five F4F-4 Wildcat fighters, including Lieutenant Doyle in Bureau Number 03467, intercepted the ships 120 miles offshore. Nine floatplanes accompanied the destroyers, and a dogfight quickly developed.
Lieutenant Doyle did not return from the mission. Two pilots reported a wingless Wildcat that crashed into the sea; Lieutenant Thomas Furlow recounted that Doyle “squashed” while chasing a floatplane at low altitude. No trace of pilot or aircraft was seen again, and Doyle was declared dead on 8 November 1943.
Navy Cross, Purple Heart
|LAST KNOWN RANK
Posthumous promotion to Captain.
|STATUS OF REMAINS
Missing In Action.
USS Cecil J. Doyle (DE-368)
Calvary Cemetery, Marshall, MN
Manila American Cemetery
Coming soon. Contact the webmaster for information on this Marine.
Danny was from Minnesota. He was a little fighting Irishman, dark, wiry, full of sauce and afraid of nothing. When he and Casey [Koller C. Brandon] were training at Wold-Chamberlain Field, Minneapolis (where they first met) Danny saved the lives of two boys who tired while swimming A year later he jumped into the ocean at San Diego and saved a girl’s life. This was all routine to Danny, for he had been lifeguard at the city pool in Marshall, Minnesota for two seasons…. Danny came up through the Marshall high school and the State Teachers’ College at Mankato. He worked is way through, but found time for the CAA ground and flight course that led him into the Navy.
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.
Someone started the story back home that Doyle had been killed in the Midway battle. There were variations – he had crashed in the bay at San Diego, died in a midair crash at Honolulu, and drowned after taking off from a carrier. He got stacks of mail inquiring if the reports were true.
Danny was enchanted by the coconuts on Guadalcanal. “When I was a boy,” he said, “Mother always had to hide the coconut from me so I wouldn’t eat it all. Here we’re camped right in the middle of a coconut grove and I can have all I want.” He had great contempt for Japanese marksmanship. “Those goonies couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn,” he often remarked.
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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