Boston/Mattapan – November 1, 1944

Boston/Mattapan – November 1, 1944

Updated January 19, 2022    


F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

       The following incident involves self-sacrifice and dedication to duty.  The pilot truly deserves to be called, “an officer and a gentleman”.

     On the evening of November 1, 1944, Ensign John Joseph Sheehy, (24), took off from the Squantum Naval Air Station in Salem, Massachusetts for a night training flight.  He was piloting a navy F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58148).  Fifteen minutes into the flight the aircraft developed engine trouble and Ens. Sheehy attempted to return to base.  When he was about four miles from the base the engine stopped and efforts to restart it where futile.   After alerting Squantum of the situation, he radioed, “I don’t want to bail out, some civilian might be hurt if the plane crashed.  I’m going to try to pancake it in a pond down below.”   With that he dumped the plane’s ammo and set the Hellcat on a glide.  Ahead he saw the Neponset River in the Mattapan section of Boston and aimed for it.  As he neared the ground he skimmed over several roof tops before catching a wing in some trees and crashed in a marshy section along the river where the plane burst into flames.  Ensign Sheehy perished in the crash.  

      To see a photo of Ensign Sheehy, click here:  


     U. S. Navy Accident Report dated November 1, 1944. 

     The Milwaukee Journal, (United Press) “Stays With Plane To Spare Civilians, Navy Flier Killed”, November 2, 1944.

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