Branch: U. S. Navy
Rank: Aviation Radioman 2nd Class
Status: Killed in action /buried at sea
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Park Rapids
USS Belleau Wood burning after being hit by Japanese kamikaze plane
Pat Wall was born March 17, 1923 in Park Rapids, Minnesota to parents Ralph Edward and Rita Anna Kruse Wall. Ralph, who went by his second name Edward, was a Wisconsin native who moved to the Park Rapids area as a child. Rita was born in Pierz, Minnesota and also came to Park Rapids as a youngster. Edward and Rita were married on May 11, 1920. They had two sons, Robert and Patrick. Rita suffered from tuberculosis for five years and spent the last two years of her life at Lake Julia Sanitarium north of Bemidji. She died in 1929 when Pat was only 6 years old.
Edward remarried and worked as a field inspector for an implement and equipment survey. He and his second wife Tessie were living near Bagley in 1940. Pat stayed in Park Rapids, however, with his dad’s sister Ella and brother Leo who worked in a grocery store in Park Rapids.
Pat enlisted in the Navy and after boot camp was sent to aviation radioman training school in California. Aviation radiomen manned the rear cockpits of carrier dive bombers and torpedo planes, alternately handling the radio gear and .30-caliber machine guns.
In October of 1944 Pat had been promoted to Aviation Radioman 2nd class and had been assigned to the USS Belleau Wood, an Independence-class light aircraft carrier that operated with the Pacific Fleet. She had taken part in the strikes in support of the occupation of the south Palaus from early September to mid-October, and had participated in raids on Okinawa, Formosa and Luzon in October. The Belleau Wood was patrolling east of Leyte with her task group on October 30, 1944 when she shot down a Japanese kamikaze plane. The plane fell on her flight deck aft, striking among 11 fully-loaded “Hellcats” and causing fires which set off ammunition. Ninety-two men had died or gone missing before the fire could be brought under control.
One of the kamikaze’s victims was Aviation Radioman 2c Joseph Patrick Wall. His family was notified that he had been killed and had been buried at sea by administrative decision. He is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing in Action or Buried at Sea at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila, Philippines. He was 21 years old.