Kansas History and Heritage Project-Clay County Military

Clay County Military
Lloyd Richard Woellhof, WWII "Flyboy" and Gold Star

Lloyd Richard Woellhof
July 25, 1924 - Aug. 8, 1944

Lloyd Richard "Dick" Woellhof lettered in football, basketball, and track at Clay Center Community High School.

He enlisted in the service at the age of 17 in July of 1942 -- Aviation Radioman Second Class.

Dick flew Curtiss SBC2 Helldriver single engine dive bombers in the gunners position off the USS Yorktown.

Dick was one of the famous Flyboys. Dick and his pilot, Ensign Owen M. Hintz, of Fayette, Iowa was shot down into a harbor of Chichi Jima on July 4, 1944. Owen was killed instantly.

Dick was beheaded by the Japanese about August 8, 1944 when he was just 20 years old. Aviation Radioman 2nd class, US Navy, captured on Chichi Jima Island (in the Bonin Islands Group) when his SB2C Helldiver airplane was shot down on July 4, 1944, during World War II. He was based on the aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown. On August 6, 1944, he was ordered to be taken to the Chichi Jima rifle range, where he was tied to a tree and used for bayonet practice by the Japanese Army. While Dick was still alive, Lt. Col. Kikuji Ito, who supervised the bayonet practice, beheaded him. After the war, on August 16, 1945, his body was dug up by the Japanese, cremated and the ashes disposed of, to hide the evidence of his death. General Yoshio Tachibana, the Japanese officer who ordered his death, and LTC Ito were tried for War Crimes in 1947, executed by hanging, and buried in an unmarked grave on the island of Guam (where the trial was held). Dick Woellhof was friendly and outgoing, and well liked by his fellow sailors. His life and death are described in the book, "Flyboys" by James Bradley.

U.S.S. Yorktown
Length: 809 feet
Beam: 83 feet
Draft: 28 feet
Displacement: 19,800 tons
Speed: 32 knots
Complement: 2,919 officers and men
Armament: Eight 5 inch guns; Twenty-six .50 caliber machine guns; & 75 aircraft

Rapidly moving from Atlantic convoy duty to the Pacific in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Yorktown’s crew learned the lessons of carier warfare wile striking Japanese positions during the first grim months of the war. Yorktown, Admiral Fletcher’s flagship, joined carrier Lexington in the Coral Sea to counter the Japanese advance on Port Moresby. Although drawing the first blood, Yorkton sustained a bomb hit that necessitated repairs at Pearl Harbor. Experts estimated that the carrier needed three months’ work to be make battle worthy, but the yard workers had her ready for combat after only three days. For Yorktown, the Battle of Midway was a story of bitter glory. Her dive bombers sand two Japanese carriers, but the ship suffered five hits. Then while under tow to Pearl Harbor, a Japanese submarine sank the warship.

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