Edgar R. Bassett
|Edgar Rees Bassett|
March 10, 1914|
|Died||June 4, 1942
Pacific Ocean, near Midway Atoll
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Naval Reserve|
|Years of service||1940–1942|
|Unit||Fighting Squadron 42
Fighting Squadron 3
Edgar Rees Bassett was born in Philadelphia, on 10 March 1914. He enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve at New York City as a seaman second class on 13 February 1940. After flight training, he was commissioned as an ensign on 20 May 1941. He joined Fighting Squadron 42 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown on 9 June 1941 as the squadron was preparing for its first Neutrality Patrol cruise in the Atlantic Ocean aboard Yorktown. Bassett was considered one of the more colorful characters among the fighter pilots of Fighting Squadron 42, and remained associated with Yorktown for the rest of his life.
Bassett was noted more than once for his aggressive performance of duty in the first few months of World War II, especially for his strafing of Japanese gun emplacements and barges during the aircraft carrier raid on Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea, on 10 March 1942.
During the Battle of the Coral Sea, which took place between 4 and 8 May 1942, Bassett shot down a Mitsubishi F1M2 "Pete" floatplane over Tulagi in the Solomon Islands during the Yorktown air group attack on Japanese shipping there on 4 May and strafed the Japanese destroyer Yuzuki as she fled Tulagi harbor. On the morning of 7 May, he flew one of the fighters that protected Torpedo Squadron 5 in its attack on the Japanese aircraft carrier Shōhō. That same evening, he helped to disperse a group of Japanese dive bombers and torpedo planes in the vicinity of the Yorktown task force. On the morning of 8 May, he flew combat air patrol over Task Force 17 and assisted in the downing of one Japanese plane during Japanese attack on Yorktown.
Assigned to Fighting Squadron 3 aboard Yorktown along with several other Fighting Squadron 42 pilots just before the Battle of Midway, Bassett flew one of the six Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters covering Torpedo Squadron 3 in the attack on the aircraft carriers of the Japanese Mobile Force on the morning of 4 June 1942. When the Japanese combat air patrol swarmed over the torpedo planes and their escorting fighters, Ensign Bassett was shot down in flames at the outset and killed.
Ensign Bassett was awarded the Navy Cross for "extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty" during the Battle of the Coral Sea. He also was awarded the Air Medal more than once for his aggressive performance of duty in the first few months of 1942, especially for his actions during the March 1942 raid on Lae and Salamaua.
The U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS Bassett (DE-672) was named for Ensign Bassett. She was converted during construction into the high-speed transport USS Bassett (APD-73) and was in commission as such from 1945 to 1946 and from 1950 to 1957.