October 26, 1942, The Battle of Santa Cruz. The Japanese have deployed major land and naval forces to retake Henderson Field and Guadalcanal. Included are carriers Junyo, Shokaku, Zuikaku, and Zuiho and 199 carrier based aircraft. Opposing is Task Force 61 and carriers Hornet and Enterprise and 136 aircraft.
Today, Ensign Donald “Flash” Gordon is flying an F4F-4 Wildcat off the Enterprise with VF-10. The entire morning has been a bloody brawl between the opposing air groups.Gordon, while flying CAP around 0940, encounters a formation of Kate’s attempting to attack Hornet, who is already badly hit. “Flash” disrupts this attack by flaming 2 of the Kates and damaging a third. The day ended a Japanese tactical victory but with Zuiho and Zuikaku damaged and the loss of 148 aircrew. For the Americans the day ended a strategic victory with Henderson Field saved, but with the loss of Hornet, a damaged Enterprise, and the loss of 24 aircrew. Japan never recovered from the loss of her aircrews. Donald “Flash” Gordon would finish the war with 5 victories, 1 probable, and 2 damaged.