Lt. JOHN J. POWERS,
Coral Sea area
4 to 8 May 1942.
Lt. Powers participated in 5 engagements with Japanese forces between 4and 8 May 1942. Powers wasn’t content with a 1 for three record on direct hits, so he set out to find a way to increase his accuracy. He scored a direct hit, which instantly demolished a large enemy destroyer and is credited with two close misses, 1 of which severely damaged a large aircraft tender, the other damaging a 20,000-ton transport.
He fearlessly strafed a gunboat, firing all his ammunition into it amid intense anti-aircraft fire, sending the enemy vessel running toward the beach rather than the bottom
On 7 May, he attacked an enemy carrier task force. Boldly leading a flight of 3 dive bombers, he dived to an altitude well below the safety altitude to ensure hitting a critical area of the enemy vessel.
The enemy ship was immediately engulfed in flame, smoke, and debris then sank. With every attack, Powers was developing new tactics for dive bombers to use.
As Squadron Gunnery Officer, Lt. Powers gave lectures to the squadron on point-of-aim and diving techniques. He recommended a very low release point and stressed the danger of being hit by one’s own bomb blast and bomb fragments.
His attacks were deliberate and premeditated. Powers knew the risk, and still, he took in order to improve the accuracy of his pilots.
On 8 May, Lt. Powers exhorted his pilots with – “Remember the folks back home are counting on us. 1 am going to get a hit if I have to lay it on their flight deck.”
He led the attack from an altitude of 18,000 feet, through a wall of anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighter planes. Lt. Powers pushed the envelope and dove to a few feet above the deck of an enemy carrier before he let loose with his bombload.
Lt. John J. Powers’ aircraft was last seen attempting recovery from his dive. He was at less than 200 feet and being peppered with anti-aircraft fire. He gave his life scoring a direct and devastating hit on the enemy carrier.