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|136k||Walter Wesley Coolbaugh was born on 1 August 1918 at Ransom, Pa. and enlisted in the Naval Reserve for aviation training 14 November 1940 after graduating from Keystone Junior College. He was attending American University in Washington, D.C. when he received his appointment as a Naval Aviation Cadet. On 7 December 1941 Walter was a dive bomber pilot on USS Yorktown (CV 5). While aboard Yorktown he was soon involved in some of the great naval conflicts in the Pacific, including Tulagi Harbor, the Marshall & Gilbert Islands, and the Coral Sea. It was as a result of his actions during the battle of the Coral Sea that he was awarded the Navy Cross. He was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) 1 October 1942. Prior to the loss of Yorktown at the battle of Midway, he was transferred to the USS Saratoga (CV 3) and then, after Midway, to the USS Enterprise (CV 6).
In August 1942 he was in the group of eleven Enterprise aircraft that became known as Flight 300 when they flew to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal while it was cut off by surrounding Japanese forces. The Flight 300 aviators flew and fought from Guadalcanal until 27 September 1942, when their Douglas Dauntlesses expended in one way or another and they were evacuated by DC-3s. After his service on Guadalcanal and a brief leave at his home in Pennsylvania, Walter was reassigned to Bombing Squadron 12. On 19 December 1942, LT(jg) Walter W. Coolbaugh was lost at sea in the Pacific Ocean as a result of a mid-air collision during training operations.
USS Coolbaugh (DE 217) (1943-1960) was the first ship named in his honor. (Photo and paraphrased biography from USS Coolbaugh web site.)
|82k||29 May 1943: Philadelphia Navy Yard - The christening of six destroyer escorts in a dry-dock at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The three ships in the foreground are (from left): USS Enright (DE 216), USS Coolbaugh (DE 217) and USS Darby (DE 218). Those in the background are (from left), USS J. Douglas Blackwood (DE 219), USS Francis M. Robinson (DE 220) and USS Solar (DE 221). (U.S. Navy Photo #NH 75610 from the Naval History and Heritage Command, Courtesy of James Russell, 1972)||Bill Gonyo|
|136k||15 November 1945: Mare Island Navy Yard, San Francisco, Cal - Forward plan view of USS Coolbaugh (DE 217) at Mare Island. USS J. Douglas Blackwood (DE 219) is inboard of Coolbaugh. (U.S. Navy photo #DE-217 7192-45)||Darryl Baker|
|186k||15 November 1945: Mare Island Navy Yard, San Francisco, Cal. - Aft plan view of Coolbaugh at Mare Island. J. Douglas Blackwood is inboard of Coolbaugh. Coolbaugh was in overhaul at the yard from 4 September to 17 November 1945. (U.S. Navy photo #DE-217 7191-45)|
|73k||Coolbaugh shown in original configuration with 3"/50 guns prior to conversion in 1945 when 5"/38's replaced the 3"/50's.||Edwin Wheat|
|83k||circa 1945||Robert Lamb|
|132k||undated post war image||Jerry Defoe|
|66k||circa 1954||Edwin Wheat|
|32k||circa 1955||Robert Hurst|
|51k||circa 1957||J. Andrus|
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