U.S.S. Allen M. Sumner DD-692
LT Colombus L. "Newt" Newburn, USN
F4F "Wildcat" Pilot, USS HOGGATT BAY (CVE-75)
His Story

Many years after this event, Newt (left) followed Navy custom
and paid his Squadron's parachute rigger,
Donald R. McClanahan (right), for a job well done! 

    This is the story of my last flight off the U.S.S. Hoggatt Bay during the invasion of Luzon in the Philippines. This is also a testament of what the Lord God of Heaven and Earth did in preserving my life. Although at this time I knew him not as my Savior.

    January 8, 1945.

    We took off from the Hoggatt Bay before daylight and headed toward Lingayen Gulf, arriving at dawn. Our squadron was ordered to circle the Tank Force and give it protection from enemy planes. Shortly after arriving, an enemy kamikaze was spotted and our squadron was vectored to intercept. I spotted the enemy making a run on a cruiser, descending to about 200 feet, flying directly over the cruiser. I opened fire on a Japanese Nick and shot it down. The Nick went into the drink about 30 yards at the stern of the cruiser. I pulled up and immediately was aware that the fleet was shooting at me. I called on the radio and identified myself, but too late. I had climbed to about 500 feet when my plane was hit by friendly fire. An incinerator shell entered the cockpit from below, setting the plane on fire. Fragments went through my left foot and through my right leg. I opened the canopy of the plane, unbuckled my seat belt, but was unable to get out of the plane. At this time I blacked out and remember nothing until I came to in the water.

    I was very disoriented at this time; however, I did inflate my "May West". My parachute had opened and was all around me. I noticed that I had only one leg and immediately cut a shroud line from my parachute and tied it around my upper thigh for a tourniquet. A little later I looked behind me and saw a foot sticking up. I reached back and started patting my leg. It came around and I discovered that my leg was still on. What a relief!

    I inflated my rubber raft but was not yet able to get in it. About 20 minutes later a destroyer, the U.S.S. Allen M. Sumner, steamed up close to me. I looked on deck and about ten sailors had their rifles pointing at my head. I quickly pulled off my helmet and pointed to my hair. I also pointed to my eyes. I started yelling that I was not the enemy, but one of them. Sailors came over the side to pull me aboard. By this time the numbness was out of my leg and pain was severe. A sailor cut the shroud line of my parachute from around my leg and drug me aboard.

    I was in such pain that the doctor aboard ship shot some Pentathol in my vein and knocked me out on deck before moving me any further.

    When I came to I had a cast on my leg and was being readied for transfer to the battleship, U.S.S. New Mexico.

    After 8 months and 7 operations, I arrived in the states and was later transferred to the U.S. Navy Hospital in Norman, Oklahoma, which was closest to my home in Jacksonville, Texas.

    I always gave my good naval training credit for getting me out of the plane and pulling my ripcord, even though I was unconscious. I thought this for several years. However, I was saved by the Grace of God in 1957 and later on I studied the Bible. I came across a scripture in Hebrews: Chapter 1: Verse 14 which says, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of Salvation".

    I can not tell this story without giving God credit for saving my life. For we do have Guardian Angels to look after all of God's Elect.

    To those who read this, I want you to know that there is a God in Heaven that takes care of His own.

/s/ LT C. L. Newburn, Jr.
18 June 2001