Wesley Frank Osmus, born on 2 September 1918 in Chicago, Illinois, attended the University of Illinois, and later enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve (USNR) at the U.S. Naval Reserve Aviation Base (NRAB), Chicago (Glenview), on 26 March 1940 as a seaman 2d class. Placed on inactive duty the same day, he reported for elimination flight training at Glenview on 14 April. Upon completion of that period of instruction, he was released from active duty exactly one month later, on 14 May. Issued a “good” discharge on 3 September 1940, Osmus accepted an appointment as an aviation cadet, USNR, the following day.
Reporting to the Naval Air Station (NAS) at Pensacola, Florida, on 9 September 1940, for flight training, he later transferred to NAS Miami, Florida, for further instruction, on 12 March 1941, reporting for duty two days later, and received the designation as naval aviator, heavier-than-air, on 25 March. Orders dated 12 April 1941 directed him to report to the Fleet Air Detachment, San Diego, California, for further flight training; accepting his appointment as ensign, USNR, on 22 April, Osmus ultimately reported to the Douglas TBD-1-equipped Torpedo Squadron (VT) 3, a unit of the Saratoga (CV-3) Air Group, on 15 August 1941.
“Torpedo Three” carried out its training with its TBDs (officially nicknamed Devastators on 20 October) through the autumn of 1941, alternating its time ashore and afloat. The Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 found Saratoga at San Diego, following her refit at Puget Sound. Saratoga sailed for Hawaiian waters soon thereafter, and over the next few weeks operated from Pearl, initially to cover a portion of the abortive attempt to relieve Wake Island in December 1941. Saratoga’s torpedoing by Japanese submarine I-6 on 11 January 1942, however, meant sending her air group ashore to serve as a pool for the other carriers operating out of Pearl. Torpedo Three ultimately came to be based at NAS Kaneohe Bay, whence they flew out to the carrier Yorktown (CV-5) on 30 May 1942 as the ship headed out to a point northeast of Midway Island in Task Force 17.
On the morning of 4 June 1942, with definite word of the position of the Japanese carrier striking force (Kido Butai) having been received, Yorktown launched her striking group. VT-3, screened by fighters from Fighting Squadron (VF) 3 and accompanied by Bombing Squadron (VB) 3, encountered Japanese Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 00 fighters that soon engaged the outnumbered VF-3 in desperate dogfights, drawing off the American escort. Only two of the 12 Devastators from VT-3 escaped the deadly melee, both ultimately ditching en route to friendly flight decks.
Piloting the last plane in VT-3’s formation, Osmus was shot down during the run-in toward the Japanese fleet. While he managed to bail out of his burning Devastator, his radio-gunner, ARM3c Benjamin R. Dodson, either already dead or unable to do so, did not. Osmus was awarded a Navy Cross, posthumously.
Post-war research in Japanese records of the Battle of Midway revealed that Osmus was picked up by the destroyer Arashi, which was proceeding independently to rejoin the Kido Butai after an unsuccessful hunt for a U.S. submarine. Arashi soon arrived to find three of the force’s four carriers burning and out of action. Subjecting the injured young pilot to duress at that critical juncture yielded information concerning the composition of the U.S. carrier task groups at Midway, but it availed the enemy little, for by the end of the day the last operational Japanese carrier had been disabled and the outcome of battle decided. Sometime later, most likely on the night of 4 June, Osmus was murdered by his captors.
(DE701: displacement 1,720 tons; length 306 feet; beam 36 feet 10 inches; draft 9 feet 5 inches (mean); speed 24 knots; complement 186; armament 3 3-inch, 4 1.1-inch, 8 20mm., 3 21-inch torpedo tubes, 2 depth charge tracks, 8 depth charge projectors, 1 depth bomb projector (hedge hog); class Buckley)
Osmus (DE701) was laid down by the Defoe Shipbuilding Company, Bay City, Michigan, on 17 August 1943; launched on 4 November 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Louisa Osmus, Ensign Osmus’s mother; and commissioned on 23 February 1944, Comdr. Richmond R. Jackson in command.
Following shakedown off Bermuda, Osmus departed the east coast, transited the Panama Canal and steamed into the Pacific. She arrived at Espiritu Santo on 1 June and, after availability and further training, began her first escort mission, to Guadalcanal, on the 13th. On the 18th, she rendezvoused with TU 11.1.1, joining CortDiv 39 at the same time. The ships then sailed northwest to the Admiralties. A week later, Osmus returned to the Solomons-New Hebrides area, where she operated as an escort vessel until 10 November.
From the Solomons, Osmus shifted her base of operations to Ulithi and through January, 1945, performed escort assignments between the Western Carolines, Admiralties and Palaus. In early February she reported to Commander, Guam Patrol and Escort Unit and for the remainder of the war escorted vessels amongst the Marianas and to Okinawa, and conducted air-sea rescue missions and ASW patrols in the Marianas. At the end of August, the DE steamed to Rota for preliminary surrender conferences, thence to Truk for the official surrender there, 2 September.
Osmus remained as communications vessel at Truk for a week, then sailed back to Guam. On 18 September, she stood out of Apra harbor for San Pedro, Calif. She remained on the west coast until 22 June 1946, when she set a course for the Far East. A month later she arrived at Tsingtao for a months China service. At the end of August she shifted operations to Okinawa and in October steamed to Korea for customs patrol duty off the American Occupation Zone. Another tour in China followed and in February, 1947, Osmus got underway for the United States. On 2 March she arrived at San Diego and on the 15th she decommissioned and joined the Pacific Reserve Fleet. Into 1970 she remains a unit of that fleet, berthed at Mare Island.
Struck from the Navy list on 1 December 1972, Osmus was sold on 27 November 1973 to Levin Metals Corp., San Jose, Calif., and was broken up for scrap subsequently.
Osmus received one battle star for her World War II service.
17 February 2004