On December 4, 1943 a major raid was undertaken at Kwajalein Atoll by a US Navy task force. It was intended as a softening-up attack in advance of Operation Flintlock, the invasion of the atoll scheduled for the following month. One of the planes taking part in the raid was a SBD-5 Dauntless from Bombing Squadron 16 (VB-16), flying from the USS Lexington (CV-16).
Flying the plane was LT William B. Fitch, with ARM3c John A. Linson as the rear-gunner. Fitch and Linson were taking part in the dive-bombing of a Japanese Navy cruiser, IJN Isuzu, which had been caught at anchor near Roi island at the north end of Kwajalein Atoll. During the bombing dive against the cruiser, their plane was believed to be hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire. The plane was seen to pull out of its dive at very low altitude, and then roll over onto its back and crash into the lagoon. Both LT Fitch and ARM3c Linson were listed as missing in action.