On February 1, 1944 three SBD-5 'Dauntless' dive bombers were involved in a mid-air collision with each other over Kwajalein Atoll during Operation Flintlock. The fatal collision resulted in the deaths of five aircrewmen.
Two of the SBD's involved were from the USS Suwanee (CVE-27). The aircrewmen killed were LT B.W. Strong (pilot), ARM2c Phillip S. Barton (rear gunner), and ENS William T. Sackrider (pilot). The bodies of LT Strong and ENS Sackrider were recovered from the lagoon the following day. Sackrider's rear gunner, ARM3c Thomas K. Simpson, was able to bail out and he was rescued by the destroyer USS Phelps.
The third SBD involved in the collision was from the USS Chenango (CVE-28) The pilot, LTJG Holloway, was able to bail out and he was also rescued by the USS Phelps. The Chenango’s photographic officer, LT(j.g.) Randall B. Adams, was riding in the gunner’s seat of the plane. Adams’ body was recovered from the lagoon the day after the crash.
Of the six airmen involved in this incident, ARM2c Barton was the only one not accounted for, and he was subsequently listed as missing in action.