Then and Now: Noel Gayler’s assigned aircraft, flown on 8 May by Al ‘Scoop’ Vorse, aboard the Lexington, 1942-2018

Aircraft wrecks, Shipwrecks, WW2, WW2 Pacific treasures, WW2 Wrecks

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos: as credited

Read: Modern Treasure: USS Lexington reveals rare F4F Wildcats


Billionaire Paul G. Allen announced that his ship-hunting research vessel R/V Petrel and her crew had discovered an important piece of World War II history.

About 500 miles off the coast of eastern Australia and two miles down they located the wreck of the U.S.S. Lexington, one of the United States’ first aircraft carriers, which was scuttled on May 8, 1942, to prevent its capture after the Battle of the Coral Sea.

According to Lynn Ritger one of the Wildcats found by R/V Petrel was Noel Gayler’s assigned aircraft, flown on 8 May by Al ‘Scoop’ Vorse,

An aviation enthusiast who wishes to remain anonymous points out that persons with access to primary source material, or books based on it, have confirmed that this plane was involved in the engagement that earned O’Hare his Medal of Honor. The plane is likely named to Lt. Noel Gayler who had 4 kills at the time of the Lexington’s demise.

 “I don’t believe there is conclusive evidence that O’Hare flew this aircraft. There is evidence that another pilot, I don’t recall his name at the moment, was flying this aircraft when O’Hare shot down 5 G4M bombers approaching the Lexington.” the aviation enthusiast explains.

According to Mark Sheppard Gayler landed this F4F on the Lexington, met the captain and wanted to refuel but the damage meant it couldn’t be fuelled up. He was the xo. He went over the side into the water and was picked up by a boat. Interestedly no other F4F have been yet been found. Others were lost in combat or were stored below. Others landed on the other carrier.


Albert Ogden “Scoop” Vorse was born August 9, 1914 in Philadelphia, Pa. later moved to Andover Massachusetts where he attended Phillips Academy H.S.

Possibly the first Andover boy decorated in the war, he graduated from this school in 1933 and after four years of training at the naval academy graduated in 1937. After further extensive training, was sent out to the Marshall Islands.

He was on both the USS Saratoga and USS Lexington when they were sunk. When he was a lieutenant, he was in the first group of planes to land on Guadalcanal.

Noel Arthur Meredyth Gayler was born in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 25, 1914, one of three children of Ernest and Anne Roberts Gayler. His father was a naval officer.

After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1935, Ensign Gayler served on battleships.

A year after completing flight training in 1940, he was assigned to aircraft carrier duty in the Pacific.

He shot down five Japanese planes, qualifying him as an ace and making him the first pilot to win three Navy Crosses.

Lieutenant Commander Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare (March 13, 1914 – November 26, 1943) was an American naval aviator of the United States Navy, who on February 20, 1942, became the Navy’s first flying ace when he single-handedly attacked a formation of nine heavy bombers approaching his aircraft carrier.


Even though he had a limited amount of ammunition, he managed to shoot down or damage several enemy bombers. On April 21, 1942, he became the first naval recipient of the Medal of Honor in World War II.


O’Hare’s final action took place on the night of November 26, 1943, while he was leading the U.S. Navy’s first-ever nighttime fighter attack launched from an aircraft carrier. During this encounter with a group of Japanese torpedo bombers, O’Hare’s Grumman F6F Hellcat was shot down; his aircraft was never found.