Pulling out, the torpeckers left five good sized fires on Marcus, but the flak followed them out. Suddenly, division leader Pop Condit felt a "thump" and looked down between his feet to see a big hole in the fuselage. Flames spewed from the exhaust pipes in his engine cowling, and his oil pressure dropped. The shell had not only severed an oil line but had jammed open his bomb bay doors; the flow of air through them fanned the flames.
Condit's TBF gave out some 60 miles north of Marcus and he made a "dead stick" landing in the water. The impact knocked out gunner Kalberg, breaking his arm, but radioman Marshall pulled from free of the rapidly sinking plane. Condit noticed that he was wounded-shrapnel had hit him in the leg and arm.
For three days lieutenant Condit and aircrewmen Marshall and Kalberg bobbed about in their raft, getting cooked by the Pacific sun. They fished with different sized hooks and bacon rind bait from their survival kids but without success. They tried to snag fish under the raft-but in vain. They even attempted shooting a sea gull with their pistols but the pitching raft fouled their aim.
Then, on the fourth day, a Jap trawler came over the horizon. The men voted 2 to 1 to try to get the boat's attention, but when they waved their arms frantically the Japs opened fire on them! Finally, the shooting stopped, and the boat came up, its crew of old men and boys probably as scared of the Americans as the reverse.
Hauled aboard, Pop, Gordy and Ken were stripped and searched and their pistols thrown into the sea. After Condit gestured to one captor not to drink from a can of orange dye marker, he and his mates were blindfolded and taken to Marcus.
Pop Condit talking "aviation" and using his hands.
Left to right Gordy Marshall and Ken Kalberg, Lt. "Pop" Condit
and plane caption W.F. McMullen before the battle
Pop gave only his name, rank and serial number. When Pop refused to give the name of his ship, his inquisitor said, "We're going to kill you," whereupon a guard put his gun to Pop's head and cocked it.
Figuring that they would kill him anyway, and that this would be the easy way out, saving him from certain torture, Pop replied "Go ahead."
At this impudence, they knocked him off his seat and started to beat him. More questions followed, and every time Pop answered they beat and kicked him.
These working over Pop soon knocked out several of his teeth...[later he was forced to stand at attention for 72 straight hours].
Pop Condit survived and was picked to represent Prisoners of War at the surrender ceremony on the USS Missouri. He became a member of the USS US Navy and is a member of the Board of Directors. Read more about Admiral Condit in the History of the USS Yorktown