Rasmussen, Philip Martin, born on 11-05-1918 in Boston, Massachusetts. On 7 December 1941, Rasmussen was a U.S. Army Air Corps , Second Lieutenant assigned to the 46th Pursuit Squadron at Wheeler Airfield, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor , Hawai. That morning Rasmussen had awakened in his barracks and, looking out a window, saw a group of Japanese airplanes dropping bombs on the field. He strapped his .45 caliber pistol to the outside of his pajamas and ran to get an airplane. Lieutenant Colonel. Lewis M. Sanders, about 30, was the 318th CO and took the air together with Rasmussen. He aslo shot down a Japanese aircraft. Their exploits are portrayed in the films, Tora-Tora-Tora, and the more recent film, Pearl Harbor.
Most of the planes were destroyed, but Lieutenant Rasmussen found an unscathed P-36 Hawk and taxied it to a revetment where he had it loaded with ammunition. During a lull in the bombing, he took off with three other pilots. They received orders by radio to fly to Kaneohe Bay on the northeast side of the Island.
The American pilots subsequently engaged 11 Japanese aircraft. Despite having a jammed .30 caliber gun and only limited capability with his .50 caliber gun, Second Lieutenant. Rasmussen managed to shoot down a Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Several other Japanese pilots attacked, including one who apparently tried to ram him. The Japanese pilot, Iyozo Fujita , had just witnessed his Flight Leader and best friend Fusata Iida
make a suicide attack on a hanger when his aircraft having been hit by ground fire had run out of fuel, Fujita had also made a pact to die in battle if his aircraft could not return to the IJN carrier Soryu. So, as he came under fire from Rasmussens P-36, Fujita closed in an attempt to end the attack.
But Rasmussen was barley able to control the mortally damaged aircraft and both planes managed to cause only minor damage to each other, Fujita would turn for the Carrier Soryu and Rasmussen would find shelter in a bank of clouds before turning towards Wheeler Field. On his way back to Wheeler Rasmussen joined up with Sanders and attempted to land, fighting his aircraft all the way Rasmussen managed to bring his aircraft to a stop, with no tail wheel or rudder returned to the aircraft carrier, Soryu, and survived the war.
Rasmussen’s plane was badly damaged and fell into an uncontrolled plunge into the clouds over the mountainous terrain. After passing through the clouds at about 5,000 feet he regained control of the aircraft and returned to Wheeler Field, where he landed with no brakes, rudder, or tailwheel. Oral accounts of the number of bullet holes in the plane vary, but most give a figure of about 500.
He went on to fly many combat missions, shooting down other Japanese planes and a bombing mission over Japan that earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross. He stayed in the military and retired as a U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel in 1965.
Death and burial ground of Rasmussen, Philip Martin.
The few who got up:after the attack of the Japanese fleet (L-R) Pearl Harbor fighter pilots 2nd Lieutenant Harry Brown, 2nd Lieutenant Philip M. Rasmussen, 2nd Lieutenant Kenneth M. Taylor, 2nd Lieutenant George S. Welch, and 1st Lieutenant Lewis M. Sanders.
Philip M, Rasmussen died of cancer on 30-04-2005, age 86, in Fort Myers, Florida, he now lies at Arlington National Cemetery Virginia. Section 66, Site 1390