Mark Eslick Jr (1911-1945)
Commander Mark Eslick Jr was born in 1911 in Pulaski, Tennessee, the son of Mark Eslick and his wife Hallie Grant. He was with his parents in the 1920 and 1930 censuses, working like his father in banking. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1935, the Academy’s yearbook describing him as ‘determined in his actions, independent in his thought, brutally frank in his opinions, and possessed of a nature that invites confidence’ but also adding that ‘he relishes, knows and enjoys the finer music, good food, and the best literature’. Mark married Mary ‘Jane’ McReavy in Pensacola, Florida in 1937. He and Jane were in Norfolk, Virginia in the 1940 census, with his occupation identified as Junior Grade Lieutenant.
Mark was declared Missing in Action on 12 Oct 1944 and presumed dead on 13 Oct 1945. At the time, he was a Naval aviator attached to the USS Intrepid, the flagship of one of Admiral William Halsey’s four formations of the Third Fleet. On 12 October 1944, the day that Mark was lost, the Third Fleet started carrier-based air raids against Formosa to prevent Japanese forces from intervening in the planned invasion of the Phillipines at Leyte Gulf. Between 10 and 20 October, about 500 enemy aircraft and 40 warships were destroyed in a resounding victory. However, the cost was 89 Allied aircraft and 7 damaged warships. Just one week after Mark’s loss, General MacArthur was leading Sixth Army forces ashore at Leyte to begin the liberation of the Phillipines.
Mark was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal and Combat Action Ribbon for his valour. He is memorialised on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery in the Phillipines, service number 74816.
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