Launching from the deck of the USS Long Island on 20 August 1942, Capt. Marion Carl and 18 other VMF-223 pilots landed their F4F-4 Wildcats on the captured Japanese airstrip on Guadalcanal, a strategic island in the Solomon Islands chain. At 1400 hours on the 24th, 14 Wildcats took off to intercept an incoming Japanese force of six Nakajima Kate dive-bombers and 15 escorting Zero fighters from the carrier Ryujo, joined by about 20 Mitsubishi Betty bombers from Rabaul. As Marion Carl described It, "I was over the water well north of the field when I glanced down and saw a formation of Japanese bombers. ..I rolled into an overhead pass and splashed one bomber. Then things fell apart. My division split up and I lost contact with the other three pilots, but we continued to hammer away at the bombers...I dropped a second bomber in another overhead run and shot a Zero off (T/Sgt. John) Lindley's tail. As the flight drifted toward Henderson, I claimed another bomber that was confirmed a bit later. These four kills (added to one Zero at Midway) made me an ace, the first in Marine Corps history, but that thought didn't occur to me at the tlme. We were far too busy and more concerned about our losses."
Roy Grinnell, official artist for the American Fighter Aces Association, has captured this moment on canvas in superb detail. Retired Maj. Gen. Marion Carl has signed each of the 1,250 limited edition prints along with the artist.