| Days of Infamy |
POD: March, 1941;
Relevant POD: December 7, 1941
|Type of Appearance:||POV|
|Date of Birth:||1922|
Crosetti, a high school graduate who worked as a mechanic, volunteered for the Navy on December 26, 1941, after the Japanese had invaded Hawaii. He was first sent to North Carolina, then Pensacola, Florida, where he quickly demonstrated his skill as a pilot.
In March 1942, a month after Japan had taken control of Hawaii, United States Army Air Force pilot Jimmy Doolittle launched an air-raid on the bases Japan maintained in Hawaii. In response, a raid led by Mitsuo Fuchida bombed San Francisco. Crosetti's uncle, aunt, and three cousins died in the bombing. A fourth young cousin survived, but lost his leg. Crosetti was given bereavement leave. Being with his family and sharing in their grief steeled his resolve to fight the Japanese.
While at flight school, Crosetti became good friends with Orson Sharp, a young football player from Utah. Sharp, a devout Mormon, was a bit of a puzzle to Crosetti. But Crosetti admired and respected Sharp for his personal qualities and his great skill as a pilot. Both shared a dream of aircraft carrier duty and fighting Japanese Zero fighters.
By 1943, that dream was a reality, as Crosetti was made an ensign in the U.S. Naval reserves. He and Sharp were both assigned to carrier duty, flying the new Hellcats, and both were part of the invasion and reconquest of Hawaii.
It was Crosetti's Hellcat that shot down Fuchida's bomber on its return from attacking the US task force. The two pilots encountered each other going both ways. On the way out to attack the American fleet, Fuchida was able to trick Crosetti by dodging his plane to the left in a head-on pass. Crosetti was unable to continue the engagement because he was responsible for escorting American bombers to attack the Japanese. However, on the return flight, the US aircraft encountered the Japanese once again, and Crosetti got another shot at Fuchida's bomber. This time, Fuchida was not able to outguess Crosetti and was shot down.
After the Marines had landed, Sharp was shot down, leaving Crosetti saddened by his friend's death, and horrified that he'd seen it actually happen. The combined emotions left him somewhat cynical about warfare.
Crosetti and his fellow pilots proved critical in crippling the Imperial Japanese Navy's defense of Hawaii. Most of Japan's Zeros were destroyed, and its two carriers were sunk. After U.S. ground forces landed, Crosetti continued strafing runs on fortified Japanese positions. After the islands were retaken, Crosetti was promoted to Lieutenant, (junior grade).