Major Jack Randolph Cram (USMC), was the personal pilot of Marine General Roy Geiger's PBY-5A, the "Blue Goose." On 15 October 1942, he won the Navy Cross and permanent nickname "Mad Jack" in operations at Guadalcanal. In two previous days of shelling, Japanese battleships and destroyers had all but destroyed Henderson Field and more than half of the Marines' aircraft remaining on the island. Twelve miles up the beach, Japanese transport ships were preparing to disembark troops to retake Guadalcanal. At 0700 on the fifteenth, 30 Zeros circled at 15,000 feet over the invasion area.
The Marines could scrape together only 12 Dauntless dive-bombers and 8 Wildcats to meet the threat. Cram volunteered the " Blue Goose" for the attack. Normally, the PBY was used only for transport, patrol, or reconnaissance missions, but Cram was not concerned that a PBY had never made a daylight torpedo attack. He mounted two 2,000-pound torpedoes on the wings and rigged wires from the cockpit to release them. Without a copilot and with only five minutes of instruction on torpedo bombing, he launched the "Blue Goose" for the attack. One mile from the enemy fleet, he put the aircraft into a dive and although the PBY-5A was built for a maximum speed of 160 miles per hour, Cram saw 270 mph before he leveled off at 75 feet.
While taking fire from Japanese transports and destroyers, Cram released his torpedoes--both were hits. After he pulled off from the sinking transport, five Zeros attacked the "Blue Goose." Members of the crew--Metz, Hoffman, Anderson, Kirby, and Horton--fought back with .30-caliber machine guns. Cram still had one Zero on his tail when he arrived at Henderson Field, but luckily, a marine in an F4F was gear down in the pattern and saw Cram's plight. The Wildcat pilot extended his turn to final approach and shot down the Zero just as Cram landed. Upon inspection, the "Blue Goose" had more than 160 holes in it. The unorthodox attack by the Marine strike force sank three transports and damaged several others. After Guadalcanal, Major Cram went on to command VMB-612, an experimental night bomber squadron. Brigadier General Jack Cram retired in 1959.
The painting shows Jack Cram's PBY-5A, the "Blue Goose," as it appeared prior to his torpedo attack at Guadalcanal. A Marine officer at Guadalcanal commented, "If ever I saw a man with sheer guts, it was Jack Cram. He knew it could probably be his last flight, but he jumped at the chance."