IDed Block M-421a


Well-Known Member
Hi All,

See my WW-2 era M-421a Block. This jacket is IDed to a career USN aviator. In fact this jacket's winged ID tag on the jacket dates his time that he flew the SB2C Helldiver with VB-15 during WW-2 off of the USS Essex (CV-9).

Barnitz M-421A.jpg

The jacket's original owner was CDR. James Barnitz. A Lt. when he won two Navy Cross medals during his combat deployment with the USS Essex. His citation for one of his two NC medals was for his participation in sinking the sister ship of the BB Yamato aka Musashi.

Lt. Barnitz NC Citation.jpg

Note that Barnitz made a direct hit. The sinking of the Musashi was a process and a blow by blow account is available. I will seek to include that account I have read in the past later on.

In addition to Barnitz's WW-2 era leather winged ID tag, his Korean War era and last model of the VA-55 Torpcat patch is also seen attached. To include the 1955 model VA-55 Warhorses patch and 1955 ATG-2 cruise patch.

By chance, post WW-2 the owner of this same jacket was my late father's first XO when he joined VA-55 in 1955.

James Barnitz as seen in the group VB-15 taken in Hawaii and just prior to embarking on the squadron's 1944 USS Essex combat deployment.

Fold3_Page_70_World_War_II_War_Diaries_19411945 (2).jpg

I singled out Barnitz from that group pic as seen here.

Barnitz VB-15 In TH.jpg

During the course of Barnitz's USS Essex combat deployment I'm aware that because of battle damage the original owner of this same jacket was forced to ditch at sea on at least one occasion. Later rescued by a Destroyer. On another occasion that I found to be well documented occurred when his Helldiver A/C was so badly shot up he barely made it back on board as seen below.

Barnitz Making It Aboard Essex.jpg

A close up I found at the National Archives of Barnitz and his gunner as seen from the deck of the USS Essex.

Barnitz Battle Damage.jpg

It is my firm belief that once the War ended and Barnitz gained rank his combat worn Block jacket became a keepsake. Then later attached his command patches from VA-55 to the jacket.

As seen below two of those 1955 model VA-55 related (Warhorses & Air Task Group Two) patches seen attached to Barnitz's Block jacket are also found on my father's original flight jacket (1955 issued G-1 Cagleco) and catalyst for the Block's purchase.

EE Sheeley In G-1 Jacket.jpg

Cheers, Dave
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Outstanding history and a great artifact from a double Navy Cross recipient. Damn !
That’s a jacket that deserves a place in history . Great post Dave .


Well-Known Member
Lovely M421a and great provenance too, that must be pretty rare I would have thought?

Yes, I would think that Barnitz's Block M-421a jacket is fairly rare. But probably more rare because of it is IDed and personalized with most of his career aviation related patches.

However, the Block jacket does not have the VB-15 patch used on their USS Essex combat deployment. Not to mention, nor have I ever seen one of those same 1944 model VB-15 patches attached to one of their member's jackets in any of the period pix I have reviewed.

That 1944 model (embroidered) VB-15 patch looked as seen below.
WW-2 VB-15 patch.jpg

I also have Barnitz's WW-2 issued leather jacket and that jacket never had a VB-15 squadron patch attached to it either. That jacket is a AN model American Sportswear

Cheers, Dave
Last edited: