The following is excerpted from Martha’s Vineyard in World War II by Thomas Dresser, Herb Foster and Jay Schofield. It is an account by airman Joseph McLaughlin after flying over Vineyard waters during training exercises in 1944 when the engine of his plane died.

Before the navy made the base at Martha’s Vineyard, we flew out of Quonset Point. On this patrol, we were out and about one hundred miles when the plane engine started to miss and the whole plane was shaking. My pilot, Lieutenant West, called me on the intercom and said we were headed back and we might have to ditch the plane on the way in.

So he dropped the depth charges and brought the plane down to just a few hundred feet above the water and headed for Martha’s Vineyard. I threw the codebook over the side of the plane. The codebook had metal covers so that as soon as it hit the water it went down. We had lost sight of our wing plane due to low clouds and tried to call them but did not make contact. So he told me to use the telegraph key and tell the base we were headed back. Just about then the radio cut out, so we were on our own. We flew for what seemed an eternity and finally sighted Martha’s Vineyard. Then we ran into a small storm of rain and snow and could just about see, but Lieutenant West managed to set the plane down.

I’m not sure if it was a runway or a road, but just after we landed, the engine stopped. He told me to stay with the plane, and he started out on foot to find a house with a telephone. He had walked about a mile, then saw an old man with a rifle walking towards him. For a few moments, he thought he might be shot. The old man asked him if he needed help. Lieutenant West told him our problem, so the old man walked him to the nearest house with a phone, and he called the base to get help. While he was in the house, the lady there made up some sandwiches and some hot coffee for us both. Eventually, the plane was fixed and we returned to base.