Cecil Mark Henley was the son of Charles Haddon Henley Sr. and Alice Elizabeth Ann Renfro. His siblings were Charles H. Henley Jr. (also died in WWII and honored on the memorial) , James L. Henley, Samuel J. Henley, Luther L. Henley, Thomas R. Henley, Alice Henley, Jack Henley and Luke Henley. He was a graduated from KHS in January 1942 and was employed by Southern Railway as a foreman. He also had ROTC training.

Cecil Henley served on the U.S.S. Gainard (DD-706)

On 9 May 1945 VPB-13’s Lt Harris and his crew were returning from a patrol around Kerema Rhetto and arrived back to USS Kenneth Whiting (AV-14) in the middle of an air raid. The base, at General Quarters, was under smoke, a defensive action, due to enemy aircraft in the area and the base ordered them back until it was safe to return. After 14 hours in the air the Coronado’s fuel state was critical. No 0300 on 10 May, Lt Harris attempted an open sea night landing ten miles south of Kerema Rhetto. It is surmised that when they made the first contact with the water they were so low on fuel that the first touch to the water must have bounced the plane to a high deck angle which prevented the low fuel supply from reaching the engines. The second contact with the water, without power, was so violent that the PB2Y broke up.
Crew killed:
Pilot, Lt Ralph Phillip Harris
Navigator ENS Cecil Mark Henley
AMM3c William Walter Brownlee
AOM3c Carl Claiborne Crew
USN Bernard Frederick Fallon
ARM3c David Marvin Freshman
AMM3c William Wirt Hughes
ARM3c William Keith Vincent

Co-Pilot LtJG James Fleming Wright
AMM3c David Lucius Collins
AOM3c Walter Raymond Costin Jr.

The Knoxville Journal, June 11, 1944
Cecil Henley was one of a Group naval aviation cadets from Knoxville who completed his primary flight training at a Naval Air Station in the South and was transferred to a Naval Air Training Center in another section of the South to begin intermediate training.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel, 8 June 1945
Ensign Cecil M. Henley was killed in action in the Pacific Ma 10, according to information received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. C.H. Henley Sr. 2020 Woodbine Avenue. Ensign Henley, who was nearing his twenty-third birthday, was second pilot and navigator on a Coronado type seaplane which was forced to land in the open sea near Okinawa. His body was recovered three hours later by a naval surface vessel and was interred in an Allied Cemetery on an island in the Pacific, according to detailed information sent to his parents. He entered the Navy V-5 training program Feb. 2, 1943, and was commissioned an ensign in the Naval Reserve Sept. 26, 1944, at Pensacola. After a very short stay in Hawaii, he reported for combat duty in the Southern Pacific with the 13th Patrol Bombing Squadron. An additionally tragic note in Ensign Henley’s death is that he was engaged to be married to Miss Carolyn Rolen, 2008 Washington Avenue. A graduate of KHS in the class of ’41, Ensign Henley was a member of Bell Avenue Baptist Church which plans a memorial service in his honor, and of the Oriental Lodge, F&AM. Before entering service, was employed by Park National Bank.

  • Rank: Ensign
  • Date of birth:
  • 17 November 1922
  • Date of death: 10 May 1945
  • County: Knox
  • Hometown: Knoxville
  • Service Branch: Navy
  • Division/Assignment: USS Gainard (DD-706)
  • Theater: Pacific
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Awards: Purple Heart
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Lynnhurst Cemetery, Knoxville, TN
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XIV, Middle Panel
  • Contact us to sponsor Cecil M. Henley

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