On Henderson Field, the main air strip caused problems for many of the planes the VMD 154 flew. Wing tips constantly broke off from brushing coconut trees that lined the runway. However, these did not contribute to the accident of the PB4Y-1 Buno 31958 and John Tarzi's death. On the morning of February 7, 1942, 12 members of VMD 154 were preparing for a routine reconnaissancemission over the New Georgia Islands. Over 300 of these missions had been flown successfully since the origin of the VMD-154 Photographic Unit. The crew took off and plane began to ascend. However, 30 seconds into the flight, the plane began to veer left. It rapidly lost altitude and crashed in 95 fathoms of water 600 yards from the air strip. All 12 members of the crew were killed, including John F. Tarzi. Later, the cause of the crash was blamed on a loss of the aport engine. After Death John Tarzi left few physical possessions behind besides clothes or other necessities. However, he did keep a group picture of his Unit. He listed Benita "Louise" Tarzi, his mother, as his beneficiary. On February 12, she received a letter notifying her son's death and the $106.60 left of his salary.She responded to the letter pleading for more information of her son's mysterious death, but she was rebuffed and offered more condolences. Legacy John Tarzi was awarded the Purple Heart, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the Victory Medal John Tarzi's brother Jimmy joined the Army Reserves after his brother's death. He retired from the Army. Jimmy Tarzi died on May 12, 2014. John's other two brothers Frank and Attilo passed earlier. John and Jimmy Tarzi's younger sister Gloria "Dora Mae" Tarzi still lives in Clarksdale, MS. The Unit VMD-154's last reunion was in 2008.
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