Gallery Of Arts

Meet Tom Stahl

Tom Stahl with Capt. CainThomas Stahl is seen here with Captain Jim Cain, a fighter pilot during World War II. The story of one of his encounters is depicted in Tom Stahl's lithograph of "Fighting Hellcats". Captain Cain (Lt. Cain at that time) was to lead a group of Hellcat fighters on a combat air patrol north of Okinawa.

They received a notice that a bogey was approximately seven miles ahead. The bogey was a single Tony, and their pursuit was on. Captain Cain, being the most experienced of the pilots, knew that a good leader never followed a bogey in a dive, but when the Tony did just that, he went right after him.

He followed him for about fifteen minutes through the mountains and valleys of the island of Okinawa. His gun camera registered several hits, but the Tony never faltered. Since Captain Cain realized he could not close in on the Tony, he decided to rejoin the rest of his command. Although he could not see them, his fellow pilots radioed him of their position.

As he came through the clouds, he spotted the other Hellcats and told them he would join them in the number four position, then resume the lead. But as he closed in, he noticed that these fighters had meatballs on the side. Since his guns were already charged, he opened fire and shot down all three planes. As he passed through the fiery debris, he prayed that his aircraft would not be struck by a large engine or other large part of the planes. He did suffer some minor damage, but was still able to continue his patrol for another two hours.