In February 1945, Alfred Lerch reported for duty aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid. He served as a pilot with squadron VF-10, flying an F4U Corsair fighter aircraft. Lerch flew his first combat mission on April 16, 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa, and he shot down seven Japanese aircraft. He returned to Intrepid as an ace—an impressive feat to accomplish in a single day. An ace was a pilot who shot down five or more airplanes during the entire course of his service. The stamped Japanese flags highlight the fact that all seven victories were achieved on a single mission.
While Lerch was fighting in the skies over Japan, Intrepid’s flight deck was hit by a kamikaze—the fourth kamikaze strike since the ship entered service on August 16, 1943. The damage from the attack was severe enough that the ship had to return to Hunters Point Naval Dry Dock in San Francisco for repairs.