Through scattered clouds, the young pilot peered from his cockpit at the ships coming into view on the surface of the South China Sea. Their wakes made white scars on the choppy water, betraying the presence of the enemy task force he had sought since taking off from Mabalacat, the Philippines, at approximately 1600. There they were at last, south-southwest of Lingayen Gulf, steaming on a northerly course off the coast of Luzon. He felt a wave of relief—satisfaction, too: He had found the enemy without being shot down by its combat air patrol. In a few minutes, his life would be over. If he was fortunate, it would end as he struck and sank one of the American ships below.