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VP-91 Up-Floats

VP91 Up-Float's

Contributed by George B. Winter pbycat@bellsouth.net

October 15, 1942

Rescue of Bill Pugh by Richard J. Teich (from flight log book)..

"On 15 October 1942 we were assigned to patrol 348 - 356 degrees from Espirito Santo."

"Out near the end of our sector, looking to the west on the horizon, I noted what appeared to be a column of smoke, as though from a ship (position Lat. 08 deg 31 min S - 165 deg 42 min E)."

"I turned and flew over to investigate. As we arrived the smoke died out, but circling the spot, we noted what appeared to be the wreckage of a PBY in the water. As we circled we noted a lone survivor holding on to some debris and waving one arm to us."

"The wind was not too strong but the swells were high. We decided to try a landing. We circled around and made an approach on a wind line which passed through the wreckage. When we touched down we hit a swell which bounced us into the air. Applying full power the next bounce was less hard and we finally stayed on the water. After landing we noted many of the hull rivets had popped out and water was squirting up like little fountains. The navigator started putting pencils into the rivet holes to cut down on the flow of water. In the meantime we started to search for the survivor. After spotting him we had to circle around to get him into the wind line."

"The first time around we missed him because he wasn't close enough so we circled again. This time we slowed our approach and managed to grab and pull him aboard. It turned out to be NAP Bill Pugh who indicated they had been shot down by a carrier plane. In slowing our approach the starboard engine died. One of the mechs went up on the wing and cranked the engin which we finally started. When the mech was back inside we started our take-off. At this point we had about 6 inches of water in the bilge. Somehow we managed to pick up speed and we started to bounce from swell to swell. To lighten the load, I ordered to jettison the depth charges. Finally we picked up enough speed to just touch the swell crests and finally were completely airborne."

"Because of Pugh's condition I sent a msg to base that we were returning. A msg came back which ordered us to continue to search for the Japanese Force. After another two hours of searching without contact, we returned to base because of fuel limitation."

"That is about how I remember it. It was touch and go for awhile and I wondered what I had done, but we had an angel on our shoulder so it worked out."

"Warm regards, Dick Teich..."


The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Lieutenant Richard J. Teich, United States Navy for service as set forth in the following:

CITATION:

"For heroism and extraordinary achievement as Commander of a Patrol Plane during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands Area on October 15, 1942. Discovering another patrol plane which had been shot down by hostile fighters, Lieutenant Teich, despite a dangerously rough sea and threat of imminent attack, effected a precarious landing in the midst of turbulent swells and taxied to the immediate vicinity of the sinking craft. Although his own plane was rapidly taking water from numerous leaks, he took aboard a stranded survivor, then released his depth charges and negotiated a successful take-off. His courageous initiative in saving the life of another at the risk of his own was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."


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