VP-5 Squadron Shipmates
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VB/VPB-104 Buccaneers & Screamers - 1943 - 1945 Shipmates

Memorial Picture "...Shipmate Pix BALASI, PH2 Alfred...My late father actually had a world wind tour of the Pacific from late 1944 to early 1946. He was a photographer's mate who shipped out to the Pacific in late 1944 to be assigned to a PB4Y squadron but got sent mistakenly to a PBY squadron - VP-71 initially. By then the Navy stopped assigning photogs to planes and he began flying with different PB4Y squadrons, but mostly with VPB-104. Dad then ended up with FAW-17 at Clark and finally on the USS Pine Island (AV-12) and USS Curtiss (AV-4) in occupation duty before returning to the states in early 1946. I'd be interested in word from anyone who might remember him..." Contributed by Mark Balasi balasi@comcast.net [18NOV2002]

BITTENBENDER, LT Earl monte.king@comcast.net "...I served with VPB-104 (1943-1945). I would like to hear from former Shipmates..." [20DEC2010]

BLEVINS, LT Mike T. https://naval-air.org/flightlog/moreinfo.asp?UID=958 "...LT Mike T. Blevins, USN - NFL Number: 958 - Date of Birth: 3/10/1920 - Date In: 6/1/1942 - Date Out: 7/1/1966 - City, State: Birmingham, AL - School Attended: Auburn University - Aircraft Flown: PB4Y-1, PBY, PBY-5A, B-17, N2S - Ship or Unit: VPB-104 - Pilot Desg.: Naval Aviator - Theaters, Campaigns, etc.: S.Pac/Moritia/Okin - Associations/Service Organizations: Assn of Nav Aviation U.S. Naval Institute Naval Av Museum Fdn Ret Officers Assn - Highest personal decoration or award: Dist. Flying Cross - Significant Achievements: One of 36 Naval Aviators approved by the Army Air Force to wear Air Force Wings (Sebring AFB, Sept.1945) VPB-104 was the only sqad. of it's type to receive 2 Pres. Citations. In Memoriam? No..." [02DEC2005]

Memorial Picture "...BURTON, CAPTAIN John "Big" Howard...Captain John Howard Burton, retired career United States Naval Aviator, died in Melbourne, Florida on May 24th at the age of 93. He is survived by his dear wife Sara and his five children: Kathleen, Linda, Melissa, John, and Marc. Born in Jersey City, NJ, John began his career in the Navy at the brink of war, training to be a pilot at NAS Floyd Bennett Field, New York. Flying the B-24 Liberator bomber in the Pacific theatre (VP-104), his skill and bravery as Co-Pilot, then Aircraft Commander kept his crewmembers safe throughout the war and earned him significant military decorations, including three Distinguished Flying Crosses, four Air Medals, two Presidential Unit Citations, one Meritorious Service Medals and one Legion of Merit. Captain Burton retired from his last duty station as Commanding Officer, Naval Space Surveillance System in Dahlgren, VA and moved back to Coronado, CA in May 1973. Services will be held at 11:00 am on Friday June 24, 2011 at the Good Samaritan Church, 543 National City Blvd, National City, CA 91950. The graveside ceremony will follow at 2:00 pm at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, Cabrillo Memorial Drive on Pt. Loma in San Diego, CA. where his ashes will be interred with those of his beloved wife Alma..." Contributed by Linda Burton White lbwhite@sonoma.lib.ca.us [16JUN2011]

BURTON, CAPTAIN John "Big" c/o Marc Burton marc@evols.org "...My Father, Captain John Burton, flew 2 combat tours with VP-104 during WWII and is getting ready to celebrate his 93rd birthday on the 17th of this month. Unfortunately his health is very poor and we expect his passing very soon. Several years ago his collection of WWII photos were destroyed in a flood. Should anyone have photos of him during that time my family and I would very much appreciate any email copies you might be able to forward. They are truly priceless treasures of a bygone era. Thanks so much!..." [10MAY2011]

CAVINEE, Walter W. c/o Miranda Bowen siouxbowen@yahoo.com "...My Grandfather, Walter W. Cavinee, served with VPB-104 during WWII. He was wounded after an emergency landing on Tacloban airstrip when a mortally wounded Japanese aircraft turned kamakaze on December 6th, 1944. Grandpa flew on a B-24-H and was part of the "Screaming 104" Crew 17. At present my Grandfather is fighting for each day of life. I would love to see the memory or him and his crew remembered. I have done countless online searches and have been unable to find any record of him or his crew and the incident that earned him a purple heart..." [16MAR2009]

COLCLASURE, ADCS Hubert "Ridgey" Retired "...I would like to contact any members of VB-104 crew 1, from 1943-44 first combat tour. Also any member of VPB-118 crew 12, from Jul 44- Oct 45. I served in these two crews. My phone number is 662-851-7264 after July 1st, 1999 from 1800 - 2400 hours. Before July 1st call between 1200 - 2000 hours at 281-480-7696. It is very nice to see so much interest in the Navy Patrol Bombing Squadrons..." [16MAY99]

COLLINS, ATC R. L. Retired W6WBY@ISAT.COM "...Greetings from another long time VP crew member. Served in PatWing Four, PatWing Six, VP-61, VP-200, VPB-104, VP-871, VP-19, and VP-28. Retired in 1963 at Barber's Point NAS. Would very much appreciate any information to the address of William "Bill" Brown AEC(?) and/or wife Maury. Bill and I were shipmates at NAS Alameda while attached to VP Squadrons there. Bill, his wife Maury (Maurie?), and I also worked off-duty at the NAS Alameda CPO Club during the latter 1950's. I will value any information allowing me to get in contact with them. Thanks fellows, see you at one Re-Union or another in the future. My Very Best To All From: R.L."Pinky" Collins ATC (Ret), 11-5-97, 3251 W. Simkins Rd. E-Mail w6wby@isat.com, Pahrump, NV 89048..."

FRANK, Gordon W. gorkat@powerweb.net "...I served with VP-62 and VPB-104 from 1943 to 1946. I sure wish there was more history posted for those timeframes..." [04MAR2000]

FRANKENBACK, Ken c/o his son Larry Frankenbach larryhigh5@aol.com "...Have really enjoyed searching, with my father Ken, for information on VP-104, VP-12 and the Black Cat Squadron. Dad served in the South Pacific 1942-45, two tours. One was in PBY5A and another in PB4Y2. He was a radioman and is especially interested in information about Captain Pfeffer's crew based in NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, Midway, Solomans etc..." [19JUL98]

FULWIDER, William http://www.worldwar2pilots.com/USN-Fulwider-Bill-PB4Y-1.htm "...Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart..." [24APR2004]

HAAS, Ambrose E. 'Ace' c/o his son Russ Haas RHaas41629@aol.com "...My father was a belly gunner in VPB 104 (Navy) during 1944-45 in the Pacific. He was in crew 10. His pilot's name was John Burton; another name of crew William T. Wales. My Dad lives in Arkansas (does not do computers) if you like to give him a call his number is 501 892-3770..."

Memorial Picture "...Shipmate Pix HAMMOND, Robert Laverne Sr...My grandfather, Robert Laverne Hammond, was a bellygunner on a PB4Y-1, and served with VPB-104. Mr. Hammond passed away at age 78, in Evansville, Indiana, and is interred at Maury cemetary in Richmond, Virginia. I do not know which crew he flew with in VPB-104, but my dad says that the pilots last name may have been Mcdonald, or something similar to this. My grandfather didn't talk much about the war, and we didn't press him for much info. He did however, when I was a kid, show me several crew photo's, and I think his plane's nose art may have been a girl in a grass skirt, possibly a hula girl. He also show me a couple of medals, and badges, and I know one was a distinguished flying cross. I recently discovered VPNavy and a few other related sites, and haven't found any information on his crew. His name is on the missing Shipmates list for VPB-104 so I assume someone may have some information on him, or at least knew him. If anyone knows of any information I can get on his crew, exploits, or any photo's that may be posted I would very much like to hear from you. Thanks!..." Contributed by Matthew C. Hammond Sr. mchstarblazer@comcast.net [E-Mail/PIX Updated 06FEB2010 | 19MAR2002]

HARRIS, Everett L. evharris24@yahoo.com "...I flew with VPB-104 out of NAB Henderson/Carney Field, Guadalcanal in the early part of 1944. I have been looking for the book written by Commander Harry E. Sears called "Buccaneers of Bombing Squadron 104". Would appreciate any help on obtaining this book. I also flew with VPB-115 out of Munda in 1944..." [07OCT2002]

Memorial Picture "...HEINKE, Clarence H...My Father, Clarence H. Heinke, served with VP-104. My Father died in 1994. I have his dog tags and a few other keepsakes. Dad was a Navigator and served in the southwest Pacific area. I want to know so much more and would like to communicate with any former Shipmates. Thank you very much!...Linda An lalinda7@msn.com..." [12SEP2005]

UPDATE "...I am looking for information about my grandpa who was a Navigator in WWII. According to my mom he served with VPB-104 and they were awarded a President's Citation for Aug 43-March 44 and November 44-June 45. He was in the SW Pacific. He was awarded a Bronze Star and a Distinguished Flying Cross amongst other medals, etc. He died over 10 years ago and he wouldn't talk about his time in the service. We have the medals, but no history behind them, etc. and both my mom and her two siblings are very interested in learning more about his service history and why he got those medals. If anyone here has any suggestions as to a place to find out more about him or any information that will help me, I'd really appreciate it. Oh, my grandpa's name is (was) Clarence H(enry) Heinke. Thanks! I'll be checking back with hope. Sincerely, Heidi Rosin Granddaughter heidi_rosin@yahoo.com..." [05JAN2006]

HIMSWORTH, Fred fredhvpb104@imagina.com "...I serve as the mailman for VB/VPB-104. Any inquiries for current Squadron information can be directed to me as I keep the up to date rosters. We have found two members who have been lost since 1944 through this Website and are anxious to find any more who may be out there...." [BIO Updated 10JUL99 | 01JAN98]

Memorial Picture "...HOUGLAN, PO2 C. F...My father, C.F. Houglan, deployed with VB-104 in the South Pacific. I believe he was with Crew-13, but not positive. I am trying to obtain anything pertaining to his crew (pictures, rating badges (2nd Class Aviation Radioman), flight logs, etc. If anyone can assist, I would greatly appreciate it! LCDR Danny Houglan dhouglan@cox.net..." [19DEC2009]

Memorial Picture Shipmate Pix "...MAHALEY, AOC Francis S. "Mo"...My Dad, Francis S. "Mo" MAHALEY, passed away June 13, 2012 at 7AM in Jacksonville, FL. Dad was 98 years old and went in Peace. Dad served with VPB-104 during WWII and Korea and was awarded the Distinguished Cross, Air Medal with one Silver and 3 Bronze Stars, 8 Good Conduct Medals and retired after 22 years..." Contributed by Kathleen Brown happytail2003@yahoo.com [14JUN2012]

MAHALEY, Francis "Mo" c/o His Daughter Kathleen Brown happytail2003@yahoo.com "...Hi, Is there anyone out there from the Screaming - O - Four (VP-104)? I know some of you have computers, & others don't. I'am the daughter of Francis Mahaley (Mo) would like to hear from everyone, pics, & that know him. Tell me what he was like in WW2. I will answer everyone. PLEASE WRITE. is still living today in a hospital in Jacksonville, Fla. At the age old 98 years old he is still doing well he just doesn't remember to well now. What he does remember is some of the stories from WW2 - that he love so much. If you care to write to me about him please do..." [BIO Updated 24JUN2011 | E-Mail Updated 24AUG2001 | E-Mail Updated 05DEC99 | 19MAY98]

OPIE, Jennings R. c/o Bob Cissell rjcbigbob5@yahoo.com "...Looking for crewmates on VPB-104 Crew 20. Looking for any knowledge of Jennings R. Opie. This is a friends father and he would appreciate any response. His fathers records and pictures have been lost and would like to find anyone with info on this or possibly family of crewmates. Thanks for your help..." [13FEB2005]

REGISTER, Charles E. creg1927@aol.com "...I served with VP-24, VPB-104 and VP-HL-4. I would love to hear from any former Shipmates..." [E-Mail Updated 31DEC2008]

Memorial Picture "...SEARS, Harry E...A retired Navy vice admiral, aviator and highly decorated World War II veteran who pioneered wartime low-level bombing tactics against Japanese targets in the South Pacific, died January 29, 1998 at the Bethesda Naval Hospital after a stroke....Admiral Sears flew 65 combat missions. As commander of VB-104, a patrol bombing squadron of B-24 "Liberator" aircraft based on Guadalcanal in 1943 and 1944, he led masthead-height bombing attacks on enemy ships. In this process, he was instrumental in changing what until that point in the war had been mostly passive and defensive search flights into offensive combat missions....He was awarded a Navy Cross, the service's highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor. He also received a Legion of Merit with a combat "V," a Distinguished Flying Cross with Gold Star and the Air Meda..." http://www.arlingtoncemetery.com/hesears.htm [26FEB2000]

SEARS, VICE ADMIRAL Harry E. "...WebSite: Arlington National Cemetary http://www.arlingtoncemetery.com/hesears.htm..." Harry E. Sears, 91, a retired Navy vice admiral, aviator and highly decorated World War II veteran who pioneered wartime low-level bombing tactics against Japanese targets in the South Pacific, died January 29, 1998 at the Bethesda Naval Hospital after a stroke.

Admiral Sears flew 65 combat missions. As commander of VB-104, a patrol bombing squadron of B-24 "Liberator" aircraft based on Guadalcanal in 1943 and 1944, he led masthead-height bombing attacks on enemy ships. In this process, he was instrumental in changing what until that point in the war had been mostly passive and defensive search flights into offensive combat missions.

He was awarded a Navy Cross, the service's highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor. He also received a Legion of Merit with a combat "V," a Distinguished Flying Cross with Gold Star and the Air Medal.

"He did more bombing, more strafing, more low-level combat in his four-engine bomber than anyone had done before him," recalled Henry J. Thompson, a retired University of California biology professor who served with Admiral Sears during the war.

In a history of his squadron, "The Buccaneers of Harry Sears," Thompson wrote that Admiral Sears "built on the operations of two earlier squadrons . . . raising his patrol-bombing squadron to a new level -- patrolling and attacking with unprecedented aggression."

A veteran of 30 years in the Navy, Admiral Sears helped organize the Naval Air Reserve Training Command after the war. He was the Navy's director of public relations, commander of the escort carrier Siboney and director of aviation training in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

In 1954, he was named commander of the attack carrier Coral Sea, operating with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Later, he commanded a carrier division and then served as deputy chief to the commander in chief of Allied Forces in Southern Europe, a NATO command based in Naples. He retired from the Navy in 1958.

After that, Admiral Sears became executive vice president of the Armed Forces Management Institute for three years. He then was chairman of the board of an industry-government relations consulting firm, Hughes, Sears & Shriver Inc. He was co-founder and chairman of the board of Government Services Savings & Loan in Bethesda, which later merged with Chevy Chase Savings & Loan.

He was a resident of Chevy Chase, off and on, for more than 60 years.

Admiral Sears was born in Beverly, Mass., and graduated 12th in his class from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1928. He became a Naval aviator upon completing flight training at Pensacola, Florida, in 1930.

The Navy formed the B-24 squadrons because the aircraft could fly vast distances over the Pacific to seek out enemy activity, and at the same time defend itself against Japanese fighters. Many of these new units were based on land, sometimes operating from coral runways, and they were jokingly referred to as the "Coconut Navy."

In the summer of 1943, the unit commanded by Admiral Sears arrived at Guadalcanal, which had been wrested from the Japanese by U.S. forces during months of bloody fighting. "During the rainy season, their clothes mildewed overnight, and while they staggered through the mud, they could gaze upwards and watch the palm trees creak as the gentle tradewinds all but tore their roots from the sodden earth. There was the nauseating stench of rotting breadfruit, and as the ground around the foxholes and slit trenches dried, the odor of decomposing bodies would rise up and embrace them," wrote Steve Birdsall in a 1973 book, "Log of the Liberators: An Illustrated History of the B-24."

From this base of operations, Admiral Sears led his aircraft forth on regular search patrols, which shortly became attack missions. On one such mission, wrote Birdsall, "Sears caught six Japanese ships running supplies from Truk to their besieged garrisons. Roaring in at masthead level, he sank four and probably five, and badly damaged the sixth, getting an engine shot out along the way."

In the award of the Navy Cross, Admiral Sears was cited for "organizing and leading an eight plane strike against a hostile task force. . . . He daringly attacked the leader of the destroyers, scoring a direct hit. . . . During two routine search missions within a 700-mile radius of his base, he intercepted and shot down an enemy twin-engined bomber and located, bombed and sank a Japanese vessel . . . personally attacking an enemy submarine."

While assigned in the Solomons, Admiral Sears was selected by Adm. William F. "Bull" Halsey to fly Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the president, on the last leg of her flight to and from the South Pacific combat zone. At other times during his career, he was a personal pilot for James V. Forrestal, the first secretary of defense; Adm. Harold Stark, the wartime commander of the Pacific fleet; and Adm. Ernest J. King, the wartime Chief of Naval Operations.

He was a former president of the Army and Navy Club and the Landon School Fathers' Club, and he was a member of the Chevy Chase Club.

His marriage to Gladys Mase Sears ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 29 years, Helen Melrose Sears of Chevy Chase; four children from his first marriage, G. Joseph Sears of Potomac and Mary Jane Sears Parks, H. Edward Sears Jr. and John W. Sears, all of Chevy Chase; nine grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

He was buried with full military honors in Section 8 of Arlington National Cemetery on February 11, 1998.

Memorial Picture "...THYS...My name is Bill Thys, and my dad flew with VPB104 on the second tour. I noticed your posting on VPNavy, with a list of members that were "missing." One of these was Stewart Swan. My dad and Stewart maintained their friendship after the war, and Stewart & his family lived nearby our family in northern New Jersey. Stewart died back in the early 60's, I would say about 63 or 64, leaving his wife and 2 daughters. At the time, they were living in Mahwah, NJ. Bill Thys BillTHYS@aol.com..." Forward by Kathleen Brown happytail2003@yahoo.com [26MAR2000]

WOODARD, Bill billwood@mail.utexas.edu "...Served with VPB-104/VP-104/VPB-24 Squadron..." [E-Mail Updated 31MAR2000 | 05AUG98]

"VP-104 Summary Page"