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HistoryVP-27 HistoryHistory

Circa 1949

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 Left Pictures ThumbnailCamera "...Squadron Circa 1949..." Contributed by Jack Short JBSHORT28@msn.com [21SEP2002]


Circa 1946

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...I was transferred via MCBH Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii to VPB-27 in Okinawa, where I boarded the Seaplane Tender USS Kenneth Whiting (AV-14). I eventually flew to Sasebo, Japan, where I boarded the Tender USS Pine Island (AV-12). Our crew flew in the areas between Okinawa, Japan and Korea, searching for Japanese ships. The Seaplane Tender USS St. George (AV-16) was also used as a base in Sasebo. On January 16, 1946 our crew flew a party of congressmen to Nagasaki, to view the devastation. They expected to land in the bay and taxi to the shore, but our pilot, LCDR Pipkorn, decided not to land due the rough water. The congressmen were disappointed and voiced their displeasure. However, LCDR Pipkorn made the smart choice. Our crew also flew the congressmen around Japan and landed in the lake at Kyoto for an overnight stay. On February 6, our squadron flew to Hong Kong, where we were based for about one month. On March 2, 1946, we island hopped our return to MCBH Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, via NS Sangley Point, Philippines, NAS Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, Marianas Islands, Ebeye and Johnston Island. On May 7, 1946, Our crew flew to NAS Alameda, California..." Contributed by >HOFFMAN, H. Peter hpeterh@citlink.net [14OCT2012]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...R-762..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Chinese Junk and E-1..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Harold standing next to 'Our Baby'..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Harold Magee, in Flight Jacket, with 3 unidentified aboard the USS St. George (AV-16)..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Harold Magee on the gun tub of the USS St. George (AV-16)..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Working on a PBM aboard the USS St. George (AV-16)..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Harold beside Redwing X-505..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Harold standing by X-487..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...VPB-27's tender USS St. George (AV-16). Notice the PBM on the fantail for repair..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...VPB-27 Japan 1946..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...VPB-27 MCAS/NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii 1946..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Harold at work!..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Harold standing by 'Angel In Di-Skies'..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Japanese POW's Okanawa 1946..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Japanese POW's Okanawa 1946..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Harold Magee just passing time 1946..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [30OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...E-8 under repair..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [27OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...E-8 under repair..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [27OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27 ThumbnailCamera "...Harold R. Magee standing by the Lady Luck Z-459..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [27OCT2003]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-27  ThumbnailCamera "...Officers of VPB-27 Japan 1946..." Contributed by Harold R. Magee via his "younger" brother Dave Magee rotor2@cascadeaccess.com [27OCT2003]


Circa 1945

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVPB-27 Letter "...Letter (28MAR45) from ENS J. Cooper - VPB-27..." WebSite: EBay http://www.ebay.com/ [27JAN2016]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVPB-27 Letter "...Letter (00??4?) from ENS R. L. Klemetti - VPB-27..." WebSite: EBay http://www.ebay.com/ [27JAN2016]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - October 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - September 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - August 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - July 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - June 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - Aircraft Action Report - 11MAY1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - Aircraft Action Report - 07MAY1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - May 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - Aircraft Action Report - 27APR1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - April 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - March 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - Aircraft Action Report - 08APR1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - February 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - January 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailCamera "...VPB-208 CruiseBook Circa 1945. Page 45 - From the Task Group Commander, Dated April 28, 1945..." Contributed by DAUM, F. David (Deceased) and forwarded by Drake A. Daum Drake.Daum@wpafb.af.mil [03MAR2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "22JUN45--Just looking through my log book, and came across an item I've long forgotten. On June 22, 1945, we were on a Dumbo hop (Crew Sugar-V P 208) and picked up 12 men from VP 27, they had been shot down around 1 a.m. The sea was rough,and a great number of swells we had some trouble on take off. On one of the bounces we took, I thought the the tail gun turret would be knocked off. But with Jado we made it. My heart went out for those guys, after all they went through that night...it scared the h---out of me. I thought we were goners for a couple of minutes. I can't imagine what was going on in their minds, but thank the good Lord we all made it..." Contributed by Andrew W. Knef jatoamk@comcast.net [E-Mail Updated 27JUL99 | 05JUL99]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Our squadron flew PBM - Mariners. At that time (11-45) we were based in Sasebo, Japan and then in Hong Kong. We flew between Manila and Shanghai . Flew over Hiroshima and Nagasaki with Congressmen. I think our Seaplane Tender was AVP Gardner's Bay and at some time the "Curtis" . I remember how much of an effort it was to land in The river in Shanghai..." Contributed by Keith Chisholm qaysi@aol.com

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "HISTORY OF PATROL BOMBING SQUADRON TWENTY-SEVEN - WORLD WAR II - 1 June 1944 through 15 August 1945..." Contributed by Evan Hushbeck hush@foothill.net

"The enclosed history is an edited version of what information I have regarding the establishment of VPB-27 and our activities to the end of WWII. I was with the Squadron during this period as PPC of Crew 14. The format should be interesting and informative to anyone visiting the page and excludes the names, details and action reports that were more meaningful to those of us involved."

"The enclosed picture of the PBM-5 is of Crew E-14 in Bu.No. 59004, over what remained of the Kagashima Naval Air Base, Honshu Island, Japan on 24 August 1945. The picture was taken by a member of Crew E-4 with a K-25 aerial camera which provided positive negatives for quick review at post flight briefing. If this one does not provide a good reproduction, I will try for a better one."

"Sincerely, Evan Hushbeck hush@foothill.net"

vp 27 PBM5Camera


Down where the Perquimans River drains out of the Great Dismal Swamp into Albemarle Sound, the establishment of VP-27 took place at 1430 on the afternoon of 1 June 1944. It was a momentous event for those six officers and 143 enlisted men who were in attendance. The ceremony was held at the NAAS Harvey Point, North Carolina. Lt. Waiter J. McGuire, Jr., the executive officer of the raw squadron, and Lt. P. C. Maxwell, representative of the Air Group Commander at the base, presided at the establishment exercises.

When the ceremony concluded, Lt. McGuire called a conference of all officers present. Headquarters was established in one of the hangar buildings, and records of all men reporting and those still to report were checked. The establishment jacket of the numerous items of educational material, communications data and intelligence publications were opened, logged, routed to the right persons and filed properly.

Lt. Cmdr. E. N. Chase, 2nd, commanding officer of the squadron, reported on 3 June 1944. By the time the first two PBM-3Ds were assigned to the squadron on 7 June, everything was ready for flight. That afternoon two training hops were scheduled and that night the squadron flight log bore its first entry "Two familiarization flights; 5.3 hours."

By 11 June, the squadron had 13 planes and flight time began to pile up. While the PPCs were experienced in flying PBMs, most of the junior pilots were fresh out of Banana River. The big job was to get the crews acquainted, and to drill each man in the details of his job. Along with flying, there were classes in recognition, navigation, gunnery and other necessary subjects. Except for those with the duty or night flying, the working day usually ended around 1600.

By the end of June, the squadron had its full compliment of 53 officers and 171 enlisted men, and in a short month of operations had completed 190 flights for a total of 685.8 hours. Things were running smoothly and the flight syllabus was coming along in fine shape.

July found the men moving along right in the groove. Flights clicked like clockwork, maintenance progressed in a satisfactory manner and a squadron spirit was rapidly developing. During July, the squadron made 296 training flights for a total of 983.4 hours. At the end of the period, the training syllabus was nearing completion. The required time had been amassed for night flying, instrument work, gunnery, bombing and navigation. Now the schedule called for more specialized work and the place for training was Key West, Florida.

Everything was set for the flight to Key West on 1 August, but a tropical hurricane heading toward Cape Hatteras, decreed otherwise, necessitating an evacuation to NAS Floyd Bennett, Brooklyn, NY on Long Island in New York. It wasn't until two days later that the crews were rounded up for the flight back to NAAS Harvey Point, North Carolina, so all personnel had ample chance to spend some time in the "Big Apple."

Arriving back at NAAS Harvey Point, North Carolina the afternoon of 3 August, aircraft were checked for the Key West trip and the following morning the squadron departed in 12 planes for Florida. The following day, planes and crews were ready for the course in anti-submarine warfare given by the Boca Chica training unit.

The training was thorough and intensive, with pilots practicing dry runs on simulated submarine targets, making attacks and dropping dummy torpedoes, and finally, each crew dropped two live torpedoes. The squadron record, incidentally was 28 hits out of 30 drops with the live fish - the best of any Mariner squadron that had taken the training up to that time. The squadron was also schooled in mine-laying, expanded its radar work and gained additional experience in gunnery.

Back at NAAS Harvey Point, North Carolina, a farewell leave was scheduled for everyone and by late September, the squadron was ready to shove off for the West Coast. In five plane sections, the squadron started departing for Alameda the morning of 28 September. By early October, all 15 of the squadron's PBM-3Ds were in Alameda, where for nearly two months, VPB-27, as it had been re-designated on October 1, was assigned the task of ferrying aircraft from FAW-8 at NAS Alameda, California, to NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The long Trans-Pac flight of 2100 nautical miles was a rather scary ordeal at first, but before long the pilots were well checked out on the course. After the squadron had flown the route 47 times and ferried 32 planes to NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii came the word to standby for new planes and get ready to proceed to Hawaii. On 25 November, three officers and 84 enlisted men sailed out under the Golden Gate Bridge on the USS Attu, CVE- 102, on the first leg of the long journey to the Pacific battleground. Flight crews remaining behind were assigned their new PBM-5 aircraft and flew them to the Islands. By early December, everyone was squared away at NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and ready to enter the final phase of training.

In preliminary training on the Atlantic Coast, the squadron made 840 flights for a total of 2985.3 hours. Test hops and ferry trips from the West Coast added another 202 flights and 1178.2 hours. The squadron had arrived in Hawaii with a master log book showing the pilots had flown 1042 hops for a total of 4163.5 hours since commissioning.

At NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, almost every type of mission was flown as the squadron entered into the final phase of training, including further intensive anti-submarine training by the NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii training unit, routine bounce drill and simulated night torpedo attacks. The squadron was also indoctrinated in tender operations when all crews went to Hilo, Hawaii, for a 3-day session on shipboard life, along with an introduction to plane operations from a tender.

During the time at NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, two planes were lost. One plane was forced by bad weather to return to the base, where it crashed during a night landing, killing one officer and five enlisted men. The second plane crashed and burned while making an emergency landing at sea two miles from base. One officer and four enlisted men from VPB-27 were killed, along with three enlisted men attached to Hedron, FAW-2.

By early February, the squadron had completed the flight syllabus and orders came directing VPB-27 to proceed to Saipan. On 10 February 1945, Capt. Chase led the first section of planes out of NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, first stop Johnston Island. The afternoon of 13 February (ELD), the Captain's plane landed at Tanapag Harbor Saipan, and a few days later the rest of the planes arrived.

The squadron reported to Fleet Air Wing One and was assigned the job of flying night anti-submarine patrols, day search missions and was to assist the Air Sea Rescue unit in providing Dumbo coverage for B-29s going to Japan and the medium bombers which were making daily strikes on various by-passed enemy outposts to the east. Numerous downed B-29 crews were located and recovery assisted.

Shortly after arrival at Saipan, the squadron moved aboard the AVPs that would be called home for the next six months. The first AVP to arrive was the USS Onslow, followed by the USS Yakutat and finally the USS Shelikof. By 28 February, all hands were quartered aboard tenders.

The Saipan flight schedule continued to be rather heavy and in March, due to more flights by the bombers to Japan, Dumbo activity increased. As March drew to a close, with Iwo Jima secured, tension increased as rumors of bigger operations were rampant. Confirmation of these rumors arrived in the form of orders for VPB-27 to get ready to move into Kerama Retto to assist in the assault and occupation of Okinawa. When these orders arrived, flights at Saipan tapered off and planes were readied for the long tour of combat duty that lay ahead.

Operations at Saipan had given the squadron a real introduction to forward area operations. There had been numerous night takeoffs and landings, considerable rough water operations and many vigilant hours spent looking for an enemy who failed to show up. All told, VPB-27 made 186 flights at Saipan for a total of 1480.6 hours.

On 23 March, with squadron ground personnel and all heavy gear aboard, the tenders pulled out from Tanapag Harbor late in the afternoon. Squadron planes flew ASP over the convoy of tenders the first two nights the ships were out and shortly after midnight, 28 March, eleven squadron planes, together with PBMs from other outfits, set out for the battle zone. Around 1000 the morning of 29 March (L-3 day for Okinawa), the planes started setting down on the Kerama Retto waters.

Planes were postflighted, fueled and made ready for flight, and that same night, five ASP planes flew the prescribed coverage and protection of the huge invasion convoys which were slowly closing in on Okinawa. In the first three days, VPB-27 flew 17 anti-submarine patrols, aggregating 210.0 hours, and during the short 30-day month of April, the squadron piled up 2182.0 hours.

The invasion went off like clockwork, but the anticipated submarine menace failed to materialize. It wasn't until the morning of 2 April that a squadron pilot had a radar contact, but the target disappeared when the range had closed to three miles. One other radar contact was made on 12 April, gambit tactics employed, two attacks made and a "submarine probably damaged" assessment was made. That was the extent of submarine sightings.

With squadron personnel split up on the three AVPs, operations were difficult, but not impossible. Willing cooperation on the part of all hands usually solved the many complex problems. Tender personnel was most cooperative in all respects, as squadron officers and men on the AVPs exerted themselves to keep squadron maintenance up to the necessary level.

By late July, the first of the original crews was relieved and sent home. Relief crews continued to replace individual crews throughout the remaining weeks.

Operations at Okinawa were conducted under trying conditions. Because of rough swells, every takeoff was hazardous and every landing took the maximum in pilot skill and technique. Ship-made "smog" would blanket the area at dusk when the enemy would start its nightly offensive, sometimes making it necessary for planes brought home at night to circle until daylight to land. Many of the long night flights were almost 100% instrument hops because of local weather conditions, some even canceled because of weather. On three occasions, it was necessary to evacuate planes to Saipan to escape approaching typhoons.

All in all, during the Okinawa campaign, the squadron lost eight aircraft. One was shot down by a friendly night fighter, one was a strike after battle damage, one was a strike after its bombs were accidentally jettisoned, one was damaged in an emergency landing, two were damaged beyond economical repair on reefs, and on 7 August, two pilots on a shared mission radioed that they were continuing their assigned mission after successfully attacking and beaching three enemy motor torpedo boats. No further word was heard from them again. Eleven days later a PBM float was seen and photographed in the water in the general vicinity of where it was thought the planes had disappeared, but that was all that was ever discovered. A total of 435 anti-submarine patrols were flown during the Okinawa operation, resulting in a total of 5452.4 hours of flight. Although ASP missions had been the squadron's primary assignment, the squadron failed to sink submarines for the very good reason that none were to be found.

The squadron pilots were more enthusiastic about search, armed reconnaissance and strike missions, and had 196 search missions, totaling 2185.5 hours, inflicting the following damage:

21 Ships sunk, 3,520 tons

11 Ships damaged, 32,400 tons

5 Lighthouses, bombed & strafed


2 Radio-radar stations, bombed & strafed

During the five months the squadron operated in the Okinawa area, first at Kerama Retto and after 15 July at Chimu Wan, there were 776 flights for a grand total of 8765.1 hours. This, coupled with operations at Saipan gave the squadron a total of 862 combat flights, aggregating 10,245.7 hours.

On 15 August, word was received to cease all offensive operations against the enemy, thus bringing the fighting phase of the war to a close.

NOTE: This history has been gleaned from various information which has been disseminated to squadron members over the years and, intentionally, does not deal with personalities or individual performance ofthe officers or enlisted men. If further information regarding squadron personnel is desired, please contact Wayne Byerly pizwilli@bledsoe.net, Route 1 Box 159A, Pikeville, TN 37367, or phone (423)533-2096.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VPB-27 Crew Thumbnail Ground Crew "...21JUL45 - 10SEP45 Front L-R: D.E. Drake-- Yeoman, H.V. Hummer-Yeoman...Back L-R: J.R. Kendrick-Personnel. W.T. Bailey-Intel, E.N. Chase- Squadron Commander, R.L. Ogram-electronics, W. Juges-Bombing & Gunnery..." Contributed by William F. Ferrall via P. Wayne Byerly pizwilli@bledsoe.net [15JUL99]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VPB-27 Crew Thumbnail Chiefs Crew "... MCAS/NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii Feb '45...L-R Max Donnell, ACRM, W.R. Garrahan, ACMM, F.N. McClintock, ACOM and G.L. Lanham, ACMM..." Contributed by William F. Ferrall via P. Wayne Byerly pizwilli@bledsoe.net [15JUL99]


Circa 1944 - 1949

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraPB4Y-2 Squadron Assignments "...PB4Y-2 Squadron Assignments 1944 - 1949 by W. T. Larkins 5-11-1984. A review of the aircraft history cards for the 740 aircraft 59350-60009 and 66245-66324 allows the following squadrons with one or more aircraft. Unfortunately the original assignment on many in 1944 is simply "PAC" for Pacific area. No card was found to verify VB-200 as the first squadron delivery or any Marine Corps squadrons. Squadrons listed include VP-12, VP-21, VP-22, VP-23, VP-25, VP-26, VP-27, VP-28, VP-29, VPB-100, VPB-101, VPB-10, VPB-102, VPB-104, VPB-106, VPB-107, VPB-108, VPB-109, VPB-111, VPB-114, VPB-115, VPB-116, VPB-117, VPB-118, VPB-119, VPB-120, VPB-121, VPB-122, VPB-123, VPB-124, VPB-143, VPB-197, VPB-200, VP-HL-1, VP-HL-2, VP-HL-4, VP-HL-6, VP-HL-7, VP-HL-8, VP-HL-9, VP-HL-10, VP-HL-11, VP-HL-12, VP-HL-13, VPM-1, VPW-1, VPW-2, VPW-3, VX-1 and VX-2..." Contributed by Bill Larkins wtl@earthlink.net [01AUG2010]


Circa 1944 - 1945

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP History ThumbnailCameraJack Christopher "...Jack Christopher autographed 4x6 photograph -PBM-5 Martin Mariner and a member of the Patrol Bombing Squadron 27. Christopher flew 49 missions in the PBM-5 in the Pacific Theatre Saipan and Okinawa. Flying "Dumbo" missions to rescue pilots and aircrew that had crashed into the sea. Received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and Combat Aircrew Wings with three Gold Stars..." WebSite: EBay http://www.ebay.com [22JAN2007]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Jack Christopher flew 49 missions in the PBM-5 during World War II, and he'd like to tell you about this amazing aircraft - by Al Zdon..." WebSite: The Minnesota American Legion and Auxiliary http://www.mnlegion.org/paper/default.html [14OCT2006]

There were two major Navy patrol bombers in World War II. One of them, the PBY Catalina, might be regarded as the celebrity of the two.

It was a PBY that spotted the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Midway. It was a Royal Air Force PBY that spotted the German Battleship Bismarck and led to the sinking of the famous warship. And it was a PBY that was featured so prominently in the movie South Pacific.

The other patrol bomber, the Martin PBM Mariner, never quite got the notoriety of its older brother. In fact, only the most dedicated World War II history buffs know much about the airplane.

It's a situation Jack Christopher would like to correct.

Christopher knows all about PBMs. He knows that they were bigger, faster, better armed, better protected and had a longer range than the PBY. He knows the PBM played a critical role in the war, particularly in the Pacific as the U.S. slowly dismantled the Japanese empire.

He knows all these things because he flew on PBMs during World War II.

Jack Alfred Christopher grew up in south Minneapolis, not too far from the Navy base at NAS Wold Chamberlain Field, Minneapolis. "In those days, there were no fences and you could climb right up on the airplanes and look in the cockpit. They were all bi-planes in those days. From an early age I wanted to be a Navy pilot."

His childhood dream almost came true. As he graduated from Roosevelt High School in January of 1943, he headed off to be a pilot. He had taken extra math and science in high school, and had passed the Navy tests for pilot training.

His last obstacle was his flight physical, which he thought would be routine. It was -- except for one small problem. He failed the blue-green colorblind test. The Navy sent him home.

"I can't even tell you how I felt. My dreams were crushed. I didn't know what to do."

Uncle Sam had an idea about what he could do, and three months later, in the spring of 1943, he got his draft notice. This time, he had no problem passing the physical, and he was offered the opportunity to enter the Navy rather than the Army.

After boot camp at Camp Farragut, Idaho, his high test scores again enabled him to get some choices, and he picked aviation ordinance, hoping again that he would be able to fly. "I figured I'd be in an airplane somehow."

Ordinance school was a NAS Norman, Oklahoma, and after graduation in December of 1943, he volunteered for aerial gunners school. Again, he had to take a flight physical, but this time he passed the blue-green test. In fact, he passed it three times.

"Either God didn't want me to be a pilot, or the balanced diet I got in the Navy corrected my deficiency."

He had graduated in the top 10 percent of his ordinance class and so he showed up at Purcell, Okla., for gunnery school as a third class (E-4). The next stop was NAS Banana River, Florida, where he met the first love of his life, the PBM.

But it wasn't love at first sight. The first Martin PBM Mariner Christopher encountered was an anti-submarine warfare version, and it contained very little firepower, not a happy situation for an ordinance expert.

Soon thereafter, though, he met the real PBM, the one he had in mind. This version contained twin .50 caliber machine guns in the nose, tail and top turrets, and two more in waist gunner positions. It was also capable of carrying bombs and torpedoes of all kinds.

Christopher's job was to take charge of all the ordinance on the plane. His place on the aircraft was in the bow of the aircraft, below the nose gunner, where he could run a bomb site if necessary. It was also his job to secure the PBM to a buoy when it had completed its flight. This was accomplished by slipping a rope through a ring on the buoy, not an easy task when one minute the buoy is down at your feet and the next minute it's at chest level.

Other members of the crew of nine included three pilots – a chief pilot who flew the plane, and two co-pilots who took turns acting as navigator – a radar operator, a radio operator, a flight engineer, a bow turret gunner, a top turret gunner, a tail turret gunner, and a waist gunner. The radio and radar men also took turns at being a waist gunner.

At the beginning of June, 1944, exactly a year since he had "volunteered" for the Navy, his squadron, VPB-27, was formed up in North Carolina. It consisted of 15 PBMs and 15 crews. Later, three more crews were added.

The squadron did torpedo training in NAS Key West, Florida, and then headed off to San Francisco via Jacksonville, Eagle Mountain Lake in Texas, and San Diego.

One of the PBMs had to make a forced landing in the desert. "They attached beaching gear (wheels) to the floats, but to this day I don't know how that worked. It's only for getting the airplanes up a ramp. It's not very strong. I'm glad I wasn't that pilot or crew that tried to do that. But somehow they made it."

By October, they were at NAS Alameda, California, but at that point they had to take a break. The Navy needed their aircraft more than it needed them, and so the planes were taken away and sent overseas while the squadron waited for new planes.

Was he afraid the war was going to be over before he got a chance to participate? Christopher only laughs. "No, I didn't worry about that very much. I wasn't that gung ho to go off to war."

The good news was that when the new planes arrived, they were the latest models. The crew gave up their PBM-3Ds for brand new PBM-5s. The major improvement in the new model was going from a 1,900 horsepower engine to a 2,100 horsepower engine.

"The planes didn't necessarily go any faster because they were heavier. But then PBMs were never very fast to begin with. We would normally fly at about 110 knots, which was about 10 knots faster than the PBY."

The squadron made its way to Oahu, Hawaii, and lost its first aircraft with six crew members killed in an accident on Christmas day 1944. "I didn't know those guys very well, and I didn't see it happen, so it didn't seem to affect me too much."

The crew practiced using sono-buoys, small detectors that could be dropped into the ocean to pinpoint the location of an enemy submarine, and FIDOs, an acoustic torpedo that had just been developed. They also trained on dropping depth bombs, which are similar to depth charges except they have aerodynamic fins.

The squadron island-hopped its way to Saipan and arrived on Feb. 13, 1945. The crew was stationed aboard the USS Onslow, a destroyer escort that had been converted into a seaplane tender.

"Mainly we flew anti-submarine patrols, and we just made sure the Japanese weren't doing anything in the area."

The PBMs would also fly "Dumbo" missions to rescue pilots and aircrew that had crashed into the sea. The missions were named after the popular Disney cartoon featuring a flying baby elephant. "Mainly we used radar to find them, but there were times where everyone on board the airplane would be looking. It's awfully hard to spot a life raft in the sea."

Sometimes, the PBMs would land and pick up the downed airmen, but often the seas were too rough. "We'd fly over them and waggle our wings to let them know we saw them. We'd drop them a float light if they needed one, or a raft. Usually we'd just circle until a ship would come to pick them up."

The circling often went on for hours, but that was one of the PBMs strengths. It could fly for 14 hours or more. If a rescue ship still hadn't come before the gas ran out, another PBM would be called to take up the vigil.

Christopher's PBM, designated E-2 in the squadron and named "Dinah Might" by the crew, never was able to land to pick up survivors, and so the crew never met any of the airmen they rescued. At one point, though, they rescued a group of high ranking officers who had been along for the ride in a B-29 on a bombing mission. The PBM crew was invited to a party on Tinian to celebrate the rescue, but they had to leave for Okinawa.

With the battle still going on at Okinawa in March, 1945, the PBMs settled into a small group of islands nearby called Kerama Retto.

"The Japanese had been cleared out – somewhat," Christopher said. "But they were still up in the hills. We'd have to sit on the wings all night with our tommy guns in case they decided to swim out."

The squadron's missions varied from day to day. Sometimes, they would fly up and down the Chinese, Formosa or Korean coastlines searching for Japanese ships that might try to sneak across to the homeland.

They also did ASW work, flew Dumbo missions, and flew picket duty around Okinawa to make sure the Japanese didn't try to sneak in reinforcements.

"One time we thought we'd made a sub contact. The pilot called us to battle stations, and we were all ready to go. It turned out to be a whale. We didn't shoot at it."

On a day the Dinah Might was not schedule to fly, a report came in that a convoy of Japanese ships had been spotted. Volunteers were requested, and Christopher's pilot agreed to go. Three PBMs were chosen from one squadron and three from another because the mission was considered so dangerous the Navy didn't want to decimate one squadron.

"We went out to the airplane in the arming boat, and they had already loaded in the bombs and torpedoes. And they told us they'd laid in new ammunition for the .50 calibers. We knew this was going to be interesting."

Christopher only had one problem with the mission. He was sick. "I had a terrible headache and I was nauseous. I unhooked the cable and got us off the buoy and singled up the line, and then I just laid down in the bow with a bucket beside me."

The enemy convoy was in the mouth of the Yangtze River. "We were still about 50 miles from the target when the pilot said, 'Look at all that anti-aircraft fire.' Both groups were supposed to go in at the same time, but the other group had arrived first and went in ahead. They woke up the Japanese pretty good."

Christopher answered the call to battle stations, but he was still very ill. "I prayed to God to make me well, and I was well, just like that."

The PBMs made their attack, and all survived the defenses of the convoy, but not without some souvenirs. Christopher's airplane was hit with a 5-inch shell that passed completely through the fuselage.

"We must have been too close for the shell to arm itself. It came in one side of the airplane and went out the other. One of the crewmen was sitting on the back of his seat rather than in it, and the shell went right where he should have been sitting. After it exited, it went right through the arc of the propeller." Amazingly, the prop was not damaged. "It was just like it had been synchronized."

One of the planes in the group had so many holes in it that it landed and taxied right up to the seaplane tender and was hoisted aboard before it sank.

The Dinah Might had a confirmed report that one of her 500 lb. bombs had landed on the fantail of a tanker. "We didn't see it. We were taking evasive action and heading into the clouds."

What if the propeller had been shot off? "We practiced quite a bit flying the PBM with one engine. You'd have to get rid of a lot of stuff, like all the extra gas and the ammo. You'd have to throw a lot of stuff over the side."

When the crew got back to the seadrome and had tied up, the crew was given little bottles of brandy for the boat ride to the tender. Christopher, who didn't drink, gave his to a crewmate.

On another mission, Christopher's aircraft attacked a formation of twelve Japanese transports and two destroyers. "The weather was clear when we left, but it got soupy and misty and rainy as we got closer. We were able to pick up the targets on the radar. The anti-aircraft fire was bursting around us, but we got closer and closer and we dropped our torpedoes."

Well, all but one. The last torpedo, which was hanging from the wing of the Mariner, got hung up and refused to drop.

The plane could have called it a day, but the pilot quickly informed the crew that they were going back in to drop the final torpedo. "You don't even react to something like that, you just do it. Heck, we're all 19 years old. You don't get scared at that age."

But how to drop the recalcitrant torpedo? The only way to do it was for somebody to crawl up into the wing and drop it manually with a screwdriver in the manual release mechanism. The problem with that was how to let the volunteer out in the wing know when to release.

"We formed a human chain. I was out in the wing with the screwdriver. Another guy was stretched out behind me, and the waist gunner, with head phones on, was stretched out behind him. When the pilot gave the word, the waist gunner tapped the other guy on the leg, and he tapped me on the leg. I jammed the screwdriver into the torpedo release and the torpedo dropped. We heard that it was running hot and true before we got back up into the soup."

The mission wasn't over yet, though. On the way back, the crew spotted a group of "sugar dogs," small Japanese trawlers. "We strafed them and got in a lot of hits with our .50 calibers. It was like a shooting gallery. You know there are people down there, but you don't think of that. You are taught to hate them anyway. It's part of the training."

Sometimes the threat to the PBMs didn't come from the Japanese. "We got fired on one time by the 5th Fleet. We had a device on board called an IFF that tells our guys that we're a friendly. But the IFFs always seemed to get knocked out by the rough water. The Navy way of referring to a PBM is Peter-Baker-Mike, but we got fired on so often they began calling us Peter-Bogey-Mike."

In the end, the crew of the Dinah Might flew 49 missions. Was there a top end for PBM crews? "If there was, we didn't know anything about it." The Navy rewarded the crew by giving every one of them a Distinguished Flying Cross. Christopher also received an air medal and Combat Aircrew Wings with three Gold Stars. He had advanced from E-2 to E-6 in two years.

As the war wound down, the squadron was moved up to Buckner Bay seaplane base on the island of Okinawa. "One day we were standing the normal buoy watch. The radioman had a speaker rigged up so we could listen to the radio, and one of the guys came running up. He said the Japanese had surrendered and were seeking a cease fire. We were all so happy. We were hugging and jumping up and down. We prayed."

On Okinawa, the troops fired weapons into the sky. "Everything was shooting into the air. It was quite a fireworks display."

At the end of September, the crew was moved to Sasebo, Japan, as part of the occupation force. In October, the Dinah Might was lost when it ran into a reef while taking off. "We were barely able to save Dinah Might from sinking."

The crew got a new, all black PBM-5. Their last flight together was a journey around the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, including a low level view of the atomic bomb destruction at Nagasaki.

They were sent home in a ship. Christopher went back to LaMaur Inc., a manufacturer of shampoos and other hair products, where he had worked part-time before the war. He worked his way up to production supervisor. He also did a stint in the Naval Reserve, but got out just before the start of the Korean War.

He retired from LaMaur in 1987 at age 63. "I retired because of the computers. I used to do all the production planning myself, and now the computer was telling me what to do. I didn't like that."

He married in 1949, and he and his wife, Irene, had two children, a boy and a girl.

One room in the Christopher household is called the PBM room, and it contains a score of photos of Jack and his aircraft and several scale models of the Mariner. He is happy to show off his memorabilia, the stories he wrote for various veterans publications, and even his wartime logbook.

"I've got to keep telling the story of the PBM. Not enough people know about it."


Circa 1944

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - December 1944..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - November 1944..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Patrol Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN (VPB-27) - War Diary - October 1944..." Official U. S. Navy Documention [26OCT2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...FAW-5 - VP-27 War Diary - July 1944 - War Diary..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [05NOV2012]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...FAW-5 - VP-27 War Diary - June 1944 - War Diary..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [05NOV2012]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraFAW-2 VP Aircraft and Location "...FAW-2, VPB-4, VPB-11, VPB-13, VPB-16, VPB-26, VPB-27, VPB-28, VPB-34, VPB-52, VPB-100 and VPB-106 - FAW-2/A12-1-013 December to 31 December 1944..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [15OCT2012]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraLife Magazine - 1944 "...This is a HAND SIGNED guaranteed authentic original WWII Life Magazine dated March 27, 1944. The Life Magazine cover features a Landing Craft, Infantry. The Life magazine is all original signatures and is signed by the following 53 well known WWII Vets. Jack Christopher PBM-5 Martin Mariner and a member of the VPB-27. Christopher flew 49 missions in the PBM-5 in the Pacific Theatre Saipan and Okinawa. Flying "Dumbo" missions to rescue pilots and aircrew that had crashed into the sea. Received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and Combat Aircrew Wings with three Gold Stars..." WebSite: EBay http://www.ebay.com/ [04NOV2007]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraJack Christopher "...Jack Christopher autographed 4x6 photograph - PBM-5 Martin Mariner and a member of the Patrol Bombing Squadron 27. Christopher flew 49 missions in the PBM-5 in the Pacific Theatre Saipan and Okinawa. Flying "Dumbo" missions to rescue pilots and aircrew that had crashed into the sea. Received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and Combat Aircrew Wings with three Gold Stars. The Dinah Might crew in 1945. Christopher is in back, second from the left..." WebSite: EBay http://www.ebay.com/ [14OCT2006]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraYakutat (AVP-32) as a Coast Guard cutter (WHEC-380) "...Yakutat - A bay on the southern coast of Alaska. (AVP-32: dp. 2,411 (f.); l. 310'9"; b. 41'2"; dr. 11'11"; s. 18.5 k.; cpl. 367; a. 2 5", 8 40mm., 6 20mm., 2 dct.; cl. Barnegat)...Squadrons Mentioned: VPB-13, VPB-16, VPB-17, VPB-27 and VPB-216..." WebSite: Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/y1/yakutat.htm [22DEC2005]

Photograph Caption: Yakutat (AVP-32) as a Coast Guard cutter (WHEC-380), in the gray finish used on cutters operating in Vietnam.

Yakutat (AVP-32) was laid down on 1 April 1942 at Seattle, Wash., by Associated Shipbuilders, Inc.; launched on 2 July 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Peter Barber, a mother who had lost three sons when the battleship Oklahoma (BB-37) was sunk on 7 December 1941 at Pearl Harbor; and commissioned on 31 March 1944, Comdr. George K. Fraser in command.

After her shakedown in the San Diego, Calif., area, Yakutat got underway on 25 May and arrived at San Pedro, Calif., late the following day. Following post-shakedown availability in the West Coast Shipbuilders' yard at San Pedro, the small seaplane tender sailed for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 17 June; she reached Ford Island one week later.

Underway at 0700 on 28 June, Yakutat steamed for the Marshalls as an escort for Makin Island (CVE-93). Arriving at Kwajalein on 6 July, she shifted to Eni-wetok within a week, where she embarked officers and men of a patrol service unit and took on board a cargo of 5-inch illuminating ammunition. She sailed for Saipan on 14 July.

Reaching recently secured Tanapag Harbor on 17 July, Yakutat began setting up a seaplane base there and immediately commenced servicing seaplanes, providing subsistence and quarters for the aviators and aircrews attached to those aircraft. The tender provided the aircraft with gasoline and oil via bowser fueling boats and commenced servicing planes by the over-the-stern method as well.

Yakutat remained at Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, Marianas Islands for the rest of July, all of August, and into September. After shifting to the Garapan anchorage, Saipan, on 8 September, Yakutat transferred all plane personnel to USS Coos Bay (AVP-25) and sailed for the Palaus on the 12th. In company with USS Chandeleur (AV-10), USS Pocomoke (AV-9), USS Onslow (AVP-48), and USS Mackinac (AVP-13), Yakutat reached Kossol Passage on 16 September, the day after the initial landings on Pelelieu.

Proceeding to the seaplane operation area via a "comparatively well-marked channel" and "while sweeping operations went on continuously" nearby, Yakutat soon commenced laying out a seaplane anchorage. The following day, the tender serviced the first plane of VPB-216, furnishing fuel and boat service.

With nine planes operational, VPB-216 was based on Yakutat, conducting long-range patrols and antisubmarine sweeps daily. During that time, the tender also served as secondary fighter director unit and experienced air alerts on six occasions. Enemy planes remained in the vicinity for varying lengths of time and occasionally dropped bombs in the lagoon area.

Yakutat serviced the Martin PBM patrol planes into early November 1944. On 9 November, the ship got underway for Ulithi and arrived there the following day. Yakutat tended planes there from 13 to 26 November before she underwent a drydocking for a routine bottom cleaning and hull repairs. She then sailed for Guam on the 29th.

Reaching Apra Harbor on the 30th, Yakutat loaded spare parts for Martin PBM Mariner flying boats before she got underway on the 2d to return to Saipan. She arrived later the same day; completed the discharge of her cargo two days later and, on the 5th, took on board 13 officers and 30 men of VPB-216 for temporary subsistence.

Yakutat tended planes of VPB-16 and VPB-17 at Saipan through mid-January of 1945. She departed Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, Marianas Islands on the morning of 17 January, steamed independently for Guam, and reached her destination later that day. However, she remained there only a short time, for she sailed on the 19th for the Palaus and reached Kossol Roads on the 21st. Yakutat discharged cargo there and fueled seaplanes until 6 February, when she sailed in company with USS St. George (AV-16) and escorted by PC-1130, bound for the Carolines.

Anchoring at Ulithi on the 7th, Yakutat tended seaplanes there for most of February; highlighting that brief tour was the ship's going to the vicinity of a crashed Vought OS2U Kingfisher floatplane on the 10th. After salvaging equipment from the plane—the aircraft apparently too badly damaged to warrant repair—Yakutat sank the plane with gunfire and returned to her anchorage in the seaplane operating area.

On 25 February, Yakutat sailed for the Marianas in company with USS St. George (AV-16) and reached Garapan harbor two days later. She tended seaplanes there for a little less than a month before sailing for Okinawa on the 23d to take part in Operation "Iceberg," the conquest of the Ryukyus.

Yakutat tended the PBM Mariners of VPB-27 for the rest of the war. The seaplane tender established seadrome operations at Kerama Retto on the 28th and spent the rest of the important Okinawa campaign engaged in her vital but unsung task. The presence of enemy aircraft in the vicinity on numerous occasions meant many hours spent at general quarters stations, lookouts' eyes and radar alert for any sign of approaching enemy planes. Yakutat provided quarters and subsistence for the crews of the Mariners and furnished the planes with gas, lube oil, and JATO (jet-assisted take-off) units. The twin-engined Martin flying boats conducted antisubmarine and air-sea rescue ("Dumbo") duties locally, as well as offensive patrols that ranged as far as the coast of Korea.

Although the ship received a dispatch on 21 June to the effect that all "organized resistance on Okinawa has ceased," her routine remained busy. A week later, for example, a Consolidated PB2Y Coronado crashed on take-off and sank approximately 500 yards off the starboard beam of the ship. Yakutat dispatched two boats to the scene and rescued eight men. Boats from another ship rescued the remaining trio of survivors from the Coronado. All men were brought on board Yakutat, where they were examined and returned to their squadron, VPB-13.

On 15 July, Yakutat sailed for Chimu Wan, Okinawa —in company with USS Norton Sound (AV-11), USS Chandeleur (AV-10), Onslow, Shelikof (AVP-52), and Bering Strait (AVP-34)—but returned to port due to a typhoon in the vicinity. However, she got underway again the following day and reached Chimu Wan the same date. She remained there, tending seaplanes, largely anchored but occasionally moving to open water to be free to maneuver when typhoons swirled by. On one occasion, while returning to Chimu Wan after a typhoon evacuation, Yakutat made sonar contact on a suspected submarine, on 3 August. The seaplane tender made one attack, dropping depth charges from her stern-mounted tracks, but lost the contact soon thereafter.

Yakutat was at Chimu Wan when Japan capitulated and hostilities ended on 15 August. With the officers and men of the crew assembled aft, the ship's commanding officer, Lt. Comdr. W. I. Darnell humbly led his crew in offering thanks to God "for being kept afloat to see the final day of this war."

Although V-J Day meant that offensive operations against the Japanese ceased, it only meant the beginning of the long occupation of the erstwhile enemy's homeland and possessions. Yakutat remained at Chimu Wan for the rest of August and for most of September, before she sailed for Japanese home waters on 20 September, in company with St. George.

En route, the two seaplane tenders caught up with Vice Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf's Task Unit 56.4.3 formed around the battleships Tennessee (BB-43) and California (BB-44) and became units of Task Force 56, and later, when redesignated, as Task Force 51.

Yakutat reached Wakanoura Wan, Honshu, on the 22d, finding Floyds Bay (AVP-4C) already there and operating as tender for seaplanes. Yakutat underwent a brief availability alongside Cascade (AD-26) before she commenced her tending operations at Wakanoura Wan. She operated as tender for seaplanes using that port until 12 October, when she shifted to Hiro Wan where she performed seaplane tender operations and seadrome control duties for a little over a month.

Underway on 14 November, Yakutat arrived at Sasebo on the 15th, stayed there until the 19th, and then set sail for the United States with 58 officers and 141 enlisted men embarked as passengers. After stopping at Midway for fuel on the 27th, the small seaplane tender continued on, bound for the Pacific Northwest.

Reaching Port Townsend, Wash., on 6 December, Yakutat transferred all passengers to LCI-957 for further transportation and then shifted to Sinclair Inlet, Wash., where she offloaded all bombs and ammunition before reporting on the 7th to the Bremerton Group of the Pacific Reserve (19th) Fleet.

Yakutat subsequently shifted south to the NAS Alameda, California, where she was decommissioned on 29 July 1946. Transferred on loan to the Coast Guard on 31 August 1948, the erstwhile small seaplane tender was towed to the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in September, where she was fitted out into the winter months. She was recommissioned at San Francisco on 23 November 1948 as USCGC Yakutat (WAVP-380).

Proceeding via the Panama Canal and Kingston, Jamaica, Yakutat eventually commenced weather patrol duties in the North Atlantic out of Portland, Maine, in late January 1949. Homeported at New Bedford, Mass., in 1949, Yakutat operated out of that port over the next 11 years, always ready to perform her assigned missions of search and rescue, ocean station patrol, and providing meteorological and oceanographic service_s. Periodically, the ship conducted refresher training in company with naval units out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

During the course of her operations. Yakutat proceeded, in February 1952, to the scene of an unusual maritime disaster that occurred off Cape Cod. Two tankers—SS Fort Mercer and SS Pendleton—each broke in two and foundered, almost simultaneously. Yakutat, as ship in tactical command of the rescue efforts, consequently picked up men from both ships and directed the rescue efforts by other participating vessels in the vicinity. Later that year, in December, Yakutat rescued survivors of a plane crash off the entrance to St. George's Harbor, Bermuda, with her small boats.

Participating in Coast Guard operations as part of Operation "Market Time" off the coast of Vietnam in 1967 and again in 1970 and 1971, Yakutat was also re-designated as a medium endurance cutter and given the alphanumeric hull number WHEC-380. Returned to the Navy in 1970, Yakutat was transferred to the Navy of the Republic of South Vietnam on 10 January 1971.

Renamed Tran Nhat Duat (HQ-03), the former seaplane tender and weather ship cooperated with units of the United States Navy on coastal patrol and counter-insurgency missions off the coast of embattled South Vietnam until the collapse of that country in the spring of 1975.

Fleeing to the Philippines, Tran Nhat Duat and her five sisterships of the former South Vietnamese Navy lay moored in Subic Bay awaiting disposition—ships without a country. The Philippine government, however, acquired the ships in 1975, and title was formally transferred on 5 April 1976. Tran Nhat Duat and her sistership Tran Quac Toan (HQ-06) (ex-Coofc Inlet, WHEC-384 and AVP-36) were acquired only to be cannibalized for spare parts to keep the other four units of the class in operating condition.

Yakutat (AVP-32) received four battle stars for her World War II service. She also received one award of the Navy Unit Commendation, one award of the Meritorious Unit Commendation, and four battle stars for Vietnam service while assigned to the United States Coast Guard

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Catalina rescue - Wings of Gold, Summer 2002 by Grizzell, Bill..." http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3834/is_200207/ai_n9090063 [28MAR2005]

On January 10th, 1944 a message was delivered to our tent on Makin Island in the Pacific. We were in VP-27 on PBY rescue standby status and the dispatch read: "Proceed immediately vicinity of Milli atoll. Rescue downed flyer in water. Escorted will be 12 chickens. That meant 12 AAF fighters would be with us as the area was hot with action.

We launched and 200 miles later the Air Force fighters were pinpointing the survivor by diving toward him in his raft. Approaching for an open sea landing I hoped the enemy guns would be distracted by the fighters.

The waves were huge, green and ominous looking. We made a jarring impact with the water but didn't bounce.The instrument panel vibrated, the wheel was torn from my grip and my headset yanked to the floor as the PBY swung 90 degrees to the right.

There followed an eerie silence but for the idling Pratt and Whitney engines. The wing tips were intact and no waterspouts erupted from the hull indicating popped rivets. Fifty yards away the flyer drifted toward us in the heavy seas and abandoned his raft. Swimming toward us, Ordnanceman Oakley heaved him a line and hauled him in, soaked, exhausted but happy

I noticed that after every 6th wave the next one was of diminished force so we took off after the 6th. My flight suit was soaked with perspiration and my shoes were squishy as I touched the rudder pedals. I nodded and my copilot, ENS Israel, opened the throttles. The engine noise was accompanied by sea spray that engulfed the windshield. At 50 knots we rose into the air just as a "Grand Canyon" wave slapped the hull. The Catalina prevailed and we were on our way. The Catalina performing magnificently.

2LT Carl P Murray was our lucky and grateful survivor from a fighter group in the Army Air Force's Central Pacific Command.

Arriving at Makin I made a diving pass over the airstrip at the phenomenal speed of 150 knots in jubilation of the successful rescue.

My crew in the photo during the Gilbert/ Marshall Campaign of 1944, less Israel, were, back row I to r: Oakley, Butelo, Francis, Abraham, Jacovotos and White. Front row: Bob Smith, 2nd pilot, yours truly and navigator Lieblong.

Editors note: VP-72 participated in about 70 rescues during the 1943-44 tour of duty.


Circa 1942-1945

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...History of FAW-5 - History of Headquarters Squadron Fleet Air Wing Five - 01SEP42 through 01JAN45. Squadron's Assigned: VP-15, VP-16, VP-17, VP-18, VP-21, VP-22, VP-25, VP-26, VP-27, VP-28, VP-31, VP-52, VP-63, VP-81, VP-92, VP-94, VPB-105, VPB-107, VPB-110, VPB-111, VPB-112, VPB-113, VPB-114, VPB-126, VPB-134, VPB-147, VPB-149, VP-201, VP-205, VP-208, VP-209, VP-210, VP-211, VP-212, VP-213, VP-214, VP-215 and VP-216 - Submitted Feburary 1, 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [27NOV2012]

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Circa 1942

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...USS Yakutat (AVP 32)..." http://laesser.11net.com/cutters/whec/311/cgcyakut.htm [10OCT2001]

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Circa 1941-1944

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...History of FAW-8 - History from 08JUL41-31DEC44 Submitted April 12th, 1945. Squadron's Assigned: VP-16, VP-18, VP-19, VP-20, VP-21, VP-22, VP-25, VP-26, VP-27, VP-28, VP-43, VP-61, VP-62, VP-63, VP-72, VP-81, VP-82, VP-83, VP-84, VP-92, VP-118, VP-123, VP-133, VP-137, VP-140, VP-142, VP-144, VP-148, VP-150, VP-153, VP-198, VP-205, VP-208 and VP-216..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [01DEC2012]

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