A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. VIII, pp. 480-83..." http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/auxil/az1.htm [25JUN2000]
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A BIT OF HISTORY: "...PATROL SQUADRON SEVENTY-TWO..." WebSite: National Museum of Naval Aviation http://126.96.36.199/flightlog/squadrons.asp [14MAY2001]
PRE WORLD WAR II
VP-14, first of the squadrons whose later designations include VP-72 was commissioned at NAS Hampton Roads 11/1/35. Redesignated VP-52 on 07/01/39, the sqdn was assignd to Neutrality Patrol in September and transferred to USCGAS Charleston, SC.. In January '41, VP-52 received PBY-5's and returned to Norfolk. In May '41 the sqdn was ordered to Argentia, Newfoundland for North Atlantic operations. On May 20 the 12 PBY's followed the ground crew aboard the tender Albemarle, landing safely in near minimum weather after instrument approaches on ALBEMARLE's radio beacon. SEARCH FOR THE BISMARCK Below minimums weather on May 24th grounded the four planes scheduled to fly, with crews standing by aboard ship or the planes. In mid-afternoon boats with pilots, crewmen, and bags of bullethole plugs arrived with news that the German battleship BISMARCK had sunk HMS HOOD earlier in the day and though damaged, had eluded British forces. VP-52 was to search for BISMARCK, reporting her position if found and maintaining contact. The four planes took off in late afternoon for the assigned area south of Cape Farewell, Greenland. On arrival, the PBY's descended below the overcast for visual search but low visibility and approaching darkness forced cancellation of the search and the planes were ordered to return to base. Weather on the return flight was severe with heavy icing to 20,000 feet. Meanwhile, VP-52's seven remaining PBY's at Argentia took off near sunset to proceed to the search area to start visual search at sunrise. Weather enroute proved as severe as it had been for the earlier flight, forcing return to Argentia. Weather there was below minimums and planes were ordered south to find safe landing areas. All eleven planes eventually landed safely, only one at Argentia. The others, after 18 to 20 hrs in flight, found clear areas and landed in bays and lakes from Labrador to Rhode Island. Next day fuel was flown to them and all but one were back in Argentia by 26th. Bismarck was relocated by RAF Catalinas on the 26th and, under continuous attack by British forces, was sunk on May 27th.
On 1 July 1941 the sqdn was assigned to PatWing Seven, re-designated VP-72, and home ported at NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island. During deployment to Iceland in July to provide cover for a USMC occupation force, the sqdn suffered its first loss when 72-P-12 failed to arrive. Searches along the route and on Greenland found no trace of the crew or plane. During late 1941, detachments rotated between Quonset for pilot and crew training, and NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada for operations.
WORLD WAR II
Events of December 7th, 1941 changed VP-72's future as they did that of the rest of the world. The sqdn was detached from PatWing Seven on the 9th and planes recalled frm NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada to prepare for transfer to the West Coast. On the 13th the ground crew began the journey to Pearl Harbor. Aircraft departed Quonset for Alameda where they joined groups there waiting favorable weather for the TransPac to Hawaii. After arriving in Hawaii, crews flew 11 to 12 hour 700 mile patrols every third day at Kaneohe and from Johnston and Palmyra Islands. On February 27th, VP-72 lost a plane and crew with one survivor, when a PBY crashed on predawn launch In March, a detachment deployed to Noumea, New Caledonia, to patrol preliminary to the Coral Sea Battle. June was busy with patrols from Kaneohe and Midway preliminary to the Battle of Midway, with many Dumbo rescue flights during and after the battle. In August and September, patrol activity continued at high levels. A major change in sqdn organization transferred ground crew personnel to service units with only plane crews in the sqdn. Some new planes arrived and in October 1942, VP-72 began deploying to the South Pacific to base on USS Tangier (AV-8) at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. During the Guadalcanal campaign in Oct. and Nov. '42, flight activity continued at high levels and patrols had many encounters with enemy aircraft. On 16 November a Dumbo mission rescued five survivors of USS JUNEAU, sunk 14 November by torpedos from an enemy submarine. In December and early 1943 VP-72 joined other Espiritu Santo based PBY sqdns in night attacks on enemy Solomon Island bases. On 1 January '43 the sqdn lost a PBY and five crewmen during landing off Guadalcanal on return from a Dumbo mission to rescue an Army pilot VP-72 was relieved 23 May 1943. Personnel returned to the States by ship. Following leave, many "First Tour" pilots and crewmen were retained in VP-72 for a second combat tour. The sqdn re with new PBY-5's for operations in CenPac and SoPac. In January 1944 mine laying missions were flown to enemy bases in the Marshalls. In early June patrols were cancelled; only Dumbo standby at Eniwetok, Kwajelein, and Roi-Namur continuing. VP-72 returned to the States in August and reformed as VPB-122on 1 October 1944 with PB4Y-2's. This brief account of sqdn activities can only suggest the variety of tasks and missions assigned to the patrol sqdns. In early WWII operations in WesPac the P-boats suffered grievous losses but later, in better equipped aircraft, the PBY earned a reputation for being able to go anywhere and do anything - and bring her crew home.
NOTE: Only VP-52 and VP-72, of the seven designations under which the squadron served from 1935 to 1950 are covered in this review. Details of the other sqdns' service will be available in the Museum's Buehler Library files, when completed.
SQUADRON DESIGNATIONS AND AIRCRAFT ASSIGNED
VP-141 11/01/35 - 07/01/39 PM-2 and P2Y-2
VP-52 07/01/39 - 07/01/41 P2Y-2 and PBY-5
VP-72 07/01/41 - 06/01/43 PBY-5 and PBY-5A
VP-72 07/06/43 - 08/01/44 PBY-5 (second tour)
VPB-12210/01/44 - 05/15/46 PB4Y-2 and PB4Y-1
VP-12205/15/46 - 11/15/46 PB4Y-2
VP-HL-12 11/16/46 - 09/01/48 PB4Y-2
VP-29 09/01/48 - 01/18/50 PB4Y-2 Decommissioned
VP-72 NEUTRALITY PATROL & WORLD WAR TWO AWARDS
American Devense Service Medal 06/22/41 - 12/07/41
Capture & Defense of Guadalcanal 07/10/42 - 02/08/43
Gilbert Islands Operation 11/13/42 - 12/08/43
Air attacks designated by CINCPAC on defended Marshall Island targets 11/26/43 - 08/02/44
CDR W. L. Peterson, USN 11/01/35 - 01/01/38
LCDR Barrett Studley, USN 01/01/38 - 07/01/39
LCDR S. W. Callaway, USN 07/01/39 - 03/01/41
LCDR C. C. McDonald, USN 03/01/41 - 10/01/41
LCDR C. H. Duborg, USN 10/01/41 - 04/01/42
LCDR E. J. Drew, USN 04/01/42 - 12/08/42
LCDR S. J. Lawrence, USN 12/08/42 - 08/01/44
LCDR A. L. Burgess, USN 10/01/44 - ? /46
CDR L. R. Jensen, USN 11/15/46 - 06/16/47
LCDR T. W. Marshall, USN 06/16/47 - 06/21/49
CDR R. J. Davis, USN 06/21/49 - 01/18/50
"VP-72 History Summary Page"