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History VP-199 HistoryHistory

Circa 1945

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - October 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - September 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - August 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - July 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - June 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - May 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - April 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - March 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - February 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - January 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...United States Pcific Fleet - Air Force - Patrol Bombing Squadron One Hundred Ninety-Nine - 15 September 1945 - Squadron Personnel and Aviator's In Training As Replacement Crews (VB2) FFA By ComFair West Coast..." [11OCT2009]

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Circa 1944 - 1945

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - October 1st, 1944 through November 2nd, 1945..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...There were many demands placed on our flight crews; weather permitting I logged two flights a day manny days, all in the PV-1, which as you know was a hot little rascal. There was no time to play or fraternize. We had a lot to learn and little time to learn it, the invasion of Japan was imminent and obviously VPB-199 would take part in that campaign. Besides my co-pilots I hardly got to know any of my shipmates..." Contributed by Lt. Leo G. Wetherill, U.S.N.R. Retired lwetherill@earthlink.net [11JAN2000]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Historical Center, Department Of The Navy, Washington, D. C http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/dictvol2.htm [28APR2001]
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Circa 1944

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - December 1944..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - November 1944..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...War Diary - October 1944..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [13JAN2014]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...An Aleutian Adventure by Dennis Parks - VPB-136 and VPB-199...Aloft - The Museum of Flight Magazine - Volume 27 - Number 4 - JUL/AUG 2006..." WebSite: The Museum of Flight Magazine http://www.museumofflight.org/ [04NOV2006]

According to the World War II Navy training manual Aleutian Sense, the Aleutian Islands were nothing if not home to extreme weather conditions: "You'll encounter warm weather and sometimes you'll be in blizzards with winds as high as 100 knots. It won't be like anything you've ever seen before, because Aleutian weather is unlike that of any other place in the world."

It was from this inhospitable home that FAW-4 conducted its war against the Japanese in the Pacific, based at Casco Field on Artu, the westernmost Aleutian island suitable for aerial operations. The wing's task was to take the offensive by striking the northern end of the Japanese Empire.

The Museum Archives recendy received a collection of items from Marion Moorehead related to her late husband's service as a naval aviator in World War II, which included service in the Aleutians. These documents shed fascinating light on the war in this area and on a particular incident of his service in Alaska.

Lt. Albert Francis Moorhead had attended the University ofWashingron and earned a private pilot's license before joining the Navy in 1941. After flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas, he stayed on as a flight instructor until early 1944, when he joined Patrol Bombing Squadron 136 (VPB-136) at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. There, he transitioned into the Lockheed PV-1 Ventura twin-engine patrol bomber.

In June 1944, his squadron moved to NAS Attu, Alaska. It was responsible for searches, tactical bombing and photographic missions over the Kurile Islands of northern Japan. The Kuriles target area was about 700 miles from Artu, and except for Soviet territory, there were no alternate fields on the way back to base. The distance to the target also meant the bomber crews had no fighter escort and were on their own.

In early March 1945, VPB-136 was relieved of duty in the Aleutians, at which time the squadron had lost only four aircraft-three to enemy action and one to mechanical problems. All four made successful forced landings in the Soviet Union and eventually returned to the United States. The only further trouble was had by Lt. Moorehead and his crew.

Lt. Moorehead and crew were to report to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington for reassignment to VPB-199, a training unit. They were scheduled to fly to NAS Kodiak, Alaska, on their first day of travel. The forecast showed low ceilings, snow showers and reduced visibility along their route. They departed for NAS Kodiak, Alaska and worked their way up the Aleutian Chain toward the mainland.

By the time they got to Chirikof, south of NAS Kodiak, Alaska, the weather had deteriorated to a 300-foot ceiling and half-mile visibility. The radio stopped functioning properly but they were able to navigate by radar contact. At 7:53 p.m., the lieutenant requested landing instructions from NAS Kodiak, Alaska and asked that the runway lights be turned on. But there was no reply from NAS Kodiak, Alaska tower.

With low fuel, Moorehead decided to ditch his PV-1 in a bay near where they had seen village lights. The sea was not visible, so he could tell nothing about the wind or wave conditions. The first time Moorehead got a glimpse of the sea, he added power, as he thought they were too far out from shore. He was just in time, as the tail was hitting the waves, but he managed to pull the plane back into the air. After touching twice, the Ventura hit a final time and settled into the frigid water.

The crew was uninjured, and all but one made it to the life raft. The other missed the raft and swam around in darkness. The villagers, from what turned out to be Karluk, had a boat in the water almost as soon as the plane ditched. Batding five-foot swells and a strong wind, the rescuers took almost an hour to reach the men but were able to save them all, including the one alone in the darkness.

The men were taken to NAS Kodiak, Alaska, where the Navy reported that, in view of tide and winds at the time of the ditching, the crew's safety was due to the splendid work of the villagers in braving the storm. The Navy accident report stated that Lt. Moorehead had "demonstrated exceptional pilot ability in making a successful night water landing under extremely adverse conditions."

Lt. Moorehead eventually made it to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, where he took up his training assignment with VPB-199. Later, he and the squadron converted to the Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon, a redesigned version of the Ventura. With the end of the war, Moorehead was detached from service. At that time he had logged more than 2,000 flight hours, 620 of which were in PV-1 s and PV-2s.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...LOCKHEED PV VENTURA and HARPOON - by Jack McKillop..." http://www.microworks.net/pacific/aviation/pv_ventura.htm [23JUN2002]

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