VP-5 Squadron Shipmates
VPNAVY Address

ShipmateVP-54 ShipmatesShipmate

Memorial Picture "...BARRERA, ADC William Hubert...Shipmate Pix...My father, William Hubert Barrera, served in the U. S. Navy from August 1940 to July 1960. My father was awarded the American Area, American Defense (with clasp), Asiatic Pacific (1 Star), World War II Victory Medal, China Service Medal and the Good Conduct (3 Awards). He served at/with NAS Floyd Bennett Field, New York, NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, FAW-2 NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, VP-23, VP-54, VPB-122 (ComSubArea - Palau Islands), NAS Alameda, California, VP-19, VP-23 and NAS Cecil Field, Jacksonville, Florida...Dee deeanddory@aol.com..." [BIO Updated 23MAR2007 | 21MAR2007]

BESWICK, Pete GBESWICK@ec.rr.com "...Interested in contacting and remaining members of VP-51 and VP-54 who served in the Pacific in WWII. My father LCDR William R. "Bill" Beswick any info appreciated..." [14OCT2000]

Memorial Picture "...BICKFORD, AO2 John "Jack"...Am looking for anyone who flew with my father, John (Jack) Bickford from Worcester, MA. His rate was AO2c. His unit was PATSU 1-1 which serviced VP-54 and then VP-81, both "Black Cat" squadrons, from about May of 1943 to August 1944. He flew from Guadalcanal, Bouganville, and Munda. My dad passed away at a young age and much history died with him. For many years I have been attempting to find someone who knew and/or flew with him. I have pictures and unconfirmed stories. Contact me via E-Mail or by telephone, 443-203-0070. I am a life member of the PBY Cat International Association having attended two Reunions and met many fine folks...John Bickford catalinajack6@gmail.com..." [E-Mail Updated 04JUL2009 | BIO/E-Mail Updated 06OCT2005 | 25AUG97]

BLANKENSHIP, Robert O "...VP-54/VPB-54 Mr. Robert O Blankenship, 2020 Saint Elmo Ave, Memphis, TN 38127-4480, 901-358-0244..." http://www.warships1.com/reunion_airgroup.htm [21DEC98]

BRENT, AMM1 Ralph O. [Deceased] c/o His Nephew Steve Brent stevebrent@mynra.com "...My uncle, RALPH O. BRENT served with VP-54 as an AMM1c. He was on a PBY-5A, BUNO: 04403 from Guadalcanal which was lost over enemy waters 15 May, 1943. His brother (my father) would like to find out anything he can about his brother and would like anyone who knew him to contact him through me..." [13FEB2002]

BROWN, LCDR Milton H. c/o His Grandson Ed Manning ullr@cris.com "...I'm looking for information on my grandfather's PBY squadron VP-54 the Black Cats or Black Cat command. My grangfather Lt.Cmdr. Milton H. Brown flew for this unit. My grandfather has passsed since away. I am now 18, and any stories he may have told me I don't remember because I was to young. If you have any info on the Black Cats or VP-54 I would be greatly interested in receiving it..." [01JUL98]

UPDATE "...I found out that my grandfather graduated from Fresno State, and that he enlisted in 1941. He went overseas in November 1942. He flew a PBY Catalina for the famous Black Cat squadron, which I believe in his case was VP-54. My grandfather saw action in the battles of Guadalcanal, New Georgia, Rendova, Munda, Vella Lavella, Treasury Island, the Kula Gulf and Bougainville. In addition I also found out that my grandfather was decorated with the Navy and Marine corps medal..." [02JUL98]

Memorial Picture "...CLEVELAND, LCDR Alfred Saxton...My name is Casey Cleveland. My father was LCDR Alfred Saxton Cleveland. He was the Air Combat Intelligence Officer of VP-54. I believe he served until the end of 1944. He was on the USS Intrepid In Nov. of 44 during a nasty Kamakazae attack. I never knew why he was there, I assumed the VP-54 was somehow deployed from her at one time. He was given the Bronz Star for assisting in the rescue of trapped men from the ready room. he passed away in 1982 before I was able to learn more about his navy career. I am looking for anyone who might have known him during this time or served with him. I have visited this site before and found mission documents with his name on the bottom. This is an excellent site. Thanks foe being there...Casey Cleveland mmac90@starpower.net..." [03MAY2005]

Memorial Picture "...EVANS, AMM1 Horace O. "Hank"...Sorry to note Dad's passing on October 25, 2005. Dad served with VP-54 and a number of other squadrons (VP-43, VP-200, VU-7, FAW-14, FAW-8, Airborre Early Warning Squadron PW-2 and VU-2) in the Solomon Island area (Bougainville) as an AMM1 during WWII. I would be interested in corresponding with anyone who has addiitonal information about the squadron's activities in the area. TC Bill Evans wevans80@comcast.net..." [26NOV2009]

EVANS, H. O. c/o his son LTC Bill Evans wevans80@comcast.net "...My Dad, H.O. Evans, served as a member of PBY squadrons during WWII in the SOuth Pacific, specifically with VP-43, VP-54, VP-200, VU-7, HEDRON FAW 14, HEDRON FAW 8, HEDRON PW2, and VU-2. Crashed in the Ellice Islands on Sept 5, 1944, rescued by the crew of the USS Renshaw. Now lives in Michigan..." [02NOV98]

Memorial Picture "...FOX, AOMAC1 Jack C...My Grandfather AOMAC1 Jack C. Fox was a bombardier with VP-54/VPB-54. His flight book records dates from March 1944 to August 1945. He rarely spoke of his time in the Pacific, however he started sharing recently, until his passing this March. We wish we had more time with him. My family wishes to honor all of you and yours..." Contributed by Jeffrey Kalick mezcalfud@yahoo.com [16OCT2020]

HILEMAN, Walter J. chiefhileman@juno.com "...I was a member of this squadron in 1943 and am a member of the Reunion group. Looking forward to Jax this October..." [26APR2000]

Memorial Picture "...ISBELL, CAPTAIN Arnold Jay...http://www.ranger95.com/navy/navy_ship/combat_ship/destroyers/background/arnold_j_isbell_dd_869_bak.htm Arnold J. Isbell—born on 22 September 1899 in Quimby, Iowa—entered the Naval Academy on 24 July 1917 and graduated on 3 June 1920 (a year ahead of schedule due to acceleration of midshipman training during World War I) with class 21A of the Class of 1921. Isbell then served successive tours of duty in Melville (AD-2), Bath (AK-4), and the fast minelayers Ingraham (DM-9) and Burns (DM-11) before beginning flight instruction at the NAS Pensacola, Florida, on 30 June 1923. He then briefly served as an instructor there before reporting to Observation Squadron 1, based in the minelayer Aroostook (CM-3) which was then serving as an aircraft tender in November 1924. In March of the following year, he was transferred to the aviation unit of the battleship Tennessee (BB-43). Following two years of postgraduate work in ordnance back at the Naval Academy between the summers of 1926 and 1928, he received further flight instruction at Washington, D.C., under the supervision of the post graduate school, before going to sea with Torpedo Squadron IB in aircraft carrier Lexington (CV—2)...Isbell then served in the Aviation Ordnance Section of the Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd) in Washington before reporting to Newport News, Va., on 16 September 1933 to participate in the fitting out of the Navy's first aircraft carrier to be built as such from the keel up, Ranger (CV-4). Following a brief tour of duty in that ship, he served from 6 June 1934 to 9 June 1936 in carrier Saratoga (CV-3) as gunnery officer on the staff of Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Henry V. Butler, Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force...Isbell subsequently flew as executive officer of VP-7F based in aircraft tender USS Wright (AV-1) from 9 June 1936 to 1 June 1937 before commanding one of the five squadrons of the Aviation Training Department at NAS Pensacola, Florida, VN-4D8. While at Pensacola, he won the coveted Schiff Trophy, "emblematic of maximum safety in aircraft operation."...In the early summer of 1939, Lt. Comdr. Isbell assumed command of VP-11 (later redesignated VP-54). The German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 found VP-54 based at NAS Norfolk, Virginia; engaged in biennial maintenance of its dozen PBY—2 flying boats. Eight days later, a detachment of six planes departed NAS Norfolk, Virginia and arrived at Newport, R.I., their assigned base, that same day. The entire squadron resumed operations on NAS Norfolk, Virginia on 14 November 1939, relieving VP-53 on the Middle Atlantic Patrol...During one of the flights his squadron conducted in the initial selection and survey of Army and Navy base sites in Newfoundland in the autumn of 1940—sites obtained in the "destroyers-for-bases" deal of the summer before—Isbell found himself in the path of a hurricane. In an attempt to evade the storm, Isbell skillfully maneuvered his aircraft in the murk until exceptionally strong headwinds forced him to make an emergency night landing on Prince Edward Island. Isbell took off before daybreak, despite fog and violent winds, and reached his destination without mishap. After completing his inspection over uninhabited regions and seacoast areas, Isbell returned to Newfoundland to carry out an aerial survey of Argentina, a place soon to become famous as the site of the "Atlantic Charter" conference. Isbell's expert airmanship and tenacious devotion to completing his mission resulted in his receiving the air medal...Relieved of command of VP-54 on 15 April 1941, Isbell then served successive tours of duty in a staff capacity—first for Commander, Patrol Wing, Support Force (16 April-2 October 1941) as that command's planes escorted North Atlantic convoys; then as chief of staff and aide for Rear Admirals E. D. McWhorter and A. D. Bernhard, Commander, Patrol Wings, Atlantic Fleet (3 October 1941-11 June 1942)—before assuming command of NAS, Sitka, Alaska, on 5 June 1942. Promoted to captain during his time in the Aleutians, Isbell then served briefly in BuOrd before assuming command of the escort carrier Card (CVE-11) on 17 April 1943...For the next year, Card ranged the essential lifeline across the Atlantic to North Africa, earning together with her escorting destroyers, a Presidential Unit Citation under the resourceful "Buster" Isbell, who believed firmly in the potential of the CVE, maintaining that such a ship, together with her escorts, "could most effectively whip the submarine menace—as an independent offensive group rather than as a mere tag-along protector of a single convoy." Isbell used the year he commanded Card wisely to vindicate his belief. As antisubmarine task group commander between 27 July and 9 November 1943, Isbell developed his escort carrier-destroyer unit into a powerful combat force, refining tactics to meet the operational demands imposed by a wily and tenacious foe and wresting the initiative from his hands. Card sought out the enemy undersea craft with relentless determination m a vigorous offensive and struck with a devastating coordinated action that destroyed eight U-boats between 7 August and 31 October 1943...Detached from Card on 9 March 1944, Isbell—who had been awarded a Legion of Merit for his important work in Card—took his intimate knowledge of combatting U-boats to Washington, where he served in the 10th Fleet—a shipless "fleet" set up to research and develop tactics for antisubmarine warfare. Following this tour of shore duty—which lasted into 1945—Isbell was slated to receive command of a fast carrier. On 26 February 1945, he was ordered to the Pacific for temporary duty in Franklin (CV-13). On 13 March 1945, further orders directed him to relieve Capt. Thomas S. Combs as commanding officer of Yorktovm (CV-10). However, Capt. Isbell perished when a Japanese plane scored two bomb hits that touched off a conflagration in Franklin—the carrier in which he was embarked as a passenger—off Kyushu on 19 March 1945..." [26MAR2005]

LEMLEY, JOHN H. jhlemley54@hotmail.com "...I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR FROM SOME OF MY OLD Shipmates FROM SQUADRONS VP-54 - VP-51 AND VB-101. THESE SQUADRONS WAS ORIGNALLY VP-11(f) flying PBY'S UNTIL 1943 THEY GOT THE ARMY B-24D AND THE SQUADRON WAS KNOWN AS VB-101. I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR FROM OF MY OLD Shipmates THAT WAS WITH ME AT MIDWAY BEFORE AND AFTER THE BATTLE..." WebSite: http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Quarters/6439/ [E-Mail Updated 25MAR2001 | Updated WebSite URL 06SEP98 | 04SEP98]

LESH, PO2 Ralph E. c/o Randall E. Lesh lladnar23@msn.com "...My Father, Ralph E. Lesh, served with VP-54 from from 1937 to November of 1941. My father is failing in his years and would like nothing better then hear from some of his former Shipmates. If you served (or knew) my Dad - please e-mail me and give me a little something for this great man I know as my Father..." [12AUG2009]

Memorial Picture "...MARTIN, LCDR Merrill Keith...Shipmate PixCirca 1957...My father, LCDR Merrill Keith Martin, passed away June 24th, 1957. Dad served during WWII and the Korean Conflict. His last assignment was with VPB-54. I put up a page honoring my father on: Dedicated to the loving memory of our father......" Contributed by Dale Keith Martin martindale77@gmail.com [24NOV2017]

Memorial Picture "...NEEDHAM, William O. (Deceased)...I am the son of William O. Needham. He served in VP-5, VP-33, and VP-54. He was killed when I was only seven yers old. If anyone served with him could you please get in touch with me. I just would like to find out more about him. Thanks for this great site...His Son William O. Needham billneed@earthlink.net..." [E-Mail Updated 26MAR2004 | 17OCT2002]

UPDATE "...Just to let you know that I received a letter from an old Navy pilot that flew a DC 3 with my dad down to south America. He even sent me a copy of the log book. Just today I received a email from a Tim Smith who thinks he might know where my dad's plane wreck if located. He is in the process of obtaining permission from the government because the wreck lies on government property. God bless all those that have been helped and comforted. Bill Needham..." [26MAR2004]

UPDATE "...Papers of Lieutenant William O. Needham, 1930-1988..." http://www.history.navy.mil/ar/nov.htm [02OCT2001]

Biographical Note

William O. Needham was born on 20 July 1911 in Ivor, Virginia. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the Navy and attended basic training at Hampton Roads Naval Training Station in Virginia. Aviation General Utility training followed at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, and in February 1931 he was assigned to Hampton Roads Naval Air Station for duty. From August 1931 to January 1932 Needham attended the Parachute Material School at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey before returning to Hampton Roads.

In April 1932, he completed the Bureau of Navigation's Aviation Machinist's Mate training course. The following year he was reassigned to USS Memphis. Except for a temporary duty assignment at San Diego Naval Air Stationin June 1933, Needham served on Memphis until August 1934. While onboard, he was advanced to the rating of Aviation Machinist's Mate Third Class (AMM3). From August 1934 until December 1935, Needham was assigned to USS Marblehead. He was again promoted on 18 November 1935, being appointed AMM2.

Needham returned to shore duty in 1936, first at the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, Rhode Island. From March 1936 until May 1937, he was assigned to Pensacola Naval Air Station in Floridafor Naval Aviation Pilot training. While at Pensacola, his next promotion was approved, and Needham was appointed Aviation Machinist's Mate First Class in March 1937.

Having completed his training and been designated a Naval Aviation Pilot, Needham departed Pensacola in May 1937. He arrived at the San Diego Receiving Ship the following month, en route to duty with Patrol Squadron Five in the Panama Canal Zone.

Needham spent nearly four years with various patrol squadrons, serving in Patrol Squadron 33 and Patrol Squadron 54 after leaving Patrol Squadron Five in July 1939. In June 1940, while assigned to Patrol Squadron 33, he was advanced to the rating of Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate.

Beginning in 1941, Needham had duty with Support Force, Atlantic Fleet. Now an Acting Warrant Machinist, he was ordered to USS Prairie in May. Reassigned to Task Force 24 in March 1942, his appointment as a warrant officer was confirmed in June of that year. The following month, he was promoted to the rank of Ensign for temporary service.

His assignment to USS Prairie ended in December 1942, and Needham reported to Anacostia Naval Air Station in Washington, DC. On 1 May 1943 he was appointed Lieutenant (jg) for temporary service, and just 17 days later promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. Well thought-of by his superiors, Needham was recommended for a permanent commission and continued service as an officer. His career was cut unfortunately short when he was killed in a plane crash near Beltsville, Maryland on 17 May 1945.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains copies of official documents, clippings, and some personal correspondence regarding Lieutenant William O. Needham. It is arranged into three series.

Series I, Service Record, contains copies of official documents from Needham's service record. Included are documents relating to his training, duty assignments, promotions, and summaries of his service. The documents are arranged chronologically.

In Series II, Correspondence, are letters to his wife, Therese, from a family friend and the Department of the Navy following her husband's death. Also in this series are letters from Needham's son, William Needham Jr., seeking information about his father's death. They are arranged in chronological order. The originals of these letters are fragile. Reference copies have been made and are to be used by researchers.

Series III, Miscellaneous, contains clippings about the crash in which Lieutenant Needham died and two quarterly reports from Anacostia Naval Air Station for 1945.

NORCOTT, LCDR Lewis H. Jr. c/o his son Bill Norcott norcott@att.net "...My Dad, Lt Cmdr Lewis H. Norcott, Jr. was a navigator in PBY sqadron VP-54. The squadron was later renamed VPB-54. Dad served in the Peliliu campaign and invasion of the Phillipines. I have scanned in his hand-written navigator's flight log from September 1944 through February 1945 onto my web page: http://home.att.net/~norcott/wsb/index.html This is interesting reading because it has all the mission dates, what happened and the bureau numbers of the A/C and his flight hours. I have many more pages at home but no more room on my web site to store it!..." [27SEP99]

Memorial Picture "...PALMER, Lester...(lpwoodman@aol.com) passed away on 25 August 2000. Any shipmates who wish to send their regards to his family, or just to say something nice about him, could send me Email to jack@brennen.net. I'll pass on any messages to his family. By the way, I'm his grandson. Jack Brennen..." [08SEP2000]

PALMER, AMM1 Lester c/o His Grandson Jack Brennen jack@brennen.net "...I was in Hawaii in early 42. I was in VP-12 and VP-54, for a short time. I was transferred to VP-102. We flew 24s which was changed to PB4Ys . I help test the first Bow turret in this new plane. After working out the kinks we went to Guadacanal for a year. Hoping to meet some old friends...Lester Palmer (lpwoodman@aol.com ) passed away on 25 August 2000. Any shipmates who wish to send their regards to his family, or just to say something nice about him, could send me Email to jack@brennen.net. I'll pass on any messages to his family. By the way, I'm his grandson. Jack Brennen..." [BIO Updated 08SEP2000 | 03DEC99]

RIDLE, CAP(AA) Robert (Bob) c/o His Son Robert L. (Bob) Ridle bobridle@eatel.net "...Sons of Robert (Bob) Ridle CAP(AA) who flew with VP-44 from SEPT. 42 thru Nov. 42 then with VP-54 from Nov. 42 thru Dec 43. He later flew the NAS Adak, Alaska run and Berlin Airlift then helicopters in Korea. Would like any info on him and his units-he won the DFC, Air medal, etc. but I have no info on how or where. 1-504-622-4919..." [07MAR98]

SCHORR, Roger rdschorr1005@msn.com "...VP-26 1974-1977. VP-90 1978-1984(SELRES $ TAR), 1988-1991. CRPWP Det NAS Whidbey Island, Washington 1984-1988. VR-54 1991-1994(Retired). Drop me a line ole' Shipmates! (AW1 and AZ1)..." [27MAR98]

SCHREIDER, Elliot elshirl@peoplepc.com "...I was a co pilot in VP-54, a Black Cat Squadron operating out of Guadalcanal 1943-4. I also served with VB-116 the Squadron I was in during my second tour of duty, which operated out of Tinian, Iwo Jima and Pelelieu..." [E-Mail Updated 02JUL2000 | 24DEC97]

Memorial Picture "...SCHWABE, Louis F...I am a daughter of a great black cat. Mr Louis F. Schwabe. My sister (Lorrie Morrison) and I would like to add his name to be remembered. Dad just pasted away on August 18, 1999 in Reno, Nevada, due to illness. But the stories I heard growing up where really memoriable. The time he was flying in thick cloud cover, and the japanese plane came out suddenly from now where, and they where both face to face. Sounded scary...Sincerely, LeAnn Schwabe Severson LeAnnS@worldnet.att.net..." [21AUG99]

STICH, Rodney stich@rodneystich.com "...I served with VP-71 (Radioman) and VP-54 (12/1942). I attended Pilot Training (05/1943) at NAS Jacksonville, Florida (PBY) and became Patrol Plane Commander (PPC) in the PB4Y-1 and PB4Y-1. Take a look at http://www.defraudingamerica.com/ has photograph's of the early PBY days. While Captain with the start of Japan Airlines, I had war time Japanese pilots as my copilots startng in 1951..." [26NOV2011]

"VP-54 Summary Page"