VP-5 Squadron Shipmates
VPNAVY Address

ShipmateVP-81 ShipmatesShipmate

MARKS, ARM2 Cecil Gale Marks 'Chub' jr1012@aol.com "...I served with VB-80 and VB-81 from 1944 through 1946. I would like to hear from Vernon Lanky or any of my old friends that may remember the good ole days..." [13SEP99]

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]

BERG, Glen Loyd "...In 1940 I was fortunate enough to get in a program where I was able to learn to fly and had about 50 hours in Piper Cubs when World War II started. In the summer of 1942 I signed up to enter the Navy Air Corps. It wasn't until Dec. 23, 1942, that I entered active duty. I left home Dec. 23, 1942, and arrived at the pre-flight school at Iowa City, Iowa, on the morning of Dec. 24, 1942. This part of the training was half ground school and half athletics. They put so much emphasis on swimming that it began to appear that the Navy expected us to swim every place that the Navy sent us. From the pre-flight training at Iowa City I was sent to Minneapolis, Minn. for flight training. I started this program the first part of April 1943 and finished in July 1943. It was here I learned every acrobatic maneuver that an airplane can do. This program gave each cadet 90 to 115 hours of flight training. I received another 95 hours of flight training. It was here that I has my first flight emergency when a cylinder head exploded off of one of the cylinders. After landing safely in a farmer's field, I called the base from a house nearby. They came and picked me up, and a truck came and got the airplane. After finishing the training in Minneapolis, I was sent to Pensacola, Fla., for a little more advanced training in plane designated the SNV made by Vultee which we "affectionately" called the Vultee vibrator, then on to instrument flying. After instrument training I went to the final flight training to earn my wings of gold in the Navy. For me, that training was in the PBY Catalina, a twin-engine seaplane. After earning my wings in Pensacola I was commissioned an ensign in the Navy (November 1943) and sent to NAS Jacksonville, Florida for operation training. I finished the training in NAS Jacksonville, Florida in February 1944 and was transferred to NAS North Island, San Diego, California. Upon arriving in NAS North Island, San Diego, California I was immediately assigned to a squadron in the Solomon Islands. After waiting for transportation (about two weeks) I became a passenger on a merchant marine tanker, and after 17 days on it, I arrived in the New Hebrides Islands. From there I went to the Solomon Islands where I joined VP-81. This squadron flew PBY5As, a plane that could fly off water or land. I flew out of NAB Henderson/Carney Field, Guadalcanal, New Georgia and Bougainville. VP-81 was called a black cat squadron (as were several other squadrons like it) because the airplane we flew was called the Catalina, the airplanes were painted black and all of our missions were over water at night, often in poor weather. These planes had no autopilots and only the basic instrument flight instruments. Bougainville had a very wet climate. It rained almost every day but usually only five to 15 minutes. But when it rained it poured. Nearly everyone had a fungus infection on their feet, and many servicemen had fungus infections in other places on their body that might get moist. This tour of duty was completed in July 1944, and we flew back to Hawaii. After a week there we boarded a ship to San Diego, a trip that took seven days. After a two-week leave I started training in PB4Yls (the Navy version of the B-24 except for some minor differences in the equipment inside) This training began in NAS Hutchinson, Kansas for a couple of months and from there to NAS Jacksonville, Florida, then on to NAS North Island, San Diego, California where I started training in the PB4Y2. This airplane was is quite similar to the PB4Yl but has a little more powerful engines and a huge single tail instead of the twin tail of the PB4Y1. After completing the training in NAS North Island, San Diego, California I spent four weeks in Hawaii and flew to the Philippines where I was stationed on the most-southwest of the Philippine Islands, Palawan. This island is about 325 miles long and varies from five to 30 miles wide. It has a very dense jungle, the elevations varying from less than 500 feet to 7,000 feet. The missions I flew from Palawan covered all of the island of Borneo (which is almost all covered by very dense jungle) and the entire coastline from Singapore north to Hainin Island. I was at this location when the war ended. The name of the squadron I was with in the Philippines was VPB-111. Most of the missions I flew both in the Solomons and in the Philippines were from 10 to almost 14 hours long. We started back to the States in October 1945 but got stranded for 30 days halfway between the Philippines and Hawaii. We had to replace three of the four engines, one at a time. (It was a happy crew when we landed in Hawaii after spending that much time on a coral-reef air strip that was less than a quarter-mile wide and just over a mile long.) I arrived at NAS Floyd Bennett Field, New York on Dec. 22, 1945, and was able to get to Lebanon on Dec. 24, 1945. I was released to inactive duty in November 1946. I received two Distinguished Flying Crosses and five Air Medals, and two squadrons I was in received Outstanding Unit Citations. I also received the Burma-China Theater Ribbon...." [09JUL2003]

DOLLEY, Robert (Bob) c/o His Son Tom Dooley geher2@aol.com "...I am wondering if anyone remembers my father Robert (Bob) Dooley? He served with VP-81 Bougainville from 1942 to 1943. He was an aviation machinist mate first class and worked on the Black Cat. He graduated from Boot Camp in San Diego, California 1942. Later he was stationed in NAS Alameda, California from 1943 to 1946. Please contact me if you remember him. Thank you..." [29OCT2002]

Memorial Picture "...GIFFEN, Glen Harris...My Dad, Glen Harris Giffen, passed away October 4th, 2005. Dad served with VP-81 (Black Cats) at NAB Henderson/Carney Field, Guadalcanal. I am looking for Harvey Russell who painted pictures during the war. One of the pictures was of Dad and one of the PBY Catalina. I would love to hear from former Shipmates..." Contributed by Glenda Van Lerberghe tnt.glenda@gmail.com [07NOV2011]

HOLLINGER, Harold hollyvp81@webtv.net "...VP-81 23JAN42 A/C PBY-5A: I was a crew member of the ill-fated flight that crashed at Oregon Inlet. I was not aboard this flight because I was standing dowm to make room for a Paramount newsreel cameraman and a photographer for the Associated Press. However, these two men were not aboard this flight as their authorization arrived from Washington too late..." [09SEP98]

KELLAR, Fred fk1@suddenlink.net "...I served with VPB-111 (03/1945-02/1946) flying with Crew-13 (LT(jg) Peebles Pilot), NAS Floyd Bennett Field, New York and NAS Atlantic City, New Jersey. Reenlisted (12/1944) and reassigned to VB-81 (SB2C Squadron) aboard the USS Princeton (CV-37). Right back to the Philippines for their independence day (04JUL1946). I transfered to VP-32 (08/1946) at NAS Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, Marianas Islands until my discharge (04/1948). Went home to Illinois and found a 27 year career with Prudential Insurance in Illinois, Kansas, and Arkansas. Retired as state Manager in Little Rock 1983. Started an independent agency an d another 27 years before finally quitting for good. Still stay in touch with another Peebles crew member, Dewey Rainey, in Jackson, MS. I would like to hear from former Shipmates..." [12NOV2015]

MARKS, ARM2 Cecil Gale 'Chub' jr1012@aol.com "...I served with VB-80 and VB-81 from 1944 through 1946. I would like to hear from Vernon Lanky or any of my old friends that may remember the good ole days..." [13SEP99]

MAY, Frank (Mee) "...Served with VP-81 1942, would like to correspond with any VP-81 personnel. My snail mail address is: 17 Stewart Lane, Woodbury NJ 08096..." [17OCT99]

McMICHAEL, CPO Pelham Jackson "Jack" Retired c/o Leila McMichael... Shipmate Pix...keela001@gmail.com "...7-9-41: Dad joined the Navy in Montgomery, AL. He was in Platoon 185 in boot camp under Chief P. E. Stein. He was in AMM School Class 16 under Chief Sweeney. He graduated circa 8-19-41 and went to A School to become an aircraft mechanic at AD3 rank. 12-7-41: Pearl Harbor was attacked and WWII began while he was still in school. 1-3-42: Dad joined VP-81 at NAS Key West, Florida working on PBY's. He had traveled by train 3-4 days to Homestead, FL, then by bus to Key West. His first job was with AP First Class Red Schiebler in the oxygen lab. 8-14-42: Dad went to NAS Banana River, Florida to train as a flight engineer on PBM's. Some pilots were training at the same time their crew was, but the crew assumed they already knew what they were doing. 11-10-42: Dad went by bus to NAS Norfolk, Virginia then to NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by transport plane. He joined VP-32 in NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba working on PBM aircraft. He bought a horse named Specks while there. From there he was sent to NAS Trinidad, British West Indies as a maintenance man in VP-53. They flew mostly PBY's instead of PBM's. Jack sailed on a destroyer from NAS Trinidad, British West Indies to Miami, FL through Torpedo Alley. Then he traveled by train to San Francisco by way of Chicago. 4-12-43: Dad was with VP-53 working on PBY 5 A's that could land on sea or land. Went to San Diego for flight to Hawaii, but he was taken off the plane to let a yeoman get on board to pay those there. Unfortunately the plane blew up on the trip, killing everyone on board. Jack did not find out what had happened until he was assigned to another crew, under LT Henry P. Gausman. Jack was a second class mechanic. Hank Gausman was a good pilot and saved his crew's lives more than once through his piloting skills. Jack also had high praise for the Plane Captain, M. P. Martin, who always made sure the fuel line clamp from the pump was tightened down before every flight. [My father wanted to add a excerpt from his autobiography at this point. He wrote: We flew [from Heilo] to Kaneohe and landed in the bay there. The pilot brought the plane up to the beach and the beach crew put temporary wheels on it and pulled us up on the ramp. We left the plane and found a place to stay in the barracks. The next day when we came down, we found they'd taken the wheels out of the plane and put them on, so now we could take off and touch down on either land or water. They issued each of us a pistol with a shoulder holster. I got a 38 pistol with 5 rounds. I said, "Man, 5 rounds ain't much to go fight a war with." He said that was all they had. They couldn't send regular ball ammunition out there, it had to be metal jacketed because that was international law of warfare. The ordinance man got a machine gun. The next day we took off for Johnson Island. When we landed there, they gassed us up. I noticed they had lots of mosquitoes there. I said to the man gassing us up, "You've got some big mosquitoes here." He said, "Yes, one of them landed yesterday and I put 180 gallons in it before I found out that it was a mosquito!" I said, "Oh NO!!" We took off from Johnston Island and flew for a good while before we got to Palmyra Island (Atoll) where we landed and were gassed up again and took off for Kanton Island. From Kanton Island we gassed up and flew to Funafuti Island. We were there for three days. I dug myself a fox hole as soon as I could. Some laughed at me, but as stated earlier, my mother didn't raise a fool. They told us to go flying and we took off and were gone a long time on patrol. It was after dark when we got back and while landing, I noticed that there was a military jeep running alongside of us. I raised the hatch and asked, "What's the matter?" "He said, "Were under attack! Put that plane into revetment and get into your fox hole!" I told the pilot and he quickly guided the plane into a revetment, and we all jumped out and ran for our fox holes. I couldn't get into mine because it was full of people! I said, "This is my damn fox hole, get the hell out or move over or something!" I had dug the fox hole 6 feet long and 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide. I had intended lying down in it. There were about 5 or 6 men squatting in it, and I wiggled down in there beside them. The Japanese came over and started bombing. One plane dropped 4 bombs and scored on 4 planes including ours which we had just gotten out of moments before. Our plane was blown to pieces. The Japanese bomber knew just how far apart those revetments were and he set his invelometer to drop a bomb exactly in the center of each one of them. All he had to do was hit the center of the first one and the other bombs automatically fell in the right place. It scared the devil out of me and when it was all over, we went back around the revetment to survey the damage. Our plane was just a pile of metal. The gas tank had blown up and burned everything. I picked up a piece of the propeller, put it in my pocket. I still have it today. The ordinance man said, "Boy I wish I had thought about grabbing that machine gun." He was like the rest of us and got out so fast that he didn't think about it.] Daddy added that the PBY's had to go out at night because they flew so slow that sometimes they could get shot down. To avoid being shot down at night, they ran the right engine 200 rpms slower than other. That would throw the Japanese "big ears" off and they would miss on the right. He said that they eventually lost 9 aircraft of the 15 they had. They lost so many planes his squadron was replaced with another. They flew back to Kaneohe Island in Hawaii and turned in their guns. He returned the same 5 rounds of ammo he was issued and was really glad he didn't have to use them. 7-2-44: From MCBH Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii Jack was put on U.S.S. Barnes, an aircraft carrier to NAS Alameda, California. From there took a train, then a bus to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington where the squadron was reforming. Transferred to FASRON. 4-15-45: Dad was a student in NAS Norman, Oklahoma, for Combat Air Crew (CAC) "B" school. 7-4-45: Dad went to Naval Air Gunnery School at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. He was trained on 3 different machine guns: 30, 50 caliber and 20 millimeter. 8-4-45: Dad was transferred to the NAS Jacksonville, Florida where he joined FAW-6. He was put on the PBY planes. Successfully tested for and became first class. Because of illness, he was made Master of Arms in the barracks. 12-31-46: WWII officially ended. 5-10-47: Jack's time was up and he left to try civilian life. 7-4-49: Dad re-entered the Navy in Montgomery, AL. Would not let him come back in as first class, so he re-entered as second class. Sent to Naval Operating Base in Charleston, SC on permanent shore patrol. 8-30-49: Dad transferred to VS-32 at NAS Norfolk, Virginia working on TBM's (torpedo bomber by Martin). He had only worked on seaplanes, but he had to learn about this carrier plane fast. Became first class again and the Commander's Plane Captain. Met Gene Manken from Washington state. While there he met Lavelle Estes, his future wife. He married her on August 4, 1950. April 1951 the squadron transferred to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island. From 9-51 to 11-51 his squadron, VS-32 went on a Mediterranean cruise with the 6th Fleet. He was hanger deck Petty Officer. They visited Gibraltar. 2-19-52: They went on a cruise to Puerto Rico which lasted to March of the same year. Then the U.S.S. Oriskany had to go around the Horn because it was too wide for the Panama Canal. They offered the men to serve on board during the journey, but warned them it would be hazardous. They stopped at Guantanamo Bay, where he found out that his horse Specks had died. On 6-16-52: Dad was initiated into the reign of Neptune Rex. The trip around the Horn was dangerous. They had welders working night and day repairing the ship. After they made it around the horn safely, he got his Mossback card on 6-29-52. 10-31-52: Dad was in FASRON-821 in NAS Sanford, Florida. 1-5-53: Dad's first child was born, daughter, Leila Melinda, in Orlando, FL at the Air Force Base. 6-10-53: Dad was in VC-9 in NAS Sanford, Florida, AJ Squadron working on atomic bombers. They used reciprocating engines to deliver payload and jet engine to escape. They went on a cruise to the Azores. 3-15-54: During that trip second daughter, Rebecca Ann, was born in Orlando, FL at the Air Force Base. 6-28-54: Dad was in FASRON-41 (formerly FASRON-821) NAS Sanford, Florida. 12-5-54: Dad was in VS-26 working on S2F's at NAS Norfolk, Virginia. These were carrier-based submarine hunter/killer aircraft by Grumman. 11-31-55: Dad went to Electronics "A" school at NAS Memphis, Tennessee. Afterwards he transferred to Mech "B" School. 3-10-56: Dad's third daughter, Margaret Jean, was born in Memphis, TN. Afterwards Dad was transferred to NAS Chincoteague, Virginia where VA(HM)-13 became VP-24. 10-17-56: Dad was in VP-24 working on P2V's These were land-based aircraft with both reciprocating and jet engines by Lockheed. Some were adapted for flight off carriers. VP-24 went on a cruise to Malta for 5 months. 5-3-59: Dad was deployed to NAS Keflavik, Iceland. 8-28-59: Dad's fourth child, a son, Philip Jackson, born in Blowing Rock, NC. 10-4-59: Dad went back to NAS Chincoteague, Virginia. 1-5-60: Dad went to AD "B" Instructor's School at NAS Memphis, Tennessee. From 2-12-60 he taught airplane mechanics on both jet and reciprocating engines. January 1961 he took the test to be a Chief Petty Officer. Went to Chief leadership school 3-1-61 in Pensacola, FL. He remembers James A. Mann, an officer. 6-1-61: Dad returned to NAS Memphis, Tennessee as an instructor. Taught until 4-1-63 when he retired and went into the U.S. Naval Reserve where he served 10 years. Served as Caldwell County's Veterans Service Officer (in Lenoir, North Carolina) from 1966 to 1977. 3-22-82: Dad's first wife "Val" died of pancreatic cancer. 2-28-87: Dad married second wife, Billie Sue Barlow McMichael. She takes good care of him. Jack McMichael is a member of the American Legion Post 29; VFW Post 5381; Disabled Veterans of America, Chapter 6; Fleet Reserve Association, Branch 60; The Retired Enlisted Association; Nat'l Association for Uniformed Services; The National Chief Petty Officers Association; and the PBY Catalina International Association, to name a few..." [UPDATED 14AUG2020 | 19SEP2010]

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