VP-5 Squadron Shipmates
VPNAVY Address

ShipmateVP-900 ShipmatesShipmate

BAKER, CAPTAIN James L. Retired comobaker@aol.com "... Served with VP-71 NAS Anacostia, Washington, D.C. from 1947 to 1948 and then VP-661 until called to active duty in 1951 (until discharged in 1952). I was an ADF/1 in VP-661 and flew as Flight Engineer aboard the PBY-5A and PBY-6A at NAS Anacostia, Washington, D.C.. I was called to active duty on 15 September 1950, LCDR Monahan was the CO, and my PIC was LCDR Smithey (Smitty), a former enlisted pilot, who did not like being an officer "Pilot." We flew to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas and went through transition in PBM-5s and later I was aboard the PBM-5S. LCDR Smitty was the A/C of EH-3, PBM-5 and PBM-5S (which carried the MAD gear on board for detecting subs). We flew out of NAS Norfolk, Virginia to various places and patrols, i.e., NAS Trinidad, British West Indies, NAS Bermuda, NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, NAS Pensacola, Florida, etc. By the way, we broke the endurance record for the PBM with a nonstop flight from NAS Norfolk, Virginia to NAS Trinidad, British West Indies, to NAS New York, New York then to NAS Norfolk, Virginia again (until LCDR Smitty decided to land in Willowy Bay, in Norfolk). I was dead on my feet, and the crew received liberty immediately. I joined the Air Reserve Unit at NARTU, NAS Anacostia, Washington, D.C., right after being discharged from WW-II (1946), and I remember the TBM Squadron I was assigned to first, then to VP-900, then VPML-71, and finally VP-661. VP-900 had Lockheed Lodestars, then moved into PBY-5As. This is all I can recall after all these years, I still have my Flight Log Book, which I carried over from my aircraft carrier days and VP-661. I was discharged from VP-661 in April 1952, but stayed in the Air Reserve, and had several flights with an abnormally qualified AP/1 (Enlisted Pilot), who flew SNBs and PBYs, etc. My Combat Aircrewman Wings were earned in 1945 and my Aerial Gunner's Badge on my right sleeve. In May 1958 I was informed that as an ADF/1 still actively flying in Naval Aircraft as a Flight Engineer, I was awarded the Gold Aircrewman Wings. I was a ball turret gunner on TBM/TBFs when I first received my wings. My favorite aircraft to this day was the beloved PBY-5A, old reliable and ever faithful. Ironicaly, I received a direct commission in the US Army, as First Lieutenant (Army Intelligence and Security), and later as an Unconventional Warfare Officer, Special Forces (ABN) qualified. Well, enough for now, as my memory is getting tired. Oh yes, I received a Direct Commission and retired as Captain, US Army Special Forces, after 22 additional years (13 enlisted)..." [BIO Updated 11JAN2004 | 30DEC2000]

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