Navy Patrol Bombing Squadrons 102/14 Association

Bombing Squadron VPB-102


Archive and Microfilm Research
by Louise Thoman

PB4Y-1 Aircraft
"Click" for full picture

VPB-102 was designated a Long Range Reconnaissance Squadron, but was also utilized for long range screening in conjunction with movements of the 3rd and 5th Fleets; interdictory flights ahead of Fleet movements and while the fleet was refueling, to prevent detection by enemy search planes.. Also to search and destroy Picket Boats along the track of the fleet and to conduct long range photographic flights over enemy territory and bases.

14 February 1944: The squadron reformed at Camp Kearney, California as Bombing Squadron 102, later to be designated Patrol Bombing Squadron 102. 14 copilots from the first tour were ordered to the squadron to become Patrol Plane Commanders. Most had qualified as Patrol Plane First Pilots while serving on the first tour. A Patrol Plane First Pilot can fly as the pilot of the PB4Y-1, but not on combat flights. For approximately two months prior to reporting to the squadron, most of the pilots trained at the Transition Land Plan Unit (TLU) at Camp Kearney

30 May 1944: Ltjg Luke Sauder and crew were lost over Palomar Mountain while on a photo gunnery practice flight. In a five plane formation, a navy F4F fighter from VF-36 based at NAAS Los Alamitos was making simulated attack runs on the formation. The Fighter pilot dove through the formation, sheering about 12 feet off Sauder's PB4Y-1. Both aircraft crashed on Palomar Mountain. There were no survivors. (See Killed in Line of Duty.)

Fifty Years Later (not finished as yet)

6 June 1944: Six enlisted men were killed when a PB4Y-1 from VB-117 crashed into a supply building. Somewhere between 24 and 34 men were at muster, receiving instructions from Leading Chief Drott when they determined the aircraft was going to crash on or near the spot they occupied. Although most ran to avoid the approaching aircraft, it crashed into the supply building, killing six men. A total of 19 men were killed in the accident.(See Killed in Line of Duty)

Training in low level bombing, aerial gunnery, night radar procedures, searchlight tactics and mine laying were conducted along with normal instrument flying, aircraft systems etc.

6 July 1944: Training was conducted from 15 February until 6 July at Camp Kearney, California. The Squadron was ordered to NAS Kaneohe Bay, T. H. to complete training and deploy to the forward area. By 18 July 1944 the entire squadron was located at NAS Kaneohe Bay.

12 August 1944: Deployment to Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands began.

14 August 1944: All aircraft and personnel were now on Eniwetok Atol.

19 August 1944: Harry Styles and crew bombed Wake Island. Little Resistance.

19 August 1944: T. R. Clark and crew bombed Ponape.

22 August 1944: Thomas R. Clark and crew along with J. M. (Knobby) Welsh and crew deployed to Isley Field, Saipan to standby for shipping strikes.

23 August 1944: Flying out of Isley Field, Saipan, Clark and Welsh attacked two Japanese Destroyers and two AK (Cargo Ships). One AK was sunk and the other left burning. Thomas Clark and crew were shot down by enemy AA in a crossfire between two destroyers with a loss of all on board the aircraft.
(See Killed in Action)

23 August 1944: Don Close and crew made a low level (100 feet) night time run over Wake Island dropping a string of four 500 pound bombs on the airstrip. Nightly low level attacks were performed from Eniwetok. The practice was to lay a string of four 500 pound bombs on the landing strip so as to render it inoperable. Bombs with a seven second delay fuse were used so the attack could be performed at very low level (usually 50 to 100 feet) to assure absolute accuracy.

23 August 1944: Bill Alleman and crew made a low level search of Truk and dropped bombs on Ponape.

26 August 1944: P.W.Gudka and crew made a night low level attack on Wake Island.

27 August 1944: Departure for North Field, Tinian, Marianas was begun when an 8 plane contingent moved up into the forward area. The Marines had secured the north end of Tinian to a point several miles south of the airstrip.

28 August 1944: The remainder of the squadron deployed to North Field, Tinian.

29 August 1044: Upon arrival at North Field, Tinian, the squadron was assigned to operate under Task Group 59.3 to conduct search, reconnaissance and photographic flights in 10 search sectors of 800 miles in length. VB-116 operated jointly with the squadron in the same areas of responsibilities. On 5 September 1944 two additional sectors were assigned and all sectors were extended to 1000 miles.

4 September 1944: Wayne D. Rorman and crew arrived on Tinian as a replacement crew for Thomas R. Clark, and crew, who were shot down on 23 August (see above.)

5 September 1944: Two additional search sectors were assigned.

8 September 1944: Lt. Condon and crew made an emergency landing when the number 3 engine failed on take-off. The heavily overloaded plane ran off the end of the strip and was a complete loss. No injuries to crew members. The aircraft was stripped of salvageable parts.

9 September 1944: On a pre-dawn take-off, Francis J. Lencioni and crew struck a bulldozer parked at the end of the runway. The impact ripped off both starboard bomb bay doors and punctured the afterstation. A loss of all hydraulic fluid resulted. On the first approach, Lt. Lencioni was having difficulty with control while the crew was rigging parachutes in both afterstations to aid in stopping the heavily overloaded aircraft. As Lencioni flew over the field, the belly turret separated and rolled down the runway. He was able to land safely on the second attempt with no injuries to his crew.

10 September 1944: Lt. J. H. Goodman and crew sighted a Japanese tanker 60 miles north of Iwo Jima. Two five hundred pound bombs were dropped. The first struck the water immediately in front of the bow, blowing the bow off the tanker as it ran over the bomb. The second bomb missed. The ship stopped with the forward area low in the water and a fire was observed. Two additional strafing runs were made and the tanker exploded.

12 September 1944: U. S.Forces Bombarded Peleliu in the Palau Group
U. S. Marines invade Peleliu.

More than two months were required to secure the island, in one of the most bitter battles in the Pacific. The famous battle at "Pork Chop Hill' claimed many lives, both Marine and Japanese.

19 September 1944: Crews assigned to fly cover for the ongoing battle at Peleliu.

22 September 1944: Lt. P.W.Gudka and crew on a routine search of the Bonin Islands sighted and attacked a Japanese Betty. The Betty increased speed and pulled out of range. Shortly thereafter, the Betty was observed exploding on impact with the water. Later Japanese records confirmed this aircraft was from the K708 unit piloted by PO1c Katsuisa Nishino.

24 September 1944: Lt. Frank O. Burton and crew strafed 3 cargo ships.

1 October 1944: Squadron designation changed to Patrol Bombing Squadron 102 (VPB-102)

2 October 1944: LCDR Ted Marshall, Lt. Frank Burton and Lt. Wayne Rorman and crews conducted a three plane radar search for a convoy of two destroyers and two cargo ships on a course inbound to Iwo Jima. The search was negative.

9 October 1944: Lt. Phil Knights and crew sighted and shot down a Japanese Betty. The Betty's port engine and wing were set afire. It crashed in a nose down attitude and exploded on impact with the water. Later Japanese records confirmed the aircraft was attached to K708 and the pilot was Ensign Hiroshi Ogawa.

10 October 1944: Lt. J. H. Goodman and crew skip bombed a small cargo ship 60 miles north of Iwo Jima. The bow of the ship was blown off and crew members were observed in life boats. On the same date, Lt. Jesse Jolly, Lt. Wayne Rorman and crews flying in a two plane formation destroyed a well armed picket boat.

13 October 1944: LCDR Ted Marshall, Lt. Frank Burton and crews flying in a two plane formation attacked a heavily armed Japanese LSM. Although the ship was not sunk, the cargo of trucks was heavily damaged with strafing fire. Both PB4Y's were hit by enemy return fire. There were no injuries to personnel and the two aircraft landed safely at Tinian. One of Burton's main landing gear tires was flattened by the enemy fire.

13 October 1944: Lt. E.N.Elliott and crew flying the sector including Chichi Jima and Haha Jima attacked and shot down a Japanese float plane (Jake). The Jake managed to make an open sea landing. It was strafed and destroyed.

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