VP-61

1 May 1942:

Squadron was commissioned in NAS Alameda, CA. CO- Cmdr. Frank Bruner

10 June 1942:

To Alaska. On the final leg, the plane BuNo 04490 crashed on take-off from Kodiak. Ens Robert D. Jones killed, Ens. Maynard E. Humphreys CAP and M. Benefiel ARM3c injured. Underwing torpedo dropped and ran but missed a ship and exploded between the docks.

 

19 August 1942:

Arrived in Sand Point in the Shumagin Island with eight PBY’s relieving VP-41 and VP-51. “A very inexperienced squadron, requires breaking in and seasoning”- FAW4 Diary, August 42

 

Squadron numbers; call signs, 1942:

61-P-1 through P-9; 40V-49V

 

BuNos, from June 1942:

14475

14507

14508 to VP-43 19 August 1942

14488

04415- to VP-62 2 June 1942

04418- to VP-62 3 June 1942

04436 1 October 1942 Lt Wehmyer sighted Japanese freighter but did not attack due to fuel shortage. Bombers were dispatched from Adak.

04444 (PBY-5) transferred to VP-61 from VP-43 14 December 1942

04459 to VP-43 6/19/42

04463 to Patwing 4 (Hedron) 6/14/42

04465 61-P-3 43V 11 October 1942 Lt (jg) Edward F. Digler dropped 4 depth charges on Japanese freighter

04470 (PBY-5) transferred from VP-43 14 December 1942

04475 tore a hole in the hull while taxiing 30 Sept 1942, beached for repairs. Aileron damage during storm in Dutch Harbor 26 October 1942. 

04476 4 September 1942 forced-landed in sea, damaged at takeoff and sank (sunk by gunfire- JB) Crew was picked up by USS Thornton

04477, 40V 27 September 1942 piloted by Lt. Sumner E. Atherton, attacked by 3 fighters and damaged, returned fire, one possible kill.

Japanese version: Lt (jg) Kohzoh Miyazawa whose first air combat happened just two days ago, CPO Kunizoh Nakamachi and Flight Seaman, 1st Class Tadashi Sasaki discovered 4 enemy planes and damaged one (black smoke was observed).

The next day, 40V piloted by Ens. Maynard E. Humphreys, was further damaged on attempted takeoff in Nazan Bay. The plane was beached and salvaged except for the engines.

04483 (PBY-5) transferred to VP-51 14 June 1942, later- to VP-43. Back to VP-61 14 December 1942. To VP-42 before January 1943

04486 61-P-4, 44V 28 September 1942, Lt Wilbur J. Wehmyer sighted and attacked Japanese cargo vessel. 11 October, Lt. Charles H. Holt bombed and strafed an 8000-ton cargo vessel.

Slightly damaged after collision with 4492 off Dutch Harbor 2 November 1942. Broke away from its buoy 12 November 1942 and sank in Kuluk Bay.

04488 out of commission 17 September 1942, used for spare parts.

04489 61-P-2, 42V 16 October 1942, Lt Frank M. Ralston contacted and attacked 2 Japanese destroyers

04490 13 June 1942 crashed on takeoff from Kodiak heading to Cold Bay. 

04492 61-P-5, 45V 14 October 1942, Lt. Atherton attempted a rescue of a P-38 pilot and landed in the waters by Little Kiska under fire of shore batteries. The pilot turned out to be dead. 2 November 1942 this aircraft broke away from buoy in high wind, was blown ashore and wrecked, also damaging 04508 and 04486. Repaired with parts salvaged of 04508. 20 November 1942 was damaged again in the storm off Dutch Harbor and required major hull repair. To VP-45 before October 1943; 66V.

04497 Transported Adm. Reeves to Kuluk Bay, Adak, 8 November 1942

40497 to Hedron before 11/4/42?

04508 from VP-43 17 September 1942. Aileron damage during storm in Dutch Harbor 26 October 1942. Plane was abandoned to be salvaged for parts. The parts were used to repair 04492

12 December 1942:

Patrol Squadron VP-61 departed Alaska for Naval Air Station Sand Point, Lake Washington, Seattle, WA

20 December 1942 the VP-61 squadron departed Kodiak for Seattle via Sitka with eight PBY-5s

22 December seven PBY-5s flown to NAS Seattle and turned to Hedron for overhaul and repair, including 04465, 04475, 04492, 04497,

 

2 January 1943:

Squadron reported from 2 weeks leave to Commander Fleet Air Detachment, Seattle, WA

18 January 1943:

VP-61 returned to Kodiak from two weeks leave. Seven PBY-5A planes were assigned to squadron:

07287

08040

08041

08071

08106

08113

08119

VP-61 remained in NAS Seattle for another week awaiting the weather

22 January 1943, after:

The squadron received three planes from VP-41, increasing number of aircraft on hands to ten:

05014

07284

07293 

25 February 1943:

Lt. Cmdr Murray Hanson detached; Lt Holt assumes duties as Executive Officer.

30 April- 1 May1943:

Lt Leins, Lt Glenn and Lt(jg) Humphreys and crews departed for temporary duty with VP-45 until 9 July 1943.

 

12 May 1943:

During the late afternoon, Lt Rex Jolly’s crew from VP-61 spotted the Japanese submarine, probably the I-Class submarine I-31 launched two torpedoes at the battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38).  Warned, the battleship crew, which had just completed a bombardment of Holtz Bay and Chichagof Harbor, took evasion actions and the torpedoes missed.  Lieutenant Jolly followed the wake of the submarine, dropped debt charges and then teamed up with the destroyers Edwards (DD-265) and Farragut (DD-348) in attacking the I-31. Another PBY piloted by Lt. Wehmyer, continued contact until dark. The Commander of Task Force 51 authorized painting of small Japanese flags on two PBY's for assistance they rendered in sinking the enemy submarine.

 

13 May 1943:

Lt (jg) Decker and Lt (jg) Wheaton of VP-43 and Lt (jg) Brant of VP-62 with crews arrived for temporary duty with VP-61.

26 May 1943:

Lt (jg) Decker, Lt (jg) Wheaton and Lt (jg) Brant relieved by Lt Johnson of VP-43, Lt(jg) Coryne and Lt(jg) Doerr from VP-62

27 May 1943:

07284 was exchanged for 08114 from VP-43

4 June 1943:

Lt Wehmeyer temporarily detached for duty with VP-45 until 9 July 1943.

10 June 1943:

Lt (jg) Davidson and crew arrived from VP-62 to relieve Lt (jg) Doehr and crew

30 May 1943:

Lt. Digler rescued a downed P-38 pilot off the coast of Amchitka.

07287 was transferred to VP-43

Received 02478 and 02481

June- Aigust 1943, BuNos:

02478

02481

04400 received from Hedron FAW4 10 July 1943

04416 received from Hedron FAW4 3 August 1943 as replacement for 08071

05014 damaged on landing 17 June 1943. To VP-62 10 July 1943.

07293 To VP-62 10 July 1943.

07294 Received from Hedron 10 July 1943

08040

08041

08071 to Hedron or lost? before 3 August 1943

08096

08106

08113

08114

08119 to Hedron FAW4 2 June 1943

18 July 1943:

Special night flight to Paramushiro

22 July 1943:

Catalina 42V, Lt Jolly, landed approx. nine and one-half miles north of Little Kiska to pick up the crew of a Mitchell, which crashed at sea two miles off Reynard Cove due to AA damage. The B-25’s crew were in the life raft when rescued.

 

24 July 1943:

Catalina 08071, 44V, Lt Wilbur J. Wehmyer, in Fox Annex sector three developed engine trouble which required a forced landing in the vicinity of Komandorski Islands. While attempting to land at Nikolsky Bay, a Russian ground position opened fire and seriously damaged the plane, stopping the starboard engine and puncturing the starboard wing tanks. Lt. Wehmeyer succeeded in landing in Sarana Lake on Bering Island. At 1454,

PBY-5 08209/73V of VP-45 piloted by Lt. (jg) Roy Evans, departed Attu to rescue Lt Wehmeyer and crew. This mission was successful. All confidential material in 44V was jettisoned at sea before landing, with the exception of a portion of the aircraft code retained and returned by the pilot. The 44V was sunk by gun fire from 73V, which returned to base at 2125W.

 

24 July 1943:

Catalina 08361/64V (VP-45) searching Fox Annex Twenty-four was also fired on by Russians at the Komandorski Islands. In view of these incidents, the Wing Commander warned the pilots that the Russians fire on belligerent planes and directed that they keep clear of Soviet territory.

 

24 September 1943:

Cmdr. Frank Brunner was relieved as CO by Lt. Cmdr. C.J. Eastman

6 October 1943:

Bombing Squadron VB-139 arrived at Adak and continued on to Amchitka to relieve VP-61.

8 October 1943:

Navy patrol squadron VP-61 departed for Naval Air Station, Sand Point, Seattle, WA. Lt Jolly in 04465 61-P-3 43V had a fuel line parted, and made forced landing in the sea near Amelia Island, taxied within 100 yards from the beach, hit a reef and sank.

9 October the crew was located by an Army B-24 and rescued by PT boats.

 

11 October 1943:

Patrol Squadron VP-43, after a short stay at Adak, arrived at Naval Air Station, Attu, under the command of Lt Cmdr John A. Horton, Jr., and began regular sector searches with its ten PBYs, operating from the seaplane tender Casco (APV-12). It relieved Patrol Squadron VP-61, stationed at Amchitka, which had departed for Seattle, WA.

 

18 October 1943:

All hands given 30 days leave. Squadron placed on reserve status until January 1943.

January 3, 1944:

VP-61 was reformed in NAS Whidbey Island

8 April, 1944:

To the Aleutians.

14 April 1944:

Patrol Squadron VP-61 departed NAS Kodiak arriving Adak 15 April.

16-21 April 1944: VP-61 attended LORAN School at NOB Adak

relieved VP-43 at Adak with 15 radar-equipped PBY-5A’s. Twelve flown in Attu where squadron remained until December 1944.

 

Call signs in 1944: 61V-71V, X8….

BuNo's, April-December 1944:

48360

48380 Replacement for damaged 48440, 10 August 1944

48382 to Hedron 6 26 Jan 1944

48386 to Hedron 6 26 Jan 1944

48388 to Hedron 6 28 Jan 1944

48390

48391 to Hedron 6 24 Jan 1944

48397

48398 62V 1 May 1944 Lt (jg) Heidlage failed to return from a patrol

48425

48426

48427 64V 15 June 1944 Lt. Frank A. Woody and crew failed to return from a special search mission for a missing Ventura crews. 

48429

48430

48431

48433 to FAW6 Seattle 15 April 1944 after damage to nose section due to hydraulic pump failure 10 April 1944

48434

48435

48436

48439

48440 Extensively damaged during water landing 1 August 1944, Lt (jg) Hubbach.

48441

 

1 May 1944:

MIA: A PBY 48398 62V failed to return Attu after while flying a search patrol. The missing crew members were: Lt (jg) Grover F. Heidlage, Lt (jg) Robert  W. Smith; Ens Philip R. Dering, Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class James C. McDowell, Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Hugh E. Morrow, Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Josehp F. Daniels, Aviation Radioman 3rd Class Oliver L. Kihl, and Aviation Radioman 3rd Class  Louis E. Palmer.

6 May 1944:

Lt W.L. Pery flew special night mission over enemy installations at Paramushiro and Shimushu Island for investigation of enemy radar. Robert P. Owe ART1c, flew as an observer and made special tests of the Japanese radar installations. 

13-14 May 1944:

Lieutenant (jg) Michael Lorenzo in 61V on a sector patrol from Attu, and his crew spotted several Japanese fishing vessels 51-13N159-25W east of Paramushiru Island. They were the ones seen the day before by the B-25 crew.  The Japanese fired back at the PBY, hitting the starboard fuel tank with what was estimated to be a 30-millimeter shell and vertical stabilizer with small arms fire. Lieutenant Lorenzo turned back for Attu due to excessive engine vibration. They had taken off at 1753 13 May, made the sighting at 0010 14 May and landed at 0533.

 

15 June 1944:

48427 64V failed to return from a special search mission for a missing Ventura crews. Lt. Frank A. Woody, Ens. Norman C. Hill, Ens. Edward A. Patterson, AMM2c Earl O. Brewer, ARM1c Bruce S. Haight, AMM2c Orval D. Lowrimore, and ARM3c Philip A. Lilly. 

 

9 September 1944:

Lt R.L. Ashcraft flew special rescue mission for Army B-25 crew shot down off Kurabu Zaki, Paramushiro. Signals were received from Army crew but they were picked up by Japanese patrol boat before rescue could be effected.

10 September 1944:

Squadron broken up into four units to operate inshore patrols along the Aleutian Chain. Squadron headquarters changed from NAS, Attu to NAS, Adak, and other units operated from NAF, at Amchitka, Dutch Harbor, and NAS, Kodiak, Alaska.

1 October 1944:

The designation- Patrol Squadron SIXTY-ONE (VP-61) was changed to Patrol Bombing Squadron SIXTY-ONE (VPB-61) by Sec. Nav. Ltr. (SC) A3-1/VV of 25 Aug. 1944. This constitute a change in name only and did not change the squadron function.

23 October 1944:

Lt R.L. Ashcraft, in PBY-5A, BuNo 48439 rescued Army P-40 pilot from water off Kanaga Island, Alaska. P-40 crashed from undetermined causes.

10 December 1944:

VPB-61 was relieved from inshore patrol duty by VPB-43 . To Whidbey Island for 14 days.

28 December 1944:

All personnel on leave. Squadron in reserve status until reformed in February 1945.

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