Lest We Forget

By Lieutenant Commander Rick Burgess, U.S. Navy (Retired)

In January and February 1944, VP-13 and VP-102 aircrews, flying from Midway, carried out four bombing raids against Japanese facilities on Wake Island. In 50 sorties in round trips of 4,200 miles each, the PB2Ys dropped 60 tons of bombs without losing a plane or crewman. The raids were first ever conducted by formations of heavy seaplanes over long distances.

In April 1944, VP-13 crews based on Ebeye laid mines in the waters around Truk, and in May conducted nuisance raids for 11 nights on Wotje, dropping one 500-pound bomb every half-hour for 12 hours each night. During the first half of 1944, VP-13 crews shot down five Japanese Navy G4M “Beatty” bombers.

VP-13 regrouped began receiving PB2Y-5 versions in September 1944. On 1 October 1944, the squadron was redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron 13 (VPB-13). VPB-13 covered the February 1945 invasion of Iwo Jima, and in April covered the Okinawa campaign from Kerama Rhetto. During operations off Japan and China until the war’s end, VPB-13 crews shot down four more Japanese aircraft, while losing one PB2Y, which ditched following hits from antiaircraft fire.

VPB-13, stationed at Hong Kong shortly after hostilities ended, returned to San Diego in November 1945, and was disestablished on 21 December 1945.


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