Rear Admiral H. Spencer Matthews (1921–2002) was the first U.S. Navy former enlisted pilot to make flag rank—one of only two to have done so. He flew 50 combat missions during World War II. This account of his service as a navigator and pilot on long-range antisubmarine patrols in the North Atlantic is based on a Naval Institute oral history interview of Admiral Matthews conducted by Paul Stillwell on 20 August 1986.
I got to Europe right after D-Day in 1944 and immediately started flying combat missions as a member of Bombing Squadron (VB) 105. The base was the U.S. naval air facility at Dunkeswell, a village in southwest England. We had three squadrons of PB4Y-1 Liberators, which were Navy versions of the Army B-24 bomber. The Liberator was picked for this duty instead of the PBY Catalina because it was faster, carried more bombs, and patrolled larger areas with greater radar capability.