A very hectic week to be sure, but rather satisfying for all of that. Returned to flying status and flew five missions. Passed my 50th one today. A five hour job, searching the Halmaheras for military activity. Nothing of interest found. Returned by way of Kabiri Village which we bombed and strafed with parafrags, 500 lb bombs and .50 calibers. Made two passes over the target. Very interesting, to be sure. Was scared on both runs, especially the second.1
Don’t know where this fear comes from. Suppose it’s because we’re only human and have human failings. I have been blue all week. No mail from Bonnie, and being deprived of that is the worst thing that could happen to me. The world just isn’t the same. No rosy glow, no vigor. In fact, just no zest in life.
Big transfer coming off Tuesday. Wonder what my next squadron will be. Have been in all of them except the 390th. The 70th or 69th are the logical choices now. Who knows? Would rather finish things out with this outfit as we have the best ground maintenance in Group2 and all our planes are [B-25]Js. The other squadrons are pretty well loaded with old [B-25]Cs, Ds and Js. I love the old C best of all; but there’s more room in the J. The J isn’t as fast; however, all the planes have their points though.
The main reason for the decision to make transfers throughout group is to equalize personnel. All this so the old boys will get home quicker. Whole crews will probably leave from each squadron. It’s unfair to the older men to send newer arrivals home. There are thirteen armorer gunners in our squadron alone who have over fourteen points. That’s not too good a condition, believe me. Puts me in a position to spend more time out here; and as the old darky used to say, “That ain’t good”. Truer words were never spoken, to be sure.
Terrible typhoon east of Luzon.3
Wrote Bonnie last night and this morning. Will write again tomorrow.
Am scheduled for a mission. Hope it isn’t strafing. I have to clean the guns we used today before takeoff in the morning. Stan has a job and so do I. The radio operator should too. Don’t know whether he will or not, though. Lou Miller will be back with us tomorrow. Has the reputation of being one of the very best in the squadron, a very good boy. Married like me, you see. A wonderful woman is a lot of help to a man; and I’m really blessed with the best wife in the world.
Ah, yes, wrote several pages on my story today. Hope to get more tomorrow. It’s beginning to move right along. Hope to finish the first draft and be well into the 2nd before I go home. That will take some doing. Would like to have it finished for Bonnie on arrival home; but have been too slow with it. I need more diligence and attention to business than I seem to be blessed with. Will cultivate that too.
Well, it’s time to wash and brush up for bedtime. Goodnight my only sweetheart.
Notes & Commentary
1 The mission which Wayne describes at the commencement of the entry for December 17 is not the mission he flew on December 17. It most closely resembles the mission he flew on December 14.
On 17 Dec 1944, Wayne flew on a two-plane shipping sweep in B-25J #105 piloted by 2nd Lt. Roy L. Anderson with 1st Lt. Kenneth Miller, copilot; 2nd Lt. Allan H. Marks, as bombardier; and Staff Sergeants Norman F. Palubiski, radio operator; Stanley L. Seehorn, engineer; and Wayne A. Gray, tail gunner. The second aircraft participating in this mission was B-25J #085 piloted by Lt. Col. Joe R. Brabson, Deputy Commander of the 42nd Bombardment Group.
The bomb load consisted of two 100 lb general purpose parafrag clusters and two 500 lb general purpose bombs. The aircraft also carried a full load of ammunition.
Operations Order No. 130, 17 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 17 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frame 1801.
The two B-25Js conducted a dawn shipping sweep of the search areas “Jig” 1, 2, 3 and 4, observing in particular Vesuvius Bay area. They departed Mar Airfield at 0400 and flew direct to Dampier Strait. At 0430, a searchlight was sighted at Jar Island. Its feeble perpendicular and stationary been penetrating to 7,000’ was visible for approximately four minutes, the period of time the plane was passing. The plane was flying at 8,000’ approximately 6 miles south of Jar Island. The light was not turned off during the time that the plane was in the range of visible observation.
After passing through Dampier Strait, the missions proceeded directly to the eastern tip of the Soela lslands arriving at 0615. [Sula Islands (http://www.indonesiatravelingguide.com/maluku-maps-maluku-islands-2/sula-islands/)%5D The planes searched along the south side of Mangole Island to Sanana Island and then down the west side and backup the eastside of Sanana Island. From here they flew on along the south coast to Mangole Island to Vesuvius Bay.
At 0706 both planes made planes made a practice strafing attack on a 90’ hulk on the north side of the south Cape of Vesuvius Bay. The attack was made at a minimum altitude the first plane dropped one 100 lb. parafrag cluster, which fell just short of the hulk. The lead plane expended 500 rounds of ammunition and tracers were seen to enter the hulk. The second plane strafed only, expanding 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Tracers again were seen to enter the hulk. Photographs were taken of the strafed hulk.
The planes proceeded on along the southern coast of Taliaboe [Taliabu] Island to Wendi where scattered rainstorms prevented further search in that direction. From there they flew to the north coast and searched on around the coastline to the west and south of Bobong where they are again forced to turn around due to weather. The whole western and north coast of Taliaboe Island and then the north coast to Mangole Island were searched. The planes departed the search area at 0857 and return directly to base. The search was conducted at altitudes varying from minimum to 2,000’.
During the shipping sweep, fish traps were observed in Mangole Striat. Extensive native canoe activity was reported throughout the whole search area. The usual hulks were reported in Vesuvius Bay. At Sanana Island a single-masted schooner which was apparently in good condition was beached right at the town. Three small native schooners were reported on the west side of Taliaboe Island approximately 10 miles north of Bobong. All were beached and apparently in good condition.
The mission aircraft recovered at Mar Airfield at 1100. During this seven hour shipping sweep, hourly weather reports were transmitted to the base. The mission encountered no antiaircraft fire.
Final Mission Report, Mission No. 204, 17 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 17 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1797 – 1799.
2 42nd Bombardment Group (M)
3 Typhoon Cobra was first observed on December 17, 1944, when Task Force 38 was attempting to refuel some 300 miles east of Luzon in the open ocean. Over the next 24 hours, “barometric pressures as low as 26.8 inHg (907 mbar) and wind speeds up to 120 knots (140 mph; 220 km/h) in gusts were reported by some ships.” By the time the typhoon had passed on, three destroyers had capsized and sunk, 790 men were dead, over 100 aircraft aboard the aircraft carriers were wrecked or lost overboard, and nine warships severely damaged. “Typhoon Cobra (1944)”. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoon_Cobra_(1944)#Meteorological_history : accessed 14 December 2014).
The lowest barometric pressure recorded during the task force’s struggle with Typhoon Cobra, 907 mbar, is nearly equivalent to that of the devastating Hurricane Camille, 909 mbar, which struck Mississippi, Southeast Louisiana and Virginia in 1969. Of hurricanes striking North America since records have been kept, only the unnamed Florida Keys hurricane of 1935 registered a lower pressure, 892 mbar. Eric S. Blake et al. The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Tropical Cyclones from 1815 to 2010 (and Other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts) . NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS NHC-6. (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/nws-nhc-6.pdf : accessed 15 December 2014). Table 4, page 13.