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U.S. NAVY VP SQUADRONS IN BRAZIL - THE TIMES OF RICHARD ARNOLD AT VP 94

7)BACK TO THE JUNGLE


I flew some thirty-six patrols and convoy coverage flights all pretty routine. We did participate in the search for Tom Harmon’s B-25 which went down in the jungle. They were found by a blimp and all rescued with the exception of one of the crew members. He died in the crash. There were other searches. Later when we were down around Rio we had to go out on a sub hunt. A PBM squadron sent some planes down to assist us. Since they had longer range than we did, they volunteered to take the night patrols and let us take the days. That was a good deal for us since night patrols are mostly radar. Radar was fairly new in those days and wasn’t too reliable plus night patrols were riskier. The first night they sent three PBMs out and one failed to return. The next day we started a search for him plus our regular patrols.


In addition, since they were short a plane, we assisted in the night patrols. We never found the airplane or the sub. A few days later, a freighter came into port and reported a plane passing low over him and crashing into the water. There was a fire so the ship was unable to stay around and look for survivors for fear the subs could see them against the fire. We never found any wreckage or survivors. My log book shows that I was on one rescue mission but I have no recollection of what it was. We did make one open sea type landing to pick somebody up. They are no fun at all. Keeping the airplane straight into the wind is difficult and the waves go clear over the cockpit.


It is pretty much an instrument takeoff Our squadron, like most, was made up of mostly reserve pilots. We had one Academy man who was the Executive Officer, second in command, and another reserve turned regular. His name was Dick Craig and he was a great guy. Later another Academy man joined us. Rank was really not a big issue since we would probably all be selling shoes when the war ended. It was strictly on a first name basis except for the skipper and exec. I rarely wore my hat and every now and then Dick Craig would stop me and say Richard, would you please put on your hat? It was never a command but I always put it on.


Early in August, the Navy decided that ther e had been very little submarine activity in the south Atlantic and that maybe the Brazilians could handle that area by themselves. It was decided that they would send eight pilots and a group of enlisted men down to Santa Cruz, about forty miles outside of Rio to train them in our planes. Don Faulkner, my old buddy that I had helped on that night flight, was given the job of selection. Dick Craig went as CO of the unit, Don Faulkner, John Dougherty, Dick Rowland, Paul Bradley (all full lieutenants) Ray Neal, Morris Ward and myself made up the eight pilots. There was one ground officer, Hubert Mate, who was an intelligence officer. We had enough enlisted men to maintain and fly the planes.


Cont.


 

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