VI BOMBER COMMAND
IN DEFENSE OF THE PANAMA CANAL
1941 - 45
Areas of Interest:
VI Bombardment Command History:
6th BGp (Heavy)
3rd BS (Heavy)
29th BS (Heavy)
74th BS (Heavy)
397th BS (Heavy)
9th BGp (Heavy)
1st BS (Heavy)
5th BS (Heavy)
99th BS (Heavy)
430th BS (Heavy)
25th BGp (Medium)
12th BS (Medium)
35th BS (Medium)
59th BS (Medium)
417th BS (Medium)
40th BGp (Heavy)
25th BS (Heavy)
44th BS (Heavy)
45th BS (Heavy)
395th BS (Heavy)
Units Attached to VI Bomber Command
10th BS (Heavy)
15th BS (Light)
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40th Bombardment Group
395th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy)
The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium) (later to become the 395th Bombardment Squadron) was activated April 1, 1941 as an independent Squadron attached to the 40th Bombardment Group, with Station at Boriquen Field, Puerto Rico. The activation was accomplished under the authority of General Orders Number 10, Headquarters Puerto Rican Department, San Juan, Puerto Rico. The squadron was formed as the result of a split-up of the 27th Reconnaissance Squadron, and all of the 5th's original personnel came from the 27th.
Major Palmer was the first. Commanding Officer. The rest of the original commissioned personnel included 1st Lts. Remington, Triffy, Hamilton, and Kittel; 2nd Lts. Eisenhart, McKenna, Pancake, Welsh, Coco, Pursley, Schramm, Squadronuyres, Thrift, and Vickery. The original enlisted men included two Master Sergeants, five Technical Sergeants, 15 Staff Sergeants, 11 Sergeants, four Corporals, and 97 Privates.
Twenty-five (25) enlisted men from Charleston, SC, joined the squadron on April 1, 1941. Sixteen (16) more men were assigned to the 5th Squadron from the OD&R Depot on September 8, 1941, followed by the assignment of 18 men from Fort Slocum on October 17, 1941. These transfers, plus a few individual transfers, brought the enlisted Strength to 180 men.
The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron was attached to the 27th Reconnaissance Squadron for flying, from the 5th's activation on April 1, 1941, to September 1, 1941. During that period, the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron crewed three B-18As of the 27th Reconnaissance Squadron. which were numbered R-2, R-3, and R-5. The 5th Squadron maintained and operated these planes, although they were assigned on paper to the 27th. Most of the 5th's activities during that time were credited to the 27th Reconnaissance Squadron.
Captain Mason became the Commander of the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron on April 26, 1941. He was promoted to Major on July 15, 1941, and assigned to the 40th Bombardment Group on December 2, 1941. Lt. Moore, also from the 27th Reconnaissance Squadron, assumed command of the 5th on December 16, 1941, following Major Mason's departure. Lt. Hamilton was the temporary commanding officer in the interval between December 2-16, 1941.
Lt. Norman joined the squadron on September 7, 1941, as the Squadron Adjutant.
The Medical Department, comprised of four enlisted men under the direction of Captain Cloven, was formed July 15, 1941
The squadron Mess, in charge of Lt. Scott, Mess Officer, assisted by S/Sgt. Thomas E. Redditt, Mess Sergeant, originated August 3, 1941
The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron started operations of its own on September 1, 1941. The 5th was given half of Building T-1123 and the three B-18A planes. It made numerous cross-country flights to Jamaica, Ciudad Trujillo, Miami, Trinidad, Panama, Nassau, and other places.
The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron was placed under the command of the 19th Bombardment Wing (later the VI Bomber Command), pursuant to General Order Number 8, Headquarters Sixth Air Force, September 18, 1941, and was attached to the 40th Bombardment Group for administrative purposes, pursuant to General Orders No. 2, 19th Bombardment Wing, September 25, 1941.
The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron had a picnic supper and farewell party for Major Mason on December 9, 1941. The unit presented Major and Mrs. Mason with a movie projector as a token of their esteem.
Everyone enjoyed holiday dinners on Thanksgiving and Christmas, both officers and enlisted men attended.
The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron was detached from the VI Bomber Command and attached to the 6th Interceptor Command, pursuant to General Order Number 3, Headquarters Sixth Air Force, January 15, 1942. General Order Number 31, Headquarters Sixth Air Force later revoked the latter order, June 23, 1942.
Sgt. Van Hoy, Pfc. Brannon, Pfc. Cozby, and Pvt. Emmons left the squadron on January 15, 1942, to take the Enlisted Pilots course at Kelly Field, Texas.
The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron was officially assigned to the 40th Bombardment Group on February 25, 1942.
1st Lts. Eisenhart and Jeffrey were transferred on February 9, 1942, to the 27th Reconnaissance. Squadron. 2nd Lts. Sullivan and Smith were transferred to the 5th from the 27th on the same date.
Sgts. Dinger and Beebe, and Pfc. Tomich were transferred to Maxwell Field, Alabama, on February 17, 1942, to begin their training to become Enlisted Pilots.
On Friday, March 20, 1942, the squadron moved from its old temporary wooden barracks to a new three-story concrete building. The new building contained a dining room and a complete kitchen, day room, barber shop, supply rooms, offices, and sleeping quarters for the entire Squadron.
S/Sgt. Entler, S/Sgt. Hanna, Cpl. Moore, and Pfc. Alexander left the squadron on March 25, 1942, to take pilot training at the ACRTC Pilots School, Maxwell Field, Alabama.
last. Lt. Morrison was transferred to the 44th Bombardment Squadron on March 26, 1942, and 2nd Lt. Sullivan went to the 29th Bombardment Squadron. 2nd Lt. Wood reported for duty as Photo Officer. He was transferred from Hq. Squadron, 40th Bombardment Group
The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron was one year old on April 1, 1942, and its personnel were given the day off, and participated in a field meet with the personnel of other Squadrons of the 40th Bomb. Group, who were also celebrating the end of their first year of activation. After the field meet, the 5th's officers joined the enlisted men in a Squadron dinner celebrating the occasion.
Thirty-two (32) new enlisted men, all unqualified privates, arrived at the squadron from the casual detachment, Borinquen Field, PR, on April 5, 1942.
The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium) was redesignated the 395th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on April 22, 1942.
The 395th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) was assigned to the 40th Group, pursuant to General Orders No. 18, Headquarters Sixth Air Force, May 11, 1942, with Station at Borinquen, Puerto Rico.
Capts. Hamilton and Kite, and 1st Lt Vickery were transferred on May 26, 1942, to Hq. Squadron, 40th Bombardment Group. 1st Lts. Schramm, Miller, and Jones were transferred to other squadrons in the Group.
The 40th Bombardment Group, comprised of the Hq. & Hq. Squadron, 29th Bombardment Squadron, 44th Bombardment Squadron, 45th Bombardment Squadron, 395th Bombardment Squadron, and the 485th Ordnance Company Aviation (Bomb), departed from San Juan, PR, on June 7, in two transports, the "Florida" and the "Evangeline." The trip lasted 10 days and included stops in Trinidad, (Port of Spain) and Aruba, NWI, with the 40th Group arriving in Panama on June 16. The 395th Bombardment Squadron disembarked at Balboa on the Pacific side of the Canal, and left directly for their new permanent Station at Rio Hato Air Base, R. de P., in accordance with instructions contained in General Orders No. 27, Headquarters, Sixth Air Force, June 20, 1942. The 395th arrived by motor convoy at Rio Hato from Albrook Field on June 15, and had an assigned strength of 237 officers and enlisted men.
Capt. Jeffrey, and 1st Lts. Squadronuyres, Thrift, Welsh, Keaden, McWilliams, and Lyons were assigned to the 44th Bomb. Squadron, and left on June 21, 1942, to join the 44th in Guatemala. Three combat crews from the 395th Bombardment Squadron also were transferred to the 44th, and accompanied the aforementioned officers to Guatemala.
The 395th Bombardment Squadron was released from assignment to the 40th Bombardment Squadron on July 10, 1942, and attached to the 6th Bomb, Group for operations, training and administration.
Lt. Dulion was released from the 29th Bombardment Squadron, and assigned to the 395th Bombardment Squadron
First Sergeant Coutts rejoined the organization after being released from the Station hospital at Borinquen Field.
1st Lt M. Hernandez, formerly attached to the 29th Bombardment Squadron, joined the organization.
Lts. Coco and Smith were promoted to the rank of Captain on July 27, 1942.
The 395th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was released from assignment with the 40th Bombardment Group, and assigned to the 6th Bombardment Group (Heavy) with temporary Station at Rio Hato, pursuant to General Order 7, VI Bomber Command, September 21, 1942. The 395th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) was redesignated the 395th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), pursuant to the last named General Order.
The 395th, deployed at Rio Hato, had an assigned strength of 405 officers and enlisted men, and four 4-engine and four other aircraft. The 395th remained at Rio Hato for approximately 11 months, during which time its activities centered on the VI Bomber Command's Operational Training Replacement Unit (OTRU). Its flying was done chiefly in support of the OTRU, and included beside routine local instructional flights, CR-55 country flights to almost all bases between Talara, Peru, and Guatemala City, Guatemala. The 365th's tactical flying was limited because the squadron had been designated as a reserve striking force, but did include some patrol work, search missions, CPX problems, and ferry flights.
1st Lt Ross was assigned to the 395th Squadron as Squadron Surgeon on September 12, 1942, relieving Capt. Colvin who transferred to the Fighter Command.
Capt. Martin was assigned to the 395th as Director of Training OTRU on September 16, 1942, relieving Capt. Boyd.
Major W. E. Creer assumed command of the 395th Bomb. Squadron on October 5, 1942. Capt. Pancake was relieved, and assigned to Hq. 6th Bombardment Group
Capts. Seeley and Mullins joined the 395th Squadron on October 18, and were assigned duties in OTRU.
Major Rankin assumed command of the 395th Bombardment Squadron on November 5, 1942, and Maj. Creer was transferred to the Sixth Air Force.
Capt. Martin was promoted to Major on November 21, 1942.
December 1942Lt. Ross was promoted to Captain on December 25, 1942.
During the past six months, the 395th had three men leave for Officers Candidate School (OCS). Cpl. Cecil left for the Signal School, Cpl. Davenport for Armament, and S/Sgt. Kakalejcik to the Engineers. The organization also sent S/Sgt. Koons; Sgt. Wheeler; Cpls. Green, Archer, and Nester; and Pvt. Martin to the United States to start careers as Aviation Cadets.
Some of the "oldest." men in the 395th were lost. under the five (5) percent replacement plan. These included TSgt.s. Beale, Lake, Burkett, DeBoer, and Spahn; and S/Sgt.s. Soucek, Dooman, and Franchella
Capts. Corey, Boyd, Beere, and Martin; and 1st Lts Jones and Baker were assigned to the Squadron.
2nd Lts. Campbell, Carroll, and McNab were assigned to the unit from Hq. Squadron, 6th Bombardment Group, when the latter organization was inactivated. The 395th Squadron also absorbed many enlisted men from the same organization.
Lt. Johnson, Squadron Armament Officer, was transferred to the 44th Bombardment Squadron
Capt. Hunt and 1st Lts McKee and Sack were transferred to the 395th from Hq. 6th Bomb. Group, and assigned duties with the OTRU.
Capt. Jenney joined the squadron as Ordnance Officer.
Lt. Scott, the Mess and Supply Officer, was transferred to the 3rd Bombardment Squadron
2nd Lts. Van Horn and Mitsakos joined the 395th Bombardment Squadron, and were assigned duties as Communications and Transportation Officer, respectively.
At the end of the year, the 395th's strength was 34 officers and two Warrant Officers assigned; 21 officers attached; and 430 enlisted men assigned, and 11 attached.
Captain Reiber joined the squadron on January 2, 1943, and was assigned duties in OTRU. Capt. Smith left the 395th on the same date, and was assigned to the 397th Bombardment Squadron
Capt. Hall was assigned to the organization in March 1943, and placed in charge of the Aviation Cadets taking Navigation training in the OTRU.
The 395th Bombardment Squadron had its first. fatal accident on April 9, 1943, when Capt. Brundage, MSgt. Womble, TSgts. Boyer and Walling, Sgt. Smith, and Cpl. Cannon were lost. in a crash at sea.
The squadron celebrated its second year of activation on April 11, 1943, with a beach party. Almost all the officers and enlisted men were present, and the athletic contests and beer drinking well benefited the occasion.
The 395th's Air Echelon left Rio Hato for David, R. de P., the organization's new Station, on April 27, 1943. The Air Echelon was followed by the rest of the squadron who made the trip by truck on April 29, 1943. The stay at David was spent in training. Classes were held for the flying personnel, and fieldwork for the ground personnel.
The 395th Bombardment Squadron was released from assignment to the 6th Bombardment Group (Heavy), and assigned to the 40th Bombardment Group (Heavy), under the authority of General Orders No. 31, Headquarters, Sixth Air Force, May 12, 1943.
The 395th remained in David for only a month, then moved to Howard Field on May 27, 1943, in preparation for return to the United States.
2nd Lts. McDavitt and Mandaleria joined the squadron as Intelligence Officers.
W/O Officer Bristol was transferred to the 74th Bombardment Squadron
1st Lts. Starley and LaBaree joined the 395th Squadron, and were assigned to the OTRU as Intelligence Officers.
1st Lt Sowers; and 2nd Lts. Wisener, Lynch, Stone, Sallade, White, Hanlon, and Miller were assigned to the squadron as Bombardiers.
The total strength of the 395th Squadron on June 2 was 40 officers and 350 enlisted men.
On June 15, 1943, the 395th Bomb, Squadron. entrucked at Fort Kobbe, CZ, and embarked on the USAT "George Washington" for the United States. The 3,285 miles traveled at sea were uneventful, and on June 25, 1943, the squadron disembarked at San Francisco, California, and took up temporary Station at Fort McDowell, California. The 365th remained at Fort McDowell until June 28, 1943, when it entrained for Pratt, Kansas, arriving there on July 1, 1943.