Remembering VF(N)-101

How can VF(N)-101 best be remembered?

I created this blog back in 2015 when Flight Lieutenant John Kelly’s son sent me this picture of his father on a group picture.

vfn-101

Collection John Kelly (courtesy Gunnar Kelly)

This is how I got started writing a blog with the idea of remembering unsung heroes.

There were 8 faces but only one name. 

Richard Emerson  Harmer was also smiling, as well as other night fighter naval aviators from VF(N)-101 aboard the Enterprise, but I did not know who he was… 

vfn-101-richard-emerson-harmer

Then Bob Brunson, another naval aviator on that picture, found my blog and I could add his name on another smiling face.

robert-brunson

Bob Brunson who knew Richard Harmer’s son gave me his email to contact him. What evolved from this contact was more than 3 gigabytes of files about his father Richard Harmer.

Photos like this one…

Lots of documents, and foremost his complete 1944 diary.

The start of the transcription is here.

 

I just had to turn back time, and start writing on each of the 39 naval aviators seen on the deck of USS Saratoga 15 July 1942…

VF-5 July, 1942

Top row (left to right): Price, Reiplinger, Altemus, Gunsolus, Eichenberger, Innis, Gray, Kleinmann, Morgan, Roach, Dufilho, Smith

Center row: Currie, Robb, Wesolowski. Starkes, Davy, Holt, Daly, Presley, McDonald, Tabberer, Barbieri, Haynes, Bass, Blair, Bright

Bottom row: Kleinman, Stover, Crews, Brown, Southerland, Harmer, Simpler, Richardson, Green, Jensen, Clarke, Stepanek. (photo from the collection of Capt. H. W. Crews)

I just had to turn back time before writing about VF(N)-101.


To contact me you can write a comment or use this contact form.

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Preserving the Past – February 19, 1944

18-19-20 February 1944

February
19
Saturday

Things happen when least expected. I turned the standby over to Brunson & Poirier last night feeling sure it would be another dull night. At 0500 this morning off went torpedo defense and I was out of bed and on my way to the flight deck in one minute. I was in my plane in two minutes later and was launched – much to my surprise – about four minutes later. Got contact on bogey* at 13000′ – lost him in dive. Picked him up against at 9000′ – close to sight contact and gave him all fire guns. This bastard didn’t burn – just spiraled off to the right with a little fire in his right engine that went right out. Found him again at 5000′ but lost him at 800′. He must have got away. Standby again tonight.

 

Note

* The torpedo plane was most probably a G4M code name Betty.

G4M Betty

More information about the plane:

http://www.aviation-history.com/mitsubishi/g4m.html

Feel free to add comments or to suggest corrections on errors that I made transcribing.

Tomorrow, February 20, 1944…

18-19-20 February 1944

Had two flights today…

 

 

 

Preserving the Past – February 18, 1944

18-19-20 February 1944

February
18
Friday

Just cruising today… Saw the Air Officer and talked to him about getting some training done off the field of Majuro. He says he will try to arrange it. Word came today that the Enterprise will hit Ponape tomorrow. The rest of the task forces are going on in to hit the Mariannas Islands. It looks as though we are going to keep on hitting the japs as long as we  have planes to fly off the carriers. It is a good idea – They must be groggy now. Tomorrow we VF(N) get to take off on combat air patrol – first flight in 18 days. To bed at 2300.

Feel free to add comments or to suggest corrections on errors that I made transcribing.

Tomorrow, February 19, 1944…

18-19-20 February 1944

Things happen when least expected…

 

 

 

Intermission – 17 February 1944

16-17 February 1944

Excerpt from this book

CAROLINE ISLANDS:

Beginning with a dawn strafing attack by 72 F6Fs, USN carrier aircraft from Task Force 58* support Operation CATCHPOLE, the impending invasion of Eniwetok Atoll, by mounting powerful attacks against the IJN regional base at Truk Atoll. TBMs, SBDs, SB2Cs, and F6Fs damage or destroy as many as 150 aircraft on the ground and attack four IJN warships and as many as 50 transports and other vessels in the lagoon.

While supporting carrier-based SBDs and TBMs, as well as conducting their own strafing attacks against all manner of targets, F6F pilots down 121 IJN aircraft, mostly A6Ms. A VT-9 TBFM gunner also downs one A6M. This is the highest one-day victory total so far in the Pacific War. Four F6Fs are lost in combat.

During the night of February 17-18, six radar-equipped B5Ns mount an unopposed attack against Task Force 58, and one torpedo hit is scored on the fleet carrier USS Intrepid, which retires to Majuro Atoll.

Also during the night, 12 VT-10 TBMs armed with 500-pound bombs mount the war’s first carrier-based night radar attack against shipping in Truk Lagoon. Several hits are claimed and several ships are apparently sunk.

* Task Force 58 (Fast Carrier Task Force) [RAdm Marc A. Mitscher, Commander, Carrier Division 3]: Task Group 58.1 [RAdm John W. Reeves, Jr., Commander, Carrier Division 4] USS Enterprise (Fleet Carrier Air Group 10), USS Yorktown (Fleet Carrier Air Group 5), and USS Belleau Wood (Light Carrier Air Group 24); Task Group 58.2 [RAdm Alfred E. Montgomery, Commander, Carrier Division 12] USS Essex (Fleet Carrier Air Group 9), USS Intrepid (Fleet Carrier Air Group 11), and USS Cabot (Light Carrier Air Group 31); and Task Group 58.3 [RAdm Frederick C. Sherman, Commander, Carrier Division 1]-USS Bunker Hill (Fleet Carrier Air Group 17), USS Cowpens (Light

Carrier Air Group 22), and USS Monterey (Light Carrier Air Group 30).

Photos of Intrepid taken from the Internet

More information here: https://www.intrepidmuseum.org/LatestNews/February-2014/This-Month-in-Intrepid-s-History

Preserving the Past – February 17, 1944

16-17 February 1944

February
17
Thursday

Was called at 0500 to man planes. Bogey on screen. Started engine but did not launched. I am getting pretty good at getting in and out of these planes but I still have to be launched. Finally secured at 0600 and planes were sent below. Early strikes were launched on Truk again. No opposition. Got many ships, oil tanks, some grounded planes and ground installations. Last strike went in at 1100 and returned at 1300. We are now hauling away at top speed to the north-east directly into the wind. Fifty knots of wind over the deck. It is our night tonight but the chances are s;o, that the japs have anything left to send after us even if they could find us and catch us. What a cruise this has been for us.
 

Feel free to add comments or to suggest corrections on errors that I made transcribing.

Tomorrow, February 18, 1944…

18-19-20 February 1944

Just cruising today…

 

 

 

Preserving the Past – February 16, 1944

16-17 February 1944

February
16
Wednesday

The battle of Truk is on. Seventy-two VF went in on the early morning fighter sweep followed by more fighters and bombers and torpedo planes fifteen minutes later. We night fighters stayed in the ready room waiting for the first flight to return with the news good or bad. It was good – they came back flushed and excited each one giving his own story to whoever would listen. The count was 26 planes shot down by twenty VF on the first hop. We lost one. Strikes continued all day each one reporting less and less opposition until the last flight returned reporting nothing but AA. The place is pretty well smashed up. The shipping inside Truk was heavily hit but many cruisers and DD got away. Our two new battleships with cruiser and destroyers escort went after them. Rumor has it that they got five cruisers and several DD.

continued on 21 Dec

16 Feb cont.

The last hop dropped delayed action bombs on the airfields. We were warned to expect a night attack and one weren’t disappointed. About nine o’clock they started to show up. As I thought the admirals didn’t want to launch night fighters. The enemy planes made several passes got fired on by AA and withdrew for a while. I was finally called up on the bridge to reassure the captain and the Admiral that conditions were ideal for night fighters.

16 Feb cont.

It was the Yorktown night so they finally launched Russ Reiserer* in his F6F. Frank Burgess took over control and I watched him put Russ on a jap torpedo plane with the prettiest interception I ever saw. Russ gave “contact” and I was sure it would be a sure shot down, He closed in to less than two miles and then said “no joy”. Frank coached him in for one mile but no luck. The jap was headed straight for Swede task force and when he got close we had to send Russ off in order to let AA have a crack. AA wasn’t enough – the jap put a fish into the Intrepid and flew home unmolested. After that there were no more bogeys. If Russ’s plane had been working it would have saved a new carrier from serious damage. How I wish that I had him sent up in my favorite plane #12 or any plane for that matter. Turned in in ready room fully dressed.

 

 

15-16 February 1944 continued

 

16 February 1944 continued (2)

* Russell Lawrence Reiserer

Russ Reiserer

Source Internet

Navy Cross

medals_navy_cross_100x200

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Russell Lawrence Reiserer (NSN: 0-112294), United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron TWO (VF-2), attached to the U.S.S. HORNET (CV-12), in action on 19 October 1944, while deployed over the Marianas Islands. After having completed his assigned mission, with his ammunition partly exhausted, Lieutenant Reiserer noticed the approach of a group of more than fifty enemy planes to a nearby field, and with fantastic odds against him turned into them, shooting down five enemy dive bombers in quick succession, the last with a single gun, and thus contributed materially to insure the safety of the fleet from heavy air attack. His outstanding courage and determined skill were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander Fast Carrier Task Force: Serial 0438 (August 20, 1944)

Action Date: October 19, 1944

Service: Navy

Rank: Lieutenant

Company: Fighting Squadron 2 (VF-2)

Division: U.S.S. Hornet (CV-12)


Distinguished Flying Cross

medals_dist_fly_cross_100x200

Lieutenant Russell Lawrence Reiserer (NSN: 0-112294), United States Navy, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron TWO (VF-2), attached to the U.S.S. HORNET (CV-12), during World War II.

Action Date: World War II

Service: Navy

Rank: Lieutenant

Battalion: Fighting Squadron 2 (VF-2)

Division: U.S.S. Hornet (CV-12)

Source: https://valor.militarytimes.com/recipient.php?recipientid=20107


 

More footage

 

More on the attack on Truk here: https://ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=14

Feel free to add comments or to suggest corrections on errors that I made transcribing.

Tomorrow, February 17, 1944…

16-17 February 1944

Was called at 0500…