Preserving the Past – February 15, 1944

14-15 February 1944 History Channel Episode 7

February
15
Tuesday

We went through the entire day without being picked up. It is incredible. We are now (this evening) only two hundred miles from the jap “Pearl Harbor” with jap held islands on all sides of us. How a huge task force like this can steam right in without detection is amazing. At sunset there was still no indication of enemy planes in the air so it looks like another dull night for the night fighters. I am sleeping in the ready room with my clothes on however just in case.

 

 


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

Tomorrow, February 16, 1944…

16-17 February 1944

The battle of Truk is on…

 

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Preserving the Past – February 14, 1944

14-15 February 1944 History Channel Episode 7

February
14
Monday

This is D minus three day for our strike against Truk. Took some sun this morning. I am getting pink anyway. Had recognition and briefing on Truk this afternoon. At about 1500 C.I.C.* sent word down that a bogey had been picked up and was being chased by eight Belleau Wood fighters. In a few minutes we learned that it was or rather had been a “Betty” and was shot down in flames. The japs must know where we are now and we may see some game action tonight. The Yorktown has the night fighter duty but if business is good we may get off anyway. Tomorrow night is ours though and I think it will be even better. When our planes came up on the flight deck tonight we checked them all on auxiliary power. All four good with #12 excellent. Comdr Hamilton and Newman came down for a look and were dutifully impressed. To bed at 2200. Bruns + Poirier are standby.

* Combat Information Center

USS Belleau Wood CVL 24

USS_Belleau_Wood_(CVL-24)_underway_on_22_December_1943_(NH_97269)

USS Yorktown CV10

USS_Yorktown_(CV-10)_underway_during_the_Marianas_operation,_in_June_1944_(80-G-238298)

Commander Hamilton

Excerpt from this: https://www.usni.org/big-es-impatient-virgins

The Enterprise’s air officer, Commander Thomas J. Hamilton, also had his own ideas about if and/or when VF(N)-101 would fly, and he refused to allow Harmer’s planes off his flight deck. Communication between the two men collapsed. “The air department had about an 18-hour day,” Harmer remembered, “and if they had to launch night fighters it turned out to be a 24-hour day. They hated us. The air officer on the Enterprise couldn’t stand the sight of me. He would sneak into a corner and get physically ill when he saw me approaching. So I had a miserable first half of the tour.”

Daily, Harmer volunteered for combat air patrol (CAP) or rescue escort duty-anything that would get his planes airborne. In his view, the extreme hazards involved in night flying required “the greatest of flying skill and ceaseless practice.” To be proficient in making night interceptions, his pilots not only had to be good in their normal carrier aviation abilities but also had to possess “a definite desire and liking for this type of work.”

Eventually, Harmer secured some daytime rescue and CAP duties for his squadron. On one occasion during a strike against Guam, Harmer took off to fly a rescue combat air patrol for two OS2U Kingfishers that were picking up downed pilots. Arriving over them, he ended up “right in the middle” of a flight of Zeros returning from attacking the American fleet. While Harmer chased them away from one of the seaplanes, his inexperienced wingman, flying an F6F Hellcat, broke off to follow a Zero that was heading for the other OS2U on the water several miles away. Two Zeros pounced on the Hellcat, shooting it down, but Harmer and the OS2U he was protecting got back to the fleet safely.

Despite the daytime flights Harmer was getting in, his frustration at being barred from night operations finally compelled him to approach the task group’s commander, Rear Admiral John W. “Black Jack” Reeves Jr. “I’ve got to be launched at night in order to prove this gear,” he told Reeves, who replied, “We’ve got night fighters-we’ll use ’em.” Harmer recalled the admiral said:

He wouldn’t have any confidence in us unless he saw us work. And that’s what made the cruise for me. . . . When the Intrepid had the night duty and a bogey appeared on the radar screen, Reeves would call on the TBS and ask if they were going to launch and the answer was always “No,” so he would say “OK, I’ll launch mine.” So that’s how we got used.

Subsequently, Harmer got more cooperation from Commander Hamilton, and VF(N)-101 passed another milestone: night practice. Typically, one Corsair would launch around 0430, before day operations commenced. Night landings were a constant worry for Harmer, and his pilots who did not become competent at it were returned to Pearl Harbor. Those who remained, three pilots in addition to their commander, became adept at launching and landing with few reference lights.

The air officer, however, routinely overlit the flight deck. As Harmer recounted:

Too many lights rather than not enough was our problem on landing. By that I mean it was felt we needed some types of lights when we actually didn’t. When the carrier and several other ships were showing lights the danger to the fleet was increased, but our landings were not made easier. After we had convinced the fleet that we could land with a minimum of lights, we became of greater value because we could be used under more conditions without endangering the fleet.

Gradually, Harmer slipped Burgess into the Enterprise’s CIC for practice interceptions. This was usually brief, because when the carrier’s radar operators arrived they “chased Frank away from the scope and used it to work the day fighters.” As Harmer recorded in his journal, “Day fighters still come first on this ship (as perhaps they should), but I don’t think they know what they have in these night fighters.”

Corsair Night Fighters vs. Japanese Bombers

Harmer’s first night contact, much to his dismay, resulted in only a “probable.” The 19 February encounter could have been a “kill,” except that everything went wrong. For starters, Burgess brought Harmer’s Corsair in above the bogey, a Betty medium bomber, and he overshot the target. Eventually, he made visual contact and fired a short burst into the enemy plane’s right engine, which began to burn. Although the Betty was going down in a steep spiral, Harmer lost sight of it and was unable to confirm that it had crashed.

In early April off Truk, Harmer was in the ready room at sunset when he got a call that a downed pilot was off the southern end of the islands. It was turning dark, and Hamilton reluctantly scrambled two F4U-2s. “They didn’t want to launch us,” Harmer remembered, “but they did. We got lucky and found his life raft-I happened to fly right over him, and he shot a Verey pistol [flare] up at me. I circled until a submarine picked him up.”

Commander Newman

Excerpt from this: https://www.usni.org/big-es-impatient-virgins

Frustration on the Enterprise

Once at sea, Harmer quickly discovered that his enthusiasm for night fighters was not shared by many officers outside VF(N)-101. In fact, the squadron was less than welcomed by the Enterprise’s flight operations staff. At his first briefing, the air group commander, Commander Roscoe L. Newman, stated that night fighters, if used at all, would fly routine day strikes. Harmer was horrified. As he wrote in his diary: “Our planes are so much more vulnerable than normal F4Us and the kids just aren’t ready for day action. I believe I was sincere in recommending against it on the grounds that we may be too valuable to waste in day actions for which we are not well suited.”


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

Tomorrow, February 15, 1944…

14-15 February 1944 History Channel Episode 7

We went through the entire day…

 

Preserving the Past – February 13, 1944

11-12-13 February 1944-1

February
13
Sunday

A day at sea no more. I wrote a letter to Dolly this morning. The mood was strange within me. I do miss her so. I went to church later and experienced a very moving service. Communion was held and I took part with sincere feeling for the first time. Had standby  and am sleeping in the ready room.

 

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

Tomorrow, February 14, 1944…

14-15 February 1944 History Channel Episode 7

This is D minus three day for our strike against Truk…

 

Preserving the Past – February 12, 1944

11-12-13 February 1944-1

February
12
Saturday

We left Majuro today at 0930. We are on our way to Truk at last. I feel rather impatient to get this over with. I feel sure we will be used on this operation and so does everyone else. I feel rather like an actor just before going on stage for his first feature role. I do want to prove that we have something good in our night fighters. I feel good to be underway again. The ship is swaying slightly and the creaks and groans of the ship motion are like a lullaby. I am turning in now at 2200.

 

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

Tomorrow, February 13, 1944…

11-12-13 February 1944-1

A day at sea no more…

 

Intermission – Robert George Poirier Jr.

Obituary found on the Internet

Our father, Robert George Poirier Jr., passed away peacefully on Monday, May 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm at the age of 90.

He is survived and missed by his daughters, Dianne Seab (Murfrees-boro, TN), Betty Rockwell (Ormond Beach, FL), and Tammy Johnson (New Smyrna Beach, FL); his grandchildren, Robert George Poirier IV, Michelle Smith, Kelly Tetrick, Kerry Seab, Cherie Elebash, Jon Turner, David Johnson, Melissa Johnson, and Lisa Johnson; and several great-grandchildren; his sons-in-law, Bob Rockwell and John Johnson; and his long time dear friends Kathy Tickle and Lindy Stem.

He was preceded in death by his wife Monteen Poirier and his son, Robert George Poirier III.

He was born June 2, 1921 in Cambridge, MA to the late Robert George Poirier Sr. and Florence Sherring.

He was a WWII Veteran serving as a Naval Aviator and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, American Theater, Pacific Theater (6 stars) and Victory medals.

He served in the Night Attack and Combat Training Unit. He was a member of the United Church of God. His legacy is one of great generosity and thoughtfulness to others. He was blessed with a long wonderful life and will be missed but never forgotten by many. A family memorial to come will celebrate his life.

On a genealogy website

Robert George Poirier, 1898 – Circa 1967

Robert George Poirier was born on month day 1898, at birth place, Massachusetts, to Alberic (Alberique; Albert) “Pepe” Poirier and Victoria (“Meme”) Poirier (born Laconture (?)).

Alberic was born circa 1868, in Canada.

Victoria was born circa 1875, in Cambridge, MA.

Robert had 7 siblings: Hernin (?) Poirier, Charles Poirier and 5 other siblings.

Robert married Florence Edna Poirier (born Shering) on month day 1920, at age 22 at marriage place, Massachusetts.

Florence was born on June 14 1898, in Butler, Butler, Pennsylvania, USA.

They had 3 children: Dorothy E. Dollard (born Poirier) and 2 other children.

Robert passed away on month day 1967, at age 69 at death place, Massachusetts.

He was buried at burial place, Massachusetts.

Robert George Poirier, 1921 – 2012

Robert George Poirier was born on month day 1921, at birth place, Massachusetts, to Robert George Poirier and Florence Edna Poirier (born Shering).

Robert was born on August 12 1898, in Cambridge, MA.

Florence was born on June 14 1898, in Butler, Butler, Pennsylvania, USA.

Robert had 2 siblings: Dorothy E. Dollard (born Poirier) and one other sibling.

Robert married Monteen Poirier (born Gilder) on month day 1942, at age 21 at marriage place, Florida.

Monteen was born on February 7 1921, in Dublin, Laurens, Georgia, USA.

They had 4 children.

Robert passed away on month day 2012, at age 90 at death place, Florida.

Documents of Robert George Poirier

Robert G Poirier in U.S. Social Security Death Index (SSDI)

Robert G Poirier was born on June 2 1921.

Robert lived in USA.

Robert passed away on May 7 2012, at age 90.

Robert G Jr Poirier in 1940 United States Federal Census

Robert G Jr Poirier was born circa 1922, at birth place, Massachusetts, to Robert G Poirier and Florence E Poirier.

Robert had 2 siblings: Ralph A Poirier and one other sibling.

Robert lived in 1935, at address, Massachusetts.

He lived in 1940, at address, Massachusetts.

If you wish to contact me, please use this contact form.

Preserving the Past – February 11, 1944

11-12-13 February 1944

February
11
Friday

Quarters for muster* was held today for the second time this cruise. The kids aren’t used to punctuality and drifted up there from 5 to ten minutes late. I tried to impress them of the error of their ways. I still do not see in them the interest in their job that is so necessary. I feel that if I didn’t continually harass them they would relax and never give night fighting a thought until there were called upon to take off. There is so much they don’t know or have forgotten that it worries me to see so little interest or initiative on their part to leave all there is to know. They don’t seem to realize that their lives depend on how well they know their job. Pete Aurand came over to see me today which was nice of him. I was glad to find out that he feels as I do about most things in this game. He is smart (not on this account only) and certainly doesn’t lack guts. Standby tonight. Secured about 2200.

* Depending upon the type of ship and its operating schedule, quarters for muster and inspection are held each workday before 0800. (source Internet)

About my transcription…

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

Tomorrow, February 12, 1944…

11-12-13 February 1944

We left Majuro today at 0930…

Note about Pete Aurand

Evan_P._Aurand

Source Wikipedia

Evan Peter Aurand was born in New York City on June 10, 1917. He was the son of Margaret Decker, a great-granddaughter of Texas leader Sam Houston, and U.S. Army officer Henry S. Aurand. A 1938 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, his long and fruitful navy career evinced a lifelong devotion to naval aviation and to his country. His flight experience spanned the development of modern aircraft. He trained at Pensacola in 1940 in the F4B-4 and qualified to fly the S-2E before he retired.

During World War II, he served in combat service in the Pacific Theater, which earned him the Navy Cross, a Legion of Merit medal, a Navy Commendation Medal, the Air Medal, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and a Presidential Unit Citation aboard the USS Bunker Hill,[1] he was part of Project Affirm, based at Quonset Point Naval Air Station, which, at great peril to the pilots involved, pioneered radar-guided flight and thus, night-fighting capability for the U.S. fleet.[2] For that service, he was decorated with the Legion of Merit and another Navy Commendation Medal.

More information here:

https://navy.togetherweserved.com/usn/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=522664

Intermission – Swede Kullberg

Swede Kullberg

This is the only information I could find on the Internet about Swede Kullberg other than what I wrote on my blog.

Source: http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/06a.htm

On 1 January 1944 a detachment of VF(N)-75 under LCDR Richard “Chick” Harmer became VF(N)-101, split between USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Intrepid (CV-11). They flew F4U-2 Corsairs—if it was a hard enough job to operate F4Us off carriers in daylight, it was even harder at night. Intrepid was torpedoed in February and VF(N)-101 Det. 11, under LT Cecil “Swede” Kullberg, went ashore.

The detachment aboard Enterprise claimed five confirmed kills (two by Harmer and three by LT(JG) Robert F. Holden) between January and June 1944. VF(N)-101 disembarked in July, and was disestablished on 2 October 1944.

insignia