VPB-117 NAVY PATROL BOMBING SQUADRON VPB-117
Navy Bombing Squadron ONE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN was commissioned on 1 February 1944, at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Camp Kearney, San Diego, California. Commander E.O. Rigsbee, Jr., USN, was the commanding officer. He reported to Commander Fleet Air Wing FOURTEEN at the Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego, California. There were 18 twelve member crews with 15 PB4Y-1 aircraft and supporting ground personnel.
During the training phase of the squadron at Camp Kearney, an official logo for the squadron was adopted. It was designed by Walt Disney. The logo depicts an enraged Mustang stomping on a Japanese warship. In the background, a bomb with a fuse is shown. An island with palm trees is also shown to illustrate the squadron's area of operations in the southwest Pacific Ocean.
The training period at Camp Kearney was completed on 10 August 1944. BY 13 August, all aircraft and crews had made the Trans-Pac flight to Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii. Operational training continued under Commander Fleet Air Wing TWO. Orders were received to proceed to North Field, Tinian, The Marianas, and on 1 October 1944, the squadron reported to Commander Fleet Air Wing ONE for duty. Squadron designation was now changed to "Patrol Bombing Squadron," VPB-117.
It was on Tinian the squadron became "The Blue Raiders." Tokyo Rose in a radio transmission from Japan welcomed Commander Rigsbee and VPB-117, the Blue Raiders, to the Pacific. She predicted dire things would happen to Blue Raiders personnel when they confronted the glorious Armed Forces of Japan. All crew members liked the name, and so the squadron was now "The Blue Raiders."
On 4 October, offensive operations began with flying patrols of 1000 mile sectors from Tinian. The shooting down of two Japanese aircraft, a Kate and an Emily, and sinking of 700 tons of enemy shipping was the beginning of a distinguished combat record that would later result in the award of the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION on 17 April 1947. Operations were moved to West Field, Tinian, on 18 November 1944.
By 4 December 1944, the squadron was relocated to Tacloban airfield on the island of Leyte in the Philippines of the Southwest Pacific Theater of Operations. Here the squadron reported to Commander Fleet Air Wing TEN. Again, 1000 mile patrol sectors were flown of up to fourteen hours duration. Crews flew every third day or more often at times. Inclement weather, primitive facilities and enemy air raids contributed to hazardous living conditions. With the sinking of enemy shipping, shooting down enemy aircraft and sighting of enemy warships, The Blue Raiders continued to compile its outstanding record of destruction to the Japanese war machine. All this was not accomplished without casualties. While low, loss of life and aircraft was inevitable.
Commander Rigsbee was detached on 25 December 1944, as commanding officer and was replaced by Commander Harold W. McDonald, USN. On 25 January 1945, Lieutenant Commander Thomas P. Mulvihill, USNR, assumed command of the squadron after Commander McDonald was detached.
The next move for the squadron was to Maguire Field, Mindoro Island, on 7 February 1945, and then reported to Fleet Air Wing SEVENTEEN, Group 1. Combat operations now covered the coast of French Indochina and the west coast of Borneo. Operations included tracking a Japanese Task Force, working with submarines to sink enemy shipping and striking the Japanese whenever possible including land targets on routine patrols. Rusting Japanese merchant ship hulks littered the coast of French Indochina and the sea lane supply line to the south had been severed.
Lieutenant Commander Roger J. Crowley, Jr., USNR, took command of the squadron on 8 April 1945,after Lieutenant Commander Mulvihill was detached.
In May, the first of the new PB4Y-2 Privateer aircraft arrived. Due to age and hard usage, the PB4Y-1 aircraft were deteriorating and maintenance was becoming a problem. Replacement crews and aircraft were a continuing factor due to crew rotation and combat losses.
The Japanese surrendered on 14 August 1945. On 16 August, the squadron was back to West Field, Tinian, and reported to Commander Fleet Air Wing EIGHTEEN for duty. Security and weather patrols were then flown from Tinian.
On 6 September, Commander Cole L. Windham, USNR, relieved Lieutenant Commander Roger J. Crowley, Jr. as commanding officer.
The Squadron returned to Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, on 4 November 1945, and to Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Camp Kearney, San Diego, California, on 13 November. Patrol Bombing Squadron ONE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN, The Blue Raiders, was decommissioned on 17 November 1945.
So ends the Log of PATROL BOMBING SQUADRON VPB-117, THE BLUE RAIDERS.
THE COMBAT RECORD OF WORLD WAR II -
Combat Patrols - 1,617
Combat Hours Flown - 18,459
Combat Patrols Each Day - 5
Average Hours Each Patrol - 11.4
Japanese Ships Sunk - 210 - 109,700 tons
Japanese Ships Damaged - 274 - 96,085 tons
Japanese Aircraft Shot Down - 63
Japanese Aircraft Probably Shot Down - 5
Japanese Aircraft Damaged in Air - 9
Japanese Aircraft Destroyed on Ground - 16
Japanese Aircraft Damaged on Ground - 4
Japanese Shore Installations Attacked - 300(approximately)
THE COMBAT LOSSES OF WORLD WAR II -
Aircraft - 17
Personnel - 72