Squadron History:  VP-101


Established as Pacific Air Detachment on 17 January 1923.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron FOURTEEN (VP-14) on 29 May 1924.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron ONE-Naval District 14 (VP-1D14) on 21 September 1927.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron ONE-B (VP-1B) on 1 July 1931.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron ONE-F (VP-1F) on 15 April 1933.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron ONE (VP-1) on 1 October 1937.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron TWENTY-ONE (VP-21) on 1 July 1939.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron ONE (VP-1) on 30 July 1940.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron ONE HUNDRED ONE (VP-101) on 3 December 1940.
Redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron TWENTY-NINE (VPB-29) on 1 October 1944.
Disestablished on 20 June 1945.

Squadron Insignia and Nickname

The squadron insignia was officially approved by CNO on 18 September 1934. Patrol Squadron One adopted the elephant for its representative since that animal had always been noted for its endurance and patience. The elephant of VP-1 stood on a cloud with one eye cocked downward at a target, a bomb securely held by his trunk, waiting for the proper time to make an unerring drop. The elephant was used because it occupies the same relative position in the animal kingdom as the patrol seaplane did in regard to other naval aircraft, e.g., heavy duty. The bomb was the primary armament of seaplanes of that period. The cloud denoted high altitude. Colors: elephant, gray with black outline and markings; eye and tusks, white; bomb, black with white markings; cloud, white outlined in black; background, royal blue; and circle, red. The same insignia was used throughout successive changes in squadron designation until the disestablishment of VPB-29 in 1945.

Nickname: None on record.

Chronology of Significant Events

(Squadron history from 15 Aug 1928 to WWII removed as not pertinent to this website.)

1 Jul 1939: VP-1 was redesignated Patrol Squadron 21 and assigned to the Asiatic Fleet, becoming the nucleus for the newly formed Patrol Wing 10 at Cavite Naval Base, Luzon, Philippines.

7 Dec 1941: VP-101 was placed on war alert upon receiving news of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and war patrols commenced.

14 Dec 1941: PatWing-10 was relocated from the devastated Cavite Naval Base at Luzon, to Balikpapan in an attempt to keep ahead of the advancing Japanese forces.

23 Dec 1941: VP-102 was merged with VP-101 to combine the squadrons’ dwindling assets in aircraft, crews and material. On the 25th VP-101 was relocated to Ambon, N.E.I.

27 Dec 1941: Six of the squadron’s PBY-4 Catalinas, led by Lieutenant Burden R. Hastings, conducted an early morning attack against Jolo, in the central Philippines. Enemy aircraft and AA fire broke up the formation before a bombing run could be made. Ensign Elwin L. Christman and his crew followed through alone and made a drop on an enemy vessel at 1,000 feet. The Catalina, heavily damaged by AA fire, caught fire. Three crewmen bailed out, but the others remained with the aircraft until Christman made a controlled water landing near shore. Three crewmen died; the others were eventually rescued. Aviation Machinist Mate’s First Class Andrew K. Waterman was the plane captain and waist gunner on the aircraft. He shot down one enemy aircraft while defending the Catalina during the attack on shipping in the harbor, but in doing so received mortal wounds. For his courageous actions under fire Waterman was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. Radioman First Class Robert L. Pettit also stuck by his post even after the aircraft, flooded with aviation gas from perforated tanks, caught fire. For his devotion to duty Pettit was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. Ensign Christman led the surviving members of his crew to safety on the shore of Jolo Island. Lieutenant Jack B. Dawley and the surviving members of his crew, who had also been shot down immediately after dropping their bombs, joined Christman’s group on Jolo Island. The two officers led their crews inland away from the Japanese, eventually reaching U.S. Naval Headquarters at Surabaya, Java, N.E.I. Aircraft Chief Machinist’s Mate Donald D. Lurvey was awarded the Navy Cross for assisting Ensign Cough, the second pilot of Dawley’s aircraft, into a life vest and guiding him to shore.  Aviation Machinist’s Mate First Class Joseph Bangust received the Navy Cross posthumously for his action as waist gunner in Dawley’s aircraft, shooting down one enemy aircraft before being mortally wounded by incoming fire. Aviation Machinist’s Mate First Class Evren C. McLawhorn, the plane captain, took over the waist gun position after Bangust was mortally wounded. He received seven wounds during the fight, but survived and received the Navy Cross for his heroism. For their courage under fire and leadership in guiding their crews through enemy-occupied territory to safety, Ensign Christman and Lieutenant Dawley were awarded the Navy Cross. Lieutenant Hastings, as leader of the gallant but unsuccessful strike, was later awarded the Navy Cross for guiding the force into the target area in the face of overwhelming odds. Lieutenant Hastings’ award was made posthumously, as he and his men were the only aircrew captured by the Japanese. They were interrogated by their captors and beheaded on the parade ground of the Jolo garrison. The fourth Catalina shot down during the strike was manned by Lieutenant Hazelton and his crew. Hazelton made a sea landing and the entire crew safely escaped the sinking aircraft into life rafts and were picked up two days later by a squadron aircraft.

16 Jan 1942: VP-101 was ordered to evacuate Ambon due to the presence of an approaching Japanese naval task force. Assets and personnel were moved to Surabaya.

1 Mar 1942: VP-22’s assets were merged with VP-101, which was then ordered to evacuate Surabaya and withdraw to Perth, Australia, to reform and refit the devastated squadron.

7 Mar 1942: VPs 102, 21 and 22 were officially disestablished, with the remaining personnel and aircraft assets being combined to bring up to full strength the remaining squadron, VP-101.

26 Apr 1942: A desperate attempt was made to rescue personnel otherwise doomed to capture on the besieged island of Corregidor. Two Catalinas, formerly assigned to VP-102, flew a circuitous route back to the Philippines, arriving around midnight of the 29th . Over 30 nurses were flown out that night under cover of darkness.

1 May 1942: The reformed VP-101 recommenced combat patrols off the coast of Australia, operating from bases at Exmouth Gulf, Pelican Point, Geraldton and Albany. Tender support was provided by Childs (AVD 15), Heron (AVP 2) and Preston (DD 379).

9 Nov 1942–29 Jun 1943: Upon return to Perth, Australia, VP-101 was split into three units—HEDRON, SCORON and VP-101. Combat patrols were continued from Perth until VP-101 was relocated to Brisbane, Australia, on 29 June 1943, under operational control of FAW-17.

1 July 1943: The first element of VP-101 flew into Port Moresby, Papua, New Guinea. Its aircraft were in poor mechanical shape and the decision was made to use them to supply guerrilla fighters in the vicinity of Wewak. Landings were made on the Sepik River leading into Lake Yibiri. The flights continued through October 1943, but were discontinued due to increased Japanese opposition. The guerrilla fighters were rescued in December 1945 by aircraft from VP-11. The second element of VP-101 was moved to the eastern end of New Guinea to begin Black Cat operations from the seaplane tender San Pablo (AVP 30), anchored in Namoia Bay. The squadron’s Catalinas were fitted with ASV radar sets that allowed them to find targets on the darkest of nights. The highly touted Norden bombsights proved worthless, being unable to hit fast moving, dodging Japanese ships from any height. Instead, a low-level bombing tactic was worked out using one foot of altitude for each pound of bomb weight. Thus, a 500-pound bomb was released from a 500-foot altitude leading into a target, resulting in only a gentle updraft from the bomb blast. This technique was necessary due to the lack of a four-to-five second delay on the bomb fuses.

1–28 Dec 1943: VP-101 squadron headquarters were established at Palm Island, Australia, with advance bases at Samarai and Port Moresby, New Guinea. Combat patrols and crew training were conducted concurrently through the 28th, when the squadron returned to Perth, Australia. Upon return, the squadron again came under the operational control of FAW-10.

1 May 1944: VP-101 was relocated to Samarai, New Guinea. Dumbo missions were conducted in the area of the Green, Treasury and Manus islands, and Emirau, coming under the operational control of FAW-17.

1–16 Jul 1944: Five squadron aircraft were based at Manus, five at Green Island, two at Emirau, and one at Treasury Island. On the 16th, the detachments were relocated to the Admiralty Islands and later the Solomon Islands chain. Operations consisted primarily of Dumbo rescue missions to recover downed Army and Navy airmen.

19 Sep 1944: VP-101 was relieved by VP-52 in the Solomons and relocated to Morotai, north of New Guinea, aboard Half Moon (AVP 26). After settling in at Morotai, the squadron commenced combat operations as a Black Cat squadron on 21 September.

1 Oct 1944: VP-101 was redesignated VPB-29. The squadron continued to conduct Black Cat missions, antisubmarine patrols and night patrols around the area of Mindanao and Tawi Tawi.

10 Nov 1944: The squadron was relieved by VPB-20 for return to the continental U.S., arriving at NAS Alameda, Calif., on 30 November. The squadron commenced reforming and training following the return of personnel from leave and the arrival of new assignments.

20 Jun 1945: VP-101 was disestablished at NAS San Diego, Calif.


Home Port Assignments

Location Date of Assignment
NB Cavite, Luzon, Philippines 1 Jul 1939
Perth, Australia 1 Mar 1942
Brisbane, Australia 29 Jun 1943
Palm Island, Australia 1 Dec 1943
Perth, Australia 28 Dec 1943
Samarai, New Guinea 1 May 1944
Morotai 19 Sep 1944
NAS Alameda, Calif 30 Nov 1944
NAS San Diego, Calif. 12 Dec 1944


Commanding Officers

Name Date Assumed Command
LCDR J. V. Peterson 1941
Unknown 1942–1943
LCDR Lauren E. Johnson Nov 1943
Unknown 1944–Jan 1945


Aircraft Assignment

Type of Aircraft Date Type First Received
PBY-4 Oct 1938
PBY-5 May 1942


Major Overseas Deployments

Date of Departure Date of Return Wing Base of  Operations Type of Aircraft Area of Operations
14 Dec 1941 * PatWing-10 Balikpapan PBY-4 SoPac
25 Dec 1941 * PatWing-10 Ambon PBY-4 SoPac
16 Jan 1942 * PatWing-10 Surabaya PBY-4 SoPac
1 Mar 1942 * PatWing-10 Perth PBY-4 SoPac
Childs (AVD 15)
Heron (AVP 2)
Preston (DD 379)
29 Jun 1943 * FAW-17 Brisbane PBY-5 SoPac
Jul 1943 * FAW-17 New Guinea PBY-5 SoPac
San Pablo (AVP 30)
1 Dec 1943 * FAW-17 Palm Island PBY-5 SoPac
28 Dec 1943 * FAW-10 Perth PBY-5 SoPac
1 May 1944 * FAW-17 Samarai PBY-5 SoPac
1 Jul 1944 * FAW-17 Manus PBY-5 SoPac
19 Sep 1944 10 Nov 44 FAW-17 Morotai PBY-5 SoPac
Half Moon (AVP 26)
  • Continued combat deployment in the Pacific, moving from base to base.


Wing Assignments

Wing Tail Code Assignment Date
PatWing-10/FAW-10 * 1 Jul 1939
FAW-17 29 Jun 1943
FAW-10 28 Dec 1943
FAW-17 1 May 1944
FAW-8 30 Nov 1944
FAW-14 12 Dec 1944


Unit Awards Received

Unit Award Inclusive Date Covering Unit Award
PUC 8 Dec 1941 3 Mar 1942
NUC 2 Jun 1944 31 Dec 1944

The information on this page is from the   Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons - Vol. 2 CD-ROM (which is unfortunately no longer available).

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