Operations during the month of December were steadily moving northward. All ships at APO 159 (Sansapor, New Guinea2) were covering two strikes during the same day. Flying to the Halmahera Islands in the morning and then going south to cover the Ceram Strikes in the afternoon. Meanwhile as APO 926 (Morotai2) missions were to the Philipines with an occasional strike to cover in Borneo. Encounters with Japanese aircraft and shore batteries became more frequent. A total of 88 missions totaling 794:00 hours were flown during the period.
       Ship #44-33884, flying a scheduled mission over the Sangibe Island Group on the 13 December, made a landing on the northwest edge of Siaoe Island to put ashore 2 natives of the Dutch forces. The right wing was damaged about 15 feet from the wingtip, spars and stringers were badly damaged and the rear spar was completely broken by this landing. It was decided by the pilot and his crew that the ship could not be flown at that time but if spare parts could be flown in it could be fixed in a couple of days. [Ship could not be repaired and was written off as a combat loss on the 18 December 1944 per INDIVIDUAL AIRCRAFT RECORD CARD
3] Friendly natives informed the crew that Japanese forces were on the island and a garrison of about 500 Japs was stationed on the largest island of the group. It was decided to taxi the ship to nearby Makalehi Island, which was known to be free of Japs. The native chief of this island informed the pilot that he had to make a weekly report to the Japanese Garrison and fearing that the landing had been observed, wished the crew would leave as soon as possible. Next day, another ship belonging to this squadron rescued the crew and brough them back to the base at APO 926. No injuries were sustained by any of the crew.
NUISANCE AIR RAIDS" were quite frequent during the month and on the morning of 23 December a bomb was dropped in the Officers area of this squadron. Two Officers were killed and nine others were wounded. Those killed were:

1st Lt. HAROLD B. SMITH, 0-1894469
1st Lt. RICHARD F. FINN, 0-814276

those wounded were:

1st Lt. JOHN M. REEVES, 0-246335
1st Lt. ALVIN H. HAAS, 0-744129
1st Lt. KENNETH N. HUNTER, 0-739790
1st Lt. DENZIL L. KATHMAN, 0-753223
1st Lt. WILLIAM M. McCLENDON, 0-563702
1st Lt. PETER F. NAYLOR, 0-682361
2nd Lt. DAVID L. BOOTH, 0-688891
2nd Lt. WILLIAM V. KISSEL, 0-828707

(Read a report by Lieutenant Bill Holbrook, and a story by Captain Bill Harves on this attack.)

       The ordinance Officer inspecting the area at daylight decided that the bomb had been of the 110 pound variety and that the explosive agent had been picric acid. This bomb caused the total destruction of the two tents [photo-1][photo-2][photo-3][photo-4][photo-5] and damaged several others in the immediate area. Personal articles of the deceased were located as far as 150 feet from where the bomb hit. [5 wounded members of the Squadron were awarded the Purple Heart Medal per General Orders No. 2741 dated 30 December 1944] [photo]
       An additional wing was added to the mess hall at this time due to the sharp increase in personnel and because the 15th AAF Emergency Rescue Boat Squadron was attached for rations only. Food became increasingly hard to get and canned beef and chili con -carne were mainstays of the menu. A turkey dinner for Christmas Day relieved this situation though and once again the men's morale was high.
       The change in strength is recorded in the following figures:

1 Dec 1944



1 Dec 1944


Total Loss 5   Total Gain


31 Dec 1944


  31 Dec 1944


Rest leaves, which were instituted during the latter part of October, for Air Crews, were given at the competion of 300 hours of Combat flight time. Two crews were allowed to be gone at the same time. The leaves were for a period of ten days at the Sydney leave area in Australia. At this time almost all of the crews had completed the prescribed 300 hours so with the return of one group another would leave. Orders for those leaves were issued by the 5230th Composite Emergency Rescue Group (P). Major Ben Mathis, the squadron commander departed on leave on the 2 December and Captain Gerard F. Wientjes, 0-374107, assumed command. Major Ben Mathis was placed in a hospital in Brisbane, Australia on the 17 December and had not returned by the end of the month.
A total of 70 rescues were effected during this period. They are as follows:

01 December - Rescued 6 B-24 crewmembers from the 394th Bomb Squadron, 5th Bomb Group. 
03 December - Picked up 3 members of a RAAF Beaufighter crew from the 30th Squadron.
06 December - Picked up 2 soldiers - 1 from the the 30th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, and the other a former POW from the 101t Division.
07 December - Rescued 1 member of a B-24 that went down from 72nd Bomb Squadron, 5th Bomb Group who bailed out of his aircraft on the 16 November 1944.
12 December - Rescued 11 members - 1 from 23rd Bomb Squadron, 5th Bomb Gp., and the rest from the 424th Bomb Squadron, 307th Bomb Group.
13 December - Evacuated 1 P-47 pilot (40th Fighter Squadron) from Dipolog and brought him back to Morotai.
14 December - While investigating a downed OA-10 Catalina seen on the beach - picked up crew from our aircraft 44-33884 and returned them to home base.
16 December - Picked up 1 survivor from the 39th Fighter Squadron who ditched his P-47.
17 December - One of our Squadron C-47's delivered gasoline to Dipolog where 2 P-38's and several P-47's had landed due to fuel shortage.
18 December - Picked up 1 P-38 pilot from the 12th Fighter Squadron, 12th Fighter Group whos plane was hit by fire while strafing a Jap strip near Tawao.
19 December - Rescued 4 crewmembers from the 24th Bomb Squadron, 5th Bomb Group that had been floating in the open sea for 33 days. [Photo 1][Photo 2]
19 December - Picked up 3 members of a Navy PBY-5A Catalina "Black Cat" (VBB-271) that had accidentally hit the water in Sarangani Bay.
20 December - Picked up a P-47 pilo`t from the 41st Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group who had gone downin Sindangan Bay.
20 December - Rescued 4 crewmembers of a Navy PBY-5A crew that had gone down 3 days previous.
21 December - Evacuated a survivor from Dipolg and brought him back to Morotai.
22 December - Rescued 8 member of a B-24 crew from the 371st Bomb Squadron, 307th Bomb Group.
25 December - A Squadron C-47 left Morotai and delivered much needed fuel to Dipolog.
28 December - Rescued 5 members of the 822nd Bomb Squadron, 38th Bomb Group.
29 December - Landed at Tolong and picked up 1 member of a B-24 and 6 Jap prisoners.

Download the 5230th Composite Rescue Gp. (P) history 20 Oct 1944 - 31 Dec 1944 on .pdf

Download the Quarterly Medical History of the Squadron compiled by the Medical Officer.


This report was copied verbatim from the "Official" Squadron History that was obtained via microfilm from Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. The text that is in brackets [ ], I added to clarify the information. It is not Official. Some documents are original and some are reproductions.

1 Official Squadron rosters, orders, or documents obtained from the microfilm - Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
APO numbers from "Numbered Army & Air Force Post Office Locations" - 7th Edition - by Russ Carter
3 From Individual Aircraft Record Cards - Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama


DEC'43 - APR 15, '44 | APR 16, '44 - JUN'44 | JUL'44 | AUG'44 | SEP'44 | OCT'44 | NOV'44 | DEC'44
JAN'45 | FEB'45 | MAR'45 | APR'45 | MAY'45 | JUN'45 | JUL'45 | AUG'45 | SEP'45 | OCT'45  |  NOV'45 | DEC'45

SUMMARY 1944 | 5230th Organizational History | History of Air Sea Rescue | "Dumbo" Missions



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