VI BOMBER COMMAND
IN DEFENSE OF THE PANAMA CANAL
1941 - 45
Areas of Interest:
VI Bombardment Command History:
6th BGp (Heavy)
3rd BS (Heavy)
29th BS (Heavy)
74th BS (Heavy)
397th BS (Heavy)
9th BGp (Heavy)
1st BS (Heavy)
5th BS (Heavy)
99th BS (Heavy)
430th BS (Heavy)
25th BGp (Medium)
12th BS (Medium)
35th BS (Medium)
59th BS (Medium)
417th BS (Medium)
40th BGp (Heavy)
25th BS (Heavy)
44th BS (Heavy)
45th BS (Heavy)
395th BS (Heavy)
Units Attached to VI Bomber Command
10th BS (Heavy)
15th BS (Light)
25th Bombardment Group
12th Bombardment Squadron (Medium)
The Twelfth Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was organized and activated at Langley Field, Virginia, on February 1, 1940, as a member of the Twenty Fifth Bombardment Group (Heavy), under the command of Captain Neil B. Harding. The original strength of the Squadron on February 1, 1940 was 157 enlisted men and seven officers. The personnel forming the Twelfth Squadron was made up of old members of the Twentieth Squadron of the Second Group, and new men assigned from the Technical Schools at Scott Field, Illinois, and Lowry Field, Colorado. The authority for the organization of the Twelfth Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was Letter War Department, Adjutant General's Office, dated December 22, 1939, Subject; "Constitution and Activation of Certain Air Corps Units."
The 12th Bombardment Squadron left by air (10 officers and 32 enlisted men) and water (9 officers and 159 enlisted men) from Langley Field, Virginia, on October 26, 1940, for Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico, pursuant to WDAGO Letter, Washington, DC, AG 370.5 (8-26-40), September 3, 1940, Subject: "Movement of 25th Bomb Group (Heavy) (less Air Echelon) to Puerto Rico." The water echelon boarded the "Hunter Liggett" October 26, 1940, at Newport News, stopped at Charleston, SC, on October 27 for a short time, and proceeded to its permanent Station at Borinquen Field, PR.
The strength of the organization as of the last day of December 1940 was 15 officers and 200 enlisted men.
Captain Neil B. Harding was promoted to Major on January 31, 1941.
On February 1, 1941, the Squadron celebrated one year of activation with a beer party and picnic, which was attended by all officers and men.
On April 1, 1941, under the authority of Base Headquarters, Borinquen , Special Orders No. 63, March 29, 1941, the 25th Group was divided to form the 45th Bombardment Squadron of the newly organized 40th Bomb Group, transferring 12 officers of the 15 assigned to the Squadron on March 31 (11 to the 40th Group and one to Hqs. & Hqs., 25th Bomb Group), and 95 enlisted men to the 45th.
The 12th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was redesignated as a "medium" bombardment unit, pursuant to authority contained in War Department Circular No. 130, dated May 1, 1942, and effective May 1, 1942.
On November 6, 1941, under authority of paragraph 5 of Special Orders No. 106, Hqs. 25th Bomb Group (Heavy), Borinquen Field, PR, October 27, 1941, and radiograms Caribbean Air Force, October 27 and 29, 1941, the 12th Squadron, less its Air Echelon, was moved from Borinquen Field, via train and motor transportation, to San Juan, PR, and there boarded the USAT "Thomas H. Barry" for a temporary change of Station to Benedict Field, St. Croix, Virgin Islands. The movement consisted of three officers and 97 enlisted men. The "Thomas Barry" sailed at 12:00 AM, November 8, and reached Frederiksted, St. Croix, VI, at 5:00 PM, on November 13, having anchored at Port of Spain, Trinidad, BWI, and St.. Johns, Antigua, BWI, and covered a distance of approximately 1224 miles. The Air Echelon with B-18A airplanes, 18 officers and 69 enlisted men moved by air in 20 flights, accomplished from November 8 to 13, 1941.
1st.Lt.Edwin H. Hawes was relieved of command, and 1/Lt Arthur H. Rogers was given command on November 1, 1941.
The strength of the organization as of the last day of December 1941 was 22 officers and 167 enlisted men.
On February 1, 1942, the Squadron celebrated its second year of activation with a dinner at the Squadron Mess Hall that was attended by all officers and men of the organization.
1st.Lt.Rogers was relieved of command March 1, 1942, and the command was given to 1st.Lt. Elwood F. Donohue on that date.
Twenty-eight (28) and 17 recruits were assigned to the Squadron on April 6 and 28, 1942 respectively, from Air Corps Unassigned.
The 25th Bombardment Group, when it was activated, was designated "heavy" bombardment and assigned B-17-type aircraft, which were later exchanged for the B-18 type. The 25th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and its Squadrons, because they no longer were assigned heavy bombardment aircraft, were redesignated "medium" bombardment units on May 7, 1942.
Captain E. P. Donohue was relieved from command May 29, 1942, and Captain Charles M. Eisenhart, formerly assigned to the 27th Reconnaissance Squadron, was given command.
Twenty-seven (27) men and one officer of the 484th Ordnance Company were transferred in grade to the 12th Bomb Squadron, per Special Order No. 157, Hqs., 25th Bomb Group (Medium), dated September 7, 1942, effective that date.
The Headquarters Squadron, 25th Bomb Group (Medium) was dissolved, and the personnel were distributed among the other Squadrons of the Group, per Special Orders No. 159, Hqs., 25th Bomb Group (Medium), dated September 9, 1942. Thirty-five (35) enlisted men were transferred in grade to the 12th Squadron.
The 12th Squadron made a permanent change of Station from Benedict Field to Dakota Field, Aruba, NWI, under the authority contained in Special Order 160, Hqs., 25th Bomb Group (Medium), dated September 10, 1942. The movement was effected by moving personnel by air and the equipment by water. Nine trips by Army air transport ships with 20 men per trip and the personnel were completely moved. The equipment arrived about a month later during the first. week in October 1942.
Major Harding was relieved of command of the Squadron on September 10, 1941, and 1/Lt Edwin H. Hawes assumed command.
The 10th and 35th Squadrons were stripped of personnel and property by General Orders No. 50, as amended by General Orders No. 52, Hqs., AATF & VI Fighter Command, dated October 17, 1942, and 17 officers and one warrant officer of the 35th Squadron were transferred to the 12th Squadron. Forty-four (44) enlisted men of the 10th Bombardment Squadron were transferred into the organization, under S.O. 189, Hqs., 25th Bomb Group, dated October 18, 1942.
"D" Flight, 12th Bomb Squadron, consisting of 13 officers and 36 enlisted men, was activated and moved to Borinquen Field, PR, for a temporary change of Station, pursuant to General Order No. 52, Hqs., AATF & VI Fighter Command, dated October 17, 1942.
The 12th Bombardment Squadron was dropped from the jurisdiction of the 25th Bomb Group to form its own Headquarters, under General Order No. 57, Sixth Air Force, dated October 5, 1942.
The 12th Bombardment Squadron was detached from the 25th Bomb Group and directly attached to the Curacao Detachment, AATF & VI Fighter Command, under the provisions of General Order No. 56 and 58, AATF & VI Fighter Command, dated November 1, 1942.
The strength of the organization as of the last day of December 1942 was 43 officers and 290 enlisted men.
On January 3, 1943, at 1223N- 6717W, Lt. William A. Smith, pilot, in plane B-18B, 37-519 made an attack on a submarine, while on a search in a suspected area. The crew, consisting of Lt. Ivan N. Berson (co-pilot), Lt. Francis N. Davies (Navigator), SSgt David P. Reese (Bombardier), Sgt Harrell M. Hudson (Engineer), Cpl Laurel S. Stalhauske (Radarman), and Sgt. Rexford L. Selbe (Radioman) sighted a surfaced submarine at 0640Z. A radar contact was made and immediately followed to the submarine's position. A salvo of three depth charges was released after an interval of 30 seconds from the estimated time of sighting, and on a repeat run the fourth remaining depth charge was released on the still surfaced submarine. The second release was made in a level run approximately 60 seconds after the first release. Visual perception was impossible, as the first. flare burned out while vision was still impaired from its brightness, and the second flare hit the sea before burning. Lt. Smith remained at the scene of the attack, but no further contact was made.
On February 1, 1943, the Squadron celebrated its third year of activation with a barbecue dinner and a beer party that was attended by all officers and enlisted men of the organization.
The 12th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), APO #811, c/o PM, NYC, was assigned without change of Station to the 25th Bomb Group (Medium), APO #868, c/o PM, NYC, to remain under operational control of the Detachment, Air Task Force, APO #812, c/o PM, NYC, per General Order No. 10, AATF, dated April 26, 1943.
Major Charles M. Eisenhart was relieved of command April 13, 1943. Captain Harry J. Halberstadt was given command on that date, and, in turn, was replaced by 1/Lt Verne V. Falkner on April 28, 1943.
"D" Flight, 12th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), was inactivated on June 1, 1943, and one officer and 35 enlisted men were returned to duty with the parent unit at Dakota Field, Aruba, NWI, per General Orders No. 16, Hq. AAC, dated June 1, 1943.
"C" Flight, 12th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), composed of 15 officers and 36 enlisted men, was activated and made a temporary change of Station to Hato Field, Curacao, NWI, per Special Order No. 24, 12th Bomb Squadron, June 1, 1943.
Captain Harry J. Halberstadt was released from command June 12, 1943. Captain Lloyd W. Jordan assumed command of the Squadron on that date, and was replaced by Captain Royal S. Thompson on June 20, 1943.
The 12th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) was assigned to Hqs., 25th Bomb Group (Medium), APO #845, c/o PM, NYC, for operational and administrative control, pursuant to General Orders No. 31, Hqs., AAC, dated July 19, 1943.
"C" Flight, 12th Bomb Squadron, was returned to Dakota Field, Aruba, NWI, per Special Order No. 30, July 20, 1943.
1st.Lt. Verne V. Falkner assumed command July 3, 1943, vice Captain Royal S. Thompson. Captain Thompson was replaced by Captain Preston B. Wooley on July 7, 1943.
On July 30, 1943, at 1340N- 7020W, an attack was made on a submarine by Lt. Thomas L. Merrill, Pilot, in plane B-18C, 37-512, while on a submarine search mission. The crew consisted of Lt. Robert S. Davidson (Co-Pilot), Lt. Louis C. Lozes (Bombardier), Sgt. Amos Shirley (Radarman), Sgt. William F. Martin (Radioman), Cpl. Roy N. Kimball (Gunner), and Cpl. Billy M. Sprott (Engineer). A radar contact was made at 0040Z, and, after proceeding to the indicated position, a flare was dropped and the submarine was sighted in full view and fully surfaced. Bombs were released at 09045Z, at an altitude of 100 feet, as the plane was indicating an approximate air speed of 140 knots. Lt. Merrill noted a geyser resulting from the explosion, but was unable to see the submarine. At the same instant, tracer bullets, believed to be 50 caliber, were seen to pass over the left wing outboard from the port engine nacelle. Evasive action was employed, and a radar sweep of the area was accomplished with no further contact.
"C" Flight, 12th Bomb Squadron, was transferred with assigned personnel and equipment to Hato Field, Curacao, NWI, effective August29, 1943; and returned to Dakota Field, Aruba, NWI, with personnel and equipment, effective September 10, 1943.
The 12th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) was returned to full operational and administrative control of Hqs., 25th Bomb Group (Medium), APO #845, c/o PM, NYC, per General Orders No. 60, Hqs., AAC, dated October 11, 1943, and shortly thereafter began an intensive training program with the B-25 series of planes. The men worked assiduously to bring themselves to the point of efficiency that would enable the organization to function perfectly if it were sent to a combat theater.
The Air Base officers of Dakota Field entertained the officer personnel of the 12th Bombardment Squadron and their guests at a farewell party held in the Officers Club, Dakota Field, on November 26, 1943.
The 12th Bombardment Squadron and all assigned personnel and equipment was transferred to Coolidge Field, Antigua, BWI, under the provisions of General Order No. 70, Hq AAC, dated November 20, 1943. The movement of 51 officers and 110 enlisted men was effected by the Air Echelon on November 23, 1943; and 30 officers and 168 enlisted men were moved by the "State of Maryland" Army Transport which left San Nicholas, Aruba, NWI, November 27, 1943, arriving at Coolidge Field, Antigua, BWI, on November 27, 1943.
The 25th Bombardment Group was alerted on January 24, 1944 of a pending unit movement, and placed in a state of readiness.
The 25th Bombardment Group (Medium) and its subordinate units- - the 12th, 35th, 59th, and 417th Bomb Squadrons, departed Trinidad on March 24, 1944.
The 25th Bomb Group and its tactical units arrived at Alamogordo AAF, New Mexico, in April 1944.
The 25th Bomb Group was disbanded on June 20, 1944, while stationed at Alamogordo AAF, New Mexico. Its personnel were shipped to various assignments, many in support of the training of B-29 crews, which were being activated at that time.