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Robert Davis « North Carolina's WWII ExperienceNorth Carolina's WWII Experience

Robert Davis

Hometown: Albany, GA/Knightdale, NC
Branch of Service:
Navy, VPB 102
Location of Service:
Pacific

Davis enlisted in September 1942 in the Navy V-5 in Atlanta.

I took my aviation training at the University of South Carolina with civilian instructors.

I was an USNR pilot from 1943-1946, attaining a rank of Lt (Jr. Grade) and flew 44 missions in the Central Pacific with a flight crew of 11.  I was actually a PP1P/co-pilot navigator of a PB4Y-1 (Liberator) Patrol-Bomber.  We flew missions of up to 15 hours looking for enemy ships (including subs) or planes.  Our assigned vectors at times sent us on the shores of Japan, thereby giving the possibility of enemy gunfire either from ground, planes or ships.  We actually flew one mission in the area of Iwo Jima during the US military invasion of the Island in early 1945.  Later, after Iwo was secured, our squadron VPB-102 was directed to keep some of our men and equipment on Iwo for more advantageous flights to the Japanese coast.

For one mission, we flew an older liberator returning  to Tinian after at 13-hr patrol because our usual plane was in for service.  I was asked to take over at an altitude of 1500 ft. I told the crew I was going to circle the island one more time to familiarize

myself with the island.  One by one, all of our engines failed as we ran out of gas. I yelled for full flaps and was able to land although it was a really hard landing.  A jeep came to meet them with a sign instructing them to follow him but they couldn’t since their tanks were empty. Lt. Harvey Skaar took me back into the mess hall and gave me a lot of coffee since I was nearly delirious.  We flew other missions, such as one to the TRUK Islands, when our Intelligence reported hostile Japanese planes, arms, personnel build-up.  That one mission was flown by eight of our crews at the cost of three crews.  The enemy\’s build-up was stymied by our attack, which was low-level straffing and bombing.  My PPC(Patrol Plane Commander) was Alexander Stillman (Lt.) of Barrington, Il.(deceased in 1960\’s).

I was on my way home when the war ended in the Pacific. We were assigned to a plane on Tinian, which flew us to Guam.  They we boarded another transport plane to Hawaii.  This is when they heard about the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima.  We were actually in Pearl Harbor when we heard Truman announce the war was over.

I’d completed a year at Georgia Southwestern College University of Georgia at Athens and completed my undergraduate degree in Business Administration in 1948. I got married and worked for a lumber dealer in Athens.  Since I didn’t like it, I went to work for a lumber wholesaler on the outskirts of Washington D.C.   During that time, I played a lot of golf in Pinehurst, NC and eventually bought a lot in 1975 and continued to live in Maryland.  We moved there in 1992 and have been in North Carolina ever since.