Thursday, October 11, 2012

Jim Daly

A young Jim Daley in the cockpit of Attu Warrior.
Meet Jim Daly. We had the opportunity to get to know Jim at AirVenture (Oshkosk) this year. Three generations of his family had brought him over from Colorado so that he could participate in the veterans program that was held during AirVenture, and so they took the time to wander around and check out some of the warbirds. Not even knowing that we were there, they headed down to the display area and suddenly Jim stopped and pointed to 'Attu Warrior' and said "That is what I flew."

The family had no idea of the type of aircraft that their father and grandfather had flown, and Jim hadn't seen one since his time in the service, so it was kind of a special moment. With much excitement, we helped this 93 year old member of the Greatest Generation climb up into the plane, and then make his way up into the cockpit where he took over the left seat, just like he had so many years ago. His hands moved around, touching controls as if it had only been yesterday since he was there last. Dave Hansen was lucky enough to be sitting in the right seat as Jim started to open up and tell stories of his 'exploits' during the war.

Jim and his crew as members of VP-142
 One of the stories he told was when he was stationed in Tinian and flew missions against the enemy held island of Truk. Jim said, " We would go in at 50 feet off the deck, with time delayed bombs  and rockets  and we would fire all the rockets and drop the bombs, and then we left!" It was said in such an understated way but after dropping all that ordinance, who in their right mind would stick around anyway?

Jim's son, Scott, was able to put together a timeline of his dad's service, and he sent it to us to put on the blog. In a few lines, it sums up years of dangerous and difficult service, but it gives you an idea of what Jim, and thousands of others like him went through, basically for our benefit. Thanks Jim. 

On the way to Truk to deliver some 'love'
  • In February 1945, they were deployed to Hawaii for training
  • In March of 1945, Jim was deployed with 6 to 10 aircraft to Midway for more training and combat patrol training
    • They enjoyed the time there the best they could and he has pictures of them chasing and catching gooney birds and they would put them in their commanding officers quarters for fun and he could not figure out how they got in there.
  • In April, while flying training runs on towed targets, the plane in front of him crashed and killed everyone. The pilot was named Keagle and co-pilot was named Foley. Jim knew them and was very shaken up by seeing them plunge into the ocean. He thought the wing had come off because they had some problems with wing stability on new PV-2's but later it was said that they actually had hit the tow line
  • They were deployed into combat in May and sent to Tinian where they were stationed along with Air force B-29's running raids on Japan
  • Jim did not remember how many missions he flew but said it was many and they went up almost everyday focused on neutralizing Truk by hitting ships trying to supply the island and also running raids on the airfields to take them out of action. They also flew camera missions to determine extent of damage they inflicted on previous missions.
    • He told me about how submarines were stationed off the coast for pickup in the event any of them went down.
    • They called the plane the flying coffin because if you ever got hit, it would be very difficult to get out of the plane
    •  He recalled how they did not get into fights air to air although they frequently encountered jap planes but they hit the deck and out ran them vs. fight them.
    • Most of the jap defenses against them were the anti-aircraft fire on the island and he said they made sure they changed position every 10 seconds so the guns could not zero in on their flight path.
    • They would fly strafing runs across the runway's at about 250 MPH at very low altitudes and commented that on first runs it was often clear but on succeeding runs gun emplacements were there and firing so they thought they must have had hidden emplacements that they brought out.
  • On his last mission in August, 1945, they were on their way to Truk and told to watch for a signal on the runway which meant surrender. When they got to their target, they saw a red cross on the runway and returned to base with out action because the war was over.
  • He returned to California on October-November timeframe.
  • He was deployed to Florida with a couple of other pilots to fly PBY's as part of the search for the lost TBF squadron that was lost in the Bermuda triangle area in early December 1945.
  • He was discharged and returned home in late December 1945.
    Jim out front in Dress Whites
  • Jim stayed in the reserves and went to college at University of Southern California and graduated in 1948 and took a sales job at Burroughs Corporation until called back for Korea in 1950:
  • His first assignment was to fly 1 of 3 PB4Y's from Seattle to Saigon to deliver them to the French who were engaged in Vietnam. This route took them to Kodiak, AK, then to Midway, then to Guam, then to Sangley Point  Philippines, then into Saigon. Once delivered, they boarded commercial flights back home.
  • He was assigned to VP-772 and had 2 deployments with the first one stationed at Atsugi, Japan and the second in Hawaii.
  • Jim's PB4Y crew while on his second deployment
    While in Atsugi, he lost his best friend, Walder McCord, when his plane went up in the early morning one day in July 1951 and hit a mountain peak killing all aboard. They had mountains on 3 sides and low visibility and not sure what happened except that Jim said he had a lousy co-pilot and he felt that was a factor as there is a lot going on and both are needed to be sharp. Jim was next scheduled to go up and he said he told his mechanic to find something wrong and keep them on the ground, which he did. We have a picture of Jim at dinner with Walder taken 2 days earlier and they were to go home in a week.
After his second deployment, Jim returned home and was discharged from the Navy

A dashing young aviator in Japan
Jim's PB4Y

The PB4Y with the turret cover on.