It is unfortunate that the idea of a War History was not inaugurated until 1944, well past the turning point of the War. Better that it was conceived in 1944 however, than not at all. For by virtue of the War Histories of all Naval units, a permanent record which cannot be distorted by time, will be available to all students of Naval warfare; to all who, by no choice of their own, saw only one small corner of this global war; and to all who, finding their memories growing dim, can turn to the War History to help them re-live the most vital years of their own and the worlds existence.
For Patrol Bombing Squadron SEVENTY-ONE, however, the War History does little injustice. For it was the re-forming of the squadron in 1944 that saw SEVENTY-ONE start on her truly eventful days. The preceeding years, although full of service, are well covered by the summary of pre-1944 activities.
And so in April 1944, this War History takes up the story of a cross-sectional group of young American Naval fliers and air-crewmen, gathered together to train, and somewhat to their surprise, to fight, in PBY-5A's - Catalinas - a plane originally designed for patrol and rescue work, but now called upon to attack heavily armed enemy units at the closest possible range -- the Black Cats!
N. C. GILLETTE, Jr.,
Commander, U. S. Navy,
1 May 1945
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