Squadron History:  VP-23 / VPB-23


Established Patrol Squadron TEN-S (VP-10S) on 1 July 1930.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron TEN-F (VP-10F) on 17 July 1933.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron TEN (VP-10) on 1 October 1937.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron TWENTY FIVE (VP-25) on 1 July 1939.
Redesignated Patrol Squadron TWENTY THREE (VP-23) on 1 August 1941.
Redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron TWENTY THREE (VPB-23) on 1 October 1944.
Disestablished on 25 January 1946.

Squadron Insignia and Nickname

(Ed. - There are no details regarding the insignia used for the Black Cat phase of VP-23. See the Logos page for a graphic of the logo. )

Nickname: None on record.

Chronology of Significant Events

(Squadron history from 1 July 1930 to WWII removed as not pertinent to this website.)

8 Nov 1941: VP-23 flew its older model PBY-2 aircraft to San Diego, Calif., where new PBY-5 aircraft were picked up at the factory. Two weeks of familiarization training was given to the aircrews before re-turning to Hawaii.

23 Nov 1941: Upon return to Ford Island, Oahu, the crews of VP-23 began two weeks of intensive battle maneuvers to thoroughly familiarize them with the capabilities of the new PBY-5 aircraft.

7 Dec 1941: Two detachments of aircraft had been sent to Johnston Island and Palmyra Island the day before, and on the 7th began to practice circular patrol pattern searches. On that same morning, Japanese carrier forces attacked Pearl Harbor, destroying eight of the squadron’s aircraft in their hangars on Ford Island.

25 Dec 1941: The two detachments of squadron aircraft remained at Johnston Island conducting search sweeps in the event of the return of the Japanese fleet. Back at Oahu, Ensign Brady and his crew claimed one Japanese submarine. Postwar records, however, do not indicate any enemy submarine losses on that date.

16 Jan 1942: Six aircraft of VP-23 temporarily based at Canton Island began daily searches of the waters between Canton Island and the Fijis to protect the advance of Task Force 8 as it prepared for its strike against the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. These were the first combat patrols by U.S. aircraft in the South Pacific.

26 May 1942: A detachment of squadron aircraft at Midway participated in the patrols searching for the Japanese invasion force expected from intercepted radio traffic. The first sightings occurred on 6 June 1942 and led to the famous carrier battles at Midway. All of the squadron aircraft returned safely to Ford Island, Oahu, on 30 June 1942.

8 Jul 1942: VP-23 was deployed to Noumea, New Caledonia, to support the invasion of Guadalcanal, relieving VP-71. Tender support was provided by Curtiss (AV 4). On 15 July 1942, the squadron was moved forward to the island of Espiritu Santo.

25 Jul 1942: VP-23 combed Tulagi Island, the first target in the bombing campaign conducted by the squadron against Japanese-held positions.

6 Aug 1942: Lieutenant Maurice "Snuffy" Smith and his crew of seven were reported missing after a patrol flown out of Espiritu Santo. On 14 January 1994, a team of loggers discovered the remains of the aircraft, BuNo. 2389, and its crew where they had crashed on a ridge of a hill on the island of Espiritu Santo.

7 Aug 1942: A nine-plane detachment of VP-23 was deployed to Malaita Island to support operations at Guadalcanal, with tender support provided by Mackinac (AVP 13). Severe losses by the Allies at the Battle of Savo Straits forced the return of the detachment to Espiritu Santo on 9 August 1942.

10 Aug 1942: A six-plane detachment was sent to Ndeni, Santa Cruz Islands.

1 Oct 1942: VP-23 and its detachments were recalled to Espiritu Santo for return to Kaneohe for rest and refit.

1 Nov 1942: Two detachments of squadron aircraft were sent to Canton and Midway islands for search patrol rotations.

30 May 1943: Twelve new PBY aircraft arrived from San Diego as replacements, and six of the aircrews ferrying the aircraft remained with the squadron as replacements. Training of the new crews was begun in conjunction with operational patrols in Hawaiian waters.

24 Jun 1943: VP-23 again deployed to the South Pacific, returning to its former base of operations at Espiritu Santo. A detachment was deployed to the island of Funafuti.

20 Aug 1943: The squadron base of operations was relocated to NAB Halavo Island, Florida Islands. From this location the squadron conducted special searches, convoy coverage, antishipping patrols, Dumbo missions and aerial resupply missions.

15 Sep 1943: A squadron PBY-5 Catalina piloted by Lieutenant W. J. Geritz spotted a submarine southeast of San Cristobal. The destroyer Saufley (DD 465) assisted in the sinking of the submarine. Postwar records indicate the submarine sunk was RO-101 and the entire crew of 50 was lost.

18 Sep 1943: VP-23 conducted a bombing attack on Japanese positions at Nauru Island.

10 Dec 1943: VP-23 was relieved at NAB Halavo by VP-14. The squadron transferred to Espiritu Santo Island on 13 December 1943, in preparation for the return flight to Kaneohe.

15 Feb 1944: The squadron personnel of VP-23 boarded Kasaan Bay (CVE 69) for return to the continental United States. The squadron arrived at NAS San Diego, Calif., on 23 February 1943. Reassignments of personnel, home leaves, and other administrative details were taken care of upon arrival.

1 Mar 1944: VP-23 was reformed with new personnel and new equipment at NAS San Diego, Calif. Training commenced immediately and continued through mid-June 1944.

20 Jun 1944: The squadron flew the transpac from San Diego to Kaneohe, Hawaii, in the new amphibious version of the Catalina, the PBY-5A. All aircraft arrived safely and the squadron began operations on 30 June, sending a six-aircraft detachment to Midway for training in ASW.


photo submitted by Don Dutcher <j.d.dutcher@worldnet.att.net>
Personnel of VPB-23 pose on Midway in July 1944.
(sent in by Don Dutcher)

29 Jul 1944: The Kaneohe detachment of six aircraft relieved the Midway detachment. This group returned to Kaneohe on 16 August 1944.

20 Aug 1944: VP-23 was deployed to the island of Eniwetok. From this naval air base searches were conducted to the northern and western approaches of the island. Periodic reconnaissance flights were conducted to Ponape and Wake islands.

10 Sep 1944: Group 1, FAW-2 was relieved by FAW-1 while VP-23 was based on NAB Eniwetok.  Operational control of the squadron was undertaken by TU 96.1.7.

30 Nov 1944: VPB-23 conducted a bombing attack on Japanese positions on Wake Island.

4 Dec 1944: Twelve squadron aircraft were transferred to the island of Saipan; three aircraft remained at Eniwetok to provide search patrol support to FAW-1. Upon arrival at Saipan on 5 December, a detachment of three aircraft was sent to Orote Field, Guam, for air-sea rescue work, and another detachment of two aircraft was assigned to the Army Air Corps for air-sea rescue work. The remaining squadron aircraft conducted flight operations from Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, with headquarters ashore under the operational command of TU 94.4.2.

7 Dec 1944: A third detachment of two aircraft was sent to Falalop Island, Ulithi, for air-sea rescue missions.

27 Dec 1944: A fourth detachment of two aircraft relieved the VPB-54 detachment at Peleliu. The primary mission was provision of air-sea rescue support for elements of TU 94.4.2.

1 Feb 1945: On this date, detachments of VPB-23 were maintained at Agana, Guam; Isley Field #2, Saipan; Falalop Island, Ulithi; and Peleliu Island, Palau Islands. Operational control was under TU 94.4.2 with a primary mission of air-sea rescue, Dumbo and ferry flights.

14 Feb 1945: On this date, detachments of VPB-23 were maintained at Agana, Guam; Kobler Field, Saipan; Falalop Island, Ulithi; Peleliu Island, Palau Islands; Iwo Jima, Nanpo Shoto. Operational control was under TU 94.11.2, with the primary missions being Dumbo flights, press flights and antishipping patrols.

1 Mar 1945: Three crews of VPB-23 were detached from the Saipan detachment for return to the continental U.S. via Kaneohe, Hawaii.

21 Mar 1945: The VPB-23 detachment at Peleliu was relieved by a detachment from VPB-108.

30 Mar 1945: Daily ferry and resupply flights between Guam and Kerama Rhetto were begun by the Guam detachment.

9 Apr 1945: The Eniwetok detachment of three aircraft returned to VPB-23 at Saipan.

20 Jun 1945: The detachment at Falalop Island, Ulithi, was augmented by three more aircraft. Nightly antishipping patrols and Dumbo missions were conducted in support of TU 94.11.2 operations.

9 Jul 1945: The base of operations for VPB-23 on Saipan was transferred to the USMC air base on Peleliu Island, Palau, to provide air-sea rescue in support of Army Air Corps B-29 strikes on the Japanese home islands. Air-sea rescue missions were also provided in support of USMC air strikes on Japanese positions of bypassed islands.

1 Sep 1945: On this date detachments were maintained at Peleliu Island, Palau; Falalop Island, Ulithi; and Agana Field, Guam. Primary missions conducted consisted of air-sea rescue work, antimine sweeps and leaflet drops on bypassed Japanese held islands.

11 Dec 1945: The detachment at Orote was transferred to Agana Field, Guam.

13 Dec 1945: Squadron operations were ended and all detachments were returned to Tanapag Harbor, Saipan. Shortly thereafter, the squadron departed Saipan to return to San Diego, Calif., via Kaneohe, Hawaii.

25 Jan 1946: VPB-23 was disestablished at NAS San Diego, Calif.


Home Port Assignments

Location Date of Assignment
NAS Pearl Harbor, Hawaii 13 Jan 1934
NAS San Diego, Calif. 23 Feb 1944
NAS Kaneohe, Hawaii 20 Jun 1944
NAS San Diego, Calif. Dec 1945


Commanding Officers

Name Date Assumed Command
LCDR F. M. Hughes Sep 1941
LCDR J. R. Ogden Jan 1942
LCDR F. A. Bradley 11 Dec 1942
LCDR G. E. Garcia 25 Aug 1943
LCDR W. M. Stevens 1 Mar 1944
LCDR M. V. Ricketts 6 Jul 1945


Aircraft Assignment

Type of Aircraft Date Type First Received
PBY-5 Nov 1941
PBY-5A Jun 1944


Major Overseas Deployments

Date of Departure Date of Return Wing Base of  Operations Type of Aircraft Area of Operations
22 Apr 1935 Mar 1935 BasFor Midway P2Y-1 WestPac
1 Feb 1942 1 Oct 1942 FAW-2 Marshalls PBY-5 SoPac
26 May 1942 30 Jun 1942 FAW-2 Midway PBY-5 WestPac
8 Jul 1942 * FAW-2 Noumea PBY-5 SoPac
Curtis (AV 4)
15 Jul 1942 * FAW-2 Espiritu Santo PBY-5 SoPac
7 Aug 1942 * FAW-2 Malaita Island PBY-5 SoPac
Mackinac (AVP 13)
9 Aug 1942 1 Oct 1942 FAW-2 Espiritu Santo PBY-5 SoPac
1 Nov 1942 * FAW-2 Canton PBY-5 WestPac
1 Nov 1942 * FAW-2 Midway PBY-5 WestPac
24 Jun 1943 * FAW-1 Espiritu Santo PBY-5 SoPac
20 Aug 1943 10 Dec 1943 FAW-1 Halavo Island PBY-5 SoPac
20 Aug 1944 * FAW-2/1 Eniwetok PBY-5A SoPac
4 Dec 1944 * FAW-1 Saipan PBY-5A SoPac
9 Jul 1945 13 Dec 1945 FAW-18 Peleliu PBY-5A SoPac

*  Continued combat deployment in the Pacific, moving from base to base.


Wing Assignments

Wing Tail Code Assignment Date
PatWing-2/FAW-2   † 1 Oct 1937
FAW-1 24 Jun 1943
FAW-2 Jan 1944
FAW-14 23 Feb 1944
FAW-2 20 Jun 1944
FAW-1 10 Sep 1944
FAW-18 May 1945
FAW-14 13 Dec 1945

† Patrol Wing 2 was redesignated Fleet Air Wing 2 (FAW-2) on 1 November 1942.


Unit Awards Received

Unit Award Inclusive Date Covering Unit Award

None on record.

The information on this page is from the   Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons - Vol. 2 CD-ROM (which is unfortunately no longer available).

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