Built by Consolidated. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN). Assigned to VP-34 "Black Cats". Assigned to Lt(jg) Nathan G. Gordon. Nicknamed "Arkansas Traveler" after Gordon's home state of Arkansas.
Nathan G. Gordon died on September 9, 2008. Bratley died in 2007.
On February 15, 1944 took off piloted by Lt(jg) Nathan G. Gordon from Samarai
Seaplane Base on a mission to provide air-sea rescue for a low level strike by A-20 Havoc and B-25 Mitchell bombers attacking Kavieng. The crew included:
Command Pilot Lt(jg) Nathan Green Gordon (Morrilton, AR)
Pilot Jack Kelly (Staten
Pilot Leurelle Fulmer (Littlerock,
Pilot Walter Patrick (FL)
Radio Alex Alexander
Radio Robert Murch
Mechanic John Bratley (Cleveland,
Machinist Joe Germeau (Port
Mechanic AAM1c Wiley R. Routon (Dade County, FL)
On station near Vitu Island (Witu), this Catalina got a radio call that an A-20 Havoc had ditched and to immediately go to Kavieng to rescue the crew. Escorted by four P-47D Thunderbolts of the 348th FG from Finschafen Airfield.
That mission, Gordon made four landings into Kavieng
Harbor, facing both rough seas and enemy fire to rescue four different air crews.
Arriving in the area, the sea was rough, with large breakers 15-18' high. On their first landing, they unsuccessfully searched for the crew of A-20G Havoc 42-86616. According to Gordon, the found only "debris - oil, dye
marker two life jackets and a half inflated raft". Unsuccessful, they took off.
[ Gordon's Recollections of 1st Landing ]
A 345th BG, 498th BS B-25 piloted by Major Coltharp radioed that a B-25 had ditched and provided the position. Landing, they found the crew and turned off their port engine in order to rescue the crew of B-25D "Gremlin's Holiday" 41-30041, as gunfire was directed against them from shore. Afterwards, Gordon took off and got another call of a downed B-25. Two of the escorting P-47D departed, short on fuel.
[ Gordon's Recollections of 2nd Landing ]
Proceeded a mile from shore to rescue three of the crew of B-25D "Pissonit" 41-30370. The remaining two P-47D escorts departed short on fuel. Gordon took off again, with ten resuced aboard and left the target area, but the B-25 radioed again that another B-25 had ditched very clsoe to shore.
[ Gordon's Recollections of 3rd Landing ]
Gordon made his landing approach over Kavieng and landed only 600 yards from shore as anti-aircraft fired at them. They rescued five crew members of B-25D 41-30531. Luckily, no enemy fire hit the PBY. Departing the target area with fifteen rescued aviators aboard.
[ Gordon's Recollections of 4th Landing ]
Low on fuel and with wounded aboard, Gordon landed at Finchafen. The crew unloaded the rescued men onto USS Pablo (AVP 30). After refueling, they returned to Samarai
Medal of Honor
Afterwards, Lt.(jg) Gordon later earned
the Congressional Medal of Honor and each member of his crew
earned the Silver Star. Admiral "Bull" Halsey, mentioned the
rescue in a telegram after the mission: "Please pass my admiration
on to that saga writing Kavieng Cat crew - Halsey".
Michelle Hodges Blanchard (great niece)
"I was searching the Internet and I ran across your website. The "Arkansas Traveler" listed Wiley R. Routon as a mechanic AAM1c. He was/is my great uncle. The only info I have one him is that he was born in 1923 and he was named after his father. I am not sure if he is living. His sister, Annie, is my grandmother. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated."
Warpath Across The Pacific pages 128-129
The Forgotten Fifth pages 69-70 [ Read Excerpt ]
PBY: The Catalina Flying Boat pages 170-173
Artwork by Nicholas Trudgian: "Black Cat Rescue" & "Flight Out of Hell"
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
January 9, 2018