PBY Catalina International Association
1994 Volume 6, Number 1 (p.04)

I've made minor corrections. Click here to see the original Search

(A "Mail Buoy" is a traditional and mythical means from which mail is recovered at sea!)

1.--Michael B. COMBERIATE (Fleet Air Wing 10): During these cold winter months and watching television, I saw a "Discovery Channel" coverage with Jacques Cousteau's group using a "Catalina". It was interesting enough that I would like to obtain a copy of this video. Also, while I was at both Swan River & Palm Is. Australia in 1944/45, I became quite friendly with a Lyle (possibly spelled Lisle) Grayham, a PPC with VP-34 (possibly VP-33). He was a large strapping fellow, previously a "lineman" with the Philadelphia Eagles in earlier 1940s. The last I had seen him was following a collision his PBY had with heavy debris just off-shore near Townsville, Australia. He suffered severe damage to his right-arm, to the extent that it was removed at the shoulder. Before I had a chance to see him again, I was on my way to Samarai, New Guinea. At this stage in my life, I would like to be in contact with him if possible.... Am enclosing a little something for the "PBY CIA - Kitty". Oh! I just got a new car, so I need a new "PBY" auto-sticker. I was very proud of that call to PBY camaraderie as well as questions, "What is a PBY? -- Etc."... (ED: 1. Try inquiring at your local broadcasting "DISC" channel as to purchase or perhaps your nearest video-store. 2. Regret, the newsletter/historian's file does not contain a VP-34 roster but the on-hand VP-33 roster does not cite anyone named "GRAYHAM". 3. Replacement "PBY Ass'n Ask Me" auto sticker forwarded to Mike. & "Contribution fwd. to "PBY CIA Treas".

2.--Andrew SERRELL ("PBY Enthusiast"): I want a certified flying-boat in which to instruct students. Was supposed to meet with guy who resurrected a "Teal" but he became a "no-show", so the quest continues... New subj: Have you seen the latest fund requests from "AMVETS National Service Foundation"? In a letter form signed by Joe. F. RAMSEY, Jr., Executive Director, AMVETS, "enclosed" you may want to pass on to the newsletter readers what Joe relates about "PBY Catalinas". s/[omitted for privacy]. (ED: Anyone who may be able to assist Andy in his search for the cited flying-boat above, please contact him at the address underlined. Re: The topic of "PBY Catalinas" used by AMVETS, Joe F. Ramsey Jr. was contained in two successive plea-letters. Quotes from first ltr.: "Four years after the war, already America was growing too busy to allow time for remembering... Two Cats moved cautiously around the down-moon side of the enemy fleet. Circling for an attack both planes eased toward the water's surface with engines throttled back. Aboard one of the ships an officer listened intently to the approaching hum. Before he could order a course change, an ominous black shape roared overhead. Then there was a jarring explosion... Slow and outdated, PBY Catalinas were designed for long range patrol. But when war erupted in the Western Pacific, the U.S. Navy had no other air power in sufficient quantities to fight back... No match for enemy fighters by day, Catalinas became night creatures. Darkness not only concealed the massive hunters, but preying on man's fear of night in times of danger, added 'surprise'... Pouncing out of darkness and slipping away in the confusion, Cats had already proven their worth from Bataan and Corregidor to raids on Japanese fleet at Midway. But innovative crews devised a method destined to make them the scourge of enemy shipping in the South Pacific... Covered with concoctions of soap & lamp-black etc., at night the big Cats were nearly invisible from surface ships. Skimming low over the water, to enemy fighters above, they virtually disappeared against the dark sea... Tactics like "Louie the Louse" in which a PBY would launch a furious attack, depart for a time, then return to repeat the terror enhanced the growing legend of

the "Flying Felines of World War II"... So routine was the valor of flying-boat crews that the performance of one pilot, whose "days work" earned him the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor, was referred to by a comrade simply as -- "especially notable".... Near the end of the war the old Catalinas were obsolete, when it began, they were all we had. Flying out of darkness at little more than 100 miles per hour, not since David and his sling had men gone forth with so much courage -- "BLACK CATS FLY TONIGHT!" ((Immediately after reading Joe F. Ramsey's superlatives of Catalinas and crews, the PBY CIA editor drafted a letter of appreciation and posted it to Joe!))...
The very next AMVETS letter by Mr. RAMSEY, continues his praise for the Catalina & community as follows: For enemy shipping around New Guinea, there was no respite from dark creatures that came hurtling out of the night -- even up rivers to attack vessels at their moorings... During hours between dark and dawn the U.S. Navy's old PBY Catalinas, honing their audacious Black Cat skills, were taking a heavy toll on Japanese shipping operating in the Bismark Sea... But the flying boats, designed to take off and land on water, were unmatched in air-sea rescue ability. Just when the "Arkansas Traveller" was becoming adept at nocturnal search and destroy, it was ordered to rescue duties... The big Cat was on station covering an Army Air Force bomber strike against New Ireland when its commander received a call for assistance. A circling B-25 had sighted a raft in Kavieng Harbor and Japanese shore guns were firing at its occupants... While the Catalina pilot concentrated on landing in heavy swells, enemy gunners shifted their interest to his plane. With projectiles churning the water all around, the daring lieutenant taxied alongside the raft, shut down engines so the downed airmen could be hauled aboard... The rescuers had just taken off when the B-25 called again. Without hesitation the Catalina turned back into heavy close-range enemy fire... After picking up nine survivors in three seperate landings, within full view of enemy forces, the Cat managed to get back into the air despite heavy seas. They were heading for home when the B-25 reported still another raft... The lieutenant couldn't leave knowing the flyers might be captured or killed. But this time, because of wind and swells, he would have to make his approach over the beach; right through Kavieng's heaviest defenses... While Japanese fired everything they had, the lieutenant dropped the Catalina down fast and hard on rough water, picked up six more survivors and although overloaded, executed a near perfect takeoff... For "exceptional daring, personal valor and incomparable airmanship", Lieutenant Nathan Green Gordon was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his "days work"... To paint outdated airplanes black and fly them into the night of an overwhelming enemy is just one brand of courage. To spend years after such sacrifices languishing alone after the battle. VETERANS SERVING VETERANS means just what it says! ((NOTE: AMVETS NATIONAL SERVICE FOUNDATION of America receives "No Financial Assistance From The Federal Government". Contributions to AMVETS' appeals are used directly by AMVETS to maintain the corps of the organization's national service officers; certify and support hospital volunteers; donate items to veterans medical centers not provided for in the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs budget; provide scholarships to veterans' dependants; finance grants to AMVETS local posts and communities for veterans projects; provide financial assistance to the National 4-H Council's Program; fund AMVETS Special Olympics for the handicapped and finance AMVETS' Memorial Carillions etc. -- For those interested in learning more of this organization, address: Joe F. Ramsey, Jr., Executive Director, AMVETS National Service Foundation, 4647 Forbes Boulevard, Lanham, Maryland 20706-9961. --- Also please note that so much "PBY CATALINA INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION" is international in scope and responsibility, suitable announcements may be posted concerning any non-profit organization dedicated to humane support activities within "PBY CIA" newsletters.))... Our thanks are extended to Andrew Serrell for his