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Kodiak Alaska Military History

Scouting Squadron 49

CO VS-49, Serial 59 of 31 December 1944

ALASKAN, ALEUTIAN HISTORY OF SCOUTING SQUADRONS
NARRATIVE

COMMISSIONING CEREMONIES

Same ceremonies, Scouting Squadron 49 was commissioned at the Naval Air Station, Kodiak, Alaska, on 2 March 1943. Scouting Squadron 1 D-13 operating in the area of Southeastern Alaska, relinquished its planes and personnel to Scouting Squadron 70 and 49, losing its status as an operating squadron.

At the time of its commissioning Lieutenant Commander Carman Hawkins, A-V(N), USN, was appointed Commanding Officer of Scouting Squadron 49.

CHAIN OF COMMAND

Commander Fleet Air Wing Four assumed personnel administration over this squadron on 18 March 1943, at which time the operational authority and control over this unit was vested in the commander of the Alaskan Sector.

PHYSICAL MOVEMENTS OF SQUADRON

Upon commissioning of Scouting Squadron 49, inshore patrol activities were conducted from the main base, Naval Air Station, Kodiak, Alaska, and from two advanced bases, one on the Island of Afognak, and the other at Sand Point. Each of the advanced bases operated with a complement of four floatplanes, six officers and about fifteen enlisted personnel. Squadron administration was conducted from the main base at Kodiak, Alaska. The Kodiak base had slightly variable complement of men and planes due to occasional aricraft accidents and irregularities in transfer of personnel. The normal complement was seven planes on wheels, eight flying officers, one round officer and about sixty enlisted personnel.

On or about 16 May 1943, the Kodiak patrol sectors were taken over by Scouting Squadron Seventy, and Scouting Squadron forty-nine was transferred Westerly on the one of the routine patrols heretofore covered by Scouting Squadron Forty-Nine. The latter unit then continued to conduct one inshore patrol using Kingfishers, whereas the bombing detachment provided coverage on the remaining patrol with Catalinas.

ADVANCED BASES
KODIAK, ALASKA NAVAL AIR STATION, MAIN BASE

Early headquarters for Scouting Squadron Forty-Nine at the Naval Air Station, Kodiak, Alaska, accounted for fourteen officers as pilots, including the Commanding Officer, one A-V(s) officer serving in the capacity of Administrative Executive Officer and about seventy enlisted personnel. Five Kingfishers on floats and about four Kingfishers on wheels were employed for carrying out operations assigned to this command.

LIVING CONDITIONS

Enjoying all the comforts and modern conveniences of home in the United States, Squadron officers and enlisted men found living conditions nearly perfect at the Naval Air Station, Kodiak, Alaska. The officers occupied a four-apartment building completely furnished with modern conveniences including electric ranges and refrigerators. The enlisted men occupied well ventilated and steam-heated spaces converted to barracks and located on the second deck of the spacious, modern and well built hangar occupied by the Squadron. These spaces included a comfortable reading room for use of the men during leisure hours.

The squadron officers maintained their own mess and all meals were prepared under the supervision of an officer, although this detail was rotated among all the officers.

The enlisted personnel received adequate meals at the Station Mess hall near the hangar and also conducted a mess in the hangar.

OPERATION - MAINTENANCE

Squadron maintenance shops consisted of modern well equipped rooms in the hangar for the various shops such as radio, metal smith, engineering and storeroom.

The Squadron offices were located on the second deck of the spacious hangar and in addition to the usual offices there was a ready room for pilots.

All the squadron planes were stowed in this hangar each night under ideal working conditions. Planes were fueled from gasoline pits on the ramp and excellent conditions existed for beaching of seaplanes.

Recreational facilities at the Naval Air Station, Kodiak, Alaska, added much to the moral of the squadron and within the hangar there were available such indoor courts as tennis and badminton courts which were used by all men during leisure hours.

ADVANCED BASES FOR DETACHMENTS
SAND POINT, ALASKA, NAVAL AIR FACILITY

A detachment of about five polots and about fifteen enlisted men were stationed at Sand Point, Alaska and four kingfishers on floats were employed to carry out operations at this advanced base.

LIVING CONDITIONS

Adequate housing facilities consisted of Quonset huts for both officers and enlisted men, although the huts contained no heads or showers. Oil heaters were employed for heating these huts and showers were available at the Station for use by officers and men. Another Quonset Hut served in a triple capacity, housing the Squadron's operations office, ready room and reading room.

MORALE

Despite the fact that all hands were required to wash their own laundry, and mail very spasmodic, the morale of all hands was very high. The Station mess hall provided good food and sponsored a movie at least once each week. Recreational facilities were limited, yet there were no complaints, as all hands participated in the outdoor sports of football, baseball, hunting and fishing.

OPERATIONS

The four seaplanes operated by the Squadron were fueled from gasoline trucks. A small nose hangar limited work upon the planes to minor repairs and checks. Confronted with unusual operating conditions, the seaplanes were hauled upon the sand each night due to the inadequacy of the ramp at low tide. Engine changes and major repairs of planes were handled at the Naval Air Station, Kodiak, Alaska.

AFOGNAK, ALASKA: NAVAL UNIT

A detachment of Scouting Squadron Forty-Nine was located at Afognak, Alaska, where four Kingfishers on floats were operated from Afognak Lake, located on Afognak Island. The usual complement consisted of four pilots and about ten enlisted men.

LIVING CONDITIONS

Comfortable living conditions existed at Afognak with the officers occupying a well furnished cottage and the enlisted men living in barracks equipped with showers, head, hot water and oil heaters.

MORALE

Outdoor sports were enjoyed but no facilities were available for indoor sports or games. Movies were well attended by all personnel at least twice a week. Ship Service maintained a store where commodities could be purchased by the unit's personnel.

The food was very good and all personnel were messed at the Naval Unit's mess hall. Laundry service was likewise available.

Regular delivery of mail added to the morale of the crew and generally living conditions were very satisfactory.

OPERATIONS

Squadron operations consisted for the most part of gunnery and glide bombing practice, with a gunnery target anchored in the middle of the lake. A few search misions were conducted from this Naval Unit.

All repairs and checks were handled at Kodiak Base. As no hangar space was available all planes were beached each night.

DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA: NAVAL AIR STATION

The Naval Air Station at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, was the headquarters for Scouting Squadron Forty-Nine from 19 May 1943 to 14 December 1944. During this period there were approximately fourteen pilots, including the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer and other department heads, one A-V(S) officer who acted as Administrative Executive Officer as well as Personnel and Material Officer, and about sixty-five enlisted personnel. Seven Kingfishers on floats and two Kingfishers on wheels were employed for carrying out operations assigned to this command.

LIVING CONDITIONS

The Squadron officers enjoyed all the comforts and conveniences of home in large well furnished houses. The Chief Petty Officers had comfortable and modern rooms, and the enlisted personnel occupied modern barracks.

The officers belonged to the Naval Operating Base Officers' Mess at Dutch Harbor and enjoyed the mess facilities and the enlisted personnel had adequate meals served at the Station Mess Hall.

RECREATIONAL FACILITIES

Recreational facilities were available at this base for both officers and enlisted men. These facilities consisted of a spacious gymnasium, an excellent Ship's Service, bowling alleys, enlisted men's beer hall and other facilities. In other words this base offered every possible facility that was possible at an overseas base and the morale of all personnel was very high.

OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE

Squadron maintenance shops and operational facilities consisted of modern, well equipped metal smith, radio, ordnance and storeroom supply shops. All major overhauls however were handled at the Assembly and Repair Department of the Naval Air Station, Kodiak, Alaska.

The squadron offices were spacious and modern and were located in the hangar. All squadron planes were stowed in a large hangar each night and during inclement weather and maintenance crews worked there on th eplanes under very desirable conditions. Squadron planes were fueled from gasoline trucks.

ADVANCED BASE, OTTER POINT, UMNAK,
NAVAL AIR FACILITY

After arrival of the squadron at Dutch harobor, Alaska, a detachment was set up at Otter Point on Umnak Island, Alaska. A detachment of four pilots and about eighteen enlisted men were stationed there, rotating duty with the squadron personnel at the main base. Four Kingfisher on wheels were employed at this advanced base to maintain daily patrol operations and to carry out other assigned duties.

OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE

Squadron officers enjoyed comfortable living conditions in a Yakutat style house. The enlisted personnel had three Yakutat houses and used a community head and shower room. Oil heaters were used to supply warmth for these quarters.

A combined Ship's Service, soft drink fountain, barber shop and station gymnasium occupied one building called "Madison Square Garden" and it proved adequate for all purposes of recreation. There was a small but cozy officers' club and mess where all squadron officers had their meals. The enlisted men were members of "The Enlisted Mens' Club" the only such club in the Aleutian Chain, and took great pride in this club, which was managed by the enlisted personnel of Otter Point Naval Air Facility.

OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE

Recreational facilities at this advanced base were adequate and movies could be enjoyed every night. The gymnasium was very popular and was used continuously by all personnel. Outdoor sports included softball, fishing, hiking, boating and skating. Mail delivery was rather prompt and added to the morale of all personnel.

OPERATIONS

Squadron planes were stowed in a large wooden hangar upon completion of the day's operations, where nightly checks and routine repairs were made by an efficient crew of trained men. Major overhaul of planes and engine changes, except where it was possible to make emergency engine changes at this base, were performed by the Assembly and Repair Department of the Naval Air Station, Kodiak Alaska. All planes were fueled from gasoline trucks.

Emergency supplies were available from the Army Air Corps although the Navy maintained a small supply depot on this base.

In brief, inclement weather interspersed with violent winds and heavy fog and snow storms limited the days of sunshine and interfered with flying operations.

The following incidents taken from the Squadron War Diary are indicative of the type of operations other than routine patrols and utility work:

OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE

This squadron has cooperated with surface units afloat belonging to the Navy, Army and the Allied forces in the execution of its routine activities and in emergency situations requiring special missions and searches.

Many emergencies have arisen during winter months wherein small craft have been reported adrift or overdue at their destination. Assistance has been rendered by this command in locating such craft and obtaining position reports for ships in distress.

OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE

All reports received from the Army and Coast Guard as well as the Navy relative to mines adrift have been investigated and action taken in such cases.

DECOMMISSIONING OF SCOUTING SQUADRON FORTY-NINE

Arrangements were inaugurated to withdraw this squadron from the Aleutian Islands under a plan whereby Catalinas from a Patrol Bombing Squadron Detachment together with a detachment from Scouting Squadron forty-eight were to take over all operational duties. On 12 December 1944 the detachment from Scouting Squadron Forty-Eight relieved this command of operations.

In compliance with dispatch instructions to commence concentration of aircraft and personnel of this command at Naval Air Station, Kodiak, Alaska preparatory to movement of the entire unit to Seattle for the decommissioning of Scouting Squadron Forty-Nine, six planes left Dutch Harbor, Alaska for Kodiak, Alaska on 19 November 1944 and two more planes departed on the following day. Five planes and its crews remained at Dutch Harbor, Alaska to continue operations pending the arrival of the relieving squadron detachment from Scouting Squadron Forty-Eight and on 14 December 1944 these planes departed for Kodiak, Alaska.

When concentration at Kodiak, Alaska was completed the squadron consisted of eighteen pilots, one non flying officer, eighty-eight enlisted men and thirteen aircraft composed of eight OS2U-3's and five OS2N-1's.

On 24 December 1944 all personnel and aircraft had arrived at Fleet Air Seattle from Kodiak, Alaska and decommissioning was started. All planes were safely ferried to Seattle without any accidents or losses and all non flying personnel were transported to Seattle via Naval Air Transport Service in an expeditious manner. All aircraft were turned in to the Aircraft Delivery Unit at the Naval Air Station, Seattle, Washington, all supplies brought from Kodiak or Dutch Haarbor were turned in to Supply Department and all personnel received orders from Fleet Air Seattle for transfer to new duty.

Scouting Squadron Forty-Nine was officially decommissioned at the Naval Air Station Seattle, Washington, under the supervision and with the assistance of Commander Fleet Air Seattle on 31 December 1944.


Thanks to Bill Alberts for this article

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