Utility Squadron 13 (VJ- 13)

United States Navy                                              January 1944- December 1945

 BRIEF HISTORY OF UTILITY SQUADRON 13

UTILITY Squadron Thirteen was commissioned on the Third of January, 1944 at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Shelton, Washington with a nucleus of officers and men under the command of Lt. Comdr. C. D. Simonsen.

At the beginning there were six JM-1 aircraft to be used as high speed tow planes. These six planes were presently augmented by three more of the same type and several single engine tow planes of the SBD and SNJ types. In addition the squadron received PBY -5A, a JRF-5 and a JRC-1 to be used for transportation and general utility.

Unit patch right->Painting by Jack D. White based on information supplied by
Bryant "Skinny" Fleming.

Performance of towing and other utility services began gradually but soon reached the point where VJ-13 was able to relieve VJ-12, the Squadron that had been handling the services prior to this time. Almost the entire personnel complement was un-familiar with the work of a Utility Squadron. Not only was this the case, but in addition none of the pilots with the exception of Lt. Commander Simonsen were checked out in the JM-1.Training in all phases began immediately and continued under the skipper’s diligent and capable direction during the entire tour at NAAS, Shelton.

Probably the biggest factor influencing Squadron operations was the weather. Only for a few weeks during the summer was the weather problem insignificant. The rest of the time it was a source of concern to all pilots and crews and caused frequent cancellation or curtailment of missions. In spite of this condition, however, the Squadron performed a large amount of work, with few mishaps.

All departments were busy and ran exceptionally smoothly with a constant increase in work output and efficiency. In most Instances the equipment was -different from that  with which we were familiar, but within a few weeks all hands were handling their jobs like veterans. Added after the Squadron had began operating was the photo laboratory which never the less performed its full share of work, turning out many excellent pieces of work.

The Squadron actively engaged in such sports as softball, Basketball, Football and Volleyball. The football team, which did remarkably well, was a source of pride to all. Intra Squadron Softball games produced much interest and several good teams.

In the course of its tour in the Seattle area VJ-13 maintained two detachments. One was based at Ault Field on Whidby Island and functioned primarily for tow services. The second operated at NAS Astoria exclusively y to work with CIC team training unit there.

By spring in 1944 Utility Squadron Thirteen was performing all regular types of utility work to the.....

Here is the entire text of the " Brief History "in pdf. It is large file you may have to wait a few moments for it open. You must have adobe reader.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

The entire VJ 13 -Roster can be found here: ( pdf)

Here is a list of the found members - we are looking for others ! Were you a member ? Was a relative of yours a member ? Please email-  Nancy

The "Found" VJ 13 members

 

Burns, Vernie J.

Sprake, William T

Bertling, Harold Herkert, Harold
Schneider, Jack L.C. Shepherd, Remmer V.
Stuempges, Forrest Kimbrel, Chuck
Haberreiter, Max Stefanski, William J
Kilcoyne, John P Burns, James E.
Anderson, Jean P. Kleine, E.T.
Robertson,  Charles Krenkel,  Ed
Hays, Bob Shofner, Pary E.  ( deceased-widow)

  Links :  
  Naval Historical Center   US Naval Activities -Oregon
  B-26 Marauder Historical Society   Martin B- 26
  Navy Memorial Foundation  
  J-JR Utility/ transport aircraft   SBD planes   PBY planes

My odyssey with VJ 13 began one fall day in 2003, in Dallas, Texas. On a whim,  I stopped by a garage sale and as I was leaving I noticed an old book in a box at the edge of the yard.

I opened and found it to be a book  called "Utility Squadron 13: Odyssey, 1944-1945 " it was commemorating the service of this squadron's  service during WWII. I asked the lady manning the garage sale what she was doing with the stuff in that box,  she said that those things were trash and I could have any of the items.

The book  was :

Utility Squadron (VJ) 13

Utility Squadron 13: Odyssey, 1944-1945 (cover). Anon. San Diego: Frye & Smith, 1945. 48 leaves, blue hardcover with gold printing, 28.5 x 22.2 cm, photos, ports., map, roster. Dornbusch 1950: 1052. NDL.

I brought the little book home and spent some time looking through it and reading it. My husband and son also enjoyed looking through it. I decided that I couldn't just let the book be trash that I needed to try to get that copy to a member of the unit maybe someone who had lost their copy..

The book luckily contained a roster of the soldiers. As I am an avid genealogist and librarian,  I am pretty good at research and on the first morning of research I had succeeded in finding 3 squadron members. Almost 60 years after their service,  some of these guys got an early morning call from a lady in Dallas, Texas who asked  " Did you once serve in VJ- 13 during World War II ?"

On that first morning I was able to talked to 3 of the vets, yet and all of them still had their book. They all told me that there had never been an official reunion and that most of the guys hadn't seen each other since the war.

Each one of the guys were curious as to who else I had had found and how I was finding them. They all asked if I would keep them informed of who else I found and who received the book. I did find finally find William Sprake,  in Seattle,  Washington who has lost his book and wanted the copy.

But along the way,  I found John Kilcoyne who really inspired me to keep going and inspired me to create this web page about the group. John has over the years regularly met with a few of the VJ guys and lovely refers to them as the " 7 Saints". Getting to the know the VJ guys has been a wonderful experience ( especially for an Army daughter and granddaughter ) and I am grateful that I found the little book and it launched my " VJ-13 Odyssey".

This web site will commemorate their service.

Nancy Cunningham

Questions, suggestions, additions ? Please email me -Nancy Cunningham.

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