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WWII Patch, USN, VB-15, USS Essex #1

WWII Patch, USN, VB-15, USS Essex  #1

Product Information
WWII US Navy Squadron Patch #1
USN VB-15 Bomb SQ
Navy Bombing Squadron 15
USS Essex

USS Hornet
VB-15, Air Group 15
4.5 x 5.75 inches

The Battle of Leyte Gulf, also called the "Battles for Leyte Gulf", and formerly known as the "Second Battle of the Philippine Sea", is generally considered to be the largest naval battle of World War II and also one of the largest naval battles in history.  It was fought in waters near the Philippine islands of Leyte, Samar, and Luzon, from 23 to 26 October 1944, between the United States and Japan. On 20 October, United States troops invaded the island of Leyte as part of a strategy aimed at isolating Japan from the countries it had occupied in South East Asia, and in particular depriving its forces and industry of vital oil supplies. The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) mobilized nearly all of its remaining major naval vessels in an attempt to defeat the Allied invasion, but was repulsed by the US Navy's 3rd and 7th Fleets. The IJN failed to achieve its objective, suffered very heavy losses, and never afterwards sailed to battle in comparable force. The majority of its surviving heavy ships, deprived of petroleum fuel, remained in their bases for the rest of the Pacific War. The Battle of Leyte Gulf included four major naval battles: the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, the Battle of Surigao Strait, the Battle off Cape Engaño and the Battle off Samar, as well as other actions.  The Battle of Leyte Gulf is also notable as the first battle in which Japanese aircraft carried out organized kamikaze attacks. Also worth noting is the fact that Japan at this battle had fewer aircraft than the Allied Forces had sea vessels, a clear demonstration of the difference in power of the two sides at this point of the war. In the Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 24th and 25th, 1944, VB-15 flew three missions and is credited with the sinking of the MUSHASI and the CHITOSE.  LINK

Lt.jg Warren Parrish was assigned to the ESSEX in the South Pacific in 1944. Piloting a Curtis Wright Helldiver, he and his rearseat gunner, Ronald Guilbeau, flew 32 missions, bombing Japanese ships and targets on Marcus, Wake, Palau, the Bonins and the Phillipines. They made low -  level attacks, strafing with guns and dropping bombs from steep diving angles. Warren Parrish was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Air Medals, and the Navy Cross.  He won the Navy Cross for depositing a direct hit on the Japanese battleship Musashi, in the battle of the Sibuyan Sea. Parrish's Helldiver squadron VB15 along with Avenger squadron VT15 torpedo bombers, from Essex, share credit for the sinking of Japans Super battleship MUSASHI. At 67,000 tons, the Musashi was one of the two largest battleships in the world, the other being her sister ship Yamato. The battleship Yamato escaped being attacked by seeking cover under a squall.

Lt. William S. Rising flew an SB2C Helldiver with VB15 as part of Airgroup 15, under Cdr. David  McCampbell.  At 0630 on the morning of November 6th, 1944, Twenty six F6F Hellcat fighters, nine Helldiver dive-bombers and five TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers left the deck of  ESSEX  to join air groups from other Carriers in the task force under command of Admiral W.F. Bull Halsey in the first wave of strikes against the Japanese forces at Clark Field, as well as enemy ships in Manila and Salaguin Harbors.  As the aircraft neared the target area near Manila, heavy groundfire began to burst around the American planes. Lt. Rising looked below and found a choice target, a Japanese Destroyer. He put his aircraft into a vertical dive, screaming in on the enemy ship at almost a 90 degree angle to lay his bombs on its deck. Around the rapidly diving airplane burst the deadly rounds of enemy anti-aircraft fire. Manning the gun behind his pilot, ARM2/c John Montgomery did his best to ignore it and concentrate on the job at hand.  One week earlier Montgomery had celebrated his 21st birthday and hoped to celebrate his 22nd. Though young, he had already completed 38 such missions, and was becoming an "old hand".  Suddenly the sound of the diving Helldiver's engine changed. Enemy fire had struck home. Quickly Rising pulled out of his dive struggling to level his aircraft. Both men removed their safety belts and climbed out on a wing to bail out. As the Helldiver began to level more, Rising yelled across to Montgomery, " I think I can control 'er. Let's see if we can make it out past Manila Bay." They climbed back into the the falling Helldiver, buckled up and headed out to sea away from the bay full of enemy ships. After getting farther away from Manila Bay they crash landed at sea, and made their way by raft to the far side of Luzon Island. With the help of Philippine farmers and Guerrilla's, and after hiding from the Japanese for several weeks, they were eventually picked up by a Navy PT boat, just two days before Christmas.

Planes from carriers Intrepid and Cabot of Bogan's group attacked at about 10:30, making hits on the battleships Nagato, Yamato, and Musashi, and severely damaging the heavy cruiser Myōkō. A second wave from Intrepid, Essex and Lexington later attacked, with VB-15 Helldivers and VF-15 Hellcats from Essex, scoring another 10 hits on Musashi. As she withdrew, listing to port, a third wave from Enterprise  and Franklin hit her with 11 bombs and 8 torpedoes.

Kurita turned his fleet around to get out of range of the aircraft, passing the crippled Musashi as his force retreated. He waited until 17:15 before turning around again to head for the San Bernardino Strait — Musashi capsized and sank at about 19:30.

Meanwhile, Vice-Admiral Takijirō Ōnishi had directed three waves of aircraft from his First Air Fleet based on Luzon against the carriers of Rear Admiral Sherman's Task Group 38.3 (whose aircraft were also being used to strike airfields in Luzon to prevent Japanese land-based air attacks on Allied shipping in Leyte Gulf). Each of Ōnishi's strike waves consisted of some fifty to sixty aircraft.

Most of the attacking Japanese planes were intercepted and shot down or driven off by Hellcats of Sherman's combat air patrol, most notably by two fighter sections from Essex led by Commander David McCampbell (who is credited with shooting down nine of the attacking planes in this one action). However, one Japanese aircraft (a Yokosuka D4Y Judy) slipped through the defences, and at 09:38 hit the light carrier USS Princeton with a 551 lb (250 kg) armor-piercing bomb which caused a severe fire in Princeton's hangar. Her emergency sprinkler system failed to operate, and fires spread rapidly. A series of explosions followed. The fires were gradually brought under control, but at 15:23 there was an enormous explosion (probably in the carrier's bomb stowage aft), causing more casualties aboard Princeton, and even heavier casualties — more than 300 — aboard the cruiser Birmingham which was coming back alongside to assist with the firefighting. Birmingham was so badly damaged that she was forced to retire. Other nearby vessels were also damaged. All efforts to save Princeton failed, and she was finally scuttled — torpedoed by the light cruiser Reno — at 17:50.  from wikipedia.

Bombing Squadron VB15

  Total Damage to the enemy resulting from the squadrons combat actions is as follows:          


Ship Type

Tonnage Results
SHOKAKU Class CV 29,800 8 hits. Sank as a result of these and other hits.
CHITOSE Class CVL 15,000 Sunk by 8 VB15  hits.
CHITOSE Class CVL 15,000 4 hits. Sank as a result of these and other hits
YAMATO Class BB (Musashi) 42,000 10 hits; sunk as a result of these and other hits.
NAGATO Class BB 32,720 3 hits; badly damaged by these and other hits.
ISE Class BB 30,000 8 hits; badly damaged, later torpedoed.
NACHI Class CA 10,000 3 hits; left sinking; sank after later attack.
ATAGO Class CA 8,850 1 hit, damaged.
NATORI Class CL 5200 1 hit, probably sunk.
NATORI Class CL 5200 Strafed, damaged.
Destroyer 1500 2 hits, damaged
Destroyer 1500 1 hit, damaged
Destroyer 1500 1 hit, damaged
Minelayers (2) 3500 1 hit each; one damaged, one sunk.
Destroyer Escort 1000 probably sunk
PT Boat 50 Strafed
Warship Totals   Sunk 1 (15,000)  Probably Sunk 4 (51,700)  Damaged 12 (139,820) 

Destroyed in the air 2
Damaged in the air 6
Destroyed on ground 40
Probably destroyed on ground 79


52 Pilots

   49 Crew  

Navy Cross

30 Distinguished Flying Cross 30

Silver Star

1   Air Medals 64

Distinguished Flying Cross

25   Purple Heart 4

Air Medals

83   Navy and Marine Corps Medal 1

Purple Heart

2 ~



Bombing Squadron Fifteen was Commissioned 1 September 1943 at NAAS, Creeds, Virginia under command of Lt.CDR. Irvin L. Dew.
Lieutenant Commander (Later Commander) James Haile Mini, USN, assumed command 13 February 1944 and remained in command since that time.
During it's training period it was under Commander Fleet Air, Quonset. On 13 January 1944 the squadron embarked in USS HORNET and remained aboard that parent unit until it was transferred at Pearl Harbor on March 4, 1944. Thereafter it was under Commander, Air Force Pacific for further training until it reported for duty with USS ESSEX on 29 April 1944.
The squadrons initial training was in the Douglas Dauntless SBD5, but between 17 November 1943 and 13 January 1944 the transition was made to the Curtis Helldiver, SB2C-1C. The original plane complement was 36 SBDs, then SB2Cs. On boarding the ESSEX at Pearl Harbor this was reduced to 30 SB2Cs. A further change was made, between operations, at Eniwetok on 29 August 1944 when SB2C-3s were provided and their number reduced to 25. However, at this time 10 F6F-5s were nominally assigned to the squadron for nine pilots who were trained briefly as fighter-bombers and transfered on temporary orders to Fighting Squadron 15.
The shakedown on the USS Hornet was a North Atlantic "cruise to nowhere" which began on 13 January 1944 and ended 30 January 1944. After brief leaves the squadron departed Norfolk for Pacific duty aboard the HORNET on 14 February, arriving San Diego 27 February, departing 29 February, and arriving at Pearl Harbor,T.H. on 4 March. It disembarked on 5 March and remained at NAS Barbers Point through 8 March when it proceeded to NAS Puuene, Maui, for forward area training. This phase ended when it reported aboard USS ESSEX for duty on 29 April.
The squadron reached Majuro Atoll 9 May, sortied 15 May, attacked Marcus Island 19 and 20 May, spent 23 May striking Wake Island, and returned to Majuro Atoll26 May.
On 6 June it left Majuro Atoll for the Marianas Campaign. This campaign was marked by two phases, the first involving the conquest of Saipan, the second covering the recapture of Guam and the Capture of Tinian.
In the first phase attacks were made against Saipan, Pagan and an enemy convoy on 12 June, Sapan and enemy shipping on 13 June, Iwo Jima on 15 and 16 June, Pagan Island on 17 June, Guam on 19 June (fleet action also on this date). Guam and Saipan on 21 June, Guam and Tinian on 23 June, Guam on 24 and 25 June, Rota on 27 and 29 June and on 3 July.
The second phase began with a sortie from Entiwetok Atoll on 14 July. Attacks were made 18 to 21 July on Guam, 23 July on Tinian, 24 July on Tinian and Rota, 25, 26 and 29 July and 1 August  on Guam, returning to Entwetok Atoll 13 August. One day, 28 July was spent off Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, to load bombs.
The next campaign for control of Palau was opened with the departure from Eniwetok Atoll on 29 August. Strikes were made 7 September on Peleliu,, and 8 September on Peleliu and Anguar, 9 and 10 September on Mindanao, 12 September on Cebu and Negros, 13 September on Negros, 14 September on Panay and Cebu, 21 September on Manila and enemy convoy west of Luzon, 22 September on Manila, 24 September on Cebu and shipping in the Calamian Islands. The ship arrived at Kosvol Roads, Palau on 28 September and arrived at Ulithi Atoll 2 October.
The operation for reconquest of the Phillipines began with sortie from Ulithi Atoll 6 October, attacks were made 10 October on Okinawa, and Nansei Shoto, 12 and 13 October on Formosa, and the Pescadores Islands, 14 October on Formosa, and 21 October on Southern Luzon and shipping in the Calamian Islands. Following this came strikes against enemy fleet units on 24 and 25 October, after which departure was taken for Ulithi Atoll, arriving 30 October.
Sortie was made from Ulithi Atoll 1 November for Manus, but because of intensified enemy activity in opposition to our advance in the Visayas, the coarse was changed and the Task group moved westward, first to a refueling rendezvous and then toward Luzon. four strikes were launched 5 November against the Manila area, followed by two more on 6 November. The force then retired, but struck again on 11 November and destroyed an enemy troop convoy attemting to reinforce the garrison at Leyte Island.. On 13 and 14 November four more strikes were made on the Manila area destroying much shipping. Course was then set for Ulithi, which was reached 17 November.
On 18 November the squadron transferred to the USS Bunker Hill, and on 20 November it departed aboard that vessel for Pear Harbor, arriving 29 November.
On 1 December it left Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Bunker Hill, and on 6 December it arrived at Bremerton, Washington.

Price: $180.00 $149.00

Product Code: PatchUSN.015.VB15.ussEssex.v1
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