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  TBM-3E Avenger Bureau Number 69066  
USN
USS Ticonderoga (CV-14)
VT-87

Pilot  Ensign John F. Brega (rescued) Springfield, MA
Gunner
 ? (rescued)
Radio
 ? (rescued)
Ditched  August 13, 1945

Aircraft History
Built by General Motors, Eastern Aircraft Division. Constructors Number 1805. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as TBM-3E Avenger bureau number 69066.

Wartime History
Assigned to the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) to Torpedo Squadron 87 (VT-87). No known nickname, nose art or squadron number.

Mission History
On August 13, 1945 at 5:55am took off from USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) pilot Ensign John Brega as one of fourteen Avengers led by Lt. Commander B. A. Miles on a bombing mission against the Tokyo Shibaura Electric Company in Tokyo. Over the target area, the formation found the are covered by cumulus clouds and orbited the target area for 30 minutes looking for a hole in the clouds.

Instead, the Avengers were ordered to bomb the dock area at Kawasaki. While orbiting Tokyo Bay, this aircraft accidentally pulled up below another Avenger and sustained tail damage from the other aircraft's propeller. Damaged, all three managed to bail out and landed in the sea just offshore from Kawasaki.

Fates of the Crew
The three crew managed to deploy their life raft and release marker dye and were spotted by friendly planes and their position radioed to be rescued.

Rescue
The entire crew was rescued by OA-10A Catalina 44-34075 piloted by 1st Lt Charles Oates call sign "Playmate 97" and flown to Iwo Jima. Afterwards, all three were transported aboard a destroyer back to their carrier.

Memorials
Brega was promoted to the rank of Lt(jg) and earned the Navy Cross and Air Medal. Postwar, he worked for New England Telephone for 36 years then as a real estate broker. He passed away March 17, 2005 at age 93 in Holyoke, MA. He is buried at Billings Hill Cemetery in East Longmeadow, MA.

References
NARA Torpedo Squadron Eighty-Seven (VT-87) History pages 86-78
(Page 86) "Action Narrative No. 13
13 August 1945: Tokyo Shibaura Elec. Co. Tokyo
Strike No. 1 This was by fare the toughest strike of the cruise for VT-87. First of all it was against a dangerous area, and secondly the war had been in an 'on again - off again' state of three days. The order to run the strike came late in the day. Briefing was held after evening dinner. Then at 0100 I (1:00am local time) the strike was canceled. Many of the pilots were awakened and heard the news. They had another and ruder awakening when they were rolled out of their sacks at 0300 I (3:00am local time) and told the strike was on again, 0555 I (5:55am) takeoff.
The first deck load launch of 14 VT (TBM Avengers), 12 VB (F6F Hellcats) and 12 VBF (SB2C Helldivers) found the entire Tokyo area socked in tight with layer of cumulus 1500-1700 feet. After orbiting the Tokyo-Kawasaki area for over half an hour looking for a hole to get down through the flight was ordered to pick targets of opportunity. All VT planes dropped on the Kawasaki dock area with no observed results.
While orbiting over Tokyo Bay, Ensign Brega pulled up below another Avenger and had his tail cut off by the propeller. Both he and his crewmen parachuted safely and landed in the bay within throwing distance of Kawasaki shore line. The three were reported later in the water in rafts with dye marker. Later in the day they were picked up in an amazing rescue by an Iwo based Dumbo. All three were reported in good shape, and will be returned soon from Iwo by destroyer.
(Page 87) "Strike No. 1 (Cont'd) The remainder of the flight returned safely to base without loss or damage.
Pilots participating in this flight... Lieut. Comdr. B. A. Miles... Ensign G. F. Brega [sic J. F. Brega]"
Navy Serial Number Search Results - TBM-3E Avenger 69066
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List August 1945 - TBM Avenger 69066
FindAGrave - John F Brega (grave photo, obituary)

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Last Updated
August 12, 2020

Tech Info
Avenger
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