Bombing Squadron 104 (VB-104)
Patrol Bombing Squadron 104 (VPB-104)
"Screaming 104 / The Buccaneers"
United States Navy (USN)
Patrol Bombing Squadron 104 (VPB-104) was commissioned April 10, 1943 with Commander Harry E. Sears as Commanding Officer (C. O.) operating the PB4Y-1 Liberators departed from San Diego across the Pacific.
Midway & Overseas
During May 1943, one section was stationed at Midway Airfield in conjunction with U.S. Army strikes against Wake Island on May 15. Afterwards, ferried overseas via Canton Island and arrives Guadalcanal during August 1943.
Carney Field, Guadalcanal
At Carney Field, the squadron initially shared a camp area with the 104th Naval Construction Battalion (104th NCB) "Seabees" until a suitable camp area could be constructed. When completed, their camp included a club house that opened on October 1, 1943 and several ranking officers were invited, including one Army nurse. Operating from Guadalcanal, they entered combat on August 15. Early missions included attacking Kahili Airfield, Kolombangara and a enemy destroyer task force. On November 15, 1943 PB4Y-1 32012 piloted by Honey went missing on a search mission.
Munda Airfield, New Georgia
During October or November 1943 VB-104 began operated from Munda Airfield on New Georgia. On January 8, 1944 lost is PB4Y-1 "Vulnerable Virgin" 32077 pilot Lt. Harold E. Dvorachek (MIA) lost on a patrol. On March 7, 1944 lost is PB4Y-1 32079 piloted by Searls (MIA) lost on a mission to Kapingamarangi Atoll. On March 9, 1944 lost is PB4Y-1 "The Schooner" 32069 piloted by Anderson (MIA) searching for the lost bomber.
Return to United States
During April 1944, the squadron was rotated back to Oahu for their first leave, flying their bombers back with them. At Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Camp Kearney, California. Some of their bombers were transferred to other squadrons.
On August 1, 1944 at Camp Kearney, the entire unit earned the Presidential Unit Citation, presented to
Commander Harry E. Sears.
VB-104 earned five battle stars for participation in New Georgia, Treasury-Bougainville, Gilbert Island, Bismarck Archipelago and Caroline Islands operations.
Citation: "For outstanding performance above the normal call of duty while engaged in reconnaissance and search missions in the most forward areas of Japanese controlled territory in the South Pacific from August 15, 1943 to March 1944. Rendering pioneer service in changing the passive, defensive search into a daring and powerful offensive, bombing squadron one hundred four has utilized to the full the potentialities of the PB4Y and its equipment, striking at enemy task force units and initiating the hazardous masthead bombing attack to insure direct hits on the target. Patrolling approximately 125,000 miles daily regardless of weather and frequently extending the search radius beyond specified sector limits in order to harass the enemy and intercept shipping, this gallant force typifies individual responsibility in the collective effort of a combat group, unique in its tactics and in the comprehensiveness of its service. Dauntless and aggressive in the fulfillment o each assignment, the pilots and crews of bombing squadron one hundred four have inflicted substantial damage on hostile ships and installations and have provided information of inestimable value to our forces in their sustained drive against the Japanese in this vital area."
Pacific Wrecks - PB4Y-1 Liberator VB-104
VB-104 Album (1944)
We Flew Alone (2000)
The Buccaneers of Harry Sears
VPB-104 PB4Y Squadron