Crew 2, U.S. Navy PB4Y-2 "Privateer" Patrol Bomber Squadron VPB-118

Information recounted here was obtained from the VPB-118 book, "The Old Crows, VPB-118, The History of Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 118." Most of the crew names were compiled by James Pettit. Crew photo courtesy James Pettit of VPB-118.

Crew 2 in front of BuNo 59410 "Miss Lottatail," probably painted by Hal Olsen — U.S. Navy Photo (Courtesy James Pettit)

PPC Lt. Thomas "Totterin' Tom" Dodson

Crew 2 of VPB-118 consisted of:

(Back L-R) James K. Wahl, Sr. AMM3c, Paul H. Crowley AMM2c, Lt.(jg) Richard E. Carmelich co-pilot, Lt. Tom L. Dodson PPC, Lt.(jg) Robert J. Berens co-pilot, Walter M. Johnson ARM2c.

(Front L-R) Joseph C. Tortorice AOM3c, Poon Sung Lieu AOM3c, Tom L. Bay AMM1c, Plane Captain, Amos A. Price AMM3c, Harold A. Peterson ARM1c; John H. Seddon ARM3c is not in photo.

My father, Harold Peterson, was 1st Radioman in this crew. On 8/20/1944 part of this crew, including my father, and part of Crew 6 (PPC Finley) were the first crews to take possession of new PB4Y-2 Privateers. "Miss Lottatail" received nose art treatment from the expert hands of Hal Olsen. According to correspondence by my Dad, she received her name after the nose art. BuNo 59410 survived her entire tour of duty and was flown to Hawaii on 8/24/1945 by the Finley and Weller crews as they made their way home. While based on Tinian, VPB-118 flew fleet-coverage patrols for Task Force 58 during the capturing of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. On 4/19/1945 Crew 2 was one of the first 2 heavy bomber crews stationed on Okinawa and experienced shelling from Shuri Castle, which my Dad said brought on "cold sweats." From April, 1945 until August, 1945 Crew 2 was based on Okinawa, from where they sank Japanese radar picket ships, freighters, and whatever else they could manage. They also laid mines and raided harbors and peninsulas. On 4/24/1945, PPC Dodson led the first U.S. patrol, consisting of two PB4Y-2's, to patrol the Sea of Japan, Japan's western flank. Crew 2 received the Air Medal for sinking two picket boats and several freighters. They received the Distinguished Flying Cross for a 7/14/1945 raid on the Genzan Harbor area of northern Korea during which they damaged a rail tunnel, rail bridge, and destroyed a locomotive as well as sinking two freighters on 7/18/1945 and an especially dangerous daylight raid 7/27/1945, over Shantung Peninsula, China, during which the #1 engine was shot out and the plane was pierced in over 100 places, forcing the abort of the attack and resulting in a perilous 3-hour return flight during which all nonessentials were jettisoned. During attacks on Japanese positions in China and Korea, every effort was made to avoid civilian casualties. The bow gunner, Paul Crowley, told me that Crew 2 flew 55 missions. On 8/4/1945 they headed stateside. On 8/5/1945 they were on Tinian; on 8/6/1945 they reached Guam. They had been on the opposite trajectory as the Enola Gay on the day of the Hiroshima bombing. My father, who died in the 1960's, only spoke once at any length about all this, when I was about 3 or 4 years old. I remember a surprising amount of the details of what he said that night.


This is probably the only photo of the Miss Lottatail art from the starboard side. Photos courtesy of Walter Bay/Paul Crowley.

While the photo was not notated, it would seem that PPC Dodson would be the person in this photo. Photos courtesy of Walter Bay/Paul Crowley.