Bill Parks: VMB 433
Marines and the Seabees were very
close and had the greatest respect for each other. For example, on the
road next to the Airfield on
Bougainville, the First Marine Division placed a sign which read something
this: "When the Marines march into Tokyo,
it will be on roads built by the Seabees". As a pilot, I flew into
many of the recently taken islands and it
was not the Navy, who were supposed to take care of our needs,
but the Seabees who would approach me and
see to it that my crew and myself had quarters for the night.
Green Island was a very, very small
island shaped like a horse shoe. It had limited fresh water and we had to
bath and wash with salt water. The two
5000 foot airstrips just about used up all the land but we managed.
One strip was used by the PBJ bombers
(also know as the B-25) and the other strip was used by smaller
aircraft such as the SBD dive bomber, TBF
torpedo bomber, and F4U fighter aircraft. While we were there,
Charles Lindbergh was present flying the
F4U under an assumed name. Even though we were a small island
containing few people, Bob Hope and his
group stopped by one afternoon and gave us a show right on the
airstrip under the wings of his airplane.
Afterwards he flew off to another island to do another show.
My squadron, VMB 433, was scheduled to
go to Emirau, three or four hundred miles north of Green. Since it
was not ready to occupy, our airplanes
and flight crews were sent to Green Island as guests of VMB 423
which had been there a couple of months.
VMB 423 furnished us quarters and food. Their personnel also
maintained our aircraft as our own
mechanics were many miles away waiting for Emirau to open. I shall
always feel close to VMB 423 and never be
able to thank them enough for there assistance. Our squadron
arrived on Green July 16, 1944, and moved
on to Emirau August 20, 1944. Soon afterwards, VMB 423
followed us to Emirau. From Green, I flew
fourteen missions over Rabaul, about 200 miles west. Rabaul was
the Jap Naval headquarters for the South
Pacific and had five airstrips. Five of my missions were single plane
missions at night.
One of the attached photos for you
to download is a sketch of Green scanned from a map I have. This, by the
way, is a current map, not one from 1944.
The second photo is scanned form a cloth map I kept in my pocket
during all flights in the area. We used
cloth maps as paper maps would not stand up in the water in case we
were shot down.
Bill Parks, San Jose, CA,
VMB 433, July 2003