Lloyd Flynn, USMC, SBD-5 Pilot


Lloyd Flynn SBD-5 Dauntless Dive Bomber Pilot, U.S.M.C., Marine Air Wing 4, (Central Pacific operations), Marine Air Group 13, Squadron VMSB-151, Engebi Field, Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1944. Later a Captain in the USMCR where he flew the Corsair.
 
Item Thumbnail
Lloyd Flynn entertaining the members at the
March 2, 2011 8th AFHS Luncheon
Item ThumbnailLloyd with his grandson Aaron. Both are Marines.
 
Lloyd's reunion with Dan Williams, his gunner and radio operator, was featured in an article on the front page of the Star Tribune by Tom Meersman entitled "66 years just flew away"  (August 12, 2011). There is also a video about the reunion.  Read about Lloyd's reunion on the Star-Trib's website and also Here. The Edina Sun Current also did an article with photos. Llyod was also featured in a Bloomington Sun Newspaper article in March 2013.

66 years just flew away

  • Article by: TOM MEERSMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 12, 2011 - 11:17 AM

Warplane partners who hadn't seen each other since '44 reunited in Edina.

The last time they saw one another was late October 1944. Marine pilot Lloyd Flynn and his gunner mate Dan Williams said goodbye on Engebi Island in the South Pacific after eight months of flying missions together in a two-person warplane.

On Thursday, the two World War II vets saw each other for the first time since that farewell, this time outside Flynn's home in Edina.

"Captain, how are you?" said Williams as he stepped sprightly out of a vehicle, saluted and stretched out his hand, laughing.

Flynn was too choked up to say anything at first, and the two buddies, stooped with age, just hugged.

"I told Bruce it'd be emotional, and it is," Flynn finally choked out. "Son of a gun, how are you?"

Bruce is Williams' son, who instigated the visit and kept it a surprise until his father guessed two days ago why they might be driving across the country for no apparent reason toward Minnesota.

The two vets have been writing letters regularly since 2002, when Flynn learned Williams was living in Aberdeen, Wash.

8 months together in the air

On Thursday, the 88-year-olds wore red caps emblazoned with VMSB-151, standing for the Marine scout bomber that the 151st squadron flew in the Marshall Islands.

Some missions bombed Japanese gun emplacements and airfields on islands before Marine troops would invade.

Others provided air cover to Marines already on the ground, patrolled for Japanese submarines, and convoyed freighters and troop ships to rendezvous points.

The two worked every other day in the air for eight months, and became so close that Williams said he could almost predict what Flynn was thinking.

Williams, the gunner and radio operator on the bomber, said some pilots seemed a bit reckless, but Flynn was solid.

"I felt immediately he was completely competent," said Williams. "I never saw any indication that he came unglued over any minor, two-bit deal. There were no glitches, and no evidence of indecision."

Reading wind on the waves

As the two men settled into patio chairs in Flynn's back yard, the stories began flying about their stint together as 22-year-olds.

Flynn remembered trying to land his Douglas-made bomber on extremely short landing strips carved out of jungles, sometimes at night with only flare pots for lighting. He sometimes gauged wind behavior by sight as well as by instruments. "We read the wind off the waves," he said.

The two also talked about one time when they and three other bombers approached a target. Each plane had two 250-pound bombs and one 500-pound bomb. The ones aboard the Flynn-Williams aircraft failed to release electrically.

As the other planes waited, they had to circle back alone and release the bombs manually. Williams also wrote of the incident in his memoirs: "With only one plane coming down we knew the Japs would have everything they had trained on us, but that was the way it had to be."

Williams also recounted what was probably the duo's most important assignment: to carry a sealed 3-foot aluminum canister and drop it from their plane onto a destroyer escort vessel. The 5-inch diameter tube contained top-secret orders from Washington directing a huge armada of destroyers and aircraft carriers to invade Saipan.

The canister had to be delivered by airdrop directly to the admiral in charge, since the instructions were too sensitive to risk interception if transmitted by radio.

'So much respect'

When Williams' tour of duty ended in late 1944, the pair split up. Until early Thursday afternoon.

The two men plan to spend the next few days trading stories about fellow squadron members, viewing photos of when they flew together, and talking about what they did with their lives after the war.

Flynn, a Minneapolis native, spent much of his postwar career in the funeral services industry in the Twin Cities. He's lived in his Edina home for 53 years. For most of that time he rarely talked about the war. His wife now lives in a memory care center.

He said he talks about the military with a grandson, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also meets occasionally for lunch with a few other WWII vets in the area.

Williams settled in Washington state, worked in forestry and eventually owned a timber company. He is a widower.

Bruce Williams joked that he was happy to drive to Minnesota with his dad to meet Flynn, since he wouldn't have been born if Flynn hadn't been such an excellent pilot.

"I thank Lloyd for being such a damn good stick [pilot] and for bringing my dad home," he said.

Flynn's son Bob felt much the same way.

"We've just got so much respect for these guys," he said.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388

__________________________________________________________________________________________________ 
Background information:
"Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 151 (VMSB 151) arrived at Engebi Field, Enewetok Atoll, Marshall Islands February 29, 1944. From March 9-12 the squadron covered Marine landings on Wotho Atoll, Ujae Atoll, and Lae Atoll. During this time they also made bombing runs against by-passed Japanese bases in the Marshall Islands until May 31, 1945. On June 9, 1945 the squadron boarded the USS Silverpeck for return to the United States." (Wikipedia article: "VMTB-151"). 
 
"After the main islands of the Gilberts and Marshalls were taken by U.S. forces, it was decided that the remaining Japanese-held islands in these chains would be bypassed, while the Central Pacific Offensive moved on to the more strategically-useful Marianas.  The Japanese forces on these bypassed islands could be reinforced, however, which meant that an air campaign would be necessary to interdict such re-supply operations, much as was now being done with Rabaul. Marine Air Wing 4 had responsibility for the Central Pacific operations, operating ten squadrons - four of which were equipped with the SBD-5: VMSB-151 and VMSB-241 in Marine Air Group 13, and VMSB-231 and VMSB-341 in Marine Air Group 31.  They began operations from Tarawa in December 1943, moving on to Kwajalein in March 1944.  The Japanese forces on Wotje, Maloelap, Mili and Jaluit - though almost totally lacking in defensive air power - maintained a stubborn failure to give up.  Marine attacks on these islands, while they did not have to risk air combat, were far from easy.  Japanese AAA knocked down 30 aircraft in the first six months of the campaign." (Source: modeling madness.com).
 
According to Ted Murphy, who flew similar missions in the Marshall Islands, pilots were told that if they were shot down, to land in the water for a pickup by a sub or destroyer because if they landed on a bypassed Japanese held island, they might be eaten by the Japanese. (Many bypassed Japanese controlled islands were not resupplied and eventually had much starvation.)
 
"From February 1944 until the close of the war, that area of the middle Pacific containing the Gilberts, Marshalls, and eastern Carolines became virtually an American lake through which ships and troops passed freely with little danger of enemy interception. The reason, of course, was that the capture of key bases in the Marshalls and the establishment of airfields thereon made it possible for the superior American air arm to keep the atolls still remaining in Japanese hands under constant surveillance and bombardment. By the time of the capture of Kwajalein, Japanese aircraft in the eastern Marshalls (Mille, Wotje, Jaluit, and Maloelap) had been either completely destroyed by Army and Navy aircraft or evacuated. Thereafter, the main effort of American aircraft was to prevent these bases from being reinforced and rehabilitated and to bomb out and starve out the enemy abandoned there. After mid-March, when the base at Majuro was completed, Army medium bombers flew regular flights out of Tarawa and Makin, bombed two of the bypassed islands, landed at Majuro for rearming and refueling, and then bombed the other two targets on the way home. At the same time ten fighter squadrons and two bomber squadrons of the 4th Marine Air Base Defense Wing at Kwajalein flew a steady series of sorties against the same islands. After June 1944, Marine flyers assumed sole responsibility for these targets." (Source: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-P-Gilberts/index.html United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific, Seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls; Philip A. Crowl and Edmund G. Love)
 
 "By the end of April, the enemy retained control over only Wotje, Mille, Maloelap, and Jaluit Atolls in The Marshalls group. The task of keeping these bases neutralized fell to the 4th Marine Base Defense Aircraft Wing, later redesignated the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. In February, Marine fighters arrived at Roi and Engebi, but the systematic battering of the bypassed atolls did not begin until 4 March, when scout bombers from Majuro braved dense antiaircraft fire to attack Jaluit. By the time of this first Marine raid, Navy and Army aviators had destroyed the enemy aircraft assigned to defend the Marshalls. The only aerial opposition encountered by these Marine pilots occurred during a strike launched on 28 March against Ponape in the Carolines. Six F4U (Corsair) fighters, escorting four Army bombers, shot down eight Japanese fighters and destroyed another on the ground. Although Ponape was visited several times during the months that followed, no Japanese planes attempted to intercept the raiders. From 4 March 1944 until the end of hostilities in August of the following year, the Marines continued to bomb and strafe Mille, Maloelap, Wotje, and Jaluit. They unleashed 6,920 tons of bombs and rockets, approximately half the total tonnage employed against the four atolls during the entire war. These missiles, along with 2,340 tons of naval shells, killed 2,564 Japanese out of garrisons that totalled over 13,000. In carrying out their part of the Marshalls mop-up, Marine airmen learned lessons in fighter-bomber techniques applicable elsewhere in the Pacific. The FLINTLOCK and CATCHPOLE operations resulted in the rapid capture of bases for further Pacific operations. During FLINTLOCK, JR. and the landings that followed, American control over the Marshalls was confirmed. Then, while the assault troops advanced into the Marianas, Marine aviators assumed the mission of maintaining the neutralization of the bypassed strongholds in the group. So well did the flyers succeed that those Japanese who survived the rain of bombs and rockets either starved to death or became so weak from hunger that they were no longer even a remote threat to American forces. (Source: History of Marine Corps Operations in World War II; Central Pacific; Shaw, Nalty, Turnbladh)

(Below) Some of Lloyd Flynn's Photos from Engebi Airfield, Eniwetok Atoll, 1944.

Playing volleyball, Engebi Airfield, Eniwetok Atoll 1944.
SBDs in flight.
Lloyd's on the left.
Lloyd's in the middle.
Lloyd's on the right.

Wow. What a photo!
Engebi Airfield, Eniwetok Atoll, 1944, USMC, Lloyd Flynn photo
Engebi Airfield, Eniwetok Atoll, 1944, USMC, Lloyd Flynn with dog.
Engebi Airfield, Eniwetok Atoll, 1944, USMC, Lloyd Flynn photo
SBD taking off (or landing), Engebi Airfield, Eniwetok Atoll, 1944, USMC, Lloyd Flynn photo
SBDs in flight, Engebi Airfield, Eniwetok Atoll, 1944, USMC, Lloyd Flynn photo
Lloyd Flynn (front right)
Engebi Airfield, Eniwetok Atoll, 1944, USMC, Lloyd Flynn photo
Engebi Airfield, Eniwetok Atoll, 1944, USMC, Lloyd Flynn photo
Bob Dole and Lloyd Flynn. Washington D.C. trip.
Lloyd Flynn and Sue Rucker at the March 26, 2014 8th AFHS-Mn Luncheon. What a fun time.
 _______________________________________
(Below) Source: Wikipedia CommonsAircraft of U.S. Marine Corps Marine Air Group 22 (MAG-22) at Engebi Island, Enewetak Atoll, in 1944. In the foreground are two Douglas SBD Dauntless dive-bombers, in the background are Vought F4U-1A Corsair fighters from Marine fighter squadron VMF-113 Whistling Death
(Below) Engebi Airstrip, (on the north end of Eniwetok Atoll)
 
 
The Canberra Times:
 
JAP AIR BASE ON ENGEBI IS. CAPTURED

WASHINGTON, Sunday.

"The capture of the Japanese air base on Engebi Island and of several other islands in the northern portion of Eniwetok, atoll, was announced to-day.

Assaults on other portions of the atoll are proceeding according to

Meanwhile, there is still little official information about the attack on Truk, but Tokyo radio admits that its earlier report of an American landing was incorrect.

"The Pacific war situation has increased with unprecedentedly grave seriousness and furiousness," says the radio.

The U.S. communique says that casualties in the Eniwetok operations so far have been light. The capture of Engebi gives the United States an airfield fov land-based planes farther west than any yet taken.

Resistance "has virtually ended on the northern part of the island, although minor resistance is still to be expectrd from snipers during mopping up operations.

The Pacific Fleet communique says that supplementing the major attacks on Truk and Eniwetok, our forces continued to neutralise other enemy bases in the Central Pacific area. Army Liberators, Dauntless dive bombers and Warhawk fighters attacked four atolls in the eastern Marshalls on Wednesday.

Warhawks blew up a fuel dump at one base, damaged a small cargo ship and sank three small craft. Fleet Air Wing search planes bombed installations on two other atolls.

Army Liberators on Thursday bombed warehouses and docks in Ponape Harbour and installations at Kusmio, while Navy search planes bombed and strafed installations in two other areas.

Our warships repeatedly shelled important enemy positions in the eastern Marshalls between February 14 and 18.

 
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Obituary of Dan Williams

Daniel G. Williams, 88, timberman and local historian, passed away on Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Aberdeen, WA after a brief battle with cancer. He was born in Bay City, Oregon on August 4, 1923, the son of George and Gwendolyn “Pat” Williams. A few years later, his family migrated to Aberdeen where Dan began his schooling, graduating from Weatherwax High School in 1941. After graduation he entered the United States Marine Corps, serving from 1942 to 1946 as a gunner in a SBD in the South Pacific during World War II.

Dan met his wife Elaine in California and they were married on April 28, 1946, in Washington D.C., following her discharge from the U.S. Navy. The young couple returned to the Northwest, where Dan enrolled at Washington State College. He graduated with a degree in Forestry, and also became a licensed professional land surveyor. In 1950 Dan went to work for Rayonier, Inc. and quickly rose to the position of head timber cruiser. After five years Dan moved over to Blagen’s as head of timber operations. He held this job until 1961, at which point he was lured back to Rayonier for another five year stint, this time as manager of the log sales department. In 1966 Dan bought Elmore Boom Co, a major west coast log exporter, and operated that business until 1975, at which point he semi retired to return to his first love of timber cruising and surveying. From his early years he had looked at timber prospects with Werner Mayr, Jack Reynvaan, Don Bell, Francis Smith, Mike Tobin and other well known Harbor loggers, including his son Dave’s firm. It is a tribute to his reputation for integrity and expertise in cruising and surveying that all these men remained personal friends throughout his life.

Dan served as a director and president for both the Grays Harbor Log Scaling & Grading Bureau and the Puget Sound Log Scaling & Grading Bureau. He was director and chairman of the Olympic Logging Conference in 1978 and also served as director of the Pacific Logging congress for four years.

Dan’s passion for hunting big game and the love of the outdoors was proudly passed on to his two surviving sons, Bruce of Golden, Colorado and David (Melody) of Aberdeen. Dan is also survived by his brother Dave (Gayle) of Puyallup; a nephew Craig (Sally) Williams of Sequim and niece Cindy Williams of Olympia; grandchildren, great grandchildren and lots of great friends. Dan was preceded in death by his parents, and his wife Elaine.

At Dan’s request, there will be a private urn committal. A gathering of family and friends to celebrate Dan’s life will be announced at a later date.

“A man lived, then a man died . . .So be it.” Semper Fi



(Below) Photo of Naval Air Station--Mpls. after WWII with the Corsairs all lined up. (From Jim Johns private photo collection.) Lloyd likely flew one of these Corsairs.


Comments