Sea Stories

Aviation, V Division

Aviation, V Division

“One of the more colorful characters on board was our senior aviator Lt. “Dipsy” Dowdle. Dipsy was a frustrated fighter pilot and a salty flier. When we stopped at Pearl Harbor on our way to the Pacific in October 1944, the captain received a complaint from the beach and an order from the air base commander to ground Dipsy while in Hawaii because he kept buzzing the airfield and challenged the fighter pilots to a dog fight! His battle station was at the catapult in case the Kingfishers had to be launched.

During one Japanese air attack a Japanese torpedo bomber launched his weapon, which missed, and flew low over the fantail. As he flew over he thumbed his nose at Dipsy who was standing on the deck. Dipsy was incensed and requested a Thompson sub-machine gun from our armory to take to his battle station thereafter. No one is going to thumb his nose at me again, he declared. That fact the gun’s range was only 25 yards did not phase him a bit.

-Captain Tracy Wilder, USN (Ret.)


“JJ Dowdle was a real character. Lt. Paul Wogan was a really good guy and relieved Dowdle about Christmas time 1944, soon thereafter Ensign Renzas relieved Werder. We quickly learned that Renzas was unsafe to fly since he lost an airplane on his first flight from the ship. He only flew in port and never while underway. I didn’t complain because it gave me an opportunity to fly more. Paul Wogan soon had problems with an ulcer and was relieved by Lt. Ralph Jacobs following the Okinawa operation.”

-Commander Al Oliver, USN (Ret.)


“With the customary clatter and confusion of a group getting settled, the V Division landed on the fantail of the Southern Belle, Thursday, and took over. With an able division commander the division, about 19 strong, is off to a vigorous, if late, start to make the rest of the divisions take notice. So watch your propwatch, we’re underway. You’ll be hearing from us but soon-the Vigorous Vs.”

Tarheel, August 23, 1941


“Usually the Aviation Radioman was the rear seat man and that was his battle station. Certain of the V Division members who drew flight pay had to fly a minimum of four hours each month to keep their flight pay. The mandatory hours were rescinded either in July or August of 1942; thereafter the rear seat man who was both radioman and gunner on the .30 caliber machine gun in the rear seat flew with the plane to which he was assigned.”

-Robert Cashman, Aviation Machinist’s Mate