Hi, It’s me again. I am going to share with you about the sailors of Navy Air Station Tillamook and their war time operations. All of this information comes to you from “The History of NAS Tillamook and It’s role in World War ll” This small booklet is available at the museum housed in Hangar ‘B’.
Many of the sailors came to NAS Tillamook after serving at sea. It was navy Policy to give men shore duty after a period of service in combat. Alost every man was a Veteran of South Pacific and mostly in Guadalcanal. The sailors enjoyed the peaceful activity of the serene pace of blimp life and the beauty of the open-sea and the Oregon Washington Coastline and Tillamook County was a special treat.
The local people in Tillamook County benefited from the Navy by improving the economy, building a small subdivision in the city of Tillamook and building the two huge hangars. The sailors were invited to all the social happenings and families would befriend the sailors that came into their lives. I would love to chat with one of those sailors. Call me!
Throughout World War ll, nonrigid airships played a vital role in protecting thousands of lives and ships from the threat of enemy submarines. The war time operations from 1943 to 1945 with about 15 blimps stationed at NAS Tillamook and at least one blimp each summer was stationed at Quillayute, Washington. This blimps job was to intercept and destroy the balloon-delivered incendiary bombs that the Japanese launched from their mainland and the Kuril Islands. The Balloons were affectionately called “poopey bags”
It has been said that the 1945 forest fire in the middle of the Tillamook Forest was started by one of the Japanese Firebombs. The forester could not find another reason for a fire in that location. The airships shot down all the other firebombs.
The blimp was perfect platform from which to keep watch on convoys as well as a superb visual and electronic ASW (antisubmarine warfare) platform. Hours of watching the sea below could become very tiring. Good lookouts had to train themselves to differentiate what was worth reporting from what was just normal waves and flotsam. The pilot would set the altitude best suited to meet the conditions they were experiencing to optimize the chance of spotting a sub. The crew would take their places and settle in for a patrol that could last eight to ten hours. During an average days operation, airships could cover 13,000 square miles of water. The blimp crews from NAST saw virtually everything on the surface of the Pacific Ocean for a distance of several hundred miles off the Oregon, Washington Coast.
The airships could operate in almost any kind of weather, stay on station much longer than a fixed-wing aircraft.
As the war continued, missions of fifteen to twenty hours were not uncommon. Some blimps were modified to carry enough fuel and provisions to support a 59 hour mission covering a range of 1400 miles. The primary mission of blimp crews from NAST was to keep on the lookout for enemy submarines in the Pacific Northwest.
So what about the Japanese subs? Was NAS Tillamook successful? I say YES. The Japanese knew airships were watching from the air and could see everything. The airships protected us and Thank God they were there. There was an incident, known as the “Battle of Cape Lookout” that took place on May 21-23rd 1942 off the Oregon Coast. It was claimed that one maybe two Japanese submarines were sunk in this incident that involved two blimps from NAS Tillamook and five surface ships, one of them a Navy ship commanded by L. Ron Hubbard. Thanks to NAS Tillamook airships, the Navy ship knew the location of the Japanese sub and it was sunk. Fort stevens was another location that had some activity. Pat Patterson heard the large Boom when a depth charge exploded in 1944. Pat thinks the submarine was about 21 miles out to sea. Pat said “the submarine was killed”
Thank you, Pat, always enjoy talking with you. We honor those sailors that served our country through participation in one of the most fascinating divisions at Naval Air Station Tillamook by helping Hangar ‘B’ to remain and to remind us of World War ll History. This Hangar and Museum brings in thousands of tourists a year. The museum is supported by the price of the ticket. Special donations will come to “Friends of Tillamook Air Museum” to make the repairs. THANK YOU FOR YOUR DONATIONS. I encourage our local families, friends and neighbors to go through the museum, it is awesome.
JOIN OUR TEAM OF “FRIENDS” HELP US TO SAVE HANGAR ‘B’
1. Donations; 2 Monthly donations; 3. Helping Hands with fund raisers; 4.Join our Board of Directors.