Time Between Tours

October 3, 1944 through June 16, 1945:

Air Group 31 disembarked USS Cabot on October 5, 1944 at Ulithi Atoll. By order of their commanding officer this day marked the completion of their first tour of duty.  USS Cabot left Ulithi bound for Formosa on October 6, 1944 with her new air group (AG-29)

Most of the officers and men of Air Group 31 were transferred to the aircraft transport carrier USS Barnes (CVE-20) for their return trip to the United States.  Air Group 31 was replaced by Air Group 29 who would serve aboard USS Cabot for the duration of the war.

Having completed 9 months of active service in the Pacific theater Air Group 31 had finished their first tour of duty and in that time accomplished a very distinguished combat record.

        3,021 Total Combat Air Sorties Flown

        147
        Confirmed enemy aircraft shot down in aerial engagements
        15 Probable enemy aircraft shot down in aerial engagements
        23 Enemy aircraft damaged in aerial engagements
        56 Enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground
        18 Enemy aircraft damaged on the ground
        30 enemy airfields bombed and damaged
        26 Enemy ships sunk (48,050 tons)
        22 Enemy ships damaged (103,650 tons)
        24 Enemy buildings bombed and destroyed
        48 Enemy buildings bombed and damaged
        21 Enemy gun positions and emplacements destroyed
        3 Enemy gun positions and emplacements damaged
        9 Enemy fuel and ammunition depots destroyed

The Officers and men of Air Group 31 were given R & R time before the Air Group was re-formed. Most of the original pilots were reassigned to other duties but ten original pilots from Fighter Squadron 31 joined 45 new pilot recruits on December 9, 1944 at Alameda NAS (Naval Air Station) Oakland, California for a 2nd tour of duty.

The 10 pilots from VF-31 who stayed with the fighter squadron for a 2nd tour of duty:

Lt. Cmd. Daniel J Wallace
Lt. Cornelius N. Nooy
Lt. Arthur Ray Hawkins
Lt. James S. Stewart
Lt. (jg) Edward W. Toespern
Lt. (jg) Robert C. Wilson
Lt. (jg) Daniel B. Driscoll
Lt. (jg) James M. Bowie
Lt (jg) John J. Arnold
Lt. (jg) Gerome L. Wolf Jr.

On January 7, 1945 the air group was stationed and trained at Hollister California where they praticed gunnery, tactics, navigation, bombing, using rockets, and night flying.  Rocket and bombing training was undertaking at the Naval Air Station at Fallon Nevada, and Arcata, California and night flying was done from Hollister.. 

Carrier qualifications were undertaken on the escort carrier USS Matanikau CVE-101 on February 25, 1945.

On March 5, 1945 while VF-31 was stationed at Hollister California Lt. Commander Daniel J. Wallace Jr. died when his F6F Hellcat crashed during a night fighter exercise over Monterey bay.

From the Official Naval Accident report:
Lt Comdr. Wallace was conducting a routine night fighter direction flight in company with three other planes in the vicinity of Monterey Bay.  He was leading his division on a vector of 270 mag at an altitude of 4,000 feet.  While on this vector they encountered extremely bad weather and were ordered by the flight director to reverse course 180.  Wallace started an easy right turn of 15 bank.  As the turn progressed he began losing altitude, gaining speed, and increasing his rate of bank.  At 3,000 feet his second section could no longer follow him. His wingman sensing that something was wrong called Wallace and told him to level his wings. Wallace did not answer.  At 1,800 feet the wingman was no longer able to follow due to the side power spiral of Wallace's plane. He broke off and that was the last that was seen of the lost plane.

Commander Bruce S. Weber was ordered to take command of Air Group 31.

March 29, 1945, Air Group 31 boarded the USS Monterey (CVL-26) for transport to Pearl Harbor.  En route to Hawaii, the pilots practiced take off and landings on the light carrier.  The air group spent the next months in the Hawaiian Islands training.

On May 20, 1945 the air group boarded the Escort Carrier USS White Plains (CVE-66) for transport to Sipan, arriving on June 1st. On June 10th Air Group 31 along with 2 other air groups were transported to Guam where Air Group 31 once again boarded the USS White Plains for transport, this time to Leyte in the Philippines and their assignment to the Light Carrier USS Belleau Wood.

Air Group 31 boarded the USS Belleau Wood at Leyte on June 16, 1945 replacing Air Group 30.  A shake down cruse was undertaken for the last two weeks in June and on July 1 1945 USS Belleau Wood and the other carriers of Task Force 38 embarked for attacks on the Japanese home islands. USS Belleay Wood would be the home of the pilots and men of Air Group 31 for the last 2 months of the war in the pacific

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