A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE U.S. NAVY'S WW II, CARRIER-BASED, TORPEDO SQUADRON TEN (VT-10)
Torpedo Squadron TEN (VT-10) was commissioned in mid-April 1942 at U. S. Naval Air Station, San Diego, CA; the first squadron to be completely equipped with the, then new, Grumman, TBF-1, Avenger torpedo bomber. LCDR Jack Collett, USN, was designated as its commanding officer and LT Albert Coffin, USN, as its executive officer.
After a brief training cycle, VT-10 deployed to the Pacific war zone in USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6). In its first combat mission, during the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, two aircraft were lost to Japanese ZERO fighters. LCDR Collett and ENS J. M. Reed and two crewmen, AM 1/c S. Nadison and ARMS 3/c M. Harrison, were killed in action; however, a crewman from each aircraft, ARM l/c T. C. Nelson and AMM3/c M. M. Glasser, parachuted to the relative safety of the ocean where they survived in their lifejackets for 26 hours. "Rescued" by Japanese destroyers, those two men spent the balance of WW II in POW camps, first at TRUK Island in the western Pacific and then later, until the war's end, in the Japanese home Island of Honshu.
Upon the loss of LCDR Collett, the executive officer, Albert Coffin, promoted earlier to LCDR, assumed command of the squadron and led it valiantly for the remainder of that combat cruise. The accuracy with which VT-10 aircrews assaulted their assigned targets earned them the sobriquet of "The Bloody Buzzards," refined later to "The Buzzard Brigade." Battle damages and other contingencies stemming from combat operations around the Santa Cruz and Solomon Islands forced an alarming number of VT-10 aircrews to crash-land in the ocean where they were rescued routinely by escorting destroyers. By the end of the cruise, practically every crew had been forced to dunk their plane and swim for it, some of them twice. They put the best possible face on it by forming their own, private WEB FOOT CLUB.
Early in 1943, ENTERPRISE and her embarked air group sailed for the Seattle, WA area, the ship to receive repairs for heavy bomb damages and the aircrews to receive much needed rest and retraining. Under its new commanding officer, LCDR W.1. Martin, USN, seconded by LT Van Eason, USN, as executive officer, VT-10 retained a cadre of seasoned aircrews and, together with replacement aircrews and new aircraft, underwent a period of intensive training. Later in 1943, VT-10 and other Air Group TEN squadrons deployed for a second combat cruise to the western Pacific Theater, again in USS ENTERPRISE. This cruise was noteworthy in that in addition to its many other combat missions, Skipper Martin, recently promoted to CDR, refined the concept of using radar to conduct night torpedo attacks, initiated by LCDR Collett prior to his death, developed the planning and procedures, and then launched VT-10 on a pioneering, full squadron night bombing attack mission from an aircraft carrier. The Japanese bastion at Truk Island was selected as the target and heavy damages were inflicted on Navy and cargo ships and shore facilities during that strike.
The stand-down/retraining cycle was repeated a second time for VT-10 in the Fall and Winter of 1944, in the Naval Air Station, Quonset Point, RI area. LCDR J. C. Lawrence, USN, had been ordered to take command of the squadron and was seconded by LT L. D. Morgan, USNR, as executive officer. In February 1945, VT-10 and sister Air Group TEN squadrons deployed for their third combat cruise to the western Pacific Theater, this time in USS INTREPID (CV-11). WW II ended while the ship and embarked Air Group TEN were deployed in the forward war zone.
Thereafter, INTREPID's role changed and VT-10 and other embarked squadrons were assigned to fly observation and peace keeping missions in the coastal regions of China and Korea in addition to floating mine patrols throughout the Yellow Sea. Relieved on station in October 1945 by a replacement air group while INTREPID was anchored in a harbor in Guam, VT-10 shortly was assigned transportation to the United States in USS BARNES (CVE-12). Proceeding by way of Japan and Tokyo Bay, squadron members had the opportunity to visit ashore and to utilize the passenger trains to be peaceful tourists between and around Yokosuka, Yokohama and Tokyo and environs. A fitting climax to two and a half tension filled years of training for and conducting actual combat missions from the south to the north Pacific Ocean Theaters, in two different aircraft carriers.
Arriving at Naval Air Station, Alameda, CA carrier pier on 19 November 1945, VT-10 was given temporary office spaces in a local hangar and in short order was decommissioned; Skipper Lawrence and Leading Chief Childers turned out the lights and the squadron passed into history. A number of its officers and men opted to remain on active duty in the Navy and made careers of it. But the largest number of squadron members chose to return to civilian life and live happily ever after.
During its relatively brief, turbulent existence, VT-10 participated in numerous combat operations against enemy Japanese forces and installations, among them: the Santa Cruz, Rennell and Solomon Islands Battles; the Battle of Guadalcanal; day and night attacks on the Truk Island bastion; Hollandia, New Guinea; First Battle of the Philippines Sea; The Marianas and Okinawa Islands Campaigns; three major fleet engagements wherein were sunk the Japanese battleships IJNS HIM and IJNS YAMATO and several cruisers and destroyers; and lastly, numerous combat strikes against the Japanese home and outlying islands. In addition to numerous medal awards for valor awarded to squadron individuals, the squadron was recognized for its exemplary performance of duty by being awarded two Presidential Unit Citations and a Navy Unit Commendation Medal.