Saturday, August 7, 2010

Uncle Mahlon Lee KIDD - 29 Oct 1922- 6 Aug 2010

[Great received word this morning that her brother, Mahlon, had died.  And so, it feels appropriate to post Uncle Mahlon's history that he wrote himself with some additional comments that were recorded by his daughter, Dora Lee.]

Mahlon Lee Kidd - 29 Oct 1922 - 6 Aug 2010


My Military Past

I enlisted in June 13, 1941. I attended bootcamp and Aviation Machinist Mate School at San Diego, California. I was assigned to VP in November 1941.

On December 8, 1941, I went on my first flight as tail gunner. My other duty was a Flight Engineer or Captain of Flight Engineer. I stayed in VP 13 for four years.

In May 1942, we had enough planes to go overseas. On my first engagement we flew to Tarawa and picked up fifty stretcher cases of injured marines and took them back to Pearl Harbor. We patrolled very heavy over the waters for the Midway Battle. At our advanced bases in the Marshall Islands, most of the time we lived on the planes. We took personnel boats to the sea plane tenders for meals and showers.

On Saipan we flew with B 29's on their to Japan. If they ditched, we landed and picked up any survivors. At Okinawa we set on the wings of our plane and watched the Japanese Kamikazes planes fly into ships. From Okinawa we flew 150 miles into China up the Yangtze River and off the coast of Russia. I had over 2000 hours in seaplanes and over 100 bombing missions, night torpedo runs, and submarine searches. The squadron was credited with eight Japanese medium bomber's shot down and one four engine seaplane. We had a number of submarines to our credit. I flew back to San Diego in July 1945 for new planes.

My extra awards that I received were the Combat Aircrew Wings with three gold stars, the Air Medal with three gold stars, and Distinguished Flying Cross.



Mahlon Lee Kidd, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Kidd of Ashton, was presented the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross and three gold stars in lieu of second, third and fourth awards, at the Seventh District American Legion convention banquet in Idaho Falls Monday evening. Department commander Jack McQuade of Moscow made the presentations.

The citation reads as follows: The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Mahlon L. Kidd. Aviation Machinist's Mate Second Class, United States Naval Reserve, for service as set forth in the following:

"For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as Plane Captain of a Patrol Bomber Plane in Patrol Squadron Thirteen, operating from advanced bases in the Central Pacific Area against enemy Japanese forces on Truk and Wake from May 18 to June 1, 1944. Completing his twentieth mission during this period, Kidd participated in long-range patrols over enemy waters and territory despite anti-aircraft fire and aerial opposition. By his skill and courage, he aided in providing essential intelligence to his own forces and in inflicting damage on the enemy thereby depriving the Japanese of access to vital bases. His devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

 "For the President, John L. Sullivan, Secretary of the Navy."

The Gold stars were presented in lieu of second, third, and fourth Air Medals, and were for similar activities against Truk, Wake, Kusaie, Ponape, Wotje, and Saipan, and the completion of his tenth, fifteenth and twenty fifth missions against enemy held bases.

Mr. Kidd's wife, and parents were also introduced at the banquet, which gave Kidd a standing ovation honoring his achievements.


I was home when the war ended in August. I never had duty aboard a ship.



Mahlon Kidd, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Kidd, arrived home Thursday from Camp Elliott, with his honorable discharge from the Navy. Mahlon was Aviation Machinists Mate 2/c and has been in the Navy four years and four months, 31 months overseas. He is entitled to wear the

Asiatic-Pacific area campaign medal with one silver and two bronze stars, American Defense medal,
Philippine Liberation medal

and was also awarded the American Theater campaign medal,

Air medal and Good Conduct medal.

Mahlon flew part of his time overseas as flight engineer and turret gunner and has 2500 flying hours. His squadron V.P.B.-13 called the "Fighting 13th," flew many different and unique missions, their planes, the "giant Coronados", being built to meet the demand for a flying boat that could land on water and rescue downed flyers, bomb, fly long range patrols over ocean, carry personnel and freight to outlying bases and armed to defend itself in combat.

Before the Gilberts invasion they evacuated wounded from Ellice Islands, flying by enemy held islands. They flew important men, and materials to Tarawa, Makin, Apanana and Marshalls during the invasions and evacuated wounded from those and other islands while fighting was in progress, bringing out 30 stretcher cases besides 10 ambulatory patients in one load, with Navy doctors, Navy corpsmen and Army medical corpsmen in addition to the crew. Their first bombing mission was Wake Island, flying long range hundreds of miles within fighter range of Jap held Truk, Marcus and Mariannas. They were then sent as patrol bombers along the coast of China, Korea and Jap held islands off the China coast.

(The V.P.B.-13 was split up and dissolved a short while after VJ day. For their work the unit has received the presidential citation.)


The plane carried eight, 500 lb bombs, eight to ten enlisted men and three officers. We had aboard 4,400 gallons of gas and the plane had a range of 4000 miles. We flew at 135 knots and landed at 70 to 80 knots. We had a bow turret, top turret, and tail turret (identical to a B 24). In addition we had free guns, one on each side of the plane. The plane was on stand by at all times. Adm. Nimitz and Adm. Halsey were the VIP's that I flew with to advanced bases. I have inserted pictures and spec.'s for you.

I took the following information from here

"Patrol Squadron 13 (VP-13) was established on 1 July 1940, formed at Naval Air Station San Diego, California, from personnel from

VP-14. Equipped with PB2Y-1 Coronado flying boats, the squadron began flying surveillance patrols and flights to bases in the Pacific to deliver personnel and supplies. A flag transport detachment was established at NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

In April 1942, VP-13 received PB2Y-2 versions and assumed transition training for crews destined for other PB2Y squadrons. In June, the squadron received its first PB2Y-2, and in November, the flag detachment was recalled from Kaneohe. However, in January 1943, VP-13 moved as a unit (with 12 PB2Ys) to Kaneohe and began regular patrols around Hawaii and special transport runs.

In December 1943, the PB2Y-1/2 versions were replaced by new PB2Y-2s, four of which bombing raids against facilities on Wake Island. In 50 sorties in round trips of 4,200 miles each, the PB2Ys dropped 60 tons of bombs without loosing a plane or crewman. The raids were the first ever conducted by formations of heavy seaplanes over long distances. (I flew in these raids and bombings).

In April 1944, VP-13 crews based on Ebeye laid mines in the waters around Truk, and in May conducted nuisance raids at night on Wotje, dropping one 500-pound bomb every half-hour for 12 hours each night. During the first half of 1944 they shot down five Japanese Navy G4M "Betty" bombers.

VP-13 regrouped began receiving PB2Y-5 versions in September 1944. On 1 October 1944, the squadron was redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron 13 (VPB-13). BPB-13 covered the February 1945 invasion of Iwo Jima, and in April covered the Okinawa campaign from Kerama Rhetto. During operations off Japan and China until the wars end, VPB-13 crew shot down four more Japanese aircraft, while losing one PB2Y, which ditched following hits from anti-aircraft fire.

Although the ship received a dispatch on 21 June to the effect that all organized resistance on Okinawa has ceased, her routine remained busy. A week later, for example, a consolidated PB2Y Coronado crashed on take-off and sank approximately 500 yards off the starboard beam of the ship.

Yakutat dispatched two boats to the scene and rescued eight men. Boats from another ship rescued the remaining trio of survivors from the Coronado. All men were brought on board Yakutat, where they were examined and returned to their squadron, VPB-13.


Memories given to Dora Lee DeGuilio:

Dad has told me about some of his experiences and I thought this would be a great time to put them down on paper.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Navy began training men on how to get out of a ship that had sunk. The Navy built a huge tank with three compartments, one on top of another. The men (ten or twelve) were placed in the bottom portion of the tank and the two upper stories were filled water. Two large men were chosen to climb the ladder, stand on each side of the ladder, and support the smallest man who's job it was to open the hatch to the next compartment, Of course the water gushed in from the open hatch and flooded the compartment that the men were standing in. However, while the water was poring in the men were to climbed the ladder to the next compartment where the air had replaced the water. This was repeated until the men reach safety.

On a Wing and a Prayer
On one mission Dad's crew received orders to find the crew of a tug boat that had gone in rough waters. They flew until they had located the crew of the tug boat, They dropped the survival gear fro the men and radio that they had found them. However, they were running low gas, and landing conditions on the ocean prevented any kind of safe landing. The pilot decided they needed to return to base or they would end up in the ocean along side the other downed crew. As they circled, they received orders that they were to remain at the site until their relief had arrived. So they circled until they ran out of gas and down they went. The pilot made a landing that was physically impossible as he sit the plane down just as a wave crested. When congratulated on his landing he remarked that it wasn't him that had landed the plane "he had had helping hands."

Dad had prayed for the safety to the pilot and the men as the plane went down. It was the only way they could have survived the landing. That was not the only problem they had. As the plane hit the wave the rivets that were in the bottom of the plane started to pop out and they started to take on water. Prior to departure Dad usually only picked up a few pencils to take with them, but this time Dad had picked up a box of pencils. He had told the supply sergeant that he didn't need that many, but the supply sergeant insisted that he take the box. Dad and the rest of the crew grabbed those pencils and stuffed them in the holes to stop the water. Then they climbed out on the wings of the plane and tied themselves down. I asked Dad why they didn't stay in the plane and he told me that it was so rough (he estimated the waves 100 foot surges) that the crew were being thrown against the bulk heads and they were so sea sick that staying inside was impossible. Since they had already given their survival gear away they had no choice but to stay with the plane. A cruiser spotted them fourteen hours later and, just by chance, had enough aviation fuel on board that they were able to fill the tanks on the plane. It took 3 days of being on land before any of the men were able to stand without the feeling of being in the ocean. Upon closer inspection, when they arrived back, they had 32 popped rivets.

The medical rescue on Tarawa was somewhat different. They flew in, three days after the marines had stormed the island. The marines had driven the Japs back into the coral beds and when the tide came in many of the Japs drowned or were killed by the marines. It was estimated that over 5,000 drowned. Many of the corpse were floating in the bay that day. Dad's crew flew into the bay and had to taxi through these floating bodies. After three days the bodies were in a state of decomposition and the stench was horrible. Dad said that the island was thick with flies everywhere. When they got back to base the smell had impregnated itself into everything including the plane, their clothes, and even their own bodies that they were ordered to fumigate everything. This was one experience Dad could have done without.

While waiting for Adm. Nimitz to arrive, for a trip to the Philippines, food and supplies were loaded on the plane. A short time later came the delivery of a number of bottles of booze. These trips were long flights and of course the Adm. and his entourage would need to be fed and made comfortable. Word came down that the Adm. was not going to be able to make the trip and Dad knew that they would come for the food and booze soon. He hid four or five bottles of the booze. Somewhat later his flight commander asked what had happened to the booze and Dad showed him where he had hidden them. The crew had quite a party that night!

On leave one day, they went to one of the islands. To trade, they had with them a gallon can of spam and two cartons of cigarettes. When the Japanese invaded the island they had removed any able bodied man for slave labor. They had taken the women for prostitutes and kitchen help. The Catholic Father said that over 500 men and women had been taken. On this island was an old man who was watching over the children that were left behind. He had a young girl about 18 who had hidden from the Japs to help him. She was wearing a grass skirt. Dad wanted that skirt and traded two packs of cigarettes to the old man for it. On their way off the island the tide came in and Dad had to wade across a narrow inlet and the skirt gained 40 lbs. It hung in the back of the plane to dry until Dad was ordered to take it down and put it away.

Dad also said that during training for oxygen deprivation a group of them went into a testing chamber that the oxygen was removed from during simulated stages of flight. They all took a very simple test prior to entering the chamber and of course all passed., However, at 12,000 feet the young man that had partied the night before passed out from the over abundance of alcohol and the lack of oxygen in his blood stream. They had to give him oxygen and removed him from the test. At 14,000 feet Dad said that everything that was said and done was funny and they had to take the same test again. Guess what, they all failed the test. Then at 20,000 feet they were given oxygen. Then tested again. They passed with flying colors.

Obituary -

Mahlon Lee Kidd

Kidd, Mahlon Lee 87, died Friday, August 6, 2010 at his home. Arrangements are under the direction of Relyea Funeral Chapel. Published in Idaho Statesman on August 7, 2010

Beth, Foryl, Mahlon, MaryLou, and Lawrie
Gloria, Henry and Veda KIDD


Veda said...

Thanks for taking the time to write about Uncle Mahlon. I didn't know all that stuff about him. It's been a long time since I last saw him. I was sorry to hear of his passing.

klovergirl7 said...

Dear Errol and Hollie! I've meant to thank you (for so long now) for having posted all of this wonderful historically valuable information on Mahlon Lee Kidd!

I am Kelly, (perhaps your 2nd great-grand neice?) first daughter to Dora Lee Kidd, (who is 2nd daughter and 2nd oldest child of 6) to Mahlon and Marva (Parkinson) Kidd.

I oversee a memorial dedication page on FaceBook for all friends and family of my Grandpa Mahlon.

I am ever so proud of him and the interesting life he lead. I miss him every day! He was loved dearly by so many!

Please feel free, if on FaceBook, to request being added to his Memorial Page, would love to see you there!


In Loving Memory of Mahlon Lee Kidd

bevanmission said...

Hi Kelly! You and I are 1st Cousins - (slightly removed because of the generations)! I'm so excited to reconnect with my Cousins! I have such fond memories of Dora Lee visiting us in California when I was young. (She would come for the summer with Susan Harris and sometimes with Sylvia, too!) I was in awe of my beautiful cousins who were teenagers and I wasn't yet 12! Looking forward to connecting on Facebook, too! Love, Hollie

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