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Author Topic: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School  (Read 15372 times)

heights unknown

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #75 on: September 25, 2010, 11:51:53 PM »
I want to visit it too.  As a retired Navy Man, I was stationed at NAS Cecil Field 2 times during my 20 year career and remember Yellow Water very vividly; the gunners mates driving in there to work, the Marines also stationed there and driving trucks in and out of there, etc.  I never went in there because back then it was off limits to anyone that did not work there or had to be there, and I believe you had to have a TOP SECRET clearance or special access clearance to enter, or a good reason, valid reason for visiting or requiring entrance (probably qual's, etc.).

"HU"
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bobsim

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #76 on: September 26, 2010, 03:45:14 AM »
  We're looking forward to getting back in the area also. Cooler weather is just around the corner. Another thought is if the fairgrounds are moved I believe they will displace some of the ruins of the gunnery school (?).

   Any one hiking into the area should be aware of the No Trespassing signs along New World Road. Just about all the ponds and dirt roads are posted. The No Trespassing signs share a common post with (and are located below) an Authorized Vehicles Only sign. Somehow I missed the NT sign one day and JSO was quick to point out my error. The fine is $498. I was given a warning, the officer let me know they were serious.

   I've also read a couple of posts re concealed weapons and carrying. Be aware if you are caught trespassing w/ firearm you are guilty of a third degree felony.
GEORGIA PACIFIC  Peeing on our leg and calling it rain for over fifty years.

RMHoward

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #77 on: September 26, 2010, 01:26:42 PM »
This is the response i received via email from the Witchita28 in response to my questions to him regarding his stay at Yellow Water:

  I'm afraid my memory of Yellowater is pretty limited. While there I don't recall being allowed liberty. Not unusual at the time for training also the "remote" nature of the range. The base was self contained as far as we were concerned, limited but adequate. The same with base housing for officers. It was a hole but due to the new and unusual nature of the training involved it was never an issue. Remember we were in our first 6 months or so of Navy life so a pretty exiting time.  Most of us were recently out of boot camp and in high school the previous year so nothing to compare it to. After training we were bussed back to Jax and received our orders from there to "A" school or the fleet.
      I do remember  firing pistols and Thompson subs indoors. Fixed human silhouettes I recall because the weapon climbed when fired and it was impossible to keep on target other than in bursts.
      I'm not sure about the Waller. I recall tracking aircraft in flight but I don't remember the equipment, I think it was live outside.
   I was sent next to Pensacola for 6 months of Photo School. After that I was stationed at, NAS San Diego, TD on the  USS Pasadena, NAF Honolulu and NAS Barbers Point. Was an Aviation Photographers Mate second class (AF2) when discharged. I only did one tour but it was a life changing experience. My only regret in later years is that I didn't continue as a career.
  Spent my entire civilian career in aerospace work and am an avid reader of everything related. Looking back  progress has been amazing. When I got to Pensacola in 12/46 they were converting from Steerman/Boeing Yellow Peril's to SNJ's and flying out of an airfield that no longer exists and now houses the NATTC buildings, no runway's.. I was there in 1996,  found our two story classroom building and the footprint of the second building. Our "gigantic hangers" I almost drove past (they must of shrunk) look like Quonset huts and are being used for storage. From Yellow Perils to the B-2 and space shuttles in a lifetime, Wow!! what a ride.
      I retired in 98 from Northrop Grumman at AF Plant 42 in Palmdale Ca. Worked there 6 years on the B-2 program from rollout of AV1 till delivery of the final vehicle. Worked in Production Flight Test as a Liaison engineer in Surface Prep. The OML of the vehicle was ours relating to radar, infa-red and visual stealth. We worked it from the time it was on wheels for the application of various processes thru the range flights till sold to AF and  delivered. All state of the art so a lot of "well that didn't work so let's thy this". Fun Stuff !!
   Now retired and living in Bakersfield Ca. with my wife Barbara and the boss, Bailey our 5 year old Poodle. Actually, we live with him.
   Sorry I don't  have more to offer on Yellowater , it's been to long. This has stirred up a lot of old memories so if something surfaces I will be sure you're the first to hear.


Timkin

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #78 on: September 26, 2010, 10:11:54 PM »
LEE FIELD NAS GREEN COVE SPRINGS


This is an overview of the once busy base looking from airside toward the river. The streets, plumbing, sidewalks, hangers, towers, apron, taxiway and runways still exist. To the west is miles of dairy farms land, to the south NOTHING but thousands of acres of wilderness preserve, to the north and east, the St. Johns River... WHY isn't the NAVY, GREEN COVE SPRINGS, CLAY COUNTY or STATE OF FLORIDA laying this at the military base commission's feet for the relocation of the Master Jet Base?

OCKLAWAHA

 


  I well remember this facility as a kid.  There is next to nothing left of it.. In the Florida's Memory Archives, I found extensive pictures of it..  The Child care center contained one of the largest swimming pools Ive ever seen.   We went there every summer until Reynolds industrial Park Demolished the 15 Barracks, Quonset huts, all of the Officer's housing,  and the DayCare center.  there are probably about 5 buildings left on the entire tract to what was once a really nice Navy Base.. Would not hurt my feelings a bit, and infact would probably enhance  GCS Economy to bring this base back.

al becker

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #79 on: December 29, 2010, 10:00:04 AM »
My father took his gunnery training at yellowater in 1943 before going overseas aboard the USS Norton Sound, which anchored in Kerama Retto. He fought with VPB-26 as a flight engineer/gunner in PBM number 357. He also went aboard the USS Curtiss after she was struck by a kamikaze and helped fight the fires and pull shipmates out of the wreckage. I have been looking for info on Yellowater for years, could never find anything until I ran across this site. Love your pix, but have a couple of questions I wonder if someone could clear up for me:
1. where exactly is yellowater located in relation to Jax? North, south?
2. My father trained on the power turrets and told me he fired out over the ocean at targets towed by aircraft. Can you confirm this?

appreciated your pix of the pool where the students took survival training and all, I'm sure my dad did all that, he just couldn't remember all the dates and times and everything that was involved.
Any info you can give me will be greatly appreciated. Thanx!
Al

al becker

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #80 on: December 29, 2010, 10:12:55 AM »
Hi again! I'm Al Becker, not sure if my first post went to the correct room! My father, who passed in 1988, took gunnery school here at yellowater in 1943, served aboard the USS Norton Sound at Kerama Retto. He fought in PBM #357, Jig 8 in VPB-26 squadron. He was in the V-2 Division. Captain Ben Scott Custer was the C.O. Dad went over to the USS Curtiss after she was hit by a kamikaze on june 21, 1945, helped fight the fires and rescue injured shipmates.
I have been looking for info on Yellowater for years but couldn't find anything until I ran across this site, thanx for the great pix and all. My father says he trained on the power turrets, but says he fired at targets towed by aircraft over the ocean. Can anyone confirm this? He also says he got six days restricted duty for shooting at some pelicans, which were protected birds!
Any other info would be appreciated, thanx for the pix!

acme54321

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #81 on: December 29, 2010, 12:38:02 PM »

RMHoward

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #82 on: December 29, 2010, 02:08:04 PM »
Hi Al,
I originated the post on this forum about Yellow Water gunnery school, as well as took the pictures.  One of my hobbies is studying this forgotten school.  In fact, i have spent the last two days out there exploring and researching the place.  The gunnery school is located on the west side of Jville, directly north of the Cecil Commerce center (north side of Normandy Blvd).  The new equestrian center sits very close to the living/admin area of the school.  The picture of the swimming pool is within 200yrds of the present day equestrian center swimming complex.  I have amassed lots of info and pictures of the place as well as some literature from the war years printed at the school.  Feel free to contact me for more information, if you wish at rickm.howard@gmail.com
Rick

PS.  I believe one of the final phases of gunnery training for the students, was to actually fly in an aircraft and shoot from the air at high speed.  Nothing simulates actually shooting from a moving aircraft. I also believe that they flew over the ocean and shot at towed targets.  So, i believe your father's memory is partially correct.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2010, 02:12:37 PM by RMHoward »

RMHoward

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #83 on: December 29, 2010, 02:18:32 PM »
Hi Al,
I responded in depth to your question in the other location on this forum.  I originated this topic about Yellow Water gunnery school.  Please see my other response to your question.  Again, contact me at rickm.howard@gmail.com for any questions you may have.
Rick

patty8679

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #84 on: February 03, 2011, 02:48:11 AM »
I am a former marine i didn not serv on the base but i am inerested about yellow water. i have hike throug the property multipil times. if you enter from the west there are no trespassing signs. I have been trying to find out if the city of jacksonville or JSO would be willing to sell a part of the bunkers on the nort side of the old base. if anyone knows of how to do so let me know. any infor mation on locations of buildings would also help me on my hikes. as for purchasing the bunkers i plann on applying for alternative housing grants. the bunkers cant be used for much more than that. any info would help.

Timkin

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #85 on: February 03, 2011, 09:37:53 PM »
Great Idea, P8679!

RMHoward

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #86 on: February 04, 2011, 04:37:21 PM »
I am a former marine i didn not serv on the base but i am inerested about yellow water. i have hike throug the property multipil times. if you enter from the west there are no trespassing signs. I have been trying to find out if the city of jacksonville or JSO would be willing to sell a part of the bunkers on the nort side of the old base. if anyone knows of how to do so let me know. any infor mation on locations of buildings would also help me on my hikes. as for purchasing the bunkers i plann on applying for alternative housing grants. the bunkers cant be used for much more than that. any info would help.

Am I reading this right?  You want to live in one of these bunkers?  Sorry, I don't think that is a very good or practical idea on so many levels.  Where to begin......no plumbing, no HVAC, possible contamination from various sources, surrounded by snake infested swamp, etc.  I suppose it is possible but would require a small (strike that, large) fortune to make one of these habitable.  Plus, i doubt the COJ or JSO would sub parcel out one of these for someone's domicile. 

NavyGuyAN

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #87 on: March 23, 2011, 05:29:18 AM »
Hello Guys, I have been following all your posts on the Yellow-Water Complex and its been very intresting. Name's Ryan and been Active-Duty for 8 yrs now here in JAX...
I wanted to thank Bob for the update on the NT fine...lol...I was just out at the complex 3 weeks ago and did see the JSO No Tresspassing signs...but being military and curious drove in there anyway...both times it was on a Sunday afternoon and no one was out there...I have several pictures of the complex...nothing much is out there, a few old abandoned buildings (which I needed my flashlight to see) kinda reminded me of being in Iraq again...lol...have yet to view any of the buildings in the woods. Thanks and I'll try to get a few of the pic's posted.

Timkin

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #88 on: March 23, 2011, 02:26:49 PM »
Welcome :)

pberry

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Re: WWII era Yellow Water Naval Air Gunnery School
« Reply #89 on: May 01, 2011, 02:26:26 PM »
I found this thread last night while looking for information on Yellow Water. Thanks to all who have posted here with such interesting details of this long forgotten school. The reason I began searching was because I had just learned that my father spent a little over a month training here at the Gunners School in 1943.

During my youth my father didn't care to talk much about his time in WWII. He passed away several decades ago when I was in college and about the only information I had learned was that he was in the Marines and was a gunner on a B-25 in the South Pacific. Just recently I have come into possession of all the letters that he wrote as a young man while he was away from home and a majority of them were during his service with the Marines in WWII. Back then phone calls were expensive and difficult to connect so letter writing (which now seems to be a lost art) was the main method of communications. He probably wrote about once a week on average over this period so you can imagine how enlightening this is for me to learn about all the experiences that he never cared to speak about while he was still with us.

I learned that after Boot Camp in San Diego he was sent to MAD NATTC Radio School in Jacksonville, FL in May of 1943 at the age of 18 years old. After completing four months of training there he was sent to Yellow Water in October of 1943. Apparently, it must have been known as "Yellowater" back then since he spelled it that way in each of the 6 letters that he wrote during the roughly 30 days he spent there and you can also see the "Camp Yellowater" painted on Butt 4 in the photo posted in the second entry of this thread. Some of the observations he made in his letters are provided below to offer a young man's perspective on what it was like training at Camp Yellowater.

From his last letter from NATTC he wrote, "Well everyone is packed and ready to leave for Cherry Point. That is all but the gunners who will be sent to Yellowater or Hollywood."

From the six letters he sent from Yellowater he wrote, "This is a very nice base, it is rather small but it has all the conforts of home. It has a nice ships service, a theater with a different show every night (except Thursday which is field day). It has a bowling alley... There is a chance for lots of liberty, but not very good transportation facilities so I will not take any liberty while staying here."

"The NCO's here are all for you instead of trying to put you on report for every little thing. I really think that I am going to like it here."

"Now that I left N.A.T.T.C I can tell you that it was the worst Navy base in the U.S.A. Perhaps you heard Walter Winchell talk about it. He had made a tour of Navy bases and he said that he would hate to be stationed there. The food wasn't good except on Sunday noons."

"I have shot about 200 or more shot gun shells not to speak of all the rifle and machine gun shells too. I believe that I have hit about 3/4 of all my shots, that is with fixed shot guns on swivles and in turrets too."

"This is to let you know that I am still alive and having lots of fun costing the Govt. money doing what is fun. Shooting all the ammo they will let me. The most I hit out of 100 shotgun shells was 90, and the most out of 400 machine gun shells was 59. That was good, cause the bullet pattern spreads 20 ft square if held in a vice so you only expect to hit about 10% of your shots."

"We have a few Waves as instructors in 3-A-2 which is instinctive sighting. We sit on a roller seat or turret and shoot at planes moving across the screen. If we shoot too soon the bell rings. Have to learn range estimation by using a 35 mil. ring sight."

"The food here is fairly good of course some meals aren't so hot but as a whole they are lot better than at N.A.T.T.C. The base is small only 150 Marines and about 2,000 Sailors and a few French Sailors. The Waves come from the main side over at Naval Air Station."

"It is little wonder that you couldn't find Yellowater on the map cause there isn't any. No town, no Post Office, just a Gunnery School."

"I found out what kind of plane that I get in for operations. It is an S.B.D. It is a Scout dive bomber. I will be chief gunner, first radioman, co-pilot and crew chief, and still be a P.F.C. The irony of it all. You remember Torpedo Sqd. 8 well this is something on the same order only dive bombing. You are bearing straight on the target for about 30 sec. with no protection from ack. ack. guns. You can only protect yourself from 90o right and left and behind you while on the bombing run. Another thing if for any reason I don't like the plane, pilot, guns, or sound of the motors I can refuse to go on that plane. I don't imagine that it will come to that but it is a nice thing to know. I only hope that I get a nice young pilot about 21 to 23 years old. He will have a good sense of responsibility and not be an old fogey."

"The other evening, Wed evening to be exact, we had a picnic - and I thought the Marines were tough. We played tackle football without suits or head gear against the swabbies and we beat then 18 to nothing."

"The eats here are fair, they are good to eat but they don't give you enough to fill you up. No seconds or anything."

"Yellowater is approx. seventeen to twenty miles from Jax. It's practically out in the swamps of Northern Fla."

"Found out the other day that Radio-Gunners are issued 45's so I don't have to worry about side arms. But I guess that I will have to furnish my own knife."

"This will probably be my last letter to you from this base, cause we graduate tomorrow. These last four days we acted as instructors. We took over the classes just comming in and taught them about firing and stoppages & etc."

"Yesterday I had gotten the highest score, in the class, in range estimation; so I was the lucky one to get to ride in the Piper Cub for about an hour while the others practiced range estimation."

"Then Yesterday while I was an instructor on the morning target range one of the gun mounts broke and he was still shooting when it knocked him off the firing stand. After shooting about 600 rounds in about 45 min. the barrel was still red hot so he got burned pretty bad cause the gun landed on top of him and it was burning his legs and he pushed it off with his hands. Part of his hands are still on the barrel jacket. The way I put this it hardly makes sense does it. This is the type of accident that happens once in a lifetime, so don't worry about me. It happened at the stand next to mine."

"Monday evening after we got through instructing, some officers brought up a bunch of turrets and free guns. They started by shooting 50 cal. turret then 50 cal. free fun, 30 cal free gun, and 30 cal turret. It was an experiment to see if they would need another turret range. Anyway I got to fire about 600 rounds in approximately 20 minutes. I guess it also was to see how long it took to fire two full relays."

I'm reading these letters chronologically so I'm only just to the point where he finished at Yellowater and is now stationed at Deland, Florida. I apologize for the length of this post but I find these small details of life very interesting and I hope this helps give a picture of what it was like training at this facility.