006GR - USAAF 3rd Photo Recon Squadron T-shirt - FALL 2018
We were recently given the opportunity to purchase a rare USAAF 1943 - 1944 3rd Photo Recon Sqdrn. T-shirt that belonged to member Robert A. Wetmore (see clipping and dogtag). Naturally we jumped at the chance to secure this gem and recreate it for you. The attractive fruit carrying island girl and lagoon scene along with 3rd Photo Recon Sqdn. and Guam stencil text make for a cartoon masterpiece, rivaling some of the best WWII Walt Disney insignia designs.
Victory-1945 has faithfully redrawn this graphic capturing every detail of the original for your wearing pleasure.
This war-era tee is being offered in a limited Fall 2018 run and is silk screened on a Runabout Simple Milk (off-white) t-shirt with faded greyed black water based ink (Note: Sizes S - M use a smaller scaled graphic than Sizes L - XL to maintain accurate proportions). Each shirt comes with a dual sided graphic hang tag, hand inked with tee specifications and the edition number, which is attached to a vintage USN brass laundry safety pin with patriotic red, white, and blue twine.
This design is 100% Made in the USA featuring the best period correct t-shirt available. Runabout Goods Simple Tee is 100% tubular cotton, pre-shunk (sanforized), with traditional 1940's fit, blind stitch hems, 3/4" bias cut rib collar with 1/8" double needle cover-stitch, and is Made in Los Angeles, CA.
****A brief history on 3rd Photo Recon. Sqdn.****
The history of the 3rd Photo Reconnaissance Squadron would begin as they initially formed on May 15, 1941 and then activated on Jun. 10, 1941 at Maxwell Field, AL. From 1941 to 1944 the unit was re-designated several times before becoming the 3d Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Heavy (VL), at Smoky Hill Army Air Field, KS, (Schilling, AFB) on May 19, 1944. The forward echelon moved to Saipan on Sep 18, 1944 and the Tokyo Rose (Named after a Japanese-American radio propaganda broadcaster who tried to manipulate and mislead American troops during the war) arrived on Oct. 31, 1944. The aircrew had a night's rest and then flew their historic mission the very next day. 17 more photo reconnaissance missions were flown as single sorties prior to the first B-29 bombing raid against Japan from Saipan on Nov. 24, 1944. Sadly, the 3 PRS would lose two aircraft and their aircrews of ten Airmen during this time.
Third PRS pilot and World War II veteran Lt. Fred Savage, who flew 23 combat missions over Japan said, "We would fly our F-13A at about 30,000 feet during photo missions because Japanese fighter aircraft could not reach us ... though one time I did to climb to 42,000 feet to fly over a tropical storm." During most of his missions Lt Savage flew the F-13A named the Valiant Lady, but did fly the Tokyo Rose on a few missions before his aircraft arrived from the states. Lt. Savage remembers the great camaraderie of the unit and his aircraft's crew. One of the saddest moments of his combat missions was when one of the "Bubble Blister" windows on the side of Valiant Lady blew out and the aircraft quickly decompressed and one of his crewmen was pulled out of the fuselage. A parachute was sited, but the airman was never seen again. Fortunately, this would be the only casualty of the Valiant Lady during these long and very hazardous missions.
When Major General Curtis Lemay took command of the XXI Bomber Command, he wanted his Photo Reconnaissance mission near his headquarters at Harmon Field, Guam. So, on Jan. 11, 1945 the 3rd PRS moved from Isley Field, Saipan to Harmon Field and would later add another designation "Very Long Range" (VLR) to their name on Jan. 31, 1945. However, there was a problem with Harmon Field's runway; it was too short to safely takeoff a fully loaded F-13A or B-29 on a mission to Japan. To remedy the situation flights were staged from Harmon Field to North Field (modern day Andersen AFB). The crews were briefed about 2 p.m. each day and then flew their planes with a light fuel load to North Field. The crews were then bussed back to Harmon Field while the planes were fully fueled and serviced for their night takeoffs. The crews were awakened at midnight, fed and bussed back to North Field. After completing their missions, the planes would land back at Harmon.
From there the film was rushed to the photo lab immediately so Gen. Lemay could be updated on the air war's progress. The crews then debriefed and the maintenance cycle restarted to ready the planes for their next missions. Lt. Savage said some of best memories of the war were during his tour at Harmon Field (Harmon Industrial Park). He remembers, "The Seabees would sell their mothers for booze or a ride on a B-29 Bomber." He said, "The 3rd PRS Chapel was built after a trade with the Seabees for 24 bottles of Whiskey!"
Lt. Savage's most memorable moment came when the Valiant Lady was assigned to fly 15 minutes behind the Enola Gay on 6 August 1945 during the "Little Boy" atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He piloted his aircraft in a slow right turn around the cloud twice and his crew took many photos. Three days later as standby aircraft they would take damage photographs of Nagasaki after the "Fat Man" atomic bomb was dropped by Bockscar. A frightening moment happened right after that photo mission when the Valiant Lady was nearly shot down by heavy flak north of Nagasaki over the city of Shimonoseke. However, the flak over Shimonoseke was not Lt. Savage's scariest moment while flying in the Valiant Lady. During "Operation Sunset" when aircraft and their crews were flying home to the states after the war the Lady's no. 3 engine went out, then became un-feathered, and caught on fire during its landing at Johnson Island. The F-13A landed safely, but the crew and its passengers had to wait an additional two long weeks for parts before continuing their journey home.