World War II Naval Pictures
He started as a radioman on PBY Catalina Flying Boats prior to the attack on Pearly Harbor on December 7, 1941, stationed at Naval Air Station, Quonset Point, Rhode Island. The squadron of PBY aircraft to which Stich was assigned as radioman, VP 71, was then sent the Naval Air Station at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
From there, Stich was on aircraft patrolling out of Hawaii and also out of Midway Island (prior to the major naval battle at Midway which was a turning point in the war. It was one of the VP-71 PBYs that spotted the Japanese fleet, which helped to turn the battle into a defeat for the Japanese.
In the early months of 1943, Stich was sent for training as a Naval Aviator. This involved pre-flight training at the University of Georgia at Athens, primary flight training at Dallas in the "Yellow Perils" or Steerman aircraft, and then to Pensacola for final training before receiving Navy wings.
Stich received two sets of Navy wings. The first set as a Chief Naval Aviation Pilot (AP), and then a second set of wings as a Naval Aviator when a commission was offered that he accepted.
The Navy then sent Stich for advanced PBY training at the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville. Upon completion, he was offered the opportunity to remain as a flight instructor, which he accepted.
From Jacksonville, Stich was sent to the Hutchinson Naval Air Station for training and qualification as a Patrol Plane Commander in the Liberators and Privateers. At the age of 21, he is believed to be the youngest PPC on four-engine patrol planes in the navy during World War II.
Catalina Patrol Flight Over Pacific 1942
VP-71 Discovering Approaching Japanese Fleet
One of the planes from Navy Catalina patrol squadron VP-71 spotted the Japanese fleet approaching Midway Island in 1942. The patrol plane commander on that flight elected to extend the planned search area and fortuitously sighted the Japanese fleet approaching. That early sighting permitted the U.S. Navy to mount an unexpected attack on the approaching Japanese fleet, knowing out many of its ships and planes. That success changed the progress of World War II against the Japanese. Were it not for that pilot to decide to extend the search area, the progress of World War II could have been much different.
Depth charge under wing of PBY on patrol, 1942
Midway Island Toward Wake Island
Two PBY's returning from Patrol
Primary flight training at NAS Dallas 1943
PBY Training at NAS Pensacola, Florida 1943
PBY Catalina Cockpit While Stich Was
Pilot Instructor at NAS Jacksonville 1944
Advance Training and Retention as Instructor
From Pensacola, Stich was transferred to Jacksonville
NAS for advanced PBY training.
After completing training, Stich was kept as flight instructor at the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida in 1944.
PPC Stich Preparing
Stich on Tinian Island
Stich Approaching Japanese Naval Base, Truk
Landing at Marcus Island
Stich preparing to fly a war-weary B-24 from Tinian Island to the United States.
Stich was one of the few naval aviators that received two sets of Navy Wings. The first set was as Chief Aviation Pilot (CAP), and the second set was a week later, as a commissioned officer, a Naval Aviator.
In another unusual sequence of events, he is believed to have been the youngest Patrol Plane Commander of four-engine aircraft in the Navy during World War II.
Navy wings obtained December 1943.
Peculiar Irony: Stich
Flying Japanese Plane
With Japanese Wartime Pilot as His Copilot
Many unusual twists in his life. Shortly after the end of World War II, Stich was flying captain on Japan Airlines, with former Japanese military pilots as his copilot and friendly flight attendants.