Cat Stands the Dog Watch

For reference, National Cat Day 2021 is today (29 October) so I went meta to get a historical image of a cat and kittens in a Cat(alina).

Original caption: 19 June 1945. A cat may look at a king, as well as a ride herd with a PBY air-sea rescue unit. “Salty,” mascot of the San Diego Coast Guard Air Station, introduced her kittens to the dramatic side of the sea-serve life early. When they were a month old, “Salty” stowed away with them on a PBY before it took off to rescue a flyer down at sea off San Diego. Chief O. W. Dybedel, shown here, found the additions to the crew when the plane returned to port with the rescued flyer. “Salty”, believed to be the first cat to participate in a Coast Guard offshore plane rescue, is the black, gray, and white pet of Katherine Martin, SK3C, at the Coast Guard San Diego Base.

Note the Chief’s distressed G1 flight jacket, and properly “crushed” cap complete with USCG shield and anchor cap badge. Also, observe that this is a posed picture taken on the ramp as the hangar is visible out of the blister window. USCG Photo. NARA image 26-G-4867

According to the Coast Guard Aviation Association, the first (of 114) PBY-5A/6A “Catalina” obtained by the Coast Guard, V189, was purchased from the Navy in the spring of 1941. They soon served from Greenland– where an all-Coast Guard patrol squadron of nine PBYs, VP-6 CG, operated– and along the Atlantic Coast on ASW and patrol duty as well as in the Pacific to supply isolated LORAN stations.

“Eyes of the Arctic,” 9.26.1944 Coast Guard PBY Greenland  NARA 026-g-024-006-001

Coast Guard Catalina: mailbag being transferred from a PBY to a Loran station in the Pacific circa 1949

In December 1942, the Navy established its’ first Air Sea Rescue Squadron at Air Station San Diego, with an all USCG-manned Catalina unit, of which Chief Dybedel is likely assigned.

Coast Guard Air-Rescue-marked PBY in a Full Stall Landing, June 1945. NARA 026-g-023-042-001

The last USCG PBY was retired in 1956, replaced by the smaller but more efficient UF-2G (HU-16E) Albatross.

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