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Air Group 31 USS Cabot / USS Belleau Wood | VF-31 and VT-31 | WWII


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Air Group 31

VF-31 and VT-31


Fighter Squadron 31 (VF-31) and Torpedo Squadron 31 (VT-31) served the United States Navy from their creation on May 1, 1943 until the squadrons were disestablished on October 25, 1945. They were assigned to Air Group 31, formed in 1943 at the Naval Air Station in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Unit saw extensive combat in the Pacific Theater. Air Group 31 was stationed aboard two Independence Class light aircraft carriers on two tours of duty. Their first carrier was the USS Cabot (CVL-28) which they boarded in November, 1943 and served on until October 4,1944. Air Group 31 had a second tour of duty aboard the USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24), from June, 1945 until the air group was deactivated in October,1945.




USS Cabot (CVL-28) USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24)



VT-31 was comprised of eight Grumman TBM and one TBF and the VF-31 was comprised of twenty four F6F-3 Hellcat fighters. The full compliment of 33 aircraft would be maintained throughout their tour of duty. Air Group 31 shot down a total of 165 enemy aircraft, produced 15 aces, sank 26 ships, and damaged 22 other ships totaling over 150,000 tons of enemy shipping. VF-31 was the highest scoring CVL (light carrier) squadron. They had the highest kill ratio per pilot of any squadron in the US Navy which is a record that stands today.

Below are two groupings from my collection.


4" octagon on thin white leather. Flying Meatcleaver.



This patch belonged to Lt. (jg) Dwight Beebe Galt (1920-1996), Navy Ace. On May 1, 1943 Ens. Galt was attached to the newly formed Fighter Squadron 31 (VF-31) under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Robert Winston at NAS Atlantic City, New Jersey. He served with VF-31 on board the USS Cabot from January 1944 through October 1944. During his tour of duty aboard USS Cabot he became a Naval Ace downing 5 enemy aircraft (5 aerial victories), received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Gold Star in lieu of 2nd Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.

  • June 11, 1944 - Sipan Tinian: Credited with 2 aerial victories in this engagement
  • June 19, 1944 - Marianas Turkey Shoot: Credited with 1 aerial victory in this engagement
  • July 8, 1944 - Guam - Tinian - Rota Islands: Credited with 2 aerial victories in this engagement




In a 1992 letter from Galt, pictured above and top row third from right below, he confirmed this patch belonged to him. He did not recall which of his shipmates designed the insignia, and confirmed knowing Lt. (jg) Abe Lauber, VT-31, mentioned below.






Ink on chamois, hand-made on board ship. 5" round.





This patch was part of a grouping belonging to the family of AMM2c Robert A. Anderson, KIA. The grouping includes this hand-painted on chamois patch, hand-made dog tags and luggage tag and a photo of VT-31 officers. Pilot and crew lost 8/4/44 in raid on Chi Chi Jima.


Letter from Avery J. "Abe" Lauber, designer and maker of the VT-31 patch, who served as a Lieutenant in VT-31. In a 1988 letter, Lauber wrote:

I designed the emblems sometime between November 1, 1943 and August 1944. As far as I know, the patches were all hand-made aboard the U. S. S. Cabot and were put to use by members of the squadron as they were made. I do not remember how many were made but I would guess 50 or fewer. The only story relative to the design is that many patches of that era were inspired by, and often designed by, the Hollywood animation cartoonists of the day. I remember that squadron members discussed the design and the cartoon bear throwing a torpedo was mentioned. To my knowledge there was never an Air Group 31 patch produced. I was an Ensign when I joined VT-31 and was promoted to Lt (jg) while on board the Cabot in the South Pacific in 1944.

I had enlisted in the Navy in October 1941, and served as and Aircraft painter with VF72 in the Caribbean and Pacific. I then took flight training and got my wings in March, 1943. I was attached to VT-2 for a few months and joined VT-31 in October, 1943.

The picture you sent is of the officers of VT-31, It was taken on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Cabot about November of December, 1943. I have identified all of them by name. I hope this information is helpful to you.

Avery J. Lauber





Lauber is shown in middle row on far right.


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