Lt. Col. Paul Moret, USMC (?-1943)


James P. Collins Jr. served with Colonel Paul Moret in World War II, mostly on locations in The Pacific. He wrote me to tell us about him, and what happened to James, after the death of the Colonel.


James P. Collins, Jr:

I first knew him at Quantico Virginia Marine Barracks when I was assigned to the 1st Marine Air Wing there. Col. Moret, then Capt. Moret, commanded Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 131. This squadron consisted of about 20 SB2U-3 aircraft. The unit moved to San Diego California in December 1941 and sailed shortly thereafter for Hawai. It was based at EwaMarine Air Station in Hawai, moved to the southwest pacific area and arrived at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal in the Solomons in November of 1942.

By this time Capt. Moret had been promoted to Major. He was relieved of command on 28 Feb 42 before the movement to the Solomons. He reassumed command for the period 24 March thru 20 November 1942. These switches in command often were caused by a senior officer being transferred in to a unit whereupon the senior did automatically assume command. I mention this so you will understand that Major Moret was not relieved for cause.

When Major Moret left this unit at Guadacanal is not clear to me. By this time I had returned to the U.S. to begin flight training, actually I left the squadron at Eva prior to its deployment to the Solomons. At some time during this perios Major Moret was promoted to Lieut. Colonel and his dive bomber squadron was equipped with new torpedo planes. It was the first USMC torpedo squadron formed during World War II and Col. Moret had the honor to command it.

Colonel Moret was killed in mid 1943 in a transport plane crash at New Caledonia. His command status at that time I do not know, my resources material is somewhat limited.

I, as a member of a Marine twin engine bomber squadron, flew later from an airfield at Zamboanga (not much info), Mindanao in the Philippines that was called Moret Field in memory of Col. Moret.

About this airfield named after him I do now quite a bit. It seems that my Marine Corps flying days started under Capt. Moret and ended flying from an airfield named after him some four years later.

Moret Field was constructed from a rather poor Japanese airfield just north of Zamboanga, Mindanao in the Philippines. Construction started just after we landed there on 15 March, 1945. It was improved by a U. S. Army airfield construction unit using considerable Filipino labor. When completed, the single runway was about 4500' long aligned SW to NE. There were two adjacent taxi ways along both sides of the runway with revetment areas. At the peak of operations in 1945 there were about 300 aircraft flying from the airfield. The vast majority were USMC aircraft supporting US Army infantry operations on Mindanao but also ranging down the Sulu area as far as Borneo.

I flew in a twin engined bomber the PBJ or B-25. I left there on 12 September 1945 returning the the states and civilian life as a college student. The military operations there ceased that fall. The field today is being used as Zamboanga International Airport as well as a Philippine Air Base called Andrews Field.

I can tell you that Colonel Moret's name is still present in Zamboanga in the form of a road in the area of the present day airport. I received a map from Zamboanga some months ago and was supprised and pleased to see that name!

James P. Collins Jr. worked for the U. S. Airforce after graduation from college so he remained in aviation for his entire life. That of course started so many years ago under Captain Moret at Quantico Virginia.


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