27th Bomb Group

8th Attack Squadron

89th Attack Squadron

90th Attack Squadron


In November of 1941, four young men, Dick Launder, Fred Klatt, Bill Beck & Finley MacGillivray, boarded the USAT Willard A. Holbrook in San Francisco heading for the Philippine Islands.

Due to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the ship was diverted to Australia. Bill Beck gives us an account of the trip: The Holbrook was a troop ship. The aircraft were on another vessel… We were shipped out as casuals, no definite unit. Launder, McGillivray and I were assigned to the 27th BG in Brisbane.  Launder the 16th Sq and Fingers (McGillivray)* and I to the 17th. Launder went to Java and Fingers and I to Bachelor Field, AU.  From there we went to the 3rd in Charters Towers assigned to the 8th Sq. Fred Klatt was assigned TDY as Officer of the Day  Brisbane. Waiting for aircraft from States. 21st & 22nd Transport Squadron Brisbane & 89th Sq Charters Towers training in A-20 and transfer to Port Moresby for combat duties.

* Finley MacGillivray had the nickname Fingers possibly due to his having been a member of the New Mexico Lobos football team during the 1938-39 seasons


President Taft (First) 
Built 1921 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Co., Sparrows Point, Baltimore, Maryland. Hull No. 4181, O/N 221,233
Originally BUCKEYE STATE. Operated by the Matson Line from June 1921 to March 1922, making three voyages from the East Coast to Hawaii. Transferred to Pacific Mail Steamship Co. June 26, 1922 and renamed President Taft. Sold to Dollar Steamship Co. 1926. Transferred to APL 1938. Taken over by the Army June 1941. Converted to a troop transport and renamed WILLARD A. HOLBROOK in September 1941. Conversion to a hospital ship was commenced at Mobile, Alabama in March 1943, and the ship tentatively renamed ARMIN W. LEUSCHNER. Work was discontinued with the coming of V-J day and the name WILLARD A. HOLBROOK restored. Vessel proceeded to New York and converted to a military dependent carrier by Todd Shipyard. Remained in this service until the summer of 1946. Sold for scrapping October 29, 1957.