|CAPT Victor S. Gulliver, USN (Ret.)|
Pat and I grew up in separate suburbs of Los Angeles and met while attending the University of Southern California. We married after graduation and my commissioning through the NROTC program. After flight training in Pensacola and Corpus Christi, I attended the Avionics Officer school in Memphis before reporting to VP-2 in September 1959.
VP-2 was our first real experience at Navy life. The small town atmosphere of Oak Harbor, the close-knit camaraderie of squadron-mates that resulted from arduous and distant squadron operations, and the many friendships that were formed in that first squadron were the basis for my decision to make the Navy a career.
My first job in the squadron was as the Assistant Avionics Officer under Bill Haeckler, who was the division officer. We deployed to Kodiak/Adak soon after our arrival in the squadron, and I was assigned to George Silberstein's Crew 9 along with Bill Sterton and Don Hindorff. One thing I noticed right away about working in a VP squadron was that our primary mission was anti-submarine warfare, yet no one in the squadron had any idea how to find a submarine in the open ocean unless it came to the surface.
Immediately after that Alaska deployment, we had a shuffling of flight crews and I wound up on Crew 6 with Paul Tripp and Dick Seng. No sooner had we gotten home, but our crew was one of two VP-2 crews to be sent to NAS North Island to learn how to use some mysterious black boxes that had been installed in our aircraft. It was called J/J school, which stood for Julie and Jezebel, two new methods to detect and locate submarines under water. These new systems were a game-changer that allowed flight crews a much better chance to combat the growing Soviet submarine threat. Upon our return from J/J training, I was reassigned as the squadron ASW Officer. As a very junior LTJG, I was put in charge of training all the other flight crews in the use of the J/J equipment. It was a great beginning in ASW for me, because I had to work hard to learn the systems and the tactics in order to teach it to others.
While in VP-2, I benefitted from serving under five different CO's which helped me in later years to develop my own leadership style. Captains Johnson, Foster, Pierre, Lanaghan and Kistler were distinctly different, and I learned something from each.
Prior to my third Alaska deployment, I was assigned as the Plane Commander of Crew 10, and had the pleasure of some great flying experiences with Dave Bowen, Rick Dombrowski, Floyd Palmer, and Dick Whipple, who are all members of our VP-2 Association. At the end of my VP-2 tour, the Navy (made a wise assignment choice and) sent me to be an ASW instructor at FAETUPAC at NAS North Island. We bought a house in Coronado (wish we had it now) and shared a back fence with Bill and Sharon Kraper, who had left VP-2 before us. Bill taught Julie and I taught Jezebel to every pilot and NFO going to every Pacific VP, VS and HS squadron. At the end of that tour, I was sure that whatever squadron I went to next, I would already know every officer in it. So, I got orders to the Naval War College in Newport, RI and never had duty with any other Pacific squadron. I was pleased to see that Mardy Lewis was a War College classmate.
While at the War College, we were required to write a Staff Study to show that we knew how to do it. I uncovered some research that was done for the Navy's SOSUS program, and I applied it to the airborne ASW problem to create some unique tactics and techniques. Among those was the creation of a propagation loss profile that allowed flight crews to predict Jezebel detection ranges from information supplied by the Naval Weather Service. That allowed flight crews to space their sonobuoys according to the desired probability of detection.
My next tour of duty was with VP-49 flying P3As in Patuxent River, MD. While there, we deployed to split locations at Sangley Pt., P.I. and Utapao, Thailand to conduct Market Time operations around South Vietnam. While on that seven month deployment, I submitted my proposed new ASW tactics and procedures to CINCPACFLT. Before we got home from deployment, those tactics had not only been approved for use in the Pacific, but they had already been approved for use in the Atlantic. Because of that work on ASW tactics, I was pulled from VP-49 early to be assigned to Task Group Delta in Norfolk, VA, whose mission was the research and creation of ASW tactics for the VP community. With less than a year in Norfolk, I got surprise orders to PG school in Monterey, CA. From the time I got the message orders, we had eight days to get from Norfolk to Monterey. It was a hassle, but I was grateful for the opportunity to get a Master's degree. In four years, we had made five PCS moves. Our kids still don't know where their home town is.
As we were finishing up our one year in Monterey, I was selected for CDR and command of my former VP squadron, VP-49, which had moved to NAS Jacksonville and converted to P3Cs. In that tour, we deployed twice to Keflavik, Iceland. I thought Alaska was cold, but going from Florida to Iceland was a shock.
After that final squadron tour, we had a chance for many years of shore duty. We moved to Washington, DC where I served for four years on the OPNAV staff in OP-60. I started as a lowly "action officer" with assignments later as a temporary branch head and as the CNO's Secretary for JCS Matters. It was more than just interesting to work closely with such people as VADM Joe Moorer, VADM William Crowe (who would go on to be Chairman of the JCS) and RADM James Stockdale, the Medal of Honor recipient.
After a year at the National War College, I was all set to go to Brunswick, ME to work on the COMPATWINGLANT staff under RADM Dick Hedges, who I had worked for in the Pentagon. But Joe Moorer had taken over as CINCUSNAVEUR in London and wanted me there on his staff. While we were in London, VADM Crowe was slated to relieve Joe Moorer, and I was approved to be Crowe's Executive Assistant. Before he got to London, VADM Crowe got his fourth star and was rerouted to another job in Naples, Italy. I stayed on in London to work as Executive Assistant for VADM Hays.
After the London tour, we moved to Glenview, IL where we lived on the base while I spent five years as Commanding Officer and Professor of Naval Science at Northwestern University's NROTC Unit in Evanston. That ended my thirty year career, at which point I was dragged, kicking and screaming into the civilian world.
We raised four remarkable children who survived fourteen moves along the way. Pat did most of the raising since I was gone a lot. Glen and Jon graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy after which Glen became a P3 pilot and Jon became an F-14 pilot. Anne began university life in Europe, and came back to graduate from Northwestern University. David, after a tour in the Air Force, graduated from Southern Illinois University and the University of Oregon Law School. Glen is now a captain with United Airlines. Jon is now a captain with Delta Airlines. Anne is an international flight attendant with American Airlines. David is in Salem, OR, working for the state of Oregon.
Throughout my career, Pat was an enthusiastic participant in all the officers’ wives activities, serving at many duty stations as a Navy Relief advisor, Navy thrift shop worker, and counselor to all the squadron wives when I was XO and then CO of the squadron.
In retirement, I was the president of The Naval ROTC Scholarship Fund for twenty-five years, providing scholarship grants to Northwestern NROTC midshipmen. I was chairman of the Horner Foundation of the Naval Order of the U.S., which provides scholarship grants to all Illinois NROTC universities, and I was an officer in the Illinois Commandery of the Naval Order. I'm also active as a Director of the VP-2 Association. Pat is a past-president of the Glenview Officers Wives Club and is president of the Northwestern wives’ Social Services organization.
Our association with VP-2, both on active duty and as members of our group of retirees, has been remarkable. We still have friends from 56 years ago in the squadron, and we keep meeting new friends from that era. No other command in which I served has a following like VP-2's. Today's squadrons go on deployments, even to combat zones, and the personnel have continuous contact with their families through phone and internet connections. We didn't have that in our VP-2 deployments. In the 1950's and 1960's, we were lucky to get a phone call through to or from Alaska. The men relied on each other. The wives relied on each other. We formed strong, lasting bonds of friendship that will endure to our dying days.