Nick Niccum  VP-2  65-67

     I attended Oregon State University (OSU) in the early 60's.  One day while on coffee break from my student job I passed through the student bookstore on the way to the coffee shop and ran into a Navy Officer.  I approached him and ask if he knew anything about the Navy Flight program.  He told me he was there recruiting for the flight program and invited me to come take a test with another student.  After a trip to Seattle to the Sand Point NAS for a physical and after filling out a "raft" of paperwork, I was off to Pensacola as a NAVCAD  to join the U.S.  Naval School of Pre-flight class 13-63.

     I had a great time in pre-flight and basic flight training where I joined the Navy Flight Training Band.  They not only played in the friday graduation parades, but, traveled quite a bit.  We performed in Boston once where Lyndon Johnson was the guest of honor when he was Kennedy's vice president.  We traveled to Miami, marched in Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and performed at halftime in the Cotton Bowl when Navy played SMU.  It was 1963 and Navy was ranked nationally with Roger Staubach as their quarterback.  Unfortunately SMU upset them in that meeting.

     In spite of the travel with the band I finished flight training on time with my original classmates.  After receiving my wings I was sent to navigation training school in Corpus Christi, then off to the VP RAG in San Diego.  CDR Ragsdale who later became a VP-2 Commanding Officer was in my RAG training class.  I finally reported to VP-2 in June 1965, while they were on deployment in Iwakuni, Japan.I was assigned to crew 5.  Doug Millar was the PPC and Ken DeBoer was the copilot.  One of the highlights of that period was spending and overnight on Iwo Jima.  We had worked a sub southwest of Okinawa to far to make it back to Okinawa so we overnighted in Iwo Jima for fuel and rest.  What an experience to walk the soft sand of that beach and look up at Mt.  Suribachi where so many U.S Marines lost their lives.  It was a very emotional experience for me.  It was the kind of sand that gave way under your foot so with each step you only gained 1/2 a step.  Not the kind of surface you want if you are in a hurry as those young Marines were.  It was 1965 and since there are no natives on the island, there were still artifacts left from the battle.  I was later reassigned to Crew 11 where Dave Brougham was the TACCO.  We were both batchelors at the time and it proved to be a lifetime friendship.

     I met my life partner, Linda, while based at Whidbey.  She was a contestant in the "Miss Navy Whidbey" contest.  I was the Squadron Public Affairs Officer and our paths crossed at the photo lab on the old Sea Plane Base.  Ironically she was sponsored by Wes Lupien, owner of the Whidbey Flying Service and a former VP-2 pilot.

     I received orders to VC-5 in Okinawa, where they needed a P2 pilot for their P2V-5 drone carrying aircraft.  The orders were very sudden.  I came to work on a Monday morning and received a call from my "detailer" informing me of the ordrers to Okinawa.  In that five minute call I pretty much planned the rest of my life, thinking I would propose to Linda and take her with me.  Since I was to be in San Diego for transition training to the P2V-5, the next Monday, I wasted no time.  I hung up the phone and left the squadron and drove to Linda's home and proposed.  She accepted and by Thursday we had shipped everything we owned to Okinawa and were in my car on the way to California.  Since we hadn't had time to get married, I dropped he at her brothers home in Santa Barbara, CA, and proceeded to  San Diego to check into the RAG on Monday.  I rented and apartment during the week and drove back to Santa Barbara, the next weekend, and picked up Linda and drove to Las Vegas where we were married by a Cook County Judge in the courthouse.  Now, be advised, if you get married in Las Vegas the charge for the license and the ceremony is tripled on the weekend.  This surprise ran me a little low on cash, however, a brief stay at a poker table in a backroom the El Rancho casino on the strip made me financially healthy again.  Linda was standing behind me and the lady standing next to her said, "So your old man is playing poker too." Linda nodded a faint "Yes", with the reality that  we had been married about 30 minutes at that point.  Oh, to be young again.

    Spent 18 months in VC-5 on Okinawa.  I remember Doug Millar stopping by the flight line at Naha, as a newly minted co-pilot on a Northwest Airlines, 707.  While in VC-5 I flew the P2V-5 as well as the US-2C.  We towed targets for U.S Navy as well as the National Navy's of S.  Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.  We also carried cargo to the carriers based on "Yankee" station out of Cube Pt NAS.  I spent one month in Vietnam carrying cargo to small Navy installations in Vietnam.  During that mission I spent some nights  playing poker with VP-2 shipmates detached in Saigon.

    Got out of the Navy in January 1969 and gained employment with Northwest Airlines.  Laid off in June 1970, I affiliated with the Navy reserves, VP-69 at Whidbey;  applied for active duty and was sent to VT-31 Advanced Training in Corpus Christi.  1972 I was released again from the Navy and called back to work at NWA.  I affiliated with VP-69 at Whidbey again and achieved the rank of LCDR while there.  By 1974 my young family was growing and I had to make a decision to spend my weekends doing what I loved, flying, or spend time with my young family.  As I was already away many nights with my airline career the family won.  I withdrew from the reserves with 10 good years.  My career with NWA spanned 31 years where I flew the Boeing 727, 747, and the DC-10, with type ratings on the 727 and the DC-10.  My first attendance at a VP-2 reunion was at the invitation of CDR Al Rogstad.  He was a passenger on my flight from LAX-HNL and he recognized my voice on the PA and sent word up with a Flight Attendant.  I went back and talked to he and his wife.

    My only claim to fame is a vicarious one through my youngest son Christian.  He was a member of the U.S. Luge team and attended 3 Olympic Winter Games.  The last one was Souchi, after which he retired.  Early on as a member of the Junior National team as the top man of a doubles sled, he was 3 time junior world champion.  After he moved on to the National Team, he medalled in world cup competition, but, not in Olympic competition.  His best finish was a sixth place finish at the Vancouver B.C games.

    Linda and I have been married 48 years.  We raised 5 children, 3 boys and 2 girls.  We are the proud grandparents of 20 grandchildren ranging from 17 years to 8 months of age.  People ask me what I do in retirement, my response is "Enjoy my grandkids."

  I enjoy the reunions of the VP-2 Association.  What a great experience we all shared serving in the United States Navy and especially in the VP Navy.