|Vic Gulliver recounts an adventure from the 59-60 deployment to the Aleutians - |
A Real Sea Story
By Vic Gulliver
My first crew assignment in VP-2 was on George Silberstein’s Crew 9 in 1959. I figured I should tell this story now. John Cooper and I may be the only remaining members from that flight crew.
I arrived in the squadron in late September. The squadron was just starting to pack up to deploy to Kodiak/Adak in November. This was before the advent of the Replacement Air Group (RAG) where I might have learned how to fly the P2V-7 before arriving at VP-2. I knew nothing about how to fly the P2V or what a VP squadron did. They called us newcomers “nuggets.” I was given one or two familiarization flights before we deployed. I recall that Max Branscomb took me out on my first FAM flight and showed me a lot about the airplane. But, I was more of a liability to Crew 9 because of what I didn’t know, than I was an asset for what I did know, which wasn’t much. I did know how to navigate though.
George Silberstein was one of several first-tour Lieutenants in the squadron to have his own flight crew. Because of a quirk in the officer rotations, the squadron had transferred a lot of pilots just prior to the deployment. There was a big influx of new, unqualified pilots (like me). Perhaps because the CO had a lot of confidence in George Silberstein, he was given a flight crew including three other pilots, none of whom had qualified as PP2P (second-pilot) or PP3P (third-pilot) and we were facing a winter deployment to Alaska where flying can be treacherous. Besides George and me, the other two pilots on the crew were Bill Sterton (who coined the phrase, “It’s so nice out, I think I’ll leave it out!”) and Don Hindorff (whose pencil-thin moustache rivaled Clark Gable’s). Not to paint too gloomy a picture of our piloting skills, Bill and Don had come to VP-2 from VW-4 where they had probably amassed a couple thousand hours in piloting the Super Constellation on the Pacific radar barrier. They were experienced pilots, but they had no knowledge of the P2V or the mission of our squadron.
George Silberstein recognized right away that he had a problem. With a pilot crew consisting of himself and three PP-No-P’s, George could never leave the cockpit. It would be unwise to put two unqualified pilots together in the front seats because they might not (probably would not) know how to handle any unusual or emergency situations that could arise. For obvious reasons, George made it a high priority to train and qualify his other pilots. With Bill’s and Don’s many hours of flying experience, it made sense that they should get qualified as PP3P, PP2P and PPC long before a nugget like me. It was normally expected that it might take two years for a newcomer to qualify as Plane Commander (PPC). Those who came to the squadron with previous squadron flying experience were expected to qualify as PPC sooner, hopefully within six months. If I remember correctly, George qualified Bill and Don as PP3P’s even before we left for Kodiak in November. Shortly after we deployed to Alaska, Bill and Don were under pressure to qualify as PP2P’s.
With Alaskan weather as bad as you might expect in November, it was difficult to conduct pilot training flights, but somehow Bill and Don got the training they needed and passed their PP2P cockpit-check rides. All they needed to become fully-qualified PP2P’s was to pass a check ride in which they showed their competence in aerial navigation. So, on one of our first reconnaissance patrols out of Adak, George assigned Bill and Don, together, to do the aerial navigation, from pre-flight planning to take-off and all the way through the flight to landing. (“Oh Boy, I don’t have to navigate on this flight,” I said to myself.) Bill and Don plotted the intended track on a navigation chart and off we went with Bill and Don rotating from the cockpit to the Nav table throughout the flight. It was one of those pie shaped missions that took us from Adak out to the northwest for several hours, then a left turn to the southwest for a couple of hours, then a third leg back to Adak.
All went well on the first two legs, dipping down occasionally to identify and photograph surface contacts. As we made the final turn to head back to Adak, George looked down through a hole in the clouds and saw an island passing beneath us. That island shouldn’t have been there… or we shouldn’t have been over an island at that point. George called back to Bill on the intercom… “Are we lost; what’s that island we’re flying over?”
Bill responded calmly, “We’re not lost. We’re right where we’re supposed to be.”
“Well, what’s this island down below us,” George repeated, already knowing the names of most of the islands in the Aleutian Chain.
“Ahh, I can’t pronounce it,” Bill replied; “It’s something like KOM-AN-DOR-SKI.”
Three things happened almost simultaneously: (1) George’s face turned from red to pale and back to red again; (2) Our radioman shouted a codeword on the intercom that we later learned was a highly classified signal that we were about to be intercepted by Soviet aircraft; and (3) John Cooper (our Ordnanceman) came up on the intercom and said, “Hey, there’s two MiG’s flying formation on our right side… Oh, wait, there’s two more MiG’s on our left side.”
On George’s signal, Grady Orr (our Plane Captain) lit the jets as George pushed the nose over and dove into the cloud cover below. We couldn’t outrun the MiG’s, but we could hide in the clouds to avoid being attacked if they had that in mind. Cooper got some good photographs of the MiG’s before we lost contact with them. One photo showed one of the MiG’s close enough that we could make out the pilot’s extended finger.
As it turned out, we had flown directly over one of the Komandorsky Islands at the far western end of the Aleutian Chain, which Bill and Don didn’t realize were Soviet owned and occupied. One of those islands was home to a Soviet MiG fighter squadron. Bill and Don had misplotted our final turning point due to confusion over it being in east longitude instead of west longitude with which we were all more familiar. It was an easy error to make, but it took us a couple of hundred miles away from where we were supposed to be. Needless to say, we got back to Adak safely, but Bill and Don flunked their PP2P navigation checks. They did pass a subsequent check flight and went on later to each make Plane Commander.
I learned a lot from George Silberstein, not only about flying the P2V, but also about working with and leading a flight crew. Much of what he taught me was helpful later on when I got my own crew in VP-2, and in subsequent tours of duty in P3A and P3C squadrons. George practiced the “Do unto others…. golden rule” leadership style in which he treated people in the same manner that he wanted to be treated. I tried to use that same technique later in life, and it seemed to work pretty well. My tour in VP-2 was the foundation of my navy career and my experiences and our (Pat's and my) friendships there were positive factors in deciding to make the navy my career.
|This bit of Old Farmer's Advice came in over the transom. [nvsoar__09Dec08]|
|Operation Ivy Certificate sent by Robert Choate, son of
Robert B Choate.
|Wayne Cowen recalls the 1964 Good Friday Quake -
Earth Quake……Good Friday 27 March 1964 W. Cowen
Kodiak Island, Alaska…..U.S. Navy Patrol Squadron Two nearing the end of an Alaskan deployment and looking forward to a return to Whidbey Island, Washington and the “gals we left behind”.
The end of the week….”happy hour” underway at the O-Club. I was in my room on the second floor of the BOQ with several squadron mates and was just starting to change out of uniform and into “civies” for a run to the club for something to eat. At 5:36pm the first minor tremors were felt…..I recall someone saying… “hey, we are having a bit of an earthquake…..if you sit on the bed you can feel it”! Initially, it did not raise a concern …..we were used to regular tremors, especially at Adak Island in the Aleutians. However, the tremors rapidly increased into a shaking movement. A quick look out the window revealed the street below moving in a rolling manner…..and the building was beginning to sway! Damn, this was serious!
first thought was that the
building might come down and we needed to get out……FAST!
running down the hall I recall it was difficult to maintain balance
as I was being thrown from one wall to the other…..hall light
globes were crashing to the floor making it difficult to avoid
cutting my bare feet. As I reached the first floor and passed
female officer, it was only then that I realized I was still in my
under shorts. I saw a pair of jeans draped over a
hesitation I grabbed them and jumped into them on the run. As
exited the building most of the tremors had ceased……and, other
than a few bricks falling off the chimney, there was little apparent
Meanwhile at the squadron hangar, the duty officer Tom Rhodes was rounding up “happy hour” pilots from the club to taxi aircraft from the parking ramp (just above sea level) to higher ground. Wide cracks had opened-up in the ramps and taxiways. Fortunately, an aircraft that had been on jacks in the hangar five minutes before the quake, had been lowered. At one point Tom was reported to have said to his watch standers, “run for your life……. it’s every man for himself!” Moments before he had been courageously instructing them to remain calm.
It was getting dark as we rolled into the tower parking lot…..the radio in the car usually picked-up only a couple of stations, but at this moment the atmospherics for reception were unreal….each slight turn of the dial brought in a new station…..we even picked up a broadcast from Japan. Weird! We were beginning to get snatches of information announcing the earthquake. We decided to return to the Officers Club….safety in numbers maybe? For several hours that evening we sat by candlelight….electrical power had been lost….listening to battery-operated radios which were reporting destruction in Anchorage, Valdez, Kodiak and at other locations.
The next day revealed a number of modifications to the Alaskan landscape. Fires were particularly destructive at Valdez; Anchorage had considerable damage….including the collapse of the airport control tower. I went into the town of Kodiak before it was closed off and witnessed a lot of destruction of the shorefront area, and a number of large fishing boats deposited several “blocks”inland! The channel buoy in “Old Woman Bay” had been torn loose, also causing a degree of havoc. At the naval station water entered the VP hangar and rose to near the second deck level. A few of the end-of-deployment cruise boxes that had been stacked there, floated into the bay and others were submerged in-place. The boxes contained an assortment of squadron equipment; while others were loaded with personal merchandise purchased in Japan during the course of the deployment……cameras, electronic equipment, china, etc,etc. Portions of the east side of the island were now permanently underwater at high tide…..including about a twenty-foot drop in the approach end of the GCA runway.
Most of the squadron had a shortened deployment due to the damage at Kodiak, and returned early to Whidbey Island. I was not so lucky…….our flight crew was one of several to proceed to Adak to provide area turn-over instruction to the squadron relieving us…..the first P-3 Orion equipped squadron to deploy to Alaska. No time to sell the old Pontiac…..Greg Kelley, Jerry McDonald and I all signed-off on the title and Jerry drove into town and “gave it” to his girl friend the evening prior to our flight out the Aleutians.
We arrived at Whidbey a week or so later…..an interesting end to a unique “cruise”. A few days later I recall that the squadron cruise boxes had arrived and were placed in an open NAS hangar. A large portion of them had received major water damage. As I entered the hangar, boxes with dripping contents were being inspected and inventoried for the filing of personal loss claims….it was not a pretty sight! One trunk had an “extremely swollen” look with.metal packing bands holding it together. As my attention was diverted elsewhere, someone took a pair of “cutters” and released the metal band. With a “pop and a whirr” it went flying across the hangar at high speed……luckily, noone was killed! Examination of the contents revealed a quantity of rice purchased in Japan. I also recall the loss of some flight gear that had been in a locker at the hangar. Sometime later, as I filed a government equipment survey form, I remember listing the cause of loss……”An Act of God”. For sure……I had a new respect for what an earthquake and tsunamis could do.
epicenter of the
quake was 75 miles east
of Anchorage. The Richter magnitude was 8.6……the largest
earthquake to ever hit North America and the second largest ever
|From Mardy Lewis -
An Ode to my departed Skipper – D. P. LANAGHAN, Commanding Officer, VP-2, 1963
D.P. didn’t say much, probably because he always had a toothpick in his mouth!
As his TACCO for two years (XO then CO) it was a challenge and an education.
You taught me a lot Skipper and it stood me in good stead.
I wish I could have been there for your final muster. Sayonara and thank you for the privilege of serving our country with you.
CAPT, USN, (Ret) [nvsoar__16Jan2008]
From Evis Barnett -
Harry and I want to extend our sympathy to CDR Lanaghan's family regarding his passing. We just checked our e-mail after 10 days away, thus our late response.
We were in VP-2 from February 1959 to July 1962 and Harry was CDR Lanaghan's plane captain while he was Executive and also Commanding Officer. We left Whidbey that summer of 1962 so you can see they flew many patrols together. In fact, Harry was listed as #1 in the 600 Club of 1961 with 849.3 hours of flight time, more than any other member of a flight crew, And you know why, don't you? Because CDR Lanaghan really loved to fly !!
He was a very competent P2V pilot and as he always said to Harry "I wrote the book on the P2V Neptune" and Harry thinks he probably did for he was the best. Flying patrols was a real joy to CDR and you had to know your job because he knew most everything about every position on the P2V after his many years of flying. That is why he and Harry did so well together for 12 plus months.
We knew he had brothers and sisters that he cared about but he would not get close to our girls, ages 5, 7 and 9. That was OK, for it was a busy time in those years flying patrols to Kodiak and Adak.
Harry learned a lot from CDR Lanaghan's expertise and hopefully CDR learned alittle from Harry Barnett also......that a flight crew becomes another family. We were always hoping he would attend one of our VP-2 reunions and we always inquired about him through the years. What a dedicated military man he was and it was an honor for all of his crew to fly with him. He really loved his Doublemint gum and to this day Harry and the guys still chuckle about his gum chewing.
We extend to them our sympathy and sadness for he was indeed a special man. [nvsoar__16Jan2008]
|From Vic Gulliver - A letter to Patrick
Lanaghn (nephew) for the Lanaghan family -
As did all the others on the address list above, I served with your uncle in VP-2. I was a young lieutenant with a wife and three kids living paycheck to paycheck on a rather small salary. We knew that CDR Lanaghan was a bachelor without all the household expenses of married life. Nonetheless, we were surprised to hear from one of the admin officers that, when the time came to pack up his office in Kodiak for the return trip to Whidbey Island at the end of a six-month deployment, CDR Lanaghan opened his desk drawer and pulled out all of his uncashed paychecks from the deployment to pack up with his office papers.
Because he was the Commanding Officer, he was known to us as "Captain" Lanaghan, the honorary title given to commanding officers regardless of their actual rank. Behind his back, some referred to him as "D.P." Some named him "Studs." All who served under him deeply respected his leadership abilities and even-handedness, and most notably, his skills in flying the P2V.
And now, an anecdote: When CDR Lanaghan was the Executive Officer of the squadron in the year before he was C.O., we all served under CDR Lanaghan's predecessor, CDR Emil E. Pierre, who was not well liked by many. Among other unredeeming qualities, he had a quick temper and little regard for his people. As the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Officer, one of my duties was to make a monthly report to higher authority on the number of sonobuoys and practice depth charges (PDC's) we had used and the number remaining on hand. It so happened that we had a great number of outdated and seldom-used PDC's of many different types that had to be reported each month. We had a newer, more reliable model of PDC on hand that everyone used, and so the same old PDC's had to be counted and reported each month. Our report to higher authority would have been greatly simplified if we could use up all the old PDC's.
One day, when Captain Pierre was due to go out on an ASW flight, he asked his ordnanceman to load a certain number of the old PDC's for use that day. He was told that we no longer had those old PDC's in stock, so Captain Pierre inquired about the many other old PDC's that he knew we had. Again, he was told that all the old PDC's had been used up. Since we hadn't done any recent ASW operations, Captain Pierre knew that he was being lied to. It was like the famous, fictional case of the missing strawberries. Of course, he ran from the ordnance office to my office, in a rage, to get to the truth.
I had no idea what had happened to the missing PDC's, but I promised Captain Pierre that by the time he got back off his flight I would have an answer. (Actually, it was less of a promise on my part, and more of a threat on his part.) My first course of action was to call the X.O., CDR Lanaghan, to report that the C.O. was highly outraged regarding the missing PDC's. "Oh, that," CDR Lanaghan replied; "We threw those out on our last flight just to get rid of them."
"Are you going to tell the Captain about that?" I asked. "I'm kind of on the hook here."
"Who me?" He replied... "Not a chance. Don't worry about it, though; the C.O. will calm down and get over it."
I wasn't so sure. Fortunately for me, Captain Pierre's flight returned to base in the middle of the night, so I didn't have to be there when he landed. I often wondered if he came looking for me at that hour, but I never heard. The next day, all was calm and the C.O. didn't mention the PDC's. At the end of the month, we reported that all the old PDC's had been expended in an ASW exercise and the subject was never raised again. I can only assume that when the C.O. landed, CDR Lanaghan was there to set the C.O. straight, and possibly even give him a lesson or two on how to deal with crises and junior officers. He probably also mentioned that, although the PDC's were disposed of fraudulently, the X.O.'s crew had only done what the C.O. was planning to do himself that night (only the X.O's crew had done the complete job).
CDR Lanaghan was one of the "good guys." His quiet leadership style struck an early chord with me. I tried to emulate his style in the remainder of my thirty-year Navy career. I'm sure he will be missed by friends and family alike. My wife and I both offer our sincere condolences at your loss. Best regards, Victor S. Gulliver, Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.) [nvsoar__16Jan2008]
|From Dave Bowen on learning of Cdr Lanaghan's death -
Sad day. Maybe it's time to have a few "I remember when" about Cap'n Lanaghan. Like how he always seemed to be chewing gum, at least as I remember it. And he wore his "piss cutter" at a jaunty angle. As a young junior officer, as tradition had it, you were suppose to invite the CO over to dinner at least once. I did. He asked what we were going to have for dinner. I told him. He declined. I was greatly relieved. To tell the truth, I was scared spitless of him. Or the time I ended up as his copilot on a very long patrol from Kodiak, up to meet a submarine when it came out from under the ice pack. It was the longest flight in a P2 I think I ever did. He sat in the left seat the whole flight, drank at least one cup of coffee per hour....and never got up to use the relief tube...the whole time. Or how about the time when we put on the big Christmas party at the O'Club at Kodiak for all the station people. We put on a skit and Vic was the "weather man", Ledbetter was the Duty Officer, etc. The Admiral was REALLY upset with us and Cap'n Lanaghan took the brunt of the "dressing down".
Well, that's enough from me although I could go on. I had great admiration for him. He didn't talk a whole lot but when he did, you better be listening. Also, he could fly that old P2 like nobody else. Seems like he had over 10,000 hours pilot time back then. That was a lot!!
Good memories. Dave Bowen [nvsoar__28Dec2007]
|Sorry to hear of Cdr Lanaghan's passing.
I was a junior officer in VP-2 while he was XO and CO. He was a pilot's pilot. He knew the airplane forward backwards. He was affectionately known as "Studs" Lanaghan.
One small personal story I'll never forget demonstrated how he operated. In Naval Aviation there were two instrument ratings -- a "white card" pilot who was limited to certain weather conditions and a "green card" pilot who, based on accumulating a considerable number of instrument hours and total experience, could sign his own flight plan. The acquisition of the green card was at the discretion of the CO.
One extremely foggy night during a hot submarine chase it appeared that as a "white card" pilot I would not be able to launch (the conditions so bad that it required a follow-me truck just to get to the runway for take-off). "Studs" was there while I was getting my weather briefing and he talked as if I was going to launch. When I said that I didn't have a "green card" he simply said "You do now." As I thought back on it, I know that he was quite sure of my abilities and not simply bowing to the pressure of the situation. While I was a qualified Plane Commander I was too junior to have my own crew, yet I often had the opportunity to take the crew for detachment duties while deployed in the Aleutian Islands. I remembered the many times that he was present with the approach controllers during some nasty weather approaches I had made.
I think this was indicative of how he operated. Though quiet and unassuming he knew his personnel well and was a very effective CO. I remember him as one of the best.
Wayne Lamer [nvsoar__27Dec2007]
WHAT THE NAVY HAS MEANT TO ME!
In downtown St. Louis there stands a fine stone building named simply “Soldiers Memorial”. Upon entering you would immediately notice a large mural on one wall depicting a Naval aviator standing in flight gear in front of his WW2 Grumann wildcat. It’s Lt. Cdr Butch O’Hare. He was our first “ace” in that war.
Chicago named O’Hare field after Butch, but he was living in St. Louis before the war. I know this because his home was in a second story apartment on Bates Avenue, in South St. Louis.
On Sunday mornings it was our ritual, (my Dad and I), to drive down to Grandma Ryan’s cold-water flat for a visit. On the way we would pass Butch’s home where there hung a star in the window. Dad explained to me what that star represented and so every Sunday as we passed I would glance up to see that the star was still there and so all was well and Butch was fighting on somewhere in the Pacific.
Then one day, as we passed, I noticed there was something different about that star. It had changed somewhat. The colors were different. I mentioned it to Dad as we drove on and I kept starring out the window. Dad didn’t reply, and so turning from the window I looked at him. He had the side of his fist pressed against his mouth and there were tears in his eyes. I’d never seen Dad like that before. In a moment he regained his composure and in a voice somewhat choked with emotion he said, “The change in Butch’s star means that he is missing in action and presumed dead.”
The visit to Grandma’s was a quiet one that day as was the ride home.
We continued our weekly ritual in the weeks and months to follow and I still glanced up at the star when we passed. I guess I was hoping it would change back and Butch would be found alive, but of course, that never happened.
CKoI was only five years old then, but I remember one particular Sunday, as we passed, and I was lost in thoughts about the war, Butch, and his sacrifice, I blurted out, “Dad when I grow up I want to be a Navy flyer”. No response, and so turning I saw Dad, for only the second time in my life, with a tear in his eye. I didn’t know it then, but I know now, those were tears of pride.
Old Reliable -- P2V-5
In November 1955, while stationed at NAS Whidbey Island, we got ordered TAD to NAS North Island, San Diego. We were flying P2V-5's at the time - two engines - no jet pods.
We would fly 12-hour missions, 3 hours out (southwest), then 6 hours on station, locating fishing boats and pleasure craft with our radar, then calling a destroyer to escort them out of the area. The government was going to explode and test a small nuclear device. The fishing boats owners knew this would kill a lot of fish, so they kept entering this zone to try to prevent the operation.
Well, we had flown 3 hours -- just started our patrol pattern and BANG - our starboard engine blew a cylinder and quit. We were at 2,600 feet altitude. We called the base and began SOS and, I think, a mayday call. We turned back toward North Island, put the port engine on full rich, and dropped to 900 feet (it was night). The pilot gave us orders to throw out everything to lighten our load. We used crash axes to cut everything free and out went tool boxes, stove, top deck turret machine guns, etc.
It took us 6 hours to fly back to base on one engine.
When we finally landed I got out and kissed the runway. The engine was white hot and shut itself down. The pilot came back and asked if I was scared. I replied, "yes sir, right up to and including now." He then asked if I was going to fly with him Friday and I replied "yes, sir." He then said "don't worry about being scared, Mr. Melton, we were all scared, but the courage comes in when you keep flying."
Our old, reliable P2V-5 had gotten us back to our base safely, on one engine. Thank God, Lockheed, and our plane mechanic.
From Don Melton (Crew 2)
Overeem, May 10, 2006
Stories of my crew, (YC-02), that took place during the 67/68 WestPac deployment. The crew members assigned to CREW 2 were:
USS Pueblo Hijacking
After flying our required missions in support of Market Time (January 1968) from Tan Son Nhut airdrome located in Saigon, we proceeded back to Sangley for a break. During our down time in Sangley, I requested permission from the Wing Commander via the CO, CDR Dagg, to fly the crew to Australia for three days of R&R. Permission was granted and we were planning an early morning departure from Sangley on Jan 24, 1968. Needless to say the entire crew was excited.
We had no idea that the USS Pueblo had been captured by the North Koreans on Jan 23 until early morning of Jan 24. I was alerted to round up my crew and proceed to Iwakuni, Japan ASAP (there went our liberty in Australia). If my memory serves me correctly, CDR Dagg and his crew (YC-01), and one other crew (YC-09 or YC-11) also departed for Iwakuni that morning.
Arriving at Iwakuni, we were met by various Air Intelligence officers to follow them for a briefing. The air intelligence officers were receiving information about the capture of the USS Purblo only from the Armed Forces Radio. We had to wait until the latest news came in before we were briefed on the incident (very little info available).
The USS Kitty Hawk and her escorts were in Hong Kong on liberty when the USS Pueblo was captured. Liberty was cancelled and all hands were rounded up to proceed to the Sea of Japan.
If my memory and my Log Book is correct, YC-02 departed from Iwakuni on the afternoon on Jan 25, 1968 and proceeded to the northern section of the Sea of Japan to work with the nuclear cruiser USS Truxtun. Our aircraft was equipped with depth bombs in the Bomb Bay and a full load of rockets on the wing stations and Presidential Authority to expend the weapons if necessary. I’m sure that we were over 80,000 lbs during takeoff.
As we headed west toward a gap in a mountain range at approximately 6,000 ft., the true airspeed began to bleed off, altitude began to drop but turbulence was nil. We were apparently in a strong downdraft approaching the gap due to strong westerly winds. We had to increase recip engine power to military and light-off the jets to climb and gain airspeed in order to fly through the gap. We sent a message to base to alert the other crews regarding mountain wave conditions.
We had to fly approximately three hours to intercept the USS Truxtun. Truxtun’s duty was to identify vessels by radar and direct aircraft to determine the ship’s nationality and whether or not they are North Korean or Russian warships.
It was dark and cold when we arrived “on station,” the weather was thick and visibility was approximately zero/zero from approximately 6,000 ft to the deck. Fortunately, our deicing equipment and the Janitrol heaters were working. Truxtun had a few radar targets that they wanted us to evaluate. We descended toward the targets as the Truxtun directed our bearing. All external electronic emissions were off in order to surprise the target. The weather was terrible, zero visibility and icing, however, very little turbulence was encountered. As we descended through 1,000 ft., I directed the radio operator to extend his trailing wire antenna to its limit, and to let me know if it shorts out, indicating we are too close to the sea. At approximately 2 miles from the target, we leveled off at approximately 100 ft. altitude in order to clear a fairly large ship if needed. At ½ mile, we turned on the landing lights (the searchlight would create a vivid glare and blind the pilots). We could barely identify the vessels. They were all either Japanese fishing ships or freighters.
After each run was completed, we climbed above the weather to relax and wait for the next target. We ran into a problem during the last vector from the Truxtun. As we were descending toward the target, the elevator trim system was not responding properly. The elevator trim was heavy and I had full forward trim in and still had to push hard against the yoke to prevent the nose from coming up. We broke off the vector, started the jets, reduced recip power and began a climb (still holding pressure against the yoke). During the climb, either the radio operator or the Julie/ECM operator, Harold Rolls or Rich Whitlock, announced on the intercom “FIRE IN THE AFTERSTATION.” Immediately, the plane captain (Max Lucero) left his station between the pilots and grabbed two fire extinguishers and flew over the wing beam toward the afterstation. The extra life vests that were hanging in the afterstation appeared to be on fire with a large amount of red smoke. Max quickly extinguished the fire.
Apparently, the manual control diverter valve was out of position and caused all the hot air at full temperature to blow onto the life vests which caused the Day-Night distress signals to ignite. Due to the diverter valve out of position, the horizontal stabilizer was not receiving heat which resulted in the leading edges building ice while in the weather. The ice cleared from the horizontal stabilizer once the diverter valve was reset and the elevator trim system operated normally.
We were getting low on fuel (primarily due to using the jets from time to time) and had to return to Iwakuni as soon as practical. We did have some minor injuries due to the afterstation fire. We were due to be relieved soon (I believe by CDR Dagg’s crew, YC-01). Needless to say, we had an eventful 10.5 hr flight.
Later, the P2’s were sent to the southern section of the Sea of Japan to allow shorter transits and longer on station times while the P3’s were sent to the northern areas.
Crew YC-02 returned to Sangley Pt. on February 4, 1968 after 4 more missions in the Sea of Japan in support of the USS Pueblo capture.
Viet Cong Tet Offensive
Fortunately, YC-02 crew was out of country during the beginning of the Tet Offensive.
February 6, 1968, YC-02 returned to Vietnam, to Cam Rahn Bay due to the Tet Offensive. On February 8, we dispatched to Tan Son Nhut airport in Saigon to pick up CDR Maice and fly him to Cam Rahn Bay to establish the new detachment. During the Tet Offensive that commenced in Saigon the squadron had damage to aircraft and the maintenance line shack and the runways received some damage. The hotels that the officers and enlisted were quartered in sustained major damage. Many of our troops were caught unaware in Saigon in Jan 30, 1968. We had people caught at various locations in Saigon, at different hotels, hiding in bushes, Vietamese homes, etc. It would be very interesting to hear their stories. [nvsoar 07Jun2006]
story of the Iwakuni Line Crew from the 66 deployment - sent by Allen
During the deployment to Iwakuni, Japan in 1966, the line shack was seperate from the hangar. There was a bald spot on the little yard in front of the line shack. Boards were put in the ground to seperate the grass from the dirt forming a square. A hole was dug in the ground, and a bamboo pole was put in the ground to be used as a flag pole. Rocks were put on the ground to cover the dirt. There were poles put around the boarded area and a rope was attached to form a ceremonial area. Different parts were assembled to look like a cannon, and put in the ceremonial area. A flag was made with cross anchors and wings with the words " VP-2 Line " in the middle of the flag, and hung on the flag pole. The line flag was raised and lowered daily.
The people in VP-1 would pass by the VP-2 line shack to get from their barracks to their hanger, and then back to their barracks. Their was a friendly competition between VP-1 and VP-2.
One evening, the VP-2 LINE flag was left on the flagpole, no one took the flag down for the night.
The next morning the VP-2 Line flag was missing.
When asked, the members of VP-1 who passed by the VP-2 line shack, denied taking the VP-2 Line flag, and no one in VP-1 knew where the VP-2 LINE flag was.
Well, it seems that VP-1 had won the Battle Efficiency E flag, and had a meatball flag hanging above their duty office.
One evening people from VP-2 went to the VP-1 duty office, and liberated VP-1's meatball flag, but got caught, and had to put the flag back.
About two hours later, the same people from VP-2 went back to the VP-1 duty office and again liberated the VP-1 meatball flag, this time getting away with the flag.
The next morning VP-1's meatball flag was flying on the VP-2 LINE flagpole.
When the people from VP-1 saw their meatball flag hanfing from the VP-2 Line flagpole, the people from VP-1 asked us to give them their flag back.
The people from VP-1 were informed that they could have their meatball flag back, when we received the VP-2 Line flag back.
The people from VP-1 denied having the VP-2 Line flag.
We informed the people from VP-1 that we were keeping the meatball flag until we received the VP-2 Line flag.
And so it went, until the Executive Officer of VP-1, personally came to the line shack of VP-2. The Executive Officer of VP-1 asked us " If I give you back your flag back, will you give me VP-1's flag back?"
We answerered the Commander by saying " Yes Sir." At which time the Executive Officer of VP-1 hand us the VP-2 LINE flag. We took down the VP-1 Meatball flag from the VP-2 flagpole, folded the flag, and then handed the meatball flag to the Executive Officer of VP-1. We saluted the Executive Officer of VP-1, and the Executive Officer of VP-1 left the area.
We then put the VP-2 LINE flag back on our flagpole.
When people from VP-1 would pass by the VP-2 line shack and saw that we had our VP-2 Line flag back, we were asked where we got our flag from? We informed the people from VP-1 that their Executive Officer had given it to us.
The people from VP-1 asked us where their Executive Officer got the flag?
We informed the people from VP-1, that we did not know, their Executive Officer didn't say.
The people from VP-1 told us that they thought that they had hidden the VP-2 Line flag pretty well.
We informed the people of VP-1 that they hadn't hidden the flag well enough, because their Executive Officer somehow got ahold of the VP-2 Line flag and returned it to us. nvsoar 17Mar2006
Seng ran across this item recently -
For all you old VP pilots out there, how long has it been since we were all young together?
Strangers becoming more like brothers than friends. Sharing things that most will never know, building bonds that are stronger than blood.
Rolling down the runway into a formless black night, when land and sky are one. Only the gauges point to altitude and life. Or into a hot, still day, dangerously over safe single-engine weight, and lift seems but a theory. Straining your grommet, willing the tired bird to climb.
Hours strapped in those hard seats, waiting for those delicious (?)steak dinners to be passed up from the after station, seemingly alone in the universe except for eleven other daring airmen. Sweating the minimums at destination (can sweat replace fuel?) GCA through the muck, bathed in St. Elmo's ghostly glow. On the gauges, occasional glances outside, searching for faint lights and hopefully a decent runway. Gear down, flaps down, whoa Nellie! Down at last, praying that you didn't get another tail skag, slam into reverse, YES!!!
And who can forget those dreaded post-flight intel briefings, and paperwork that wouldn't quit. Finally either off to the O-Club or to the sack. And joys that never grow old: On top of sun-blessed clouds, little less than gods. Or high on a clear night, a billion stars humbling the soul. The low-level rush, hills grabbing for your guts, firing off the rockets, dropping sonobuoys and once in a while actually hearing something lurking down under the sea.
Happy hours at the club. Unplanned weekend parties. Married couples feeding bachelor J.O.s. Off to WestPac. Memories of Naha and Kadena and the Friday night Habu/Mongoose fights. Singing "Rolling down the runway, headed for a ditch, I looked down in the cockpit, my god, I'm in high pitch. I pulled back on the yoke, rose up in the air, Glory, Glory Hallelujah, how did I get there."
Sangley Point and San Miguel, Hong Kong suits, floating restaurants, Tiger Balm Gardens and T.Y.Lee. Fishing in Kodiak. Rebuilding the hunting lodge. Landing in Anchorage at midnight in broad daylight. And who can ever forget the homeward bound flights, the first strains of Hawaiian music, and J. Aku Head Pupule. Formation fly-over Barbers Point, and the waiting wives, kids, and band.
Life on the edge brings soaring highs but also crushing
lows. Friends, so full of life, can they really be gone?
Empty BOQ rooms
bring a sad truth: fatherless kids, widows, young men who will never
grow old. Knowing that death was right around the corner but
that it would never be you. Practicing for war until the real
came along. Then, the wrong war in the wrong place, fought
way. Too many giving their all for so little good.
Does anyone remember
but those of us who loved them? The wall may be black, but the names
are golden. Now, those who remain come together in joy, the
and the bonds forever strong. And, for a moment, we are all
together again! [nvsoar 28Jun2005]
memory jogger came in over
the transom. [nvsoar
We gotta get rid of those turbines, they're ruining aviation and our hearing... A turbine is too simple minded, it has no mystery. The air travels through it in a straight line and doesn't pick up any of the pungent fragrance of engine oil or pilot sweat. Anybody can start a turbine. You just need to move a switch from "OFF" to "START" and then remember to move it back to "ON" after a while. My PC is harder to start. Cranking a round engine requires skill, finesse and style. You have to seduce it into starting. It's like waking up a horny mistress. On some planes, the pilots aren't even allowed to do it... Turbines start by whining for a while, then give a lady-like poof and start whining a little louder. Round engines give a satisfying rattle-rattle, click-click, BANG, more rattles, another BANG, a big macho FART or two, more clicks, a lot more smoke and finally a serious low pitched roar. We like that. It's a GUY thing... When you start a round engine, your mind is engaged and you can concentrate on the flight ahead. Starting a turbine is like flicking on a ceiling fan: Useful, but, hardly exciting. When you have started his round engine successfully your crew chief looks up at you like he'd let you kiss his girl too! Turbines don't break or catch fire often enough, leading to aircrew boredom, complacency and inattention. A round engine at speed looks and sounds like it's going to blow any minute. This helps concentrate the mind! Turbines don't have enough control levers or gauges to keep a pilot's attention. There's nothing to fiddle with during long flights. Turbines smell like a Boy Scout camp full of Coleman Lamps. Round engines smell like God intended machines to smell.
couple of images submitted by Joe Ryan on patrol in the Far East.
Jump seat - Dick Renning, AD1, Plane Captain; Joe Ryan, ATR3, Radar, wearing headset facing port enjoying his chicken leg; RE Jones ADR3, 2Mech in 2nd radar seat; CW "Pete" Runnette, LTJG, Nav facing forward; Bobby Behan, ATN3, ECM seated on deck facing starboard. Image taken in fall of 1958 while on " Oscar" patrol in YC-6, Buno135550, out of Iwakuni. LCDR RJ "Pete" Black, PC; RP Jones, LTJG, CP; other crew members not shown were Dave Au, AT2, Rdo; "Red" Noel, ATAN, 2Rdo; R Befus, Ord; D MacDonald, Elec. Crew was known as "Black's Beer Barrels." In this version of a pre-Julie/Jez Neptune, two radar positions were immediately aft of the cockpit bulkhead, then Nav, then ECM. Image taken by Dave Au over the wing beam, provided by Joe Ryan. [nvsoar 29May2005]
Typical North Pacific conditions while rigging - in this case a Soviet warship (Type?)
Ryan recollects his Whidbey fishing adventures
After returning from Iwakuni in Feb of '59, we were able to pursue more of our water sport activities as summer approached. Among these were skin and scuba diving. Only four or five of us had the full equipment necessary to engage in this exciting and challenging endeavor, but they were gracious enough to share their suits and tanks with the rest of us. The suits shown in the picture were called "dry suits" as "wet suits" were just being introduced. The dry suits were not insulated and that made it difficult to stay in the cold Puget Sound waters for very long, but we were all "hot blooded" young bucks and didn't seem to mind a little hypothermia. We always dived from the shore because we had not boat, still we always seemed to have good luck locating plenty of fish to harvest. These fish supplied many a fish fry for the squadron and also found their way into the freezers of our married shipmates. To my memory, most of the fish we speared were Ling Cod, Rock Cod and Sea Bass. They varied in weight from four to eight pounds. With one hour of air in each tank we usually cam home with twenty or so fish. My contribution was usually puny because, for the life of me, I couldn't see those camouflaged little buggers hiding in the rocks on the bottom. I was also too busy looking over my shoulder for that man eating shark or "Blackfish", aka Killer Whale. We never encountered any, but we occasionally saw an octopus. Most if the time we swam in fifty feet of water or less so we never had to decompress before returning to the surface. Anyway, there was no reason to go deeper with so many fish available just offshore. Our favorite places were the ferry docking piers at the ends of Whidbey Island. Small fish hung around those pilings, and they would draw in the larger predator fish. Featured in the picture are ten of our VP2 shipmates, six of which are members of our association. From left to right - Dave Finley, Arley Hamilton, Ray Bryant, GB Holt, Mike Willmot, Joe Ryan, Red Noel, Tex Givens, Bill "Ski" Zambriskhi and a skinny Mike O'Gara.
You couldn't beat a Saturday afternoon fish fry at Chief Fisher's home. Plenty of cold beer and fried fish, fresh from the sea and hot off the grill. Yum! Joe. [nvsoar 20Apr2005]
you found your baggage yet? By Bob Champoux
During one of my many phone calls recruiting folks to join the VP-2 Association, I happened to call Jim Swift. As soon as I introduced myself, he asked if “I had found my luggage yet?
Memories that sometimes you wish you could forget came flooding back! Early one morning in 1969, Crew One launched YC-01 out of Sangley Point for an in-country stint at Cam Rahn Bay. We were loaded with not only our luggage for a 2-3 week period but also urgently needed spare parts and supplies for the Detachment at Cam Rahn Bay. After lifting off, I called “Gear UP” and …… nothing happened! “Flaps UP” didn’t work either. A little bit of troubleshooting indicated that we had lost electrical control of the hydraulic system but the basic hydraulics were working fine. A nuisance problem since we could activate flaps and landing gear using the manual overrides on the hydraulic valves located in the manifold in the tunnel to the bow station. We decided to push on because the parts were urgently needed and because landing at Cam Rahn wouldn’t be much of a problem (nice weather, coupled with a wide 13,000’ runway so reverse and nose wheel steering for directional control and taxiing would work just fine).
As we approached Cam Rahn, I decided to “dirty up” early and had our plane captain (who shall remain nameless) to go below and lower the flaps to 15 - 20 degrees by holding the valve for several seconds. He came up from below and I asked him why he hadn’t dropped the flaps (no pitch change); he went back down and within a short while, I noticed the pitch change associated with the flaps being down. A few minutes later we dropped the landing gear using the same procedure. I “greased” the partial flaps landing, reversed to a stop (no pedal brakes) and taxied into the VP-2 line. As I was approaching the designated parking spot on the line, the taxi director had a quizzical look on his face as he crossed his wands for us to stop (with the parking brake). We crawled out of the airplane and were standing around talking to the folks that had greeted us when the Squadron pickup truck rolled up and we were asked “where’s the baggage and the parts?”
Everyone in the crew looked at each other and then at the airplane and then we noticed that the Bomb bay doors were open. This wasn’t so unusual except for the fact that we had loaded all of the luggage and parts on (the partially opened) Bombay doors at Sangley Point. The normal procedure would have been to partially re-open them after we were parked using the auxiliary electric motor control in order to remove the “cargo” without it falling to the tarmac. The quizzical look on the taxi director’s face was because this was the first time that he had ever directed in a P-2V with the doors already open. It suddenly hit us! We had landed the airplane with the Bombay doors open! A quick look at the back end of the doors showed no damage; (the clearance between the ground and the open doors is very minimal; had I landed nose up (full flaps) or had a solid “carrier navy” landing and fully compressed the struts, we would have ground off the back of the doors. Remember when I asked for 20 Flaps and didn’t sense the pitch change? The plane captain inadvertently activated the Bomb Bay doors hydraulic valve: LUGGAGE AWAY into the South China Sea! And now the rest of the story ……
The US Army issued the entire crew several sets of uniforms; skivvies, etc. Brand new fatigues, Army insignia. Really cool! But…. the Army was also responsible for patrolling the beaches of the Cam Rahn Bay Peninsula. After a few days, our skivvies (very properly stenciled) and pieces of our luggage started washing up on the Beach. The Army had great fun and made a very big deal” out of returning this “stuff” to us. (My B-4 bag floated up complete with the handle, the outer frame, my name tag, and absolutely nothing else). “Have you found your luggage yet?” [nvsoar 08Dec2004]
this article with his personal recollection of the sinking of U-615 off
Curacao in August 1943. [nvsoar 28Nov2004]
Doug: There is considerable more detail involving the demise of one surfaced U-boat than is summarized here below in the Historical section of VP-2. Perhaps this is too long but this is how it went, blow by blow. 6 Aug 1943: Lieutenant Holmes and his crew sank the German submarine, U-615, commanded by Kaptainleutnant Ralph Kapitzky. The submarine was caught on the surface in the Caribbean southeast of Curacao and damaged badly enough by the bombs to prevent it from submerging. Unable to escape, the German crew scuttled the vessel. Forty-five of the U-boat's crew of 49 were rescued by U.S. Navy vessels.
VB-130 was operating out of Xeres runway under the jurisdiction of the U S Army Air Corp 32nd Bombardment Group located in Trinidad, B. W. I. The nearest naval base was Port Of Spain, Trinidad. Crew #5, Lt (jg) Ted Holmes(*), Pilot, Ens. Robert L. Tonner, Co-pilot, Jens Oli Madsen(*), AMM 2/c, Plane Captain, Ken Healy, AOM 3/c Tail gunner and James R. Alsop, ARM 3/c Radio/Radarman. The crew was ordered out to engage a surfaced U-boat, however; the stand-by aircraft failed and another aircraft (PV-1 #33227) was loaded and started out on it's mission. Some rather extensive time after take off, an LTA was spotted on the scene wherein the U-boat was operating. We immediately switched over to wing tanks and dropped our two auxiliary tanks, one hanging from each wing.
Their were two PBM's on duty and the submarine was fully surfaced and fully armed with AA and machine guns. A coordinated attack was planned which called for PBM's to attack with their machine guns to aid the PV-1 in making it's bombing run. The attack was successful and Holmes made a perfect straddle with the depth charges. On the way in the U-boats fire power successfully removed the PV-1 antenna mast. Our speed was 308 knots and the U-boat was not used to tracking an aircraft at that speed, however; their tracers were right overhead. Now disabled, the submarine had slowed from about 10 knots down to 2 knots and could only do figure eights as her steering mechanism had been damaged. Subsequent attacks were carried out, the next or second attack resulted in the death of the pilot of one of the PBM's when he was struck in the chest with incendiaries. At that instant he hit the pickle switch and dropped his bombs which fell short. His alert co-pilot grabbed the controls which saved the ship and crew from sudden death. The Chief AMM, standing next to his pilot tried frantically to put out the smoking incendiaries imbedded in the chest of the pilot. Somewhere during the engagement, one of the PBM's had been killed with it's crew of eleven. The LTA continued to seek permission to attack the submarine, however; it would have been it's death due to the size and slowness of the LTA. She would later be destroyed by the upcoming storm after seeking a mooring site on an uninhabited island.
Crew #5 continued it's attacks on the U-boat until fuel supplies ran extremely low. We dropped our trailing antenna and sent a signal out to any vessel or shore station for a final bearing before leaving. A encoded position and situation report had already been sent out and it was later learned that the U S S Walker was dispatched from her task force, which included the U S S Bunker Hill, headed for the Panama Canal on her way to the Pacific theatre. The usual cruel and bad weather was rapidly moving in and it was impossible to get an RDF as each bearing varied from 160 degrees to as much as 240 degrees. No two bearings ever the same. We were hopelessly lost until a very thin line was seen on the 90 mile radar range. We "guessed" that it was land as a rain storm would not provide that rather sharp but very thin line. It had to be the coast of Venezuela with it's rich bauxite deposits along the coast line. Bearing on the upper left portion of the radar screen meant we were headed in the wrong direction. After some navigational corrections we later passed over the light house on the island of Granada. Beautiful sight, that light. (Tonner would meet the grandson of the light house keeper many years later). The next challenge was to find and get through the pass which was the only way to our runway. It popped up rather frightfully as the radar was dropped down to the ten mile range, just seconds away from hitting the mountain on the right. Turn port 45 degrees scream still resounds through out that PV-1. Touching down at the runway, we tabulated that we had been out 6.9 hours, two of which were in total darkness and with a great deal of apprehension as to our safe return. One other Ventura made it in shortly thereafter but running out of fuel right as they touched down.
Story climax? Kaptainlieutenant Kapinsky ordered his crew into their life boats the next morning after spotting the Walker headed toward them. He would then take his boat down and still remains there to this day. The Bunker Hill would be tragically put out of action shortly after arriving in the Pacific. Some 178 men were buried at sea, including my two shipmates from ARM school in 1942, Potter and Toothacker, who flew with the squadron commander. They had flown into Xeres runway and tried to get me a slot with the SBD squadron as I was a radioman and gunner, however; no vacancies. They were in TBM's but the radioman's tight quarters did not appeal to me, right behind the torpedoes and in the tail of the planes belly.
(*) Known deceased. Tonner lives in Braintree, MA and Healy in Texas
Humor in the Military and a Tale of an ORI
Robert E. Wolfe, Captain, US Navy Retired
You may have to hunt to find or appreciate the humor in this short story about one small segment of my Military Life.
Military Life is a series of training events designed to trigger a specific response when called upon to do so. It is a continuous never ending process. No matter where or when one plugs in to the system, all are challenged to develop skills and are expected to contribute to this thing we call “Mission Readiness”. In other words, are we prepared as a squadron, a department, a flight crew, an aircraft mechanic or a pilot to do the job that we were hired and being paid for?
That is a rather simplistic overview of what “Operational Readiness Inspections” (ORI’s) are all about. Up and down the chain-of-command senior leaders must continuously be aware of the capabilities of the military units under their sphere of influence. Thus the requirement to inspect and be inspected.
Training tends to run in cycles all leading up to “deployments” where military forces might be needed throughout the universe. This can range from routine “presence” situations to actual combat operations. There is no magic crystal ball that accurately predicts specific requirements in advance. We must be “ready” for all eventualities what ever they may be.
The time frame of my story is the early 1960’s. That era is sometimes referred to as the “cold war”. The threat of a Nuclear confrontation delivered from Soviet submarines was real. Our mission of anti-submarine warfare(ASW) was designed to minimize that possibility from ever occurring.
ORI’s are conducted with a plan called an “Operation Order”. In essence they are the rules for a mini “war game”. As the ASW Officer in the Operations Department of Patrol Squadron Two I was intimately familiar with the contents of the Op Order. Among other things the Op Order contained specific instructions as to how the ORI would be cancelled if a real-life operational requirement developed during the time frame of the ORI.
ORI’s are very thorough inspections of all aspects of squadron operations, including academic testing of aircraft knowledge, tactical procedures and identification of military ships, aircraft and submarines. They include actual off shore patrols simulating wartime scenarios.
As plane commander of Crew Eight, we launched on a scheduled ten hour patrol in a SP-2H aircraft. Prior to launching we conducted a “loading drill” of a nuclear weapon which was one of our warfare options. On board the aircraft was a “staff” observer to grade and evaluate the performance of each of the twelve flight crew members.
As I best remember, the patrol was more or less routine, in our attempts locate and identify a U.S. Navy submarine acting as an adversary for this ORI. This involved dropping listening devices in the water and flying perhaps as low as 100 feet over the water attempting to pick up a magnetic deflection on our detection equipment.
We had several methods of communicating with the Operations Control Center (OPCON) back on Whidbey Island Our radio operator reported a message from OPCON to cancel our ORI mission and to proceed to specific coordinates for an operational requirement.
Being a war game, I assumed this message to be a communications deception ploy. I elected to so inform the observer and ignored the message. OPCON messages continued to flow almost becoming frantic. Knowing that a specific OPORDER signal was required to cancel the ORI mission, I was confident the war game was still in play as we continued our search for the ORI sub.
It was not long before we received a coded message to proceed to another mission. This complicated my decision making process for if it was still war gaming that meant that the code books had been compromised. I found it difficult to discount the fact that we had not received the OPORDER signal to cancel the ORI mission.
The OPCON messages became almost hostile with my refusal to respond. It seemed to be panic time back at OPCON. After a lengthy discussion with our staff observer, I decided to revert to the code books and follow their instructions, not certain whether or not this action might result in a failing grade for this ORI mission.
My memory of the operational diversion is vague except that we never located the contact that OPCON had directed us to prosecute.
Our return to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station was anything but routine after landing. Needless to say my Commanding Officer was not a happy camper. He obviously had been hassled by the Admiral regarding one of his pilots who refused to follow orders.
The OPCON debriefing session was also interesting. The OPCON officer who had written the OPORDER was furious. The fact that he forgot to send the cancel signal did not seem to temper his behavior. It seemed that everyone involved was unhappy with my decision to play by the rules. I am not certain at all, how close I came to becoming fodder on that day.
The story should normally end here but several months later it was time for me to rotate to a new assignment. You might find it amusing to learn that my next set of orders was to relieve that OPCON Officer who failed to understand the rules that he had written.
One of the duties of the OPCON Officer was to prepare and deliver a daily brief to the senior officers on the staff. After my turn of being front and center I normally retired to the back of the room which was elevated so that my view included the backs of the heads of those being briefed.
Almost without exception, the Admirals and Chiefs of Staff had noticeable bald spots on the top of their heads. Thinking perhaps that might be a requirement to be promoted to more senior assignments I considered hair removal options to enhance my qualifications for positions of increased responsibility. The good Lord must have known that I was not Admiral material for I still basically have a full head of hair. 05Oct2004
Mawson (VP2 50-52) recalls
the 15Jun1951 Kodiak Incident:
Unckefure (I can't remember how to spell his name) and I were assigned to lower the depth charges from a plane returning from Adak. A wide ditch had been excavated across the end of the runway with the dirt piled on the side closest to the road. We thought it was odd that it wa left like that with no warning signs or flagging. We could see where planes had crossed over the road and to the clearing beyond, maybe about 50 yards. We were waiting in a small shack with the two men who were to take the charges to storage. The plane came down through the clouds, landed and immediately used reverse pitch. We commented that they did not have much runway left. The plane went behind the low hills and we lost sight of it. The we saw the smoke. We arrived at the same time as a Marine. The plane was parallel and right over the ditch, pointing to the left. Some of the crew was just outside the plane and the first words I heard was Chester Mclain yelling, "Dewey, where the hell's the meat wagon."
There was about a two foot space between the ditch and the plane. Chief ?? was lying on his back at the edge of the ditch. He yelled at us to get him away before the plane blew up. We pulled him along the ground by his parachute harness to where I had parked the truck. We were watching the crash crew at the front of the plane trying to get to the cockpit. Someone said "I hope the 20's don't start going off."
Then I was asked to why didn't I take the Chief to the hospital. I said that I wouldn't take anyone unless they could walk. Then Robert Houck got in and said "Take me." I made a mistake and drove around the plane where all the smoke was and I couldn't see a thing - thought I was going to hit something. Bob didn't look too bad, but he was complaining about his leg. At the hospital, I was watching the nurse as she was cutting Bob's pants leg when she said that I had better leave. The fire had gone up Bob's leg and it had to be amputated. If I remember right, there wasn't much left of the plane, only the wing tips and tail section. I wonder if the pilot go any commendation for probably saving the lives of his crew. He came out of the clouds to a short runway, then the base of the mountain was ahead of him, then that ditch the should not have been. I guess at the last instant he went to this left and skidded into the ditch. I went to the hospital that evening - Bob and the Chief were asleep. I don't remember if anyone else was there. I only remember two members of the crew - Chester Mclain, Ordnanceman, and Robert Houck. Recently, I found out that Phillip Warren was also a crewman on that ship. Dewey Mawson (AO3, VP2 50-52; FASRON 119 at Saipan 49-50)
Thanks Dewey. Phil Warren reports on VPNavy.com that "Mr. Sevier, our PPC was killed, Bob Houk, 2nd Mech badly injured, as was our plane captain, whose name I can't recall. The rest of us had minor injuries and returned to crew duty, picking up a new P2V-4 at the factory." nvsoar 13July4004
|From Bob Champoux
with Larry Doyle,
From the Frying Pan into the Fire; A very long week on YC-08 and then some liberty
Patrol Squadron Two was involved in Market Time flights out of Tan Son Nhut (Saigon) in ’67-‘68. I was serving as a co-pilot and navigator on our P2V Neptune along with Larry Doyle on Crew 8. Market Time flights ran 9 – 12 hours and involved low altitude maritime and/or ELINT reconnaissance either around the west side of Vietnam up toward Cambodia or on the east side up into the Tonkin Gulf. We typically flew every other night until our flight time well exceeded the allowable maximum and then rotated back to Sangley Point (near Manila) for a few weeks. There was always some grousing between the Ops officer and the Flight Surgeon concerning flight hours. Just to get even, the “Doc” would frequently ground flight crews for excessive flight hours the morning following their return to Sangley Point from Tan Son Nhut. When “in-country”, our flight crews lived in a very small hotel in Saigon, not far from the Palace. The tap water would give you dysentery even if you used it to rinse out your toothbrush. (We had several cases of Mateus wine (25 cents per quart) stacked in the bathroom for such purposes.) The front door to the hotel was bunkered and we had a local Vietnamese guard who always said that if he didn’t show up in the morning that “Bad trouble would be a happening."
One day he didn’t show up. It was the beginning of the ’67 Tet Offensive. We soon learned that the Viet Cong had mortared our maintenance line shack at Ton Son Nhut during the evening hours (fortunately no one was in it). We decided that it would be prudent if we took our airplane and crew back to Sangley. The runway had a big hole in it so we took off from the taxiway (love those big tires on a Neptune!). Half way to “feet wet” at Vung Tau, the Air Force controller called to tell us that we were in the middle of an intensive artillery fire zone and directed us to immediately climb to 30,000 feet to clear! After we explained that YC-08 was an ancestor of the Truculent Turtle, he advised us to “hold present position” until the firefight was over …sure, circling, sitting Duck at 4,000 feet! Thanks, Air Force, but we’ll take our chances proceeding straight ahead with “two turning and two burning” at 305 knots indicated. So we said goodbye to Saigon and left for Sangley Point and a “for sure” grounding chit in the morning from the flight surgeon for very excessive flight time. We got back at Sangley in time to unpack and have dinner. The officers retreated to the ‘O Club and the crew went in to Cavite. About two gin and tonics later, the duty officer found the officers and told us that we needed to round up the crew and “go flying.”
“But, but, but, ……we’ve been drinking”
“We’ve got way too much flight time, we are going to be grounded by the Doc in the morning.”
“It isn’t morning yet”
“The crew is in Cavite, we’ll never find them”
“The Shore Patrol is already on it”
Where are we going?”
“Don’t know why but it’s a DEFCON situation”
How long are we going to be gone?”
“Don’t know that either.”
What’s the weather supposed to be like?
“Snow showers!” (We’d been flying in the tropics for months!)
A few hours later we were on the way to Iwakuni. It was wintertime and got colder as we headed north. We hadn’t used the heaters on the aircraft since we left Whidbey and they refused to work. Some of the crew popped parachutes to stay warm. Arrived in a snow squall at 0200 and were told to be back at 0530 for a briefing and a 0700 takeoff. We still had no idea of what was up. After only a few hours sleep, we headed back to the airplane. When we arrived, we found rusty conventional depth charges already hung on the wing stations and the airplane surrounded by marines with M-16’s at the ready, guarding the weapon contents of the bomb bays. This was very, very, serious!
“Who has the check lists and who remembers how to use them?”
At the briefing, we learned about the capture of the USS Pueblo and that we would be the first maritime patrol aircraft on station in the Sea of Japan for ASW and Patrol operations. ”Does anyone remember how to catch a submarine?”
We flew every day for about a week until relieved by P-3 squadrons from Moffett. The Ruskies cooperated and gave us a number of contacts to keep it interesting. Fortunately the flights were only about seven hours long because the bomb bay fuel tanks had to be removed to accommodate our “special” internal ordinance load. From the frying pan of the Tet Offensive into the Fire of the Pueblo Offensive all in 24 hours and for the rest of the week! P.S. The Doc hopped a flight to Iwakuni and grounded us for excessive flight time for the next week of very tough duty – R&R on per diem in Japan.
|From Harley "Rock" Cline,
I was in the squadron from 67-68. I was an Airman and worked out of the 1st Lt.'s division under Master Chief Newberry. When we deployed to Sangley Point, PI I worked with a 3rd glass by the name of Easely and they called him " Easy." We built the coffee mess in a little building down by the Marine Club. This was just temporary and we later moved it to a more accessible area.
Shortly before our deployment was over I had to return to Whidbey Island because of a family emergency. I was transfered into VP-42, which was the squadron that relieved VP-2 from their deployment, so I went back over with VP-42. This gave me the chance to serve with Chief Horn who, I understand has passed on. Chief Horn and I served with VP-42 until we were decommissioned at Whidbey Island on 9-30-69.
In VP-2 there was a guy that was trying to be a boxer and it seems to me that his name was Mueki or something like that. He was Hawaiian. If I remember correctly the skipper was Lt.Com. Navero.
I ended my time in the Navy at N.A.S. Whidbey Island as part of the Coupeville crash crew as an ABH-3.
Just another little bit of information; many of the P-2s are being converted into slurry plains for firefighting. This is done by Hawkins and Powers Aviation which is located about 125 miles from me in Wyoming. I make it down there at least twice a year just to look things over. Many of the planes look just like they did back in VP-2's heyday. If you would like to see some pictures of the before and after thier transformation into slurry bombers let me know and I will gladly send them to you.
Thanks for your time and great effort that you are doing to keep the squadron alive.
Harley ( Rock ) Cline
Hi fellow shipmates: I joined VP-2 in 1955 just as they were getting the P2V-7's and preparing all hands to train in them. We were getting ready for deployment to Alaska; Kodiak, Adak and a few other points up north. I was assigned to shepherd Crew 9 as Plane Capt and my PPC was Ltjg Booth. I have a picture of the crew somewhere in the house and will forward to the group when I find it. Training was rather intense as we were following an another VP outfit that had an AC shot down by the Russians on St. Lawrence Island. It was a little hairy thinking about it but not thinking about it made the days skim by. We made an early trip up to Kodiak in late August to fam our crews with Alaska and Kodiak in particular. Had a great time fishing and smoking same while we were there. Flying back to Whidbey Island we ran into an early winter storm, and that told us what to expect later on.
My wife and I and one son lived in Title VIII housing just outside the main gate and enjoyed the beautiful area of Whidbey and the surrounding mountains. We had a lot of friends in Whidbey but at my age. I can't remember all the names and that goes for my flight crew as well. My second mechanic came from Germany to join the service and is one of the best guys I have worked with. Maybe he will show up one day on this page of Patron 2 memories. After our deployment and a mere year of duty with Patron 2 I received orders to Moffet field and was assigned to a training fighter Sq.. Not a long tour with VP-2 but very interesting. Our whole crew received combat aircrew wings while on deployment after intense training and we all enjoyed the adding the CA to our rating. Enjoyed hearing about VP-2 and its travels.
Ted Langs ADR2CA; now ADJC-CA (RET
|From Phrana Komm,
04 Oct 2003
Having never lived away from my parents until I married, I was a young bride who left Missouri and went west to San Diego where Bob was stationed at NAS North Island for several months. In Feb 1961 we headed north to NAS Whidbey Island, VP-2; Good friends Bob (VP-2) and Carol Bender preceeded us and were already settled in a rental home in Oak Harbor. I remember traveling on the winding 1D road across Deception Pass (in a gloomy cold rain - imagine that) and wondering what the future would hold. The Pass was breathtakingly beautiful, and such intense greenery. In Missouri all foliage had long since fallen off the trees and only lonely bare branches bravely challenged the wintery blasts.
At that time Bob was an Ensign and it was such an exciting adventure of heart throbbing love for me. We stayed with Bob and Carol Bender until we found a house at 4338 40th Northwest - foreclosure in litigation; some furniture and dishes were included. At this house we had much fun, lots of laughs. One evening in particular, I remember Cliff & Pat Ledbetter, Bob and Carol Bender, along with several others who all met with us to do assignments of the Navy Regulations Book. I did a lot of those. Unaccustomed to the damp, cold penetrating climate, I kept piling logs on the already roaring fire in fireplace. I also turned up the thermostat, and soon the guys removed their outer shirts as they were sweating profusely. Finally Cliff Ledbetter asked me if I was cold!!!!!
The first time I met Commanding Officer Bill Foster and his precious wife Paula was at an inspection. Remember I had never lived away from home, just turned 19 years old, did not drink at all, and was lonely to meet friends, as all of us were. Bill and Paula Foster encircled me in their arms and told me I reminded me of their daughter. I think the daughter had not been away from them very long - but they missed her, and I loved receiving the Foster's hugs.
There were so many that gave me such good memories in the time my hubby was in the squadron - Feb 1961 - June 1964. We lived in Title VIII Housing and Chief's Housing at Ault Field and developed friendships particularly there with Don & Bonnie Howe, Vic & Pat Gulliver, Dick & Barb Guter, Chuck & Bobbi Peterson, Wes & Lyn Lupien, Ralph & Joanne Chandler. Get togethers included dinners, religious discussions, fishing trips to Cranberry Lake and Deception Pass (Lupiens and we went on a VP-2 Cocktail Party night - orders to be there unless sick or dead--we were badies) and card parties. A Title VIII event when Whidbey received one of its few remembered snowfalls found the Guters, Komms, and several others making a huge decorated snowman and coloring him with kool-aid. As Dick Guter ran down the hill to escape the barrage of snowballs he fell on their steel trash can lid located by each apt door and probably injured his knee, but all we could do was roll with laughter.
Phrana went to work on the Seaplane Base as a Gov't "sandcrab" just a few days before Bob went on his first deployment - Kodiak. She moved in with Carol Bender and they coped together while the guys were gone for a long 5 1/2 months. Phrana continued to work on the base in different positions until Bob's third deployment to Alaska when she and her mama drove Bob & Phrana's 1957 sierra gold stick shift Chevy sport coupe to Missouri, but her favorite job was as Secretary for the Senior Medical Officer at the Station Hospital. The sailors played volleyball on their lunch hours and it was not long until she joined them - what fun and good exercise. The Medical team was an excellent field to further serve others wherever needed.
Good memories Phrana has of many evenings spent with Joanne Chandler when our guys were gone. In fact Phrana flew to see the latter several times as well as the Guters wherever they were stationed. Bob had to stay at home and work. I believe that it takes special people to serve our country well through the thick and the thin. Behind the guys have stood many fine women with their prayers and their steadfast support. I had the privilege of becoming acquainted with several of those in Bob's tour of VP-2: Ed and Jane Schneider, Jimmy & Betsy Pugh, Dave & Connie Bowen, Wayne & Shirley Cowen, Ron & Rosemary Demich, Jerry & Sharon Russell.
The first squadron party we attended occurred on a blustery evening at Rocky Point. Everyone took their own meat to cook on charcoal grills which had to be brought inside due to high winds. The smoke was so thick that our eyes burned for days. I had taken a ceramic container for our "pop" because it "looked" better than a bottle. Bob Bender sampled it first and spit it out - "Tastes like soap," so evidently, Mr. Clean was still in the spigot. Joe Chruma sat next to me, and I still can see that "4" roast he was eating that he called a steak."
Some of you may have remembered picking 10 cent strawberries at Anacortes in the huge fields. Bob & I had a homemade ice cream and strawberries party for the Ralph Chandler family one Sunday afternoon.
Presently, we still hear from some of you; those friendships have spanned a long time. Even though our lives have marched on and drastically changed from those "young" growing years, I like to think we are continuing to grow and to mature. Your friendships have been a blessing to me, and as my hair turns more silver I value you even more. Thanks for letting me share a few memories from my storehouse of years gone by.
02 Oct 2003,
The Midway Trip [anyone have a picture of a "Sibir"?_nvsoar]
I got a call from Sherm to get in the air as fast as we could to get us to Adak. YC-4 was coming out of check and Sherm told me to make sure I made a test flight prior to going to Adak. We, Crew Four, were on the runway a little short of two hours. The weather was very lousy, no way a little illegal for a test flight. Just before pulling the nose wheel of the runway I told the tower to tell the VP-2 duty office that the test flight was complete.
When we got to Adak, Paul Tripp, the O in C of the detachment, said he had no idea why were there. He had nothing for us at least at two, maybe three days. We closed the bar. At 0400 I was awakened and told that we had a takeoff at 0600 to be a airborne backup. Then stop at Shemya for a fuel topoff, and then takeoff at 1200. Everyone was looking for the Sibirs, the Russian trawlers that tracked the missiles that the Russians were testing then.
We found them, and after reporting, were told to go to Midway since we would not be able to get into Adak and we would not have enough fuel for an alternate. When we got there, the CO and another crew was already there, plus six crews from VP-22.
I don't remember when the CO and the other crew went back to Adak, but we were told to stay until we just short of another check on the aircraft. We flew 3 or 4 flights, we flew 8 hrs, VP-22 flew 8 hrs, and that was the way it went. VP-2 with one aircraft would fly a mission and VP-22 would fly one mission. We would find the trawlers each time and VP-22 would lose them.
The last flight we made, we reported their location. Midway kept asking us to report and each time we would "ZNB" the location. Finally I told Chesnutt to sent "ZNB FU" or something like that. When we reported to Midway tower at 100 miles out they asked for the location. I didn't give it to them. When we landed, the taxi jeep had someone get into the aircraft from the squadron to get the location, who gave it to a VP-22 aircraft waiting for takeoff.
VP-22 sent a message to the staff, Alaskan Sea ( whatever) and asked for permission for Crew Four to stay over my check time. They came back with "Return my aircraft to my control now", or words to that effect.
Branscomb, 21 Sep 2003
During the deployment to The crew evacuated the aircraft ok except that the
Ordnanceman stepped out the after hatch in the darkness and found that
ground was eight or ten feet down rather than the normal four feet.
The crew evacuated the aircraft ok except that the
Ordnanceman stepped out the after hatch in the darkness and found that
ground was eight or ten feet down rather than the normal four feet.
It was found that there was a short in the electrical control of the reversing system and when the PPC took it out of reverse, one engine returned to forward thrust and the other stayed in reverse. There was enough differential thrust on the wet runway to cause the aircraft to leave the runway.
years later, at a base in the Central
Gulliver, 17 Sep 2003
Seeing the overhead shots of NS Kodiak on the Gallery reminds me of the time during the '61 deployment that Gayle McKinney and I and minimum crew were out practicing approaches and landings on a clear VFR day. We were only a few hundred yards from touchdown on whichever runway it is that has Mt. Barometer at the other end, when a small civilian flying-club plane obliviously taxied onto the runway right in front of us. On an IFR day, we would have been committed to land because wave-offs are not an option in IFR weather. We did wave-off, and because the weather was clear, we were able to weave our way through the mountains until we were high enough to turn back around to land. Even with the clear weather, there was some puckering involved at max power until we were sure we were going to make it.
The top Kodiak photo also shows the beginning of the Buskin River, which is still one of the best and easiest places to fish for Coho salmon in September. I used to tell my family about how bad life was on deployment in Kodiak, but now my sons and I try to get back there every September for the salmon fishing. The salmon don't come in from the ocean by the tens of thousands anymore, and intentionally snagging them is a punishable offense. There is a modern motel (The Buskin River Inn) just across the parking lot from the airline terminal on what is now the Coast Guard Air Station. The Buskin River runs right behind the motel, although that isn't the best place to fish. We rent a car and drive further downstream. During the September spawning season, you can also drive upstream to Buskin Lake, where the trout are gorging themselves on salmon eggs. You can catch hungry trout until it gets boring, then go back downstream for more salmon. Although there aren't many on that side of the island, they do report an occasional Kodiak bear in the Buskin River feeding on the salmon.
The town of Kodiak is nothing at all like it was during the early sixties when we deployed there. Kodiak is a major metropolis built to support the huge fishing/crabbing fleet that works there. They've got all the franchise restaurants, fine-dining restaurants, department stores, grocery stores, art galleries, etc. that you would expect in a booming city. Except for the winter weather, one could live a comfortable life there. It's a nice place to visit... in the summertime! I'd like to hear (read) some stories by people who were there for the earthquake and tsunami in '64. Click on the picture for a larger image.
Larger image of SB2
From Larry Gire, 09Sep2003
I was in VP2 from 4/56 until 12/58. We deployed to both Kodiak ( 11/56-5/57) and Iwakuni ( 9/58-2/59). The squadron was short on AT'S. Myself and two other AT'S (Bruce Walker and Bill Zambriski) were deployed to
Iwakuni as shortimers. We came back to the US in Dec 58 for discharge. The crew I went to Iwakuni with lost an
engine between Kwajalen and Guam and we spent almost a month waiting on an oil cooler. We arrived in Iwakuni in
mid October 58 so I only had two months there.