A BIT OF HISTORY: Meritorious Unit Citation "...Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross)..." Official U. S. Navy Records (National Archives and Records Administration) via Fold3 http://www.fold3.com/ [14DEC2012]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...On Patrol - Page 34 to 35 - Naval Aviation News - September 1969..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1969/sep69.pdf [17SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...On Patrol - Page 30 to 31 - Naval Aviation News - April 1969..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1969/apr69.pdf [17SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...On Patrol - Page 30 to 31 - Naval Aviation News - January 1969..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1969/jan69.pdf [16SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-40 History "...Once Mighty Marlin Musters At Museum - JAX AIR NEWS - VOL 26 - NO 16 - NAS Jacksonville, FL - 11 JUL 1968..." WebSite: University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries http://ufdc.ufl.edu/ [25APR2011]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...On Patrol - Page 30 - Naval Aviation News - November 1968..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1968/nov68.pdf [15SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...On July 12 - Page 2 - Naval Aviation News - September 1968..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1968/sep68.pdf [15SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...On Patrol - Page 28 to 29 - Naval Aviation News - August 1968..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1968/aug68.pdf [15SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...On Patrol - Page 30 to 31 - Naval Aviation News - July 1968..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1968/jul68.pdf [15SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...P-5 Marlin - Page 10 - Naval Aviation News - February 1968..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1968/feb68.pdf [14SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Canadian Wings To Yankee - Page 3 - Naval Aviation News - January 1968..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1968/jan68.pdf [14SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...I was with VP-40 at North Island when the Navy phased out the P-5 Marlin and we transitioned to the P3 Orion. I was an Aviation Machinists Mate (Jet) and accompanied the squadron in a change of home port to NAS Moffett Field, California in January of 1968. It's good to find your page and see that something is being done to show more detail of VP squadron history. In case you didn't know, QE-10, the last P-5 is on static display at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. I think all the others were destroyed..." Contributed by Dennis Parham email@example.com
A BIT OF HISTORY: "..."Navy Bids Farewell to Seaplanes" - San Diego Newspaper article from when the last Navy Seaplane Operational Flight took place in April 1967 from NAS North Island, San Diego, California and is now located at the Jacksonville Naval Air Museum..." Contributed by KELLNER, James P. (Jim) firstname.lastname@example.org [08MAR2018]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...NS Sangley Point, Philippines in 1967. They were taken by CDR Tom Bigley when he was there with VP-40. The seaplane ramp was later used by the P2 squadrons that rotated through..." Contributed by McLAUGHLIN, LT Bob email@example.com
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...End Of Seaplane Tenders - Page 13 - Naval Aviation News - December 1967..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1967/dec67.pdf [13SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Last Flight Of P-5 Marlin - Page 2 - Naval Aviation News - July 1967..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1967/jul67.pdf [11SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Squadron Awards..." Contributed by Mahlon K. Miller firstname.lastname@example.org [23APR2001]
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
01 Feb 69 – 15 Jun 69
14 Sep 97 – 30 Sep 97
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
17 Jan 92 – 28 Feb 92
Meritorious Unit Commendation
01 May 70 – 01 Nov 70
Meritorious Unit Commendation
01 Jun 71 – 20 Jul 71
25 May 97 – 01 Dec 97
Navy "E" Ribbon (Battle "E")
01 Jan 99 –31 Dec 99
Navy Unit Commendation
01 Jan 67 – 31 Mar 68
17 Jan 91 – 07 Feb 91
Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry)
08 Mar 65 – 01 Aug 65
01 May 69 – 31 Jul 69
01 May 70 – 31 May 70
31 Jul 70 – 31 Oct 70
Southwest Asia Service Medal
06 Feb 91 – 10 Mar 91
VP-40 Combat Aircrew 10
SECNAV Letter of Commendation
03 May 90 – 07 May 90
VP-40 Det OF
Meritorious Unit Commendation
VP-40 Participating Aircrew
Navy Expeditionary Service Medal
08 Dec 78 – 09 Dec 78
01 Oct 80 – 31 Dec 80
Meritorious Unit Commendation
01 Sep 83 – 11 Sep 83
VP-40 Participating Crewmembers
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
01 Dec 95 – 31 Mar 96
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...06NOV67--An SP-5B Marlin of VP-40 at NAS North Island, San Diego, California made the last operational flight by seaplanes of the U.S. Navy. With Commanders J. P. Smolinski and G. Surovik as pilot and copilot and 15 passengers including Rear Admiral C. A. Karaberis on board, the flight ended sea-plane patrol operations in the Navy..." http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/avchr9.htm
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...United States Naval Operations Vietnam, Highlights; (No. 8): May 1966..." WebSite: Mobile Riverine Force Association http://www.mrfa2.org/MRFA%20'Highlights'%20copies/mrfa-08/high-8.htm [03DEC2005]
MARKET TIME Units
Three Patrol Air Cushion Vehicles (PACV) arrived at Vung Tau on 1 May to form PACV Division 107 and on 2 May proceeded to the MARKET TIME base at Cat Lo, thus introducing this type craft for the first time into a combat zone. During the rest of the month, maintenance and logistic support equipment was set up and the PACVs were prepared for operations.
In aerial surveillance operations, USS Salisbury Sound (AV-13) with CTF 72 embarked, arrived at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam on 15 May, set up a seadrome and activated Task Group 72.5. SP-5B aircraft immediately began flying patrols from the seadrome in support of MARKET TIME. VP-40 and VP-48 had aircraft detachments at NAF Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam supported by USS Salisbury Sound (AV-13) for the remainder of the month. Fifty two MARKET TIME flights were flown by TG 72.5 during this period. The aircraft on patrol investigated contacts for MARKET TIME ships and reported all contacts and suspicious activity discovered. A detachment of seven P2 aircraft from VP-2 relieved VP-1 as TG 115.6 on 29 May. They were based at Tan Son Nhut Air Base at Saigon and flew in support of MARKET TIME operations.
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Fleet Air Wings On Patrol - Page 28 to 29 - Naval Aviation News - August 1966..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1966/aug66.pdf
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Fleet Air Wings On Patrol - Page 36 to 37 - Naval Aviation News - March 1966..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1966/mar66.pdf [04SEP2004]
Circa 1965 - 2011
A BIT OF HISTORY: "..Navy Squadrons - Squadron Deployments.." WebSite: GoNavy.com http://www.gonavy.jp/ [25NOV2011]
Patrol Squadron FORTY (1965 - 2011) 22KB
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...On Patrol With Pacific Air Wings - Page 26 to 27 - Naval Aviation News - December 1965..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1965/dec65.pdf [03SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Pacific Air Wings On Patrol - Page 26 - Naval Aviation News - October 1965..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1965/oct65.pdf [02SEP2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Pacific Squadrons Win E's - Page 2 - Naval Aviation News - July 1964..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1964/jul64.pdf [29AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Off To The Philippines - Page 9 - Naval Aviation News - May 1964..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1964/may64.pdf [28AUG2004]
1964 - 1972
Operation Market Time
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Article from Wikipedia about Operation Market time. It was written by VP-17's Capt. Brian McGuiness and mentions LT Norm Cook (VP-17). It not only mentions VP-17 but all the other "VP" squadrons that participated in Operation Market Time from 1964 - 1972..." Contributed by McLAUGHLIN, LT Bob email@example.com [07JAN2009]Operation Market Time
Operation Market Time
Operation Market Time was the U.S. Navy's effort to stop troops and supplies from flowing by sea from North Vietnam to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was one of four Navy duties begun after the Tonkin Gulf Incident, along with Operation Sea Dragon, Operation Sealords and naval gunfire support.
When a trawler was intercepted landing arms and ammunition at Vung Ro Bay in northern Khanh Hoa Province on 16 February 1965 it provided the first tangible evidence of the North Vietnamese supply operation. This became known as the Vung Ro Bay Incident.
Navy destroyers, ocean minesweepers PCF's (Swift boats)and United States Coast Guard cutters performed the operation. Also playing a key role in the interdictions were the Navy's patrol gunboats (PGs). The PG was uniquely suited for the job because of its ability to go from standard diesel propulsion to gas turbine (jet engine) propulsion in a matter of a few minutes. The lightweight aluminum and fiberglass ships were not only fast but highly maneuverable because of their variable pitch propellers. Most of the ships operated in the coastal waters from the Cambodian border around the south tip of Vietnam up north to Da Nang. Supply ships from the Service Force, such as oilers, would bring mail, movies, and fuel.
Of the many vessels involved in Operation Market Time, one of the more notable was the USCGC Point Welcome (WPB-82329) which, on 11 August 1966, was brought under fire by a number of US Air Force planes. This incident of blue-on-blue killed two members of the cutter's crew (one of whom was the commanding officer) and wounded nearly everyone on board. A full account of the incident, along with the entire story of the Coast Guard's Market Time involvement, is related in Alex Larzelere's book, The Coast Guard at War: Vietnam, 1965-1975 (1997), available from the Naval Institute Press.
Operation Market Time was established by the U. S. Joint Chiefs of Staff after the 1965 Vung Ro incident to blockade the vast South Vietnam coastline against North Vietnamese gun-running trawlers. The trawlers, usually 100-foot-long Chinese-built steel-hulled coastal freighters, could carry several tons of arms and ammunition in their hulls. Not flying a national ensign that would identify them, the ships would maneuver "innocently" out in the South China Sea, waiting for the cover of darkness to make high-speed runs to the South Vietnam coastline. If successful, the ships would off load their cargoes to waiting Viet Cong or North Vietnamese forces. To stop these potential infiltrations, Market Time was set up as a coordinated effort of long range patrol aircraft for broad reconnaissance, discovery and target following; and U.S. and allied surface combatants to intercept suspect ships that crossed inside South Vietnam's 12-mile coastal boundary. On the aviation side, some of the patrol squadrons that were involved and flying from South Vietnam, Thai, or Philippine bases were: VP-1, VP-2, VP-4, VP-16, VP-17, VP-26, VP-28, VP-40, VP-42, VP-46 and VP-50. The most significant action of Market Time occurred on Feb. 29-Mar. 1, 1968, when the North Vietnamese attempted a coordinated infiltration of four gun-running trawlers. Two of the four trawlers were destroyed by allied ships in gun battles, one trawler crew detonated charges on board their vessel to avoid capture, and the fourth trawler turned tail and retreated at high speed into the South China Sea. Lt. Norm Cook, the plane commander of a VP-17 P-2H Neptune patrol aircraft operating from Cam Ranh Bay, was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for discovering and following two of the four trawlers in the action. Market Time, which operated day and night, fair weather and foul, for eight and a half years, succeeded in denying the North Vietnamese a means of delivering tons of war materials into South Vietnam by sea.
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-40 "...VP-40 - August 28, 1963 - Hot Air Balloons Tracking...Publication Number: T1206 - Publication Title: Project Blue Book, 1947-1969 - Publisher: NARA - Year: 1963 - Month: August - Month Season Number: 08 - Location: Sangley Point, Philippines - Incident Number: [BLANK]..." Forwarded by Stephen Miller firstname.lastname@example.org [14AUG2008]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Wetted Down - Page 31 - Naval Aviation News - September 1963..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1963/sep63.pdf [27AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...LT S. C. Welch - Nov 1963 Dec 1966 ..."[06JAN2001]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...1963-1965--the last squadron in the Navy saddled with the SP-5b Marlin - served in the Phillipines longer than God. I was there 1963-65, got home a civilian the day the Navy extended tours of technicians for duration of unit's tour overseas (I doubt I would ever have gotten out!). Before the war, it was good duty: Based at Sangley Point, 1 15-hour patrol flight a week and you were gone to Manila. Unless you were up with those goddamned Seaplane Tenders in Buckner Bay, flying ELINT off the Chinese coast at (theoretically) 5 miles offshore, when US recognized the 3 mile limit and Chinese claimed 12. Interesting place to be in an unarmed airplane with top speed of around 180 knots when they'd send up a pair of MiG-17s to look you over..." Contributed by Tom Cleaver Albatrosdv@aol.com WEBSITE: http://members.aol.com/aerialnut/
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...I served with VP-40 between 1963 and 1965 and my squadron operated with Seaplane Tenders out of NS Sangley Point, Philippines (Buckner Bay, Cam Ranh Bay, Con Son Islands, the Lingayen Gulf), and NAS North Island, San Diego, California. The USS Currituck II (AV-7), USS Pine Island (AV-12), and USS Salisbury Sound (AV-13), were the ships, that I remember. When we were in Buckner Bay, one of the airplane floats sprung a leak, and the float sank, leaving the opposite wing straight up in the air. The seaplane tender's small boat hooked onto the plane, and towed it to the tender to be hoisted on board. In the process, the wing dragged on the bottom, and extensive damage happened. I remember another time in Con Son, when our anchor pulled loose during the night while we were standing buoy watch on the airplane. We woke up in solid fog, unable to hear the sounds around the tender. The tide had taken us out to sea, and after the fog cleared, we taxied back to Con Son. In Con Son, we used to see escaped Viet Cong swimming by our plane, but we were armed with Thompsons and they swam back to the beach. Also, I remember once when we returned from a patrol over south vietnam, the airplane immediately began sinking. It seems that we flew inland, and were hit by an errant rifle round. I was sleeping in the beaching gear compartment when it happened, and saw a "lead object" laying near me. I picked it up, thinking it was a fishing sinker, and tossed it into the ordnance bin in the after station. Turns out that it was the bullet that hit the airplane. Memories...JACKSON, Ken email@example.com..." [06MAR2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...CNO Safety Awards And E Awards - Page 2 - Naval Aviation News - September 1962..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1962/sep62.pdf [23AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Five Squadrons Patrol China Coast - Page 15 - Naval Aviation News - January 1962..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1962/jan62.pdf [22AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...00DEC62--I arrived in VP40 at NS Sangley Point, Philippines as an AXAN in Dec 1962. The day I arrived at the squadron, I got to see all of the airplanes winging their way into the sky (even the hangar queen), firing Jato when they were over Cavite City...it seems that the squadron was missing an airplane piloted by the C.O....they found it splattered across a mountain with no survivors. I was assigned to a flight crew as a radio/jezebel operator and also worked out of the shop, which was my main job when not flying and performing flight crew duties, such as washing airplanes, and conducting corrosion control on the aircraft. I was part of many seaplane exercises, including one in the Lingayen Gulf, near Subic Bay. At Buckner Bay, Okinawa, the flight crews enjoyed liberty from white beach inland, visiting village #1, village #2, village #3, etc....we couldn't remember the names, much less know how to pronounce them. We had one of our airplanes put out of commission...because it had developed a leak in the port float (which was supposed to be in the water all the time). The float filled up with water while the buoy crew was sleepin...the watch failed to notice the port list, and they woke up to find the starboard wing straight up in the air...the Seaplane Tender sent a boat to correct the problem, which promptly dragged the seaplane to the Seaplane Tender, failing to notice that the depth of the water was too shallow for such shenanigans...the wing was torn off by obstructions on the bottom. I also got to help ferry a P5M to Kobe, Japan for rework...that was amusing, as the flight crew got to take ground transportation to Tachikawa Air Base for further transfer to the Philippines...we caught a train from Kobe to the main train terminal in Tokyo...on the way, one of the crew members asked an old Japanese man..."how far Tokyo", assuming he didn't understand english, and got the response..." about 20 kilometers further". He had a red face for awhile. When we arrived at the Tokyo train terminal, the locals must have been amused to see 12 americans about 5'8" to over 6' circled around their luggage, protecting it from the japanese. I also got to do a deployment off of South Vietnam, staging out of some islands called the Con Sons, which also was the site of some South Vietnamese "Tiger pits", and many viet cong were loose, lighting campfires on the beach. It wasn't unusual to see one of them swimming by our seaplanes, which is probably the reason for us to be armed and dangerous. We flew many flights over South Vietnam as part of Operation Market Time, looking for gun-running trawlers. During one of these flights, the airplane I was flying on was shot at, without our knowledge...it would have been nice for them to say...hey! we shot at you, but noooo...we had to find out about it when we returned, landed in the water, and promptly began sinking. We also got hit by friendly fire...us...the navy installed a 50 caliber machine gun in our afterstation, and we were supposed to occasionally practice with it, shooting at a barrel or something in the water...unfortunately, they didn't install a stop on the gun (the seaplane float was in the line of fire)..., and someone shot off the float. This necessitated having all of the crewmen rush to the opposite side of the plane upon landing to keep that wing out of the water. The squadron was homeported in San Diego in 1964, where we flew out of North Island. We lost one more airplane during a failed open sea landing off of San Clemente Island (80nm west of San Diego), with no loss of lives. One of our ships had to shoot at it and sink it later because it was a danger to navigation..." Contributed by AWC Ken Jackson (Ret) Ken@score.com
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...USS Salisbury Sound (AV-13) - Circa 1956. Squadrons Mentioned: VP-40 and VP-46..." WebSite: USS Salisbury Sound http://www.salisburysound.com/index_Page555.htm [08JAN2007]Circa 1960
Salisbury Sound remained at Alameda until 12 June 1956 when she steamed for visits to Astoria and Portland, Oregon. She entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard on 14 June for overhaul until 29 August 1956. After refresher training she departed NAS Alameda, California on 13 November 1956 for Yokosuka where she arrived 2 December 1956. The next day she became the flagship of Rear Admiral R.E. Dixon, Commander Taiwan Patrol Force. Mariners of VP-40 commenced operating from her seadrome at Buckner Bay on 12 December 1956 and rescued the crew of a United States Air Force seaplane from the sea on 5 January 1957. Intervening these operations were cruises for visits at Hong Kong; Manila, Kaohsiung and Keelung, Taiwan; and Apra Harbor, Guam. Mariners of VP-46 commenced operations from her seadrome on 26 March 1957 and she conducted exercises in the area east of Tsugen Jima Island before clearing port of 17 April. She touched at Keelung (18-20 April), then visited Iwakuni, Japan before her arrival at Yokosuka on the 28th. Commander of the Taiwan Patrol Force hauled down his flag at Yokosuka on 6 May 1957 and Salisbury Sound sailed for return to Alameda on 23 May 1957. During the remainder of the year she participated in combined fleet maneuvers off the California coast, and engaged in refresher training exercises while operating from Alameda and San Diego.
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...VP-40 September 1, 1961 Squadron Roster NS Sangley Point, Philippines..." Contributed by STEBBINS, LCDR Donald J. c/o His Son Craig Stebbins firstname.lastname@example.org [26OCT2002]
VP-40 Roster Page 1 of 4
VP-40 Roster Page 2 of 4
VP-40 Roster Page 3 of 4
VP-40 Roster Page 4 of 4
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Tourane Bay - Page 28 - Naval Aviation News - March 1961..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1960s/1961/mar61.pdf [19AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...VP-40 1960 Squadron Roster NS Sangley Point, Philippines..." Contributed by STEBBINS, LCDR Donald J. c/o His Son Craig Stebbins email@example.com [26OCT2002] One Dead, 57 Safe In Forced Landing
VP-40 Roster Page 1 of 4
VP-40 Roster Page 2 of 4
VP-40 Roster Page 3 of 4
VP-40 Roster Page 4 of 4
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...I served on the USS Pine Island from 1960-1963. We operated with VP-40 and VP-50 primarily out of Buckner Bay Okinawa. I made a few flights on the P5M Marlin out of Buckner on JATO. Quite a kick in the rear. I retired as a CWO4 after thirty years in Naval Aviation and I must say that my time on the "Piney Maru" was some of the best..." Contributed by CWO4 George Case, Retired firstname.lastname@example.org [18SEP2000]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...The U.S. Navy/U.S. Coast Guard Vietnam Unit Memorial Monument, will be located on the Council International Sport Military Field on the US Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, CA. This monument will be a personal detailed, and heart-felt tribute to all Naval & Coast Guard personnel who died serving their country in the South East Asia Theater of the Vietnam War from 1960-1975. A few of the military squadrons represented are: VP-1, VP-2, VP-4, VP-6, VP-17, VP-26, VP-40, VP-42, VP-48, VP-50, VAH-21, VAP-61, and VO-67. WebSite: Vietnam Unit Memorial Monument..." Contributed by BAILEY, AO3 Bob email@example.com [Updated 21DEC2000 | Updated 02JUL2000 | Updated 14APR2000 | 03APR2000]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...00XXX60--During the early 1960's, Seventh Fleet had an ongoing photo contest, where they would pick the best/most unusual photo taken during the month. A photo taken by VP40 won the month and year. It was taken of a Russian Fish Factory Ship, and at first glance, showed a normal rigging photo of the ship, but the boys in the photo processing laboratory enlarged a section of the photo from near the stack and immediately knew that this was the photo...the one that won the contest. It showed a russian woman sunbathing on the deck, and was captioned..."raised 1-2, and stacked all over..." Contributed by AWC Ken Jackson (Ret) Ken@score.com
A BIT OF HISTORY: "FOUNDATION Volume 21 Number 2 Fall 2000 Page 84 through 95 [15NOV2000]
Navy Seplanes Come To The Rescue
By CAPT Irving G. Cockroft, USN (Ret.)
On 14 July 1960, while I was serving as commanding officer of VP-40 at Sangley Point in the Phillippines, I was awakened by a phone call at 0330. I answered grumpily. "This is the duty offic, skipper," said the voice on the other end. "We have a SAR alert, sir. A Northwest plane out of Tokyo reported losing the number two prop between Okinawa and the northern tip of Luzon. They are going to try and make it to Manila. I have alerted the ready crew and await your instructions."
After a short conference with the ComNavPhil operations officer and the Coast Guard commanding officer, CAPT Lawrence Davis, we decided to hold our search-and-rescue planes until ditching by the Northwest plane was immidnent. We had good contact with the DC-7C passenger airplane through Manila air traffic control.
I had no sooner hung up when the squadron duty officer was back on the line stating that a Philippine Air Lines DC-3 was 40 minutes overdue on a flight from Manila to Zamboanga. The pilot ahad radioed he was lost because of bad weather and was trying to make it to Cebu.
It was now about 0350. We decided to hold the search planes until first light because of typhoon centered 50 miles west of Cebru.
"...After four hours afloat, weary survivors from a downed Northwest Airlines DC-7 watch their rescurers approach, 14 July 1960. USN Photo..." Before I could get out the door and head for the squadrons area, the duty officer was on the line again. "Skipper, I've just launched the SAR plane with crew five. Lieutenant Bob Hite is the patrol plane commander. The Northwest plane is on fire, and they are ditching somewhere north of Polillo Island. They are unsure of their exact position. I'm having the next ready plane towed to the ramp. The crew is on board, and Lieutenant Commander Leslie is the patrol plane commander."
"Good work, Burce," I said (LTjg Bruce Handler was my ACI Officer), "I'll be there in about five minutes." By now it was 0410.
All the stops were out now. The Coast Guard UF Albatross and Navy P5M Marlin search-and-rescue planes were airborne within five mintues of the actual "Mayday. We are ditching." We had another search-and-rescue plane standing by to head for Cebu to search for the missing Philippine Air Lines DC-3. I diverted the regular South China Sea patrol, as it was already halfway to Cebu. The ready SAR plane was then launched for the regular patrol.
By now the phone ws ringing off the hook. RADM Joseph M. "Kit" Carson, commander of U. S. Naval Forces in the Philippines, wanted a situation report every five minutes. The wing commander in Okinawa kept the airwaves saturated, as did the 7th Fleet commander, all wanting the latest information.
About 0730, the No. 5 plane, a Marlin, got a message through on fleet common high-frequency radio, as he was out of voice range: "Sighted three rafts in the water. Coast Guard landed along side. I am landing now."
Four minutes later, an amplifying message stated that there were 57 survivors and one fatality. An elderly woman had drowned while trying to get to the life raft. The sea state was too high for the Coast Guard Albatross to take off, so both planes were taxiing to Polillo Island. The distance was 20 miles, and there was a three mile-long lagoon. Their radio would be off the air until arrival at Polillo.
By now, all of the media people in Manila were either on the station at Sangley Point or on the phone. Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, and Commander in Chief, Pacific Air Force, were also trying to get information. IT was a madhouse. After two hours with no contact, RADM Carson ordered, "Cockroft, get me some word NOW."
Of course, the only reply was, "Aye aye, sir." Accordingly, two VP-40 pilots jumped into one of the station's SNBs and headed toward Polillo Island. Climbing to 10,000 feet, they contact the No. 5 plane on UHF.
Good news! Both the Marlin and Albatross were in the lagoon. Unfortunately, the Albatross had fouled plugs because of the long taxi and could not take off. The crews were in the process of transferring survivors from the Coast Guard plane to the Navy plane.
"Hold it a minute," the SNB pilot said. "Three Air Force SA-16s are circling and dropping smoke flares. Looks like they're going to land." (The SA-16 was an Air Force version of the Albatross.) About this time, the SNB developed radio problems and returned to base. Again, we had no news.
"...Exhausted, sunburned and contemplating the loss of one of their fellow passengers, the survivors wait in the cabin of the Coast Guard Albatross for next leg in their journey to safety..." At about 1210, Manila radio broadcast a news flash that one Philippine Air Force and three U. S. Air Force Albatross airplanes had rescued 15 survivors from the crashed Northwest Airlines DC-7. Well, this hit us Navy folks like a wet sock. The air was blue from all the Navy channels. RADM Carson said, "Cockroft, go find out what the hell is going on."
"Aye aye, sir," I said again, and away we went in the No. 4 plane. I pushed old No. 4 to the limit at 5,000 feet, and 40 minutes later saw our No. 5 plane, the Coast Guard Albatross and an Air Force Albatross in the lagoon. Our No. 5 boat now had 42 survivors and one body aboard. The Air Force plane was maneuvering to get astern of the No. 5 plane for another transfer. I waved him off, stating that the Navy had everything well in hand. I maintained good radio contact with ComNavPhil and kept a blow-by-blow account going for RADM Carson.
We proceeded to transfer 23 survivors to my plane and took off for Sangley Point with No. 5 right behind us. As the day was dwindling, I called out another Marlin loaded with sea stands and plenty of spark plugs for the hobbled Coast Guard Albatross. We were on the buoy at Sangley 50 minutes later, and the No. 5 plane was on the water. The beaching crew broke all records getting us up the ramp.
Led by RADM Carson and station CO CAPT Joseph D. McAllister, a host of sailors, medics and media swarmed to the airplane's door as the survivors began to disembark. Most of the passengers were barefoot, so the beach crew hosed down the ramp to cool it. One sailor offered his boots to one of the ladies. The 42 survivors and the one fatality were taken immediately to the station hospital. Then the survivors were transported to the U. S. Embassy in Manila in the 105-foot crash boat.
"...Survivors make their way to dry land. Most of the passengers were senior citizens who were on a Northwest Airlines tour. USN Photo..."
Captain David Rall and Bob Smith, the pilot and co-pilot of the Northwest Airlines DC-7C, praised the Navy and Coast Guard rescue efforts. Rall said that the trouble began when the No. 2 prop ran away and flew off, slicing through the fuselage between the cockpit and the main cabin. No one was hurt, but they had to descend to 9,000 feet. A small fire started but was extinguihsed immediately. He said the passengers for the most part were senior citizens from the United States who were on a world tour with Northwest Airlines. There was several Filipino dignitaries aboard also.
"...Finally back at Sangley Point, the survivors disembark from the VP-40 Marlin. USN Photo..." One might ask, why not send a boat out to pick the survivors? Because of the location, it would have taken two days for a boat or ship to get there from either Sangley or Subic Bay. This is another instance in the annals of Navy seaplane operations where only a seaplane could do the job.
Flying at 5,000 feet, Rall thought everything was fine when suddenly the No. 2 engine burst into flames brighter than day. The four remaining fire bottles had no effect on the fire. The decision had been made for him. With no airfield closer than Manilia, his only option was to ditch. Flying in torrential rain, Rall set up a 200-foot-per-minute descent strictly on the gauges and directed his co-pilot to watch for the water and call off the air speed. Co-pilot Smith had his hands full trying to shield some of the glare from the fire as well as assisting the skipper.
"...Air Force Albatross seaplanes taxi over to offer assistance to the crew of VP-40 Marlin..." Flaps down and still in heavy rain, Rall made a perfect landing despite not knowing the wind direction or the state of the sea. Touching tail-first, the plane bounced three times before settling smoothly into the water.
Everyone climbed out onto the wings, and the crew dispatched the four life rafts within three minutes. They made a quick check and found that there were no serious injuries and everyone was ambulatory. While getting into the life rafts, one of the ladies, Mrs. Clyde Kelly, was washed off the wing and drowned before she could be hauled into the raft.
Rall said that he really didn't think they would land successfully, because the sea was so rough. But they did. THey drifted for four hours in the life rafts before our rescue planes found them. Rall never heard sweeter music than the sound of two rescue planes flying overhead.
"...Tired survivors slump in their seats, finally able to rest now that they are safely out of the water..." In true Navy fashion, each survivor was handed a steaming cup of coffee as he came abord the aircraft. The crew's rations for breakfast and lunch were passed out to the survivors as a light meal.
"...Left: RADM Joseph M. Carson and CDR A. T. McKinney confer with CDR Cockroft (wearing the flight suit) after the rescue..." The pilot of the Albatross, LCDR J. D. Lyon, and his co-pilot, LT W. J. Russell, were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The crew received Air Medals. The Navy officers aboard the Marlin, LTjg P. R. Hit, LTjg R. H. Citterly and ENS D. T. Graff, received Air Medals. Their crew received Navy Commendation Medals.
The Philippine Air Lines DC-3 force-landed about 50 meters from the beach of Bais, Negroes Oriental, not far from Cebu. No one was inured, and Philippine nationals made the rescue.
CAPT Irving G. Cockroft, USN (Ret.), received his wings on 2 October 1942. After operational training in fighters at Opa Loca, Fla., and carrier qualification aboard USS Wolverine (IX-64), he was assigned to VGS-23/VC-19, flying F4F/FM-1/2 Wildcats operating in the Atlantic on antisubmarine patrols.
Among Cockroft's later assignments were: XO of Advanced Underseas Weapons School in Key West, Fla., 1951-1952; flight operations officer in USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), 1952-1954; operations officer for VP-45, 1954-1956; XO/CO of VP-40, 1958-1960; staff of CincPacFlt, Hawaii, 1960-1963; staff Chief of Naval Material, Washington, D. C., 1963-1967; commander of Defense Contract Administration Service, San Francisco, Calif., 1967-1971 and CO of the Naval and Marine Reserve Training Center, Alameda, Calif., 1971-1973.
"VP-40 History Summary Page"