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HistoryVP-4 HistoryHistory

Circa 1978

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation September 1978 "...History and Change-Of-Command - Page 27 and 29 - Naval Aviation News - September 1978..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1978/sep78.pdf [09OCT2004]

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Circa 1976

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation May 1976 "...Squadron Insignia - Naval Aviation News - May 1976..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1976/may76.pdf [06OCT2004]

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Circa 1975

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation July 1975 "...Naval Aircraft - Page 20 to 21 - Naval Aviation News - July 1975..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1975/jul75.pdf [03OCT2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Today April 29th, will mark a day in the history of VP-4. 25 years ago was the day before the fall of Saigon. I was on the advanced party aircraft on our deployment in 1975 to NAS Cubi Point, Philippines. We were leaving U-Tapao Royal Thailand Air Force Base, Thailand on our way to NSF Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. We had taxied out for takeoff in YD-1, BUNO 153436 when all of a sudden these Vietnamese F-5's started to land without clearance and landing in opposite directions. They were escaping their country. It was an exciting and sad event to watch. I can't remember all the crewmembers on the plane, but there were CO Jim Messegee, Department Heads; Jack Kaiser, Larry Ledoux, and David Kirkman. Also AIO's Craig Fausner, Dave Griswold, and myself. I am sorry I can't remember the rest of the VP-4 members on the plane. If anyone else was on that flight, please let me know..." Contributed by John Larson LCDR (RET) oriondriver1975@yahoo.com [29APR2000]


Circa 1974

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-4 Crew ThumbnailCameraCirca 1974 "...(Left to Right) unk - AO, Ron Druskis IFT, me (AW2 Wolf), and Red Walgreen 2FE, streaking the equator on the way to Diego Garcia on March 21, 1974. This crew was a later iteration of Crew 4, but had a number of the same folks on it. Streaking was a big deal back then and we wanted to streak the equator and send the picture to Johnny Carson as he was showing streaking pictures on his show. We never did send in the photo. Right after this photo was taken the PPC (I believe it was still LCDR Barnhill) held a bailout drill. You should have seen us getting into our clothes and then parachutes... it was a hoot..." Contributed by WOLF, AWCM George Jr Retired wolf.als@centurytel.net [09MAR2002]


Circa 1972

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation April 1972 "...RIMPAC '71 - Page 30 to 31 - Naval Aviation News - April 1972..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1972/apr72.pdf [27SEP2004]

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Circa 1971

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation August 1971 "...On Patrol - Page 34 - Naval Aviation News - August 1971..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1971/aug71.pdf [23SEP2004]

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Circa 1970 - 1977

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...The Life and Times of YD-5/YD-10 BUNO: 153426 in VP-4 during the 1970ís..." Contributed by LARSON, LCDR John Retired oriondriver1975@yahoo.com [27JUL2013]

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YD-5 BUNO: 153426

NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii (05/1971)

This P-3B aircraft was BUNO: 153426 and was first delivered to VP-47 in March 1967. Its next squadron was VP-4. It arrived in 09/1970 and departed in 11/1972. The next squadron to receive it was VP-19. After a short stay there it returned to VP-4 arriving in 04/1973 and left again in 01/1979. Then it was on to VP-30 (the RAG). It finished its career with the reserves, first with VP-62 at NAS Jacksonville, Florida and then finally with VP-93 at NAF Detroit, Michigan. Its final flight was to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) boneyard in Tucson, AZ. arriving 11/1992.

When this aircraft was in VP-4 the first time, its side number was YD-5 and when it came back a second time it became YD-10. This is story about 4 events of BUNO: 153426 while it was attached to VP-4. The first one occurred 12/1971; YD-5 had a mid-air collision with a Coast Guard HC-130B near Midway Is. The next event occurred in 05/1975 when YD-10 was the first U.S. aircraft on scene of a hijacking of a U.S. merchant ship the S.S. Mayaguez, by the Cambodians. The next incident was in 08/1975 when the number no. 1 engineís prop had an over-speed and the crew almost had to ditch. The final event happened in 05/1977 when a crew came upon a small boat with escaping Vietnamese families. This incident was told in the 2012: issue 2 of Planeside. Members of the crew met some of the boat people during our 2005 Reunion. Each event will be covered in this article.

On 12DEC1971 there was a mid-air of VP-4 P-3B BUNO: 153426 and Coast Guard HC-130B number 1348 near NAS Midway Island. This is the Aviation Accident Report

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Right after landing in NAS Midway Island after the collision

(Notice the damage on the top of the tail)

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Drawing

(Collision of the P-3 and CG C-130)

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Club at NAS Midway Island

(VP-4 crew and Coast Guard C-130 Crew that collided together)

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Damage

(Belly of the CG C-130)

On December 8th, 1971 a Danish Merchant ship sank about 160 nm Northeast of Midway Is. Central Pacific Search and Rescue command generated a message directing that Navy P-3ís, Coast Guard HC-130ís and Air Forces C-130ís were to search areas near the sinking to locate possible survivors. The Coast Guard ship Chautauqua would be the on scene commander. On 12 Dec 71, two P-3Bís (VP-4 and VP-1), 3 C.G. HC-130Bs, and 2 A.F. HC-130Hís would search for survivors.

Two P-3Bís took off from NAS Barbers Pt., Hi. The Coast Guard and Air Forces C-130ís would stage out of Midway Is. VP-4 call sign was PB 959. The VP-1 plane had navigation failures and with the low ceilings, aborted its mission and returned to Hawaii. PB 959 was directed to search the southeast area of F-1 at 1000 ft vice the southwest corner as directed in the tasking message.

A couple hrs later the 3 Coast Guard C-130 arrived in the area CG 1340, CG 1344, and CG 1348. Due to the low ceilings and poor visibility 1340 and 1344 did not conduct the search pattern as directed in the tasking message.

CG 1348 while in in route to the southeast corner of its search area F-2, descended in a clear spot in search area F-4. The Aircraft Commander noted a ship within 2 miles of his position while spiraling down. CG 1340 also detected the ship and was checking it out. While the aircrafts were in the vicinity of the ship, CG 1340 vectored CG 1348 to the southeast corner of F-2, his search area. CG 1348 commenced their search at 500 ft. as approved by the OSC due to the weather.

A 4th CG C-130 CG 1342 arrived at the scene later and was assigned the area that the second P-3 was to have searched, the western half of area F-1.

The AF C-130 AF 985 arrived in the area and was directed to search area F-3 at 1500 ft., but with the bad visibility, they requested a descent to 750 ft. by OSC. The second A.F C-130 aborted their flight before take-off from Midway.

About 4 hours after take-off PB 959 and CG 1348 collided in IFR conditions at 500 ft. At the time of the collision the aircraft should have been separated by approximately 46 NM. The port wing tip of the P-3 contacted the underside of the HC-130B and the P-3 vertical stabilizer cap contacted the left aileron of the HC-130. A portion of the outer wing of the P-3 was torn off and the cap of the vertical stabilizer dented. CG 1348 sustained a tear in the underside of the fuselage from aft the nose gear to the cargo ramp, and a tear in the port aileron. Both aircraft immediately climbed and headed back to Midway. PB 959 was escorted by AF 985 and CG 1348 was escorted by CG 1340 back to Midway Island.

When PB 959 arrived on station, the Coast Guard Cutter Chautauqua directed the crew to search the Eastern half of F-1. Their assigned altitude was 1500 ft. The crew saw something in the water and requested a decent to 500 ft. They stayed at 500 ft. for the remainder of the flight, due to the weather. PB 959 continued searching using loran A, Doppler, and inertial navigation. A dead reckoning tracer (DRT) driven by the inertial navigational system was used to maintain a continuous navigational plot. PB 959 was on auto-pilot at the time of impact with the number one engine secured. Visibility was considerably reduced in the rain shower. After the impact the pilot leveled the wings and the number 1 engine was restarted. The navigator started emergency procedures and insured everyone had donned anti-exposure suits, parachutes and were fully briefed on ditching procedures.

PB 959 during their entire time on scene felt they were being positively controlled by the CGC Chautauqua. The P-3 radar was not manned as sea clutter prevented detection of small objects in the search area and there was no concern as to the other aircrafts positions. When PB 959 reported changes in altitude they felt they were being given positive control with both altitude and lateral separation from all other aircraft.

The pilot of CG 1348 was assigned to search the F-2 area as delineated in the tasking message. The crew of CG 1348 as well as the other HC-130B crews at NS Midway Is. received no formal briefing on the SAR operation nor discussed the mission prior to departure. CG 1348ís navigational equipment status was poor with both their Doppler and loran C inoperative and the loran A unusable as only one pulse could be obtained. Additionally the radar was reported to be weak with low signal strength and poor definition. En route to Midway from San Fran an error was discovered in the Doppler computer headings. The error was determined using observed winds aloft as provided by ocean ship November. The error was calculated as 29 degrees.

DG 1348 used vectors from CG 1340 because of their poor navigational equipment and began their search area at 500 ft. 210 kts with #1 and #4 engines shut down for loiter. An estimated ground speed and drift angle was set into the Doppler computer based upon a visual surface wind, using the previously calculated 29 degrees error.

As CG 1348 reached their southern turn point on their 6th leg and just starting to commence a 180 degree starboard turn, as they entered rain showers. Immediately a P-3 appeared at less than Ĺ nm dead ahead. The two aircraft collided nearly head-on with the P-3 passing beneath and to the left of CG1348. The Coast Guard pilot began climbing but experienced momentary control problems until he and the co-pilot realized they were both reacting to each otherís pressure on the yoke. CG 1348 continued climbing and restarted the number 1 engine. They were unable to restart number 4 engine until they leveled off at 11,500 ft. After having their damage visually checked by CG 1340 and checking slow flight characteristics they proceeded to Midway Is.

The conclusions of the incident are.
    1.   Significant errors in the navigation by the pilots of the CG HC-130B, CG 1348 caused the aircraft to fly into an adjoining search area assigned and occupied by the Navy P-3 PB 959.

    2.   The aircraft commander knew that the Doppler, Loran C, and Loran A were inoperative after the aircraft was airborne. He knew there was an approximately 29 degree error in the Doppler computer. He also knew that the navigator was not qualified. The most significant navigational error was probably introduced by placing an incorrect heading in the Doppler computer for the south bound leg which caused the aircraft to fly a heading of 180 degrees magnetic rather than the desired 170 degrees magnetic.

    3.   The aircraft commander didnít inform the On Scene Commander of his navigation limitations.

    4.   The On Scene Commander and his Air Control Officer did not fulfill their responsibilities assigned or implied for safe separation and coordination and control of search aircraft. Considering the size of the search area, the number of aircraft and adverse weather, it would have been prudent for the air search radar to be manned continuously. The aircraft arriving on station were not provided full mission details and the location of other search aircraft whose search assignments had been revised. The OSC didnít keep the SAR Mission Coordinator sufficiently advised of weather conditions prevailing throughout the entire search area.

    5.   The aircraft commander of the Navy P-3 exercised poor judgment in not having his radar manned and in not attempting to interrogate the IFF of the other aircraft in the search area.

REMARKS OF THE P-3 TACCO/NAV

We had 10 crewmembers and we had 4 plus-ins on the crew. The 3P was not qualified; the SS3 was on his first flight in the squadron. We had been the Ready 2 that day and were launched. When we arrived on station the sea state was a 9 and the winds were strong and caused blowing foam. The ceiling was right at 500 ft. The windows needed to be manned with observers and they had to be rotated during the flight. The SS3 was not familiar with the IFF mode on the radar and it would have been impossible to see small objects in the ocean with the radar, so it was not manned.

After the collision, the F/E immediately restarted the number 1 engine. I felt by restarting the engine, the F/E saved us from going into the water. There was no ability to turn the aircraft. They needed to have all four engines running to use asymmetric power to help make turns. The crew put on their poopy-suits and parachutes. We were escorted back to Midway by the AF C-130. It was an hour flight back to Midway.

(The area of the crash was roughly where the U.S. Fleet was during the Battle of Midway in WWII.)

When they got back to Midway our option was either to land on the runway or land in the lagoon. The pilots opted for the runway; the cross-wind s were 40 kts,

The crews from the CG C-130 and VP-4 were able to meet at the club afterwards to celebrate that they were still alive. The only injury was a cut finger on the 2nd mech on the P-3.

The accident review board was held right at Midway Island a couple of days later. The Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force were represented on the board. The VP-4 crew stayed at Midway for 4 or 5 days. The plane stayed until the spring undergoing repairs so it could be flown out. It left with its stubby left wing.

Thirty five of the 36 crewmembers of the Danish ship were found prior to 12 Dec. The only missing person was the Captain of the ship.

REMARKS FROM THE P-3 3P/NAV

We were to be on the Ready Alert 1 at Barbers Point, HI the next day. A crew was put together and we launched on the SAR mission. It was one of my first flights in the squadron. So we were doing an A-12 navigation qual. en-route to the search area.

Once we got on station the Tacco took over the nav. I then took my break and ate my box lunch by the port over the wing hatch when the collision happened. It felt and sounded like a hard landing. I looked out the window and saw a lot of trailing wires; I thought we had hit a gooney bird. I went up to the flight station and the pilots were busy with the aircraft. I went back to the nav station and gave the Tacco a heading back to Midway Is. The crew then proceeded to put on their poopy suits. Some had difficulty getting them on.

We didnít use the radar because of the high sea state and the return on the radar.

We flew a total of 3 hours on that flight. The Navy and Coast Guard crews met at the club. We were at Midway Island for a couple of days before heading back to Hawaii. The plane stayed longer undergoing repairs for its flight eventually to California.

THE S.S. MAYAGUEZ INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT AND ATTEMPTED RESCUE MAY 75

On May 12, 1975, gunboats of the Cambodian Navy seized the American merchant ship, SS Mayaguez, in international waters off Cambodia's coast. The ship was being towed to Kompong Som on the Cambodian mainland when word reached the White House. President Ford was determined that the situation not be allowed to deteriorate into another drawn-out Pueblo incident. In addition, it was believed important to counter a growing perception among U.S. friends and adversaries that America was "a helpless giant" and an erratic ally lacking determination.

The U.S. response to the seizure would be a military operation executed by an ad hoc force of airmen, marines, and sailors. The U.S. had no diplomatic relations with the Khmer Rouge, which had taken control of Cambodia in previous weeks. U.S. forces stationed in neighboring Thailand were numerically insufficient for ground action against Cambodia, and no U.S. warships were in the district.

Time was a compelling factor. The big concern was that the Cambodians would transfer the crew to the mainland, making the rescue operation more arduous

Within a few minutes of receiving the mayday message sent by the Mayaguez, Crew 8 of VP-4 , was airborne. They were flying out of Utapao, Thailand. By 10:30 p.m., at Cubi Point Naval Air Station, the CO of VP-4 received his first report on the Mayaguez. It was too dark for crew 8 to eyeball the ship, but they could see a captured merchant vessel on their radar screens as a big image flanked by two little images.

A battalion-sized marine rescue team was airlifted from Okinawa to U-Tapao Air Force Base in the Gulf of Thailand, about 300 miles from Kho-Tang. The destroyer USS Holt was directed to seize the Mayaguez, while Marines, airlifted and supported by the Air Force, would rescue the crew, at least some of whom were believed to be held on Kho-Tang. Concurrently, the Coral Sea would launch four bombing strikes on military targets near Kompong Som to convince the Khmer Rouge that the U.S. was serious.

Expecting only light resistance, the U.S. troops were met by a force of 150 to 200 heavily armed Khmer Rouge soldiers who shot down three of the first eight helicopters and damaged two others. About 100 marines were put ashore, but it soon became clear that substantial reinforcements would be needed. The assault force was supported by Air Force planes, but the attack was not going well.

While the firefight on Kho-Tang was at its most intense, bombing targets on the mainland apparently convinced the Khmer Rouge leaders that they had underestimated U.S. resolve. A fishing boat was seen to approach the destroyer Wilson with white flags flying. Aboard were the 39 crewmen of the Mayaguez. VP-4 crew 9 was the first to see the crewmembers on the Thai fishing boat.

The marines on Kho-Tang were ordered to disengage and withdraw. However, Khmer Rouge troops, perhaps directed by a local commander, continued the battle, turning from defense to offense as Air Force helicopters moved through heavy fire to withdraw U.S. forces. The last of 230 marines were not evacuated until after dark on the night of May 15. As they had throughout the Vietnam War, helicopter crews performed with unsurpassed heroism.

Eighteen Marines and airmen were killed or missing in the assault and withdrawal from Kho-Tang. Twenty-three others were killed in a helicopter crash en route from Hakhon Phanom to U-Tapao, but the objectives of the operation were achieved. The Mayaguez and its crew had been rescued, though at high cost.

Here are some remarks from one of the pilots that arrived first on the scene in YD-10, BUNO: 153426.

I remember that it was our day off and we were enjoying a crew dinner at a club somewhere on the base at Utapao when the A.I.O. came rushing up to us telling us we had to go flyóimmediately. About 45 minutes later we were airborne with a ramp load of fuel.

There was a lot of concern that we not use our searchlight on this mission but it was a moot point as it was inop anyway. Also there was much debate about boarding more fuel or loading flares with arguments for both but as we could not load flares and fuel simultaneously it was finally decided to get underway ASAP.

It was fully dark by the time we were overhead the Mayaguez itself. I seem to remember it was dead in the water and surrounded by many smaller boats which we presumed were the occupied by the bad guys. We orbited this cluster of vessels throughout the night but without flares or searchlight we could not get a visual ID. The largest vessel was fully illuminated and it looked like every light it had been on. I remember seeing the lights illuminating the water and reflecting in the waves. From our vantage point it looked like the sea was golden around the ship. The smaller boats had simple running lights.

We later learned from the Mayaguez skipper when he visited our CO that every time the hijackers heard us in YD-10 overhead the Mayaguez that first night they sprayed the sky with their AKs. Of course we had no external lights on so they had no visual target to aim for--just sound. One can just imagine what a target a searchlight would have made inbound for a visual ID! With less than a full bag of fuel we were forced to leave before daylight and before our relief plane from Cuba arrived. VP-17 arrived later at our contact position and in the morning light they made a low pass confirming visually that it was indeed the Mayaguez. They found a bullet hole in their vertical stabilizer after landing.

RECAP OF YD-10íS BUNO: 153426, NUMBER 1 PROP OVER-SPEED ON 16 AUG 75

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1975 Cruisebook - YD-10 BUNO: 153426 after returning to NAS Cubi Point, Philippines - everyone is looking at the No. 1 Prop after the landing


THIS ARTICLE IS FROM APPROACH MAGAZINE IN 1976

VP-4 crew 6 was on a Maritime Air Patrol flight in YD-10. They were operating at 350 ft., 250 kts., and at 144,000 lbs., when they got the no. 1 prop light on the number 1 engine. There was no over-speed and the no. 2 prop light was functioning. The engine was secured with the e-handle. But it failed to feather going to 70% rpm. The prop failed to feather procedures was completed. Fluid was observed coming from the prop dome. Engine instruments indicated that the prop had decoupled. A climb was initiated to 2000 ft. at 160 kts. After 10 minutes the number 1 prop over-sped to over 120% rpm (gauge limit).

The PPC slowed the aircraft to reduce the over-speed, but lateral control was unsatisfactory and the noise level was still excessively high. Approach flaps were selected and the aircraft slowed to 130 kts. to decrease the rpm slightly. Land flaps were selected and slowed to 120 kts. Max power was selected and the rate of decent was at a minimum. But both pilots on the controls could not maintain lateral control even with full right aileron and full right rudder.

The PPC considered ditching but there were 8-11 ft. swells, and 25 kts of wind and they had the direction control problems. They jettisoned 2500 lbs. of buoys and ordnance. They next considered bailing out. By the time they were ready to bail-out they were below 1000 ft., the minimum altitude. At 400 ft. level flight was attained. So power on no 4 engine was reduced which allowed the crew to maintain heading.

After 30 minutes they were able to climb to 1000 ft. and increase airspeed to 130 kts. They were now able to make turns. They prepared for landing and were at 95,000 lbs. and an approach speed of 124 kits. They made a straight in landing to runway 25 at Cubi Pt. The landing was successful and as they approached the ramp the number 1 prop stopped turning.

The probable cause of the incident was fluid loss and internal pressure leakage in the No 1 prop dome. The cause of the failure of the prop to pitch-lock was unknown at the time of the article.

HERE IS A RECAP FROM ONE OF THE PILOTS 38 YEARS LATER - MY RECOLLECTIONS OF THAT DAY ARE STILL QUITE VIVID

We had just done a photo run on a Soviet Task Force consisting of a Kresta, Kashin and Kanin surface ships near the Spratly Islands. We pulled off and shortly thereafter we got the first Prop Pump light. We went through the procedure and tried to feather when things got bad. The prop spun so fast that the Ham Standard guys later determined that the tips had gone supersonic. They were able to estimate the RPM by how much the props had stretched due to centrifugal force. It was estimated to at 160% rpm. It was so loud that we had to put our helmets on and yell into our boom mics to talk to each other. Our biggest worry was that it would depart the aircraft and come across hitting No.2 and the fuselage.

In our attempt to slow the wind-milling prop down we lowered the flaps and slowed the aircraft. Unbeknown to us in all the confusion was the fact that at that weight and speed we were below VMC Air. This and the drag on that wind-milling prop caused us serious control problems. The order to bailout was given but as fast as the crew was in responding (my estimate was less than 2 minutes) we had descended below 1000 feet which was our safe bailout altitude. This occurred because whenever we tried to hold the wings level the aircraft would descend. I do not think the PPC or I would have made it had we attempted the bailout. The aircraft would have rolled over. It took two of us to hold the aircraft. On the other hand with the decrease in weight due to the other 11 crew gone (11x200=2200 lbs.) who knows. We might have flown home and left the rest there for the SAR. Interestingly enough at the same time a USAF U2 had flamed out over Indochina and glided out to the South China Sea where he punched out and was recovered by a Japanese fisher. After we decided against the bailout and threw all the buoys out we were able to stay airborne. Shortly after the skipper whom I was talking to directly at the ASWOC, asked me how many crew members were in the water since one had been reported picked up. This created some interesting confusion. I went back to the Tacco and asked him how many had bailout. He gave me the strangest look, since the door had never been opened. AFRS reported on the air that we were down and a rescue was in progress. Needless to say this caused some serious consternation with the wives in Cubi.

We wanted to go to Clark AFB so we could have a longer runway. This was approved until we told them that we would have to overfly Manila since we couldnít climb high enough to clear the mountains outside Cubi without increasing the prop speed due to the thinner air. The skipper nixed that and we were lucky enough to land on runway 25 at Cubi straight in without the tailwind which would normally have been present that time of day. There was no way we could circle to land with those control problems. I remember looking at the road that goes from topside down to the airfield. It was filled with people and vehicles. AFRS finally got it right and had reported that we were inbound and I guess everybody wanted to be there for the fireball. Fortunately we limped in. The PPC greased it on and the prop finally stopped turning as we hit the chocks.

I later heard the YD-10 had been involved with that earlier midair. I swore right then that Iíd fly that airplane any day because it always made it home.

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VP-4 reunion in 2005. It shows 11 of the 30 Vietnamese on the boat, 6 of the 12
P-3 crew and the CO and XO from 1977


Recap of Vietnamese boat people rescue with YD-10. The full story was told in the 2012 second issue of Planeside.

Right after the fall of Saigon in April 1975, about 130,000 Vietnamese attempted to escape. Those who were associated with the government or the military who stayed were sent to ďre-educations campsĒ. There were economic retributions, private property was confiscated and people were sent to re-settlement camps. The only religion allowed had to be approved by the government.

From 1975-1990 roughly 2 million exited the country and many of them didnít make it to freedom. Three members of this group were imprisoned for being in the military and working for the former government. The communists didnít care about a personís rights- human, religious or political.

Several families got together and sold whatever valuables they had at the time and acquired an old 30 foot wooden river cargo boat. They had no plan except to reach international waters and the shipping channel. No one had any seamanship skills; only 1 person had any mechanical skills. To avoid being recognized by the authorities several families traveled by a family bus from Saigon to Go Cong a coastal town about 70 miles away. Along the way they picked up the rest of the people. There were 7 families and a total of 30 people on board. They could not take sufficient amount of supplies because that might raise suspicions with the police and military. The cover story for the trip was they were going to a wedding event. To further avoid suspicion they took a Sampan (Typical to the Mekong Delta a small passenger boat resembling a very large kayak) to meet the escape boat anchored in the middle of the river few miles from the river mouth. There was no covering for the group on the little boat except for the top over the engine a mid-ship. On day 2 as they were leaving the country they were chased by the coast guard.

They were now about 200 miles off the coast of Vietnam. Day 9 came with little more than five gallon of diesel fuel and there was no food left after a couple of days. One of them found a small bag of rice submerged in the water inside the engine compartment and decided to use part of the boat for fuel, to cook the rice. After the rice was eaten, they saw off in the distance a small dot in the sky. They were all happy because they thought they saw a bird that meant they were close to land. As the dot grew larger and larger the shape of a plane started appearing. The plane flew just a couple of a hundred feet over the boat and slightly dip it wings on the first pass. Tired, sick, and desperate the survivors had a lot of joy when they realized that this aircraft was there to save them. On the second pass the P-3 dropped some smoke markers. They left and then about 1 hr later a Japanese merchant ship the ďAlps MaruĒ arrived.

THIS IS A RECAP OF THE EVENT BY THE TACCO ON THE FLIGHT

We launched on a flight to the South China Sea on a maritime air patrol flight.

As we were transitioning from one contact to the next, the 2nd Mech, sitting in the FE's seat, said he thought he had seen something in the water. He was unable to identify it so we decided to set up a datum and construct a search pattern around that point. The nav set everything up and we commenced an expanding square search around that point. Shortly, we found a small boat approximately 8 miles outside the shipping lanes. The people were waving frantically and indicating distress. We dropped a smoke to ensure that we did not lose them

It was decided to mark their spot with another smoke and then climb to determine the closest ship. As we were climbing, the SS3 called out a contact and we began attempts to raise the ship on the radio. The ship was the ALPS MARU and we were unable to raise them on any frequency. The attempt was a low altitude pass in the hope of getting their attention. This also failed to get them to turn on their radios.

Further discussion led to the plan to fly down their port side, cross their bow, drop a smoke, and then drop a series of smokes directing them to the refugees. This worked. We remained on station until the transfer of all refugees was completed.

There were probably many Vietnamese rescued at sea during that era. But I think this event might be the only one were the people rescued were able to meet the rescuers in person. Which is what happened at our 2005 reunion.

I flew YD-10 BUNO: 153426 many times while I was in VP-4. I never had any hair raising events.

Our crew flew YD-10 back from NAS Cubi Point R.P. to NAS Barbers Pt, Hawaii at the end of the 1977 deployment. I left the squadron shortly there after on to my next assignment.

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U-Tapao Royal Thailand Air Force Base, Thailand in 1975. The crew bought a lot of pappasan chairs and wicker furniture for the flight back to NAS Cubi Point, Philippines


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NSF Diego Garcia in 1975 - first plane is YD-10 153426 and the second plane is YD-1 buno 153436


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NSF Diego Garcia in 1975 - first plane is YD-10 153426 and the second plane is YD-1 buno 153436


After BUNO: 153426 left VP-4, it went to the RAG, VP-30. It then finished its career with the reserves, first with VP-62 in Jacksonville, and finally with VP-93 in Detroit. Its last stop would be to the boneyard at AMARG(Aerospace Maintenance Regeneration Group) in Tucson, AZ.

I am sure other P-3's have had interesting careers, but I thought that this planes history was rather unique. Some of these events could of ended tragically, but thankfully they all made it back to the base. It is a testament to the durability of the Lockheed P-3's.

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VP-62 flying over downtown Jacksonville, Florida


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Boneyard at AMARG in Tucson, AZ. They were taken in 2000


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Boneyard at AMARG in Tucson, AZ. They were taken in 2000. My tour guide is standing under the left "Band-Aid" wing of 153426


John Larson
VP-4 1974-1977, VP-90 1984-1994
VP-4 Veterans Association Public Affairs Officer

Circa 1970

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVP-4 and VP-22 History "...Bottom left is P-3A BuNo 151393, VP-22 QA-45, and bottom right is P-3B BuNo 151393, VP-4 YD-3. About 1970..." Contributed by MOTTERN, AW1 Carl Retired cfmottern@yahoo.com [10NOV2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation October 1970 "...On Patrol - Page 33 - Naval Aviation News - October 1970..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1970/oct70.pdf [17SEP2004]

VP History ThumbnailCamera

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation July 1970 "...On Patrol - Page 24 to 25 - Naval Aviation News - July 1970..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1970/juln70.pdf [17SEP2004]

History - Tap To Enlarge ThumbnailHistory - Tap To Enlarge Thumbnail

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation June 1970 "...On Patrol - Page 28 - Naval Aviation News - June 1970..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1970s/1970/jun70.pdf [17SEP2004]

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