A BIT OF HISTORY: "...New ASW Groups Are Formed - Page 3 - Naval Aviation News - December 1958..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1950s/1958/dec58.pdf [14AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Versatile Ship - Page 4 - Naval Aviation News - February 1958..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1950s/1958/feb58.pdf [12AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Survival Skill Practiced - Page 24 - Naval Aviation News - January 1958..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1950s/1958/jan58.pdf [12AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...For Official Use Only by Direction of Bureau of Aeronautics, Washing, D.C. P5M Marline Seaplane - COnducted by COMFAIRWINGLANT, Squadron VP-56, NAS Norfolk, Virginia on April 10, 1957..." WebSite: EBay http://www.ebay.com 30MAY2010
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Seaplane Goes Piggy-Back - Page 25 - Naval Aviation News - April 1957..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1950s/1957/apr57.pdf [10AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-56 P5M "...USS Ashland LSD-1 & VP-56 P5M-2 Buno: 135529 Circa 1957..." [21APR2000]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "....VP-56 Med Cruise. The seaplane tender USS Currituck (AV-7) is the ship shown..." Contributed by GERALDI, Dr. AT3 Vince firstname.lastname@example.org [05AUG2013]
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-56 Squadron "...Photograph from my Dad's, Gregory E. BRINDISI - VP-56 "1" Boat with the guys in front. Greg Brindisi is front row, second from the left..." Contributed by Nick Brindisi email@example.com..." [01FEB2005]
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-56 Squadron "...Photograph from my Dad's, Gregory E. BRINDISI, VP-56 Cruisebook..." Contributed by Nick Brindisi firstname.lastname@example.org..." [03JAN2005]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...Photograph's taken by my Dad, Gregory E. BRINDISI, while serving with VP-56..." Contributed by Nick Brindisi email@example.com..." [03JAN2005]
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-56 History "...Jax Units Cited For "Lantminex" - JAX AIR NEWS - VOL 12 - NO 51 - NAS Jacksonville, FL - 31 MAR 1955..." WebSite: University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries http://ufdc.ufl.edu/ [05FEB2011]
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-56 History "...Some crew members at the annual 1955 Christmas party. I can't remember all the names but here are a few. BACK ROW: AB3, AO2, AM1, Frank Mankus AT2, Jim Tonnucci AT2, Pappy AT3 - Bottom: Okapol AT3, AO2. Pete Sikoriak AT1, AD1, Burt Harrington AT2 - Front AB3..." Contributed by HARRINGTON, AT2 Burt firstname.lastname@example.org [23MAR2005]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...P5M Marlines From VP-56 - Page 33 - Naval Aviation News - February 1955..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1950s/1955/feb55.pdf [03AUG2004]
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-56 History "...VP-56 Squadron Roster from 1955 when we got the "E'. This was sent by LT Giles..." Contributed by KOONTS, AT2 Billy email@example.com [05DEC2001]Circa 1954
VP-56 Roster Picture Contributed by KOONTS, AT2 Billy firstname.lastname@example.org [26JAN2002]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...I took the 3 attached photos in early 1954, not long after joining VP-44. All are of the Breezy Point Seaplane Base, which is part of NAS Norfolk, Virginia. They were taken during a rare east to west take-off, which uses a short water runway, and comes close to the Breezy Point tower and gives a good view of the VP-44, VP-56 and FASRON-102 flight lines, ramps and hangars..." Contributed by STUPKA, Bill email@example.com [13MAY2007]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...P5M on Buoy at San Juan, PR with B-36 flying overhead..." Contributed by John McKee firstname.lastname@example.org [11APR2000]
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-56 History "...Picture taken from #2 Boat San Juan, PR Circa 1953..." Contributed by McKEE, John email@example.com [28JUL2006]
A BIT OF HISTORY: "...VP-56 Circa 1953-54 Memories..." Contributed by McKEE, John firstname.lastname@example.org [28JUL2006]
I served in the Navy Patrol Squadron, VP-56, from 1953 until honorably discharged in August of 1956. I initially reported into the squadron as an ATAN (Aviation Electronic Technician, Airman) and Was AT3 (Aviation Electronic Technician, Third Class Petty Officer) when I mustered out. I flew as the 2nd Technician on the Captain's crew in #1 boat (a P5M-1) for the first year or so before I was assigned to crew #2 when the P5M-2's replaced the older P5M-1's in the squadron.
I have found (as did many of my shipmates) that flying is comprised simply of hours and hours of boredom interspersed with moments of sheer terror! During my flying time, my plane was struck by lightening on two different occasions, and both times it was because 150 feet of trailing-wire antenna of our Arc-13 Transmitter was left out while flying through thunderstorms generating a positive charge on the plane which attracted the strikes. Both times every piece of electronic equipment on the plane was burned up and we found that rivets had been melted in the plane's hull. The noise generated by the strikes were incredible!
I was ordered by the pilot to use the APS-44 radar emergency high voltage to facilitate continuing an Anti-submarine operation around dawn one morning when the radar failed to power on properly. This worked quite well for about fifteen minutes...until the oil in the radar's magnetron overheated causing it to explode like a bomb creating a fire in the radar compartment which was located in the bow of the plane.
The fire was quickly extinguished by the Plane Captain, John T. Scahill AD1 (Aviation Mechanic - First Class Petty Officer ), but the explosion blew a hole in the side of the aircraft and the mission was quickly aborted. At that time we were unsure if the hole in the side of the craft was above or below the waterline, so the pilot set us down on sealane 19 and did not let the plane settle into the water but kept it up on the 'step' until we were very close to the buoy to tie up. By the way, the hole was just ABOVE the water line so we were OK on that score.
What really impressed me was the crash boat crew who was right next to us all the way and that wasn't the first time. The crash boats were converted PT Boats with twin Chrysler engines and they sounded so beautiful when they were going flat out like that. Those boys were always with us for take-offs or landings...a very impressive group.
Well, it wasn't too long following that incident that we were in the operating area searching for our submarine quarry and I reported to the pilot that my radar had spotted a sub snorkeling several miles from us. This was taking place during the wee hours of the morning, and after I had homed the pilot in over where the target was last spotted...we were at about 300 feet altitude and had just dropped a smoke light, a sonobouy and miniature depth charge, the pilot then executed a left turn to lay the remainder of the sonobouy pattern when the starboard engine caught on fire. He gave full throttle (two blocked) to both engines and quickly gained more altitude. Killing the flaming engine, he feathered the prop and closed the engine cowling before firing the CO2 cartridge to extinguish the fire He then ordered the crew to lighten the aircraft by throwing everything overboard out the after station hatch that wasn't nailed down.
And we did. Tool boxes, miniature depth charges, sonobouys, mattresses, you name it...it all went over the side. Then began the long trek back to base (165 - 180 miles) at about 1000 feet of altitude and we seemed to be maintaining the altitude pretty well. Then the pilot asked his co-pilot to take over the controls while he went to the after-station to relieve himself at the relief tube...but before he could even get clear of the cockpit down four steps to the flight deck, the copilot stalled the plane out and she shuddered violently before dropping like a rock!
The pilot leaped back up into the cockpit and stabilized the plane, but not before we had lost precious altitude. He ultimately was able to nurse the plane back up to around 1000 feet and when he again left the cockpit the co-pilot made the same blunder...I just hung on the navigator's table and waited for the crash. Well it never came. The pilot again was skilled enough to save us from going in, and I don't think that he ever made it back to the after-station to relieve himself. When we were on final for landing, the pilot ordered us to rig for crash landing as a precaution, but to my complete surprise and amazement...the man executed the smoothest landing that I have ever experienced earning the undying gratitude of the entire crew for getting us back to SP-2 in one piece. We were young then and like most young people, thought we were indestructible.
That bubble was burst when one of our planes crashed into a seawall around midnight one night while attempting to take-off for Bermuda. There were four good men killed outright, and the remaining crewmen all survived the crash with but minor injuries...an incredible horror that I'm sure all who were in the squadron at the time remember.
Looking back on it all now after more than one half of a century has gone by, I marvel that God was so gracious to me through those times and I give Him my thanks daily...
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-56 History "...Circa 1953-56...Crew 9 Chief Lillicotch..." Contributed by KOONTS, AT2 Billy email@example.com [26FEB2002]
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-56 History "...Circa 1953-56...P5M passed directly over head. You can see 9 Boats Antenna in right bottom corner..." Contributed by KOONTS, AT2 Billy firstname.lastname@example.org [26FEB2002]
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-56 History "...Circa 1953-56...Buoy Watch Bill Koonts AT2. Always prepared..." Contributed by KOONTS, AT2 Billy email@example.com [26FEB2002]
A BIT OF HISTORY: VP-56 History "...Circa 1953-56...More Buoy watch. Was better than going on the ship () and sleeping down five decks. Didn't smell as bad either..." Contributed by KOONTS, AT2 Billy firstname.lastname@example.org [26FEB2002]
A BIT OF HISTORY: NAS Norfolk "...You can see our hangers (VP-50) in the foreground and the seawall. I shot this one out the hatch as we circled over NAS Norfolk, Virginia. Circa 1952-1955..." Contributed by LeCONTE, William Louis email@example.com [18FEB2002]
A BIT OF HISTORY: NAS Norfolk "...The airplane that crashed erroneously turned left at the water at the top of this picture and rammed the seawall just out of view. VP-56 used the second ramp down from the top. VP-44 our hanger partner used the third one down. NAS Norfolk, Virginia. Circa 1952-1955..." Contributed by LeCONTE, William Louis firstname.lastname@example.org [18FEB2002]
"VP-56 History Summary Page"