VP-5 Lockheed P2 Redesignated LA-9
P2V LA-9 Renovation Underway!
In Honor Of Our VP-5 Brothers Of The LA-9 Crew
"...I had an opportunity to stop by today at the LA-9 P2V on static display in Heritage Park, NAS Jacksonville, Florida. As I walked around the display I had to admire the tremendous effort of all hands involved in the preparation and painting of this aircraft. The fact that active duty members of VP-5 gave such recognition to a crew from the squadrons history is very much appreciated by members of the "VP-5 Family". To all members of the Mad Foxes---Bravo! Job well done! Thank you!..." Contributed by Mike Kozak firstname.lastname@example.org [19NOV2009]
"...'Mad Foxes' Remember 12 Of Their Own - By Clark Pierce, Editor - Last modified Thu., November 12, 2009 - 05:55 PM..." WebSite: JaxAirNews http://jacksonville.com/news/ [13NOV2009]
On a cool and windy Nov. 6, NAS Jacksonville, Florida Commanding Officer Capt. Jack Scorby Jr. welcomed hundreds of Sailors, families, retirees and other distinguished guests to the unveiling of a special memorial at Heritage Park in honor and remembrance of VP-5 crew LA-9.
"Just a few months ago, this Neptune was in serious distress due to age and corrosion. Since we receive no government funding to maintain our aircraft at Heritage Park, we rely on our NAS Jacksonville, Florida squadrons to adopt a historic aircraft and keep it in good condition," said Scorby. "When I put out the word on our Neptune - VP-5 stepped up immediately and told me about their plan to refurbish the aircraft in honor of 12 'Mad Foxes' who perished in 1962 while flying a patrol out of NAS Keflavik, Iceland."
He added that the young Sailors who worked tirelessly to restore the P2's appearance, did it for all the right reasons.
Photo by Clark Pierce Guests arrived early at NAS Jacksonville, Florida Heritage Park Nov. 6 to admire the P2V Neptune recently restored by the VP-5 "Mad Foxes" in honor of their "LA-9" aircrew that was lost Jan. 12, 1962 while on patrol from NAS Keflavik, Iceland.
"Their efforts reflect the dedication, service and sacrifice made by their fallen shipmates of lima-alpha-nine, as well as their families. My thanks and congratulations go out to VP-5 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Frank Naylor, and the VP-5 restoration team led by Lt. Cmdr. Rob Huntington, for their vision and leadership for making today a reality," concluded Scorby.
Naylor reminded the audience, "One of the truly remarkable aspects of naval life is that we honor traditions and we honor sacrifices in ways that our civilian counterparts many times do not. It is that special bond, developed from shared experiences of a group of Sailors, that builds a foundation for that tradition. And it's in that vein that we gather here today to pay tribute to our fellow Sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice in our country's name.
"I want to give you a taste of what life was like when LA-9 went down in 1962. Fortunately, former VP-5 Commanding Officer Capt. Bob Smyth kept a journal of the events of that day and was kind enough to share it with us," said Naylor.
Photo by Miriam Gallet The VP-5 "hands on" restoration team included (from left) AM3 Lance Nyffeler, AD3 Zach Barnett, AM3 Christopher Merrill, AM2(AW) Brad Barnes and AM3 Xian Wu.
"Winter weather in Iceland is very unpredictable - in an hour it can go from a hellish artic blizzard to a 'springtime in the Rockies' kind of day. On Jan. 12, 1962, LA-9 set out on a routine mission from NAS Keflavik, Iceland. At about 1030, the squadron duty officer reported no position report in the last hour. LA-9 had taken off at 0800 on a routine anti-submarine patrol in the Denmark Strait. The aircraft was flown that day by our new XO, Cmdr. Bert Kozak. This was his first operational patrol out of NAS Keflavik, Iceland. We had put an additional experienced VP-5 navigator aboard.
LA-9's flight plan was to fly northwest from NAS Keflavik, Iceland across the Denmark Strait and across the east coast of Greenland and over the ice flows for about 500 miles and then return home. It was a nine-hour flight covering about 1,500 miles.
At 1130, we still had had no contact. Every radio station in Iceland, Greenland and Europe was trying to contact LA-9. The clock crept ahead - no position reports. Its estimated arrival time of 1600 passed, but LA-9 did not return. A couple aircraft were sent out to look for the Neptune, but had to return due to deteriorating weather. The next day, we sent out eight search and rescue (SAR) aircraft. On Jan. 14, we sent 16 aircraft out. I was on the first SAR mission that swept the Denmark Strait and all kinds of experts were called in. The weather finally cleared and there was a report of footprints. We flew very low and the prints turned out to be a polar bear.
The search went on for a very long week and was called off Jan. 19. LA-9 and its crew had vanished. They were declared lost at sea - but that was not the end of the story. VP-5 kept looking every day until our return to the U.S. in May 1962."
Naylor continued, "Four and a half years later, on Aug. 6, 1966, the wreckage of LA-9 was found on Greenland's remote Kronborg glacier by an Oxford University geological survey team led by Charles Kent Brooks.
Brooks, who attended the ceremony from his home in Denmark, recalled, "We noted the location of the debris field -but since we had no radio communications capability with our party -it was four weeks before we arrived at Reykjavik, Iceland and reported our discovery to the American embassy," said Brooks.
Photo by Miriam Gallet NAS Jacksonville, Florida Commanding Officer Capt. Jack Scorby Jr. congratulates Robert Pettway on completing the mission to commemorate the final recovery of the "LA-9" crew of VP-5.
Fast forward to 1975, when Brooks revisited the crash site via helicopter. He was shocked to find human remains that had been missed in the 1966 recovery effort.
"Later, I was contacted by Robert Pettway, a former VP-5 petty officer, about participating in a final expedition to bring the crew of LA-9 home once and for all. He teamed up with Patricia Masciantoni, Mike and Peter Kozak -the LA-9 pilot's surviving children - and other volunteers, including VP-5 Alumni, to make it happen in 2004," said Brooks. At the Nov. 6 ceremony, Bob Pettway received a special recognition plaque from Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11 Capt. Mark Turner.
"Though it took two recovery missions over 47 years, we thank God that the men of LA-9 are home," said Pettway. "This was a team effort and I had a wonderful crew working with me over all these years, including the Kozak family, Dr. Kent Brooks, retired Marine Corps Maj. Gene Cole (who led the 1966 recovery mission), VP-5 Alumni Donald Lattimer and Don Good, and retired Navy Capt. Tom Sparks (who led the 2004 recovery mission)."
Photo by Clark Pierce Conditions for the ceremony were cool and clear as Reid Pettway (6) stood with his siblings, Annsley (8) and Regan (10) during the colors presentation by the Clay High School NJROTC Color Guard. Navy Band Southeast A Cappella Quartet performed the national anthem.
Pettway concluded, "Very few things in life are perfect - but today's ceremony and this plane comes as close to perfect as anything I've ever experienced. Thank you all."
LA-9 Crew Members
- Cmdr. Norbert Kozak
- Lt. John Brown, M.D.
- Lt. j.g. Anthony Caswick
- Lt. j.g. Michael Leahy
- Lt. j.g. Badger Smith III
- AT2 Robert Anderson
- ADR2 Robert Hurst
- ATN3 Alan Millette
- ADR3 Frank Parker
- AT3 Norman Russell Jr.
- AO3 Grover Wells
- AEAN Joseph Renneberg
"...The Plaque unveiling was done by Captain Scorby, NAS Jacksonville, Florida C.O., and myself. I had just previously been presented the U.S.Navy Superior Public Service silver medal by Captain Turner, the Commodore of CPRW-11. Standing from left to right are CDR Naylor, VP-5 C.O., Captain Scorby, base C.O., Bob Pettway, Captain Turner, and Lt.Cdr. Taylor, base Chaplain. This was a very moving ceremony. I was honored to be included in the ceremony and was seated on the podium between the two navy Captains, the base C.O. and Commodore of CPRW-11, who presented me with a U.S. Navy Superior Public Service silver medal for my part in the recovery. There were many family and fellow crewmates of the fallen crew at the ceremony. Also in attendance was Dr. Kent Brooks from the University of Copenhagen, who discovered the crash site while on geologic expedition, and Major J.P. Cole, the USMC leader of the 1966 recovery mission. Following the speeches, the C.O. of the base and I unveiled the plaque at the P2V that commemorates the LA-9 crew. I was very humbled to be so honored. It was perfect..." Contributed by PETTWAY, ATR3 Robert L. (Bob) email@example.com [09NOV2009]
"...Attached are some photos of the P2V dedication ceremony held at NAS Jacksonville, Florida on 06NOV09. Part of the ceremony involved the presentation of a Navy Superior Public Service Award to Bob Pettway for his tireless efforts to bring the crew of LA-9 home. In the first photo CDR.Wes Naylor, present CO of VP-5, gives comments while CAPT. Jack Scorby, Jr. and Bob Pettway look on. Bob is presented his certificate in the second photo. The presentation group then moved to the aircraft and unveiled a commemorative plaque naming the crew of LA-9. Bob and Gaila Pettway stand with officers participating in the presentation in the last photo...." Contributed by Mike Kozak firstname.lastname@example.org [09NOV2009]
"...Attached are photos of the newly painted LA-9 P2V on static display at Heritage Park aboard NAS Jacksonville, Florida...." Contributed by Mike Kozak email@example.com [09NOV2009]
"...Sailors Honored Nearly 50 Years After Plane Crash - Reported by: Denise Douglas Email: ddouglas@ActionNewsJax.com Last Update: 11/06 6:49 pm..." WebSite: ActionNewsJax http://www.actionnewsjax.com/ [09NOV2009]
Photograph Caption: Family and friends say a final goodbye to 12 sailors killed during a training exercise.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As he stood on base at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, Garey Hurst thought back on some of the good memories he had of his brother.
"I can remember before he left my brother picking me up and putting me on his shoulder and playing with me," he said.
That is one of the last memories Hurst has of his older brother. He was eight when his 22-year-old brother crashed in a plane. Robert and 11 other sailors were on a Cold War training exercise in a P2-V plane when it went down over Greenland.
"All my family, my mother and father especially were sad when they notified us," Hurst said.
Because of the remote location of the wreckage, it took years to find it and even longer to recover the bodies. Now, nearly 50 years since the crash, a refurbished P2-V has been dedicated in their honor at NAS Jacksonville, Florida.
"Finally after 47 years, that's a long time and I am so happy they are doing this for the entire crew," said Ruth Kozak Jacob, whose husband died when the plane went down.
Hurst was amazed at how the plane turned out. "I have a picture of the original plane they were on and it looks identical to it," he said.
For him it's a memory of his beloved brother he can treasure and a way to say goodbye. "I came because I wanted closure for all this," he said.
Copyright 2009 High Plains Broadcasting LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
"...Navy honors fallen air crew, families with ceremony and restored plane at Jacksonville NAS - Rendition of the crew's patrol plane displayed at Jacksonville NAS - By Jeff Brumley - Story updated at 12:50 AM on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009..." WebSite: JaxAirNews http://jacksonville.com/news/ [07NOV2009]
The freshly painted P2 Neptune looked flight-ready as it glimmered in the morning sun Friday at Jacksonville Naval Air Station.
"It's an absolutely beautiful, wonderful piece of work," Kent Brooks said about the restored plane.
That wasn't the case in 1966, when Brooks was on a geological expedition that discovered an identical plane smashed up on a glacier in Greenland.
"Its belly was covered in ice, its wings were torn off, its engines were 200 yards in front of the crash site," Kent said. "The front was smashed, but the fuselage was intact with the crew inside."
That Jacksonville-based crew of 12 had crashed in bad weather and died in 1962 while on patrol. On Friday, they were honored by the Navy about five years after the last of their remains were recovered from the crash site.
About 200 people - family and former crew mates of the fallen team, as well as retired and active-duty sailors - attended the P2 dedication ceremony held at the base's outdoor plane park.
The service capped a nearly 50-year effort to find and recover the crew of the aircraft.
The saga began Jan. 12, 1962, when the aircraft departed NAS Keflavik, Iceland, for what was supposed to be a routine, nine-hour Cold War mission. When the plane and its crew failed to return on time, a week-long search-and-rescue effort was undertaken. It was eventually assumed the plane crashed at sea.
That changed four years later, when the British geological survey team happened on the crash site on the Kronborg Glacier in Greenland. Some of the effects and remains of the crew were subsequently recovered, but brutal blizzard conditions and its remote location prevented a full excavation of the site until 2004.
Jacksonville resident Nick Mulich was a member of the squadron at the time and participated in the air search for the downed crew.
"We still miss them a lot," Mulich said of his friends lost in the crash. "It could have been any one of us."
To help mark the occasion, a six-member Patrol Squadron 5 Mad Foxes maintenance crew spent 20,000 man-hours since September restoring and repainting the base's existing P2 display into a replica of the crashed plane. The VP-5, which now flies P-3 Orions out of the air station, was the mission crew's squadron.
One of those sailors, Petty Officer 3rd Class Zack Barnett, said the task became an increasingly emotional one for the team as the project neared completion.
"When I first started, I didn't understand it all," Barnett said. "But as people started showing up to look at it, then it got a little bit more personal."
It also was emotional for the families that attended Friday's ceremony.
Garey Hurst of Charleston, S.C., was present with several siblings to honor his brother, Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Hurst, one of the sailors lost in the crash.
Hurst was 8 when his brother shipped out for Iceland.
"I remember before he left he picked me up on his shoulders and played with me," he said.
And he remembers the shock and sadness of his parents and older siblings when news came his 22-year-old brother and fellow crew mates had been killed.
Hurst said he felt relieved that the service has finally closed that chapter of his family's life.
"I came because I wanted closure and I wish my mom and dad were still here."
firstname.lastname@example.org, (904) 359-4310
"...Air Crew Lost in Cold War Memorialized - Dave Wax - Taren Reed - Created: 11/6/2009 4:39:29 PM - Updated: 11/6/2009 5:44:23 PM..." WebSite: FirstCoastNews http://www.firstcoastnews.com/ [07NOV2009]
NAS JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It took more than 47 years, but an air crew lost during the Cold War is finally being honored.
A dedication ceremony was held Friday morning for the crew aboard a P2V patrol aircraft that disappeared in 1962.
On January 12, 1962, the crew aboard the P2V, part of Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron Five (VP-5), disappeared while flying over Greenland on a routine Cold War mission.
Crews searched for about a week in increasingly harsh conditions, but never found any sign of wreckage, so they assumed the plane and crew had been lost at sea.
In 1966, a team of British geologists found the crash remains on a glacier in Greenland, and a new recovery effort for the crew was launched.
The glacier -- Kronborg -- is very remote, and the environment is quite harsh, so the recovery effort launched in 1966 wasn't concluded until 2004.
Heritage Park at NAS Jax has a P2V on display, because the VP-5 was attached to NAS Jax in the 1960s.
Beginning in September, a team of Mad Foxes from VP-5 repainted the aircraft to mirror that of LA-9, the tail number of the lost P2V from 1962.
"It really gives the squadron and entire VP community a chance to honor our fallen comrades and pay tribute to their Cold War service and sacrifice," says Lt. Cmdr. Robert Huntington, maintenance officer for the Mad Foxes. "On a more personal level, it gives us a chance to say thank you to the surviving families and to let them know their loved ones will not be forgotten."
Surviving family members of the crew were on hand for the dedication, along with many people who never gave up the effort to get the crew back home, decades later.
©2009 First Coast News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed.
"...AM3 Xian Wu, AD3 Zack Barnett and AM3 Lance Nyffeler (L-R, 1st photo) continue their work on the P2V static display at Heritage Park aboard NAS Jacksonville, Florida. Detail work presenting the aircraft as LA-9 will continue through the week. We are looking forward to the dedication ceremony on 06NOV09!..." Contributed by Mike Kozak email@example.com [29OCT2009]
"...Here are the most recent shots of the static P2V in Heritage Park aboard NAS Jacksonville, Florida as of Friday, 23OCT09. The VP-5 crew working on this aircraft have really been putting in a tremendous effort to ready this Neptune as LA-9. Please note that I plan to continue sharing updates of VP-5's progress on this project but will not send out any photos of the finished aircraft until after the dedication ceremony on 06NOV09..." Contributed by Mike Kozak firstname.lastname@example.org [24OCT2009]
"...Station's P2V Neptune Under Refurbishment To Honor "LA-9" Crew - Friday, October 15, 2009..." WebSite: JaxNews http://www.jaxairnews.com/ [17OCT2009]
"...VP-5 personnel continue their work on the renovation of the P2V on static display as LA-9. The aircraft is on display in Heritage Park aboard NAS Jacksonville, Florida. These photos were taken on 14OCT2009..." Contributed by Mike Kozak email@example.com [15OCT2009]
"...Meet the crew repainting the P2V on static display at Jax NAS as LA-9..." Contributed by Mike Kozak firstname.lastname@example.org [02OCT2009]
LEFT to RIGHT:
Left - Back Row Left to Right: AD3 Zack Barnett, AM2 Brad Barnes and AM3 Christopher Merrill.
Front Row Left to Right: AM3 Lance Nyffeler and AM3 Xian Wu
AD3 Zack Barnett and AM3 Christopher Merrill use power grinders to prep the surface under the tail section.
AM3 Xian Wu uses a power grinder to sand off old paint while AM3 Lance Nyffeler preps his safety gear before giving a hand.
AM2 Brad Barnes preps one of the blades on the starboard prop.
Refurbishment crew was hard at it on the P2V
"...To All - I took my mom out to NAS Jacksonville, Florida yesterday to visit the exchange, credit union, pharmacy, etc. When we went by the P2V on static display there were some Mad Fox sailors out there preping the aircraft for its new paint and markings as LA-9. One of these fellows had spent the last two days sanding and and preping the tail alone. The crew had spent the last week sanding the wings as well. They are also completing some minor body work and will be working on the fuselage next week. I had an opportunity to climb aboard the aircraft as well. It is in fairly decent shape considering its age. The entire squadron is behind this project. They even researched the period correct paint codes in order to have the proper hue used back in the 60's (I believe PPG is mixing up a special batch of paint for this purpose). I'll keep you updated as I get up to Orange Park to check on my mom..." Contributed by Mike Kozak email@example.com [28SEP2009]
"January 12th, 1962 Memorial Summary Page"