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Circa 2006

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraVP-30 History "...VP-742 Members Reunite At VP-30 - By Lt. Steve Bradfield - VP-30 Public Affairs Officer - Thursday, March 30, 2006 - NAS Jacksonville, Florida..." WebSite: JaxAirNews http://www.jaxairnews.com/ [01APR2006]

VP-742 was a reserve patrol squadron at NAS Jacksonville between November 1956 and January 1968. Each year, a number of officers who remain in touch, reunite to relive their aviation days. This March, VP-30 coordinated a weekend tour of Hangar 30 and one of their P- 3 aircraft to support the reunion.

Retired VP-742 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Bob Stubbs from Middleburg, Fla. was among the eight retired officers in attendance. Stubbs, the eldest of the group at 80 years old, began his naval career flying missions against the Japanese in WWII in the Western Pacific.

All the other members were high achievers as well. All had attained the grade of lieutenant commander or higher during their naval careers. Most have gone on to excel in post-military life as airline captains, top-level civil service executives and a host of other venerable careers. One member is still supporting the Navy, working on the V-22 Osprey program, after 59 years of combined Department of Defense service.

During the tour, the many differences between then and now were striking. Unlike today's fight against the global war on terror in improved P-3s, VP-742's primary focus was flying the P-2 Neptune during the cold war. They flew two-engine P2V-4 and P2V-5 aircraft during the 1950's, and P2V-5F and P2V-7 four-engine aircraft during the 1960's. They deployed to places like NS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, NS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, NAS Port Lyautey, French Morocco and NAS Keflavik, Iceland, all of which are no longer frequented by P-3's. Over water navigation was conducted primarily by drift meter, celestial navigation, LORAN, and low frequency direction finder. These days, GPS and inertial navigation get are used.

Although the difference in politics, aircraft and technology seem worlds apart, there is a common theme that unites us in a brotherhood of maritime patrol aviators - mission. We discovered that despite all the advances in technology and policy in the past 60 years much remains unchanged for the maritime patroller. Today P-3s patrol vast expanses of water conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions for merchant vessels, ships and submarines just as our predecessors did against Japanese ship movements in the Pacific and German submarines in the Atlantic during WWII.

During the 1960's, the P-2s were involved in locating Russian ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Today, P-3s are conducting similar missions in oceans around the globe in support of the global war on terror and the war against drugs. On any given day a P-3 may be locating a large shipping vessel suspected of carrying illegal cargo, pirates causing havoc to shipping in the Middle East, or high speed drug boats near Central America.

Though the targets and technology have changed, the concepts remain the same. It's this common job we've all done that binds us together.

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