Contributed by LARSON, LCDR John Retired email@example.com
Season Greetings everyone. After the Reunion in March, I attended the decommissioning of VP-91 at NAS Moffett Field, California. That was the last VP squadron at Moffett. It was a sad day; it reminded me of our decommissioning in March 1994. The VR squadron that was there moved to NAS Point Mugu, California. So there are no Navy squadrons left at Moffett. The Air Force is even leaving, so the Army will take over what doesn't belong to NASA.
On July 1st, NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii was closed. I flew out for that ceremony too. I was based there, so I wanted to get there for that event. The first part was the Navy base closure ceremony and the second part was the opening of the Kalaeloa Community Development District. The Navy is going to keep open some of the base, the squadrons have gone over to MCAS/NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii on the other side of the island, the Coast Guard will stay and the Air National Guard will move into the old VP hanger. The last official function of the base was the flyby of the Admirals P-3 with a VP-9 plane on his wing. It was amazing to listen to the main speaker, the Deputy Assistant Sec. of the Navy. He listed all the bases that have been closed in the 90's. It was a long list. NAS Glenview was mentioned of course. There is a memorial near the base chapel now. It has huge P-3 attached to it. It is dedicated to all the commands that served at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii from 1942-1999. The Hawaiian Museum of Flying will occupy some space at Barbers. They will have a P-3B. It was the bounce plane from VPU-2.
I received the following report from Skipper Marty Black on the status of NAS Glenview, Illinois.
The airline guys who fly in and out of O'Hare have witnessed, for many months, the gradual disappearance of NAS Glenview's runways, taxiways, and ramps. All the payment has been taken up, pulverized into gravel and put into a huge pile. The main gate is gone, only the two low walls are left on both sides of the road. It was quite a shock to see all the overgrown trees and bushes, and except for the chapel there was not a single building remaining on the main street. (The chapel was moved to another site on the base after Marty's visit. German POW's built the chapel in 1944.) The sidewalks and everything are completely gone, like they never existed!! Even the oft-hated BOQ, BEQs, Medical, and PSD are completely gone. I had a difficult time remembering exactly where they were. Yes and not even a trace remains of the "new" brick transient BEQ that was built a few years before the base closed. When I got to the end of the street, where it bends, I noted that the MACG-48 hanger was completely gone, and a giant pile of dirt many stories high sits on the lot that existed between it and the now gone medical building. Of course the drill hall burned down several years before. The water tower and those two Navy guns are still there. Bearing left on the road, the old Hanger 1 (base ops) complex is still there as well as the new training building. Hanger 106 and the VR hanger are still standing, but no trace remains of the ramp or "throat" area. Our Lion Logo and "X-Ray Base 302.6" signs still adorn our hanger and on the front side, "The Lions Den" sign remains. (Marty emailed me later and said that our hanger is now gone. All that remains is the cement floor.) Over on the side of the base, the only other remaining buildings are the little "hobby shop" and the Commsta across from it. Everything else has disappeared. Several of the side streets (like over by where the galley, simulator, and BEQ's 55 and 56 were) have been completely taken up also, and only the gravel roadbeds remain. From the air it appears that a second golf course has been built at the southern end of the airfield, where runways 17/35 and 9/27 intersected, and a lake is being dug where 17/35, the "throat" and the "angled taxiway" by the new tower intersected. And as I mentioned above the VP ramp, and the USMC ramp/taxiway area are gone. Remember all those FOD walkdowns.
I got to see on the internet a picture of a P-3B that the US Customs will receive. They will also receive our LX-01, buno 153447. It looked pretty good. They had CRT screens instead of gauges in the cockpit, plush leather seats in the back, an airline style head and an enclosed bunk area that was HEATED! It looked pretty impressive. The end of this month marks the 40th anniversary of the first prototype of the P-3. It was a YP3V-1.
I have donated copies of the LX-00 "Sorry Charlie" print by Don Feight to several museums. One went to the Naval Museum in Pensacola. They are short of wall space, so they don't have anywhere to hang it now. Maybe someday they will have space for our print to be seen. One print went to the Glenview Hanger One Foundation, one went to the Hanger One Museum at Moffett Field and the other went to the Hawaiian Museum of Flying. With the help of others, we were able to put together the story of this actual flight. Here is the info that was sent with the prints to all the museums. The P-3B, LX-00 buno 153458 was selected for this print in honor of the squadron and its Commanding Officers. In the Navy the 00 side number is to signify the Commanding Officer's aircraft. The tail logo in this print was the Lambert the Lion. He was used as the squadron symbol in the 1980's. Also there is a rainbow on the nose of the aircraft. Patrol Squadron Ninety (VP-90) was assigned to the Pacific Wing. The rainbow on the nose was to let others know that VP-90 was attached to the Pacific Fleet. The actual aircraft that flew over the sub in this print was LX-3, buno 153438. The date of the flight was April 20, 1989. The crew involved was VP-90 Crew 3. The following is a brief history of the flight. It was nearing the end of the Cold War era. The Soviet Navy was conducting their big annual sea training exercise. The area of operations for the US Navy extended from the South China Sea off Vietnam. With crews flying out of NAS Cubi Point, Philippines. The area extended up to the Pacific Ocean northeast of the island of Hokkaido, Japan. With crews flying out of NAF Misawa, Japan. The active duty squadron in Misawa was VP-19 out of NAS Moffett Field, California. VP-90 was on its annual cruise and was augmenting VP-19. During this evolution the P-3's located 10 different Soviet Submarines. VP-90 crew 3 left Misawa on April 20th to relive another P-3. They were operating East of the Kuril Island chain in the Pacific Ocean. Upon arriving on station, they immediately had contact on a Soviet sub. Within a short period of time the submarine surfaced, and was identified as a Charlie class Nuclear Soviet sub. It appeared that the sub might have a casualty. Whether he had a real problem or just wanted to create a diversion from other submarines below him, we will never know. With the sub on the surface, the crew photographer took pictures and the rest of the crew continued to investigate the other multiple subsurface contacts below the Charlie Submarine. So it was a very successful flight. The photographer won the Navy's Golden Lens award for his photos. One year later when the squadron was in NAF Kadena, Okinawa, Japan, the squadron received a briefing on the intelligence gathered from this exercise. Four crews gathered exceptional data and VP-90 Crew 3 was the only reserve P-3 crew recognized.
The crew involved, PPC Charlie Deveaux, Co-Pilots, Skipper Lou Rabe, and Bobby McPherson, Tacco Ron Hilson, Nav Eugene Sullivan, Flt Engs Ron Leis and Guy Moekler, SS1 David Johnson, SS2 Mike Smith, SS3 Keith Falvey, Radio Norm Larson, and Ordnanceman/Photographer Bruce Reubenstein.
I have heard from Chuck Moore. He is willing to put together a booklet about stories and pictures on the history of VP-90 and of members of the squadron. If you would like to send Chuck some stories or pictures, here is his info. Chuck Moore, 6070 Anglia Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32244. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our next Reunion is planned for a weekend in August 2000. It will be at Great Lakes, IL. We will probably gather on a Saturday for a picnic type gathering. I have been able to contact Lockheed/Martin here in Minneapolis and should be able to bring some videos on the P-3 upgrades to the reunion. They are involved in the AIP program. Some of the P-3's that were in Kosovo did some shooting at ground targets. This AIP update allows them to carry air to surface missiles. Not to mention some new optical cameras and other sensors.
I received a letter from Don Grobl. I thought with the closing of NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii, this might be a good sea story to pass on. I have condensed the letter so that I could relay the info in the short space that is left. It concerns Crew 11 procuring a Hawaiian Lei that was hanging around the F-8 at the maingate at Barbers in the mid 1970's. The players involved are: PPC George Grothe, 2P Ron Messman, 3P ?, Tacco Jon Milkerson, Nav "Prince Albert", F/E Don Rothamell, 2nd Mech Ken Parks, Radio Ray Voigt, Radar Jim Martini, SS1 Adams, SS2 ? and Ord Don Grobl. The ONC at Barbers was LCDR Ownes. The skipper was Jerry Lambden and was in Guam. The crew was on their last flight before leaving Barbers the next day. They were on a local flight, so Don stayed back and prepared a crew picnic at one of the Officer Beach cottages at Barbers. There was talk at the party of acquiring a trophy for the squadron, the Lei off the F-8. After the party some of the crew decided it was time to find the Lei. George and Ron went to the front gate to create a diversion. So other members in the crew took the Navy van and hid behind the busses near the F-8. The timing was a little off. When they ran back to the van with the Lei, they were surrounded with security police. Here is a quote from the letter. " Seconds later we were surrounded by vehicles sporting flashing blue lights. Prince Albert the van driver sensing the lights were not K-Mart blue light specials, turned and said that he didn't have a drivers license". Where upon Ken switched places with him and prepared to meet the enemy like a true Marine. When asked for his license, Ken put on his "dumb Marine act". That was all security needed to hear. With a squad car in front and behind we headed off to base security. Everyone went in, but they failed to see Don behind the last seat. Don then stashed the lei in the battery box under the driver's seat. Don then tripped up to the security office. George and Ron had showed up in their uniforms to bail out the rest of the crew. In charge of security that night was the toughest looking female LCDR. She was eating butt like she was starving to death. The security Sgt. wanted Ken Parks to come with him and search the van for the lei. He said to Don on the way to the van "Its not there anymore is it" Don gave his best shit-eating grin and we turned around and went back to the office. The crew finally left with George Grothe. The next day the crew was out preflighting when CWO Buckert came out and said the crew could not leave Barbers Pt. The O's had to go see the base CO and produce the Lei and take it to the wife of VP-1's CO. The VP-1 was due back the next day. Someone had sneaked the lei on the plane; it was in many pieces by now. So Don sat down and sew it back together the best he could. So the O's went to the wife and gave back her the lei. She thought the whole thing was a riot, the funniest thing she had ever heard. She wished the crew a safe trip back to Glenview. Don was able to save some of the Lei for a trophy to take back to Glenview. He had a nice plague made with a picture of the F-8 with the Lei draped over the plague. Everywhere we went and people saw the LX and Leo on the tail. They would ask us about the crew who stole the Lei. We would admit it was our crew. We would get a lot of att-a-boys and way-to-gos. Unfortunately someone stole the plague later on. Ah Yes the Good Old Days!!!!!! John says, "It was amazing, I was still on active duty in Barbers when this happened. That was the talk of the base for a long time."
Well that is if from me. Take care and I will be sending out info on the reunion around the first part of next summer.
A fellow Lion
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