CREWs: "...The P-3 version of Crew 4 was formed when VP-68 (the second P-3 squadron in the reserve command and the first on the east coast) was established at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in 1970 using P-2V-7 squadrons VP-68A1 & A2 (formerly VP-661 and VP-662) from NAF Washington, D.C. as a nucleus. As a result of the transition to the new machine, the newly configured Crew 4 essentially became a crew made up of a flight station with previous P-3 experience (mostly younger guys fresh out of the Fleet) and an enlisted crew with P-2V experience (old dudes) flying the tube. Our P-2V flight station became Pilot, Co-Pilot, and Flight Engineer in-training until they qualified on the new machine..." Contributed by AT1 Lew Johnson, (RET) firstname.lastname@example.org [17JUN98]
VP-68 Crew 4 FarmFest 1998
Contributed by Bob Smith, Capt. USNR-Ret.
Former PPC---VP-68 Crew Four
"all FOUR one and one FOUR all"
As the story goes, "It ain't over til the Fat Lady sings". Well, Farm Fest 98 is over. Although I didn't hear her sing, I guess she did.
We lucked out with the weather. It was overcast and humid, but most important was it didn't rain. The overcast kept the temp. down, and we had a steady breeze with a nice BIG shade tree to sit under. It was quite comfortable.
Just about noon our first arrivees, Vic Kraft and AP, showed up. Followed shortly by, Ron and Pat. It was a steady stream after that. People were coming from all directions. There was a final head count of 26 folks. Most didn't have any problems finding the farm. Although, one notable exception was Steve (Tacco/NAV) Black. Dodee said he was all over the county. Well at least, he wasn't all over the country.
I got a note from Rex Monday. Although he had a conflict between the Fest and a family affair, he alerted his W.VA. family that they weren't his ONLY family and he would be traveling to his VP family's affair. They weren't pleased but accepted his explanation. They accepted for awhile anyway. As the 27th approached the pressure upon him became unbearable. He said an axe murderer would have received better treatment from his home folks, so he relented. Smart move Rex.
Our only problem of the day, was our final land mark, helium filled Blue Balloons, tied to the mail box deflated before our first guests arrived. They looked like golf balls.
We had mounds of food, drink and desserts. We, also, had a table set up loaded with memorabilia and picture albums. We had a lot of Nevins's "vpnavy" info that I had downloaded from his site.
We had planned games and prizes to keep everyone active and interested, but it was a little warm and everyone was totally wrapped up in conversation. So, the games didn't happened, and they weren't missed. Becky's brother Greg was giving sight seeing tours of southern Prince George's county via golf cart rides through the woods. That went over well. Of course, I kept all of the women captivated with my extraordinary wit and youthful good looks (what a man). That went over like a lead balloon.
After finger food and much conversation, more food and conversation Ron G asked the Skipper to say a few words. He told the gathering how we will all miss Ron after he relocates to the West Coast (It will be awhile yet, and if it's long enough, we'll throw another goodbye party or two.)
Becky read a poem that Ron W had written while on his way back from Nam with Heavy 21 (VAH-21). The poem is quite touching. It speaks of inner feelings conjured up by the gravity of the moment and his love for his family and his love of flying. It gives me a lump in my throat.
The Skipper then presented Gene and Ron Whittaker a lithograph of Morgan Wilber's VP formation painting(P3, P2, PV2, & PBY). It is a Crew 4 tradition to present, in turn, P3/P2 pictures to Crew members. Only Fred goes back to PV2's. I was a Blackshoe during those days and missed flying in the Ventura.
FRANK KEARNY -- REPORT
Frank was last seen early Friday morning leaving his home and BEAUTIFUL wife heading South for P.G. county and the Farm Fest. Tucked under his well developed muscular arm was extensive detailed directions to Becky's, that he had obtained from Steve (TACCO/NAV)(where the hell am I) Black. If we never see Frank again, I say that calls for another party.
Most of the folks stayed until about 1800. While the die hards, Bob Smith (2100?), Bruce (2200?), Ron W, AP, Vic, Becky, and I hung in there for some Mid-night cheese cake (But, whose counting?). Ron W and I stayed at Becky's, and Vic and AP stayed at Bruce and Sue's place. We tried to get Iven to stay the night at Becky's, but you know how he is . He drove back to Richmond.
Someone left a stainless steel tablespoon with a one inch floral spray design on the upper handle at Becky's. Let us know to whom it belongs, and we will see that it is returned.
JJ Don White
KEEP 'UM FLYING !!!
LEW JOHNSON [01JUL98]
"...Lies, lies!!! I think I told Frank to head EAST. That was right, wasn't it!..." Steven Black [01JUL98]
"...Hey Rex, Now that I think about it maybe I didn't miss you as much Saturday as I thought I did. Some things are supposed to be kept on the crew, like the way I used to run up and kiss SS3 when he sighted land on one of those crossings! Besides, my van doesn't even have a radar (or an SS-3), how the hell could I be expected to find anything?..." Stevie B. [02JUL98]
"...Lew & Gang: I became a hero with the grandkids on Saturday, but I cried all day for my friends who were drinking all the beer at Becky's farm (or was I crying for all the beer?). We WILL be there for the next event! We sure missed being a part of the celebration. Lew, why are you surprised that Steve (Where the hell am I) Black had trouble "navigating" to the farm. Remember the time we took off for Bermuda and landed in NAF Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal? Steve kept saying: "I didn't think it was this far to Bermuda." When we taxied in, the sign said "Welcome to Pria." Steve wanted to know if that was near Hamilton or St. George. I always put on an extra 20,000 pounds of fuel when Steve was on board. I saw Frank Kearny go by here yesterday on the interstate, still heading south. Should we alert someone in Jacksonville to be on the lookout for him? I tried to flag him down, but he had his nose in Steve (Where the hell am I) Black's map and never looked up. Hopefully, you'll give us another chance to correct our absentee status. The Fat Lady (Elsie) says she'll sing if you invite us back. And if she finds out that I called her a fat lady, I'll do the singing. We missed every one of you very much and we look forward to seeing the gang real soon. Have a fantastic summer..." Rex (& Elsie) [02JUL98]
"...Steve (WTHAI)...You swore you would never tell about the kissing!!..." AP [06JUL98]
"...Steve This was just a test to see if you were checking your e-mail. You did good!!!..." Rex [02JUL98]
"...Rex Does that mean I didn't have to confess? You didn't really know? You should work for NIS or whatever they call them these days!..." Steve [13JUL98]
"...Nevins Sorry you and the Mrs. could not make the Fest. Maybe next time. We had a good crowd, and the weather cooperated. Only Steve (NAV/WHERE THE HELL AM I) Black got lost. Of course, Dana was the REAL Nav. Oh yeah, then there's Frank (PPC) Kearny. According to Rex Lake, he was last seen on U.S. 495 circling NAS Jax with military power on his 56 olds station wagon (WITH sun roof & luggage rack). To bad Aquasco wasn't on his approach plates. Just remember if he doesn't show up, WE HAVE ANOTHER PARTY !!!..." Lew [13JUL98]
"...Chief, AP spends a lot of time in the head, on the can, reading his NATOPS. So, it may take awhile for him to answer. He usually does, but only if he passes his ride and he ALWAYS passes (with flying colors). KEEP 'UM FLYING !!!..." Lew [14JUL98]
"...Chief, Yeah, he's young enough to drill, but he isn't. He's only in his 50's. Hell I'm young enough to drill and I'm 62. THEY HYTed (High Year Tenure) him like THEY did Ulle and me. About the NATOPS, I'm not so sure about that being a joke. I asked him years ago how he always aced the NATOPS, and he told me he took the NATOPS big blue sleeping pill with him every time he went to the head. Now, THAT'S DEDICATION. AND, I believe him. Heck, between AP and Ulle the Skypigs had the BEST airborne Radar in the Fleet. They found every ship/boat on the ocean, and we missed every cloud in the sky. KEEP 'UM FLYING!!! ..." Lew [15JUL98]
"...There are some of us young guys still out there drilling. I'm still in pay, with 40 years in January 98 and will not retire till they shovel me in on Sept 16, 99. After all, then I can walk out and get my permament drill pay check like you old farts. After all, it pays to have made Chief Petty Officer (Photographic Intelligenceman) on Feb 1, 1969 and Captain on Feb 1, 1992. My best to you old farts, and us young guys (I'm 59 on Sept 16, 1998) will keep on collecting your tax dollars. Thanks for the money, honey. CAPT (Chief) Harry Lee Smith, USNR Wearing those Air Crew Wings of Gold..." [15JUL98]
"...Hi Captain: I sure am confused! I flew to Denver with you in the late 70's and you were 59 then! If Lew Johnson and I had talked to you earlier, we would still be flying P-3's to the Canary Islands for a little snack (That's S N A C K). Since we didn't have your secret before they canned us, we'll just have to take this easy money and smile. Just for future reference - one of the Crew 4 guys has a walker he will loan you for your retirement ceremony. We all plan to be there to roast you!!! Have a super day..." Rex [16JUL98]
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