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Circa 1950

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...I transferred from VP-22 at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii to VC-61 (aka VJ-61, later VP-61) at NAS Miramar in April 1950 as a replacement PPC in PB4Y aircraft. VC-61 was the composite photo squadron formed during the Truman administration by SecDef Louis Johnson and SecNav "Rowboat" Mathews who got his nickname during Senate confirmation hearings. Asked if knew anything about ships he replied that he had a rowboat on the Mississippi! The Navy, ever ingenious, disestablished all photo squadrons on the west coast as a money-saving move dictated by SecDef but transferred all of the assets to VC-61 where nearly a hundred photo pilots flew PB4Y-1P's, SNB-5P's, F6F-5P's, F8F-2P's, F4U-5P's, F9F-2P's and F4H-2P's. The squadron was redesignated VJ-61 then VP-61 in 1951 when the fighter photo assets were incorporated in, I believe, VFP-61. During that time I served on detachments at RCAF base, Goose Bay, Labrador (mapping the as yet unmapped country), IAFB Capodichino, NAF Naples, Italy ("Refreshing" aerial photos of major target areas in the event of a new Balkan war), NAS Whiting Field, Milton, Florida doing a coastal erosion survey of the Gulf and, most interesting of all, flew a brand new PB4Y-2 (4.5 hours in the book!) from NAF Litchfield Park, AZ to Saigon, delivering it to the French Naval "Wolf" Squadron for use as a gunship in their "war" in Indochina China. We learned later that all 12 aircraft delivered (2 by VP-61 and the rest by a reserve sqd at NAS Whidbey Island) were casualties of Vietminh gunfire within six months..." Contributed by Charlie Welling wellingco@earthlink.net [28APR99]

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