From: Robert Lee Hogg LCDR/USN (Retired)
To: CAPT Jiancarlo Villa
Commanding Officer, Patrol Squadron Eight
Hangar 511 Yorktown Ave
Jacksonville, FL 32212
Subj: Historic significance of P2V-5F Bureau Number 131410 in Patriot Park
Enclosure: DVD Containing historic records and stories of 131410’s influence on my life.
This is a letter that I have been meaning to write, ever since I saw a picture taken by my VP-8 Crew 11 Aviation Technician (Circa 1955-60). Ralph Papa is now the VP-8 Alumni Association’s Historian. He had taken and published excellent photo coverage of your change of command. Amongst the pictures, was one of BuNo 131410. The BuNo seemed familiar, so I looked it up in my log book. Much to my amazement, I had logged over 800 hours in that aircraft during my tour with VP-8. It was an unusual tour.
I served with VP-8 from October 1956 to August 1960. Initially I was assigned as “Logs & Records Officer”. A three months, they realized that my BSME education from the NROTC Scholarship at Illinois Institute of Technology could be better utilized in the Maintenance Dept. I was re-assigned as “Assistant Maintenance Officer”. I never left maintenance after that. Most of the tour was spent as “Avionics Officer”. As you shall see in this letter, that worked out well!
VP8 LC5 BiNo 131410 cir. 1958 / Now at NAS Jacksonville
The significance of BuNo 131410 to VP-8’s history is that it was the first plane and crew that started using “Explosive Echo Ranging” (EER) to detect submarines! With the use of EER, our simulated PDC attacks got more accurate. On occasion, submarine commanders were surprised! PDC’s that had landed on the upper structure of a shallow running submarine would explode when they dove to depths lower the PDC’s detonation settings. When our accuracy in attacking submarines during training exercises got back to CNO, VP-8 was assigned CNO Project FL/E151/J15-11 “Conduct a limited evaluation of the interim explosive echo ranging system (EER).” Under this project, we continued to develop tactics and equipment requirements to advance our ASW capability. Later, the project got the name “Julie” after an engineer at the Naval Air Development Center, Warminster PA, noted that a Philadelphia night club stripper named, “Julie Gibson “also made “Passive Boys Active” (think buoys). The name seemed appropriate and it stuck!
It consisted of the aircraft carrier, USS Valley Forge and several destroyers and a couple submarines. VP-8 was assigned for land based ASW support. This presented a problem for VP-8. They were soon to depart on a split deployment to Argentia and Port Lyautey, Morocco.
The Officer’s Club was great, if you loved oysters! More details of our activities at Chincoteague are on the DVD.
Under Project “Julie” we traveled to many places. We spent a day with famed, Dr. Hersey at the Woods Hole Underwater Research Center to get information on sound ray paths underwater and the influence of temperature, pressure, salinity and depth of hydrophone. He told us about “shadow zones” and how variable depth hydrophones could see into them. We left with an arm full of Propagation Charts. They were good for later presentations. The information was used to generate new specifications for new sonobuoys procurements. When new models were proposed for production, we helped VX-1 at NAS Key West test them. There were several different types with deep arrays, multiple hydrophones, etc. We took several trips to NAS Roosevelt Roads and Port au Prince, Jamaica for deep water EER tests. The net results were a big acceleration in the development of sonobuoys, including pinging buoys! I don’t think much early progress would have been made without the early efforts of the “Julie” Project. We burnt up a lot of sonobuoys, the military/industrial complex became very interested when big budgets were allocated for development. Sanders and Magnavox were big players.
There was a disastrous day for Magnavox. VP-8 had been assign to drop a pattern of about 50 large, deep hydrophone experimental buoys. They were to gather statistical performance data. I asked them how close a pattern they wanted. They said to put them all together, as close as possible. So we made several round trips from shore with 10 buoys each trip. They were dropped on a heading and time from a mark on top of their support ship. The pattern was about 500 feet in diameter. They were happy with it! Next morning we returned with a load of replacement buoys for the ones that had failed. As we approached, it was hard to believe what had happened! After we left the day before, the engineers had tied red streams (about 30’ long) to each buoy. The combination of the difference in current movement at the hydrophone depth and the surface had cause a twisting motion of the buoy pattern. The result was a big tangled mess. All the buoys were tied up in a big heap; the middle was about ten feet up in the air. I am sure they had a lot of explaning to do, when they got back to the factory. Their only remark to me was “We don’t think we will need any replacements today!”
Another amusing incident occurred later after we had gotten our P2V-5Fs JULIE/JEZEBEL equipped aircraft. We were working with TGA and there was an RADM Deuterman (?) onboard the Valley Forge. He was quite interested in the capability of the new equipment. So he asked if there was anything he could do that would help us find their “exercise attack submarine”? We told him that there was so much noise in the water near the Task Group that it was hard to get a signal. He said that he could have them all lock down their propeller shafts for five minutes, maximum. Any longer would require that the safety valves dump steam! We said, “Ok, let’s try it”. After a couple minutes we started to get a signature. He inquired. “How are you doing?” We answered, “Need a little more time.” He said, “Can’t stay shut down much longer”. About that time immediately ahead of us, a periscope popped up. We triggered a smoke light and advised him, “Mark on top your submarine!” He congratulated us on a job “Well done”. No one ever knew that we just lucked out. Obviously, the sub commander got curious about the silence and wanted to know what had happened to the fleet and couldn’t resist taking a look! In the early phase of project “Julie” I took on four tasks that contributed a lot to our success.
Another interesting event during my career in VP-8 was an agreement that Capt Nasworthy asked me to make. In our era, it was much different that in yours (an understatement!). The four year tour was spent, 2 years as Navigator, 1 year as co-pilot and last year as PPC. VP-8 had won the coveted, “E” for Excellence the previous year. He very much wanted to win a second one, (which we did!). Since I had so much experience in exercising the “Julie” tactics operations (now days the position would be called a “TACCO”), he proposed that I voluntarily spend a third year in that function. In exchange, he promised to make sure that I made all my P3P, P2P an PPC designations in a timely manner and that when we received our new “Julie/Jezebel” aircraft, I could have first pick of the planes and move immediately up to PPC with my own crew! I thoroughly enjoyed the “TACCO” job, so I agreed and he kept his promise. We won our second “E” that year!
Speaking of aircraft model changes. when I reported to VP-8 at NAS Quonset Point, RI in October 1956, they were flying P2V-5F’s. I always thought they were rather ugly, with the large 750 gal wing tip tanks. Then in June of 1957 we switched to new aircraft (including BuNo 131410) with the streamlined 350 gal tip tanks, a much better configuration. In April 1959, the P2V-5s (JULIE/JEZEBEL configuration) models arrived. It was a much better plane. It had a bubble cockpit window and a DRT plotter in the center of the instrument panel, just ahead of the lever controls. I don’t think the cockpit plotter was used very much by the pilots, it should have been!
All of the P2V’s had large “Beaver Tail” flap sections. In the days of cheap whiskey in Argentia, seldom did an aircraft return from there without the “Beaver Tails” full of cases of illegal whiskey. The custom officer at Quonset was pretty lenient; he never managed to find and whiskey aboard, as long as he happened to find a quart of “Johnny Walker Red Label” on his car seat when he left. Things were pretty loose in those days!
After all the maintenance and engineering work at VP-8, I decided to apply for a Master’s Degree program at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), Monterey, CA. I was accepted and departed VP-8 in August 1960. I was very fortunate to arrive at the NPS about the time they received the world’s first “Fully Transistorized Computer”. It was a Control Data Corporation Model 1604 Computer (Serial #1). I was one of six students assigned to work on the computer. I ended up spending many hours in that computer room during the next three years. I had learned everything about that computer that was within my capability. One of my professors gave me a nice “Letter of Commendation” when I graduated!
My thesis partner and I installed a satellite 160 model Control Data Computer on the sixth floor above the main computer room. It was covert for about six months, until we got caught! I wrote my thesis on “Control System Programming, Remote computing and Data Display” This was in 1963, pretty early to be computing on a remote site! Perhaps as important to me as the MSEE degree, was a friend I made. Often, at night, students taking computer courses would come to the computer center for help. I was usually the only one around and enjoyed helping them. One student was, LCDR J. Rogers Farrell, I often helped understand his programming and ran them for him, late at night. Significantly, he arrived at the NAVAIRSYSCOM (NASC) shortly after me in 1970. He was to be the new P3C Update Program Manager (PMA-240). His job was the total management of the project, both hardware and software. When he saw that I was assigned to NASC as the ASW Tactical Support Center (TSC) Program Officer, he called me to his office. He informed me that he had no idea how to manage the P3C Update software development and ask if I would consider taking on the job? I told him “Nothing could make me happier!” It solved all my problems of coordinating the data transfer and support between the P3C and the TSC. I told him “if I wasn’t handling the job to his satisfaction, to let me know!” He said, “Don’t worry, if that happens, I’d be the first to know!” In four years’ time, he only called me to his office once. That was to put down two Univac contract representatives that weren’t happy that I wouldn’t approve more money for work that had already been funded under the current contract! He had them repeat their complaint in front of me, and then ask my response. When I told him the same thing that I had told them, “They weren’t getting more money!” He told them. “That’s it gentlemen, comply with LCDR Hogg’s decision!” Rogers was a funny guy, when he would get a little tipsy at parties, he would ask us to call him “J. Roaringham Fatback”, made no sense to us either!
After graduating NPS on 10 June, 1963, I was assigned to VP-4. Lucky me! I got to have served in the two best squadrons in the Navy! We were stationed in Okinawa for nine months, and then re-located to Barber’s Point, HI. We spent a three month deployment to Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut International Airport. My officer crew was billeted in the bridal suite on the 5th floor of the Majestic Hotel. There was a neat, rooftop, outdoor piano bar with Vietnamese singers each night. We enjoyed, having a drink and listening to beautiful singers. They sang all the Beatles tunes and romantic hits of the 60’s. At the same time nightly, we could watch rockets being fired into the city from the delta, in front of us. We hoped that they weren’t interested in destroying the Majestic! Two interesting flights during this deployment, one, the future (April 1966) COMNAVFORV, RADM Wade, wanted a tour of the delta area. I took him where ever he wanted to go! However, when he wanted to go below 1500 feet, I told him it wasn’t safe enough with him on board. We did take him down over the Vietnamese Political Prison on Paulo Condore Island, south of Cape St.Jacques (V?ng Tàu) He was amazed at the prisoners living in the below ground level “Tiger Cages”.
The second exciting flight was a patrol in June, 1965. We had two Vietnamese communicators and a COMNAVFORV Army major alone for observation. A Cambodian Gunboat tried to shoot us down as we approached. I was between the North and south Pirate Islands in the Gulf of Thailand. They were using proximity rounds which were exploding in small flak clouds all around us. I lite off the jets, turned on the spoilers and zigged and zagged out of there as fast as possible. When we got out of range, a fire was reported in the after station. I figured that we had been hit. But it was only a small fire in a PRC portable radio that a Vietnamese communicator used to talk to their bases as we flew by. It was not much of a fire, but a lot of confusing smoke. I tried to send a KAC message, reporting the incident. NAVFORV HQ’s couldn’t decode it! They had provided us with out-of-date KAC’s. I had hoped that they would send a Vietnamese AD-6 out to sink the gunboat! When we returned base, the crew at NAVFORV didn’t want to be embarrassed, so they didn’t debrief us. So no record was ever recorded that a P2V was nearly shot down over the Sea of Thailand in 1965! I have always felt bad about that. The loss of two VP-26 P3-B’s might have been prevented in 1968, if they had known about my gunboat incident! I was awarded an Air Medal for my missions in Vietnam; only two VP-4 crews earned the award.
A sad parallel event happened to VP-26! Shortly after midnight on 6 Feb 1968, a VP-26, P-3B (BuNo 153440) flown by (Combat Air Crew) CAC 8, was lost off the coast of South Vietnam while on a MARKET TIME patrol mission. The Orion had crashed into the sea with no survivors. Less than two months later, on 1 April 1968, in the same vicinity that CAC 8 was lost, a second P-3B (BuNo 153445) flown by CAC 1 came under fire by an anti-aircraft gun. The P-3B was hit in the starboard wing, knocking out the #4 engine and starting a fire. All attempts to extinguish the flames were unsuccessful. Flying too low to bail out, the crew had to choose between ditching in hostile waters or attempting to make an emergency landing at Phu Quoc airfield less than 20 miles (32 km) away. Within sight of the runway, and their wing still aflame, CAC 1 prepared to land their stricken aircraft. As the plane banked left onto its final approach, the starboard wing tore off between #3 and #4 engine, and the P-3B tumbled into the sea with no survivors. Several years later, a Vietnamese fishing boat drug up parts of BuNo 153440 in the same area of my gunboat incident.
After my two year tour with VP-4 as Avionics and Quality Control officer billets, I was assigned to another interesting technical/engineering job. I was ordered to the Operational Test and Evaluation Force, Norfolk Test and Evaluation Detachment (NORVATEVDET). It was a great billet. However, the Executive Officer (XO) kept trying to run my evaluation assignments. He had no technical education and was more interested in getting evaluation results that would help his career. My first evaluation project was to evaluate the passive ECM (PECM) system in the RA-5C Vigilante recognizance aircraft. It was assigned to recognizance after it failed as a Nuclear Bomber. The bomb bay was between two large jet engines, when the linear bomb bay released the bomb, it tumbled. Bombing accuracy was unacceptable, so they installed a very good Panoramic Camera in the nose and a PECM System in the bomb bay. The Navy needed an up check on the PECM System Evaluation in order to buy 48 more RA-5c’s. They were stationed at NAS Sanford, FL. The XO accompanied me on a visit with the Commodore at Sanford. He pretty much promised him, a successful evaluation of the PECM System. Commencing on 29 November, 1966, I had Eglin AFB setup 10 simulated Russian Radars to test the PECM System’s capabilities. The RA-5C squadron was assigned to fly 10 missions against the simulated radars. Of the 10 flights, three aborted, one crashed at sea. The results from the remaining 6 missions were analyzed on their specially designed computing system. The results were that there were TV stations all over the Gulf of Mexico, but not a single Russian Radar was detected. I wrote up the results and recommended a negative evaluation of the PECM System. This didn’t make anyone happy, but I had the results to prove it. They canceled the 48 plane procurement. The remainder of the squadron deployed to Vietnam. Most were shot down by SAM’s. With no ECM protection, this should have been no surprise! There weren’t enough RA-5C’s left to justify a squadron. The squadron and base were soon de-commissioned. After that, I wasn’t too popular with the XO. His influence on the CO resulted in a down grading of my fitness reports. I had seven other projects at NORVATEVDET. They kept getting more and more complicated and computer orientated. I was the only one at OPTEVFOR OR NORVATEVDET with the computer experience required by the tasks. They kept requesting extensions on my two year tour assignment. My detailer at BuPers advised me to get out of there. BuPers even cut me a set of orders to the USS Wasp. OPTEVFOR insisted that I be extend for a third year, BuPers gave in. My last project was a huge one, the evaluation of a new ASW Command and Control System aboard the USS Wasp (CVS-18) with a Tactical Data System linking the USS Voge, (DE-1047) and USS Koelsch (DE-1049). The whole CIC of the Wasp had been computerized, with a grease board backup. The Voge and Koelsch were both new construction with the computers in their design. On 19 August 1968, I arrived at NAS Quonset Point to board the Wasp.
I was met by the two Univac programmers coming down the gang plank with their luggage. I asked them “Where do you think you are going.” They answered that they had finished de-bugging the computer program and had re-compiled it last night. They were going to leave a very complicated computer environment with no programming support aboard. I had the Officer of the Deck restrain them to the ship, until I could get their orders changed! I sent a priority message to OPTEVFOR advising them that if they didn’t get Univac to modify the programmer’s orders to remain aboard for the evaluation, that I would immediately put the evaluation in a “Deficiency Status” and return to Norfolk. They received new orders with 50% pay raises and arrangements for their wives to be at each of our “ports of call.” We got underway from Quonset. The System came to a complete halt before we passed under the Narragansett Bridge A computer data dump analysis determined the fault. Within an hour, it was fixed and we were an operable CIC again. By the time we docked in Glasgow, Scotland we had a rather long list of problems that needed fixed. I told the programmers, “They could go ashore when they had finish compiling the corrections. It took them about six hours, but we were full up ready to go when next we sailed. An embarrassing situation occurred about half way to Scotland. There was a Russian sub coming down past Iceland. The P3-B squadron at Keflavik had been tracking it. CNO sent a message that assigned tracking responsibility to the WASP. The position, course and speed of the sub were provided. The turnover was to be at a given time and location, which would be marked with #1 channel sonobuoy. I never had had much respect for the S2/S3A ability to track submarines. They were always in a noisy environment. What happened, was that they never found the sonobuoy, never made contact with the submarine and after three days, CNO re-assigned the tracking to the P3=B squadron. Within 30 minutes they had located it and had a solid track established! The sub had never deviated from its original course and speed. All they had to do was run a DRT extension from their original turnover point. CNO sent the most scathing message I had ever seen, to the CO of the WASP. It was apparent, that the days of the CVS Navy were nearly OVER!
We were loaded on a bus with heavily screened windows, a curiosity to the new arrivals. It was explained by a guy with a microphone, he might have been a tour guide from Hollywood! Upon arrival at an indoctrination center compound, we were informed that there would be a three day program to educate us about the customs and pre-cautions to observe during our tour. I wasn’t buying into this, so I informed them I had already had a three month acquaintance with Saigon, showed them my Vietnamese drivers license and named all the major streets. They were convinced and let me go! I called NRDUV and an International Scout vehicle picked me up twenty minutes later. The driver said that the scout was mine, so we drove back to NRDUV headquarters, in an old French compound. It was on the river at the end of Hai Ba Trung Street. Conveniently only one block from the center of town, what a location! I met the Chief, NRDUV, much to my surprise he was CDR Webster Griffith, one of my best friends from the NPS. He welcomed me aboard and provided me with my billet assignment. Billeting assignment was under control of MACV. Preferable assignments were by “time in country”. So mine was way out on the west side of Saigon in the Cholon, Chinese part of town in an old hotel named, “Hong Kong”. I was rooming with an Army 2nd LT and two Korean Officers that didn’t speak English but kept a big stinking gar of “Kimchi” in the ‘fridge’.
After leaving Saigon, I was assigned to NAVAIRSYSCOM in Washington, DC. It was then located on Constitution Avenue adjacent to the Reflection Pool. The Vietnam War Memorial Wall is in this area today. It was early January 1970. The Reflectsion Pool was frozen solid. I had parked on the only free near parking area, on Ohio Street by the Cherry Trees. Since the Reflection Pool was frozen over, I decided to take a short-cut, and walk across it. In the middle of the ice, a strong wind hit me and knocked me down. My briefcase hit so hard that it sprung open and all my orders, etc. went flying down the Reflection Pool. I am sure there were many laughs by those watching me in the back windows of the Navy Building. No one ever ribbed me about it! It is still a memorable entrance in my duty tour with the SYSCOM.
My final one year tour at the Naval Air Development Center (NADC) is again best described in my fitness reports on the DVD. The CO, RADM Grover M. Yowell, USN got to be a great friend. Upon his retirement, he moved to California. We frequently had lunch together. He bought several personal computers that I was manufacturing at the time. He died a couple years ago while having a heart valve replaced at. Scripps Research Institute, San Diego.
This has been a longer letter than I started out to write!. I had hoped to provide you with a little historical and colorful connection between VP-8 and BuNo 131410. It had a lot to do with the advancement of ASW and inspired me to pursue an unusual career. I thoroughly enjoyed my resulting assignments. I truly believe that if I had made CDR/USN, that I could not have gotten the duty assignments that followed my pass-over. I wouldn’t change it, if I had it all to do over! In a way, I owe it all to BuNo 131410. It got me into PGS and all that followed. Many times in Vietnam and afterward, I have had close calls on surviving. My Buddhist Vietnamese friends all said that I had the strongest “Karma” that they had ever seen! I think that the joining up of VP-8 and BuNo 131410 at NAS Jacksonville may be an extension of that “Karma”.
Last Updated on05-25-11