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Patrol Squadron VP-4

   The VP-4 "Skinny Dragons" were established on 01 July 1943 at NAS-Alameda, homeporting throughout the Pacific region while deploying wherever needed, flying everything from P-2V Neptunes to various P-3 Orion models.

   The squadron now calls MCB Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii their home.

   Former members have one of the most active VP associations in existence.

Website: http://www.vp4.navy.mil/
Location: MCB Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii
Veterans: 1
Latest Activity: Apr 9, 2013

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Comment by Pat Henderson on April 9, 2013 at 8:23pm

Here's a pristine squadron patch from my 1972 - 1975 tour with VP-4. CDR White was the C.O.

Comment by Pat Henderson on July 16, 2012 at 2:36pm

Remains of VP-6 P-3A that ditched in Subic Bay due fuel starvation caused by cleaning solvent in the water-alcohol tank. (Late 1971 or early 1972.)

Comment by Pat Henderson on July 16, 2012 at 2:33pm

We Skinny Dragons are a dedicated lot, right down to our license plates.

   This is the first car I ever went out and bought for myself, a 1960 TR-3 "squadron car" for $100 in April 1972 just before the Cubi deployment. The car had no brakes, a cracked windscreen, and hadn't been reregistered for the last three squadron owners. Fortunately it got sorted by the time we returned from WestPac. (Photo taken at apartment complex in Ewa Beach.)

   No doubt those are steel-toed safety flip-flops I'm wearing.

Comment by Pat Henderson on July 9, 2012 at 2:30pm

Dragon Tales

   I didn't realize how fortunate I was at the time, but VP-4 was my first permanent command after a year of schools and training. I just accepted that all squadrons were like the Skinny Dragons. (And to an extent, the Hawaii VP squadrons were.)
   I arrived about April 1972 just as VP-4 was getting ready to deploy to Cubi Point in the Philippines.
   We were flying a mixed bag of P-3As and P-3Bs. Some of our aircraft still had the ASR-3 "Sniffer" for detecting snorkeling subs running their diesel engines. As sensor 3, I have to admit that they the system didn't always get filled with distilled water the way it was supposed to. (The only reason we still had that system is that supposedly it found a Soviet sub during the Cuban missile crises.)
   The alphas had dash 10 engines, so they had to be serviced with water/alcohol before tactical take-offs. The squadron we relieved, VP-6, had some unexperienced lineman service an aircraft with cleaning solvent by mistake, When the plane took off under full power for a tactical flight, all four engines flamed out when the solvent was injected into the engines. They managed to ditch successfully in Subic Bay, but the navigator was killed when the bombay doors failed inward due to excessive speed and tank 5 ruptured upward into the tube. Everyone else got out okay. While we were there, the plane was salvaged and its carcass was left in a field until it was scrapped. We saw it every day going to and from work.
   Air crew barracks were over on the Subic side of the base, so getting to work, watches or briefings was always a challenge. Bob Hope once entertained at the Subic ball field.
   All the southeast Asia heat and humidity were a shock to this Oregon boy.
   We flew night time surveillance flights out of Utapao, Thailand around south Viet Nam using some of the first FLIR (forward-looking infrared) available to WESTPAC. We were trying to disrupt the seaborne supply of Viet Cong weapon flow into south Viet Nam using RADAR, FLIR, and our carbon arc searchlight. We'd find in-bound suspicious contacts, then vector surface units in to intercept them. We had wing-mounted paraflare pods we'd use for illuminating the contacts for surface units. Only had a couple of junior pilots who jettisoned the entire pods instead of the flares.
   We also had missions out of Bandar Abas, Iran (while the shaw was our buddy) and Diego Garcia, B.I.O.T. (British Indian Ocean Territories)
   RADAR operators were in high demand during that deployment, especially in the war zone, so I got over 500 "Victor" hours.

Comment by Pat Henderson on July 9, 2012 at 1:56pm

   This is a place for "Skinny Dragons", past, present, and friends to meet and share comments, memories, and sea stories. (Some of which might even manage to have elements of truth in them.)

   For some reson, there seems to be a stronger bond between members of this squadron than in other commands in which I served.

 

   Pat Henderson (AW1-ret)

   VP-4 (1972-1975)

 

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