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This page is for YOUR Vapper postings, about your career, your VAP history and thoughts.

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Naval Career of Charlie Aschman, PHC, USN (Ret.)

July 31, 1961, and I’m off to San Diego for boot camp. After graduating from boot camp, I was transferred to PH “A” school at NAS Pensacola, Florida. Upon graduation from “A” school, I was transferred to VAP-61 on “Duva the Devine” (Guam). Was there from June of 1962 to Oct. 1963. Worked in photo systems the entire tour for PH1 John Sturm and PH2 Charlie Brown. In Oct. 1963, was transferred to VP-2, stationed at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. I arrived at Whidbey Island on a Friday and deployed to Adak, Alaska on Sunday. In May of 1964, we returned to Whidbey Island and I was in VP-2 until Feb., 1965 when I reported to VAH-123 for CN school. I graduated from CN school in June of ’65.

Happily I was returned to the “World Famous” VAP-61 Skywarriors. I third-seated for Lcdr.

Victor B. C. Wolke for approximately 4 months, then for Cdr. Jim Service with Ltjg. Gary Zitzlsperger (better known as Zitz) in the second seat until I was transferred to the Naval Air Test Center at NAS Pax River, Maryland in Feb. of 1967. Pax River was an interesting tour of duty, due to all the weird projects they do there. In 1969, while at Pax River I married my wife Jean, who is still putting up with me. In Sept. of 1970, I was transferred to VAH-123 for a CN school refresher prior to going back to VAP-61, lo and behold who is the CO but my good friend Jim Service The orders had been cancelled on my way to Whidbey and I eventually ended up in VFP-63 at NAS Miramar, Ca.. There I was assigned to Det-5 and made two cruises on the USS Coral Sea, CVA-43. On July 16th, 1973 I was promoted to Chief Petty Officer. In Feb. of 1974, I was transferred to Naval Recruiting District, Houston, Texas. There I was in charge of the Recruiting Aids warehouse, (bumper stickers, etc.). In Nov. of 1978, I was transferred to the USS Ranger, CV-61 as ships company. Was leading chief of the photo lab on the Ranger until I retired on July 31, 1981… Vapper Forever, Charlie Aschman

(posted on: 4/08/05)


The following is from Vince Fliller, ADJ2, VAP-61, '69-'70....

"3 AM in the Bomb Shelter"

When I was with VAP-61 I was always on a DET. I actually spent very little time on Guam.

Being on a VAP DET. every one all worked together. If you needed help you just asked. I had Photo Mates and Electricians help me with engine maintenance and I've loaded cameras a time or two. It is one of the things I remember most about VAP-61. When we had a job, we did it (we all did it) and then we played (we all played). 

I can remember only one time in Da Nang, when this philosophy failed and not for long, a new guy had showed up. He was an E-3 (airnan) Ordinance man. We asked for him to help out on the line one night and he said it wasn't his job description or words to that effect. There was also an E-6 (1st class) Ordinance man in the Det at the time. Some one mentioned to him in passing his new man's attitude. Soon after, the young man, in the company of the 1st class was taken into the bomb shelter outside of the shop for a "training session" on how all of us were in this squadron and we all worked together.

I was always amazed at how fast you can learn something at 3AM in a bomb shelter in a war zone. 

But isn't that one of the great things about the service (and VAP in particular), you can learn more in 5 mins. in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere than you could learn in years if you had never joined. Just my opinion.

Best wishes to all, Vince F. Vince, Thank you for the reminder of an unusual place at an unusual time in one of a very few unusual squadrons. ed.

(posted on: 3/23/05)


Below is an email sent to Vapper Bruce from Joe Coogan, Jr.

My father was Lt. Joe Coogan, a pilot stationed at NAS, Agana, Guam with VAP-61, circa 1955-56 when they still flew AJ-2 Savages. His CO I believe at the time was CDR Mendenhaul. Although I was only six at the time, I have vivid memories of going to first grade and later, my second grade Guamanian teacher getting in trouble for letting us chew beetle nut at school, coconut crabs, mangoes, palm trees, white beaches and roaming the nearby boondocks looking for war items still lying around, like unexploded hand grenades, Japanese and American army helmets, rifle cartridges—bullets and brass, empty Japanese saki bottles.

Dad retired from the Navy in 1967 as a LCDR and shortly after accepted an offer with Pan Am to go to Africa as one of three pilots flying a Grumman Albatross based in Kenya. They flew the plane out to the Seychelles Islands once a week, supporting NASA’s last down-range satellite tracking station there. My family lived in the coastal city of Mombasa for six years (1967-72). Pan Am’s flight-support contract ended in late 1972, with the completion of a commercial airfield in the Seychelles. In January, 1973, while visiting friends in Costa Rica with my mother, my father died of complications arising from a nerve disorder called Myasthenia Gravis. He was only 48, but given his travel-filled Navy career along with six great years spent in Kenya, he led a full and adventuress life.

I’m trying to put together the history of his naval career by collecting some of the interesting memorabilia from his squadrons and duty stations, such as photos, patches, shipmate recollections, etc. I have a Navy-issue G-1 leather flight jacket on which I’d like to display the patches from his various squadrons. Some of his duty stations included NAS, Bermuda with VP-49, Corpus Christi with ATU 501, I think, NAS Agana, Guam with VAP-61, Naval Post-Grad School at Monterey, and stationed aboard the Norton Sound (AV-1) home ported at Port Hueneme and getting flight time out of Pt. Mugu. His last tour of duty was at NAF, Naha, Okinawa flying an HU-16, Grumman Albatross on Viet Nam operations.

I’m hoping there might still be a possibility of obtaining some of the original squadron patches, like the VP-49 squadron patch depicting an orca whale leaping out of the ocean with engaged JATO tanks, and of course VAP-61’s patch depicting a pilot and gunner astride a goose. If originals are not available, I would certainly be willing to contribute to the cost of having these patches re-created, if that’s of interest.

You can learn more about Joe Coogan, Jr. at http://www.legendaryadventures.com 


Click on the link below to read a translation of a script of a Russian video that was made is 2003. The translator is an American working at our Embassy in Moscow. It's very interesting although some what of a long read.

"DANCE WITH DEATH"

(posted on: 1/21/05)


The following is from John Dudek

At the ripe old age of 22 I joined the Navy, and after a couple of years my real fun started. I was attached to VAP61 Jan 1960 to Nov. 1962. I started out in the AQ shop, but because the plane was new and photo officers were unfamiliar with the radar, I was recruited to fly, since I was previously an instructor in attack missions with HATUPAC or VAH123. Flew missions over SE Asia from Oct 1960 det at Cubi.

Transferred back to VAH123 in flying status, ( had a BN code number ) and was instructor in C/N school as well as simulator operator. After 14 months of shore duty, was asked by XO of VAP to terminate shore duty to return to VAP. Was informed I was only guaranteed 1 year and I already had 14 months. Under duress I volunteered with a promise of concurrent travel for myself and family and a house waiting for me. After arrival on Guam, I found myself flying the only two tankers in Westpac. Flew with Lcdr. Larry Guisinger and found myself on the Bon Homme Richard three weeks after leaving Whidbey Island. Was attached from Aug. 1964 to Aug 1967. Ended up with 2700 hrs. flight time 221 traps. After tankers were taken away from us I was assigned to fly with Lcdr. St.Clair Smith who later became full Cdr. and went on to command a VA squadron on the ill fated (fire) USS Forrestal, flying A6's. While at NAVTRACENT, Jax, CDR Jim Service tried to recuit me into VAP-62, I probably would have went but VAP-62 became scheduled to decommission. Highest rank attained while at VAP was E5; couldn't pass the stupid test. was not working in my rate. Finally made E6 while attached to NAV AIRTRACENT NAS Jackonsonville Fla. where I maintained electronic equipment before transferring to VA146 at NAS Lemoore where I finished my career with 22 yrs service.

Awards earned while at VAP (DFC, 11 Air Medals), Vapper John Dudek

(posted on: 9/13/04)


VFP-61, VCP-61, VCP-61, VAP-61 Oct 1958 -OCT. 1961, Tom McClain, PH3/2

U.S. Navy,1955-1975 PHC (June1955 Bainbridge Md. bootcamp.) (Oct 55 Norman Okla, Airman Prep school,) (Jan. 1956 Argentcia Newfoundland.) (June 1957 NAAS Barin Field Foley Ala,) (July 1958 civilian.) (Oct. 1958 Philadelphia receiving station.) (Oct.1958 VFP-61 NAS Miramar Ca.) ( Aug. 1959 West -Pac aboard the USS Midway to get off at Guam at completion of cruise. started out as VFP-61 PP , then VFP-63 PP, VCP-63 SS, then at Guam VCP-61 SS. Then VAP-61 SS. it was a mess) (aircrew on Guam, A3D-2Ps' May 1960 to Sept 1961.) (Oct 1961 NWEF, Albuerquerque NM.) (Nov.1964, Photo"B" school & Camera repair school Pensacola Fla.) (Jan. 1966 USS Forrestal Ship"s company Med. cruise.) ( Mar. 1967 Transferred to the USS INTREPID ships company, to install a Photo Flash Lab processing unit, so the ship had the capability to Take F8U-1P' Dets aboard.) After Making two back to back WesPac Viet Nam cruises out of Norfolk June 1967 thru Mar of 69) (Mar. 1969 Photo School 'b' billet. then Camera Repair school Instructor billet) (August 1974 Atlantic Combat Camera Group. Ran the Camera repair shop.) August 1975 Retired. I had a Ball and a really GREAT Career!!!!!!!

My VAP Info. I reported to VFP-61 Oct 1958, as a PH3, started working on F9F-8P' and F8U-1P' photo systems in the planes on the line, became a photo Tech and a Plane captain, on F8s'. The Composite decision had been made, I was one of the ones picked to go to Guam, so they sent me and PH3 Ken Frailicks, plus others in that Photo of the First Class to go thru El Segundo!. (In August of 1959,) Aug 1st, Ken Frailicks left on the First F8U Det to Guam on The USS Hancock CVA-19 out of Alameda. Aug.15, I left on the second F8U Det. to Guam aboard the USS Midway CVA 41 out of Alameda. the way it was scheduled the dets were supposed to make the cruise with the ships and get off AT Guam when the carriers returned. we got on and off the ships many times thanks to Great OINC"s to do photo work ashore( Thank God). The Det I left on all were killed, 1 officer, I believe LT. Houle and 27 enlisted in a Marine R5D (C-54) plane crash 100-150 miles southwest of Okinawa, except for 3 enlisted and three pilots' LCDR. Les Johnson, LT. Hardy and Lt. Wilmot who were flying the Det. F8s to the next area of operation. I had started Flying in the A3Ds' as an aircrewman, one guy went to the Photo Lab and the other one was sick. It was a Terrible tragedy. I Flew as an aircrewman the rest of the Time I was In VCP-VAP, I was the Only crewman to attend the School at Douglas on the Photo systems. we Left Miramar as VFP-61, PP somehow switched to VFP-63, then to VCP-63 SS then to VCP-61 SS and then to VAP-61 and I guess SS. it was the Most exciting time of My life, worked with great dedicated, Quality people. I believe I was truly Blessed to have been privileged to have been able to be in the Navy with such a wonderful group of people!! !!! 

GOD BLESS & THANK YOU ALL Tom McClain, PHC, USN. ret.

(posted on: 9/03/04)


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