60 years: VP-4 honors past, present, future



60 years:  VP-4 honors past, present, future

Christine Cabalo
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Greeting crew members, Cmdr. Michael Johansson, Commanding Officer, Patrol Squadron 4, walks along the buffet line. On Sept. 29. 2008, The squadron celebrated its 60th Diamond Anniversary with speeches from current and former squadron leaders. The celebration concluded with salad, chicken wings and cake at Hangar 104.

Flying through 60 years of service, the “Skinny Dragons” of Patrol Squadron 4 celebrated their anniversary Sept. 29 at Hangar 104.
Squadron members gathered together to remember the past and reflect on their current duties. Cmdr. Michael Johansson, Commanding Officer, VP-4, spoke during the event and introduced previous squadron commanders to the assembled crowd.
“The squadron has a history of excellence,” said Dean Kiyohara, who was Commanding Officer of the Skinny Dragons until his retirement in 1997. “The current Commanding and Executive Officers do everything to bring the fight to the enemy.”
Originally stationed at what is now Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, the squadron crews flew PBY-3 Catalina sea planes with twin engines during the 1940s. The unit took heavy losses during the 1941 Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, with seven planes damaged beyond repair. Flying under the designation Patrol Squadron 22, the unit fought in the Philippines to support Patrol Wing 10 during World War II.
During his speech at the celebration, Kiyohara said he’s always been proud of how the unit readily integrates new technology into its operations. He said of the squadrons he served in, VP-4 is the only patrol squadron still active. Working now as a civilian federal employee, he said he’d jump at the chance to work with new planes
squadron members may take on like the P-8 Poseidon. He also marveled at how the unit focuses its resources offering aid to Iraq for longer periods of time. “During our deployment I think we went through almost 26 countries,” Kiyohara said. “I sat down yesterday to try to remember them all, but couldn’t. We went to
Jordan, Djibouti, Bahrain and a few Asian countries.”

Capt. Robert Racoosin, Chief of Staff, Commander Task Force 34, spoke on how much of a difference the squadron has made in securing global liberties. He saw their teamwork first hand, when he deployed with VP-4 for six months as Unit Commander in 2003. Racoosin said he’s inspired by how Marines and Sailors work hard together to keep up a 29-year record of mishap-free flying.
If one person leaves the team, then the whole team stumbles, Johansson said. Proud to see good squadron collaboration, he urged the crowd of Marines and Sailors to continue to be innovative together. The current Commanding Officer said he’s eager to see how VP-4 prevails in future challenges. “We’re preparing for deployment to Iraq right now,” said Lt. Zachary Boguslawski, Public Affairs Officer, VP-4. “We’re expected out in a matter of months to take the place of VP-9.” The Public Affairs Officer said many are anxious, but excited, and ready to help support the Global War on Terror.
His unit’s charitable projects, like supporting schools in El Salvador with books and school supplies, will continue as they work abroad.Boguslawski said the plan is to keep people informed of what service members are up to in Iraq with expanded Internet reporting, and Racoosin said it’s that type of innovation that make him glad to have been a Skinny Dragon. “[As part of the squadron] you’re already writing history,” the Chief of Staff said. “When people in the future read about VP-4 they’ll be reading about what you’re doing today.”

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Celebrating the squadron’s 60th anniversary, Cmdr. Michael Johansson, Commanding Officer, Patrol Squadron 4 cuts into a chocolate cake. Originally stationed at Pearl Harbor, the squadron fought in the Philippines during World War II. Current members gear up to deploy to Iraq in a few months, relieving Patrol Squadron 9.



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