My wife & I had a great time at the reunion dinner Saturday night. If you enjoyed our photo booth and would not mind sharing your experience with others, please give us a Google review.
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My wife & I had a great time at the reunion dinner Saturday night. If you enjoyed our photo booth and would not mind sharing your experience with others, please give us a Google review.
I address you on behalf of the VP-4 Association Board of Directors in regards to the 2017 Association reunion in Washington DC. In planning and preparation for this reunion, we used historical attendance from previous events results from the July 2016 survey, as well as communicating directly with the Board.
We are reaching a critical juncture at this point, not only in the success of this years reunion, but any future reunions, as the smaller number of attendees, will be making decisions for future reunions, and the attendance, as it stands now, will have a great impact on future events. Because of our small committed response, there will be a serious impact on the treasury. Please see if it is not too late for you to include us in your plans. This is where our next and future reunions will be planned/determined.
If you are not registered on the reunion website at https://www.afr-reg.com/VP-42017/ please register soon. For those of you that have registered, I look forward to seeing you in August.
Michael B. Adams
Chair, VP-4 Association Board of Directors
Some VP-4 vets got together for an informal meeting 17 Sept. 2016 at the US Navy Seabee Museum, Port Hueneme, CA located just outside the Main Gate of US Naval Base Ventura County, CA
A brief but enjoyable meeting, swapped a few sea stories and most importantly established a connection with Capt. Janke.
Steve “Andy” Andruszkewicz
Patrol Squadron FOUR Change of Command
LTJG Matthew Johnston
Public Affairs Officer, VP-4
Commander Jonathan E. Spore was relieved by Commander Christopher E. Smith as Commanding Officer of Patrol Squadron FOUR (VP-4) on April 21, 2016. The ceremony was held in Hanger 426 on NAS Sigonella, Sicily.
Commander Spore reported to VP-4 in June 2014 as the Executive Officer and relieved Commander Eric M. Hanks as Commanding Officer in June 2015. A native of Chantilly, Virginia, he graduated the United States Naval Academy in 1997. His previous flying tours include assignments in VP-5 as a Junior Officer, VP-30, and a Department Head in VP-16. Commander Spore’s other assignments include a tour on the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Flag Lieutenant for Commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic, and most recently in the Pentagon, serving on both the Navy and the Joint Staff. Under his guidance, Patrol Squadron FOUR certainly lived up to their reputation as “Hawaii’s Best.” CDR Spore and the Skinny Dragons set the standard for maritime excellence, completing nine exercises and over 5,000 flight hours during his time as Commanding Officer. In March 2016, he led the way on VP-4’s last P-3C ‘Aloha Deployment’, and the Skinny Dragons are already achieving success executing their mission in the 4th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.
CDR Spore’s wife Jennifer and their three children, Mitchell, Landon, and Marion currently live in Hawaii. The family’s remaining time in Hawaii is short however, as Commander Spore has received orders to report to Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee. The Skinny Dragons bid a fond Aloha and say Mahalo to Commander Spore for his leadership and guidance.
“As a former Skinny Dragon Skipper, there was no way that I would miss this change of command,” stated Captain Steve Newlund, Commodore of Command Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing TWO (CPRW2). “VP-4 is a premier outfit and has long been ‘Hawaii’s Best.’ Skipper Spore is an outstanding officer and has taken VP-4 to new heights.”
Commander Smith was raised in Brunswick, Maine and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ocean Engineering. He went on to earn his wings as a Naval Flight Officer (NFO) and after completing training at VP-30 in Jacksonville, Florida, Commander Smith reported to the Golden Swordsmen of VP-47. Following his first tour at VP-47, Commander Smith went on to have successful tours at VP-30, the USS JOHN C. STENNIS, Navy Personnel Command, and another tour at VP-47 as a Department Head. As the next Skipper of VP-4, Commander Smith will have the opportunity to lead the Skinny Dragons through the transition to their next Fleet aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon.
CDR Smith and his wife Sarah now call Whidbey Island home with their four children Wyatt, Owen, Evan, and Elizabeth. Relieving Commander Smith as Executive Officer is Commander Bryan P. Hager. He is originally from Bangs, Texas and went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Distribution. Commander Hager completed flight training in Corpus Christi, Texas and earned his Wings of Gold as a Naval Aviator in December 2001. His Fleet assignments include tours at VP-16 as a Junior Officer and Department Head, VP-30 as an instructor, a tour on the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHHOWER (CVN-69), and lastly a tour with Naval Operations (OPNAV) working to facilitate future transitions to the P-8A. His wife Kristen and their three sons, Kenan, Sladen , and Stetson currently reside in Anacortes, Washington.
There will be a survey coming out VERY soon about the 2015 VP-4 Association All Hands Reunion that was held in New Orleans. I’m putting out this post to let you all know it’s coming, and to let you know the super secret password to fill out the survey. We’ll be publishing the survey here and through Facebook.
The password is …. VP4Ever
If you access the survey through the website here, and not the Facebook link that’s coming you will need that password. If you access the survey through Facebook, you will not need the password.
The purpose of this year’s “Discover Your Future in Aviation” was to expose young people to the thrills and joys of a career in aviation. For many people, the highlights of the event were the guest speakers, including Jessica Cox, the first licensed armless pilot; Rob Kelso, a former NASA flight director; and Lt. Col. Karen Fuller Brannen, the first female Marine F-18 pilot. In addition to the guest speakers the event also showcased a handful of both active and retired aircraft accompanied by their respective pilots and volunteers.
To help play their part in exposing young people to aviation, the pilots of VP-4 spent the afternoon in front of a bright yellow RC-3 “Seabee,” a post-World War II amphibious aircraft, and helped children climb in and out of the cockpit. Additionally, the pilots also took the time to pin “wings of gold” on the children’s chests. Noting how knowledgeable some of the children were, many of the VP-4 pilots realized that this wasn’t their first exposure to aviation or aircraft.
Corbin Lewis, 11, knew enough about planes to finish one of the pilot’s sentences. When his mother, Nola, was asked where his fascination comes from, she replied “His whole life is flying. We take him to every air show we can find, we come to the museum a lot, and he even walks around the house in a flight suit.” Corbin Lewis is also the youngest person to ever request to volunteer at the Pacific Aviation Museum and dreams of one day becoming a military pilot.
Another visitor, 3-year-old Henry, hardly spoke a word that was not related to his toy planes or his pilot uncle. Looking at the yellow amphibious plane, he became so excited that he, uncharacteristically, was hardly able to speak. Watching Henry, as well as many other children, climb into the plane was like watching a person’s first taste of chocolate. The smile that transformed their faces and the excitement that shown from their eyes conveyed the beginning spark of passion that has captured aviators for more than 100 years.
The VP-4 pilots said they truly enjoyed their time at the “Discover Your Future in Aviation” event and they felt fortunate to play a part in exposing the thrills of aviation to so many young people.
“I really enjoyed introducing children to aviation,” said LTJG Branden Roy, a VP-4 pilot. “It was great to see how enthusiastic the kids felt about learning to fly and becoming pilots someday.”
LTJG Katie Medford-Davis agreed. “It was great to represent VP-4 (in) the community and to see how many kids are excited about aviation today,” she said.
LT Trent Pietsch
VP-4 Public Affairs Officer
Commander Jonathan E. Spore relieved Commander Eric M. Hanks as Commanding Officer of Patrol Squadron FOUR (VP-4) on June 4, 2015. The ceremony was held at Hangar 104 on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.
Commander Hanks, originally from Jennings, Louisiana, detached U.S. Africa Command in June 2013 to report for duty as Executive Officer with the “Skinny Dragons” of Patrol Squadron FOUR. On June 18, 2014, Commander Hanks became their 65th Commanding Officer.
The Change of Command ceremony culminated a highly successful tour for Hanks. Hanks led the Skinny Dragons through an arduous and challenging multi-site, seven-month deployment covering much of the EUCOM and AFRICOM AORs. Under his command, Patrol Squadron FOUR continued its tradition of excellence surpassing 265,000 hours of mishap-free flying, spanning 42 years of operations. Patrol Squadron FOUR and Hanks were recognized for their mission accomplishment at the national level. Commander Hanks will continue his career in Washington D.C. at the National War College. He and his family are excited at the prospect of continuing their journey together as a part of the Navy. Commander Hanks had this to say about serving as Skipper of VP-4, “This tour has been outstanding in many ways. The Sailors of VP-4 haven’t missed a beat from the time I stepped in to be their Commanding Officer before deployment. We’ve accomplished above and beyond what was required and all credit should go to their workmanship and professionalism.”
Commander Spore reported to VP-4 in June 2014 as the Executive Officer. A native of Chantilly, Virginia, he graduated the United States Naval Academy in 1997. His previous flying tours include assignments in VP-5 as a Junior Officer, VP-30 and a Department Head in VP-16. Commander Spore’s other assignments include a tour on the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Flag Lieutenant for Commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic, and most recently in the Pentagon, serving on the Navy Staff and on the Joint Staff.
Commander Spore lives in Kailua with his wife Jennifer and their three children, Mitchell, Landon, and Marian. When asked about becoming the newest Skinny Dragon Skipper, Commander Spore commented, “With the last home cycle in Hawaii and final P-3C deployment for the Skinny Dragons before moving to Whidbey Island and transitioning to the P-8A, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this great squadron through the challenges ahead. VP-4 has always been a leader in the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance community and I look forward to continuing that tradition.”
Relieving Commander Spore as Executive Officer is Commander Christopher E. Smith. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1998. His most recent assignment was in support of the Director of Intelligence at Cruise Missile Support Activity, Pacific. Commander Smith is married to Sarah and they have four children, Wyatt, Owen, Evan, and Elizabeth.
The VP-4 Association will be holding it’s bi-annual reunion in New Orleans, LA at the Crowne Plaza French Quarter New Orleans Hotel! The reunion will be held September 9th through the 13th 2015. Book now before the hotel rooms fill up.
Visit the VP-4 Association web site for more information on tours, hotel, and banquet options.
VP-4 Changes Command
LTJG Alexandra Lewis
Patrol Squadron Four Public Affairs Officer.
Commander Eric M. Hanks relieved Commander M. Brett Thompson as Commanding Officer of Patrol Squadron FOUR (VP-4) on June 18, 2014. The ceremony was held at Hangar 104 on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.
Commander Thompson, originally from Charleston, South Carolina, reported to VP-4 in March 2013 and became the squadron’s 64th Commanding Officer in August, 2013. Commander Thompson masterfully led the “Skinny Dragons” to exceptional levels of operational success. An inspirational leader with visionary foresight, he ensured maximum operational readiness during a dynamic Inter-Deployment Readiness Cycle in preparation for a multi-site SIXTH Fleet deployment. Under his direction, the squadron conducted a flawless Fleet Response Training Plan, executed 750 sorties encompassing 3,366 flight hours with an impressive 95% mission completion rate, surpassing 41 years and 250,000 hours of mishap-free flying. It is with heavy hearts that the squadron bids him farewell. Commander Thompson will continue his career in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii at U.S. Pacific Command. He and his sons, Michael and Kyle are thrilled for the opportunity to continue island life. When asked about his time serving as Commanding Officer, he stated, “This has been the absolute most rewarding tour in my entire nineteen year career. The men and women of VP-4 are professional, hard-working Americans. I am beyond proud of each and every one of them. The Skinny Dragon ohana are the greatest sailors I have ever served with.”
Commander Hanks reported to VP-4 in August 2013 as the Executive Officer. A native of Jennings, Louisiana, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1997 and went on to earn his Wings of Gold in August 1999. His previous flying tours include assignments to VP-16, VT-35 as an Advanced Maritime Instructor Pilot, and VP-9 as a Department Head. Commander Hanks’ additional tours included a tour on the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT and the U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany where he served in the J3-Operations.
Commander Hanks lives in Kailua with his wife, Renee, and they have two children, Lindsay and Hunter. When asked about becoming the newest Skinny Dragon Skipper, Commander Hanks enthusiastically commented, “I am thrilled for the opportunity to lead the Skinny Dragons into this upcoming deployment. I have the utmost confidence in their ability to excel and masterfully complete the mission..”
Replacing Commander Hanks as Executive Officer is Commander Jon E.. He also graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1997. He reports after working for the Deputy Director for Resources and Acquisition, Joint Staff in Washington D.C. CDR Spore is married to the former Jennifer Stites of Jacksonville, Florida, and they have three children, Mitchell, Landon, and Marian.
PEARL HARBOR, HAWAII — A new commander assumed leadership of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific on Wednesday at a time when the military is trying to shift its focus to the region even as it copes with the effects of the partial government shutdown and across-the-board federal budget cuts.
Adm. Harry Harris took command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet during a ceremony at a Pearl Harbor pier. He takes over for Adm. Cecil Haney, who is leaving to lead U.S. Strategic Command in Nebraska.
The partial federal government shutdown, which began Oct. 1 when Congress failed to pass a budget, made the ceremony slightly different from those in years past.
To save money, the Navy didn’t pass out programs. Guests were encouraged to find a digital program online.
The chief of naval operations didn’t fly out from Washington for the event as usual. Instead, Adm. Samuel Locklear, head of U.S. Pacific Command, presided over the ceremony.
Haney, in his departing remarks, said the Navy must continue to maintain a credible and capable force in the region to provide humanitarian assistance, deter potential adversaries and be ready to respond if deterrence fails.
“Given the consistent message of our political and military leadership, I can stand on firm ground and predict that the U.S. will remain a Pacific power far into the future,” Haney said.
Harris said the Pacific Fleet would continue to carry out President Barack Obama’s strategy of shifting attention to the region to reflect its importance in global trade and economic growth. The region — from the U.S. West Coast to India — is also home to some of the world’s largest and fastest growing militaries.
“Our president and secretary of defense are clear. As a nation, we will rebalance to the Pacific and we will work closely with our allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” Harris said.
Though Congress sent the president legislation Wednesday night to end the government shutdown, the stalemate has already complicated the military’s effort.
The U.S. Pacific Command, which oversees the Pacific Fleet, had to postpone a meeting of defense chiefs from 25 nations scheduled in Honolulu next week. The annual meeting is an important part of the Pacific Command’s efforts to maintain strong relationships with top military leaders in the region.
The across-the-board federal budget cuts that took effect in March, also known as sequestration, are also squeezing the Navy.
Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, told the House Armed Services Committee last month that the Navy wouldn’t be able to increase the number of ships it keeps in the Asia-Pacific region to about 60, from around 50 today, if sequestration continues.
Ralph Cossa, president of the nonprofit Pacific Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Harris is taking over the Pacific Fleet as many are waiting to see whether the Navy is able to boost its presence in the region as planned.
“People are now very concerned about whether (Obama) can put his money or his fleet where his mouth is,” Cossa said.
LTJG Jenna Rose
Patrol Squadron Four Public Affairs Officer
Commander Brent M. Strong relieved Commander Kevin D. Long as Commanding Officer of Patrol Squadron FOUR (VP-4) on May 10, 2012 in a ceremony held at Hangar 104 on Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
Commander Long, originally from Eustis, Florida, reported to VP-4 in May 2010 and became the squadron’s 62nd Commanding Officer in May, 2011. Under his command, the squadron completed a split-site deployment to the 5th and 7th Fleets. On March 18, 2011, VP-4 forward-deployed to Misawa AB, Japan and in fewer than 24 hours re-established Commander Task Group 72.4 as an operational entity, flying the first U.S. humanitarian missions following the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in support of Operation TOMODACHI. Under his command, the Skinny Dragons provided 254 hours of critical humanitarian and disaster relief support to the Japanese people. The squadron was recognized for its success in numerous areas during Commander Long’s time as Commanding Officer receiving the 2011 Jay Isbell Trophy for ASW Excellence, the Golden Anchor for retention excellence, the Golden Shutter award, the Medical Blue “M” for outstanding medical readiness, and the Battle Efficiency Award (Battle “E”) for sustained superior performance in an operational environment.
Commander Long will continue his career in San Diego, California, with his wife the former Andrea L. Townsend and their children, Hayden and Sydney, working for the Commander Naval Air Forces, Pacific (COMNAVAIRPAC). When asked about his time serving as Commanding Officer, he stated, “This has been one of the most rewarding tours in my entire nineteen year career. The men and women of VP-4 are professional, hard-working Americans. I am very proud of each and every one of them.”
Commander Strong reported to VP-4 in May 2011 as the Executive Officer. A native of Kingman, Kansas, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Oceanography and went on to earn his wings after completing Naval Flight Officer training in 1996 at Randolph AFB in San Antonio, Texas. His tours include assignments to VP-9, VP-30 as an FRS instructor, and VP-46 as a Department Head.
Prior to reporting to VP-4, Commander Strong’s additional tours and schools included Flag Lieutenant to the Commander, RONALD REAGAN STRIKE GROUP; the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Command in San Diego, CA where he wrote the IUT syllabus; the Joint Staff in Washington D.C., where he served as the Command and Control Action Officer for the J-6; and the Naval War College, where he earned his Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies and was selected by the President of the War College for the Halsey Group.
Commander Strong is married to the former Denise Jones of Severn, Maryland, and they have four children, Abigail, Caleb, Evan, and Sophie. When asked about becoming the newest Skinny Dragon Skipper, Commander Strong enthusiastically commented, “I am thrilled for the opportunity to lead Patrol Squadron FOUR. This squadron has a long history of greatness, from fighting in every war since its commission in 1928 to being recognized with the Battle Efficiency Award eleven times in the past fifty years, the Skinny Dragons are a blue collar squadron, which is not afraid to roll up its sleeves and get to work.” Commenting on the future of the Skinny Dragons, “We are anticipating a deployment in about six months, but before departing, we have a number of inspections and two major exercises, including Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) and Valiant Shield, to complete prior to obtaining our deployment certification,” he continued, “I couldn’t be more proud of the squadron having witnessed, as the Executive Officer, all it accomplished over the course of the past year, and I truly believe it has earned its motto, ‘Hawaii’s Best’.”
Replacing Commander Strong as Executive Officer, Commander Jason C. Stapleton reported to VP-4 with over 3000 flying hours in the P-3C Orion. He has a BS in History and a MA in National Security. He reports after working for the Joint Staff in Washington D.C. as an Action Officer in the Command, Control, Communications and Computer Systems (J-6) Directorate and as Action Officer in the Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment (J-8) Directorate. CDR Stapleton is married to the former Cynthia Maceluch of Mobile, Alabama, and they have two daughters, Meredith and Caroline.
The 2011 Sailors of the Year (SOY) are in Washington D.C. this week. The SOYs officially became chief petty officers during a ceremony at the Navy Memorial May 17. They spent the week taking in the sights around D.C., but they had a couple of minutes to sit down and talk about Navy opportunities and what the Navy has taught them. Here’s what they had to say:
Chief of Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year
Master-At-Arms 1st Class (SCW/FMF) Douglas Newman enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1992. He attended recruit training at MCRD, San Diego where he graduated as the Platoon Honorman, meritoriously advancing to Lance Corporal. After his enlistment in the Marines, MA1 Newman returned to his hometown of Tucson, Ariz., to pursue a career in law enforcement. In 2001, after his enlistment in the National Guard, MA1 Newman enlisted in the Navy Reserve. He was assigned to NMCB 17 where he served as the Battalion Master-At-Arms, Security Company Commander, and Lead Seabee Military Instructor.
In 2005 he volunteered to deploy to Fallujah, Iraq with the 30th Naval Construction Regiment, attached to the 2ndMarine Expeditionary Force. MA1 Newman has received numerous awards, to include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (5), Operation Iraqi Freedom Campaign Medal with Marine Corps device, Military Outstanding Volunteer Medal, and Seabee Combat Warfare and Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist qualifications.
MA1 Newman has been a civilian police officer for 14 years. He lives in Gig Harbor, WA with his wife and two children.
Chief of Naval Operations Shore Sailor of the Year
Petty Officer Johnson was born in Dallas, Texas. She enlisted in the Navy on November 21, 2000 and completed recruit training in Great Lakes, Illinois. In September 2001 she deployed onboard USS PELELIU in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where she was advanced to Petty Officer Third Class.
In March 2005 she reported to Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) School in San Diego, CA. She earned her Navy Enlisted Classification Code 9502 and 9505 as well as her Master Training Specialist Qualification. In July 2008, she reported to VFA-106, where she was advanced to Petty Officer First Class and assigned as the Paraloft Leading Petty Officer.
Her military decorations include Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (2), Good Conduct Medal (3), Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and various unit commendations. She is currently assigned to VFA-131, reporting in January 2012.
U.S. Pacific Fleet Sailor of the Year
Petty Officer Louis F. Salazar JR was born in San Jose California on September 9, 1981. He enlisted in the Navy in August of 1999.
Following the completion of his first deployment in 2001, he then went on to attend Steelworker “A” School at Naval Construction Training Center, Gulfport, Miss. Upon graduation in April 2002, he reported to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FIVE, Port Hueneme, Calif. He made four successful deployments to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Naval Base Guam; Lambayeque, Peru and Andros Island, Bahamas.
In April 2007, he reported to the 31st Seabee Readiness Group, Port Hueneme, Calif., as an instructor for the Military Training Division. In May 2010, he reported to NMCB Forty, Port Hueneme, Calif. As Detail Operations Chief for Khelegay, Afghanistan, he led 16 Seabees in the planning and execution of $2.2M of contingency construction. He led 58 Seabees in two highly successful 48-hour embarkation exercises and a Field Training Exercise. He is currently deployed to Camp Covington, Naval Base Guam.
He resides in Oxnard, California, with with his wife and two children.
U.S. Fleet Forces Command Sailor of the Year
Petty Officer Zamora is a native of Ecuador and a graduate of William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City, N.J. She entered the U.S. Navy on June 24, 2000 and attended Recruit Training in Great Lakes, Ill. Upon completion of recruit training, she attended Ship’s Serviceman “A” School in Meridian, Miss., and was subsequently assigned to USS Emory S. Land (AS 39).
In December 2001 she was promoted to Petty Officer Third Class and was put in charge of S-3 Division. In December 2003, she transferred to USS ROOSEVELT (DDG 80). During her tenure onboard, she served as Division Assistant Leading Petty Officer. Her ambition and hard work led to her qualifying as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist.
In May 2005, she transferred to Navy Recruiting District New York, and was advanced to Second Class Petty Officer and qualified as a Recruiter-in-Charge. While assigned, her recruiting station attained a 110 percent new contract objective, resulting in her selection as the Junior Sailor of the Year and ultimately leading to her being meritoriously advanced to First Class Petty Officer.
Her decorations include the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3), Good Conduct Award (3) and numerous unit commendations, campaign medals and service ribbons.
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