the assorted works of G. H. Spaulding







Oh, Joe....... Don't think that's what they meant when they said, "Jump the Shark."








Lynne Anne BYARS


BYARS, Lynne Anne Passed away March 27th at Foothill Presbyterian Hospital in Glendora, CA. She was 62 years old. Lynne was born March 29th, 1947 in Jefferson City, MO. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Kean College in Union NJ. She loved to travel and spend time with her family. She was married to her husband, Mark for 42 years. She is survived by her mother, Anne Thompson, of Sun City, AZ, husband Mark Byars, Glendora, CA, son Mark Byars II, daughter-in-law Kelly Byars, and grandchildren Ryan 11 and Ashley 9, from Granite Bay, CA. Services will be held Thursday, April 1st at 1:30 p.m. at Cabot & Sons in Pasadena CA. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to the American Lung Association.


Published in Los Angeles Times on March 31, 2010




Death of Kent Link



Kent A. Link, 75, passed away in Conroe, TX on March 8, 2010 of natural causes. A family service will be held at the Woodlands United Methodist Church Grace Garden Columbarium.


Kent was born in Algona, Iowa on February 25, 1935 to Thomas L. Link and Edna (Renaud) Link. After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School, Kent enlisted in the Navy and was soon sent to the United States Naval Academy where he graduated in 1959. He proceeded to flight training in Pensacola, FL, where he received his wings. In Vietnam, his squadron VO-67 flew dangerous missions over Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh Trail, dropping seismic and acoustic devices to pick up enemy movement thus saving countless lives. Forty years later in 2008, the squadron received the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty. After Vietnam, Kent received his Masters Degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. He retired in 1980 as a Commander and moved to River Plantation in Conroe, TX. where he was employed by Outboard Marine Corporation and Sears. He enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, card games, cooking and celebrating holidays with his family.


Kent is survived by his wife of 42 years, Dianne (Reifenrath) Link; two daughters and their spouses, Kelli and Steve Fowler of Conroe, TX and Suzanne Link and Jay Mahavier of Austin, TX; and two brothers and their spouses, twin Kermit and Katy Link of Colville, WA and Tom and Mary Lee Link of Stuart, IA. The family requests memorial gifts be made to the charity of choice in Kent's name.



Sincere condolences to Dianne and the rest of Kent’s family. We’ve lost a friend. RIP.




Deaths of Dave and Betty Jo Heath (only recently discovered by Marta Heffner)


Betty Jo Heath Passed peacefully Oct. 25, 2006, surrounded by her loving family and friends. She fought her 20-month bout with cancer with courage, grace, and optimism. Born on March 4, 1945, in San Francisco to Joseph and Elizabeth Bregante, she lived her 61 years as a shining example of loving kindness and selfless generosity. Betty Jo would do all that was needed for those she loved, which was everyone she knew. She stood beside her husband through a Navy career, moving from port to port. After the Navy, she gallantly raised three children as the family continued to move, first to Oregon, then to North Dakota, and finally back to California. Teaching had always been a strong calling in Betty Jo's life. She attended Dominican in San Rafael and received her first college education at the University of California at Davis. After college she taught preschool. Later she worked at Saint Joseph Elementary School in Alameda as a counselor and teacher and was a mentor to many kids there. Her compassion and caring spirit led her to another career after mother, homemaker, and teacher. She attended JFK University and Holy Names College to receive a degree in marriage, family, and child counseling. She practiced in partnership with California Counseling Associates in Alameda, with a specialty in grief counseling. Betty Jo was a woman of spirituality and faith. A lifelong Catholic and active participant at Saint Joseph Parish in Alameda, she recently explored Buddhism and other spiritual philosophies and loved to walk labyrinths as a way to meditate. She had an open mind that believed above all in the goodness in the hearts of all people. Betty Jo possessed a boundless positive outlook, and inspired everyone to embrace life with enthusiasm and joy. She loved to garden, knit, sew, and kayak, and recently fulfilled a longtime dream of learning to weave on her loom. She also dreamed of having a house on the water. Her dreams live on in us as we continue to live our lives by her example. She will be dearly missed by all whose lives she touched, though she will never be farther from us than our hearts. She was preceded in passing by her parents and David Heath, father to her children and husband for 22 years. She is survived by her sister Diane Quinn; her three children and their spouses: Charlie and Hilary Heath, Scott Heath and Ellen Cavalli, and Terri Heath Peters and Aaron Peters; grandchildren Lauren, Duncan, and Annabel Heath; nieces, Kathleen Bregante Kennedy and Paula McGraw; nephew, Francisco Mujica; and eight grandnieces and nephews. A Mass honoring Betty Jo will be said at 12 noon, Sat, Nov. 4, 2006, at St. Joseph Basilica, 1109 Chestnut St, Alameda.






LOST CONTACT List - as of 24 May 2009


The email addresses we have for the following folks are no longer current. If you are able to update, please do so via email by clicking here.


 Terry Burkett

 Gus Cook

 Lewis Defendini

 Tim Doyle

 Dan Given

 Bill Maikai

 Dave Norris






Bright Light on Searchlight

   By CAPT Brian McGuiness, USNR (Ret.)


This article about a memorial for the crew of ZE-06, lost with all hands over Nevada on 3 Aug 1970, is from "Mail Buoy," a feature of the Association of Naval Aviation magazine, Wings of Gold, Winter 2005 edition.


Searchlight, Nevada, is a small desert town with a big heart. That was evident last October when town residents hosted 33 outsiders who gathered there to remember ten Navy aircrew members who died nearby in 1970.

   The high desert and a U.S. Navy patrol plane may seem like incongruous entities. But in August 2004, Searchlight residents Carl and Jane Overy showed great compassion in when they heard of the fatal crash of aircraft Zulu Echo Six from a former squadron member who, by chance, inquired if there had ever been a plaque erected in the town to commemorate the lost crewmen. Neither Carl, a USAF veteran, nor his wife, a Navy veteran and the town historian, had ever heard of the crash.

   There was no memorial in the town, and for the most part, older residents had forgotten about the crash site 15 miles outside the old mining community along Highway 95. Bob McLaughlin of Pocatello, Idaho, a former Naval Aviator with Patrol Squadron 17, then inquired of Carl Overy whether or not he would help in the placement of a memorial plaque in town if funds for the project could be generated from past squadron members.

Not only did Overy and his wife say they were willing, they enlisted the help of six other town residents who volunteered either materials or services for free.

   A bronze plaque with the names of the aircrewmen was produced at a Utah foundry and sent to Overy in early 2005 for placement on a large prominent stone in the Mining Park of the Searchlight Community Center. Later on, former squadron members purchased an additional bronze bas-relief outline of the ill-fated Lockheed P-3A Orion that was placed above the plaque by Overy.

   With the plaque in place, a concerted effort was begun by former squadron mates to and surviving family members of the deceased aircrew. A future gathering at the site of the memorial was the goal, and in a short time over 25 survivors from four of the ten families were contacted.

   The gathering took place on October 1, 2005 at Searchlight with family members and friends coming from as far away as Florida, New Jersey, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The Ordonia family from Florida, survivors of Flight Engineer Ambrose Ordonia, had over 15 present. The family of Petty Officer John Mass had four members in attendance. Susan Johnson, the widow of Lieutenant Norm Johnson, was present along with one of her daughters, and her sister.

   A hike into the crash site was planned and accomplished for early the next day under the guidance of Larry Forney, a Navy veteran who had researched the aircraft accident and had been to the crash site several times over the past years.

   In an incredible chance find last year at Thanksgiving time, Forney visited the crash site and unexpectedly uncovered a gold high school class ring in the remaining debris. He later identified it and returned it to the sister of crewman John Mass.

   The airplane was lost with all hands on August 3, 1970 after taking off from Nellis Air Force Base en route to San Diego. The flight had originated days before from its home base at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii, and was on an extended navigational training flight to the west coast and back.

   At 14,000 feet near Searchlight the pilot radioed a request for a flight path deviation away from thunderstorms. Without any further radio contact the aircraft was lost from radar. Eyewitnesses on the ground reported seeing a lightning flash in a dark cloud, followed by burning debris falling to the desert floor. The mile long wreckage pattern led investigators to speculate the aircraft either had been hit by lightning, or disintegrated in-flight due to structural failure. There were no survivors, and all the bodies were recovered.

   Thirty-five years later the gathering of families and friends of those who died on flight Zulu Echo Six brought comfort and solace to a sad chapter in all their lives. Seeing the crewmen’s names on the memorial plaque in Searchlight ensured they would not be forgotten.


Editor’s note: Capt McGuiness can be reached in Clearlake, Washington (360) 856-4010. Additional contacts: Bob McLaughlin, Pocatello, Idaho: (208)220-1469 and Larry Porney, Colo, Iowa (515) 708-3441.


(Click on the thumbnail photos below to enlarge)



On 1 October, 41 family members, friends and fellow squadron mates gathered in Searchlight, Nevada to honor fallen shipmates from VP-I 7. They observed a new bronze plaque depicting an Orion mounted on a large rock at the local park. The sculpture memorializes the 10 P-3A (ZE.6, BuNo 152159) crew members who perished in a crash in the Searchlight area on August 3rd, 1970. Crew member names are on a separate plaque on the rock.


Crew of ZE-06


LT Timothy D. Bailing, PPC

LT Norman L. Johnson, TACCO

LTJG Henry J. McGreevey, CP

ADJ1 Ambrose Ordonia, FE

ADJ1 Johnny D. Shelton, FE

ATN3 Cletus L. Morrison, RDO

AW3 John D. Maas, ASW

AW3 John W. Schmitz, IV, ASW

AW3 Michael A. Silvera, ASW

AW3 Bruce E. Weaver, ASW





Hi Gerry,


    In reviewing the crew of ZE-6, the families of LTJG Henry Joseph McGreevey, USN (c/p) and a USNA grad. No address has been found for his widow Tracey (possibly remarried).  No other next of kin were listed in the memorial service folder.  Also for AW3 Bruce Edward Weaver, no address of his parents (Coral Gables, FL) was found.  He was not a Florida native but was born in Leonia, NJ with a sister in California. 

    Consequently, the families of these two crewmen have not yet been notified of the Searchlight Memorial.  Perhaps your site could mention this and help find the next of kin of these crewmen.


Sincerely,  Bob 








KISHIE BUSHNELL UPDATE (10/25/07 e-mail from Marta)


Hi,  Just saw our own Kishie on The Newshour with Jim Leher (I still call it the McNeil-Leher Newshour on PBS!!) Anyway,  Kishie was shown helping fire victims at a station set up in the area.  I talked to her after the reunion and she has just completed a training program with the emergency services dept. (I think that is the agency)--maybe with the Police dept in San Diego.)  She had just been up all night dealing with the slide in the La Jolla area so she was thrown into the action immediately and now the fires.  She said she would come to the next reunion!!!  Hope she does. 


Bye marta












It's my sad duty to share the news about the death of one of our VP-17 Shipmates. I received the attached email from Linda Embach last night, regarding AWC Chuck Embach's sudden death Thursday October 18, 2007.


I know we've always considered Chuck to be a good friend, valued Shipmate and bright spot in our memories of our VP-17. He always had a smile and cheerful words to share.


If any of you don't exactly recall, AWC Chuck Embach worked in the Ops Dept and did his daily magic with our flight schedule during our '75-78 deployments. Most of us didn't see a lot of Chuck because he was constantly buried behind his desk, trying to figure out some way to make the tasking fit our assets.


In her email (see below), Linda Embach said she was looking for Jim and Deanna Chambers, from VP-17. Do any of you know how to contact them?  If so, please respond to Linda Embach at  


I have attached three photos of Chuck Embach, copied from VP-17 Cruise Books.


Please share this sad news with other VP-17 and VP Navy Shipmates. 


Troy Reed, AWC (Ret) VP-17 Crew 2 

(479) 997-2759






This is Linda Embach.  I thought you would want to know that Chuck passed away last night from a sudden aneurysm in his stomach which led to a heart attack.  So sorry to be the bearer of bad news. 


Do you have the address of the VP folks, Jim and Deanna Chambers?





Hi and Thanks so much for sending the news about Chuck's passing. I immediately sent an email to his wife with my condolances and a bit of history about when I served with Chuck in VP-50. He was the First Tech on Crew 3 during the seaplane era of VP-50 based at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan on a permanent deployement for over 3 years!  Those were mighty tough years for sure and I will always remember Chuck's smile at all times! He lived offbase near where I did and we frequently would get together when time permitted it to socialize, etc.


Chuck was a super human being  and one that will be sorely missed! And, he was not a very old man, either (compared to some of us!)


Thanks again for letting me know the situation. I forwarded your email to several other old crewmembers of VP-50 including Rex Hartsfield (Crew 11 First Tech) and his TACCO/NAV LCDR Bud "Buzz" Barrett. He got an Alpha designation doing and A-20-P ASW exercise one night and "killed" the sub using only 5 sonobuoys and in 22 minutes from the time of Comex!  "Buzz" Barrett is very well known in the VP Navy and was a NEASEP Mustang Officer who went to 32 different colleges; including Mills College for Women by correspondence!!! When he retired, many USN Flag Rank Officers were on hand to send him on his way to retirement. I had the very fortunate opportunity to work directly for "Buzz" as the Operations Chief in VP-50 when I made AXC (AC) on 16 May 1963 with only 7 years in the USN. Chuck was a super friendly guy who never complained about anything and always did a super job!  I will miss him a lot! And, I will keep him and his family in my prayers! 


Again, thanks for letting me know of his passing. 


Have you tried to find the Chambers folks at website?  I wonder if they might have some information about where that family is currently.


 I also served in VP-17 when we transitioned the outfit to the P-3A Deltic birds and changed home ports from NAS Moffett Field, CA to NAS Barbers Point, HI. I  and LCDR Bobby C. Farrar were the first 2 folks assigned to VP-17 when they rebuilt the squadron for the P-3A's. That was a whole bunch of work for sure!


Very respectfully,


John W. Hood, ATC, USN-Ret and US Dept of Defense Civil Service (Ret)





Saving lives in Iraq

In a quest to make a difference, Dr. Hans Bakken traded private practice to help the injured at a military hospital, including an ABC anchorman.


February 27, 2007


   Hans Bakken is one Iowan who doesn't want to become famous on national TV.
   Unlike those eager to swap wives, warble before judges or survive absurd challenges, Bakken quietly served his country in Iraq, saving dozens of lives, including ABC News anchorman Bob Woodruff. Throughout his 12 months of duty, he shunned the spotlight.
   Tonight at 9, the ABC anchor will talk about his experience on "To Iraq and Back: Bob Woodruff Reports," the story of his severe wounding in Iraq and his recovery.
   Bakken, formerly of Decorah, turned down ABC's request to be interviewed.
   He had just returned from an intense year of duty as an Army neurosurgeon, and he didn't want to travel to New York to pat himself on the back.
   In January 2006, Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt were hit by a roadside bomb and transported to the small U.S. military tent that had become the major receiving area for head and neck casualties in Iraq. It was where Bakken and fellow neurosurgeon Brett Schlifka executed intricate medical procedures with weapons propped up in the corner.
   A day after performing surgery on Woodruff, Bakken told a Washington Post reporter that "I'm just another 61 Zulu (military classification for neurosurgeon). Just an asset. There are no prima donnas here."
   His reward would come later.
   THREE YEARS AGO, Bakken grew tired of private practice in Tacoma, Wash., after only 18 months.
   "Private practice unfortunately in most cases is driven by business needs," said the single 38-year-old in a telephone interview from his new assignment at an Army hospital in Hawaii.
   His father, David Bakken, had been a flight surgeon in Southeast Asia before the family settled in Decorah in 1974. So it was no surprise that Hans Bakken decided to volunteer when he heard of the need for a neurosurgeon in a German Army hospital in 2004.
   After just two weeks of work in Germany, Hans Bakken realized the desperate need as soldiers from Iraq were shipped there for care.
   "I knew there was a shortage of neurosurgeons in the Army, and at the time I was looking to do something that mattered a bit more," he said. "I felt like I was making a difference."
   He asked if he could help out in Iraq but was told he must join the Army.
   So he did.
   His father, who had pleasantly watched his son excel at Decorah High School and the University of Iowa, knew what awaited him when he left for Iraq in January 2006.
   "What can you tell a young man who wants to have an adventure?" said the elder Bakken.
   "Keep your head down and do a good job."
   HE QUICKLY LEARNED what he had stepped into at the Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad.
   Instead of arriving at a polished office with a waiting schedule of patients, he came to work in tents connected by a plywood corridor with a gun slung over his shoulder. Put it in the corner and scrub up.
   Black Hawk helicopters whirled close to the tent, carrying soldiers straight from the battlefield or civilians pierced by bomb shrapnel.
   Bakken had seen a handful of gunshot wounds in his years in the United States - but nothing like the high-velocity shrapnel from roadside bombs, or what the Army calls IEDs.
   Nearly all the casualties suffered bleeding and swelling of the brain, requiring a decompressive craniectomy, or removing a piece of the skull.
   Often, the fragments had traveled deep into the brain and couldn't be removed.
   The pay was low and the sights ghastly.
   "Kids came in with half their heads blown away, and he was trying to do something for them," said David Bakken, recalling the frequent e-mails his son sent while in Iraq.
   "He had a profound feeling of all the tragedy going on there."
   Hans Bakken described those days in Iraq with a quiet candor.
   "There were many 'worst days,' " he said. "Every time a soldier died on our operating room table, or came in dead or too severely injured to be helped - those are things I will never forget."
   The great day he recalls wasn't his brush with celebrity, but a day when a Marine was shot in the head and only had a small blood clot around the outside of the brain, a relatively easy fix.
   "His helmet saved his life," he said.
   BAKKEN DOES CLEARLY remember the late January day Woodruff arrived, although Woodruff was like so many others of the 250 to 300 he operated on during 12 months of duty.
   "My partner and I were working on another soldier with a broken neck, a vehicle rollover crash," he said. "I remember hearing that two people with head injuries were coming in - members of the press. I was going to have to look at these guys.
   "While I was looking at the C scan, I was told he was an anchor. I didn't recognize him. I didn't watch TV much."
   Woodruff had a breathing tube in and rock fragments on his face and neck. A bomb fragment had entered the left side of his brain, causing bleeding and swelling. Bakken performed the craniectomy.
   Afterward, Bakken talked to Woodruff's wife, Lee.
   "I told her he was very severely injured, and it's too early to tell how he will do. Apparently, he was talking at the scene, which is always a good sign. I reserved that because I don't like telling people they are going to do well and then they do not do well."
   Woodruff was eventually transported to the United States to begin a long, successful recovery. Tonight is his first back on the air. ABC officials say he has recovered from his physical injuries, but he is still working on "cognitive issues."
   Like the dozens of others he operated on in Iraq, Bakken heard little after that. There's not much patient follow-up in a war zone.
   But media members asked him for interviews. He granted a few to spread the word about the extraordinary work being done by medical professionals in Iraq.
   He realized many had done so much more. He thought of World War II surgeons who worked under intense conditions for years. He came home after one year.
   "I was always somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of being interviewed, as my reasons for joining the military did not include personal notoriety," Bakken said.
   There was, as he describes, an "unforeseen benefit." An old friend from Decorah saw him on a TV interview and got his e-mail address from his parents.
   He is now engaged to marry Robin McAllister, the old friend who saw how Bakken helped save a man from the daily tragedies of war.

Reporter Mike Kilen can be reached at (515) 284-8361 or



FIRST BULLET — Dr. Hans Bakken, foreground, wrote this message with the picture he sent to his parents, David and Kathy Bakken in Decorah: “Attached is a pic of me taking out my first bullet from an AK-47. It was in an Iraqi soldier's leg.” Bakken estimates he performed surgery on 250 to 300 people during his 12 months of duty after joining the U.S. Army.


‘BLOODY TRAIL' — Dr. Hans Bakken wrote this text to his parents: “P.S. the picture is from the floor between the ER tent” and the operating room. He said he will never forget those who died in surgery and those whose wounds were too critical to be helped.


TENT HOSPITAL IN BALAD — Dr. Hans Bakken, 38, operated in the Balad Air Base hospital, which consists of many tents connected by plywood corridors. He granted a few interviews following the well-publicized surgery on ABC anchorman Bob Woodruff so he could acknowledge the work done by all the medical professionals in the war zone, but he declined the invitation to be on Woodruff's program tonight.



Scroll down a ways for a 1 Feb 2006 Washington Post article on Hans



Message from Jim Fields on 30 May 2006. Think positive thoughts.

I just wanted y'all to know that I have been diagnosed with neck & throat cancer.  I am in process of starting radiation & chemo therapy at Kirklin Clinic (at the University of Alabama, Birmingham) in BHM.  Kirklin is one of 11 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in US.  Great Drs, nurses & staff.  I am very optimistic about the process.  I'll keep you posted as things go along.  I'm not sure who else you have on your email list Ger, but if there is anyone you think might be interested, please pass it on.  Have a great summer!  Jim

My cell phone is 205 447-1237




To our departed friend





Leo Dete battling brain cancer (letter from Bill Overend)


March 15, 2006



Dear VP-17 Shipmates:


Leo Dete is waging a tough battle with brain cancer. He was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in June 2005 with a poor prognosis. He has had the best treatment including leading edge clinical trial efforts available by a nationally recognized oncologist at Duke University. Sally, of course, has been the head nurse and leading the charge. Unfortunately, he does not appear to be getting better.


He and Sally have been heroic, stoic and brave throughout all of this. As you may remember they both have an optimistic outlook on life. Their oldest son is getting married in June and they have elected not to change that event, focusing on the kids moving forward.  Leo and Sally continued throughout the fall going to see their youngest son, Andrew play football in virtually every game at Dartmouth. Football games with their sons has been their passion for over 10 years.


Now is the time to drop Leo and Sally a note or card and let them know you care about them. Leo is not able to take phone calls.


Mr. & Mrs. Leo J. Dete

2032 Old Forge Way

Marietta, GA 30068


Very respectfully,


Bill Overend



“Smell the roses while you are on this side of the grass.”   -  G. A. Rettig




Dave and Kathy Bakken's son Hans operates on ABC's Bob Woodruff in Iraq

Maj. Hans Bakken, left, and Maj. Brett Schlifka treat patients in tents connected by a plywood corridor while helicopters land just outside.

By Thomas E. Ricks -- The Washington Post

A Different Operation For U.S. Doctors in Iraq
Severe Cases, Grueling Hours Are Norm

By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 1, 2006; A19

BALAD, Iraq, Jan. 31 -- Maj. Hans Bakken and Maj. Brett Schlifka were bone-tired as they sipped bad coffee from foam cups on a chilly morning in a U.S. military tent. The men, both neurosurgeons, had worked on two serious head wound cases the previous evening and then, after going to sleep about midnight, were awakened at 1:30 a.m. to treat a soldier flown in with a gunshot to the head.

   The night before that, Sunday, they operated on ABC News anchorman Bob Woodruff and his cameraman, Doug Vogt.

   "They all get the same quality of medical care -- a soldier, an Iraqi, a journalist," said Schlifka, a big-armed man from Philadelphia.

   They didn't want to discuss specifics about Woodruff and Vogt. "We can't give you any details" for privacy reasons, said Bakken, a native of Decorah, Iowa.

   But they did talk plenty about who they are and what they do in this, the Air Force Theater Hospital, which recently was designated as the medical receiving center in Iraq for the handling of all head and neck wounds by the U.S. military. The wounded ABC journalists were flown here by helicopter from Baghdad. They were eventually taken to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, where a doctor said their prognosis was "excellent," according to news reports.

   Back home, Bakken said he saw "maybe half a dozen" gunshot head wounds in six years of practice. Here, about 70 miles north of Baghdad, he handles one or two "penetrating brain injuries" a day, either from gunfire or roadside bombs.

   The two neurosurgeons also have become experts in particular varieties of head trauma.    The majority of head injuries they saw in the United States involved external trauma, but most of their cases here involve penetration of the brain. What's more, the pistol shots they generally saw in the United States were far less lethal than higher-velocity rifle shots that traverse the skull and are nearly impossible to survive, they said. Also, their patients here arrive with far more complex wounds than the typical victim back home. Bomb victims arrive with eardrums blown, cheekbones smashed, eyes ripped apart, as well as deep brain injuries.

   The extraordinary becomes routine. "I would say without exception almost everyone who has a penetrating injury has a craniectomy," said Bakken, referring to the operation in which part of the skull is removed to relieve swelling of the brain. Other military officials here have indicated that such a procedure was performed on Woodruff, who along with Vogt was injured on Sunday in a roadside bombing near Baghdad that caught them standing in the open hatch of an Iraqi army armored vehicle.

   Understanding the effects of roadside bombs -- what the Army calls IEDs, or improvised explosive devices -- is an art in itself. "The shrapnel pieces from an IED seem to do more damage than a bullet," Schlifka said. The velocity of the fragments varies much more than do the velocity of bullets, and the greater the velocity, the worse injury to the brain, he said.

   Working with another Army doctor, Maj. Gerald Grant, Schlifka and Bakken are still learning about blast effects -- the unseen damage caused by pressure on the brain, in which some people appear unhurt by a bomb attack only to suffer headaches, disorientation or lapses in short-term memory later on. "We see a lot of guys that are in a Humvee. They get knocked out but they, quote, don't sustain any serious injuries, unquote," Bakken said. Then when that soldier gets back to his unit, he doesn't feel quite right, but his problems are hard to discern except by those who already know him.

   But the doctors have also learned to limit their intervention. They said they don't necessarily try to extract every piece of shrapnel from a head wound, because digging deep can occasionally do more harm to the brain than good.

   The men are clearly proud of the quality of the care they provide, working in tents connected by a plywood corridor while Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters are landing just a few feet away. "I think we provide Level 1 trauma care comparable to any center in the United States," Bakken said.

   He said he also likes the clarity of purpose involved in his work, with little time for administrative work or patience for bureaucratic obstacles. Bakken and Schlifka are Army officers, but said they are working in an Air Force facility with almost no friction or rivalry. "This is kind of a rank-free environment, and almost a service-free environment," Bakken said.

   Bakken appeared to have little interest in discussing his brush with celebrity for having treated Woodruff and Vogt. He joined the Army last year at age 37 specifically to serve in Iraq, abandoning his private practice in Tacoma, Wash., and obviously taking a huge cut in pay.

   He has no complaints. "They're paying me plenty," he said. "I'm a single guy." He and Schlifka are uncomfortable with being cast in any special light. Every night they see soldiers who they say made far greater sacrifices.

   "I'm just another 61 Zulu," said Bakken, using the military classification for a neurosurgeon. (The infantrymen on which he operates, by contrast, are "11 Bravos.") "Just an asset. There are no prima donnas here."


© 2006 The Washington Post Company


And this note from Doc Bakken dated 2 Feb 2006 courtesy of Marta Heffner:


Marta and all you guys,  Thanks for the general announcement.  Of course we are pretty proud of him.  I talked to Matt Howard (now the Neurosurgery Department Chair) and they are also quite impressed.  If you would like to see additional info and view the article that triggered much of the media blitz on Hans go to (link to the above Washington Post article). We are all pretty well here in Iowa. Kathy comes home from the hospital tomorrow.  She just had her knee replaced. We both got new hips last year. Does that mean we are getting old, or what?  Sorry I missed the last reunion. Hope this finds you well.

Dave Bakken




Brought Together For Over 30 Years


by Billy Bob and/or Leo, who knows?


May 21, 2005 brought the Overends and Detes together again.  The first time was in 1971 in VP-17.


In the above picture you will see in the center, Andrew Dete and Mary Overend after graduation ceremonies at Marist School in Atlanta.  Andrew and Mary were born within a couple of weeks of each other.  Marta Heffner came to visit Atlanta right after they were born and both kids were in the baby bed together while the parents partied.  We ate up the food that had been delivered by friends to the Overends.  Like all VP-17 reunions, big and small, it turned into quite a party.


In the picture from left to right you see Bill and Anna Overend, Barbara Overend (a 3rd year Medical Doctor gona be at Emory University), Mary Overend (a rising freshman at the University of Tennessee), Andrew Dete (rising freshman at Dartmouth), Sally Dete, Elizabeth (gorgeous and soon to be Mrs. Brendan Dete), Brendan Dete (just graduated from Davidson College), and Leo Dete. 


John and Susan Carter’s oldest daughter, Kate, just graduated the weekend before at Davidson College with Brendan so there was a mini VP-17 reunion there.  Carter was purported to be up to some of his old antics.


Just a quick brag on behalf of the Dete boys.  Both were great football players at Marist and got scholarships to play ball in college.  Andrew was “Mr. Defense” at Marist.  He was a starter his sophomore year.  His name was quoted so many times over the PA, you would have thought every sack was his.  During his tenure, Marist won the state championship.


The Overend girls, as you might suspect, were leaders in the Music Department.  Mary’s claim to fame was performing with the select group (16) called the Marist Singers, a jazz group, during her high school years.



April 24 2005 e-mail from Pamela Whatley, responding to messages from Gerry Spaulding and Chuck Collett sent to the Whatleys (in the blind) in September 2004 -- just after Hurricane Ivan:

Dear Chuck & Gerry,


Don't know if I responded to your messages! 


Glad to hear that you had minimal damage--compared to lots, including us.  It is all gone-- house, furniture, cat, even the cabinets.  We found an end table in the woods just before Xmas, that is the only furniture we have left.  Also lost our shed, James' work shop and my stained glass studio.  We are finding bits and pieces in the yard.  It's amazing the variety of things you find--and where you find them!!  All are considerably smaller than a bread box!!


We are RV- and house-hunting--gonna  spend the next few years tooling around in our RV and visiting England and Ireland. 


We appreciate your thoughts and prayers, as we are still learning to cope with our loss.


Take care, Fondly, Pamela 



Dec 15, 2004 e-mail from Gary Davidson:

Eva and I just returned from Hawaii. I worked 19 days at Pearl Harbor while Eva visited family. We drove around MCAS Kaneohe, saw the P-3s strung out on the flight line with one in the barn.


Drove around the previous NAS Barbers Point. Worse than a year ago. Grass is two feet tall between the cracks at the P-3 hangar area.


HOT ONE: We drove out to Iroquois Point, approached a new guard house at the entrance and we were denied entrance unless we were on the "list" to visit the people at the specified address. The homes have been sold to the civilians!!!


Another HOT ONE: You might want to put on website that when our retired VP-17r's travel to Hawaii (Oahu) an excellent place to stay is the NEW Navy Lodge on Ford Island. 





Trader Jon's Closes

  Sad news in the Pensacola Mullet Wrapper this evening (Nov 6 2003):  Seems the new owners of Trader Jon's are tossing in the towel and closing the world's most famous watering hole this week.  The doors are to close Sunday AM when the final customer vacates after enjoying the Blue's Homecoming Airshow.  This proves, once again, that nothing lasts forever.  Join me in a toast to Trader showing appreciation for all the "good times".  Gentlemen, throw a nickel on the grass........

 Best to all,

 Lee "Lurch" Reavis

Footnote: After Trader Jon died in Feb 2000, his funeral took place at the Pensacola NAS Memorial Chapel and he was buried at Barrancas National Cemetery. Afterward, a reception was held, where else? --- at Trader Jon's.


Request for assistance in finding a shipmate ( received 7/31/04)


      My name is Pete Van Brussel and I was in VP-4 from 78 to 84. I am looking for a Mark Lussier from about that time as an enlisted ground pounder in VP-17. A mutual friend of ours passed away this week from ALS and I would like to contact Mark to inform him of our friend's passing. Any assistance would be appreciated






Here's a "no shitter" from Gary  Davidson....

The P-3 Flight Engineer

He was a ragged looking old man who shuffled into the bar that afternoon. Stinking of whiskey and cigarettes, his hands shook as he took the "Piano Player Wanted" sign from the window and gave it to the barkeeper. "I'd like to apply for the job," he said.

The barkeeper wasn't too sure about this doubtful looking old guy, but it had been a while since he had a piano player and business was falling off.

"What do you do?" he asked.

"I used to be a P-3 Flight Engineer," was the answer. Now, really unsure, but, the barkeeper decided to give him a try...he really needed more business. "The piano is over there...give it a go.”

The old man staggered his way over to the piano and several patrons snickered. But, by the time he was into the third bar of music, every voice was silenced. What followed was a rhapsody of sound and music unlike anyone had ever heard in the bar before. When he finished, there wasn't a dry eye in the place.

The barkeeper bought the old guy a beer and said that he sounded really, really good. "What do you call that tune?" he asked.

"It's called Drop Your Panties, Baby, We're Gonna Rock & Roll Tonight," said the old FE as he took a long pull from the beer. "I got another one," ...and he began to play again. What followed was a knee-slappin' hand-clappin bit of ragtime that had the place jumping.

People were coming in from the streets to hear this guy play. After he finished, the FE acknowledged the applause and told the crowd that last song was called "Big Boobs Make My Prop Spin." He then excused himself as he lurched off to the men 's room.

After thinking a bit, the barkeeper decided to hire the guy, no matter how bad he looked, or what ever he called his songs. When the guy came out of the men's room, the barkeeper went over to tell him that he had the job, but noticed the old FE's fly was undone and his member was hanging out. He said "The job is yours but first I got to ask, do you know your fly is undone and your dick is hanging out?"

"Do I know it?" the FE replied, "Hell, I wrote it !!!



Memory Lane

A neat piece of prose passed along by Dan Straus. Author unknown.

Even if you're not a P3 driver, this will be familiar...

     For all you old VP pilots out there, how long has it been since we were all young together? Strangers becoming more like brothers than friends. Sharing things that most will never know, building bonds that are stronger than blood.

     Rolling down the runway into a formless black night, when land and sky are one. Only the gages point to altitude and life. Or into a hot, still day, dangerously over safe single-engine weight, and lift seems but a theory. Straining your grommet, willing the tired bird to climb. Hours strapped in those hard seats, waiting for those delicious (?) steak dinners to be passed up from the after station, seemingly alone in the universe except for eleven other daring airmen. Sweating the minimums at destination (can sweat replace fuel?) GCA through the muck, bathed in St. Elmo's ghostly glow. On the gauges, occasional glances outside, searching for faint lights and hopefully a decent runway. Gear down, flaps down, whoa Nellie! Down at last, praying that you didn't get another tail skag, slam into reverse, YES!!! And who can forget those dreaded post-flight intel briefings, and paperwork that wouldn't quit. Finally either off to the O-Club or to the sack. And joys that never grow old: On top of sun-blessed clouds, little less than gods. Or high on a clear night, a billion stars humbling the soul. The low-level rush, hills grabbing for your guts, firing off the rockets, dropping sonobuoys and once in a while actually hearing something lurking down under the sea. Happy hours at the club. Unplanned weekend parties. Married couples feeding bachelor J.O.s. Off to WestPac. Memories of Naha and Kadena and the Friday night Habu/Mongoose fights. Singing "Rolling down the runway, headed for a ditch, I looked down in the cockpit, my god, I'm in high pitch. I pulled back on the yoke, rose up in the air, Glory Glory Hallelujah, how did I get there." Sangley Point and San Miguel, Hong Kong suits, floating restaurants, Tiger Balm Gardens and T.Y.Lee. Fishing in Kodiak. Rebuilding the hunting lodge. Landing in Anchorage at midnight in broad daylight. And who can ever forget the homeward bound flights, the first strains of Hawaiian music, and J. Aku Head Pupule. Formation fly-over Barbers Point, and the waiting wives, kids, and band. Life on the edge brings soaring highs but also crushing lows. Friends, so full of life, can they really be gone? Empty BOQ rooms bring a sad truth: fatherless kids, widows, young men who will never grow old. Knowing that death was right around the corner but convinced that it would never be you. Practicing for war until the real thing came along. Then, the wrong war in the wrong place, fought the wrong way. Too many giving their all for so little good. Does anyone remember but those of us who loved them? The wall may be black, but the names are golden. Now, those who remain come together in joy, the memories and the bonds forever strong.
      And, for a moment, we are all young together again!


From Bill O'Brien:

Like Neil Simon wrote at the end of Biloxi Blues, "I love those days so much for the most selfish reason of all...because we were young."



Return to VP-17


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Short Stories



"The Doolittle Raid: How America Responded to the Sneak Attack on Pearl Harbor"

The Mission That Saved Guadalcanal

"Enigmatic Man"

 "Ticket to Stalag Luft III"

DECREE Chapter 1


"Inaugural Ball"
"Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges"
"Coffee at the White House"

"Toss Up" "Waddlethromp" "Zero-g"

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