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Circa 2005

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...'Pro's Nest' welcomes back members of VP-18 - By Ryan Crook, Special Contributor - Originally created Thursday, May 26, 2005 - JaxAirNews http://www.jaxairnews.com/stories/052605/mil_vp18reunion001.shtml..." [30MAY2005]

'Pro's Nest' welcomes back members of VP-18.
Members of VP-18, which decommissioned in 1968 paid a visit to VP-30 May 12 to spend reminiscing.
Photos by Ryan Crook
  The men of VP-18, brought together by circumstances in the world 55 years ago, were brought together once again May 12 at the NAS Jacksonville, Florida-based VP-30 ''Pro's Nest'' to regale old stories, talk of new ones and share a laugh the way they did those many years ago.

The visit began with a service at All Saints Chapel, where stories could be overheard from the men and their spouses. Some of them shared stories of friends and talked of old ports of call. Most however, talked about their favorite subject; planes, more specifically the P2V Neptune, the predecessor to the P-3C Orion.

After the service, the group was transported to the VP-30 auditorium where pilots and instructors from VP-30 explained the nuances of the plane and what its functions are. Following the briefing, the VP-18 veterans took a tour of a P-3 and asked questions about the plane and how it handles. Some laughed at the luxury offered to the pilots in the P-3C, such as touch screen instruments.

Two of those men, Ed Cuerno and Bill Chandler, have remained friends from more than half of a century. They went to college on the GI Bill and went on to have successful jobs after their service in VP-18. They have also met regularly for reunions. The last reunion was held here at NAS Jacksonville, Florida in 2000.

''I remember when Beach Boulevard opened from Southside Boulevard,'' Chandler recalled of Jacksonville in the 1950's. ''It was nothing but palmettos all the way to the beach.''

Bill Chandler, a member of the now decommissioned VP-18.
Photos by Ryan Crook
Both Cuerno and Chandler left the Navy at the ages of 22 and 21, respectively. Their journeys with VP-18 took them all over the world. During their first deployment in 1951 with the Sixth Fleet, their main task was submarine hunting. Most of the time, when not encountering Russian subs, they encountered Russian boats posing as fishing trawlers.

''Most trawlers had radio equipment,'' said Bill Funke, a member of VP-18. Both the men on the P2Vs and the trawlers listened to each other in an almost polite courtesy; each knowing the other was there.

After leaving the Navy, Cuerno studied accounting in college and went on to work for the United States Postal Service, from which he eventually retired. Chandler went onto receive a degree in business administration and went on to work for Ford Motor Company.

''The Navy was a stepping stone to the rest of my life,'' Cuerno said. By the age of 22, Cuerno had been all over the world and had seen and done things that most people could not do in a lifetime.

During the conclusion of the service, a roll call was held for those members of VP-18 no longer living. Members silently ap-proached the pulpit and called off a row of names. Each man's ear was at-tuned to the list, listening for old friends. Some held tissues and bowed heads when a certain name was called, silently remembering their old friends while taps played in the background.

Their visit to the Pro's Nest of VP-30 concluded with a luncheon at the NAS Jacksonville, Florida Officers' Club where the stories and laughs continued.

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