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VP-6 Memorial
VP-6 - In Memorium - VP-6

"Eternal Father Strong To Save"
The Navy Hymn
Sailor Aviators Version

Eternal Father, Strong to Save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid'st the mighty Ocean deep
Its' own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,
for those in peril on the sea.

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky.
Be with them always in the air,
In dark'ning storms or sunlight fair.
O, Hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air.

But when at length our course is run,
Our work for home and country done,
Of all the souls that flew and sailed,
Let not one life in thee be failed,
But hear from heaven our sailors cry,
And grant eternal life on high.

May all our departed shipmates rest in peace.

Eternal Father by the U.S. Navy Band's Sea Chanters (668 kbytes - WAV file)

Mishap Information

Provided by Randy Poplin rpoplin001@roadrunner.com [27APR98]

  • The Navy could not determine if there was any equipment failure that caused the accident.

  • The P-3 did not cartwheel through the water, but hit it with wings almost level (the pilot tried to recover, and rolled the plane almost level).

  • The proccess of the investigation went through many levels, with each adding their particular findings / view points. Some did not concure with all the assertations.

  • The crew was not to have flown this mission, but due to a last minute flight schedule change, they flew that night. They had flown the very same kind of mission the previous night.

  • The crew was an ALPHA crew, and had performed this kind of mission many times. All members were considered excellent operators in their respective rates.

  • The pilot was found to rely to heavily on his co-pilot and navigator in assisting him with scanning the appropriate warning systems.

  • There were three sets of eyes on the (or should have been) safety equipment, but all failed to see that the plane had been losing altitude.

  • The addition of a RAWS/APN 141 system would have greatly decreased the chances of the pilot flying the P-3 into the sea.

  • The review of the remains of the P-3 (very little), concluded that the plane plane broke into three pieces on impact. The tail section broke away, with the left wing and tactical station also being ripped away. The rest of the plane skipped over the ocean, disintergrating in flaming sheets of aviation fuel. The remains of the plane sank in water over 1600 meters deep.

  • At the time the P-3 arrived on location, they were to relieve crew 5 from tracking the U.S. Rock. Crew 5 was having trouble with dropping smoke and light on the last known location of the sub. The pilot of crew 5 advised crew 6 to retreat to a clear area until they marked the datum. After about 5 minutes, crew 6 relieved crew 5.

  • The Rock reported hearing crew 6 dropping PDC's and sonar, but 10 minutes into the exercise, nothing. After 1 hour of not hearing anything, the Rock decided that something was wrong, and surfaced to investigate. They reported they came apon a merchant ship searching for survivors, as it had witnessed the accident. The Rock called for Search and Rescue out of Okinawa, but did not get an immediate responce. They hailed the Airforce base at Okinawa, but again, no responce. They then attempted to contact crew 7 via UHF radio signals.

  • The Rock saw strobe lights that one of the survivors activated when they heard the sub moving towards them. All the survivors had burns on thier hands and faces from aviation fuel; The P-3 was close to being full of fuel when it ditched. The survivors indicated they used their hands to push away burning fuel when they surfaced (as taught in survival / Dilbert Dunker training). All the survivors were suffering from hypothermia to one degree or another. All had cuts and lacerations etc....

    /
  • The crew members were not wearing all the issued safety / survival equipment; The pencil flares issued did not operate properly, and the raft they were on was only 1/2 inflated, as it had been damaged when it auto inflated.

  • Crew 7 arrived to relieve crew 6; They received radio transmissions that indicated crew six had gone down. They dropped flares and used lights to assit in the search. When dawn came, they saw a debris area of about 1 1/2 mile. They then began to direct surface vessals which had responded to the Rocks calls for help.

  • My father was dropping PDC's and sonar at the time of the impact, and was not strapped in. The likelyhood he survived the inital impact is marginal. The forces of the impact were immense, and no one on board had any clue they were coming.

    Crew Roster
    Contributed by Randy Poplin rpoplin001@roadrunner.com [15JUL98]

    Cornet, Fredrick, LT., USN
    Born on 29 Dec 1943
    Hometown: Medford, Massachusetts
    Survived by: Wife: Ruth Ann, Daughter: Karen Mary

    Stoltz, Robert S., LT., USN
    Born on 25 July 1939
    Hometown: Ebensburg, Pennsylvania
    Survived by: Wife: Donna Lee, Daughter: Beth Ann, Sons: Robert Stanley and Scott Steven

    Norris, Roger A., ATR2, USN
    Born on 25 may 1945
    Hometown: Riverton, Wyoming
    Survived by: Wife: Marilyn Ann

    UPDATE "...I would really like to hear from anyone who knew my brother, especially those who flew with him and in paticular any of the survivors of crash April 5, 1968 (VP-6 Mishap). He was Roger A. Norris, Ser# 7944584, rank ATR2 Petty Officer 2nd Class. He was with the VP-6 Squadron out of NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii. I have been in denial all these years, thinking he might show up, like we used to do to each other, but today when I came across an old newspaper artical that said Roger Norris killed. I realized it was time to accept or at least face the fact he is gone. Any and all replys will be welcome. Thanks...Robert A.(Bob) Norris ncs@rmisp.com..." [13APR99]

    Leach, Bruce C., AMS2, USN
    Born on 03 October 1945
    Hometown: Lancaster, California
    Survived by: Mother: Betty Lou, Father: Otis Charles

    UPDATE "...My brother was flying with VP-6...William A. Leach staceynbill@msn.com..." [20NOV2006]

    McHale, Kenneth P., AX2, USN
    Born on: 06 February 1945
    Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
    Survived by: Mother: Ann, Father: John

    Poplin, Leroy (N), AO2, USN
    Born on: 11 November 1947
    Hometown: Maryville, Tennessee
    Survived by: Wife: Janice Arleen, Son: Randall Lee

    UPDATE "...Sir, I am looking for people who would have served with my father, AO1 Leroy Poplin. He was killed 05 April 1968, while flying a patrol mission approx. 200 miles east of Okinawa. I believe he flew with Patrol Squadron SIX, and his home base was NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii. I know there were 2 to 3 survivors from the accident (the Navy states in all documentation I can find, that the P3 collided with the water, but could never determine why.) I never got to know my father, as I was a little more than 2 years old when he was killed (I am now 31 years old). I do not have much information on how to track down the survivors, or anyone one who would have served with my father. I would greatly appreciate any help you can provide me. Sincerely, rpoplin001@roadrunner.com Randy Poplin..."

    UPDATE "...Randy located a very good friend of his father (a retired Master Chief) who served with his Dad until the day his father was lost. They plan on meeting soon...Randy has received several messages about his Dad (Ralph Deyo Rotor-Head@msn.com, Doug Russell drussell@pacbell.net, Peter Lindberg plindberg@surfnetusa.com, Art Cole ArthurC110@aol.com, Mike Henley mhenley@tminet.com, Joanna Clark mary.elizabeth@aegis.com and one of the survivor's)...Thanks! [15NOV97]

    Fitzpatrick, Robert W., AN, USN
    Born on: 13 July 1947
    Hometown: Ewa Beach, Hawaii
    Survived by: Mother: Mary Elizabeth, Father: Robert Potter

    Hart, Paul E., AN, USN
    Born on: 28 June 1948
    Hometown: Paragon, Indiana
    Survived by: Mother: Mamie, Father: Fred

    UPDATE "...I was stationed there at NAF NAF Kadena, Okinawa, Japan working in the Avionics Shop. The A/C did have a AN/APN-141 radar altimeter system installed, but at the time of the mission, it was non functional. Best Regards..." Contributed by James B. james.xyz@live.com [17JAN2012]

    UPDATE "...My brother was flying with VP-6. If you look at the information from the mishap report you will find an itemized list of facts from his findings regarding the crash on April 4 1968. LCDR Dan Jones states that the "Engineer" was the "weakest link" of the crew, also there "were 3 sets of eyes, or should have been reading instruments in the cockpit, and no one noticed the A/C was losing altitude." My brother was the Engineer and I am offended with this statement. I have done a lot of research about this, and spoke to a number of former VP-6 members who knew and flew with my brother and also flew with LCDR Dan Jones. They do not have a very high opinion of LCDR Jones, and they were also unhappy with the comment about my brother...Respectfully William A. Leach staceynbill@msn.com..." [20NOV2006]

    UPDATE "...I was in VP-6 on Crew 6. I was on the deployment to NAF Naha, Okinawa, Japan and was one of the survivors of the crash in April of 68' (In Memorial for lost friends "...April 5th, 1968..."). I just wanted to thank everyone who has responded to me so far. I just talked to Jim Cole last night and found out I flew with him on various occasions. I stumbled upon this site by accident a few months ago, what luck! A Merry Christmas to you all!..." [24DEC2000]

    UPDATE "...I was one of the survivors of the 1968 crash in Okinowa (SEE: In Memorial for lost friends "...April 5th, 1968..."). I would like to hear from any of the remaining crew, or any other members of VP-6 during that time...Mark Pavlow Pavlow@execpc.com..." [04DEC2000]

    UPDATE "...I would really like to hear from anyone who knew my brother, especially those who flew with him and in paticular any of the survivors of crash April 5, 1968 (VP-6 Mishap). He was Roger A. Norris, Ser# 7944584, rank ATR2 Petty Officer 2nd Class. He was with the VP-6 Squadron out of NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii. I have been in denial all these years, thinking he might show up, like we used to do to each other, but today when I came across an old newspaper artical that said Roger Norris killed. I realized it was time to accept or at least face the fact he is gone. Any and all replys will be welcome. Thanks...Robert A.(Bob) Norris ncs@rmisp.com..." [13APR99]

    UPDATE "...Randy located a very good friend of his father (a retired Master Chief) who served with his Dad until the day his father was lost. They plan on meeting soon...Randy has received several messages about his Dad (Ralph Deyo Rotor-Head@msn.com, Doug Russell drussell@pacbell.net, Peter Lindberg plindberg@surfnetusa.com, Art Cole ArthurC110@aol.com, Mike Henley mhenley@tminet.com, Joanna Clark mary.elizabeth@aegis.com and one of the survivor's)...Thanks!..." [15NOV97]

    UPDATE "...Sir, I am looking for people who would have served with my father, AO1 Leroy Poplin. He was killed 05 April 1968, while flying a patrol mission approx. 200 miles east of Okinawa. I believe he flew with Patrol Squadron SIX, and his home base was NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii. I know there were 2 to 3 survivors from the accident (the Navy states in all documentation I can find, that the P3 collided with the water, but could never determine why.) I never got to know my father, as I was a little more than 2 years old when he was killed (I am now 31 years old). I do not have much information on how to track down the survivors, or anyone one who would have served with my father. I would greatly appreciate any help you can provide me. Sincerely, rpoplin001@roadrunner.com..."

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