VPNAVY VP-5 Mercury Capsule Recovery
VPNAVY Address

HistoryVP-5 HistoryHistory

Circa 1953 - 2003

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...COMMAND HISTORY..." http://www.nasjax.navy.mil/vp5/history.htm [04JUL2005]

Through almost seven decades, the command now recognized as VP-5 has served the cause of freedom. From ocean to ocean the Sailors and aviators who have comprised this squadron's roll call have helped build a record of Maritime Patrol Aviation (MPA) warfighting excellence and extraordinary professional achievement and service.

Commissioned in 1937 and initially designated as VP-17, the Navy's second oldest VP squadron flew and maintained the PM-1. In part because the squadron operated predominately out of Alaska and other Pacific Northwest sites, the first squadron patch depicted a seal balancing a bomb on its nose. In 1938, VP-17 transitioned to the new PBY-2 and continued to operate primarily in northern patrol zones. VP-17 changed designation to VP-42 in 1939 and two years later transitioned to the newer PBY-5. In 1942, the squadron again accepted a new aircraft, the amphibious-capable PBY-5A.

During World War II, the squadron directly contributed to some of the earliest Allied victories in the Pacific theater. In February 1943, the Navy redesignated VP-42 as Bombing Squadron (VB) ONE THIRTY FIVE at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. Nicknamed the "Blind Fox" squadron reflecting the squadron's method of flying "blind" through heavy weather, the squadron altered the patch to depict a fox riding a flying gas tank. In this classic patch, the blindfolded fox carried a bomb underneath one arm and with the opposite hand held a cane to assist in navigating through the clouds. This steely airmanship underpinned the squadron's service in the "Kiska Blitz", wherein Blind Foxes joined sister squadrons in persistent bombing of Kiska Harbor in advance of an anticipated August 1943 amphibious assault of Kiska Island in the Aleutians. Undeterred by enemy fire and extreme weather, squadron aviators typically approached the target area shrouded in clouds, executed a diving descent to release ordnance below the cloud deck, then raced back above the layer to escape ground fire. Operating from the Aleutian Island Amchitka, VB-135 flew 160 missions against the enemy, helping to hasten the Japanese abandonment of the island and obviating the need for a costly amphibious assault. In 1944, the squadron shifted to Attu Island to support photo-reconnaissance efforts aimed at unveiling Japanese activity in the Kurile Islands.

Following the war's end, the squadron again received a new Lockheed aircraft, the PV-2 Harpoon. Peacetime brought significant force structure changes and in 1945, the Navy Department moved the squadron to Edenton, North Carolina, and then to Quonset Point, Rhode Island. Redesignated as VB-135 and then to Medium Patrol Squadron FIVE, the Blind Foxes relocated again in January 1947 to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, under operational control of Commander, Fleet Air Wing ELEVEN.

In 1948, the squadron took inventory of its first Lockheed P2V Neptune, an aircraft equipped with magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment capable of detecting large, magnetic objects underwater. The technology to detect submerged submarines through non-acoustic means facilitated a major capability leap in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and manifested itself not only in squadron operations but also in the evolution of the squadron name and patch. Designated as VP-5 in December 1948, the squadron became known as the 'Mad Foxes" and changed the patch to depict a fox casually preparing to strike a submarine with a sledgehammer.

The Mad Foxes moved to NAS Jacksonville, Florida in December 1949, deploying regularly to NAS Bermuda, NAS Sigonella, Sicily, NS Rota, Spain, NAF Lajes, Azores, Portugal, NS Roosevelt Roads, PR, NAS Keflavik, Iceland, NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, and the Philippines. Continuing a well established record of long range maritime warfighting and surveillance excellence, the Mad Foxes excelled in Cold War ASW and anti-surface warfare (ASUW) encounters with Soviet and Soviet-aligned forces. Additionally, the Mad Foxes continued to answer the nation's call to service whenever it came. VP-5 aided the post-mission, seaborne recovery of one of America's first astronauts, Commander Alan Shepard, Jr., on 5 May 1961. Later in the year, VP-5 contributed to Captain Virgil Grissom's project Mercury post-mission recovery. The cost of freedom became readily apparent to Mad Foxes everywhere when the squadron endured a tremendous setback the following year. On January 12th, 1962, squadron Executive Officer CDR Norbert Kozak launched in LA-9 from Keflavik for an ice patrol mission along the Greenland coast. In an apparent controlled flight into terrain episode, the aircraft crashed into the upslope of the Kronborg Glacier near the Denmark Strait, killing all twelve men aboard. Full wreckage recovery has never been accomplished and remains a priority for many active duty and retired MPA sailors. More LA-9 recovery effort information is available at In Memorial for lost friends...12JAN62.

In October 1962, VP-5 became one of the first and most critical units supporting President John F. Kennedy's ordered quarantine of Cuba. Staging patrols from NAS Jacksonville, Florida, NS Roosevelt Roads, PR, and NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Mad Fox crews encountered, photographed, and tracked the lead Soviet ship inbound to Cuba in advance of its contact with USN surface forces. Once again, MPA's long legs and stalwart crews validated their value to the nation.

In June 1966, VP-5 transitioned to the Lockheed P-3A Orion and in the following years consistently succeeded in prosecuting front-line Soviet submarines in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Squadron crews also participated in Yankee Station patrols off of Vietnam. Duties included anti-filtration and open ocean surveillance flights, and night radar coverage of the Gulf of Tonkin in defense of USN aircraft carriers.

In early 1974, VP-5 transitioned to the P-3C Orion and began writing the next chapter in operational excellence with further Cold War triumphs over Soviet targets in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Mad Fox crews continued to be first on-scene for some of the period's most notable maritime incidents. In February 1986, a VP-5 crew launched following the Challenger disaster and located the space shuttle nose cone to help direct recovery vessels to the site. During August of the same year, another VP-5 crew spotted a disabled Soviet Yankee class submarine. The Mad Foxes remained on-top the stricken submarine for the final hours it remained afloat and provided critical information to the chain of command during an episode with clear national security implications.

Following the U.S. victory in the Cold War and subsequent dismantling of the Soviet Union, MPA continued to maintain core ASW competencies while serving the nation in other warfare areas. Flying the Orion Update III, the Mad Foxes deployed in early 1991 to Rota, Spain with extended detachments to Souda Bay in direct support of Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM.

In August 1995, VP-5 became the first squadron to cover the entire Atlantic Ocean operational MPA requirement alone. "Tri-sited" between Keflavik, Puerto Rico, and Panama, VP-5 helped usher in an era of multiple detachments within a single deployment. In February 1997, the squadron repeated the deployment, maintaining high operational tempo in support of Keflavik-based ASW and NATO interoperability flights and Caribbean drug interdiction flights. Amassing over 6,000 flight hours through the six-month deployment, VP-5 contributed to a SOUTHCOM year-long total interdiction effort valued at over one billion dollars.

In 1998, VP-5 became the first East Coast deployer with the P-3C Aircraft Improvement Program (AIP) modification. Originally designated as the ASUW Improvement Program modification, the new warfighting suite enabled MPA fliers to improve their already formidable contributions to national security objectives during the Balkans wars. The Mad Foxes excelled in missions over Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of Operation DELIBERATE FORGE and over Kosovo in Operation EAGLE EYE, bringing to the theater the first long-legs, all-weather, day or night, overland reconnaissance sensor to shooter platform.

Deployed to Sigonella in August 2001, VP-5 relocated multiple crews and aircraft to Souda Bay, Crete following the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D. C. Following the commencement of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, the Mad Foxes provided the backbone of a sweeping theater-wide Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance operation with 1,100 sorties encompassing 6,600 mishap-free flight hours. Additionally, the squadron supported continued efforts to maintain peace and stability in the Balkans with flawless performances in Operations DELIBERATE FORGE and JOINT GUARDIAN.

In the eve of the Iraq War, Mad Foxes once again packed their seabags for deployment and in the months that followed proved their resilience and flexibility. In a deployment unprecedented in its scope of detached operations, the Mad Foxes executed 5,800 flight hours while operating from as many as eight sites concurrently. VP-5 succeeded across a host of missions, including Pacific and Caribbean counter-drug operations, sensitive SOUTHCOM overland reconnaissance operations, Atlantic and Mediterranean armed escort missions, and critical surface surveillance missions in the Red Sea during U.S. combat operations against Iraq. The Navy's premier ASW and maritime surveillance crews also flexed to an entirely different requirement, braving known high-threat areas overland Iraq to provide critical real-time intelligence to U.S. forces engaged with the enemy.

With over 144,000 mishap-free flight hours in twenty-five years, the Mad Foxes have served the nation and clearly distinguished themselves in battle efficiency and combat readiness. VP-5 continues training to core maritime warfighting expertise while simultaneously readying themselves to answer the nation's call in the Global War on Terrorism. Standing on the shoulders of the Naval Aviation giants that preceded them, Mad Foxes recognize that mission details may change, but the imperatives of DUTY and SERVICE TO NATION remain constant.

Command awards include:

Battle "E": 1951, 1952, 1958, 1975, 1976, 1992, 1998, and 2001

COMLANTFLT Retention Excellence Award: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

"VP-5 History Summary Page"

Selection Page

VPNAVY Copyrighted  1996 - 2012