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“The World Famous Blue Sharks” (1943-1993) PATRON SIX“
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PAO Photo shoot

Back in 1970, VP-6 was preparing for deployment to Naha Okinawa. PATWING TWO wanted PAO pics for the pre-deployment brief. Two aircraft were launched. The skipper wanted a nice pic over Diamond Head, and some fill in pics over Barbers Point and air to air.  While we were  being photographed in PC1, my pilot and flight engineer were strongly encouraging me to press up the ham. I was reluctant at first, but the pilot, (who was the admin officer), assured me that the pics would never see the light of day. OOPS!

    As we flew in formation my ham managed to move from the forward observer window to the aft observer window, just to be sure I was on candid camera.

I found out the pics were developed and went to see the squadron photog to make sure the pics were gone. Not only was he telling me he thought I should get in trouble, but the pics had already been sent to the CO. I asked the Admin Officer to get the "bad" pics back, but alas he had allowed them to go to the Skipper. He assured me, they wouldn't be used, because we were supposed to use the ones over Diamond Head, so ham pics were only included to have more pics to show the XO.

   Several weeks later we had the PAO Briefing for PATWING TWO, squadron members, and families. I was sitting three rows behind the dignitaries as our PAO officer presented the briefing.  The pictured popped up. I could plainly see the uncured ham in the forward observer window, it looked huge......I knew I was in a world of poo poo! Then I heard the Admiral say to the XO, It is a great PAO pic, one of the best I've seen. Too bad there's a "face" in the window. Please send me pics for my walls asap. Well we were into the early part of the deployment when the XO decided to give 8x10 pics to re-enlistees. The first one as I recall, went to an AO3. He was in maintenance control telling the Chief on duty what he had discovered in his pic. I was in the aircrew office, and I heard the whole thing.


   To make things right they gave out new pics. Well, the 'HAM" WAS IN THE AFT WINDOW!  It WAS DISCOVERED TOO.

The XO was very unhappy as he had to destroy over 100 large blowups of the PAO pics. A crew had flown to Japan to present one of the pics to the Japanese Air Marshal one. One was sent to the XO's sister who put it up in her 5th grade classroom. And of course the ones sent to PATWING TWO, and local Commander.

     16X22" prints made the Ham look very large. I thought about procuring one from the XO's office, but the duty officer had seen me near there, so I decided not to get one. My pilot was in tears after leaving the XO's ass chewing. He said the XO told him to pay the squadron back for the printing costs. He asked me to help him pay, but I scoffed at that notion as it was he whom put me up to it. Well the shoe never dropped on me, except my behavior was dropped on my eval.

     The XO and I met in my trainer class in the 14B44 at FASOTRAGRUPAC DET MOFFETT. He was now the CO of VP-31. When the DET OINC introduced the VP-31 Skipper to me, he said he knew me very well, and asked me if I was still taking candids? I assured him I wasn't any more as I was well exposed already. That stunt with the PAO pics hurt my pilots career. For that I am very sorry. The XO became an Admiral. I eventually made CPO very late in my career.


       My copilot that fateful day gave me his picture of the ham, while he was refresher training at VP-30 in 1991. Thank you Captain. Imagine my surprise when I saw the web site, and was perusing through it when I saw a photo flash. I contacted the web page editor and asked him to email the pic to me. Thank you. I'm very happy my ham pics never exposed the roots shoots and leaves. Whew! I intentionally left out all the names for obvious reasons. I was in PATRON SIX from 06 AUG 69 to JUL 75...Was involuntarily extended twice. I had an overall good time in VP-6. Transitioned to helos in 1977, and did numerous dets and 4 cruises on various aircraft carriers.

I retired in 1992 at FASO DT JAX, Fl.


       AWC Paul R. Nicolay USN RET.