Squadron Scrapbook
Ops Summaries and Prop Wash

Page Five

The following articles were contributed by former members of VR-24. Anyone who has photos, stories, and material they wish to share is encouraged to send them to Dick Prather, editor of the VR-24 website.

Pickup and Delivery

Gene Guidotte relates another story illustrating the duty of the sailors flying as aircrew in VR-24 aircraft. This particular article also hints at what can best described as the whimsical nature of some flights. Such flights added character to the air crew experience and, without a doubt, reduced the boredom that inevitably crept into the routine of repetitive missions.

In looking back through my logbook, I happened upon a strange name listed as pilot for flights flown on 29 and 30 August, 1955. The entry showed that we flew TBM 181 to Rome and back on the 29th, and TBM 633 to Rome and back on the 30th.

During that period (early to mid-50s), VR-24 Det Naples operated daily flights to Rome. The flights departed Naples at 1100 hours, and routinely took .8 hrs flight time each way. We carried both courier and regular mail in each direction. Passengers, mostly GIs on leave, and an occasional civil service civilian also rode on the flights.

On the morning of the 29th, I preflighted TBM 181 and taxied it to the terminal. A Lieutenant came out of NAS Ops carrying a paper wrapped bundle. He announced that he was flying the mission and I should stow the package in the aft compartment, commonly referred to as "the bilge". I had never seen him before but I had been in FASRON 77 before coming to VR24 and there we had everybody, even Army pilots, flying the TBMs just to get their time in.

After an uneventful flight to Ciampino Aeroporto (Rome), the pilot retrieved the package and said we would be on the ground for two hours. Two hours later we were on our way home. The next day I was again scheduled for the "Rome run." Once again "the stranger" was the pilot, this time without the paper wrapped package. After two hours on the ground in Rome, he returned with the paper wrapped bundle and a fancy paper bag. As I stowed the bundle in the bilge, he said, "It's the Admirals birthday and I bought him this hat. Do you think he will like it?"

We had a very famous Admiral who was CINC South at that time. He had a reputation for being a crusty old hard ass. It seems that this stranger was the Admiralís aide. I told the Lieutenant that the hat, which was something that a Swiss mountain climber might wear, complete with pheasant feather, would surely make the Admiral very happy. In reality, I thought that the Lieutenant would soon be standing deck watch on a submarine.

Since he had started the conversation, I asked the Lieutenant what was in the paper-wrapped bundle. He said, with a straight face, that it contained the Admiral's shirts. It seems that the Admiral had found a special laundry in Rome that knew exactly the right amount of starch to put into his shirts.

I never saw the Lieutenant again. I don't know if it was because the Admiral didn't like his birthday present or if he found a better laundry.

VIP Flight

The squadron and its detachments routinely provided transportation for high-ranking naval officers. It was not all that often, however, that the Naples Det was called upon to demonstrate the COD capability of the TBM to individuals of Ambassadorial rank.

The photo below was contributed by Gene Guidotte. It was printed in the English language edition of the Daily American newspaper distributed in Rome, Saturday, December 3, 1955. The photo also appeared on the cover of Parade and People's Magazine. It shows the U.S.Ambassador to Italy, Clare Boothe Luce, being assisted with her parachute harness by LCDR Robert J. Renard and ADR1 Joseph C Picard prior to a flight in a VR-24 Det TBM. The initial plan was to deliver the Ambassador to the USS Lake Champlain, which was steaming in the Mediterranean off the coast of Italy. However, the weather did not cooperate.

Contrary to the photo's caption statement, they knew that the weather was bad before takeoff. But Madam Ambassador said,"Let's go flying anyway." The TBM crew reported that she was a very nice person.

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