The VP-1 P-3 Orion Pioneers consists of people who were a part of Patrol Squadron ONE between the beginning of 1969 to the end of 1974. VP-1 transitioned to the P-3B Orion at NAS Whidbey Island in 1969 hence the name “VP-1 P-3 Orion Pioneers”, commonly referred to as “VP-1 POPS”. The purpose of the VP-1 P-3 Orion Pioneers organization is to maintain contact amongst people who served with the squadron during those times and to facilitate periodic reunions of squadron mates from that era.
The faint beginnings of the VP-1 P-3 Orion Pioneers group arose during the summer of 1996. Paul 'Shark' Morasch (a VP-1 “AW”), and his wife Carolyn, were visiting with Rich and Ruth Hunt (another VP-1 "AW") at the Hunt home in Bellingham, WA. They and the Hunts knew that there were many guys residing in the Pacific Northwest area that had been with VP-1 during the 1969 transition to P-3s, and the ensuing early Orion years. After extensive research and many phone calls a bunch of the old crew was gathered together for a Saturday cookout at Hunt Acres just outside Bellingham, WA.
At this gathering it was decided to expand the search for VP-1 squadronmates of the 1969 through 1974 era for a bigger get-together the following summer. By the time of the July 1997 reunion at Bellingham over 350 ex-squadronmates (officer and enlisted) had been located. Carolyn Morasch, "Shark's" wife, located a large portion of these ex-squadronmates by searching on the internet, and utilizing e-mail and the telephone for personal contact.
Over 100 people attended the summer '97 reunion at Hunt's Acres. People came from all over the country. Three of our C.O.'s from those by-gone days attended: 'Tex' Coleman; Bill Johnson; and Russ Fredrick. "Goose" Gesling's widow, Pat, also was there. (Ex-C.O.'s Burt Howard and Cliff Freund sent regards, but were unable to attend). 1974 X.O. Jim Luper, was located a short time later and promptly joined the organization.
All the wise heads at that '97 reunion concurred that we should hold future reunions periodically; at the time every three years sounded right to all concerned. So, planning for a year 2000 reunion was commenced. The VP-1 P-3 Orion Pioneers group was officially organized in late 1997 after that very successful initial reunion. The first membership dues were collected, which paid for years 1998 and 1999.
The second great VP-1 P-3 Orion Pioneers' all-hands gathering was held at Pensacola in May of 2000. Over 150 people attended this Y2K Reunion which was a resounding success. All living VP-1 C. O.’s of the 1969-74 era except one attended this gala. A fine time was had by all, along the shores of Pensacola Bay. Retired AMSC "Willie" Williams, a resident of Pensacola, hosted this reunion. He did a great job!
At the Pensacola gathering it was decided that our next reunion would be held in the late summer of 2003 at Memphis. AMCS Mike "Grumpy" Taylor volunteered for, and was appointed as chairman for this next get-together. The Memphis Muster was held at the Naval Support Activity, Mid-South, in September of 2003. NSA Mid-South is the old NATTC Memphis located at Millington, TN, about 20 miles north of downtown Memphis. This time 180+ from the VP-1 family mustered-up. Four of the squadron’s previous Commanding Officers and five of its previous Master Chiefs were there, and not a cane among them. Lots of smiles, hugs, and even some tears were seen. Mike Taylor and his group of VP-1 POPs volunteers were accorded a hearty round of applause for an outstanding job.
At the 2003 business meeting that closed-out the Memphis Muster, the assembled membership voted to hold VP-1 POPs reunions every two years vice three years. And folks chose to have their next VP-1 POPs reunion at Brunswick, ME. Greg Pierce and Quen Henderson volunteered to co-host this Maine Event during the summer of 2005. So, until further notice VP-1 P-3 Orion Pioneers’ reunions will be held each odd numbered year. Also, a slate of officers was presented to and approved by the membership: Bill Johnson as President, Louis Tafoya as Vice President, Greg Pierce as Secretary and Quentin Henderson as Treasurer. The President appointed Paul “Shark” Morasch as Newsletter Editor and Ed McLaughlin as Chaplain. K. B. Sherman was subsequently appointed as Membership Chairman and Internet Information Coordinator/Webmaster.
Final Roll Call
Never to be forgotten, our shipmates who now muster with the Celestial Chapter of VP-1 POPS: