VAP-61 HEAVY PHOTOGRAPHIC SQUADRON

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Subject:   Townsville @ War
Date:           Thu, 28 Oct 1999 23:30:41 -0400
From:          "Tom" <rivett@gisco.net>

Hi,

I have been searching for some time for info on the Townsville area. If this is still an active e-mail address, would you consider answering some questions for me? I am in northern NY, USA and was at the Garbutt RAAF base in the 60's with a Naval Air Force detachment (VAP-61, a Heavy Photo squadron).

Regards,

Tom Rivet

 

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Subject:   Townsville @ War
Date:           Sat, 30 Oct 1999 11:15:16 -0400
From:          "Tom" <rivett@gisco.net>

Gidday Peter!

Thanks for the response; I appreciate it. I guess as we grow older, our brains tend to return to the "good old days" whether they were or not :-), and my time in OZ was defintiely some of the good, nay, great, days. I've kept touch with some of my old military buddies over the years, but never successfully found anyone that was at Garbutt. If you were around there in the 60's, that's great.

We were a Heavy Photoron squadron (photographic - film and infra-red equipment installed in the bomb bays) and we did some mapping of the Great Barrier Reef while we were there. Our aircraft were called A-3 Skywarrior (bombers), RA-3B to be precise, otherwise known as "Whales", the largest and heaviest aircraft that could land aboard carriers. "A3-D" was also affectionately known as "All 3 Dead" since there were no accomocations for parachutes. You can get a look at them if you wish at http://129.130.5.101/, the A-3 Skywarrior web site hosted by Al Rankin. Lots of pictures and stories there. I only flew occasionally in the third seat (ECM), and never got to fly while we were in Australia except for one short shake-down, so I never got to see the reef or ocean from the air except on arrival and departure in C-130 Hercules. But it was still a great experience and I still have a strong respect and love for the people in Australia.

I'm retired these days (health) so I have more time on my hands and have been working to make contacts around the world on the off chance I might make some good acquaintances or even find an old buddy. I'll tell you, the RAAF barracks were not only nicer than our standard Navy barracks, but after having spent three consecutive tours in the Tonkin Gulf on carriers, those barracks were heaven! I've been touring the Townsville web pages and boy, it sure looks different now than it did then! Maybe it was, but I don't recall it being as much of a tourist attraction when I was there, except for the reef and those areas, of course.

Besides some wonderful girls at the local pubs, I made two great friends while I was there, and the highlight for me was the trip to Magnetic Island (is that name right?) they took us on.

I won't bore you further for now, but if you'd like to chat off and on, I'd enjoy finding out a little about what it's like there now and if you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them, too.  Reminiscing mandatory <G> as I bet we both have some "war" stories (not battle, I don't dwell on the war zones, OK?).

Regards, or should I say Cheers,

Tom Rivet

 

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This page first produced 28 November 1999

This page last updated 05 September 2015