Reconnaissance

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Photo

SY Mendenhall Album (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE)

Navy

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VAP-61   VAP-62   VJ-61   VJ-62

Jim--
This will be the 1st of 3 messages. I will attach some photo's of the AJ Dad had kept. 
I do remember him telling me the carrier pictures were a "demo" to show they had the capability if ever needed. He said the Capt was in a real hurry to get rid of them as the wings would not fold and they took up a lot of deck space.
Now, the other pictures are another story indeed. Yes, that's a hole in the wing. Dad flew this mission, a photo run over Indonesia in March, 1958. Seems there was a little rebellion going on and the CIA needed some pics. So, VAP-61 got the call. As he tells it, they made the photo run and saw a little flak but Dad didn't have much respect for AAA based on his Hellcat days in WWII. Not wanting to risk a request for a 2nd flight if some of the pics weren't good, he decided to make a 2nd run. Apparently, the AAA was radar guided and they got a lock the second time and you can see the result. Of course, the CIA had neglected to mention any of this. The good news is they made it to the PI and landed on a runway under construction at Davao.
As is often the case, when something on a mission like this goes wrong, they're not sure whether to pat you on the back or kick you in the rear. As I understand it, a letter of reprimand sent up to CINCPAC ended up coming back as a commendation. When I got my commission and headed off to the USAF for UPT, Dad told me whatever I did, do not allow yourself to get mixed up with the CIA.