Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Elvis CAC 4 crew patch

I have yet to receive an answer from the U.S. Navy and its Patrol Squadron VP-45 regarding my "Elvis ... if he's out there we'll find him!" crew patch, that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. The veterans from that squadron acted quickly though, just one day after I sent the e-mail, I got a reply from Buck Jones, the president of the Patron Four Five (VP-45) Association.

Although on a Sunday he went to a lot of trouble answering my letter, and later that day, a couple of follow-up questions that I had. Among other things he told me the:
The Elvis CAC 4 [Combat Air Crew 4] crew patch is not an authorized VP-45 Patch. All Navy Patrol Squadron's usually allow individual flight crews to wear unique crew patches on flight gear (suits/jackets). Since most Navy Patrol flight crews stay together for 18 months or less the patches are purchased by the crew as a one time buy and are usually changed or modified with each new group.
As far as I know only one CAC 4 crew had the patch. I served in VP-45 from 1963 to 1970 (flight crew) and 1979 to 1981 (maintenance material control officer). There were times when I was on flight crews that all 12 crews had a unique patch. There were also times when no crews had unique patches. I have no idea when a crew 4 wore the Elvis patch.
He also explained that several military units have used that particular Elvis patch [same message/different picture of Elvis] for crews or unique units. Also, that the U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue units have used the Elvis patch as well.

So, thanks to the president of the Patron Four Five Association I learned a lot, not only about the Elvis patch, but about VP-45 as well. I'd like to take the opportunity to once more thank him for taking the time to answer my questions on a Sunday.

But the story didn't end there. About the same time I received an e-mail from fellow Elvis blogger Troy Y. who runs The Mystery Train Elvis Blog. He'd read my post and found variants of the patch I wrote about, which comfirmed the use of the Elvis patch among other military units.


Bill said...

Hey there, little time late. Was doing a google search and saw the image of the first Elvis patch come up. Followed it here. I was one of the pilots on CAC-4 from 1989-1991 when we had the patches made up. Unfortunately we weren't too sure how well our pencil sketch of Elvis would translate to embroidery so we didn't want to overdue the order. We only had fifty made which came out to about four for each crew member. Once we started trading them at foreign bases in Europe, the Med and north Atlantic we realized how popular they were. Instantly we wished we'd made more. Shortly after our return home the crew members went on to other assignments or crews so we never had the opportunity to order more.

As you wrote in your post, when a squadron was getting ready to deploy overseas for six months each crew would make up a patch. Since we were sub hunters some common themes would have a knight in a suit of armor chopping a submarine in half or Bart Simpson with some attitude. We were looking for something different, a little less common. One day our Tactical Coordinator (TACCO) said "You know submarines are easy to find," (they're not) "give us something hard to find like Elvis." The rest is history.


Thomas said...

Hi Bill!
Thank you so much for telling me the story behind this particular crew patch. The mystery finally solved, I wrote about your comment in my latest post:
All the best,