Sunday, February 26, 2017

"Give Us Something Hard To Find Like Elvis"

The story behind this flight crew patch has eluded me for years.
Nearly six years ago I wrote a post about the Elvis CAC 4 (Combat Air Crew 4) crew patch. This is an Elvis patch I bought many years ago at a store that sold military surplus stuff that I recognized as some kind of aircrew patch. When the patch resurfaced at a bottom of a drawer in my desk in 2010, I made a google search and found out the patch belonged to Patrol Squadron 45 (VP-45). I then sent an an e-mail to the Public Affairs Officer (PAO) of VP-45, asking about the Elvis patch and its history.

Not receiving an answer, I decided to try again one and a half year later, this time also contacting the Patrol Squadron 45 Association with the same question. The president, Buck Jones, responded quickly and sent me an e-mail the very next day, explaining  that the patch I had in my drawer wasn't an authorized VP-45 patch, but that all Navy Patrol Squadron's usually allow individual flight crews to wear unique crew patches on their flight gear. Unfortunately, he had no idea when a crew 4 wore the Elvis patch.

I never heard from the Public Affairs Officer, but last week, out of the blue, I found someone called Bill had commented my post from July 12, 2011. My excitement grew as I started to read, realizing this was a pilot who had worn the Elvis crew patch.
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.
I'd like to thank Bill for sharing his story about the Elvis CAC 4 crew patch. Thanks to him I finally have the story behind the patch I bought so many years ago and still have in my possession. I wonder if there exists a photo of him and his crew, all of them wearing the patch on their flight suits? If so, that's one cool picture I'd like to see!