Coffee Cup Coincidence

For you long-time blog readers, you may remember the story I posted in June 2019 about a flight my crew made to Sigonella, Sicily. Here’s a brief review of that experience.

My squadron had been deployed to Rota Spain in 1967. I was proud to be one of our squadron’s junior officers (LT) given responsibility as a Patrol Plane Commander (PPC). Most other PPCs were LCDRs. Consequently, as junior in rank, my crew caught every Xmas Eve, weekend, and holiday flight responsibility. My crew of eleven understood that and took pride in never aborting a flight and completing every crummy assignment.

The Mediterranean during the Cold War was a hot bed of Soviet submarine traffic. Flights tracking the Russian subs were being launched daily. My crew had not had a day off in four months. Finally, we received notice we were to be given a four-day liberty. Unfortunately, the night before our leave, a request was made for a crew to be sent to Sigonella, Sicily, to observe a NATO exercise in which another deployed Neptune squadron was participating. Guess who got the nod? Yeah, right.

After arriving in Sicily, I was told we had 16 hours before we had to go aboard the other squadron aircraft as observers. I told the crew, “Look, if you don’t mind missing a night of sleep, I’ll arrange for a special services bus, and we can go to the historic city of Catania for some fun and merriment.”

All enthusiastically agreed and my last paragraph of that 2019 blog was remembering our crew, arm and arm (including several attractive ladies) parading the streets of Catania.

So, now I get this gift coffee cup in the mail sent to me by my youngest son, Brian. It has a photograph of a P2V Neptune on the cup. The image shows the aircraft’s bureau number and tail letters. Bureau numbers are assigned when an aircraft comes out of production. Each number is unique, and I have a list of all Navy aircraft I have flown. What fun it is to see a picture of an aircraft in a magazine or in a museum, that I can identify as one I flew. The tail letters identified the aircraft’s squadron. The Buno of the plane on the cup was #147948, not one I had flown, but I did fly BuNo #147952, a plane four behind 948 at the Lockheed factory.


Even more significant were the tail letters. “LR” identified the coffee cup aircraft as part of VP-24. Our squadron—VP-21—used “LH.”  Internet resources told me VP-24 was deployed to Sigonella, Sicily, in 1967.

I don’t have a record of the plane I flew in as an observer in 1967, in Sicily, but it’s entirely possible it could have been the plane now pictured on the side of my favorite coffee cup. How about that for a maybe coincidence?

3 thoughts on “Coffee Cup Coincidence

  1. Neat, Jim. Glad for the good flying memories. I enjoy the (considerably less!) ones I have & thank you for getting me started in the Columbus flying club.

  2. What an amazing story of research and coincidence. I hope for you that it was the same plane. In this case, let’s assume the mug is half full.

  3. Pretty neat coincidence about the picture on the mug. That Brian is clever I finding it for you. I couldn’t tell which of the guys in the picture was you.

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