.: command composition and history!
During the final year, 1996, Patrol Squadron 68 (VP-68) continued to support the fleet in a safe and professional manner. VP-68 surpassed 26 years and 107,000 hours mishap free flight operations. As in previous years, operations in 1996 included maritime surveillance, support of carrier battle group operations, and counter-narcotics patrols as well as joint and combined operations to enforce United Nations sanctions.
VP-68 conducted a Change of Command on 24 February, CDR. J. A. Lemmons relieved CDR. R. A. Sinibaldi. The following month, the squadron completed their annual COMNAVAIRESFOR NATOPS evaluation. VP-68 completed a flawless operational detachment in April to NAS Key West, Florida in support of Counter-Narcotic missions in the Caribbean sea. The detachment met 100 percent of the operational commitments with FMC aircraft. This outstanding performance was recognized by JIATF East.
In June the “Black Hawks” participated in the annual air show in Aspen, Colorado. Their participation marked the first time ever that a Maritime Patrol aircrew was represented at this event. The image and prestige of the Naval Reserve was greatly enhanced by this event.
During an eight week period in August and September VP-68 aircrews and maintenance personnel detached to NAS Keflavik, Iceland. Crews flew over 361 hours, completing 51 sorties in support of CTF-84 tasking. This detachment included real world ASW and participation in the NATO exercise “Northern Lights”. In addition, VP-68 managed the interoperability between VP-5, VP-8, VP-10, VP-26, VP-64, VP-66, VP-92, and the RESASWTRACEN. Squadron aircraft did not miss an event resulting in Commendation letters from CNRF, CNARF, CTF-84, CRPWL, CPW-5 and CTG-84.1.
In preparation for its disestablishment, VP-68 completed the safe transfer of 5 aircraft to VP-92 during the months of September, October, and November. Patrol Squadron 68 continued to serve at the forefront of Patrol Aviation until the very end.
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