Jack O'Donnell is a retired Navy Commander
who specialized in tracking Soviet submarines while on active duty.
He has more than 3600 flight hours plus about 200 hours private
Commander O’Donnell went on active
duty in February, 1965, after graduating from St. Johns University,
NY, where he earned a BS in Management. His first assignment
was in the Navy School of Pre-Flight in Pensacola, FL. After
four months as an Aviation Officer Candidate, he received his
commission as an Ensign, USNR, in June, 1965.
Training as a Naval Flight Officer continued in Pensacola at NAS
Forest Sherman Field. After approximately six months, he selected
navigation training and was ordered to NAS Corpus Christi, TX.
for advanced and celestial navigation schooling. In April, 1966,
he received his Naval Flight Officer wings and proceeded to VP
30 in Patuxent River, MD, for training as a Tactical Coordinator
in the P-3 Orion.
In November 1966, Commander O’Donnell
reported to VP-10 in Brunswick, ME. He served as a Tactical Coordinator
until Sept, 1969 when his active duty obligation was completed.
During his three years in P-3s, he flew extensively in the Atlantic,
Mediterranean, and Caribbean, hunting for Soviet submarines. From
Thule, Greenland, to Athens, Greece, and from Puerto Rico to Bodo,
Norway, he saw a lot of ocean. In 1967, his squadron received the
Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon for being the first Patrol
Squadron to actively track a Soviet nuclear submarine east of Bermuda
during its entire 60 day on-station time. His crew made the initial
contact while flying out of Newfoundland.
In November 1969, Commander
O’Donnell joined the Shell Oil Co. as a credit analyst, and
the Navy Reserve at Floyd Bennett Field. The job at Shell lasted
only 14 months but his commitment to the reserves stretched another
19 years. In 1971, he was hired by Proctor and Gamble where he
worked in sales until June, 1982, then switched to the Dr. Pepper
Co. from which he retired in 2004.
The Navy formed the first P-3
reserve squadron, VP-90, at NAS Patuxent River in August 1970,
and for three and one half years he joined a group of other New
York metropolitan area reservists who were flown to weekend drills
from Westchester County Airport. In 1974, he transferred to NAS
Willow Grove, PA, when two existing P-2V squadrons were transitioned
to P-3s. He was assigned to VP-64 as NATOPS Training Officer.
He attained the rank of Commander in 1984 and continued to fly
in P-3Bs (he was Squadron Training Officer). He served in various
duties until 1987 when he returned to a non- pay billet for two
years at Floyd Bennett Field.
Awards & Decorations
- Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon
- National Defense Service Medal