U.S. Navy VC-4 memorial marker restoration

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley
  • 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
A granite monument to fallen U.S. Navy aviators and crewmembers, located near the main gate of the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, was given some special treatment by a historic preservation specialist July 20-21, 2016.

The monument, erected in May 1994 by the Association of The Composite Squadron Four Nightcappers, pays tribute to more than forty members of the VC-4 Squadron, based at Naval Air Station Atlantic City in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. from September 1948 to May 1958, who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Melissa Swanson, a Naval History and Heritage Command Conservator, removed lichens from the back of the monument, which were growing over inscriptions of the names of the fallen, and polished the bronze plaque.

"The stone is granite with a shallow-relief bronze plaque with a very nice protective coating and good detail and that's held up very well," said Swanson as she inspected the monument. "It's a wonderful image of the plane and the weather."

Stan Ciurczak, Management and Program Analyst and unofficial historian with the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center, noticed that the monument was in need of attention and contacted Swanson, based out of Richmond, Virginia.

"I noticed earlier this year that the VC-4 monument needed to be cleaned so people could continue to read the names of the fallen and the Navy's Heritage & History Command offered to take care of that," said Ciurczak. "The VC-4 monument is the last vestige of the old Navy base, so I'm happy to see it looking ship-shape again. It's an important part of Tech Center history. Bravo Zulu ("BZ") Navy!"

The Tech. Center got its start here in 1958 when the Federal Aviation Administration took over Naval Air Station Atlantic City.

Swanson earned an undergraduate degree in art history and anthropology at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts and a Master's of Science in Historic Preservation, from Columbia University in New York, with a specialty in materials conservation, focusing on working on metals, woods and stone.

"Luckily, I think that we'll be able to treat those successfully so that the names are all visible again," said Swanson. "The lichens are tenacious, but the chemical treatment will definitely dissuade them for a couple of years."

The VC-4 Squadron flew all-weather and night missions, active through the Korean War.

"This was the largest squadron in the Navy at the time because their job was to send detachments of four to six planes to all of the aircraft carriers in the Navy," said Dr. Richard Porcelli, local aviation historian.  "During the heyday in the early fifties, the Navy had 20 or 30 carriers and the VC-4 was the main squadron here."

The restoration project could not have come at a better time according to Swanson.