The List 5219 TGB
I hope that your week has started well.
This day in Naval History
1846—Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft issues the General Order to change “Larboard” to “Port” for identification of the left side of a sailing vessel.
1865—In order for CSS Charleston, CSS Chicora, and CSS Palmetto State not to be captured by Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren’s squadron during the evacuation of Charleston, SC, Confederate Capt. John R. Tucker, orders the ships be set afire and blown up.
1942—USS Truxtun (DD 229) and USS Pollux (AKS 2) sink during a heavy storm in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, with the loss of 204 lives.
1944—The amphibious force under Rear Adm. Harry W. Hill lands troops on Engebi Island, Eniwetok, securing the island before the end of the day.
1945—U.S. Navy destroyers engage Japanese vessels off Iwo and Chichi Jima. USS Waldron (DD 699) is damaged after intentionally ramming a gunboat; USS Dortch (DD 670) sinks auxiliary submarine chaser Ayukawa Maru north-northwest of Iwo Jima; USS Barton (DD 722), USS Ingraham (DD 694), and USS Moale (DD 693) operating near Chichi Jima, sink Japanese guardboats No.35 Nanshin Maru, No. 3 Kyowa Maru, and No.5 Kukuichi Maru.
WWII@75: Operation Hailstone
On Feb. 17, 1944, 75 years ago during Operation Hailstone, aircraft from the nine aircraft carriers of Task Force 58 attacked the Japanese fleet at Truk in the central Pacific during World War II. During the two-day strike, 33 Japanese vessels were destroyed and nine more damaged. The Truk Atoll, known as the “Gibraltar of the Pacific,” was within Japan’s National Defense Zone which was deemed essential and to be held at all costs. After suffering a series of defeats and on the defensive, Japan realized that they could not defend everywhere. Their plan was to rebuild their forces and defenses by the spring of 1944 followed by renewal of an offensive during the summer. The plan was foiled within months when Rabaul and Truk fell rendering the Japanese incapable of blocking the Allied advance to Japan. To learn more, read the article by Alan P. Rems at USNI.
WWII@75: Eniwetok Operation
On Feb. 18, 1944, 75 years ago, the amphibious force under Rear Adm. Harry W. Hill landed troops on Engebi Island, Eniwetok, securing the island before the end of the day. The World War II operation was part of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands Campaign undertaken on Japanese occupied islands to establish airfields and naval bases for upcoming operations across the central Pacific. U.S. Marine Cpl. Anthony P. Damato received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions during the battle against the Japanese when an undetected enemy threw a grenade in his foxhole. Damato covered it with his body and absorbed the blast, gallantly sacrificing his life to save his two companions.
Thanks to CHINFO
• Multiple outlets reported on USS Chancellorsville’s transit of the Taiwan Strait on Saturday.
• The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and the America Expeditionary Strike Group united last week to conduct operations in the Philippine Sea, multiple outlets report.
• Adm. James Foggo, Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples and U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa, was awarded the title of Commendatore of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
This day in History
· February 18
George, the Duke of Clarence, who had opposed his brother Edward IV, is murdered in the Tower of London.
Quakers in Germantown, Pa. adopt the first formal antislavery resolution in America.
Czar Alexander enters Warsaw at the head of his Army.
Victor Emmanuel II becomes the first King of Italy.
Jefferson F. Davis is inaugurated as the Confederacy's provisional president at a ceremony held in Montgomery, Ala.
Union troops force the Confederates to abandon Fort Anderson, N.C.
The bitter and bloody Lincoln County War begins with the murder of Billy the Kid's mentor, Englishman rancher John Tunstall.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, is published in New York.
600,000 tons of grain are sent to Russia to relieve the famine there.
Vuillemin and Chalus complete their first flight over the Sahara Desert.
Manchurian independence is formally declared.
Rome reports sending troops to Italian Somalia.
The Golden Gate Exposition opens in San Francisco.
German General Erwin Rommel takes three towns in Tunisia, North Africa.
The U.S. Army and Marines invade Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific.
U.S. Marines storm ashore at Iwo Jima.
East and West Berlin drop thousands of propaganda leaflets on each other after the end of a month long truce.
Robert F. Kennedy says that U.S. troops will stay in Vietnam until Communism is defeated.
The United States cuts military aid to five nations in reprisal for having trade relations with Cuba.
The National Art Gallery in Washington agrees to buy a Da Vinci for a record $5 million.
Three U.S. pilots that were held by the Vietnamese arrive in Washington.
The California Supreme Court voids the death penalty.
Randolph Hearst is to give $2 million in free food for the poor in order to open talks for his daughter Patty.
Mexico devalues the peso by 30 percent to fight an economic slide.
Thanks to Tom
Veteran Cancer Survey
Forwarding for FYI…your participation is encouraged…
From: Terry Dailey <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Monday, February 17, 2020 at 4:15 PM
Subject: Veteran Cancer Survey
I'm sending this to all the old fighter guys that I know to ask that you each fill out the Veteran Cancer Survey via the link below.
My daughter, Marianne, who has been working in the oncology field for a number of years, first with the Association of Community Cancer Centers, and most recently as the Senior Director, Team Lead and Professional Relations, U.S. Oncology with Pfizer, put me in touch with a fellow USNA Grad (1983) and former Tomcat RIO, Mike "Bing" Crosby. Mike is part of the ZeroCancer patient advocacy group (https://zerocancer.org/) and has been doing some truly meaningful work in supporting Vets and healthcare in the US.
Home | ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer
ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer. Patient Support Hotline. Call (844) 244-1309. ZERO360 is a free, comprehensive patient support service to help patients and their families navigate insurance and financial obstacles to cover treatment and other critical needs associated with cancer.
I'm including some links to articles that have contributed to the recent legislation concerning Military Pilots and Cancer that Mike shared with me. As Mike explains it, they really don't have answers to the cause but its a fairly sure bet that the radiation to which we were all exposed had some effect on us, so his organization is proposing a study be done to look at that.
I'm also including the interview Mike did for CBS news on the legislation which will give you his views on this:
Mike told me that, although the Veterans Cancer Survey was just published last week, they already have over 200 responses so far, but they need more! They need to find all the military pilots that do NOT receive care in the VA system to add them to the current VA Data which is a bit overwhelming. There are now a documented 489,000 cases of prostate cancer in the VA with 16,000 metastatic cases. It's an issue that is just now receiving attention and has been forgotten for too long.
Here is the link to the Veteran Cancer Survey, I hope you'll take a few minutes to complete and submit it. Feel free to share it with other fighter guys you know. The data collected from this survey will meaningfully inform aspects of healthcare for vets that are currently not being addressed.
Link to the Veteran Cancer Survey:
Thanks for your help with this!
Keep your knots up...
Some neat flying from Dr.Rich…..Movie flying and you will recognize many of these
Thanks to DR
These Russian Submariners Had More To Worry About Than Enemy Navies
They were their own worst enemy.
by Sebastien Roblin
February 11, 2020
Key Point: The frequent, catastrophic disasters onboard the Project 627 boats seem almost like gruesome public service announcements for everything that could conceivably go wrong with nuclear submarines.
The United States launched the first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, in 1954, revolutionizing undersea warfare. The Nautilus’s reactor allowed it operate underwater for months at a time, compared to the hours or days afforded conventional submarines. The following year, the Soviet Union began building its own nuclear submarine, the Project 627—known as the November class by NATO. The result was a boat with a few advantages compared to its American competition, but that also exhibited a disturbing tendency to catastrophic accidents that would prove characteristic of the burgeoning Soviet submarine fleet during the Cold War.
The original specifications drafted in 1952 for a Soviet nuclear submarine had conceived of employing them to launch enormous nuclear torpedoes at enemy harbors and coastal cities. At the time, the Soviet Union lacked the long-range missiles or bombers that could easily hit most of the continental United States. However, as these capabilities emerged in the mid-1950s, the Project 627 design was revised to reflect an antiship role, with eight torpedo tubes located in the bow and combat systems taken from Foxtrot-class diesel submarines.
The first Project 627 boat, the K-3 Leninsky Komsomol, launched in 1957 and made its first voyage under nuclear power in July 1958 under Capt. Leonid Osipenko, using a reactor design supervised by renowned scientist Anatoly Alexandrov. The large, torpedo-shaped vessel displaced more than four thousand tons submerged and was 107 meters long. Its double-hulled interior was divided into nine compartments, housing a crew of seventy-four seamen and thirty officers.
K-3 rapidly demonstrated the extraordinary endurance of nuclear submarines, embarking upon two-month long cruises while submerged. In 1962, it became the first Soviet vessel to travel to the North Pole, while a sister ship, K-133, was the first submarine to traverse the Drake Strait submerged in a twenty-one-thousand-mile cruise that lasted fifty-two days.
K-3 was soon joined by twelve additional November-class vessels of a revised design designated the Project 627A, distinguishable by a bulbous sonar dome under the bow, as well as a single Project 645 prototype powered by an experimental VT-1 liquid metal reactor with greater power efficiency. The fourteen November-class boats were deployed to the Third and Seventeenth Divisions of the Northern Fleet, though later four were transferred to the Pacific Fleet by transiting under Arctic ice.
The 627’s VM-A reactors were more powerful than their American contemporaries, speeding the Project 627s along up to thirty knots (34.5 miles per hour). However, the 627 lacked another quality generally expected of a nuclear submarine: the reactors were extremely noisy, making the Project 627 boats easy to detect despite the use of stealthy propellers and the first anti-sonar coating applied to a nuclear submarine. This lack of discretion, combined with its inferior sonar array, made the November class ill suited for hunting opposing submarines.
Nonetheless, the 627s still dealt the U.S. Navy a few surprises. In 1965, K-27 managed to sneak up on the antisubmarine carrier USS Randolph off of Sardinia and complete a mock torpedo run before being detected. In 1968, another November-class boat proved capable of matching pace with the carrier USS Enterprise while the latter moved at full power, causing a minor panic in the Navy leadership that led to the adoption of the speedy Los Angeles–class attack submarine, some of which remain in service today.
However, the power of the November class’s reactors was bought at the price of safety and reliability. A lack of radiation shielding resulted in frequent crew illness, and many of the boat suffered multiple reactor malfunctions over their lifetimes. This lack of reliability may explain why the Soviet Union dispatched conventional Foxtrot submarines instead of the November-class vessels during the Cuban Missile Crisis, despite the fact that the diesel boats needed to surface every few days, and for this reason were cornered and chased away by patrolling American ships.
In fact, the frequent, catastrophic disasters onboard the Project 627 boats seem almost like gruesome public service announcements for everything that could conceivably go wrong with nuclear submarines. Many of the accidents reflected not only technological flaws, but the weak safety culture of the Soviet Navy.
K-8 started the trend in October 13, 1960, when a ruptured steam turbine nearly led to a reactor meltdown due to loss of coolant. The crew was able to jury-rig an emergency water-cooling system, but not before radioactive gas contaminated the entire vessel, seriously irradiating several of the crew. K-14, which would distinguish itself in the medical evacuation of an Arctic expedition in 1963, also experienced a reactor breakdown in 1961, necessitating its replacement the following years.
In February 1965, radioactive steam blasted through K-11 on two separate occasions while it underwent refueling at base. The repair crews misdiagnosed the implications of the first event and followed incorrect procedures during the second, and were ultimately forced to evacuate the reactor room, leading to fires breaking out across the ship. The Soviet crew flooded the vessel with 250 tons of water to put out the flames, spreading radioactive water throughout the entire vessel. Seven men were badly irradiated, and the reactor required a complete replacement before it could be returned to active duty three years later.
K-3, the first Soviet submarine to sail on nuclear power, was on a Mediterranean patrol on September 8, 1967, when a hydraulic fire broke out in its torpedo tubes, with the resulting buildup of carbon monoxide killing thirty-nine sailors. The entire command crew passed out, save for a lone petty officer who managed to surface the ship, saving the vessel. A later investigation concluded the fire may have been caused by a sailor smoking in the torpedo compartment.
K-27, the lone Project 645 boat, experienced a breakdown in its port-side reactor on May 24, 1968, in the Barents Sea—despite the crew warning that the reactor had experienced a similar malfunction in 1967 and had yet to test that it was functioning properly. The entire crew of 124 was irradiated by radioactive gas, but Captain Leonov refused to take emergency measures until hours later due to his faith in the reactor. Shortly after the ship limped home on its starboard reactor, five of the crew died from radiation exposure within a month, with twenty-five more to follow in subsequent years. Repair of K-27 ultimately proved too expensive a proposition, so it was scuttled by ramming in Stepovoy Bay in waters only thirty-three meters deep—rather than the three to four thousand meters required by the IAEA.
In 1970, the ill-fated K-8 was participating in the Okean 70 war games off the Bay of Biscay when it suffered simultaneous short circuits in its command center and reactor control room, spreading a fire through the air conditioning system. The captain managed to surface the boat, and the crew nearly escaped with only moderate loss of life—except that the Soviet Navy ordered about half of the men back on board to conduct emergency repairs and pilot the ship home. An encounter with a sea squall led to the damaged boat sinking to the ocean floor, taking fifty-eight crew and four nuclear torpedoes with it.
The November-class boats finally began to enter retirement in the 1980s and early 1990s—but not before being subject to a final few accidents, not of their own making. In August 1985, K-42 was berthed next to the Echo-class submarine K-433 near Vladivostok when the latter suffered a nuclear refueling accident that killed ten and irradiated 239. K-42 was deemed so badly contaminated that it, too, had to be decommissioned.
As the Soviet Union was succeeded by an economically destitute Russia, many decommissioned nuclear submarines were left to rust with their nuclear fuel onboard, leading to safety concerns from abroad. International donors fronted $200 million to scrap the hulks in 2003. Flimsy pontoons were welded onto K-159 to enable its towing to a scrapping site, but on August 30 a sea squall ripped away one of the pontoons, causing the boat to begin foundering around midnight. The Russian Navy failed to react until hours later, by which the time submarine had sunk, taking eight hundred kilograms of spent nuclear fuel and nine of the ten seamen manning the pontoons with it. Plans to raise K-159 have foundered to this day due to lack of funding.
This is just an accounting of major accidents on the November-class boats—more occurred on Echo- and Hotel-class submarines equipped with the same nuclear reactors. Submarine operations are, of course, inherently risky; the U.S. Navy also lost two submarines during the 1960s, though it hasn’t lost any since.
The November-class submarines may not have been particularly silent hunters, but they nonetheless marked a breakthrough in providing the Soviet submarine fleet global reach while operating submerged. They also provided painful lessons, paid in human lives lost or irreparably injured, in the risks inherent to exploiting nuclear power, and in the high price to be paid for technical errors and lax safety procedures.
Thanks to Tom and Rob There are a couple of other good ones here on the right of the screen.
Subject: Blues History
thanks to Tam and Dutch…..Another very interesting read I never heard before.
: Admiral Kolchak’s archive has returned to Russia 100 years after his execution
The man who tried to bring down the Bolsheviks.
Thanks to the F-8 Crusader Association Net
F8U] #4164: Splush
Recently Bull Durham highlighted the book “Bloody Sixteen” by Peter Fey. The book is an excellent read, as it does a good job in describing the Carrier Wing Sixteen aircraft losses during the Vietnam War. One of those losses was mine, which he treats briefly. Here's the rest of the story, a chapter from my memoirs which I have titled “SPLUSH:”
The day of September 8, 1967 started like most any of the previous days of combat operations flying from the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CVA 34) in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. However, for me, it didn't turn out like all the previous days operating from Yankee Station. Yankee Station is what the Navy called the carrier operating area off the coast of North Vietnam, close to the 38th parallel on the map. There was also Dixie Station, which was off the coast of Northern South Vietnam. Our air wing operating tempo, OPTEMPO as it was called, had moved from major "Alfa" strikes of twenty to thirty aircraft down to small flights of six to eight aircraft composed of four to six attack aircraft, accompanied by two fighter aircraft. The task of the attack aircraft was to drop bombs and fire rockets at ground targets identified for the specific mission. The fighter aircraft were to protect the attack aircraft from enemy fighters. This shift in OPTEMPO was a welcome relief from the previous Alfa strike operations in which we often flew into the teeth of enemy anti-aircraft fire from their Surface to Air Missiles (SAMS) and/or 57-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
The flight schedule for that day had me and my wingman, Al Aston, flying escort for a flight of four Skyhawk (A4D) attack aircraft on a mission to a target area in the Northeast sector of North Vietnam, just a few miles from the boarder of China. VA-164 MAGICSTONE attack squadron flight leader briefed us, prior to the mission, about the primary target and, also specified an alternate target in the event the weather prohibited attacking the primary target. We were to rendezvous the flight directly above, or "overhead," the aircraft carrier and proceed as a coordinated group to the target. I was assigned the mission of TARCAP (target air combat patrol) and ARMED RECCE (armed reconnaissance) and I planned to expend four (4) Zuni air to ground missiles at the designated target.
I was catapulted of the carrier deck in an assigned Crusader (F8C) and proceeded to a rendezvous position directly above the location of the aircraft carrier. As I awaited the arrival of my wingman I was told he would not be launching due to mechanical problems with his assigned aircraft. I immediately looked for the attack group and found they were already proceeding to the target area. I tried to join them as quickly as possible to be with them before they arrived at the coast of North Vietnam. As I approached the coast I heard the typical communications of aircraft on such a raid. I crossed the coast, becoming "feet dry," a term meaning flying over land.
I saw the primary target ahead, but could not see the attack aircraft anywhere in the vicinity. I called the flight leader and asked where he was; he replied the flight was over the target. I told him I was in the vicinity of the target but did not have the flight in sight. He then told me the flight was attacking the alternate target. Wow! What a surprise! It was clear to me I needed to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. I immediately headed South toward the gulf to get "feet wet" quickly to avoid possibly engaging enemy aircraft. The attack group, after completing their mission, proceeded back to the ship without me seeing them at any time.
As I was crossing the North Vietnamese coast heading South, I searched for a target of opportunity I might hit with the 5-inch rockets. We were seldom loaded with 5-inch rockets, but this particular mission specified the unusual arms load. Normally the F8C Crusader was loaded with the heat seeking air to air Sidewinder (AIM-9D) missiles, an excellent weapon designed to shoot down enemy planes. I had the-5 inch rockets and Sidewinders too, but I wanted to find a suitable target for the rockets. I spotted what appeared to be a radar site on the coast of Ile Danh Do La, or Dollar Island, as we called a small island near the coast of North Vietnam.
I armed the rockets and rolled into a dive, lined up the target in my site as I dove from about ten thousand feet altitude. Shortly after I fired the rockets, as I was pulling up off the target, I heard a loud thump and a jolt that shook the airplane. Apparently, the North Vietnamese radar site had an AAA battery nearby that fired at my airplane as I crossed over the area. I continued to head South over water while climbing to above ten thousand feet altitude. The aircraft had lost all electrical power, but still responded to the flight controls and the engine continued running. Without proper electrical power, the aircraft navigation instruments and radios would not function. I thought I had an alternative electrical supply because the Crusader was equipped with a deployable emergency electrical generator: a ram air turbine or RAT. I pulled the handle to deploy the RAT, but to my disappointment the electrical power was not restored by the RAT -- the "dirty rat." In climbing off the target I checked the engine instruments and found that I could only attain %93 of power.
Well, here I was without navigation aids and without a radio to let the ship know my situation. The loss of the radio was not an immediate problem, but added difficulty to my circumstances later. Good weather favored my return to the vicinity of the aircraft carrier since I could navigate visually without complication of clouds or haze diminishing visibility. The most pressing problem was, without electrical power, the trim tab control on the flight control stick was not functioning, leaving me with excessive pressure on the control stick to maintain level flight. As I continued on my return to the ship, with the plane seeming to lose power, I judged I might need to eject from the aircraft. Therefore, I removed my knee pad from my left leg to ensure the metal instrument would not interfere with an ejection, nor become an object of injury. Additionally, since there was excessive pressure required to move the flight control stick, I knew I would not be able to eject using the normal method of raising both hands above my head to pull down on the face curtain. I, therefore, reached down below my legs just loosening the alternate ejection seat firing handle to make sure it would not bind when trying to pull it up, should I need to eject.
With the ship in sight, I started planning to make an approach for landing. Of concern at this point was the total amount of fuel remaining. The arresting cable, we called it the wire, would be set for the normal landing weight of my aircraft. If my aircraft weight was above the expected weight the arresting wire could break. Such a situation would be catastrophic to the men and equipment on the deck. Not knowing exactly how much fuel I had, but suspecting that the duration of the flight left me with an excess, I decided to make the plane lighter as well as attract the attention of the ship. I continued descending, maneuvering to clear an area to the port side of the ship in an attempt to eject the Sidewinders as unguided rockets with the emergency switch designed for such a contingency. Surprisingly, without normal electrical power the missiles ejected from the rails and splashed in the water visible from the ship. The Zuni rockets would not fire which added to my aircraft weight on landing. Interestingly, my assigned wingman, Al, was on the Landing Signal Officer (LSO) platform near the landing area. Al told me later he saw the missiles hit the water. He said his thought at the time was somebody's going to be in big trouble with the ship's captain and the Air Wing Commander by launching something into the water so close to the ship.
I hoped someone on the ship would see the missile splashes and tell the Air Boss in the control tower to keep me in sight, however, it didn't happen, compounding my problems in the latter stages of my approach. I continued in a descent to line up astern of the ship for a straight-in approach. I picked up visual sight of the meat ball, which is the primary aide to keep on the proper glide path for landing. The meat mall is a light projected out in space from the landing area and is the primary aid for the pilot to land safely. Once the meat ball is in sight, the pilot keeps it centered between a set of datum lights to stay on the proper glide slope to land in the optimum location in the landing area. With the meat ball centered the tail hook of the aircraft should engage the third, or number three wire, of the four wires on deck.
With the meat ball in sight I continued a straight-in approach on the glide path. The straight in approach was normally interpreted by the Air Boss that the aircraft has no radio and may have mechanical problems. I lowered the landing gear and the tail hook, noting in this condition, the aircraft did not have enough power to maintain level flight, but had sufficient power to keep on the proper glide slope. As I got closer to the ship, an A4D Skyhawk flew in front of me while making a turning approach to the landing area. The A4D was only a couple hundred feet in front of me, so I adjusted my flight path to be slightly below his, but to be as close as possible to the proper glide path. We continued down the glide path together when the A4D received a wave off signal and leveled out to fly past the ship. I was relieved to see I could proceed unabated to make my landing. However, it seems things don't always work out just like one might like. This was one of those times! Remember, the arresting wires are supposed to be set for the weight of the aircraft, and, in this case, the setting had to be changed from the A4D to the much heavier setting of the F8C. Because I was so close to the A4, in fact just slightly below his jet wash, there was not an adequate amount of time to re-set for the weight of my aircraft. I was very close to the ship at this point when given a Wave Off. The wave off was signaled to me by the Landing Signal Officer (LSO) flashing the wave off Lights on a panel near the meat ball. The wave off is a mandatory signal and must be responded to without question, as a matter of safety. I pushed the throttle forward for full power but the engine response was not adequate to clear the landing area. The aircraft touched down in the landing area just past all the wires.
Now, here I was after a "Bolter", which is a touchdown in the landing area without catching any of the wires; so, I added power to go around for another try. Yep, I was on a Bolter and trying to climb out to an altitude of 1000 feet to attempt another pass. I still had to maneuver around the jet wash of the A4D in front of me while making a gentle climbing turn to the downwind leg. The A4D, by the way, didn't have radios either. I was able to turn the aircraft downwind but could only reach an altitude of 300 feet., but I maintained an airspeed of 140 knots. As I looked at the ship from abeam, I evaluated my chances of intercepting the glide slope to make an approach from this low altitude. Although I had the throttle fully forward to full power (92%) the aircraft was losing airspeed as I tried to maintain level flight. It was essential to maintain the minimum altitude of 250 feet, but the airspeed continued to deteriorate to the point when I felt the slight shudder sensation of a pre-stall. This was my signal that I could no longer stay with the plane in an attempt to land on the ship.
Holding the stick with my right hand, remember I couldn't trim out the force on the stick to keep it from nosing over, I pulled the alternate firing handle with my left hand initiating the ejection sequence. As the seat fired, I remember seeing the empty cockpit with the long ejection seat barrel extending above the cockpit and seeing the plane nosing over rapidly. I tumbled slightly in the air and looked up to see the parachute had opened successfully. My thought was, "wow that worked, what do I do next -- oh yeah, deploy the seat pan." Underneath the seat pan was a life raft with various survival gear, which, once released by pulling a small handle on the left side of the seat, would drop down about six to eight feet on a lanyard. As I reached for the handle, I looked down saying to myself -- too late. Splush!!
This is where the wonderful training of the Navy paid off. All of us Naval Aviators who flew from aircraft carriers trained for possible ejection by joining the "Oh My Ass Club", The club was joined by pulling a face curtain to be fired up a railing about 15 feet on a simulated ejection seat. With my ejection from the aircraft the following actions took little conscious thought. As I entered the water, I continued to reach for the handle, deploying the seat pan with my left hand. I then used both hands to simultaneously remove the quick release fittings on my harness. As I surfaced, I threw the fittings away from me, leaving me clear of the parachute. I don't remember pulling the toggles on the Mae West to inflate it, but I must have because I was floating just fine with my head above water. I checked the lanyard to the seat pan, it was still attached satisfactorily. I do remember there was a lot of jet fuel in water where I landed. Apparently, I was very close to where the plane hit the water. The water wasn't noticeably cold and the waves were not very high providing little trouble in the water.
Now I thought somebody would come pick me up -- for surely, they saw me eject from the plane. I was right; as I looked around I saw a large bow wake in front of the plane guard destroyer. During all carrier operations a plane guard destroyer was always on station nearby with the duty of picking up downed airmen, as necessary. Additionally, we always had a helicopter airborne tasked with the same mission. Seeing the bow wake and smoke pouring from the stack of the plane guard destroyer pointed straight at me, I said to myself, "come on helo!" Part of my concern was I had a friend who was sucked into the intakes of a destroyer trying to rescue him -- so I was hoping for the Plane Guard Helicopter, "Helo". Sure enough, the Helo beat the destroyer to the scene above me. Immediately dropping a swimmer in the water next to me, he checked to see if I was free of the parachute. The Helo hoisted me and the swimmer into the copter and we proceeded to the flight deck of the carrier.
I stepped out of the Helo, declined the corpsmen's offer to put me in a stretcher and was greeted by the Carrier Air Wing Commander (CAG) himself. One of the corpsmen escorted me down a few ladders to Sickbay. I was later admonished for not getting in one of those wire stretchers on board ship, but I had seen them maneuvering down those steep ladders with others and decided, not for me! In sickbay, the Doc checked me over and I was treated for a laceration. Other than some muscle aches I otherwise suffered no other apparent problems and was back flying the very next day. In those days we didn't have cell phones, WIFI or email, but I was permitted to get a two-line telegraph note off to my wife telling her I had ejected and was okay, so she could ignore any false rumors that might circulate back home, as was sometimes prone to occur.
3 February 2020