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November 19th, 2013 · General

Wow.  Some significant changes in the profile, not to mention the innard’s of that beast.

Oh…and “PCU” stands for “Pre Commissioning Unit”…the official title before she becomes a “United States Ship.”

As usual, click on the image, then click on it again for full size.  I don’t know who took this shot, but I’m assuming its a US Navy photo.

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New England Faith

October 22nd, 2013 · General

Just got back from 5 days in and amongst the wilds of New England and the Canadian Maritime provinces.  More pictures to follow, but I had been looking for this shot for a while.

Wiscasset, Maine.

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Culpepper, VA Air Fest!

October 13th, 2013 · General

Drove down to Culpepper, VA for a look-see at all the T-6 Texans they have there for their Air Fest/Air Show.  They were supposed to do a 30-aircraft flyover Arlington on Friday, but rain pushed it to Saturday when more rain pushed it to today.  More rain today will likely cancel; that event, unfortunately.

My dad had time in this trainer in Pensacola in the mid 50s.  I’d love to get a back seat hop in one of these someday.  I need some radial engine ink in my log book :)

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Heron in flight

October 13th, 2013 · General

aerodynamic  (âr’ō-dī-nām’ĭk)

Designed to reduce or minimize the drag caused by air as an object moves though it or by wind that strikes and flows around an object.

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NAS Key West A-4E Super Fox – CAPT Carroll “Lex” LeFon

October 8th, 2013 · General

CDR Dave “Swifty” Morgan, the Ops O down at NAS Key West, passed on this story and these photos a short while back.

One of the static display aircraft on the base at Boca Chica, the A-4E Super Fox, was in need of a paint job.  Swifty pulled together a team of his enlisted guys and gals and they did one heckuva job.  When the time came for who’s name to put on the side…well, I’ll let Swifty finish:

As part of a base beautification project this past spring the Ops Dept  at NASKW took on the challenge of refurbishing  the A-4 Skyhawk that  had become a complete eye sore just outside the entrance to the Base Ops.  To our knowledge the aircraft had not been repainted since it was placed on display many moons ago.  It looked pretty ragged.  As you know nothing gets done in the navy without placing the burden on the backs of our Sailors to make it happen and this project was no different.    We had volunteers from every division.  Ops Sailors had the lead but it could not have been completed without the expertise of Fleet Readiness Center Key West (who had just painted one of our other birds) or VFC-111 who provided the stenciling machine and operator know-how.

We gave the restoration reigns to LT Jeff Klassy and Chief German Cruz and within no time they had assembled a team of volunteers.   Sanding, scraping, and other metal prep work began taking place. Typical hurdles such as the rainy season and . . . you guessed it, funding, slowed progress down a little but didn’t stop it.  (Buying aircraft paint for flyable airplanes is hard enough during sequestration, try doing it for one on a stick!)

Frankly, we had no idea that Lex’s name would go on the side of the plane when we first started.  We had reserved the right side of the plane for the NASKW Sailor of the year but we were still undecided about the left.  All we knew was we were saving it for someone special.  Eventually we started tossing names around from research we had done on the internet.  We had good names – those that had made significant contributions flying Scooters back in the day – but nothing had stuck.  Finally, it hit me one day that Lex had flown with VF-45 at Key West.  I guess it came to me from remembering some of the blogs where he wrote about his time in Key West.  It just seemed like the right thing to do.  I proposed his name to the base skipper, CAPT “Odie” McAlearney, and he immediately gave us the blessing to execute.

After briefing the Sailors on the latest decision the project began to take shape.  Perhaps it was the knowledge that they were now taking part in something larger than just repainting an airplane.   I think so.  Nonetheless, primer was laid and then topcoat.  It was the final stenciling that really made it pop!  When all was said and done it was almost 4 months from start to finish but she looks good.  While there were many volunteers over that period of time the Sailors that stayed together the entire stretch were ABH2 Sidney Shelton, ABH2 Josh Woolley, ACAN Christopher Kirsch, ACAA Katrisha Blackwell, and ACAR Mark Cardino.  Without their dedication this would have never happened.

As I told you yesterday Lex was the XO of VFA-94 when I was a JO in VFA-97 in CVW-11.  That was around 1997-2000.  I’m proud to say that I have briefed, flown and cruised with him, though that seems like so long ago.  NASKW is also honored to have his name and callsign on the side of our A-4E.

What a fantastic tribute.  From everyone who ever knew Lex, flew with him, laughed with him, shared a Jameson or a Guinness with him or just enjoyed his writings and his friendship, thanks, Switfy!


Again, Bravo Zulu to the men and women of NAS Key West Operations, FRC and VFC-111!  Thanks!



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MOH Awadree Master Sergeant Nicholas Oresko, RIP

October 7th, 2013 · General

I am sorry to report the passing of MSG (ret) Nicholas Oresko this evening. MSG Oresko was the oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor. He passed following complications from surgery. He was surrounded by members of all branches of the armed forces. He passed peacefully and no doubt is now in the company of Basilone, Howard, Shuggart, Gordon, Murphy and so many others.

RIP MSG Oresko


Rank and organization: Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company C, 302d Infantry, 94th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Tettington, Germany, 23 January 1945. Entered service at: Bayonne, N.J. Birth: Bayonne, N.J. G.O. No.: 95, 30 October 1945.


M/Sgt. Oresko was a platoon leader with Company C, in an attack against strong enemy positions. Deadly automatic fire from the flanks pinned down his unit. Realizing that a machinegun in anearby bunker must be eliminated, he swiftly worked ahead alone, braving bullets which struck about him, until close enough to throw a grenade into the German position. He rushed the bunkerand, with pointblank rifle fire, killed all the hostile occupants who survived the grenade blast. Another machinegun opened up on him, knocking him down and seriously wounding him in the hip. 

Refusing to withdraw from the battle, he placed himself at the head of his platoon to continue the assault. As withering machinegun and rifle fire swept the area, he struck out alone in advance of his men to a second bunker. With a grenade, he crippled the dug-in machinegun defending this position and then wiped out the troops manning it with his rifle, completing his second self-imposed,1-man attack. Although weak from loss of blood, he refused to be evacuated until assured the mission was successfully accomplished. Through quick thinking, indomitable courage, and unswervingdevotion to the attack in the face of bitter resistance and while wounded, M /Sgt. Oresko killed 12 Germans, prevented a delay in the assault, and made it possible for Company C to obtain itsobjective with minimum casualties.


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Tom Clancy, RIP

October 3rd, 2013 · General

I was on a cross country in Training Command to North Island NAS in San Diego sometime in the fall of 1985.  As a boot ensign, I didn’t know the first thing about San Diego or anything like that, so I just went to the Navy Exchange, bought some junk munchies and this new book I had heard about, “The Hunt for Red October”.

I spent the next day and a half, totqally absorbed, devouering that thing.  It was superb storytelling.  Thus began many years of enjoyment reading Tom Clany’s work.

Too young…66 years old.  RIP, Tom Clancy.  May your carrier have a bone in her teeth with a stiff wind down the angle…safe flying!




Author Tom Clancy dies

Posted Oct. 2, 2013, 01:18
Best-selling novelist Tom Clancy, whose spy thrillers made him one of the most popular writers of the last three decades, died Tuesday in a Baltimore hospital after a short illness. He was 66.

On Wednesday, Penguin Group (USA) released news of his death, but declined to name the cause. 

Clancy enjoyed wild success as a novelist, penning thrillers that orbit military espionage, political scandal, and terrorism often set during and after the Cold War. As a military technology buff, he crafted his plots with such accuracy that CNN noted he gained a “loyal following within the armed forces in the United States and abroad.”

 His first novel, The Hunt For Red October, about the defection of a Soviet naval captain, came out in 1984 when Clancy was 33 years old, and launched him immediately into a successful career. 

Retired Air Force Gen. Charles Horner told Clancy in an interview posted by Penguin Group that when he read the book, his eyes popped: “I was on active duty then, and I had access to a lot of secrets. … You knew things that people weren’t supposed to know.” 

Clancy often denied having special access to military secrets, but Horner called his accuracy and portrayal of U.S. military and intelligence operations “amazing.” Clancy responded with a smirk, saying finding his information was easy: “It’s all out in the open. I call it ‘connect the dots.’”

Seventeen of Clancy’s novels made in to  The New York Times bestseller list, and Hollywood turned six of them into well-known movies, including “The Hunt for Red October, (1990), starring Sean Connery as Captain Ramius, and Patriot Games, (1992), starring Harrison Ford.

Though Clancy was a Roman Catholic, his novels dealt with geopolitical struggles rather than religion. He was a hard-core conservative and Republican, and a staunch supporter of the U.S. military. A week after the 9/11 attacks, he indirectly blamed the political left for the devastation, telling Bill O’Reilly: “The CIA was gutted by people on the political left who don’t like intelligence operations … and as a result of that, as an indirect result of that, we lost 5,000 citizens last week.”

Clancy’s support for the military was almost paternal. He told Horner: “There is no truer representation of our country than the people it sends into the field to fight for it. And the people who wear our uniform and carry our rifles into combat, they’re our kids, and our job is to support them, because they are protecting us.”



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Warrior Aviation Arlington Fly Over

September 24th, 2013 · General

Had a fantastic time yesterday flying with Sean “Flopper” Cushing and the Warrior Aviation team in an Arlington National Cemetery missing-man tribute to USAF Majors James Sizemore and Howard Andre.

These are some of the early semi-keeper photos from the flight today. There wasn’t too much action-wise – we took off, held for 45 minutes (the usual drilling holes in the sky), delayed 10 minutes, then 20, then back to 15, finally pushing after a 13 minute slide in our target time.  Time on Top was great (with the new time), the missing man pull was *awesome* (4-g pull is da Bomb! when you haven’t had anything but 1-g for years and you used to live on a sustained 6 and a half).  Rejoin went well, another 4-g break turn. Land, debrief, thank everyone. Families show up for a after-action reception, shake hands, tell them what a distinct honor it was to be part of this. Great day!

Talk amongst us is that we may be seeing more of these civilian-led flight honors.  I understand – well, I *try* to understand – why the services cannot (or will not) provide these aerial honors to our passed heroes, but the bottom line is the services fly pretty much every day and some sort of arrangement should be able to be made to schedule a training hop that could include an Arlington or other cemetery flyover to honor these men and women.  It really isn’t that difficult.  In any event, the Warrior Aviation Team and others will stand by for any more of these tributes if called upon.

For me, to get back into a tactical jet – albeit a Czech-built trainer – was absolutely incredible.  21 years after my last Tomcat hop (a delivery of a new F-14D from Calverton, Long Island to Miramar) the old “never say never again” adage is proven true.  Thanks to my buddy Pat Marsh and his Warrior Aviation buds (Pat owns Vandy 1, the black L-39 with the bunny on the tail – a tribute to the history and heritage of the VX-4/VX-9 Black Bunny jet).

Over the Pentagon.  The missing-man pull happens about 2 seconds after this.  No pics during that time – camera shutters don’t like to work in a 4-g pull.  The site of the old Navy Annex is that brown patch middle-right,  Pentagon City to the left.
Left hand turn, headed toward Arlington.  I know this is our ingress because all our holding turns were to the right.
Vandy 1, lead ship.
Your intrepid author/photog, doing his standard look-out-the-canopy-at-our-wingman shot.
Mirror shot.  Sean “Flopper” Cushing, nose gunner :)
Dash 2, off our left side.
The A-26 Invader and its 2 P-51 escorts down about 1000 below us in holding.  The A-26 was the aircraft Majors Sizemore and Andre were flying when shot down in Laos.
I like reflections – it adds something to some photos.
Dash 4, another L-39.
Thanks to everyone who helped put this together.  Truly honored to be part of this.  God Speed, Majors Sizemore and Andre!  Welcome home!

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Warrior Aviation/Arlington Missing Man Flight Update

September 22nd, 2013 · General

Preparations are pretty much finalized for the Warrior Aviation Fly-over in honor of USAF Majors James E Sizemore and Howard V Andre at Arlington Cemetery tomorrow at noon.

My ejection-seat checkout for the L-39 is at 0800 or so. Full Brief at 0900. Walk at 1030, takeoff at 1100. We’ll be holding at Nottingham VORTAC (southwest from Andrews). Push time around 1155, Time on Top Arlington 1202. The B-25 will lead the first formation with the P-51 and P-47 on the wings. The A-26 will fly by solo in trail, which is the aircraft the Majors were flying. To follow are the L-39s with a missing man pull. Another L-39 will be offset to the west as a photo aircraft.

A-26A TA-646 Sizemore aircraft when shot downA-26A TA-646, the Invader aircraft that Major Sizemore and Major Andre were flying that day.

Major James Elmo Sizemore USAF Nakhon Phanom, Thailand KIA July 8 1969

Major James Elmo Sizemore, USAF

If you are in the DC area tomorrow, weather is supposed to be fantastic, so stop and see if you can see the aluminum sky. We’ll be coming in from south of Reagan National, up the Potomac, over the Pentagon. An ideal place to watch would be the Air Force memorial, just to the west of the Pentagon.

Salute to Majors Sizemore and Andre…welcome home, sirs. We’ve missed you!

To read more about this honor, go back to this post from a few weeks ago. If anyone would still like to contribute to the fuel fund, just hit the link shown.


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Aircraft, Departing

September 22nd, 2013 · General

You always salute when you leave the ship…whether by foot or by aircraft. The catapult officer (in yellow) is ready to do the “shoot this sucka” thing and the pilot is acknowledging all is ok inside his little world with the salute. Technically, you are supposed to salute when you come ABOARD the ship, as well, but I figured someone along the line somewhere decided a pilot is busy enough putting a 20 or 30 ton fire-belching  hundred-and-thirty-knot-traveling aeronautical pointy-nosed killing machine onto a 700-foot runway that is usually traveling away from you, at a 10-degree angle, at 25 or 30 knots and oftentimes pitching up and down 15 or 20 feet in a dutch roll is difficult enough without having to salute at the he fantail and “Request permission to come aboard!”..

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