On this date in 1972, LT Randy Cunningham and LTJG Willie Driscoll shot down three North Vietnamese MiGs in one engagement to become the United States’ first “aces”
of the Vietnam War.
Lots of small edits over the past few months and a few additions, here and there. Too many to delineate now.
I do get some questions as to my current health. Thank you all. Fortunately it is a lot better than it has been in previous years, and I'm still kicking, semi strongly.
My daughter carries on our aviation tradition, even though I cannot. She was recently hired by a well known and famous Fortune 100 Corporation to fly their impressive fleet of aircraft. She and I in this photo taken as of yesterday, that I have added on my Epilogue page:
Another fine and famous fighter pilot has flown west: CAPT Ron "Mugs" McKeown USN (Ret.).
I have recently learned that my fighter pilot friend, colleague, and fellow TOPGUN graduate, Bart Bartholomay lost in his final battle, his life on 5 October, 2015 while battling a serious illness. It is a deep loss for me, and especially for his family. May he rest in peace. Throw a nickel on the grass. Obituary of Henry "Bart" Bartholomay
I have just learned from reliable sources that the same F-14A that I ferried to Iran in 1977 is still flying out of Mehrabad Airbase at Tehran. Quite amazing!
Added on my Topgun page early TOPGUN instructor, Darrel Gary's rebuttal to the UK The Telegraph newspaper article falsely implying that the "American Top Gun fighter pilot academy [was] set up by the British."8716/2015
Here is an excellent hour-long documentary video all about the F-14 Tomcat and its many years of service. "Time to Remember."7/11/2015
For anyone who has not flown in combat or into harm’s way – and that even includes a majority of fighter pilots from various countries – my old VF-151 squadron mate and friend has recently published a personal video of an Alpha Strike.
Although I flew a mission later that day, I do remember this since we lost a couple of our squadron mates to SAMs. Indeed what is portrayed is fairly accurate of what we did and faced on most of our flights over North Vietnam in 1972.
Added on my 1st cruise page, a striking photo of the USS Midway sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge, in the fog and with her air-wing embarked. (Circa 1972)
Every month this seemingly nondescript, motley group - and perhaps 20 others not pictured - of aging Naval Aviators & Flight Officers meet for an early breakfast in San Diego.
Actually it is quite an august group that includes a number of retired admirals, former aircraft carrier captains, TOGUN COs, Blue Angels, POWs, some Silver Star and Navy Cross awardees, and the best fighter pilots in the world, in their time.
Here is a great F-18 video flying fast and low around the boat. Enjoy!1/23/2015
The March issue of the Smithsonian, Air & Space magazine will be on newsstands on 1, February.
Its cover story - F-4 Phantom, The Last Ace Maker - is a very interesting read. I had never thought that there may someday be, no more fighter aces.
Added two images of us guys as were were in 1972, on to my War, 2nd Cruise page.
Added an image of my old F-4B, NF-213 on my Linebacker I & II page.
From its genesis in 1969, the Navy Fighter Weapons School (NFWS, aka TOPGUN) has gone through a number of evolutions, expansion, and has changed geographical venues. In its initial existence Topgun was established solely to train F-4 pilots to fight and defeat Soviet fighter aircraft over Vietnam in close-in, dog fighting combat. The school was obviously, tremendously successful.
Congratulations to my friend and UK talented aviation artist, Pete Wenman, for his work now being selected for display within the US Pentagon. One of his five paintings is of my old squadron aircraft. Bravo Zulu, Pete!
42 years ago who among us in VF-151 aboard the USS Midway could have imagined our colorful F-4B fighter aircraft someday adorning five dollar Greeting Cards!!??
Added a photo of an AIM-9 Sparrow missile with a VF-1 F-14A on my VF-1 page.
My trusty and venerable Rolex watch that I purchased in 1971 in the Subic Bay, Philippines, Navy Exchange, and the watch that graces my wrist in most all images of me on this website, is in the shop (Shreve & Co.) in San Francisco for reconditioning.
Someone had commented on my lack of updates here in awhile. They worried that maybe my cancer had caught up with me. Thankfully that is not the case. I am quite healthy at the moment. I just have been lazy and otherwise occupied. So I have added a few more things here in the past few days to update this site.
We recently had a mini VF-151 reunion at the Ranch Bernardo Inn in July. Pictured are two stellar RIOs, one stellar maintenance officer, and two stellar F-4B drivers... one who had to endure some time as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton. Great stories, mixed memories, and a special bond among "we few, we happy few, we band of brothers."
I recently came across a vintage, Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) article from a 1964 All Hands magazine. Although a few years before my time there, it is a good representation of what I experienced during the hot and humid Pensacola summers of 1966 and '67 in AOCS. The Making of a Naval Aviator (pdf).
Someone recently sent me this photo of us during a "sky spot" drop in South Vietnam behind an Air Force Pave Phantom we used for their more accurate navigational guidance. While technically not a true Sky Spot - which we also did - that is what we called all these similar missions. When the weather was bad and precluded our visual, close air support to ours and ARVN ground troops,this is what we did elsewhere.
Fear as motivation…
I recently came across this old but interesting article concerning the enormous pressure of Naval flight training back in the day, especially the extremely grueling two weeks of Aviation Officer Candidate School’s indoctrination period.
A great man that I had the honor of knowing passed away this week – Jerry Coleman. Among other fine things, he was a star New York Yankee Infielder, a Marine combat fighter pilot in two wars, was the “Voice of the San Diego Padres,” and was once the team’s manager.
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