The Star Spangled Banner – Our Nation and Its Flag

The Star-Spangled Banner is the supreme symbol of the United States and the diverse people who call themselves Americans – their achievements, their goals, all that they hold true. Into this simple piece of cloth is woven the story of a nation. “Every wave of the flag is a pulse of history,” and evokes the full definition of patriotism and what it means to be an American:  our love of country, our responsibilities as citizens, our shared traditions and our ideals.

It is the lifeblood of our nation…the Star-Spangled Banner…Old Glory…the Stars and Stripes…the Red, White, and Blue…How does a piece of cloth come to hold such power?

The flag is the single symbol that bonds the diverse United States. It stands for the land and the people, the government, and the nation’s ideals. It embodies the heroism of Americans both famous and anonymous, our identity as a people, our dreams of the future.

Every wave of the flag is a pulse of history, a commemoration of multitudes of real, tangible, concrete events all melded into a single, grand, abstract concept: America. The American flag has been called the object of a national love affair and cited as the symbol of a civil religion. Indeed, some scholars claim that Americans feel a veneration for their flag far beyond that of citizens of any other nation. This observation would come as no surprise to most Americans. Even those who do not share the feeling are aware that the symbolism of the flag resonates throughout American life.

And Americans have not been shy about their civil religion, which endows our national symbol with religious significance. In 1864, as Abraham Lincoln placed Ulysses S. Grant at the head of the Union Army, a Pennsylvania patriot spoke of the American flag’s ‘sacred Past” and “Heaven-ordained Future.” In the autumn of 1917, as American troops rushed to France to support allied forces in World War I, the National Geographic magazine published a “Flag Number.” The issue, freely distributed to the thousand to the U.S. Army and Navy, opened with the statement that “the flag epitomizes for an army the high principles for which it strives in battle.” The text warns that the flag keeps ideals ever before the soldier. If it were not for the flag, the soldier “would be bestialized by slaughter.” The flag, said the magazine, keeps the fighting man “eager for personal sacrifice in the cause.”

Why does the flag have this power? Because, National Geographic Editor Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor asserted…its “origin is divinity itself.” Grosvenor is echoed almost a generation later, on the eve of World War II, by retired U.S. Army Col. James A. Moss, who cited the same source as Grosvenor: the Book of Genesis, 9:13, which describes the first flag. It was the firmament-wide, many-colored banner of the rainbow, which, God said to Noah, was “a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”

Americans follow the flag that waves at the head of a parade with a fervency akin to that in the hearts of marchers bearing holy icons in old Russia. In 1818, President-elect Andrew Jackson proclaimed that in a perfect democracy ”the voice of the people is the voice of God.”

Some 130 years later, writing from his Birmingham, AL jail cell, Martin Luther King, Jr., said that civil rights protesters were defending America’s “most sacred values…those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers.”  Sentiments such as these span our nation’s history and are part of what the flag represents.

It carries out image of ourselves as a chosen people, as inhabitants of what is still, in many ways, a brave new world. The idea of America as a utopia fired the imagination of European explorers. When they looked this way they saw a land that seemed, in the words of 16th-century French Huguernot colonizer Jean Ribaut, “the fairest, frutefullest and pleasantest of all the worlde.” The English seafarer Francis Drake, in the summer of 1579, found in California “a goodly country and fruitful soil, stored with many blessings fit for the use of man.” It was the search for such blessings – and for freedom – that drew the first settlers to the shores of North America. Today the same search bring to the United States immigrants who, as new citizens, pledge allegiance to the flag of red and white and blue.


By: Margaret Sedeen

National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.

Our Flag

Our Flag

I pledge allegiance to the Flag
Of the United States of America
And to the Republic for which it stands,
One Nation under God, indivisible,
With liberty and justice for all.

The National Flag represents the living country and is considered to be a living thing emblematic of the respect and pride we have for our nation. Our flag is a precious possession. Display it proudly.

There are certain fundamental rules of Heraldry, which, if understood, generally indicate the proper method of displaying the flag. The right arm, which is the sword arm and the point of danger, is the place of honor. Hence, the union of the flag is the place of honor or the honor point.

The National emblem is a symbol of our great country, our heritage and our place in the world. We owe reverence and respect to our flag. It represents the highest ideals of individual liberty, justice and equal opportunity for all.

General Display

It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

The flag should be displayed daily, on or near the main administration building of every public institution…in or near every polling place on election days…during school days in or near every schoolhouse.

No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea…for personnel of the Navy…when the church pennant may be flown above the flag.

No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor tok or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof: Provided, that nothing in this section shall make unlawful the continuance of the practice heretofore followed of displaying the flag of the United Nations in a position of superior prominence or honor, with that of the flag of the United States at the headquarters of the United Nations.

The flag of the United States of America, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag’s own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.

The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants or societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.

When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag’s right.

When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.

When the flag of the United States is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope extending from a house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.

When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.

When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the North in and East and West street or to the East in a North and South street.

The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floork, water or merchandise.

The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture or drawing of any nature.

The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carryin, or delivering anything.
Parades – Ceremonies

The flag, when carried in a procession or with another flag or flags, should be either on the marching right; that is, the flag’s own right, or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line. The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade except from a staff for as against a wall or in a window.

The flag should form a distinctive feature of the ceremony of unveiling a statue or monument. But it should never be used as the covering for the statue or monument.

That no disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America, the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.

The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present except those in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Those present in uniform should render the military salute. When not in uniform, men should remove their headdress with their right and hold it at the left shoulder, the hat being over the heart. Aliens should stand at attention The salute to the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

To fold the flag ceremoniously, first fold it lengthwise, bringing the striped half up over the blue field. Then repeat, with the blue field on the outside. Beginning at the lower right, make a series of triangular folds until the flag resembles a cocked hat with only the blue field visible.

The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.

Corridors – Lobbies

When the flag is suspended across a corridor or lobby in a building with only one main entrance, it should be suspended vertically with the union of the flag to the observers’ left upon entering. If the building has more than one main entrance, the flag should be suspended vertically near the center of the corridor or lobby with the union to the North when entrances are to the East or West – or to the East when entrances are to the North and South. If there are entrances in more than two directions, the union should be to the East.

Churches – Auditoriums

When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium,, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be place on the left of the clergyman or speaker or the right of the audience.


When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head of over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.

National Anthem

During the rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.

Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.


The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.
On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff. On the following days, the flag is to be flown at half-mast for the entire day:
December 7th – Pearl Harbor Day

May 15th – Peace Officers Memorial Day

July 27th – Korean War Veterans Armistice Day

By order of the President…

… the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed a half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law.

In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory or possession of the United States, the Governor of that State, territory or possession may proclaim that the National flag may be flown at half-staff.

Wearing Apparel – Drapery

The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of a platform, and for decoration in general.

No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.


The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.


The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

Flag Holidays

New Year’s Day – January 1st
Inauguration Day – January 20th
Lincoln’s Birthday – February 12th
Washington’s Birthday – 3rd Monday in February
Easter Sunday – Variable
Mother’s Day – 2nd Sunday in May
Armed Forces Day – 3rd Saturday in May
Memorial Day (1/2 staff until noon) – Last Monday in May
Flag Day – June 14th
Independence Day – July 4th
Labor Day – 1st Monday in September
Constitution Day – September 17th
Columbus Day – 2nd Monday in October
Navy Day – October 27th
Veterans Day – November 11th
Thanksgiving Day – 4th Thursday in November
Christmas Day – December 25th

…such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States; the birthdays of States (date of admission); and on State holidays.

The rules and customs presented above are in accordance with the July 7, 1976 amendment to the Flag Code (Public Law 94-344, 94th Congress, S.J. Res. 49)

My Reflections of Charles A. Lindbergh

(General Aviation in light planes didn’t change much in 30 yrs prior to WWII)

Lindbergh was born in 1902 on a farm in Minnesota – I was born 20 yrs later (i.e.: 1922) on a farm in Kansas. Both of us had two years of college when we started flying. He was a little weak in hard core engineering subjects and so was I. He soloed in 1923 in a By-Plane and I solo’d in 1943 in a By-Plane. His plane had a tail-skid…Mine had a tail wheel.

During instrument flight (…in Lindbergh’s day it was called Blind Flying) we both used the Needle, Ball, Airspeed Method. In my case, we also had the Vertical speed indicator…he did not. In both cases the Magnetic Compass was our main navigational instrument, however, in Navy advanced trainers we had a Directional Gyro. The Attitude Instrument (i.e: Artificial Horizon) had not yet been installed and was considered inaccurate.

I  too, got to land light planes – Stearman, Cubs, Porterfield and Tims in grass fields and in my Cessna-140, due to a hot engine, even on a farmer’s New Mexico gravel driveway in 1969. All of Lindbergh’s flying, except the “Spirit of Saint Louis” was in open cock-pits. My open cock-pit flying was limited to the Tim and the Stearman. All other lite plane flying, in my case, was in the enclosed cock-pit (i.e.: Cessnas, Piper Cubs and my 1941 Porterfield).

In 1927 Lindbergh flew across the United States and years later, so did I. His plane was 100 hp and my Cessna 140 was 85 hp. He had no radio, but I did. He was a good acrobatic pilot…I was just mediocre. He used old limited research charts and I got to use accurate aviation sectionals. His crossing of the U.S. was the central portion in 1927 – my crossing…2 times – more southern until Texas then to the central-San Diego, CA to Washington, D.C. in 1969 and back in 1971.

A Lindbergh quote in 1923…”No matter how much training you’ve had, your first solo is far different from all other flights. You are hopelessly beyond help, entirely responsible, and terribly alone in space. If you get lost from your field, the penalty is more severe than words of reprimand or laughter.” In 1943, I felt the same way. My first carrier landing aboard the USS Woverine, on Lake Michigan, in 1945, was also an incredible experience.

Lindbergh was not only an outstanding pilot, but also a wing waler, a parachutist and a part time mechanic. In my case, only the pilot part (Ha!)…a little mechanic ability and that was it.

In 1924, at age 22, he landed his privately owned Jenny on his father’s old closed up farm in Minnesota. In 1928 – at the age of 6 yrs – I took my first air plane ride from a hay meadow on my Grandfather’s farm in Kansas. It was on open cock-pit airplane, but I don’t remember what kind…?…Maybe…a Jenny?

Lindbergh’s experience as a U.S. Mail Plane Pilot was a day/night in all kinds of weather pilot…and…in open cock-pit planes…no radios…just a compass and charts…flying from St. Louis to Chicago and back…He once took his mom on one of these flights and she rode up front on the mail sacks. His years as a barnstormer/flying circus pilot and Army Cadet (he made Captain in the Army Air Corps Reserve) is well worth reading. However, his preparation; problems for and during the flight – non-stop across the Atlantic in May of 1927 – is a must for every pilot…although…unappreciative at the time – at age 5 – I, none the less, remember many adults talking of  his historical achievement.

After 34 hours of flying in fog, rain and rough air with no food (he had sandwiches with him but never got hungry) and mostly over water facing the unknown…flying anywhere from 20 ft to 5,000 ft and with no sleep (he fought it all the way)…he finally arrived over the southern tip of Ireland at 100 ft in favorable weather and viewed people waving.

A Quote: “Here’s a Human Welcome, I’ve never seen such beauty before…fields of green, people so alive, a village so attractive. One appreciates only after absence. For 25 yrs I’ve lived on earth, and yet not seen it until this moment. For nearly 2,000 hrs, I’ve flown over it without realizing what wonders lay below – Snow White Foam on Black Rock Shores…the Hospitality of Little Houses…the Welcoming of Waving Arms. During my entire life I’ve accepted these gifts of God to man and not known what was mine until this moment. It’s like rain after drought; Spring after a Northern Winter. I’ve been to eternity and back. I know how the dead would feel to live again.”

From Ireland to Paris…across England and the English Channel…now just 4 hrs away – the Arrival – 2 hrs ahead of schedule, was on May 21st at 2152 hrs. Le Bourget Field was not on the map, but he was told, before leaving St. Louis, it was NE of the city.

Over the Eiffel Tower, he flew NE and found a dark spot with hundreds of lights on the sides. He circled several times using every ounce of information available, plus instinct, and finally landed safely.

Note: He could not see forward on take off…during flight or landing…because of the big gas tank in the front – his view was head-out-the-side-window looking forward (I did the same thing when instructing in the tail-wheeled SNJ 1946 and Citabra 1986). Souvenir hunters took a few plane and engine parts before it could be hangared and stored under guard. Two french aviators took Lindbergh away quickly before the crowd could smother him with affection.

In 1944, the U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters gave permission to a Marine Corsair fighter Squadron C.O. to allow Lindbergh (age 42) to check out and fly a combat mission in the F4U Corsair. The C.O. said that Lindbergh “Took to it right away” and flew as well, if not better, than some of their most seasoned pilots. As I recall, this was from Bouganville, the largest island in the Solomons.  Just 10 yrs later (1954), when I was 32, I too, got to fly the Corsair… i.e.: we called it the Hose Nose and/or The Bent Wing!

Lindbergh was never addressed as Charles or Charley…merely Captain or Slim by associates. However, to the Media and Public, he was called The Flying FoolLucky Lindy or Daredevil.

“What a guy he was…unfortunately for me, I never met him”. He is buried at Maui, a 728 sq mile island, in Hawaii.

Note: Aircraft design was primitive when the RYAN Company OF SAN DIEGO, CA  built the” Spirit of St Louis” in just two months; Research on Max Gross, CG LIMITS ETC WAS EXPERIMENTAL..and had not been  a part of aircraft design in those days…. Lindbergh did all the flight testing himself, with  various loads at Camp Kearney in San Diego  before his flight non-stop  to St. Louis – Then later with a heavy load he flew from  St .Louis to Curtiss Field ,Long Island for final preparations.. Aircraft was  then  towed (due to weather) to Roosevelt field- topped off with 400 gallons of fuel and waited for   favorable weather-which did not come—On take off at Roosevelt field in Long Island-(GROSSED OUT AT 5,000 LBS -HALF THIS WT WAS FUEL) wheels were sunk into the damp turf about 1 inch- he had a light quartering tail wind and visibility was about ¾ of a mile(Haze/fog  and a dark morning.). He walked the distance first, then made his decision to take off, clearing the wires at the runway’s end by about 20 ft.

He hadn’t slept 24 hrs before the flight and adding that to his 38 hrs .  we come up with 62 hrs with no sleep.., He had no personal baggage, no parachute . not even wing and tail lights on the plane.(No one else flying  this route anyway)   Weight reduction was the name of the game., critical for take-off and flight until some fuel was used up..There were no” how-goes-it charts “and so everything was a LINDBERGH estimate.

One big reason he beat others who were competing for this $25,000 prize, was that others were getting inputs from financial backers who had little knowledge of aviation telling the pilots what they should do or should not do.   His financial backers let every detail of the flight up to him, proving that – too many oars in the water is detrimental to success. Incidentally, we still have that problem (i.e.: People who are not pilots making rules for the FAA).

Thanks – Captain Floyd H. Brown, USN (Ret)

I just passed my 87th birthday and have been blessed beyond belief!” – 2/2010

                                                           Born, Redfield, KS, 1922 – U.S. Navy 1941

XO of  VS-24, May ’64 – Feb.’65, C.O. Feb ’65 to April ’66.

Became CAG-60 and then XO of  USS Lexington CVS-16.

Served in Tonkin Gulf  as OPS to ASW Group 3 aboard USS Bennington then to the Pentagon as Air Advisory to VADM Caldwell in Op-95.

Retired in 1970 and moved to Pensacola in 1972.

10,000 hours of flight experience landing on 17 different carriers including the Royal Navy.

Qualified as a Naval Aviator on the USS Wolverine, a Great Lakes Cruise Ship converted into a training carrier for the US Navy on Lake Michigan in 1942.

While aboard the USS Intrepid, entertained the GT-3 Astronauts, Gus Grissom and John Young with an original “Unsinkable Molly Brown” song and piloted John Young back to Cape Canaveral in a squadron ‘Stoof’.

Hit the Deck Jake

An interview by David Venditta Of The Morning Call, November 11, 2008

Warren ”Jake” Fegely grew up in Allentown, PA, quit school in eighth grade and joined the Navy in 1943 at age 17. He served as a radar operator aboard the USS Intrepid. His story begins late on the night of Feb. 16, 1944, with the Intrepid near Truk in the Pacific’s Caroline Islands.

I had just got off radar duty. About midnight, I went up topside and I’m standing on what they call the galley deck, which was several feet below the flight deck and had a safety cable along the side. I was leaning on this cable, looking up at the sky. It was quiet and beautiful.

I was supposed to be in my sack, but I just thought I’d go up and get some air. I knew there were enemy planes out there looking for us and that we were zig-zagging. We were on Condition One Easy. That means be on your guns but don’t fire until ordered to.

So I’m out there for about 10 minutes and I hear this motor. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I was too stunned to move, so I just stood there and froze.

Here this guy comes right over my head, a Japanese torpedo bomber, and SPLASH. I knew it was an aerial torpedo.

The captain ordered the ship to make an emergency turn, but the torpedo caught us in the rudder. BAM! It rocked us, killed a bunch of guys in the back. I heard them screaming, strapped in their guns.

My brother’s advice

My oldest brother… said to me when I joined the Navy: ”Jake, see if you can get into radar. It’s something new, it’s secret.”

After basic training, I got into the Norfolk Naval Air Station fire department temporarily, and I saw the Intrepid pull in, brand new. I said: Oh, there’s a carrier. I want to go and fight the Japanese. So I went aboard and asked to be in radar, and they said I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have the education. An officer stepped up to me and said, ”If you want to study hard and cram and you can pass the test, you can make it.” So they put me aboard the carrier as a radar striker — I was a seaman striking for the position of radarman — and this officer started me the first day with manuals. I studied every night until 2 or 3 in the morning.

We went down to the Panama Canal, smashed up our bow there, and up to Hunter’s Point, CA, to put on more guns and a new bow. I went to the University of California in Berkeley for a month, then Camp Catlin radar school in Honolulu. I took the test and the officer said, ”You did it. Let me give you your first stripe.” Now I was a third class radarman.

The radar room

We had four-hour watches, four-on, four-off.

My post was in the Combat Information Center (CIC). We had a big filter board, radar sets, plotting tables, a locker of codes for all naval formations. We could pick up raids about 100 miles away, which isn’t far at sea. They could get to us in no time.

I’d say, ”I have a large bogey bearing zero five zero, 60 miles and closing,” and then we’d be plotting him. A guy that was on the filter board, a plotter, would mark it. And we’d say, ”Estimated 10-20 planes.” We had to get permission from the admiral to send fighter planes up. If there were 20 Japanese planes, he’d order 50 fighters up. The plotter would give his information to a fighter direction officer in the radar room. He would direct the interceptors. He was a fighter pilot, so he knew exactly how to talk to these guys.

It got hectic. So much happened so fast…and you were only allowed to be on radar 20 minutes at a time because it would make you sterile because of the radar waves in the set; it wasn’t shielded properly. A guy was on standby and he’d switch with you, and for half an hour, maybe, you’d be on headphones to the ship’s gunners.

When the Japanese planes came nearer, we’d alert our guns. We’d give them the range and bearing and say they should train for a certain elevation. We might say, ”Angels two,” meaning altitude 2,000 feet, and ”Expected to be torpedo bombers.” Some of our gun tubs were manned by Marines, so we had a Marine gunnery officer in the radar room.

We had some black Navy men who were cooks and served the officers, and on general quarters they manned the 20 mm machine guns on the galley deck. A Japanese plane came in and hit the gun tub they were in and splashed gasoline over it and burned them all alive. You should have heard the screaming…Oh my God, I heard it for years after. We learned it was Gun Tub #10.

They called me Hit the Deck Jake.

When a raid would come in, you would lay on the deck so you didn’t present a stand-up target. You’d make yourself as safe as possible. In the radar room, we were surrounded by metal, but it wasn’t armor-plated.

I’d be on the headphones seeing reports on the filter board that the Japanese planes were getting closer. I’d get reports from a radarman, and a visual lookout would phone in, ”Here they come!” I’d yell out to the eight or nine guys in the room, ”HIT THE DECK!” And the guys would hit the deck. BOOM, we’d get hit and everybody would survive.

So one day we got a new division officer, a young guy, and a raid comes in and I said, ”Hit the deck!” and everybody except this officer gets down. After it was over, and we didn’t get hit, this rookie officer gets up and says, ”Now listen, fellas, under my command, with planes coming in, we don’t hit the deck. John Paul Jones would be ashamed of us if we shied away from facing the enemy.” He as much as called us cowards, and boy, that teed us off.

That same trip out, we have a raid coming in, suicide planes, maybe 20 coming in to kill us. I yelled ”Hit the deck!” I was so used to saying it…And…we got hit, BOOM! And the officer got knocked around and he almost bashed his head against one of the plotting boards, and I don’t see him anymore. Here he’s underneath a radar set shaking. I said, ”John Paul Jones would be very proud of us now, especially when we crawl under a radar set.” The guys laughed. He got up and said, ”Fegely, one more crack like that and your ass is going on report and you’re going in the brig.”

Later, he shook hands with me and said he was sorry, he was new and didn’t understand what combat was all about. We got along great after that. He recommended me for a combat promotion from third to second class.

Sleep in a helmet

When there’s an attack, you hear the bosun’s whistle: General quarters! Then the bugle.

I slept on the 1st deck below, on the 5th bunk up, and the speaker was at my ear. GENERAL QUARTERS! That used to knock me out of  bed, just about. We’d yell back all kinds of obscenities. You’d be dead tired and get general quarters at 3 am and you had to come up one ladder up to the hangar deck. There were red lights along the way because they couldn’t use white lights — red lights couldn’t be seen at a distance. So it was dark and you could hardly see.
The planes are parked tight together with the wings folded up, and they have antenna underneath. We had 100 planes, over half on the hangar deck. You had to watch you didn’t get cut by an antenna or poked in the eye. I’d be half asleep and go up with my hands in front of me. Then you had to go up a ladder again to get to the radar room. That was one of the worst things, running from my bunk to my battle station, trying not to get stabbed in the side a couple times by things protruding from the planes.

Kamikazes strike

I was the admiral’s radar operator for three days, up on the island at what was called flag plot.

The admiral, Gerald F. Bolger, who was a helluva nice guy, was the commander of the task force. He and his assistants did the plotting and planning up there. They kept switching the top-rated radarmen up there for him.

We had a kamikaze attack, about 15 to 18 Japanese planes came in. One hits, WHOOM! And it shook the heck out of us. Five minutes later, WHOOM, another one hits. The standby radarmen were in what they called the pilots’ ready room. It was under the flight deck. That’s where they’d go when the pilots were out.

When the first kamikaze hit the flight deck, its bomb came through and everybody in the ready room was blown to pieces — 26 radarmen. A lot of my friends were down there. Later, I had to go and help identify the bodies. I’d pick up arms and try to match them. That was a terrible day. It was a massacre. I was up in flag plot with the admiral when the planes hit. He said, ”OK, let’s go…We’ve got bodies to pick up.”


The Intrepid’s air group sank 80 ships, and its planes and guns destroyed more than 650 enemy aircraft.

Fegely has five campaign ribbons and seven battle stars. He worked for almost 30 years in the Allentown Fire Department as a communications specialist, retiring in 1975. Fegely said he was never scared aboard the Intrepid. ”I didn’t worry about getting hit, I don’t know why. I wasn’t brave or anything. I was just doing my job, and that was it.” But he did know fear later while serving on a troop ship that got caught in a typhoon off Okinawa. ”It scared the hell out of me. The waves were hundreds of feet high. Some ships never got out of the harbor; they rolled over. It was the first time I was scared, and that was after the war.”

Fegely’s e-mail address:

Naval Aviation’s Second Century

By: Vice Admiral Robert F. Dunn, U.S. Navy (Ret)

What will naval aviation be 50 years hence? Still crucial, yet technologically far superior—as long as the public remains aware and supportive. 

Naval aviation has had a glorious past. There were glimmers of its importance to the Navy mission as far back as World War I and throughout the 1920s and ’30s. Then in World War II and the years that followed, naval aviation became the centerpiece of the Navy, exemplified best by the question asked by a series of presidents in crisis: “Where are the carriers?

All in all, it’s been a great century for naval aviation, but what will the next century bring? What, indeed, will the next half-century bring?

The present is a good place to begin to answer such a question; but first, a caution. Almost 60 years ago, after an evening meal in 1954, a number of air-group pilots gathered on the open forecastle of the USS Wasp (CV-18). This was before the angled deck and hurricane-bow conversion, so the forecastle was a pleasant place to have a smoke and tell tall tales. There wasn’t much night flying in those days, which facilitated things.

In the course of conversation one of the more senior Cougar pilots (the air group had Cougars, Panthers, Banshees, and Skyraiders) opined that his Cougar probably would be the last manned aircraft ever purchased by the Navy. They were just too expensive and, besides that, guided missiles were the wave of the future. After all, as an at-hand example, we did have a detachment from Guided Missile Group Two on board, ready to steer submarine-launched Regulus missiles to their targets. Nonetheless, that prediction about the Cougar being the last of its breed, of course, proved to be wildly wrong, but it serves to show that when one forecasts the future, even in 2011, a liberal application of caution is in order.

On the other hand, despite yesteryear’s predictions of flying cars and colonies on Mars, we can look back and see a number of successful prognostications. Dick Tracy’s wrist radio and Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone are with us in a multitude of guises today. So are rockets and nuclear power, largely subjects for comic books and Popular Mechanics in the 1950s. Steady evolution brought us from analog gunfire-control computers to digital computers in countless applications. Even in 1951, the concept of interplanetary travel using a combination of propulsion systems was envisioned. Remotely operated aircraft were flown as far back as the 1920s. So the problem of divining the future becomes one of sifting the probable from the possible, the most feasible outcomes from all the dreams, guesses, and conjectures of the present. For naval aviation’s tomorrow, here is what is most likely.

A Flight Deck in a Crystal Ball

Undoubtedly, naval forces, including naval aviation, will continue to have worldwide responsibilities, among them maintaining a forward presence, ensuring free access to that 71 percent of the planet covered by water, supporting frienvdly forces from the sea, countering the threats of others, and remaining ready to perform humanitarian missions around the globe. Still, in the world today and the world to come, very seldom, if ever, will naval forces be used by themselves. Instead, they will be used in conjunction with other American armed services or with allies, or with both.

Such use most certainly will include large-deck carrier battle groups. That sine qua non of the U.S. Navy, along with land-based naval aviation and rotary-wing aircraft embarked on both carrier and amphibious group ships, will remain. In addition, important roles will be filled by remotely piloted aircraft flying from all sorts of Navy ships, possibly including aircraft carriers. These ships and other units—and the people who operate and maintain them—will continue to serve worldwide, in all weather, in all seasons of the years.

Naval aviation, ever modernizing/adapting to emergent strategic/tactical needs and  new technologies, will continue to be the key element in fulfilling the worldwide missions/requirements of the U.S. Navy through the next half-century and beyond. But readiness to meet any future circumstance requiring American capabilities is not just the responsibility of naval aviation, of course, and wherever possible and feasible such duties will encompass the capabilities and resources of sister services, allies, and civilian agencies.

Instances of naval aviation going it alone will be extremely rare. In preparing for the next 50 years one must ask, What operational and technological changes might be seen during that time? The answer must be that many of the more certain changes are already upon us. Consider that even in 2011 the use of unmanned aircraft of all sizes and capabilities and in all dimensions is widespread and growing. Communications are worldwide with both point-to-point and broadcast connectivity available to people in all parts of the world. Ever-increasing computational power makes possible almost instantaneous problem-solving both for the individual and the laboratory, both for civilian life and the battlefield.

Even the looming presence of the cyber-warfare threat can’t dampen enthusiasm for the high-tech spectrum’s potential, already outlapping the wildest expectations of just a few years ago. There are transportation and weapon systems below, on, and above the surface of the earth and on into space only dreamed of by Captain Nemo, Buck Rogers, and James Bond. Robotic systems of all sorts are becoming ubiquitous. Which of these cutting-edge technologies, or others, are most likely to come of age during the active-duty years of those just now entering the uniformed services? Which are most likely to meet possible threats at an affordable price?

Technology continues to explode in all dimensions, and the Navy must keep up and take advantage. Research-and-development and active intelligence programs are critically important. In an era of stringent budgets, R&D must be maintained.

Still a Large Need for Large Decks

The carrier strike group will continue to be the critical element of forward-deployed American naval power. Despite the end of the Cold War, conflict and unrest have continued in the world, and there has been no change in the demand from combatant commanders and allies, or even presidents, for deployment of carriers and their aircraft and supporting units.

Others (but never the aforementioned combatant commanders) cry for reducing the numbers of carriers or replacing them with some other kind of ship or system—but the basis for their cries is most often dollars, not capability or utility. These naysayers will cite the latest Chinese missile system or some exotic yet-to-be flown space system as the death knell of carriers, but never give credit to the numerous counter-systems already deployed in the carriers and the other strike-group ships and aircraft. These vessels and aircraft are products of continual evolution. The USS Nimitz (CVN-68) of 2011 is a far cry from the Nimitz of 1969, and the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) of 2011 is a far cry from what will be the George H. W. Bush of 2041, when ensigns commissioned in 2011 are in charge of the Navy.

The large number of American flat-deck amphibious ships, LHAs, LHDs, and others to come are sometimes seen as a replacement for the large-deck aircraft carrier. Load them with short-takeoff/vertical-landing (STOVL) aircraft and there will be no need for the 100,000-ton aircraft carrier, say some. Conveniently ignored is the reason for the large-deck amphibious ships in the first place: deployment of a Marine Amphibious Ready Group. Are we ready to sacrifice that uniquely American contribution to world peace and stability?

Then too, there are just a few other problems with the concept. Loading the LHD with a useful number of STOVL aircraft would of necessity displace other aircraft, such as helicopters and Ospreys, important to the amphibious mission. The 20-knot maximum speed of the LHD, without any catapult assist available, would in most circumstances require launch of the STOVL aircraft at less than full load, either less fuel (and therefore less range and time on station) or less ordnance.

Besides, consider all that fossil fuel required by the LHDs’ turbines so much better used in aircraft. It’s doubtful that vegetable oil will make up for much of that. Thus, how will American forces and allies operating far from friendly bases receive any kind of support from the air? Seldom will mission transit-times, measured in long hours from the continental United States or even Europe or Japan, be feasible either in timeliness or quantity.

Large-deck aircraft carriers will still be critically important and with us 50 years from now.

The Unmanned Plus-Factor

In the future, ships such as the Bush and others yet to be commissioned will still be operating piloted aircraft like the F/A-18E/F, the EF-18G, the E-2D, and the F-35C for a majority of missions, but also on board will be a stable of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) suitable for even wider employment, including the unmanned carrier-launched surveillance-and-strike (UCLASS) vehicles now in early testing.

There are now and will be, for a considerable time, limits to UAVs, however. Being remotely operated, such aircraft rely on electronic communications susceptible to deception, interference, and system malfunctions, with no on-board human intelligence to make repairs and corrections. Add to that the problems of mixing piloted and unpiloted craft on a carrier deck, and the problem magnifies. True, that latter problem may well be solved in time—never underestimate the ingenuity of an aviation boatswain’s mate. But until it is solved, widespread use of UCLASS craft from carrier decks remains some time in the distant future.

On the other hand, we can anticipate growing use of UAVs from other strike-group decks; aircraft such as Fire Scout can be expected to increase in numbers, utility, and value. There might even be a sorely needed minesweeping UAV in the future. UAVs also will be launched from elsewhere in support of the carrier strike group and, not to be ignored, the threats of adversaries using UAVs against the carriers is upon us. Suffice it to say, UAVs of all sorts will gain in capability and improve in all dimensions as time goes on.

Hand-in-hand with new kinds of UAVs will come that new kind of maritime-patrol aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon. Carrying a smaller crew than its predecessor, the P-3 Orion, the P-8 is several times more capable. Not only will it come with longer range and on-scene dwell-time, but it will have an already proven enhanced-reliability electronics suite. Add to that the ability to augment and partner with (from a distance) not only the carrier’s new E-2D Hawkeye II but also reconnaissance and electronic-warning satellites and whatever systems the U.S. Air Force contributes to the planned AirSea Battle. Perhaps most important, the Poseidon will be capable of managing information from, and commands to, all sorts of reconnaissance and targeting platforms.

The Navy will continue its reliance on a naval aviation force integrated with the rest of the service and equipped with both sea-based and land-based manned aircraft increasingly augmented with UAVs.

Electronic Evolution/Revolution

From social networking to computerized commerce, our connectivity, our decision-making ability, and even the display screens fueling our communications revolution continue to grow more streamlined and sophisticated at a pace only dreamed of a few years ago. From a military standpoint in general and a naval aviation one in particular, these advances are profoundly significant.

Weapons launched from aircraft, whether air-to-air or air-to surface, will become more versatile; that is, the time will come when an aircraft will need carry only one type of weapon with its use and performance determinable by the aircraft commander or even ordered up by a ground commander in contact with an enemy. The secondary effects of such characteristics will work wonders in both costs and readiness in the fields of training and logistics. The Navy’s growing dependence on satellites will have to be reversed to reduce a host of vulnerabilities, but the way ahead in that area is yet to be determined.

Aircraft systems too will be continuously improved to take advantage of this ongoing advance in electronic automation. Flight in aerodynamic domains heretofore only described in textbooks will become commonplace and so routine that even carrier landings, today a major measure of talent among naval aviators, will become nothing more than a routine evolution. This will change the culture of carrier pilots, too. The skill of the pilot will no longer be measured in the number of traps in his or her logbook. Today’s carrier pilots may even be looked on as curiosities or crazy daredevils, much as those who once landed on straight decks, even at night, are looked on today.

Today, naval aviation leads in electronic warfare (EW). The EA-6B and now the EF-18G Growler are the preeminent electronic warfare aircraft in the world. As digital electronics proliferate and become more intrusive and adaptable, airborne electronic warfare will have to keep pace.

We will need a modular, adaptable architecture that distributes antennas, power sources, transmitters, and processors across more than just a few platforms. With proper funding, naval aviation will continue to lead the way in this most important area of air warfare. Fortunately, many young men and women opting for flight training today have their eyes on the Growler. With their enthusiasm and impetus, we will see naval aviation continue to lead the way in airborne EW. Electronics will continue to change the world, especially in naval aviation.

On Seas Ever Perilous

Turning to more immediate problems, the Chinese have the 1,900-mile-range DF-21D antiship ballistic missile and make claims of territory in historically international waters. The North Koreans rattle their nuclear saber and periodically threaten South Korea. The Iranians and others will soon be capable of swarming tactics against our forces. Moreover, terrorists have not given up.

New threats will always be with us; such is the nature of warfare. Each threat can and will be countered. The counter may be found in the carrier battle group itself, or it may be found elsewhere; but found it will be, with chances being better than even that it will come on the back of naval aviation.

All of these prognostications can easily be knocked into a cocked hat by the budget, of course. If the people of the United States and their elected representatives don’t see fit to fund the evolutionary changes in defense that most assuredly would come about in the natural order of things, naval aviation will see the mid-1970s as déjà vu all over again. The nation must not mortgage the future just to solve today’s problems.

Equally important, if the people’s opinion of the value of the Navy continues to be as low as opinion polls show today, all bets are off. While it’s the duty of those in naval aviation to train, maintain, and be ready to do whatever the nation calls on them to do, leaders must convince U.S. citizens that naval aviation is critically important to their welfare and the welfare of their children for years to come. As it is now, these naval leaders have more work to do.

Spread the word. Don’t leave it to CHINFO. Don’t leave it to old retired people. Active-duty leadership must get out and talk about what the Navy, particularly naval aviation, does and can do for this nation. Unless this happens, the budget will not provide, and all the rest of the effort is pointless. An adequate naval aviation budget is imperative.

Much of the foregoing has forecast technological change. Such change will accrue to the good of American defense in general and naval aviation in particular, but such changes are effective for only short periods of time and are expensive. Nevertheless, in 2061, providing current leaders do their job, naval aviation will still be with us, still the centerpiece of the Navy, also critical to the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard, and still held up to the rest of the defense establishment as the model for other agencies to follow. Thus will be best ensured our liberty, our way of life, our ability to pursue happiness, and our leadership of the world in the establishment of peace everywhere.


Repatriation of Remains of 13 U.S. Sailors in Libya

The Repartriation of the remains of 13 U.S. Intrepid sailors may not happen soon.

The remains of 13 American sailors buried in the libyan capital of Tripoli for more than 200 years may be there a bit longer.

The sailors were the casualties of a mission to destroy a once-thriving pirate fleet, and their descendants have sought for years to repatriate the remains. Their efforts have been alternately blocked by the Gaddafi government and resisted by defense officials.

Soon after the ouster of the Gaddafi government, the Senate was on the brink of passing legislation that would have required the Pentagon to seek the return of the remains. But the provision now appears to be on hold.

As a result, the repatriation of the officers and crew of the USS Intrepid might not happen anytime soon.

The story of the USS Intrepid is part of the history of what is known as the First Barbary War. In 1804, the 13 sailors aboard the vessel were dispatched with explosives to blow up the Tripoli harbor. The city’s ruler had been using it as a base for pirate ships that were pillaging American merchant vessels in the Mediterranean, and the covert mission was a last-ditch effort to end the practice.

The Americans’ vessel, however, exploded prematurely — it’s unclear exactly why — killing all on board.

The Navy has respectfully declined to retrieve the remains, saying it believes Libya is the “final resting place” of the sailors and noting that it is custom to honor the burial grounds of those lost on ships and downed aircraft. There was a formal memorial ceremony held in honor of the sailors and crew in Tripoli in 1949, and the Navy says that U.S. Embassy personnel conducted regular services there for decades afterward.

The cemetery that is believed to be the site of most of the remains is U.S. diplomatic property.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert considers the Tripoli Protestant cemetery to be the final resting place of the Intrepid sailors who sacrificed their lives for our nation,” Lt. Cmdr. Alana Garas, a Navy spokeswoman, said in a statement this week, echoing the stance of Greenert’s predecessor, Adm. Gary Roughhead.

Those behind the grass-roots repatriation effort, however, say the Tripoli cemetery is hardly Normandy.

The sailors “are not honored there,” said Michael Caputo, who coordinates the Intrepid Project, the group that has pressed to have the remains brought back. “They’re stashed there.”

The Navy has previously raised doubts about whether the remains could be found and identified after 207 years. Caputo said his group has provided the Navy with historical records that should allay those concerns.

Veterans’ organizations have backed the effort, as have key lawmakers on the Hill.

At the end of the day, the families are not satisfied with the fact that [the military] marched around the place and blew the Bosun’s whistle,” Caputo said. “The Navy should be concerned about the status of some of their earliest heroes, too.”

In the spring, the House passed legislation that would compel the Pentagon to act. And it seemed likely that the Senate would support a similar provision in the defense authorization bill — until, according to backers of the measure, it was blocked by Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) – who – by the way – was once a former crewmember of the U.S.S. Intrepid CVA-11, as attached to VA-65 during the 1961-1962 cruise.

A spokesman for McCain, a former Navy pilot and the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said the senator “is still reviewing the issue, and has asked the Navy, the Defense POW/MIA Office and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command for their views on it.”

Supporters of repatriation say they’re stunned.

Among those killed aboard the USS Intrepid were Capt. Richard Somers, the commander of the ship, and his second in command, Lt. Henry Wadsworth.

A descendant of the lieutenant, William A. Wadsworth, a Republican representative in Connecticut’s General Assembly, has been among those to recently rally to the cause for the repatriation of the remains.

He noted that several of his relatives served in the military and died in the line of duty. And although he has visited their graves, he can’t easily do the same with the burial ground of Henry Wadsworth.

Unlike the others, he said, the lieutenant’s grave has not been treated with the same degree of honor.

I think they owe us this much as a family,” he said of the military, noting that the family has given rise to senators, soldiers and statesmen, not to mention the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the nephew of the lieutenant.

There’s an opportunity to get [Lt. Wadsworth] back now to the United States,” William Wadsworth said. “I think we should take advantage.”

Ref: Jason Ukman, Published: The Washington Post

The Decline of Naval Aviation

The Decline of Naval Aviation – Is Naval Aviation Culture Dead?

Issue: Proceedings Magazine – September 2011 Vol. 137/9/1,303

By: *John Lehman

The swaggering-flyer mystique forged over the past century has been stymied in recent years by political correctness.

We celebrate the 100th anniversary of U.S. naval aviation this year, but the culture that has become legend was born in controversy, with battleship admirals and Marine generals seeing little use for airplanes. Even after naval aviators proved their worth in World War I, naval aviation faced constant conflict within the Navy and Marine Corps, from the War Department, and from skeptics in Congress. Throughout the interwar period, its culture was forged largely unnoted by the public.

It first burst into the American consciousness 69 years ago when a few carrier aviators changed the course of history at the World War II Battle of Midway. For the next three years the world was fascinated by these glamorous young men who, along with the Leathernecks, dominated the newsreels of the war in the Pacific. Most were sophisticated and articulate graduates of the Naval Academy and the Ivy League, and as such they were much favored for Pathé News interviews and War Bond tours. Their casualty rates from accidents and combat were far higher than other branches of the naval service, and aviators were paid nearly a third more than non-flying shipmates. In typical humor, a pilot told one reporter: “We don’t make more money, we just make it faster.”

Landing a touchy World War II fighter on terra firma was difficult enough, but to land one on a pitching greasy deck required quite a different level of skill and sangfroid. It took a rare combination of hand-eye coordination, innate mechanical sense, instinctive judgment, accurate risk assessment, and most of all, calmness under extreme pressure. People with such a rare combination of talents will always be few in number. The current generation of 9-G jets landing at over 120 knots hasn’t made it any easier.

Little wonder that poker was a favorite recreation and gallows humor the norm. In his book Crossing the Line, Professor Alvin Kernan recounts when his TBF had a bad launch off the USS Suwanee (CVE-27) in 1945. He was trying desperately to get out of the sinking plane as the escort carrier sped by a few feet away. Looking up, he saw the face of his shipmate, Cletus Powell (who had just won money from him playing blackjack), leaning out of a porthole shouting “Kernan, you don’t have to pay. Get out, get out for God’s sake.” No wonder such men had a certain swagger that often irritated their non-flying brothers in arms.

Louis Johnson’s Folly

By war’s end more than 100 carriers were in commission. But when Louis Johnson replaced the first Secretary of Defense, Jim Forrestal—himself one of the original naval aviators in World War I—he tried to eliminate both the Marine Corps and naval aviation. By 1950 Johnson had ordered the decommissioning of all but six aircraft carriers. Most historians count this as one of the important factors in bringing about the invasion of South Korea , supported by both China and the Soviet Union . After that initial onslaught, no land airbases were available for the Air Force to fight back, and all air support during those disastrous months came from the USS Valley Forge (CV-45), the only carrier left in the western Pacific. She was soon joined by the other two carriers remaining in the Pacific.

Eventually enough land bases were recovered to allow the Air Force to engage in force, and more carriers were recommissioned, manned by World War II vets hastily recalled to active duty. James Michener’s The Bridges at Toko-Ri and Admiral James Holloway’s Aircraft Carriers at War together capture that moment perfectly. Only later was it learned that many of the enemy pilots were battle-hardened Russian veterans of World War II.

By the time of the armistice, the Cold War was well under way, and for the next 43 years, naval aviation was at the leading edge of the conflict around the globe. As before, aviators suffered very high casualties throughout. Training and operational accidents took a terrible toll. Jet fighters on straight decks operating without the sophisticated electronics or reliable ejection seats that evolved in later decades had to operate come hell or high water as one crisis followed another in the Taiwan Strait, Cuba , and many lesser-known fronts.

Between 1953 and 1957, hundreds of naval aviators were killed in an average of 1,500 crashes per year, while others died when naval intelligence gatherers like the EC-121 were shot down by North Koreans, Soviets, and Chinese. In those years carrier aviators had only a one-in-four chance of surviving 20 years of service.

Vietnam and the Cold War

The Vietnam War was an unprecedented feat of endurance, courage, and frustration in ten years of constant combat. Naval aviators flew against the most sophisticated Soviet defensive systems and highly trained and effective Vietnamese pilots. But unlike any previous conflict, they had to operate under crippling political restrictions, well known to the enemy. Antiaircraft missiles and guns were placed in villages and other locations known to be immune from attack. The kinds of targets that had real strategic value were protected while hundreds of aviators’ lives and thousands of aircraft were lost attacking easily rebuilt bridges and “suspected truck parks,” as the U.S. government indulged its academic game theories.

Stephen Coonts’ Flight of the Intruder brilliantly expressed the excruciating frustration from this kind of combat. During that period, scores of naval aviators were killed or taken prisoner. More than 100 squadron commanders and executive officers were lost. The heroism and horror of the POW experience for men such as John McCain and Jim Stockdale were beyond anything experienced since the war with Japan .

Naturally, when these men hit liberty ports, and when they returned to their bases between deployments, their partying was as intense as their combat. The legendary stories of Cubi Point, Olongapo City , and the wartime Tailhook conventions in Las Vegas grew with each passing year.

Perhaps the greatest and least known contribution of naval aviation was its role in bringing the Cold War to a close. President Ronald Reagan believed that the United States could win the Cold War without combat. Along with building the B-1 and B-2 bombers and the Peacekeeper missile, and expanding the Army to 18 divisions, President Reagan built the 600-ship Navy and, more important, approved the Navy recommendation to begin at once pursuing a forward strategy of aggressive exercising around the vulnerable coasts of Russia. This demonstrated to the Soviets that we could defeat the combined Warsaw Pact navies and use the seas to strike and destroy their vital strategic assets with carrier-based air power.

Nine months after the President’s inauguration, three U.S. and two Royal Navy carriers executed offensive exercises in the Norwegian Sea and Baltic. In this and subsequent massive exercises there and in the northwest Pacific carried out every year, carrier aircraft proved that they could operate effectively in ice and fog, penetrate the best defenses, and strike all of the bases and nodes of the Soviet strategic nuclear fleet. Subsequent testimony from members of the Soviet General Staff attested that this was a major factor in the deliberations and the loss of confidence in the Soviet government that led to its collapse.

During those years naval aviation adapted to many new policies, the removal of the last vestiges of institutional racial discrimination, and the first winging of women as naval aviators and their integration into ships and squadrons.

Break the Culture’

1991 marked the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the end of the Cold War. But as naval aviation shared in this triumph, the year also marked the start of tragedy. The Tailhook Convention that took place in September that year began a scandal with a negative impact on naval aviation that continues to this day. The over-the-top parties of combat aviators were overlooked during the Vietnam War but had become accidents waiting to happen in the postwar era.

Whatever the facts of what took place there, it set off investigations within the Navy, the Department of Defense, the Senate, and the House that were beyond anything since the investigations and hearings regarding the Pearl Harbor attack. Part of what motivated this grotesquely disproportionate witch hunt was pure partisan politics and the deep frustration of Navy critics (and some envious begrudgers within the Navy) of the glamorous treatment accorded to the Navy and its aviators in Hollywood and the media, epitomized by the movie Top Gun. Patricia Schroeder (D-CO), chair of the House Armed Services Committee investigation, declared that her mission was to “break the culture,” of naval aviation. One can make the case that she succeeded.

What has changed in naval aviation since Tailhook? First, we should review the social/cultural, and then professional changes. Many but not all were direct results of Tailhook.

De-Glamorization’ of Alcohol

Perhaps in desperation, the first reaction of Pentagon leadership to the congressional witch hunt was to launch a massive global jihad against alcohol, tellingly described as “de-glamorization.” While alcohol was certainly a factor in the Tailhook scandal, it was absolutely not a problem for naval aviation as a whole. There was no evidence that there were any more aviators with an alcohol problem than there were in the civilian population, and probably a good deal fewer.

As a group, naval aviators have always been fastidious about not mixing alcohol and flying. But social drinking was always a part of off-duty traditional activities like hail-and-farewell parties and especially the traditional Friday happy hour. Each Friday on every Navy and Marine air station, most aviators not on duty turned up at the officers’ club at 1700 to relax and socialize, tell bad jokes, and play silly games like “dead bug.” But there was also an invaluable professional function, because happy hours provided a kind of sanctuary where junior officers could roll the dice with commanders, captains, and admirals, ask questions that could never be asked while on duty, listen avidly to the war stories of those more senior, and absorb the lore and mores of the warrior tribe.

When bounds of decorum were breached, or someone became over-refreshed, as occasionally happened, they were usually taken care of by their peers. Only in the worst cases would a young junior officer find himself in front of the skipper on Monday morning. Names like Mustin Beach , Trader Jon’s, Miramar , and Oceana were a fixed part of the culture for anyone commissioned before 1991. A similar camaraderie took place in the chiefs’ clubs, the acey-deucy clubs, and the sailors’ clubs.

Now all that is gone. Most officers’ and non-commissioned officers’ clubs were closed and happy hours banned. A few clubs remain, but most have been turned into family centers for all ranks and are, of course, empty. No officers dare to be seen with a drink in their hand. The JOs do their socializing as far away from the base as possible, and all because the inquisitors blamed the abuses of Tailhook ’91 on alcohol abuse. It is fair to say that naval aviation was slow to adapt to the changes in society against alcohol abuse and that corrections were overdue, especially against tolerance of driving while under the influence.

But once standards of common sense were ignored in favor of political correctness, there were no limits to the spread of its domination. Not only have alcohol infractions anonymously reported on the hot-line become career-enders, but suspicions of sexual harassment, homophobia, telling of risqué jokes, and speech likely to offend favored groups all find their way into fitness reports. And if actual hot-line investigations are then launched, that is usually the end of a career, regardless of the outcome. There is now zero-tolerance for any missteps in these areas.

Turning Warriors into Bureaucrats

On the professional side, it is not only the zero-tolerance of infractions of political correctness but the smothering effects of the explosive growth of bureaucracy in the Pentagon. When the Department of Defense was created in 1947, the headquarters staff was limited to 50 billets. Today, 750,000 full time equivalents are on the headquarters staff. This has gradually expanded the time and cost of producing weapon systems, from the 4 years from concept to deployment of Polaris, to the projected 24 years of the F-35.

But even more damaging, these congressionally created new bureaucracies are demanding more and more meaningless paperwork from the operating forces. According to the most recent rigorous survey, each Navy squadron must prepare and submit some 780 different written reports annually, most of which are never read by anyone but still require tedious gathering of every kind of statistic for every aspect of squadron operations. As a result, the average aviator spends a very small fraction of his or her time on duty actually flying.

Job satisfaction has steadily declined. In addition to paperwork, the bureaucracy now requires officers to attend mandatory courses in sensitivity to women’s issues, sensitivity and integration of openly homosexual personnel, and how to reintegrate into civilian society when leaving active duty. This of course is perceived as a massive waste of time by aviators, and is offensive to them in the inherent assumption that they are no longer officers and gentlemen but coarse brutes who will abuse women and gays, and not know how to dress or hold a fork in civilian society unless taught by GS-12s.

One of the greatest career burdens added to naval aviators since the Cold War has been the Goldwater-Nichols requirement to have served at least four years of duty on a joint staff to be considered for flag, and for junior officers to have at least two years of such joint duty even to screen for command. As a result, the joint staffs in Washington and in all the combatant commands have had to be vastly increased to make room. In addition, nearly 250 new Joint Task Force staffs have been created to accommodate these requirements. Thus, when thinking about staying in or getting out, young Navy and Marine aviators look forward to far less flight time when not deployed, far more paperwork, and many years of boring staff duty.

Zero-Tolerance Is Intolerable

Far more damaging than bureaucratic bloat is the intolerable policy of “zero-tolerance” applied by the Navy and the Marine Corps. One strike, one mistake, one DUI, and you are out. The Navy has produced great leaders throughout its history. In every era the majority of naval officers are competent but not outstanding. But there has always been a critical mass of fine leaders. They tended to search for and recognize the qualities making up the right stuff, as young JOs looked up the chain and emulated the top leaders, while the seniors in turn looked down and identified and mentored youngsters with promise.

By nature, these kinds of war-winning leaders make mistakes when they are young and need guidance—and often protection from the system. Today, alas, there is much evidence that this critical mass of such leaders is being lost. Chester Nimitz put his whole squadron of destroyers on the rocks by making mistakes. But while being put in purgatory for a while, he was protected by those seniors who recognized a potential great leader. In today’s Navy, Nimitz would be gone. Any seniors trying to protect him would themselves be accused of a career-ending cover-up.

Because the best aviators are calculated risk-takers, they have always been particularly vulnerable to the system. But now in the age of political correctness and zero-tolerance, they are becoming an endangered species. Today, a young officer with the right stuff is faced on commissioning with making a ten-year commitment if he or she wants to fly, which weeds out some with the best potential. Then after winging and an operational squadron tour, they know well the frustrations outlined here. They have seen many of their role models bounced out of the Navy for the bad luck of being breathalyzed after two beers, or allowing risqué forecastle follies.

Dancing on the Edge of a Cliff’

They have not seen senior officers put their own careers on the line to prevent injustice. They see before them at least 14 years of sea duty, interspersed with six years of bureaucratic staff duty in order to be considered for flag rank. And now they see all that family separation and sacrifice as equal to dancing on the edge of a cliff. One mistake or unjust accusation, and they are over. They can no longer count on a sea-daddy coming to their defense.

Today, the right kind of officers with the right stuff still decide to stay for a career, but many more are putting in their letters in numbers that make a critical mass of future stellar leaders impossible. In today’s economic environment, retention numbers look okay, but those statistics are misleading.

Much hand-wringing is being done among naval aviators (active-duty, reserve, and retired) about the remarkable fact that there has only been one aviator chosen as Chief of Naval Operations during the past 30 years. For most of the last century there were always enough outstanding leaders among aviators, submariners, and surface warriors to ensure a rough rotation among the communities when choosing a CNO. The causes of this sudden change are not hard to see. Vietnam aviator losses severely thinned the ranks of leaders and mentors; Tailhook led to the forced or voluntary retirement of more than 300 carrier aviators, including many of the finest, like Bob Stumpf, former skipper of the Blue Angels.

There are, of course, the armchair strategists and think-tankers who herald the arrival of unmanned aerial vehicles as eliminating the need for naval aviators and their culture, since future naval flying will be done from unified bases in Nevada, with operators requiring a culture rather closer computer geeks. This is unlikely.

As the aviator culture fades from the Navy, what is being lost? Great naval leaders have and will come from each of the communities, and have absorbed virtues from all of them. But each of the three communities has its unique cultural attributes. Submariners are imbued with the precision of engineering mastery and the chess players’ adherence to the disciplines of the long game; surface sailors retain the legacy of John Paul Jones, David G. Farragut and Arleigh “31 Knot” Burke, and have been the principal repository of strategic thinking and planning. Aviators have been the principal source of offensive thinking, best described by Napoleon as “L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace!” (Audacity, audacity, always audacity!)

Those attributes of naval aviators—willingness to take intelligent calculated risk, self-confidence, even a certain swagger—that are invaluable in wartime are the very ones that make them particularly vulnerable in today’s zero-tolerance Navy. The political correctness thought police, like Inspector Javert in Les Misérables, are out to get them and are relentless.

The history of naval aviation is one of constant change and challenge. While the current era of bureaucracy and political correctness, with its new requirements of integrating women and openly gay individuals, is indeed challenging, it can be dealt with without compromising naval excellence. But what does truly challenge the future of the naval services is the mindless pursuit of zero-tolerance. A Navy led by men and women who have never made a serious mistake will be a Navy that will fail.

*Dr. Lehman was the 65th Secretary of the Navy and a member of the 9/11 Commission.

Go to – – for further info.

The Kamikaze

The Kamikaze

Wars and Battles, 1944-1945 – Japan’s Suicide Pilots of World War II

Transcend life and death. When you eliminate all thoughts about life and death, you will be able to totally disregard your earthly life. This will also enable you to concentrate your attention on eradicating the enemy with unwavering determination, meanwhile reinforcing your excellence in flight skills.

– A paragraph from the Kamikaze pilot’s manual, located in their cockpits.

In the year 1281, Japan was under attack by a Mongol invasion — led by the powerful Kublai Khan. However, just as it appeared that the invading Mongols were about to overwhelm the Japanese, a catastrophic typhoon swept through the land, eliminating the entire Mongol army. From that point on, the typhoon that saved Japan became known as the Kamikaze or Divine Wind.


After the defeat at the Battle of Midway, and the fall of Saipan in July 1944, the Japanese revived the name Kamikaze and ascribed it to the suicide missions of their air force.

Japanese Vice Admiral Takashiro Ohnishi, commander of the First Air Fleet in the Philippines, had noted that the most effective way to inflict damage upon Allied warships was to crash planes into them. He noted that one accidental crash could do more damage than 10 planes firing machine guns. It was decided then that pilots would purposely crash their planes — with half a ton of explosives — into American warships.

The Kamikaze pilot

Generally, Kamikaze pilots were university students motivated by obligation, and loyalty to family and country.

A typical pilot was a science student in his twenties. He prepared for his fiery destiny by writing farewell letters and poems to loved ones, receiving a “thousand-stitch sash*,” and by holding a ceremony — a drink of water that gave him a “spiritual lifting” before wedging himself between 550-pound bombs.

It was adamantly believed that, because they were fighting for their Emperor God, the Kamikaze would bring them deliverance at the darkest hour, just as it had in the 13th century. In fact, the call for Kamikaze pilots drew a staggering response. Three times as many applied for suicide flights as the number of planes available. Experienced pilots were turned down. They were needed to train the younger men how to fly to their deaths.

The fact that they were to go on suicide missions was accepted without question by the Japanese pilots. All inductees into the Japanese armed forces were indoctrinated with the following five-point oath:

  A soldier must make loyalty his obligation.

  A soldier must make propriety his way of life.

  A soldier must highly esteem military valor.

  A soldier must have a high regard for righteousness.

  A soldier must live a simple life.

The Mitsubishi A6M2

Nicknamed the “Zero,” the Mitsubishi A6M2 was the Kamikaze pilot’s personal “flying coffin.” It had a maximum speed of 332 mph and a range of 1,930 miles. The A6M2 was 29 feet nine inches long, with a wingspan of about 39 feet. The aircraft was armed with two machine guns and could carry 264 pounds of bombs; however, the Japanese modified its structure to accommodate a heavier arsenal. The Zero was the main strike aircraft used at Pearl Harbor — dominating the skies during the early stages of World War II. A large number were shot down during the Battle of Midway, and it eventually became outperformed by the latest allied aircraft, such as the P-51 Mustang. 

First attacks

Beginning with the Pearl Harbor Attack, Japanese suicide bombers sporadically crashed their planes into the enemy as a spur-of-the-moment decision.

On October 21, 1944, the flagship of the Royal Australian Navy, the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia, was hit by a Japanese plane carrying a 441-pound bomb, off Leyte Island. Although the bomb did not explode, the damage was devastating — killing at least 30 crew members.

On October 25, the Australia was hit again and was forced to retire to the New Hebrides for repairs. That same day, five Zeros attacked a U.S. escort carrier, the USS St. Lo off the Philippines coast, although only one Kamikaze actually hit the ship. Its bomb caused massive fires that resulted in the ship’s bomb magazine exploding, sinking the carrier. Japanese pilots also hit and damaged several other Allied ships.

The initial successes of those attacks sparked an immediate expansion of the program. During the next few months, more than 2,000 planes staged such attacks. Those included new types of suicide attacks and explosives, including purpose-built Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka rocket-bombs, small boats packed with explosives, and manned torpedoes (equipped with a 3000-pound warhead) called the Kaiten.

Iwo Jima and Okinawa

On February 19th, 1945, the USS Enterprise and other carriers took up stations off Iwo Jima, attacking nearby enemy airfields, and providing close air support for the Marines that landed. By the time the marines unfurled the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima’s summit, Kamikaze attacks had sunk the escort flattop Bismarck Sea CVE-95, knocked the USS Saratoga CV 3 out of the war for good, and temporarily halted the Enterprise — all while regularly harassing amphibious forces at the beachhead.

The day of April 6th, 1945, proved to be most telling for the use of Kamikazes in the battle for Okinawa. More than 350 aircraft at a time dove at the Allied fleet. Just the anticipation of Kamikaze attacks drove some American sailors literally insane.

The destroyer Laffey was attacked by 20 aircraft at once. Her gunners stopped nine Kamikazes, but six others rammed into the ship. As on the similarly damaged USS Franklin, ineffable courage, and intensive training in firefighting, kept the Laffey afloat.

On the 7th of April, Kamikazes were still attacking in great numbers off the coast of Okinawa, severely damaging the carrier Hancock. By April 16th, suicide bombers desperately, but effectively damaged the USS Enterprise yet again, as well as the flattop USS Intrepid, and numerous picket destroyers were sunk or damaged. Admiral Marc A. Mitscher led Task Force 58 from his flagship, the carrier Bunker Hill CV-17. On May 11th, 1945, the flagship was hit by a Kamikaze pilot that killed 350 of his men.

The final Japanese defense of Okinawa was hard fought. Americans victorird brought a heavy price. The capture of Okinawa cost the Americans 49,000 in casualties, of whom 12,520 died. More than 110,000 Japanese were killed on the island. When clear that he had been defeated, General Mitsuru Ushijima committed ritual suicide (hara-kiri).

War’s end

From October 25, 1944, to January 25, 1945, Kamikazes managed to sink two escort carriers and three destroyers. They also damaged 23 carriers, five battleships, nine cruisers, 23 destroyers and 27 other ships. American casualties amounted to 738 killed and another 1,300 wounded as the result of those attacks.

Several thousand Kamikaze planes had been set aside for an invasion of the Japanese mainland that never happened. Kamikaze pilots were one of the reasons President Harry S. Truman decided to drop the atomic bombs.

On the eve of the Japanese surrender, Takijiro Onishi ended his own life, leaving a note of apology to his dead pilots — their sacrifice had been in vain.


The Snipes Lament

The Snipes Lament





























































































A “Snipe” in the Navy is an enlisted person in an engineering rating, specifically those rates that work below the waterline

in Engineering Main Propulsion spaces. They include Machinist’s MatesBoiler Techs, Electrician’s Mate.

In Medieval days up till the early 1800’s there were no engines and no Snipes. Along about 1812 the Navy obtained their first paddle wheel steamer named the USS Fulton. To run the boiler and engine, men of steam were also acquired. They were not sailors but engineers from early land based steam engines.

From the beginning the sailors did not like or appreciate these landsmen and their foul smoky plants. They were treated with contempt and pretty much given the short end of the stick. In spite of all this the steam engine prevailed. There were still two crews however – The Engineers and the Deck Crew.

Soon an Engineer Officer was appointed to each ship. He was the Engineer master and all the Engineers reported to him. The Deck sailors reported to the ships master. Curiously, the two masters were on equal footing and neither was over the other.

The Deck Master though was in the best position. He controlled the quarters and rations. The Engineers were still at the mercy of the deck gang. By the height of the civil war, as steam was taking over and sails were disappearing the old Admirals that controlled the Navy were in a quandary what to do about the situation.

They accomplished a couple of things. First, they managed to make the senior Master a Captain. As Captain he was in overall command of the ship and the Engineering officer reported to him. Beings as how there were occasions that the Engineer master outranked the ships master something had to be done to keep the Engineer from becoming “Captain”. To solve this problem they developed two separate Officer branches – Staff and Line.

Only Line Officers could succeed to command. Staff Officers would always be subservient to Line Officers at sea. Staff Officers consisted of Surgeons, Supply and yes, Engineering officers. To this day that is still true. The second change was to make all engineers Navy men, however they were also made junior to all deck sailors. A petty officer machinist was junior to a deck seaman third. All this went to make the life of the engineers even more miserable. They could now be flogged and harassed at will by the Deck crew.

Along about this time came an Engineer Officer by the name of John Snipes. No one can find the name of the ship he first appeared on, but he was a different cut from the others. He demanded sleeping accommodations, and food equal to the Deck gang. He also declared that there would be no more harassment for his gang. When the ship’s Captain laughed at him Snipes simply had his men put out the fires in the boiler. To make a long story short, Snipes brought about the changes in the system.

In time these changes extended to the entire Naval fleet. The Engineers became strictly “hands off” for the Deck gang. They became known as Snipe’s men and over the years as just Snipes.

Hanger Deck Fresh’ie



My first time in a storm…

  When I joined the Navy in 1953, as like others, I went to boot camp at the Great Lakes Training Center. From there I went to Norman, OK for Aviation Prep schooling, not knowing at that point I was going to be assigned to the Intrepid. When I completed my schooling they sent quite a few of us to Norfolk, VA…I’d say…I spent about 2-3 months on the base. We then got our orders to Newport News, VA.

Before re-commissioning, we lived and slept on a Birthing Barge anchored two docks from the Intrepid. We were told to help clean up and to get familiar with the ship, seeing this will be our duty ship come re-commissioning time. Also, at that time, the new super carrier Forrestal was being built.

The first time out at sea, that I can remember in ’54, we were in a hurricane later named Hazel. I was standing in Hangar Bay 3 looking forward to Hangar Bay 1 and noticed it was higher. I thought the ship was going to snap! Not knowing at the time – until being told – the expansion joints were working, otherwise the Intrepid would have cracked in pieces. Then, we had the Hangar Bay 1 port side Curtain, across from the O.O.D.s deck, bust thru by the big waves. Hangar Bay 1 was loaded with sea water and rolled back to Hangar Bay 2. We were told to get Dust Pans and Buckets and shovel-up the water and dump in over the side. When we finally got all the water we could get over the side and drained the Hangar Bays dried-up leaving a layer of rust. Chief V. Withrow, at the time got a Tug Bumper from a Tug (how he got it I’ll never know) but it was cut in half and rigged to be able to be dragged behind a tractor which was used to help get up the rust.

To make it look good we sprinkled graphite on the deck…and Boy!.. did it shine! But…when you walked over the deck the graphite stayed on the soles of your shoes…”You should have seen what the Officer’s Deck area on the Strbd side looked like!…black footprints on a white painted deck! Clean-up was quite a task getting the graphite off the deck. We had to hose down the Tug Bumpers…get them clean and dry and keep cleaning the deck until the graphite wouldn’t  be spread to other areas. I was an Airman at this time.

One of the most boring things for a Hangar Bay Crew Member was being on Watch in a Configuration Fire Station. There were 3 of them…1 in each Hangar Bay with the main one in Hangar Bay 2 that controlled all 3 Bays. Bays 1 & 2 only controlled their own Bays.

For one thing, it was hard to keep awake. It got so warm in those stations you would try to keep the hatch open so not to get to warm and fall to sleep but you were suppose to keep them closed…but not if we could get away with it! 

During Flight Ops, it wasn’t so bad. When the planes were flying at night the Hangar Division Crews would get some rest on the Hangar Deck behind the #2 Configuration Station and once in a while you could get a Hangar Deck Crewmen to chat with you, breaking up the boredom of your watch.

At one time, in Hangar Bay 1, someone or a ‘Short’ tripped one of the Fog Foam Cones on the Port side by the Hangar Bay doors…Boy!…was that a mess to clean up. Sticky and Smelly…fortunately the Cones have to be pointing to the Bulkhead or the whole Hangar Bay would get it. After a while, I was in charge of the #3 Elevator.

At one time I remember being in New York working around the Elevator when they called for Liberty. Well, I had to close the big doors to the elevator, so I pushed the ‘Close’ button and then I started down the ladder to the Division Compartment, which was a short distance when all of a sudden there was a loud noise and the ship shook. Someone later on told me that the doors lifted about a foot off the deck and fell back down. When I ran back up I saw the doors were still open and the Locks were engaged in the ‘Lock’ position.

I found that the Safety Switches on the lock handles that were suppose to cut the power were not working. Someone had locked the doors in the OPEN position which I always had them UNLOCKED for an EMERGENCY closing.

The one cable that closes the door was forced to the limits. It lifted the doors and snapped. A new cable was installed but I was ordered to rewind it on the Motor Pulley and fix it. Boy! Did I have a time making the doors ‘meet’ just right in the center. I made sure those door locks were UNLOCKED before I closed them again!

I’ve heard a few stories (sic) on No. 3 Elevator…one about the car that was damaged!!!

I was the Hangar Bay Operator of Elevator No. 3 and it can’t be moved with the help of the ‘A’ Division crew. They had to give me power to move it and all they had to do was open valves to get the fluid moving when I used the Manual Handle to raise it, lower it or fold it with full power.

When I heard the order over the P.A. system ‘Emergency of Raising the No. 3 Elevator’ I ran up and low and be-hold, it got this Ford car by the roof and was dragging it along the dock.

It stopped when it hit the mooring head, and the Elevator just cut it open even before I could get it up.

At that time, I was laughing inside…not to let anyone see me laughing…for I could have been put on report.  I read one person said it hit a fire plug!…I have to disagree…there wasn’t a fire plug to be had where we where. I’ve been called the ‘Car Killer’ from a lot of shipmates and many other things even to this day…OH! TO BE AN OFFICER AND PARK ANYWHERE!!!…It WAS an Officer’s car.

At one time, I was a Plane Pusher, like so many of my fellow shipmates in the V3 Division. The Division Officer at the time was Lt. Smith…Well!…he took me off of the Plane Crew and moved me to Safety Man when planes were being moved around in the Hangar Bays…then…when at sea we had some rough weather.

When moving a plane the ship was rolling and I blew the whistle to stop the plane but it was to late…the plane moved to the side with the front wheel off the deck and hit another plane’s refueling…Well!…the Nozzel went right in the center of the “O” of the 3 number of the planes nose (a Cougar)…the No. could have been ‘206’. That was my short lived Safety Man’s postion!

I remember all of this even if it has been years back and I must say there were a lot of other things that went on but who can remember them all. At our ages we’re lucky to remember anything!!!

I’m still in contact with a few from V3 Division to this day. But, many have passed away that I know of and may they Rest in Peace.

By going to reunions, my wife Marylou and I have met a lot of other great people from WWII and later until Intrepid was retired.

As a FCM, I plan on going to as many reunions before I won’t be able to anymore…at least…if more reunions are scheduled!



FCM Richard Oberheim, V3 Division, ’53-57

GHOSTS – A Time Remembered

Writer: Philip Makanna 

In the late 1950s a group of World War II veterans in south Texas began to buy surplus airplanes. Under the leadership of Colonel Lloyd P. Nolen, these pilots restored the vintage ‘war birds’ and initiated the  *Confederate  Air Force (CAF) and now they fly in air shows all over the United States and re-create the major aerial battles of the Second World War.

Today they are known as the *Commemorative Air Force (CAF) with headquarters at Rebel Field, Harlingen, Texas (the site of a WWII airstrip); 3,600 members (all of whom hold the rank of “Colonel”) own and fly eighty-three combat aircraft.

In GHOSTS, Makanna writes warmly of the men of the Confederate Air Force, telling who they are, and how they fly and maintain their planes.

Posted, in this venue, Makanna provides the famous World War II pamphlet, Fundamentals of Air Fighting.

Fundamentals of Air Fighting

Fundamentals of Air Fighting…a restricted pamphlet issued by the Adjutant General’s Office of the War Department and published by the United States Government Printing Office in 1942, was distributed to fighter and bomber pilots in the early days of WWII.


The information contained in the following has been derived from official and accurate reports of actual air combats and operations. Much of what is repeated here is as old as air fighting itself.  The information portrayed is disseminated not as inflexible rules or directives, but rather imparts something of what has been learned of air operations thus far and to encourage initiative and study of the subjects covered by all flying personnel.  The air fighter must be constantly awake to all developments, be ever alert to use his best talents to meet the ever fast moving panorama of air warfare. To anticipate future developments one must have some knowledge of past and present methods. 


IN AIR COMBAT, the purpose of the fighter pilot, and flexible gunners, is to destroy the enemy quickly with the minimum amount of ammunition. This can best be accomplished by developing superior fire power, and firing at decisive range, which depend on:

Accuracy of gun sighting

Number and type of guns and amount of ammunition available

Correct estimation of range

Concentration of fire power

Concentration of fire power may be considered in two parts

  • Concentration of fire in time and space depending upon the number of guns that can be brought to bear either from a single aircraft or from a formation.
  • Bullet density built up during fire, depending on time and range.
  • The area of space covered by the fire from a single gun is termed the “bullet group” for that gun.
  • The primary consideration is to obtain a bullet density which is likely to destroy the expected target.
  • The total “lethal area” of a target is the sum of the various small vulnerable or vital areas in the target in which it is probable that one bullet would result in disabling or destroying one target aircraft.
  • Bullet density, and the size of the bullet group are directly proportional to range, i.e., the diameter of the group at 400 yards is for times that at 100 yards. 

It is imperative, in air combat, that a lethal density be built up quickly because –

  • The opportunities for accurate shooting are short
  • The quicker the lethal density is built up the less likely you are yourself to be shot down. 

Increased lethal density can be built up by –

  • Higher rate of gun fire
  • Increased number of guns
  • Mutual support between guns of two or more aircraft
  • Reduction of range
  • Increased caliber of guns. 


FUNDAMENTALS of all air fighting tactics is simplicity & flexibility.

Tactics must be simple because of the time factor. The speed of modern aircraft does not admit of the development of collaborate formations and attacks. Other factors which demand simplicity are –

  • Difficulty of control
  • Limited vision
  • Difficulties of intercommunication
  • Fleeting opportunity for decisive air combat
  • Necessity of exploitation of varying weather conditions so as to effect surprise i.e.; clouds, sun, haze, dawn, and dusk lighting effects.

Other fundamentals affecting fighting tactics are MORALE and LEADERSHIP.

The leader must possess initiative and skill to judge when and from which direction maximum fire should be brought to bear. He must inspire confidence in air crews and know their ability and limitations.  The good leader will aim to achieve a decisive success with the whole force under his command rather than to gain a personal victory. 

Surprise is a most important factor in air fighting and a leader should maneuver for position to achieve surprise before attacking, if possible. Surprise may be achieved by –

  • Attacking from directly out of sun.
  • Making use of the bank of haze. Aircraft approaching on the same level are difficult to see if they attack from the side remote from the sun. (A bomber, therefore, should try to fly well above the haze level so as to render a concealed approach by fighters less likely)>
  • In the evening or early morning by attacking from that part of the sky which is darker.
  • By making good use of clouds or, in the case of fighters, by making an intelligent estimate of where enemy aircraft is likely to emerge.

When enemy aircraft is sighted in one direction, vigilance in other directions must not be relaxed. More often than not other supporting aircraft will be in the vicinity and to launch blithely into the attack on the first enemy seen without a quick search for other enemy planes is a sure way to be shot out of the sky and never know what hit you. 


BEFORE taking off or landing, search the sky for enemy aircraft. It is a these moments your aircraft is most vulnerable.

If you hear gun fire, or see bullets hitting close to you or observe tracers going past immediately take evasive action – then look around. Don’t try to look before starting to turn. It might be too late.

  • Develop a rubber neck. Keep the sky under constant surveillance
  • Watch your tail
  • Conserve ammunition 
  • Never fly or dive straight when being attacked by aircraft or anti-aircraft fire.
  • Fighters should endeavor not to close in on the enemy at too high a speed during the final stage of the approach or the burst of fire will be too short to be effective, or you may over-shoot altogether.
  • Don’t go into the middle of a V of enemy bombers. Attack them from the flank, and from both flanks simultaneously, where possible.
  • When you are going into the attack, don’t give the enemy a chance at a deflection shot at you. As far as you can keep your nose on the enemy, and approach his blind spots as much as possible.
  • In attacking enemy bombers don’t fire a long burst if enemy fighters are about; two seconds is long enough. Then break away quickly and look about to be sure no enemy fighter is after you. If all is clear you can take another crack at the bombers, if necessary.
  • Don’t break away in a climbing turn. This gives an easy shot to the enemy rear gunner.
  • Don’t leave your formation, if you can help it, unless ordered to do so.
  • Don’t ever fly straight, especially if you are alone. Keep that rubber neck turning continuously and keep a lookout behind.
  • Don’t let the enemy slip out of the sun to get you. In looking toward the sun place a finger or thumb before your eyes.
  • Don’t waste ammunition by firing a long ranges. 


SIZE: A large formation is more vulnerable to AA fire than a number of small formations.

The larger the formation the less maneuverable it becomes. However, it is more likely to subject attacking aircraft to a superior concentration of fire.

With a large formation there will be a tendency for a number of gunners to fire on a few enemy aircraft and to ignore others, and to waste ammunition. There is, therefore, a limit to the size of a formation to obtain economical fire concentration.

Aircraft which have blind sectors, or sectors of reduced fire power, need larger formations than those which have all around arcs of fire.

Small formations are less easily seen than large ones. 

SHAPE: Every pilot must be able easily to see the aircraft on which he is formatting.

All aircraft in the formation must keep station on the leader, and as few as possible in sequence. Otherwise accumulated errors build up and the rearmost pilots have a very difficult task in maintaining proper position.

While being attacked, make it impossible to draw a straight line from the enemy aircraft line of approach through two or more aircraft of the formation. Otherwise the attackers may successfully enfilade the formation.

The length of the formation should be equal in all directions, where possible.

All aircraft in the formation, with possible exception of the leader to be equidistant from the enemy aircraft. Thus in defensive bomber formations every aircraft should be spread perpendicular to the enemy’s line of approach.

Aircraft in formation should be sufficiently far apart to avoid one plane being hit by shots aimed at the other. At the same time they must be sufficiently close to provide maximum mutual support. 

Formations disposed in depths create a large volume of slipstream turbulence which, when bombers are being attacked from rear, throws fighters off their line of sight.

The ideal defensive formation will differ with every method and direction of attack. Each formation must, therefore, possess sufficient flexibility to allow a quick alteration to some other formation.

The disposition of aircraft in formation will depend upon circumstances. For example, if attack on a defensive bomber formation is developing from above, aircraft in the formation should be stepped down – if the attack is from below the aircraft should be stepped up. If the attack is from the same level and developing from the beam aircraft should be stepped down (for it is easier for fighters to sweep a formation UPWARDs than DOWNWARDs. With aircraft on the nearer flank DOWN and on the outer flank UP.)

When encountering AA fire aircraft all sections should be far enough apart to avoid more than one aircraft being brought down by any one AA burst. 


ALWAYS turn toward a fighter. Thus you shorten his approach, and therefore make him turn more rapidly. Maybe he won’t be able, aerodynamically, to turn fast enough and he may be forced to break away. DO NOT turn away from the direction of attack.

A straight dive will give enemy aircraft a “sitting shot”. You actually appear as a stationary target in such a dive either at a target plane or away from the plane.

Never change from one turn to a reverse turn. Wait for a brief interval between attacks. Take a quick look about before launching successive attacks.

When hedge hopping, or fling low over the sea, fly an erratic course.

Clouds, except the smallest ones, afford one of the best means of avoiding enemy aircraft. When possible fly near the clouds, but if over areas covered by AA fire do not fly immediately below the cloud base, as AA can accurately determine the range from the cloud base.

Do not fly straight through a cloud when avoiding enemy aircraft. Alter course in the cloud to turn towards the enemy.

Aircraft flying above 20,000 feet are difficult to see from the ground.

Avoid layers of air in which white streamers form astern.

At night do not open throttle because this increases length of exhaust flame which can be seen a long distances.

Show no lights on your aircraft.

Searchlight beams without accompanying AA fire indicates presence of enemy fighters. Do everything possible to get out of the light.

To evade enemy fighters, fast bombers may be sent in advance of the striking force, to draw off enemy fighters. Also planes may be routed on dog-leg courses toward other important objectives with a view of deceiving the enemy as to the actual target.


Searchlight and AA fire at night are directed by sound locators.  (Radio aid is also said to be effective.) Sound locators may be avoided or deceived by one of the following means:

  • One aircraft to fly low, making a noise screen which will prevent aircraft flying high from being heard.
  • Gliding over the searchlight or AA belts in heights in excess of 6,000 feet where aircraft throttled back are inaudible.
  • Simultaneous raids on different or parallel course at different heights will result in locators getting a false position.
  • Desynchronize engines. This is effective a least to inexperienced sound locator crews.
  • Most effective of all evasive measures are alterations in course, speed and height.

Sound locator crews usually do not allow sufficiently for the lag in the time it takes the engine noise to reach them which results in searchlights and AA fire being below and behind. (It seemed German AA must be directed by radio-locators. Where radio-directed AA fire was encountered some of the foregoing suggestions, therefore will not apply.)

In seeking to avoid searchlights, turn. A climb or dive, without turn is ineffective. 



The AA gunner’s greatest difficulty is finding the correct elevation. Consequently a change in height, as well as turning is the best method of evasion. Effective danger area of 3” and 4.5” shells is from 30 to 90 feet radius. The area behind and below the bursts is usually safe; therefore, it is best to fly below shell bursts rather than above them.

When within range of enemy AA fire it is imperative that course and altitude be altered continuously to avoid destructive hits.

Heavy AA fire is most accurate between 6,000 and 18,000 feet; therefore, if possible, fly above or below these heights.

The ideal target from AA point of view is a large formation in line astern. The most difficult formation for AA are small sections (of 2 or 3) flying line abreast, or shallow echelon, at different heights.

At night it has often proved effective to drop a flare, or other object, and then dive or climb on a turn. The enemy AA often concentrate on the flare or other object, and thus enable you to get-away.


Short range AA is usually ineffective at heights above 5,000 feet. Therefore fly at greater heights, or else very low.

Attacks against defended areas should be made suddenly and not repeated for at least 5 or 10 minutes. Make a low and quick get-away without trying to maneuver to observe effect of your attack.

Low flying attacks should be made from the direction of the sun, or from clouds and by taking advantage of topographical features.

If both short range and long range AA fire is expected the best compromise is probably to fly at about 5,000 feet, at ground level, or above 18,000 feet. 


Again, the origin of the Commemorative Air Force dates back to 1957. 

 Lloyd Nolen and four friends purchased a P-51 Mustang, each sharing in the $1,500 cost of the aircraft. With the purchase of the Mustang, known as Red Nose, the group was unofficially founded.

In 1958, the group made their second purchase of two Grumman F8F Bearcats for $805 each. Along with the P-51, this gave the pilots the two most advanced piston-engine fighters to see service with the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and the United States Navy.

In 1958, the group made their second purchase of two Grumman F8F Bearcats for $805 each. Along with the P-51, this gave the pilots the two most advanced piston-engine fighters to see service with the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and the United States Navy.

In 1960, the CAF began seriously to search for other World War II aircraft. The CAF Colonels were shocked to find that the aircraft which played such a major role in winning World War II were being rapidly and systematically scrapped as obsolete. No one, not even the Air Force or Navy, was attempting to preserve one of each type of these historic aircraft for display for future generations. The war birds that remained airworthy were mostly in private hands modified for air racing or had been converted for commercial use as air freighters and aerial firefighters. 

On September 6, 1961, the CAF was chartered as a nonprofit Texas corporation to restore and preserve WWII-era combat aircraft. By the end of the year, there were nine aircraft in the CAF fleet. Their first air show was held on March 10, 1963.

In 1965, the first museum building was completed at old Rebel Field, Mercedes, TX. The CAF created a new Rebel Field at Harlingen, TX when they moved there in 1968, occupying three large buildings including 26,000 square feet (2,400 m2) of museum space. The CAF fleet continued to grow. By the end of the decade, the CAF fleet included medium and heavy bombers such as the B-25, B-17 and B-24. In 1971, they added the world’s only airworthy B-29 Superfortress, Fifi.  The group’s accomplishments were recognized in 1989 when it became a National Aviation Hall of Fame Spirit of Flight Award winner. The year 1991 marked the beginning of a new era for the CAF with the opening of the new Midland, TX, headquarters and museum facilities. Since its move to Midland, the group also established the American Airpower Heritage Museum and the American Combat Airman Hall of Fame.

                             Ref:  GHOSTS – A Time Remembered, by Philip Makanna – Published by

Holt, Rinehart and Winston, First Edition – 1979



Handling of After Battle Damage – Feb, 1944


S24/00-redm 28 March 1944.

Ser: 051


From: The Commanding Officer
To  : Commander Air Force, Pacific Fleet.
Subject: U.S.S. INTREPID – handling of after Battle Damage.

1.       At 0011, 17 February 1944, Zone plus 12 Time, the U.S.S. INTREPID was hit, by an aircraft torpedo, just forward of the rudder post.

The night was clear but dark. The resultant damage presented various problems which may be of interest in handling similar damage in the future.


2.       At the time the torpedo hit the INTREPID was in a left turn using 15° left rudder and at 25 knots.

The detonation ruptured the bottom of the steering engine ram room and motor room, immediately flooded these two compartments and jammed the rudder. Propellers and engines sustained no damage. The crosshead and the rams of the steering gear were completely wrecked.

The rudder was severely distorted and the fin which fills in over the counterbalance of the rudder was blown off. The detonation opened a hole in the starboard side which extended from near the keel to above the fourth deck. The fourth deck in way of the explosion was completely missing. The third deck in the Chief Petty Officers’ country was pushed up to the overhead of the second deck, and missiles penetrated the hangar deck. Complete details of the damage are contained in the Action Report. The net result of this damage insofar as ship control was concerned was to create the permanent effect of approximately 6½° left rudder. The INTREPID had the advantage of having made the standardization trials for the CV-9 class.

One of the tests conducted was to lock an outboard shaft on one side, go ahead full power on the two shafts on the other side and determine the rudder angle necessary to maintain a steady course. This rudder angle during the trial proved to be approximately 6½°. After the torpedo hit it was found that the combination needed to maintain a steady course approximated the condition found during trials.

– 1 –

S24/00-redm U.S.S INTREPID (CV-11)
Ser:  051

28 March 1944.


Subject:       U.S.S. INTREPID – handling of after Battle Damage.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

3.       Steering control was lost immediately and the gyros tumbled. Until the gyros were brought back to the meridian the course was determined by using the bridge alidade as a dummy pelorus by observation of the North Star, which was visible.

At the time of the explosion the vessel was on a south heading and continued in a left turn. As soon as it became obvious that steering control could not be regained, because of the rudder damage, the starboard engines were stopped and the effect noted. It was apparent that the ship could be controlled by the engines, so a slow turn was continued to the left through north, west and south and the ship steadied on course east. The yaw was reduced to about 30° on either side of east and in general a good course was made good.

Shortly after steadying on course east, instructions were received to proceed to Eniwetok and course was changed to 065. The wind was almost dead ahead and, as experience was gained in steering with the engines, the yaw was reduced to about 15° to either side of the course.

The average combination for steering on a course into the wind was approximately full power on the two port engines and stop to one-third on the starboard engines. This combination gave a speed of between 20 and 22 knots. Control could not be maintained below this speed because it was necessary to go full power on the left engines to prevent the ship from swinging left.

On the following day, orders were received to proceed via Majuro. This necessitated taking the wind on the port bow and steering control of the vessel was lost. The CV-9 class has a tendency, with way on the ship, to weathercock into the wind. This is due to the fact that the center of pressure of the hull is near the forward edge of the island structure.

The island acts as the mainsail of a schooner. The trim immediately after the detonation of the torpedo was 10 feet down by the stern. This was reduced by damage control to a drag aft of about 5 feet and maintained at that trim in order to improve steering and reduce yaw. It was obvious that the ship needed some headsail and the problem was how to rig a jib or to reduce the effect of the jammed left rudder. The first step taken was to lock No. 1 (outboard starboard) shaft.

The effect of this was beneficial but was still insufficient to keep the ship from swinging left. The next step taken was to move all the airplanes on the flight deck forward of the island to act as a foresail.

This worked satisfactorily for about 24 hours when control was again lost. The possibility of rigging canvas on the forward radio masts was investigated but it

– 2 –




Subject:       U.S.S. INTREPID – handling of after Battle Damage.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

was decided that the structure was of insufficient strength and rigging in any case extremely difficult. A jury sail was then rigged between the forecastle deck and the underside of the flight deck. A Sail of approximately 3000 square feet was improvised using cargo nets and such canvas as could be found around the ship. The wind continued throughout the passage to Pearl at velocities from 20 to 30 knots. The tendency of the wind to weathercock the ship was found to be a maximum when the wind was about 45° on either bow.

With No. 1 shaft locked, the planes forward and the sail rigged, it was found that the ship could be adequately controlled with the engines. At low wind, velocities a speed as low as 18 knots could be made good.

4.       Upon arrival at Pearl the vessel was immediately docked and the damage already described was disclosed. The decision was made by technical personnel at Pearl to remove the damaged rudder and send the vessel to a West Coast yard for permanent repairs. The vessel sortied from Pearl in this condition and was found to be completely unmanageable. Vessels of the CV-9 class have an unusually small tactical diameter. To accomplish this the hull was designed with practically no dead wood. The designed rudder acts as a fin to provide directional stability for the hull. With the rudder completely removed it was found the hull had no directional stability, whatsoever.

It could be compared to an arrow without a feather or an airplane without a vertical stabilizer. The heading of the ship had no direct relation to the direction of motion of the hull. It was found that it was impossible to steady the ship on my course.

At times the ship would swing uncontrollably through 360°. It is to be noted, however, that the track made good as shown by DRT was almost exactly into the wind. During the time spent in efforts to gain control, the track made good was in a southeast direction directly into the wind and away from the entrance to Pearl. Because it was obviously undesirable to stop and drift back towards Pearl, efforts were then made to turn the ship abound and proceed at low speed in a northwest direction.

It was found by going ahead standard on one side and back two-thirds to full on the other, that the yaw could be reduced and a reasonably accurate course could be steered at a speed of advance of four to five knots. Due to a strong Kona wind blowing, conditions for entry were dangerous and the vessel was ordered to remain outside until weather conditions improved. For 48 hours the vessel was controlled by going ahead standard on one side and backing two-thirds to full on the other, alternately.

– 3 –

S24/00-redm U.S.S INTREPID (CV-11)
Ser:  051

28 March 1944.


Subject:       U.S.S. INTREPID – handling of after Battle Damage.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The continuous backing, coupled with the hull damage aft, however, created so much vibration that numerous steam and water leaks began to develop in the engine rooms. The rapid increase of make up feed required began to approach the capacity of the evaporators and some other means of controlling the vessel became a necessity.

It was then decided to tow the vessel with the seagoing tugs which had been made available. A 2½” wire was taken from the towing engine of the tug USS MUNSEE, and secured to the port anchor chain. The chain was veered to place the 60 fathom shackle on the forecastle and about 240 fathoms of wire was put out by the tug. This rig worked very well towing into the wind, with a good catenary.

The tug worked up to 14 knots and the INTREPID made 5 knots for a net speed made good of about 8 knots. An attempt was then made to reverse the course. It was found that the tug could not pull the ship out of the wind. The tug immediately got in stays and worked back to a position on the port quarter in spite of stopping the INTREPID’s engines. A 2nd tug then passed a line to the 1st tug to assist in holding up the head of the tug.

This tandem combination worked satisfactorily and the vessel was turned through 180° in about 1¼ hours. For the remaining three days of the wait outside Pearl, during the storm, the tandem towing arrangement worked very well, making good about 5 knots, the tug making turns for about 14 knots and the INTREPID’s engines stopped. The tugs would find a position of about 45° on the lee bow. In this connection it is worthy of note that the tugs used in this operation have their towing engine too far aft and their rudder appears to be of insufficient area. Tugs designed for towing heavy ships should have the towing engine located near the pivot point of the tug.

5.       Upon returning to the dry dock at Pearl a jury fin was installed to restore a fin area equal to that of the original rudder.

One hundred square feet of this fin was hinged. This hinged portion represented about one-fifth of the area of the original rudder. (See enclosures). It had a maximum angle of 20° right or left and was controlled by wire cables brought up outboard to the fan tail. The ends of the rudder cables were secured to three-fold wire jiggers, the running ends of which were taken to the after capstan.

– 4 –

S24/00-redm U.S.S INTREPID (CV-11)
Ser:  051

28 March 1944.


Subject:       U.S.S. INTREPID – handling of after Battle Damage.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The large hole in the skin of the ship on the starboard side was filled in to reduce the drag on that side although the patch was not watertight.

6.       It was the intention of the designers of the jury rig that the movable part of the fin would be used to overcome the effect of the wind and that steering would be done primarily with the engines. Upon sortie from Pearl, however, it was found that steering by engines was extremely difficult and the yaw to each side could not be reduced below an average of about 40°.

The jury rig to the capstan worked so smoothly that the final combination, which proved very satisfactory, was to adjust engine revolutions to overcome the effect of the wind and use the jury rudder to steer.

The effect of the jury rudder when hard over, appeared to bo equivalent to about 4° to 5° of the designed rudder. The yaw, using the jury rudder to steer, averaged from 10° to 15° on either side. Winds of 15 to 25 knots were encountered. The passage from Pearl was made at speeds of 14 to 16 knots without any further difficulty.

The starting panel of the capstan is not designed for continuous service, such as that required for steering, but frequent cleaning of the contacters prevented shorting due to arcing. Special arrangements were necessary to provide lubrication for the capstan shaft, because the pump did not provide sufficient lubrication during the short starts and stops necessary.

7.       Upon arrival at the Parallon Islands the vessel was met by four tugs and a line was taken from a single tug.

The vessel was towed to the entrance of the dredged channel over the bar at a speed of about 10.5 knots, the INTREPID making turns for about 7 knots and the tug making turns for about 14 knots. 150 fathoms of wire and 30 fathoms of the port chain were used.

The weather was perfect – no sea and very light wind. At the entrance to the dredged channel the ship slowed down and four additional tugs were taken alongside, two on each side. At slow speeds the ship was very difficult to control because of insufficient rudder effect. It was planned to arrive at the Golden Gate at high slack before ebb.

Due to local conditions the ebb actually commenced about half an hour earlier than shown in the current tables. The result was that the ship was caught in some very erratic tidal currents and at times was almost completely out of control.

– 5 –

S24/00-redm U.S.S INTREPID (CV-11)
Ser:  051

28 March 1944.


Subject:       U.S.S. INTREPID – handling of after Battle Damage.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

It was frequently necessary to use the engines at high powers to correct a sheer to the right or left. After passing under the Golden Gate Bridge the scope of the towing tug ahead was shortened to 100 fathoms. A towing speed of about 7 knots was used, which in certain places, gave a speed of advance of about one knot due to strong ebb current.


     8.       The steps taken to maintain steering control of the ship as described in the proceeding narrative, were as follows:

(a) Trim the ship by the stern.
(b) Slow down, stop or lock shafts on one side.
(c) Move aircraft on the flight deck forward to act as a headsail
(d) Rig a sail between flight dock and forecastle, Additional canvas could have been rigged, with some difficulty, on the radio masts forward, from a stay leading forward from the island structure, or on palisades arranged fore and aft.

9.       Further steps which could have been taken but which proved to be unnecessary during the INTREPID’s voyage are as follows:

(a)   Rig a paravane on one side. A paravane creates a very considerable pull on its towing cable and would materially assist in keeping the bow out of the wind, if rigged on the leeward bow.

(b)   Tow a small vessel (an escort destroyer or, preferably, a tug) with a short scope astern. This scheme was successfully employed in the Pacific some years ago in the case of a large passenger vessel that was unlucky enough to have lost her rudder, The towed tug, in this case, stopped her engines and used her rudder to steer the heavy vessel which provided the motive power.

Speeds as high as 18 knots were maintained. A little consideration will indicate that the tug’s rudder was put right when the heavy vessel desired

– 6 –

Space Program – Aurora 7

Aurora 7 – Astronaut Scott Carpenter

Fifty years after he was plucked from the Atlantic Ocean and deposited onto the deck of the USS Intrepid, pioneering astronaut Scott Carpenter marked the anniversary of his three orbits of Earth and tense re-entry with a return to the ship that brought him to safety.

  • Carpenter’s Aurora 7 mission came three months after John Glenn’s first American orbital flight as the United States pursued the Soviet Union in the Cold War race to outer space. Carpenter’s flight is remembered most for the drama-filled re-entry when his tiny space capsule overshot its target by 250 miles.
  • The expected communications blackout as the capsule re-entered the atmosphere lasted nine minutes, more than twice the length of Glenn’s blackout period. The worried nation waited tensely for word of his fate, and President Kennedy’s White House kept an open phone line to NASA’s mission headquarters.
  • After splashing down, Carpenter was afloat beyond line-of-sight radio communications. NASA waited 40 minutes before announcing to the world that Carpenter was alive. He climbed out of his capsule and waited in a raft for a helicopter to hoist him out of the sea.
  • I was alone, but I didn’t worry about that,” Carpenter said. “My mind was busy reviewing that marvelous and recent experience.”
  • His flight of just under five hours was so much fun, he said, “I got a little tired of having to talk to the ground (mission control) so much.”
  • I was very happy to see that it all ended successfully,” Carpenter said. “It got the United States back in the space race. We were tied with the Soviet Union, and that was important.”
  • Carpenter and Glenn are the only survivors among the original seven U.S. astronauts, and neither Carpenter’s flight nor name are as well remembered as those of Glenn, who later served as U.S. senator from Ohio and celebrated the 50th anniversary of his flight on Feb. 12.
  • I know that first flights get the attention, but each flight builds on the one before it,” Glenn, 90, said in recent interview. “That’s the way we make progress.”
  • Carpenter and Glenn worked closely together — Carpenter was Glenn’s backup, meaning he was both understudy and alter-ego, Glenn recalled, before getting his own ride on the next mission. “Scott did a marvelous job for me,” Glenn said.
  • One of the most memorable quotations of the early space age was Carpenter’s words broadcast around the world from mission control during the final seconds before Glenn’s blast off: “Godspeed, John Glenn.”
  • Besides asking for divine help, Carpenter was praying for speed: The two previous NASA flights had been suborbital, and to circle the planet, the launch rocket needed to obtain orbital velocity, more than 17,500 miles an hour.
  • It came straight from the heart,” Carpenter said. “What John needed sitting on that rocket ready to ride was speed, more than any of his predecessors had had. … It had special meaning. It was appropriate.”
  • A ceremony held, among several marking Carpenter’s anniversary, honored him by Swiss watchmaker Breitling, which built a special 24-hour watch Carpenter wore on his orbital flight and later produced a Scott Carpenter special edition Cosmonaute timepiece.
  • Susan Marenoff-Zausner, president of the Intrepid museum, said ship lore has it that once his initial debriefing and doctor’s exam were conducted, Carpenter sat down to a dinner of two steaks, prepared by the Intrepid crew.
  • It was kind of exciting,” recalled John Olivera, 71, a retired New Jersey police officer who was a seaman on the Intrepid then. “He was whisked away quickly.”
  • For Carpenter and Glenn, the end of the space shuttle program is an unhappy development. Glenn says that “we’ve gotten ourselves into a lousy situation,” relying on the Russians to transport American astronauts to the International Space Station. Carpenter left NASA after his flight and explored under the ocean as part of the Navy’s SEALAB program.
  • Failure to explore space is a failure of global importance,” Carpenter said. “It’s not a Russian effort, not a Chinese effort, not an American effort to explore space. It’s an effort for humanity. And if we back off and don’t investigate our location in the solar system, it’s a loss felt globally.”

                                                                                     – Molly Brown –

                                             Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Command Pilot – John W. Young, Pilot

The first manned Gemini flight and first U.S. space flight with two astronauts aboard featured the first use of an Orbital Attitude Maneuvering System (OAMS) to create a controlled orbital and re-entry path. This capability created the first fully maneuverable U.S. manned spacecraft.

During the flight, the Gemini 3 spacecraft’s orbit was altered to a more oval and higher pattern, ranging in altitude from 100 to 139 miles. Orbit was also shifted to a more circular pattern, using on-board thrusters to practice techniques which would be applied during upcoming Gemini rendezvous and docking missions.

Grissom became the first person to fly in space twice. Sadly, this was the astronaut’s last flight prior to being killed in the tragic Apollo 1 fire on January 27, 1967.

The Gemini 3 capsule was unofficially dubbed “Molly Brown” in reference to the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” of Titanic fame. Grissom’s capsule sank and was lost during his first space flight, Mercury MR-4, thus precipitating this “Molly Brown” nickname.

Unauthorized Gemini 3 “cargo” included a corned beef sandwich reportedly purchased at Wolfie’s Restaurant in Cocoa Beach, which was eaten by Grissom during the flight. Astronaut Young was authorized to eat specially prepared space food, and Grissom was not authorized to eat anything.

Crumbs from the “weightless” sandwich scattered throughout the Gemini 3 spacecraft, posing a potential, if unintentional, flight safety risk. This rules violation caused NASA to clamp down on what astronauts could and could not carry into space.

Although one of the primary goals of the Gemini program was to make pinpoint spacecraft recoveries, the Gemini 3 capsule splashed down about 60 miles from the primary recovery vessel.

Unlike the Mercury capsules, which splashed down upright, the Gemini capsules were designed to splash down on their sides. This was the first time a U.S. manned spacecraft had splashed down on its side, and the force of this type of water impact caused the faceplate in Grissom’s helmet to crack.

Note: The Gemini 3 capsule nickname “Molly Brown” was unofficial. During the Mercury program, astronauts were permitted to select official nicknames for their spacecraft. These nicknames were then used as official call signs during the mission.

The capsule nickname policy was rescinded by NASA during the Gemini program, during which mission managers instead opted to use the mission name as the official spacecraft call sign.

Astronauts were again permitted to nickname their spacecraft during the Apollo program, but only during flights involving both a Command Module and Lunar Module. The operation of two spacecraft during an individual mission was then made easier through the use of different call signs for each spacecraft.

Note: The Soviet space program jumped from one-person flights to a three-person flight. Cosmonauts Komarov, Feoktistov and Yegorov were launched aboard Voskhod 1 on October 12, 1964.


The Mare Island Story

The Mare Island Naval Shipyard (MINSY) was the first United States Navy base established on the Pacific Ocean.  It is located 25 miles northeast of San Francisco in Vallejo, CA. The Napa River goes through the Mare Island Strait and separates the peninsula shipyard (Mare Island, CA) from the main portion of the city of Vallejo. MINSY made a name for itself as the premier U.S. West Coast submarine port as well as serving as the controlling force in San Francisco Bay Area shipbuilding efforts during World War II. The base closed in 1996 and has gone through several redevelopment phases. Parts of it were declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1975.

The Navy purchased the original 956 acres of MINSY in 1853 and commenced shipbuilding operations on September 16, 1854 under the command of then – Commander David Farragut, who would later gain fame during the US Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay, when he gave the order, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” MINSY served as a major Pacific Ocean repair station during the late 19th century, handling American as well as Japanese and Russian vessels in the course of duty.

In 1861, the longest lived of the clipper ships, Syren, was brought to Mare Island Navy Yard for $15,000 of repairs. Syren had struck Mile Rock two times while beating out of the Golden Gate.

By 1901, this shipyard, Union Iron Works, was contracted out by John Philip Holland’s (Holland Torpedo Boat Company) to build two Adler-class (later A-class) submarines.

They were known as USS Grampus/A-4 and USS Pike/A-5 and were the first United States Navy submarines built on the West Coast.

Mare Island Naval Shipyard also took a commanding role in civil defense and emergency response on the West Coast, dispatching warships to the Pacific Northwest to subdue Native American uprisings. MINSY sent ships such as Wyoming south to Central America and the Panama Canal to protect U.S. political and commercial interests. Some of the support, logistics and munition requirements for the Spanish-American War were filled by Mare Island. MINSY sent men, materiel and ships to San Francisco in response to the fires following the 1906 earthquake. Arctic rescue missions were mounted as necessary. Ordnance manufacturing and storage were two further key missions at MINSY for nearly all of its active service, including ordnance used prior to the American Civil War.

In March 1917 MINSY was the site of a major explosion of barges loaded with munitions killing 6 people, wounding 31, and destroying some port facilities. U.S. Military Intelligence agents tied the blast to roving German saboteur Lothar Witzke, who was caught and imprisoned in 1918.

MINSY saw major shipbuilding efforts during World War I. MINSY holds a shipbuilding speed record for a destroyer that still stands, launching the USS Ward in just 17½ days in May–June 1918. Mare Island was selected by the Navy for construction of the only U.S. West Coast-built battleship, the USS California, launched in 1919. Noting the power of underwater warfare shown by German U-boats in WWI, the Navy doubled their Pacific-based submarine construction program at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard by founding a submarine program at MINSY in the early 1920s.

On January 1, 1918, the Marine Detachment of Mare Island won the Rose Bowl, defeating the US Army team fielded by Camp Lewis by a score of 19-7. One year later they appeared in the Rose Bowl again, this time losing by a 17-0 score to a Great Lakes Naval Station team that included future football legends George Halas, Paddy Driscoll, and Jim Conzelman.

The *AJC Band, from Hamilton Field, played at a war bond rally held at Mare Island on June 26, 1945. Behind the band, caricatures of Mussolini and Hitler have been crossed out and a fanged Japanese figure is labeled “Tough One To Go

Base facilities included a hospital, ammo depot, paint/rubber testing labs, schools for firefighters, opticians, and anti-submarine attack training during WWII. MINSY reached peak capacity for shipbuilding, repair, overhaul, and maintenance of many different kinds of seagoing vessels including both surface combatants and submarines. Up to 50,000 workers were employed. Mare Island even received Royal Navy cruisers and destroyers and four Soviet Navy subs for service.

Following the War, MINSY was considered to be one of the primary stations for construction and maintenance of the Navy’s Pacific fleet of submarines, having built seventeen submarines and four submarine tenders by the end of hostilities.

Patriotism and esprit de corps among the workers ran very high. Mare Island’s military and civilian workforce raised almost $76M in war bonds; enough to pay for every one of the submarines built at MINSY prior to VJ Day. More than 300 landing craft were built at Mare Island.

Mare Island Naval Shipyard constructed at least eighty-nine sea-going vessels. Among the more important ships & boats built were:

5 of the 7 top-scoring U.S. submarines of WWII were built at Mare Island.

*This editor searched and searched for information on the internet regarding the referenced 1945 AJC Band and found nothing. So, I just typed in ‘The AJC Band’ and found that there still is a ‘AJC Band’.

I emailed the leader of the current AJC Band asking for ‘the meaning of the AJC Band in 1945’ and received the following response:

Hey John…Hmm..I was born nearly 2 decades later. From what can be found on the Internet…it may be the American Jewish Committee (AJC) formed in 1906. 

AJC happens to be my initials…thus the ‘Anthony John Cifaretto Band’. 

I have performed for many WWII Veterans and do a lot of charity work at Lions veterans hospitals in NJ…I will ask around and see if anyone recalls the 1945 band. They seem to have done many War Bond concerts. 



Intrepid Educational Venue readers will be updated with any further responses to the original AJC Band.

UPDATE: An argument could be made that the AJC Band was from Alameda Junior College (now a community college called College of Alameda), which lay about 40 miles to the south of Mare Island.

Submitted by: William Jeanes




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who served …’with pride and dedication’

The Story of Fleetweek in New York


Fleetweek really started out on the West Coast in San Francisco in the late 70’s or early 80’s.

One of the New York Navy League Council directors, Richard Scheuing was visiting in California & experienced the wonderful public relations that was generated.

Upon his return he tried for a considerable time to generate the enthusiasm but encountered resistance.    A few years later, Dick became President of the Council & made it his goal.

The first FLEETWEEK in New York occurred in 1988.   Initially the Navy committed six small ships and the first FLEETWEEK happened in April.

The Navy League could not do it alone so the New York Maritime headed by Paul Preus joined to sponsor the event.   The 88 & 89 FLEETWEEKS were run by both organizations & then in 1990 the New York Council, Navy League took over.

Another Director, Art Ward (succeeding Scheuing as president) had influential friends in Washington.

Ward & Scheuing went to Washington & sat down with then AIRLANT,  VADM RICHARD DUNLEAVY.  Hoping to get either a Battle Ship or an Aircraft carrier.  To their surprise,  AIRLANT offered both a Battle Ship & an Aircraft Carrier.   Thus FLEETWEEK was born.

1988 FLEETWEEK was led off by USS AMERICA CV-66 & the USS IOWA, BATTLE SHIP.

Terry Dougherty was the first to run FLEETWEEK followed by BILL WHITE & KRISTEN KELLY (married to one of the FISHER’S)

Representing the US NAVY was PATRICK BURNS.  Who was involved for several years.  His Successor was MAGGIE SWEENEY.   Today & for the past few years the baton was passed to VICTOR MARTINEZ.

I was involved since 1988 by taking sailors & Marines out to dinner.   This started as a small group & eventually grew to my hosting two hundred Sailors & Marines to dinner every year.

I bought fifty tickets to PHANTOM OF THE OPERA for three or four years for the troops  and the theatre gave an equal number or more.  Finally the SHUBERT ORGANIZATION came to the rescue & provided free Broadway Theatre tickets since 1991 to the present.  In 2011, THE SHUBERT ORGANIZATION arranged for 560 tickets.  More than half were orchestra seats.

To date, the SHUBERT ORGANIZATION was responsible for more than TEN THOUSAND  TICKETS over a twenty-one year association.

FCM Ralph Slane