Would I do it all again? You’re kidding, right?

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The Last Corsair: Fly Low, Hit Hard

HAF 1336





The Helenic Air Force will retire the last A-7 Corsair II on October 17, 2014 after 39 years in Hellenic skies and 49 years of global service. The videos below highlight some great low level flying and include US Navy flights in Vietnam.

Since 2007, the 336 Bomber Squadron has been the last squadron in the world flying the A-7 Corsair II.

Spirit of attack born of a brave heart.

Calm & rum

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Wild Child: Let the day go on and on

David Schneiderman posted the following video on the A-7 Corsair II Association FaceBook page.  Really great job reflecting the naval aviation story across the board from training command to “on cruise.”

This most certainly reflects the spirit of Remembered Sky. Ah to be twenty-something again, and by myself in the cockpit, the orientation of the world in my hands.

Thanks to Dave for permission to re-post here on Remembered Sky.




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A-7 Rehab 2aI can never pass up the artist booths at airshows. Last weekend at the Camarillo Air Show (lead guy was Bill Thomas, President of the Corsair II Association) I visited Christopher Cross’s both of airbrush aviation art. Picture above caught my attention. 153241 is an A-7A currently under restoration in northern California – site escapes me.  When I got home checked my logbook and found that “241″ had been assigned to VA-56 in the spring of ’73 after USS Midway/CAG 5 returned from Vietnam and began prepping for the move to Japan. I have 10.1 hours, 3 traps and flew 3 of my last 10 flights before leaving the Champs in this good old “A.”

Cross’s perspective is somewhat different than many aviation artists and really appealed to me. I promised I would give him a plug, so here is the link to see his other work:

Christopher Cross Images http://www.crossimages.net/new-page/
I also really liked this rendition of the Corsair I.

Chino Flight line

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Morning After Reflection: 5 June 1942 “we sank a carrier”

They had no right to win. Yet they did, and in doing so they changed the course of a war. More than that, they added a new name— Midway— to that small list that inspires men by shining example. Like Marathon , the Armada, the Marne, a few others, Midway showed that every once in a while “what must be” need not be at all. Even against the greatest of odds, there is something in the human spirit— a magic blend of skill, faith and valor—that can lift men from certain defeat to incredible victory.

Walter Lord; Incredible Victory: The Battle of Midway

Pat returns

An SBD dive bomber (6B15) of Bombing Squadron Six, on the deck of USS Yorktown. The aircraft was flown by Ensign G.H. Goldsmith and ARM3c J. W. Patterson, Jr., during the June 4, 1942 strike against the Japanese carriers Kaga and Akagi. Note the battle damage on the tail.

For those who’ve followed this site, you know that in early June I always put together something on the Battle of Midway and always pay tribute to my first post flight school boss, LCDR Pat Patterson. See the 2013 post:

What kind of war was it? – “How do I know, I saw the whole thing backwards!” June 4-7, 1942 at Midway

The picture above is a recent find of Pat’s SBD right after landing on USS Yorktown rather than on Bombing Six’s own USS Enterprise.  As noted below, due to landing on Yorktown rather than Enterprise, Pat and his pilot were listed as missing in action along with nine other aircrews of Bombing Six in the initial action report by Enterprise’s commanding officer.

Action Report 8 June, 1942: Battle of Midway Island, June 4 – 6, 1942 — Report of Commanding Officer USS Enterprise (CV-6), Captain G.D. Murray

The report on the 13th would reduce VB-6′s losses to 7 pilots and 8 gunners with total Air group losses at 31 aircraft, 24 pilots and 25 gunners. (Note, then we must add Hornet and Yorktown losses – including all of Torpedo Squadron Eight – to understand the the magnitude of that battle, of that victory)

Action Report 13 June 1942: Air Battle of the Pacific, June 4-6, 1942, report of Commanding Officer USS Enterprise (CV-6), Captain G.D. Murray

Captain Murray would conclude:

CONCLUSION: ENTERPRISE Air Group, both pilots and gunners, displayed a spirit of utter fearlessness, resolution and determination throughout all air actions. This spirit, though shared by pilots and gunners alike, found its highest expression in the person of the Air Group Commander, LtComdr C.W. McClusky, Jr. U.S.N. On June 4, prior to intercepting the main enemy forces, it was his decision, and his decision alone, that made the attack possible which lead to the destruction of a major part of the enemy forces. It is the considered opinion of the Commanding Officer that the success of our forces hinged upon this attack. Any other action on the part of LtComdr McClusky would inevitably have lead to irreparable loss to our forces.

The entire ENTERPRISE Air Group merits the highest praise and commendation for a hazardous job well done. In separate correspondence, recommendations for awards and citations will be submitted.

Pat had to abandon ship on Yorktown – jumping over the side. Picked up by a destroyer, he never stated when he actually returned to his squadron on board the Enterprise.

I’ve often wondered what thoughts were in his head on the 5th of June, but here is what is written in Walter Lord’s book:

Wade McClusky , leading the group, had a picture of a clean hardwood deck, an untouched island on the starboard side, some planes tuning up toward the stern. Earl Gallaher, coming in fourth, saw fountains of water from two near-misses, the blinding flash of his own bomb landing among the parked planes. Dusty Kleiss, seventh to dive, found the after end of the ship a sea of flames, the painted red circle up forward still untouched— then his own bomb changed that. And so it went until Ensign George Goldsmith, the 25th and last man down, had his turn too. By now the carrier was a blazing wreck, swinging hard to the right in a desperate effort to ward off further blows. Goldsmith kept her in his sights.

In the rear seat, Radioman James Patterson called off the altitude as they plunged down. During dive bombing practice they normally released at about 2,200 feet. This time 2,000 spun past the altimeter, and they were still going straight down. Then 1,500 and finally Goldsmith pulled the release. Patterson watched the results with amazement: “He had been the world’s worst dive bomber pilot during the practice hops I’d flown with him previously, but that day Ensign Goldsmith earned every dime invested in him as he put our bomb right through the flight deck, just aft of amidships.”

Pat was 19.

So here’s to you my friend, to Ens Lew Hopkins in SBD Dauntless 6B12 (awarded the Navy Cross and retired as an admiral), and all who shaped the course of carrier aviation.

Fly Navy, the BEST Always Have.

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Not on My Watch – In Memory of Dave ‘Snako’ Kelly

I attended the Celebration of Life for Dave Snako Kelly on Saturday 3 May on-board USS Midway.Hot afternoon but not nearly as hot and humid as it was 42 years ago in the Gulf of Tonkin.Not on my watch Dave and all the rest of us were about to learn about real air war over North Vietnam. We were about to become “these good men.”

Dave was a great friend, superb Naval Aviator, member of VA-115 flying the A-6 Intruder off of Midway on the ’72 war cruise. He is also the author of the recently published story of his flying years Not On MY Watch.

For anyone who has followed Remembered Sky, you are aware that several chapters of his book have been posted here beginning with the Prologue.  Snako was co-”owner” for Remembered Sky. Below is the Epilogue to Not on My Watch.

Epilogue Continue reading

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A Dawn Like Thunder: In tribute to the men of Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8)

Only 30 copies of this movie were made and they were given to the families of Torpedo Squadron 8. The Youtube version comes from the wife of squadron commander John Waldron.

Fly Navy, the best Always Have

These good men will never be forgotten.

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What kind of war was it? – “How do I know, I saw the whole thing backwards!” June 4-7, 1942 at Midway

Battle of Midway, Commanding Officer, USS Enterprise, Serial 0133 of 8 June 1942

At Sea June 8, 1942
From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet
Via: Commander Task Force Sixteen.
(Rear Admiral R.A. Spruance, U.S. Navy).

Subject: Battle of Midway Island, June 4 – 6, 1942 — Report of.

1.) The attack delivered upon enemy carriers by the torpedo squadrons of our forces is believed to be without parallel for determined and courageous action in the face of overwhelming odds. These crews were observed to commence their attack against heavy anti-aircraft fire from the enemy carriers and supporting vessels while opposed by enemy Zero fighters in large numbers. The enemy fighter opposition was so strong and effective that ten torpedo planes out of fourteen of Torpedo Squadron SIX did not return. It is recommended that the Navy Cross be awarded to each pilot and gunner of Torpedo Squadron SIX who participated in this bold and heroic attack. A separate letter containing details of all aircraft attacks and specific recommendations for awards will be submitted. …
7.) It is extremely difficult to determine the extent of the damage inflicted upon the enemy by Enterprise, as the air groups of all carriers, as well as land based aircraft at Midway, participated in continuous attacks on enemy units throughout the three days action. Based upon reports available to Enterprise, it is estimated the following damage was inflicted upon the enemy:

3 CV’s sunk.
1 CV on fire and badly damaged (probably sank night of June 5).
1 CA wrecked and abandoned.
3 CA heavily bombed.
3 DD sunk.

As a very young Lieutenant Junior Grade, I often kidded LCDR Pat Patterson that I didn’t know anyone so old they’d been in the Battle of Midway, so could he tell me what it was like. His reply – “What do I know, I was 19 years old and saw the whole thing backwards?” When he retired, I was the good humor man for his dinner. I got a copy of the Victory at Sea episode (3 parts) on Midway and ran it backwards. Continue reading

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June 4th 1942 – It begins

First in a series: The evolution of fighter, attack, and strike warfare

All days come from one day, that much you must know.

You  cannot change what’s over, but only where you go…

The road that leads to nowhere, the road that leads to you…

Will you find the answer in all you say and do, will you find the answer in you?

Each heart is a pilgrim, each one wants to know, the reasons why the winds die and where their stories go

Pilgrim in your journey you may travel far, for pilgrim its a long way to find out who you are

Pilgrim by Enya


Naval Aviation marks its birthday as 8 May, 1911, but the single day that matters most is June 4th 1942 at the Battle of Midway. If one wears Wings of Gold, therein resides the metric to which you must always aspire. Continue reading

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Year of War- Reflection


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