Vikings. Hawkeyes. CODs. Prowlers. Whales (when they were still around)…
Cats and dogs we were called. Didn’t go fast (‘cept down hill). Didn’t do afterburner flybys. Boss and Handler generaly tolerated ‘em, barely, unless they went stiff wing in the wires, then all hell was unleashed. Usually got the back-end pick of the Ready Rooms (“Viking ready room? yeah – it’s back aft under the wires, next to the Hummers…”).
And now of course, there’s one less in the family (and another new link on the wall to the right — check out The Viking Association). Rifling through the rapidly dmming synapses pulls some fond, funny and sad memories to the fore, like:
- the time it was just us and the Hoov’s in the west Med (helos too, but they were sticking close to mom…) drilling holes in the late night/early morning sky. JO’s all, except for us. XO was flying right seat cause he’d bitched at the Schedules O about flight time and demanded something short and early — and pulled the mid-watch H3 flight. The grumbling over the ICS gave us an idea that Scheds was going to come out on the short end of the stick… Comparing notes with the Hoov’s backend on ESM to see if we could get LOB’s to match (we didn’t). Passing the obligatory ‘heads-up’ as they approached the coastline of a not so friendly nation (but not openly hostile) only to be met with a “…ah, negative Bluetail, my system shows us well north of (redacted to protect the not so innocent- SJS)…” “703, is your primary (radar) up?” “negative” (‘now he tells me…’ thinks the RO). “Roger, meet me secondary (back-up freq, not in the comm plan & used for conversations we didn’t want the heavies to listen in on) “Still have that layer below you?” “It’s breaking up pretty quick” “OK, steer 360, now. You’re XX Red” “Negative – system’s showing a good 20 miles to Yellow…” “703, you’re well inside of XX Red, look left, down – what do you see?” (long pause followed by symbol on E-2 scope turning north) “Umm, Bluetail, 703′s heading 355. Must’ve been a bad alignment – were you reporting us on the ‘gator (Link 11) ?” “Negative – we’ll put it on the tab…switching primary”
- The admin in Barbados…(still hurts)
- Foc’sl follies with our VS buds in CVW-3 on JFK during the “Stop Making Sense” Cruise (87-88). The directive from CAG that “thou shalt not mention ‘Bunnie’ in your skits” (not explaining that one – if you were there, you remember…), which meant, of course the JO’s would. First out of the box were the VS JOs and the you-know-what hit the fan shortly thereafter…
- Ops in the North Atlantic off Norway, running an intercept on a Bear D using an S-3 with a tanker package because all the fighters (F-14s, F-4s and Sea Harriers) and A-7s were otherwise occupied, broke or RTB (“Can you go faster?” “No” “Downhill?” “No – I’m peddling as fast as I can…”)
- Coming into the break, a Whale in the lead with us and a Hoover trying our best to keep up. Boss on tower freg “That is about the ugliest sight I’ve ever seen” with howls of laughter in the background…
- Memorial services for a lost VS crew early in deployment – and for the A-6 crew we also lost during the SAR.
- My first view of something other than sea blue or sky blue in months as I flew in the back of a Longhorn S-3 conducting Rawhide Ops up in the Straits of Hormuz – never thought I’d be so enthralled looking at dirt.
- Helping out a fellow CO and friend with a broken Shadow (ES-3) getting it fixed and back to the boat while pulling CD-OPS in Roosey
- H-cubed ops (Hummers, Hoovers and helos) in the North Atlantic. Lots of H-cubed ops. Scheming to see if we could get an alert fighter to be launched.
- H-cubed ops. Radar flood missions – but finding a periscope where there shouldn’t have been one. Together.
- Working with some really great folks from the community, from CO (Jack R. especially) on down as epitomized by my ANAV on IKE (who, I would note parenthetically, ended up in VAW, with a command tour, as the community was being downsized).
- S-3′s with Doritos – they want to do what with the S-3??? Put a radar dome where???
- Pushing waaay out to the edge of our area, hoping to press the radar range just that little bit further with the hope of locating ‘Miss Piggy’ (the US-3 COD) flying in from Diego Garcia to our spot on Gonzo Station. Hearing the palpable relief in the “roger, thanks” when told we had them radar contact, your steer for mom – 345 for 427 miles.
…And now they’re gone; disappeared from view and undoubtedly headed inbound to join-up with the Whales, Tomcats, Corsairs, Intruders, Phantoms and others in that great overhead pattern.
…Gonna miss ‘em.