Ron Jones, AMS2, V6 LOX Crew Lead, USS HANCOCK (CVA-19) 1966-67
Thanks, Nick. So much information; so little time to fully explore.
Sadly, with the way things are headed, most of the history we have experienced/participated in during our lives, will disappear with us… and be falsely rewritten by new age, brain-washed, Liberal-elitist ‘historians’ and ‘educators’.
Thanks to your “greyeagle1.com” personal compendia of the Vietnam war, anecdotal stories of your note-worthy piloting and leadership skills (as displayed therein and below) can be appreciated and enjoyed by Naval Aviation Sea Story enthusiasts worldwide.
“Keep’ em Fly’ in”
Ron the V-6 Roof-Rat ????
Lt. Ron Thomasson
“I flew on your wing many times. It always was challenging and a pleasure. Your personality made flying in 144 a joy. Coming back to the carrier with some time to play, you were always looking for an F8 to jump and get at their 6 so we could embarrass them in the wardroom. While you were “yanking & banking” the challenge was to stay on your wing. What a “kick”. One night experience; we were flying near Danang, just the two of us, and we needed to get through a cloud layer. You had to bank above 30 degrees, how much higher I’m not sure. I kept telling you I had vertigo, and you would say “hang on” we are almost through. I had vertigo so bad I swore we were flying upside down. I knew I was going to hit you. I was about to break away when we broke out, and my mind turned around and things were normal. You and Dave Edwards were the life of the party. I can just see you with your “stogie”, cigar, and laughing it up about something that happened.”
Lt. Pat Hale
“I recall an incident at Fallon that well describes your talent as leader; following a bombing practice hop we were rendezvousing for the return to base when one of us discovered a small 4 or 6 place Piper or Beech high tailing it through the restricted air space on his way to Reno or some destination and called it out to you. You immediately told us to join up and you brought us round behind the Piper who was moving right along at 170 knots or so, you had the 4 of us dirty up and drop our hooks and lead us by maybe 50 feet off his starboard side, we cruised by at 200 knots or so, I’ll never forget wondering what that guy was thinking and was also glad he didn’t make a sudden hard right turn before we were abeam, good times! That incident reminded me of a Yuma bombing week when Hollywood was filming the movie “Flight of the Phoenix” in the Sahara like sand dunes west of the air station I believe I was on another of Nick’s flights when that wonderful fact was discovered and what ensued was every flight, every day buzzed the location at low level thinking “Blue Angel” and ” boy I bet these guys really love this air show”, until it came down from the base commander, “cease and desist” I’m sure with a wink and heh heh, but never the less lots of fun.”
Some people wonder why old fighter pilots (there are no Ex Fighter Pilots) miss flying high performance jets so much. A couple of examples:
1. I start up, taxi out and line up on the centerline of a 10,000-foot runway. I throttle up to full power, release the brakes and go into afterburner. There is a huge shove against my back that pins my helmet against the back headrest. The runway streaks under me faster and faster. At flying speed I raise the gear to get the wheels free of the earth. Flaps up. Sink down a foot or two until the end of the runway and then the field boundary flashes underneath and I pull the nose up to point to the sky and freedom. The horizon rapidly expands and after about three minutes and 6-7 miles above the earth I come out of burner, roll inverted and at zero Gs let the nose slowly drift down to the horizon. I look out the top of my canopy at the earth far below and think about all those pedestrians down there that will never know what true joy is.
2. I complete my mission in North Vietnam and climb out South toward home base far away. I have to go to 53,000 feet in order to have enough fuel to make it. Once there, the adrenalin is subsiding and I turn off my cockpit lights to enjoy the view. There is not one light visible an the ground. But above: Oh my God!! It is unbelievable! The sight is not describable. Only God could have created something like this. The stars and galaxies are so bright that I do not need cockpit lights to read my instruments. This is something that an old fighter pilot cannot forget and it is only one of thousands of memories that only an Old Fighter Pilot can have.
Because we flew
Once the wings go on, they never come off whether they can be seen or not. It fuses to the soul through adversity, fear and adrenaline, and no one who has worn them with pride, integrity and guts can ever sleep through the ‘call of the wild’ that wafts through bedroom windows in the deep of the night. When a good flyer leaves the ‘job’ and retires, many are jealous, some are pleased and yet others, who may have already retired, wonder. We wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times. We know in the world of flying there is a fellowship that lasts long after the flight suits are hung up in the back of the closet. We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.
Because we flew, we envy no man on earth.
I will surely give the NAS Pensacola museum’s F-4 Phantom an extra pat on the side for us next week. It was/remains a special a/c for me. This brings back a memory of an in port time at Subic; I was headed back to the ship after an afternoon at White Beach; it was after sunset, and an F-4 was taking off from Cubi. The pilot went to full throttle and lit both J79 ‘candles’ into A/B and headed nearly straight up. There was a cloud deck that appeared to be hanging at ~3,000 ft.. When the F-4 pierced the cloud layer, the whole immediate area of clouds illuminated; awesomely spectacular.