USS Ranger (CV-61) 1974-76

Photo Submissions from fellow shipmates:

From Bob Kennedy, Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)



  1. Re: your kind request for a sea story from me. I do believe my very favorite one would be about our first night together underway, although I can’t recall the exact date. I was relaxing in my inport/at sea cabin, rereading Mahan’s theory of seapower when the good old engineer, Dave, leaned against the wrong circuit breaker panel and out went the lights on the whole ship, followed by what might be described as a plaintive call on the 1 MC: “Ops Officer to the bridge!!” Being an old night fighter pilot, I had little trouble bounding up 8 levels in the pitch black, arriving on the bridge lit by flashlights, one of which was directed at my smiling countenance. “George,” you said, “the lights are out,” to which I readily agreed, wanting above anything to cement a good relationship with my new boss. Going even a step farther, I suggested: “Captain, why don’t we call the Engineer?” I’ll never forget the look on your face, discernible even in the dim glow of the OOD’s flashlight and your heartfelt admission. “George, that’s right. You’re the Ops Officer. I’ll give Engineering a call.” Dave too, agreed with your analysis, remarking that he was doing his best and that his repair team would have the circuits alive within the hour. Meanwhile, our whole bridge team was adapting to the starlight and the dim horizon, very happy that no other navigation lights were in sight. And it worked out. The lights came on, we were all pleased and the Engineer retained his job.

  2. Author

    George, no editing required! Glad you now officially understand that in an emergency – especially at night – I always relied on my most qualified shipmate!

    Press On, Nick

  3. Author

    My memories of my service on the Ranger include seeing Hong Kong, Singapore and Manila in 1976 as a tourist ( I wasn’t much for hanging out in Bars) and being grateful for the challenging coursework I did which enabled me to do well at the University of Oregon following my discharge. I also remember standing behind the plastic board on the Bridge with my wax pencil tracking the surrounding ships and eavesdropping on you and the other officers on the Bridge. Pretty educational at times! I also tried to use your management “style” when I became a manager. I learned that obtaining the loyalty and candor of subordinates while still retaining their respect is a pretty difficult task. SO, thank you for that lesson.

    John Matney

  4. Author

    Good afternoon Captain. Hope this e-mail finds you in good health and high spirits. I stopped by the Ranger today to bid her a farewell. I talked with the Spokeswoman from Inactive Fleet, Bremerton, and she told me the Ranger gets underway tomorrow 0930 for her final trip to the scrap yard in Texas. Thought you would like to know. Thank you Captain for keeping us safe and being the best Captain anybody could’ve served with.
    God bless you,
    OS2 Kerry Truax
    OI Div

  5. Author

    Reported aboard in Alameda. Next day Ranger went to sea for post overhaul shakedown Test firing the guns was a major item of the day. Five rounds rapid continuous fire to starboard, one round fired. Cease fire, five rounds rapid continuous fire to port, silence. “Chief Warrant Officer Siedschlag lay to the bridge,” and I was on the hanger deck observing. Will never forget that first meeting when you asked if I could do better than that, all I could say was not today. It was a high point in my career to be aboard Ranger as fire control officer/ gunnery officer. My men were the finest to have been desired, they made me proud in every way. CWO-3 SW Retired. My second career was equally as rewarding, 27 years as Pastor serving the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. I have been blessed in so many ways.

  6. Author

    Speaking of technology, I wonder what a Sea and Anchor detail consists of these days in todays Navy. During Sea and Anchor detail my responsibility was nav plotter in CIC. The radar operator would simultaneously give range and bearings to three points in the harbor. I would then take the bearings and range, swing three arcs, and plot our position. I would then calculate set and drift, ships course and speed, distance to turn, time to turn, recommendation on when to turn and I’m sure more but don’t remember at the moment. Most intense hour and a half of my life. Talk about being drained both physical and mental. Loved it however. It would be interesting to see how it’s all done now, GPS and computers? I wonder if they even swing arcs and plot anymore. Would love to see how much CIC operations have changed.

    OS2 Kerry Truax

    1. I remember you, Roger Baker and maybe Amos McCoy having that detail. All the best to you and your family.

  7. Author

    Good Evening Commanding Officer “Ranger” !
    I trust this message finds you well sir.
    Came across your webpage this evening while doing a random search before heading home. Was looking at my Westpac “Shellback Certificate” which hangs proudly my office wall, signed by one John L. Nicholson Jr. July 7 1976 and wondered, and hence found your page. I deployed twice on Ranger attached to VF-21 the latter being ’76 Cruise under your command. I recall you fondly to this day as the Captain of Ranger that sounded just like John Wayne on the 1MC.
    I wish you “Fair Winds and Smooth Seas”
    KJ Cole (AO2) CAG 2 Fighter Squardron 21

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    Skipper Nick, Had lunch yesterday with your good friend Malcolm Barrett here in Prescott and we shared many stories about you. I was in VA-25 74-76 and have wanted to find you for some time. I currently am president of the Fist of the Fleet Association representing the lineage of VA-25 and VFA-25. Take a look at our website listed below. I know there are several of our members who would love to correspond with you including my old roommate on Ranger Al Gorthy and RADM Bob Nutwell who manages our history site. Last time I saw you was at your Hanford address with none other than Greg “Dance” Wooldridge. We were both at 127 doing adversary flights. I have a few pictures I would love to send with you and Ranger. Hope this finds you well. All the best to the finest skipper I ever had the honor of serving under.


    Gary L. Kerans

  9. I joined the Navy right out of high school and started active duty in Nov 1974 at Great Lakes (nice place in the winter) and then onto A School in Meridian, MS. I remember the first time seeing the Ranger. It was at the NAS in Alameda, CA and I believe the ship was under repair/overhaul. My request sheet when leaving A school was a small ship on the East Coast – I guess this was about as close as they could get. I remember thinking to myself – WOW that’s a big ship. A couple of more memories for me on the ship: the night the jet hit the back of the flight deck in the wee hours of the morning and ripped a hole in the flight deck – I was in the Educational Service Office playing a friendly card game in the aft part of the ship when it happened – I thought we were being attacked. Sitting off the coast of Uganda as a show of force and sending new shipmates all over Ranger looking for things like the “port list” and “the special black paint they use on the flight deck to help with night landings”.

    I left active due in January 1977 and using the GI Bill and the free tuition program for vets attending a state school in MA, I put myself through 4 years of college earning a degree in Business Management and graduating at the top of my class with a GPA of 3.9. I also played on the hockey team while in college. I was only an average student in high school who “got by”. I guess I grew up a lot while on the Ranger and gained focus and discipline. One of the best life decisions I made was joining the Navy. It taught me so many lessons and so many life long skills.

    Captain Nick thank you again for all you have done for our great country. You are an American hero!

    May God Bless you, your wife and your family.

  10. Dear Captain Nicholson – I recently exchanged emails with my old friend and RANGER Shipmate Peter Richards. Peter shared with me your website and I could not resist shooting you a quick line. Needless to say RANGER was a defining time in my life as it was my first, of what would be many deployments. Like Peter, I was Personnelman Bob Kennedy during my first active duty tour. The places, people, events, and adventures left an indelible positive mark on my life. I am extremely thankful to all my USN leaders, superiors, Shipmates and subordinates who helped me through a long, wonderful journey which ended in 2012 with retirement after 37 years for Captain Bob Kennedy. As I was telling Peter, unfortunately I don’t have a picture in the 76 cruise book as I was mess cooking at the time, but thought it might be worth a laugh to include pictures of a very salty PN3 Kennedy in the RANGER personnel office and my last day as a slimy pollywog on RANGER. I believe I still have grease in my hair from that day! My Shellback certificate still proudly bears your signature. The third pic was a very special day as I was able to swear in our oldest daughter Kristen into the Navy Nurse Corps. My wonderful wife Paula is by my side, both in the picture and for the last 36 years. 4 total kids, countless duty assignments including 14 years overseas have been a part of a fabulous Navy life. We are truly blessed! I was sad to see RANGER towed to the breakers recently – believe its about the 10th ship I served in to share that fate. We now live in Jacksonville, FL. Well enough of the trip down memory lane. Please reply if you get the chance.
    Very respectfully,
    Bob Kennedy
    Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)

  11. Author

    Captain Nick, On the 1976 Ranger cruise I was a LTjg RIO in VF-154. Gary Kerans passed along pictures of his recent visit with you and your website link. Fantastic website and great stories/pictures! Under the Deployments/USS Ranger 1975-1976 tab there is a Russian Bear over flight picture; I was the photographer using a CVIC camera. I have other Bear pictures of that escort mission I’d like to share with you.

    V/R Warren Zander

  12. Author

    My 3rd cruise in a row aboard Ranger was the 76 deployment. I was in VF 154. Your professional and practical approach to your job and Ranger’s mission made the cruise my best. The Black Knights and the Fists of the Fleet try to have a reunion in conjunction with the Blue Angels homecoming in Pensacola periodically . We would love to have you come down to join us in our celebration. I remember you joining me in the fish pond outside the Pearl Harbor O’club spearing goldfish with Mai Tai swords and drinking them down with beer. Awesome memories.

    Most warm regards, Reldon (Pork) Leininger.

  13. Author

    Hello Capt Nicholson . I just wanted to let you know it was an honor to serve under you on the USS Ranger AE 3 John Wuorinen AIMD 1973 thru 1976

    AE 3 John Wuorinen AIMD

  14. Author

    Comm Dept 1975-1978… It was a great time in my life and thanks for taking good care of all of us….

    RM3 David Dysart

  15. Author

    Great to see you sir . I am David J. Jolly 1st Division. Boatswain mate. 1974 to 1977 . You are a great Captain.

    David J. Jolly 1st Division

  16. Author

    Good morning Capt. Nick, Serving on the Ranger with you in command was one of the most exciting periods of my life. I just watched several video interviews with you explaining what you were doing the same time I was enlisted. Your story about Operation Linebacker II really took me back to that time in my life. I had just arrived in Guam about December 22, 1972 as a non rated seaman deuce. I was 18 years old. That year I spent on Guam was tough on me for so many reasons. None worth repeating, just to young and stupid to see the opportunities that were offered to me. Later on, April 1975 I reported aboard the Ranger CVA-61 as a non rated Fireman and was assigned to A Division. Made the cruise in 1976 and finally felt like a real Sailor. Your leadership and personality planted the seed that helped me get my life on track. Thank you and I am proud to have served on Ranger and under your command. Respectfully, Mike Berry. Now retired from VA. Thanks again, best wishes and “Press On”

    Respectfully, Mike Berry

  17. Author

    Capt. Nick,

    VF154 and VF21 flew Dan Gurney and Al Unser to the Ranger. Roger Kirkman, VF 154 CO, flew Dan Gurney and Chuck Schroeder, VF 21 XO, flew Al Unser. If memory serves me. Bill Muncy, a race boat driver, flew out also but I don’t recall who flew him out. I helped familiarize Dan Gurney with the F4 rear cockpit.

    Your Pearl fishing buddy,
    Reldon (Pork) Leininger

  18. Author

    Captain Nick,
    On the 1976 Ranger cruise I was a LTjg RIO in VF-154.
    Gary Kerans passed along pictures of his recent visit with you and your website link. Fantastic website and great stories/pictures! Under the Deployments/USS Ranger 1975-1976 tab there is a Russian Bear over flight picture; I was the photographer using a CVIC camera. I have other Bear pictures of that escort mission I’d like to share with you. I can put them in my Dropbox and send you the link, or email them directly to you.
    V/R Warren Zander

  19. Captain John L. Nicholson

    Captain Nick ,
    I too had the honor of serving under your command aboard Ranger during the 1976 Westpac cruise, I was a PRAN in VA-25 who joined the ship on 29Apr.1976 in Subic Bay. That deployment was full of many firsts for a young man from the Nutmeg State, Shellback initiation, heading to the land of Kilimanjaro and waiting upon what might be next . Thank you for your leadership, steady hand and your service to our nation and your crew.
    I also want to thank you for the wonderful work you did at Sanger H.S. and the JNROTC, reading about those young scholars on their way to the USNA filled me with gratitude for your continued service. I had the honor of serving our community while serving as a Sheriff’s Deputy with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. I wish you Fair Winds and Calm Seas . V/R Kevin G. FitzGerald

  20. Author

    Ooh. From the 1976 Bi-Centennial cruise. I’ve waited many years to again apologize for running (literally) into you one morning while you were entering the Captain’s Bridge. I was just getting off my station at the status board and had grabbed a styrofoam cup of hot coffee on my way down to CIC. Not looking, the whole cup hit you chest high. You said something like “I hope this doesn’t mean it’s a bad day for flight ops” and then turned around to head back for a change of clothes. You were kind enough not to have me killed and I do appreciate that. I was glad to hear from Kerry Truax that he had visited you recently in San Luis Obispo County. I am honored to have served under you. You are a great Captain! I wish you continued good health and a lifetime of happiness. Sinecerely, Dale (Dale Baird OSSN at the time)

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