Thursday, December 1, 2016

Spirit of '62

Blog reader NavyDavy (a retired AVCM) emailed me with wishes for my recovery the other day, which was a very thoughtful thing to do and much appreciated.

Dave served with VF-84 a generation before I did, back when the squadron was flying F-8C Crusaders from Independence. This was in 1962, when Indy (CV-62) was a mere three years old. They made the ship and airwing's second Medeterranean Deployment and returned just in time to spend 37 days in the Caribbean while the world hung on the brink of disaster. The cruisebook, from which I shamelessly stole the images below, was/is titled "The Spirit Of 62."

While I said above that the Jolly Rogers operated F-8C's on that cruise, they started the deployment flying F8U-2's, and finished in the Charlie models. And they did this, believe it or not, without swapping a single aircraft! How can this be? Two words. Bobby Strange.

I thought it would be fun to post up some images of that cruise. It's kind of cool to think that in 1962 the Independence was newer than Nimitz would be when I joined VF-84 17 years later.

I actually spent some time underway in Independence -- a couple of weeks in 1982 and about the same in, IIRC, 1984. Having become accustomed to the shiny, newer, nuclear Nimitz, I thought the Indy was a real ancient rust bucket. The damme thing even had water hours!

I believe that I've previously mentioned that I was pretty stupid back then.

It's also cool to think about the evolution of the aircraft flown by the Jolly Rogers. They began during WWII flying Vought F4U Corsairs. Fewer than 20 years later, in 1962, they were flying the F8U/F-8, having recently transitioned from the North American FJ-3 Fury. Less than two decades later they flew Grumman F-14A Tomcats, having recently transtioned from the McDonnell-Douglas F-4J Phantom. Pretty mind boggling.

In 1943 the squadron was VF-17, skippered by Tommy Blackburn and including Ike Kepford, who downed 16 enemy planes.
Ike Kepford in 29.

This VF-84 Crusader must have spent a bit of time on Saratoga (CVA-60) during the turnover as Independence relieved her in the Med. The graffiti appears to say "RELAX I IS HERE CATCC CVA 60 SENDS"

03 level knee knockers, a constant in naval aviation

Douglas AD6/A-1H Skyraiders of VA-75


Crash and Smash silver suits in the days before cranials

A VF-84 F-8 at the ramp. The ship appears to be towing a bombing spar

Servicing an F-8 with LOX

The cool kids wear orange flight suits

2.75" rocket pod, AD4-2HA-4C in background

Fighter pilots make movies, Attack pilots make history

F3H-2N/F-3C Demon of VF-41

Signing for the jet

Plane Captain

Jolly Roger Crusader on Cat Three

Shooting an A3D/A-1 Skywarrior (Whale) off the bow

A VMF(AW)-115 F4D/F-6 Skyray (Ford, get it?) launches from Cat Four

Scooter passing gas to an F8U-1P/RF-8A Photo'Sader of VFP-62 Det 1


Grumman WF2/E-1 Tracer takes a waveoff

Whale at the ramp

Cutting into a Centurion cake, check out the flag!

North American A3J-2/A-5B Vigilante

After the missile crisis. Such behavior wouldn't fly in 2016. Hasta la vista, fidel

Freedom is never free
Cool, colorful history! Thanks for the well wishes and the prompt to check out the Spirit of 62, Dave!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Weird tihs

I mentioned on the koobecaf yesterday that I was feeling better than I have in a good long while.

As I figuratively pen this missive twenty-four hours later, I feel even better.

I don't feel good, mind you, or anywhere close to normal, but I feel so much better than I have for the last month that I believe I could leap small buildings in a single bound. A couple of doll houses perhaps. Building stature isn't the point here; the astonishing thing is that the concept of leaping seems an achievable proposition! Smileyfiretruckin'face!

My foot is less sore as well. It still burns and stings and is painful to walk on but gone is that grinding, pounding near-constant pain.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is that my mind feels sharp and clear now, where before it was anything but sharp and clear. It's a bit like waking from a dream; a dream where I existed in twilight torpidity, in a dull and colorless world filled with completely uninteresting stuff that didn't matter because it was all superficial nonsense.

This last is rather frightening. I think I could live with being crippled, with losing a foot or a leg. Perhaps, like Wheels, the RIO I've never met, I could learn to exist in a wheelchair. But I shudder to imagine life as it's been the last month or so, a dull nothingness of mental and intellectual dissipation.

This experience has had a lot of ups and downs. Just now it's trending up and the surgery to clean out the bacterial housing project in and around my heel bone is a mere nine days away. Then, I suspect, my immune system will get on with the job of evicting that rotten crowd of pathogens, and life will pretty quickly return to normal.

That's my hope, anyway.

And now, a few images of the contrasting face of early winter, taken 24 hours apart.

 Followed by a nice day...
 And then winter returns...

And hey, presto, wintry morn in Herefordshire!

Be well.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Making delayade

Well, surgery will be on December 8 or perhaps December 9. One or the other unless disrupted by the end of the world or something.
The moonrise November 14.

I've been struggling for the last week with being cross about the delay and feeling sorry for myself. Such a whiner!

I even let the weather change get me down a bit. We went from a high of 80 on Wednesday to a high of 31 on Thursday. A couple of cold, wind-driven inches of snow chimed in, and overnight temperatures tumbled all the way to 10 degrees.

So getting out, about and around was more difficult and less comfortable. I hobbled painfully through my winter chores and begrudged the great burden of having to report to the hospital daily for an infusion of IV antibiotics.

A real mopey arsehole I can be.

I had a tough night last night with aches and pains and fever and stomach upset. The morning dawned grim and cold and ugly.

My dog gave me a funny look when I prepared to head out for chores. She perked her ears, cocked her head to one side, and stared at me.

"Th' hell's your problem," she seemed to ask.

Then I got a whiff of my attitude and it smelled really bad.

I resolved to clean up my act.

I had to fake it at first. But it didn't take long to brighten my outlook.

With a big assist from Nona and from Nature's beautiful morning.
Nona's dad Jeeter, soakin' up the sunshine.

No wind, a huge blue sky, and the sun still high enough in the heavens to kiss the world with light and warmth.

As the temperature rocketed past 40 degrees the air came alive with the good smell of autumn. Damp earth, fallen leaves, warming bark, melting snow, freshly stacked hay bales, grain dust, warm cows, steaming fresh manure.

Snow and ice melted throughout the day. Cows and calves grazed, birds and small mammals flitted and fed, deer ghosted along treelines, the brilliant sun warmed by heart and my bones.

Then came sunset, with the atmosphere still and clear as glass while nature wielded her paintbrush on the canvas of the southwestern sky, daubing colorful pigments of air and dust and photons with gleeful abandon.

The air cooled and became bracing, cows continued to graze, dogs skittered around in dogish joy, and the last Cessna of the day turned final, chirped onto the runway, then snarled toward hangar and home.

I am so blessed to be able to experience the beauty of the day, the beauty of boundless, teeming life perched on the cusp of winter's annual nap. I could be chained to a hospital bed, could be really, really ill, but I am not.

I can take the delay that the world has given me and wallow in self pity. Or I can make delayade.

I shall try to do the latter.