Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Something you don't see every day

Time is weighing heavily as I endure the enforced slothitude of being treated for an infection in my left heel bone. Each morning I trudge (figuratively of course, I actually drive) over to the hospital to be infused with a couple of grams of vancomycin through an IV. This two-to-three-hour ordeal is rather the high point of my day, for it's about the only time I'm allowed to be up and about. I've got strict medical orders to spend the remainder of each long day's dreary hours in bed or in the recliner.

This should be heaven, for I never have enough time to read or write or track stuff down on the interwebs. And it would be heaven, if there weren't chores piling up and if I didn't feel so crappy and, most of all, if I had a choice. If my slothitude weren't enforced.

And there lies the rub. I have my cake, but I can't eat it.

It's not as bad as I make it out to be. Things seem to be trending in a positive direction, and so long as I'm a good boy I can spend my slothful hours at home, rather than chained to a hospital bed. Which is something to be thankful for.

At any rate, I decided to spend some time tracking down and becoming more familiar with the history of my first squadron, the VF-84 Jolly Rogers. When I showed up the squadron was part of CVW-8, deployed in Nimitz (CVN-68), flying brand new block 95 F-14A Tomcats, and preparing to make a movie

VF-84 had a lot of history behind it. The squadron lineage began on January 1, 1943, when VF-17 stood up as part of CAG-17. In those days squadrons and air groups took their designation from the hull number of the carrier they deployed in, so CAG-17 was the Air group in Bunker Hill (CV-17), and VF-17, the second navy fighter squadron to be equipped with the Vought F4U Corsair, was part of that air group. Squadrons didn't have names in those days, either, and VF-17 was simply "Fighting 17." In the months ahead, though, somebody started painting small skull and crossbones pirate flags on Fighting 17's Corsairs. The tradition of the beloved "bones" was born, and eventually, the name.

For the moment I'm going to step forward and dance past a lot of history. That'll come later. But let's move ahead to 1953, when the VF-84 Vagabonds, flying F9F Panthers, were deployed in Coral Sea (CVB-43) as part of CAG-8. Different squadron with a different lineage, but soon to assume the bones. That hadn't happened yet in 1953, but all this backstory leads to a single picture, which really has nothing to do with VF-84 or the Jolly Rogers.

In perusing the online cruisebook for Coral Sea's 1953 Mediterranean cruise, I found this. Remember, this was June, 1953, only 11 years after the Battle of Midway. Carriers still had straight flight decks, and if most of the aircraft were now jets, carrier flying hadn't changed all that much. As an aside, a bit more than 30 years in the future I'd be part of CVW-13 and deployed to the Med in the same carrier, albeit with an angled deck and slightly updated aircraft and practices.

Anyway, take a look at this. There are Panthers and Banshees and Skyraiders stuffed everywhere on the roof of Coral Sea in June, 1953. And right in the center, a single SNJ. It's a -3C or a -4C or -5C. Probably a common sight in 1953, but I don't recall having seen a picture like this before.

Anyway, just a teaser. I'll spend some more of my slothidude researching the Jolly Rogers and try to put together a couple of interesting posts. For the moment, it's off to the hospital.



  1. During the War, all CVs had a Grumman Duck, that belonged to the carrier, not the Air Wing. Perhaps the SNJ belonged to CORAL SEA?

    1. That sure could be. Nimitz had a C-2, "Salt One", assigned during my first couple or three cruises. Later they prohibited all avgas from carriers so the C-2 went away. The name Salt One came from Nimitz's nickname, "Old Salt." Ike's C-2 was called "Mamie." That aircraft was tragically lost on 2 April 1982 at Souda Bay, Crete.

  2. Ooh, a cliff hanger! I can hardly wait to see what follows.

    Loves me some Naval Aviation history I does.

    1. Yeah, I can't wait either! Guess I'd better get busy and fill some hours with productive work. :)

  3. That straight two bladed prop was the first thing that caught my eye. What an oddity!

    Hang in there, medically speaking, and get better.

    1. Really grabs your eye, doesn't it? I got a grin thinking about the proud plane captain who made sure the prop looked as squared away as the rest of his aircraft.

      Thanks, Juvat. I'm a hangin'!