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!


  1. Wicked awesome!

    (Never ceases to amaze me just how dumb I was as a Ute, hard to believe I survived to decrepitude!)

    1. Thanks Sarge!

      The past is chock-full of awesomeness. I hope people continue to peruse history.

  2. There was a Piasecki HUP guarding the Whale!

    1. Good eye. The SAR Det were all HUPs. Within a year they would be gone from the CVAs.

  3. Why in the world all the 03 level bashers?

    1. I had to ask around to get an answer on that. I made seven major deployments and spent north of 2,000 days underway on carriers and I never once wondered why. Anyway, I'm going to try to turn the answer into a post. Thanks for the idea!

  4. I sail away to England and Scotland on the QM2 and you get taken sick. Please take my best wishes for a speedy recovery. Oh, and Anne's too. The country and the Wolrd needs all the air cowmen we have.

    1. Thanks! Hope you had a great voyage. I've been kicking around the idea of booking passage to Europe on a freighter. I like the idea of a sea voyage but I'm not sure I'd enjoy a passenger liner.

      Surgery on Friday and hope to quickly return to normal after that.

  5. Hope the surgery went well and you are on the road to pain free walking again.

    1. Thanks. It went well and I think we're on the right traxk...


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