posted on December 12, 2007 11:07
Thanks to John Howland at USNA-At-Large for passing this one along. Truth, as they say, is stranger than fiction...
"What the hell was on 572's right wing?" The result of MacNamara's ordnance shortage in 'Nam... "We gave them everything we had... EVERYTHING!"
Here's a true story from VA-25.
Just as this AD was being shot off, we got a 1MC message from the bridge, "What the hell was on 572's right wing?"
For those too young to remember, during the Vietnam conflict, carriers were so woefully short of ordnance that missions were often launched with only a half load just to keep the sortie rate up so that the REMF's in DC would not send out blistering messages about failure to support the war effort, etc.
Given that the loss rate approached, and sometime exceeded, one aircraft a day, all will understand that there was a degree of reticence to launch with less than a full load. If I must dance with the elephant, at least let's make it worthwhile! Nevertheless, the indomitable spirit of the carrier aviators, and their squadron-mates, prevailed in some rather perverse ways.
I have every hope that today's successors to the mantel left at the Cubi "O" Club bar persevere as well. Kick the tires, light the fires, bolt for the blue and brief on guard... last one up is lead! Back in 'Nam, if you weren't on USS Midway in Oct 1965, I thought you'd get a kick out of one squadron's ingenuity. Yes, this really happened. Once again, history is stranger than fiction, and a lot funnier.
In October 1965, CDR Clarence J. Stoddard, Executive Officer of VA-25 "Fist of the Fleet", flying an A-1H Skyraider, NE/572 "Paper Tiger II" from Carrier Air Wing Two aboard USS Midway carried a special bomb to the North Vietnamese in commemoration of the 6-millionth pound of ordnance dropped. This bomb was unique because of the type... it was a toilet!
The following is an account of this event, courtesy of Clint Johnson, Captain, USNR Ret. Captain Johnson was one of the two VA-25 A-1 Skyraider pilots credited with shooting down a MiG-17 on June 20, 1965. Clint Johnson was also a classmate and Company-mate of mine [Paul Froede's or Len Chandler's, not sure which] at the Naval Academy.
572 was flown by CDR C. W. "Bill" Stoddard. His wingman in 577 was LCDR Robin Bacon, who had a wing station mounted movie camera (the only one remaining in the fleet from WWII).
The flight was a Dixie Station strike (off South Vietnam) going to the Delta. When they arrived in the target area and CDR Stoddard was reading the ordnance list to the FAC, he ended with "and one code name Sani-flush."
The FAC couldn't believe it and joined up to see it. It was dropped in a dive with LCDR Bacon flying tight wing position to film the drop. When it came off, it turned hole to the wind and almost struck his airplane.
It made a great ready room movie. The FAC said that it whistled all the way down. The toilet was a damaged unit that was going to be thrown overboard.
One of our plane captains rescued it and the ordnance crew made a rack, tailfins and nose fuse for it. The squadron flight deck checkers maintained a position to block the view of the Captain and Air Boss while the aircraft was taxiing onto the catapult. Just as it was being shot off we got a 1MC message from the bridge, "What the hell was on 572's right wing?"