Naval Career, VAH-5, University of Kansas and VQ-1



Of the pilots in this picture, I know the following to have been killed.  Chuck "Mumbles" Schoonover was killed in an RA-5C Vigilante in 1966 and Bruce Graham was killed in an A3 midair at Sanford NAS on 17 November 1961.

During the Med cruise, I had requested orders to the Navy five-term college program.  This was a Navy program that had been established to allow former naval aviation cadets who had become regular naval officers the opportunity to complete their college education.  The main stipulation was that the officer must be able to complete his college education in five terms or semesters or less.  Summer terms counted.  I was selected to attend the University of Kansas although I had requested the University of Miami and the University of Hawaii.

During the drive from sunny Florida to Kansas, it was so cold that the fuel line in my Karmann Ghia froze.  The drain in the Lawrence, Kansas motel bathroom also froze.

In January of 1963, I enrolled at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.  Lawrence is a small town about thirty miles west of Kansas City, Missouri.  I graduated two years later having been given a one term extension.  I majored in mathematics with a minor in physics.  Although it may sound crazy, I really loved the study of mathematics.

Upon graduation, I was ordered to VX-5, Detachment Alfa which was located at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It should be noted that the day I arrived the 784-day record of non-stop days of sunshine was broken.

While in Sanford, Florida I had made friends with Stan Balsley.  He was a lieutenant as was I.  While at the University of Kansas, I learned that Stan had been in an aircraft accident.  While attempting to take off from Kirtland Air Force Base, Stan had allowed the AD-5 Skyraider (Spad) to torque roll on take-off.  The aircraft came back down on or near the runway and burst into flames.  Stan was burned quite badly while egressing the airplane.  He had two other passengers who were also injured although not as severely as Stan.

After Albuquerque, it was off to VQ-1 stationed aboard NAS Atsugi, Japan in the summer of 1965.  I flew the EA-3B while in VQ-1.  The EA-3B was the electronics version of the A3B bomber that I had flown earlier in VAH-5.  It carried a pilot and six other crewmen.  There was a navigator, electronics warfare officer, three enlisted operators and a plane captain.  Our mission was to detect electronic emissions from enemy radar among other things.  Most of my flying was off aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin in support of operations in North Viet Nam.  When back in Japan we flew flights in the Sea of Japan near the coast of the USSR, China and North Korea.  These flights were very exciting because the Russians usually came out to look us over.  I have many pictures of Migs flying on my wing.  Life in Japan was very comfortable in some ways and very uncomfortable in other ways.  The exchange rate was 360 yen to the dollar and it was fixed at this rate.  In 1965 360 yen would go a long way.