Naval Career, VQ-1

 VQ-1, NAS Atsugi, Japan

 In the summer of 1965, I received orders to VQ-1, Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan.  Again, I would be going by way of a Instrument Training Squadron, VA-127 at Naval Air Station, Miramar, California.  Miramar, as everyone knows, is home of Topgun.  I had a wonderful time in the Instrument Training Squadron.  They were still flying the F-9F8T, the two-seated version of the F9F.  I had a wonderful instructor.  Unfortunately, I have forgotten his name.  I never really enjoyed the instrument take offs.  On an instrument take off the instructor would start the take off roll and then at eighty knots, would give the controls to the student under the instrument hood in the back seat.  The student would then be responsible for the rest of the flight from under the hood.

 After VA-127 I checked into VAH-123 at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington.  The VAH-123 syllabus was mainly concerned with requalifying me aboard ship.  Therefore, we practiced day and night carrier landings before going to Pensacola, Florida to qualify on the U. S. S. Lexington.  The Lexington was the carrier assigned to the Naval Air Training Command for student qualifications.  After qualifying, I spent another week in survival training at Whidbey Island.  We were all going to Viet Nam yet the survival training was conducted in the cold weather of Whidbey Island in October.  Go figure.

 Now with all of my training behind me and once again carrier qualified I set off across the Pacific to see if all of the tales I had been told about West Pac liberty was true.  It was not.

 Living off base in Japan in 1965 was a challenge but not impossible.  The exchange rate was fixed at 360 Yen to the dollar, which made shopping a pleasure.  While with VQ-1, I was able to visit some wonderful vacation spots.  I visited the Philippines, Viet Nam, Thailand and Taiwan.  I also operated from the U. S. S. Ticonderoga, Hancock, F. D. Roosevelt, Coral Sea, Ranger, Kitty Hawk, Constellation and Enterprise.  Most of these wonderful ships have now been made into razor blades.  While in Japan I met Hiroko, whom I later married.

One story I must tell about my VQ-1 flying is my trip to pick up Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, or CINCPACFLT.  I was to be the back up for a flight for CINCPACFLT from Cubi Point in the Philippines to Japan.  The Air Force, with a Military Airlift Command (MAC) C-141 was primary.  I immediately ran into trouble when I parked my EA-3B too close to the  C-141 and was told to move farther away from the Air Force airplane.  I refused but the transient line made the adjustment.  In base operations I overheard the Air Force major tell the Admiral that he did not have permission to carry the Admiral to Japan.  He stated that he would contact his command post and apply for permission.  The Admiral turned to me and asked if I was ready to go.  I stated that I was.  We moved the Admiral to the VIP lounge and outfitted him with a torso harness.  When we were finished the major came up to us and stated that he now had permission to take the Admiral to Japan.  The Admiral stated that he had committed to the Navy and we started for the EA-3B.  The major was not about to give up.  He said that he could take the Admiral to Haneda, the Tokyo commercial airport.  This was closer to the Admiral’s headquarters.  I could not land there because I was flying a combat airplane and the Japanese were neutral towards the war now raging in Viet Nam.  The Admiral still refused and we manned up and took off.

 No sooner had I been airborne and started my turn to climb out over the beautiful Philippine terrain than my port engine fire warning light came on.  With little or no hesitation, I unscrewed the bulb from the socket and flew home.  Four hours with a fire warning indication.  It is better to die than look bad.

 In 1968 I was ordered to the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia.