Month: August 2005

I think I was there … at Top Gun

It was a fairly routine day, as if there is anything remotely resembling routine on an aircraft carrier.  The ‘Hawk, U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, was at the time the No. 1 attack carrier in Uncle Sam’s canoe club.  It was 23 January 1968 and I was the communications traffic officer, and a mere LTjg.  There being not a lot to do during nine month-long cruises I had also volunteered as an underway Officer of the Deck (OOD).  As luck would have it, I was one of only three combat-qualified OODs at the time. It was my second cruise on the ‘Hawk.  Click here for some details on her. My duties as the comm traffic officer included generally supervising all activities in the comm center with  5 or 6 watch officers under me; but also to check all of the message traffic both incoming and outgoing to insure proper routing and handling.  A typical day included around 750-1,000 message daily and standing one of seven bridge watches. Except at this time with only three of us, the day consisted of slightly over two bridge watches daily (on the average) with my running to the comm center to check the messages, make a pass through the message processing center, then hitting the rack, eating or occasionally catching a movie. Having just completed a bridge watch, I had checked messages in the office...

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Splash one more

I’ve guessed that the movie Top Gun is loosely based on the seizure of the U.S.S. Pueblo by the North Koreans in 1968 and have written about that.  I think that the dogfight is highly reminiscent, but obviously not based directly on, an incident that also happened in 1968 to an F-4 Phantom based on the ‘Hawk, the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk during one of my two cruises.  Here’s how the story goes to my recollection. The F-4 was over the North (N. Viet Nam) when the crew saw a surface-to-air missle (SAM) lift off, toward them.  The typical maneuver was to dive right at the SAM and then jink one way or the other at the last moment. Obviously an important timing issue there!  Then a dual-site lit up (two SAMs fired simultaneously) and more radical maneuvering, then another and another.  I don’t now recall how many total SAMs were fired at this F-4 but it was a half-dozen or better, some in pairs, and the manuevering as was later described to me was radical, to say the least. At some point they were jumped by Migs and while evading them (and in the process downing 3 of them) the F-4 was the target for more SAMs.  At some point the dogfight and SAM-dodging took them down to the deck and they were at a very high rate of...

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