Deployment and cruise videos have probably been around for nearly as long as video cameras have been in existence. Using the search term "Navy Cruise Video" on YouTube brings up over 240 thousand results. Modifying that to add in or replace it with a squadron moniker or designation seems to increase the results almost exponentially. I could sit for hours at my computer watching these clips, and often have.
None of the squadrons I served in seem to be among those results, most likely because my time there preceded either DVDs or YouTube. In the case of my VS-21 tour in Japan, those recordings were all on VHS and it's not likely they've fared well over the years, if they still exist at all. During my time in VS-29, we had a J.O. who was a film major who made some impressive movies for us. In both squadrons, our videos were usually in lieu of a Foc'sul Follies skit, or as a presentation at our annual Viking Ball. As you have seen on these pages in the past, the videos usually poke fun at life onboard, squadron, air wing or shipboard leadership, or just show some great airplane scenery up in the clouds.
The production value of those early videos was somewhat lacking compared to what is being put together today, but the funniest one I ever saw was a simple one produced by the Intruder guys from VA-115. I wish it was available for posting here, but alas, what happened in CVW-5 must stay in CVW-5, not because of some pact we made, but because most of those videos are probably lost to time. You’ll have to use your imagination, but I’ll give you the storyline.
The “Big XO” as the Ship’s XO is called, so as not to be confused with individual squadron XOs, has the unfortunate duty of acting as the” Assistant Principal” on the boat. Among other duties, he has to concern himself with general cleanliness of the ship (Cleaning Stations or XO’s Happy Hour as they are referred to..."All Hands Man Your Cleaning Stations!"), Zone Inspections, frequent and well-attended XO’s Mast (Non-Judicial Punishment), and in the case of this video, reducing foot traffic through the Ship’s “Blue-Tile” area. The Goat-Locker has the following definition for this section of the ship.
Blue Tile: An area of the carrier on the starboard main passageway, O-3 level, where the Battle Group (now called Carrier Strike Group) admiral and his staff live and work. As the name implies, the deck is indeed blue there. Passing through, especially by junior enlisted sailors, is highly discouraged. During wartime, armed guards may be posted on both sides of the blue tile. Pictures of bare-assed drunken aviators standing on the blue tile during port calls are highly prized keepsakes.
|If this is the blue tile you were thinking of, think again|
|More like this tile (look close)|
That definition of blue tile provides some foreshadowing as to the content of the video. On the USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62), the blue-tile included an athwart ship passageway (p-way) that was constantly used by air wing personnel and ship’s company because it was the only way to avoid the majority of Flag spaces without backtracking a hundred frames or so to the previous athwart ship p-way.
Policing of that area seemed to ebb and flow, with both sailors and squadron guys (no gals in the Navy’s Foreign Legion) pushing the limits on the XO’s patience until word went out to stop using the blue-tile ( at least for a while in our opinion). Getting caught by the XO might result in a polite warning (not a big deal), a stern reprimand (yeah, whatever), or a call to your ready room where the CO would be told of your infraction (not good, but not that bad either). The CO or the XO would sternly repeat the “regulation” and would in turn receive a rolling of the eyes from the offending officer.
The Eagles of VA-115 chose to pile-on to the plethora of punches the Big-XO usually took at Foc’sul Follies with a video recreating his blue-tile patrol. After showing their squadron XO reprimand the wardroom for p-way violations and plead with the men to stop (and get pummeled with dozens of crumpled paper balls), they showed an officer resembling the XO poke his head out of a hatch in that p-way, look back and forth by spinning his head, then pop back into the space. Then an Officer would cross through the p-way. Through some creative editing, the XO’s head would then immediately poke back out of another hatch further down the p-way and repeat the scan. This occurred a couple times with the XO then stepping out into the p-way, looking around, scratching his head and shrugging, then disappearing inside again. The punch line came with 30 Eagles running away from the camera down the p-way absolutely buck-naked, with the XO’s head again poking back out of another hatch just as soon as the last man turned the corner. After the "credits" listing the names and call-signs for the squadron ran up the screen, there was an extra scene featuring a final Eagle crewman getting caught by the XO, while wearing only his boots, G-Suit, and survival vest. The Admiral fell out of his seat he was laughing so hard. Naked can be pretty darn funny.
As for cruise videos in general, one could hazard a guess that their numbers have increased tenfold over the past decade (or two) with the availability of inexpensive high resolution personal camcorders and the simplicity of video editing software.
In Naval Aviation, the rule for most anything is faster or funnier. If you aren't funny- make it fast and get off the stage. If you're funny, you'll get a little more leeway. Most follies vids were 3-5 minutes long, lest your squadron get booed if your production wasn't funny enough.
This is an example of a decently humorous follies video- a take off on the "My Name Is Earl" TV show from a few years back.
Some squadrons add music to their videos. If you want to talk about outstanding production effort, this one is phenomenal.
One huge technological advancement to the realm of cruise videos is the GoPro camera. (WARNING: Narcissism Alert) This next vid is an unbelievable 33 minutes long! The VFA-102 Diamondbacks would have DEFINITELY been booed off the stage, if not the ship, had they tried to use this during a follies. In all fairness, it was almost surely made from dozens of other clips taken throughout a deployment, to be added to a DVD given to squadron members and sold at Air Shows, and never intended for a follies.
There is a shorter version of their video here.
I'll give a little shout-out to the Air Force and the 44th Fighter Squadron as well. I believe this video has been featured here before, but if not, sit back and enjoy the Go-Pro goodness. (HD version here)
However, on the flip-side, this one is just gawd-awful:
But there is still hope for the Boys in Blue:
Finally, I'll leave you with one put together for the annual east coast Strike Fighter Ball 2013. Another long one, but with humor, production value, and great flight footage: (Flash required)
Get some popcorn, sit down and enjoy the show!