Monday, February 24, 2020

What is a Wingman?

Yannow...Sometimes there's a great convergence in the internet where, all of a sudden, your recommendations all revolve around a single subject.  Youtube has several videos along similar subjects.  You pull up a search engine and type the letter "W" and it immediately populates the results screen with exactly what you were thinking of.  It's almost like they're tracking you.

Not that I'm paranoid or something.

Ok, maybe a little.

So...There I was *  doing my daily perusal of the latest posting by Sarge.  He seems to be on an artistic type binge.  Bored or something I guess.  Hasn't had anybody around to keep him on the straight and narrow for a while. Went off on a tangent and has been making blog headers for weeks now.

What's the count now?  I think we've got one a week for the next 75 years or so.

However, evidently things have changed and somebody's trying to get him whipped back into shape. I managed to get a video of his training regimen.

All that having been said, several of the headers are really spectacular.  One in particular I like (other than the obvious one...The Eagle).  This one.

The header uses Charles Schreyvogel's "My Bunkie" painting.  Schreyvogel was a self-taught artist and this painting, in 1901, earned him the Thomas Clark Prize from the National Academy of Design starting him on a successful artistic career.

A commenter had noted that the painting's title and subject were the "... 19th century equivalent of brave pilots who went after their wingmen."

My immediate thought was that it's a heck of a lot easier to rescue your wingman when you're galloping along the ground at  30MPH and scoop your wingman up, than it is to be swooping along at 500MPH several hundred feet above.

But, his point was somewhat valid.  Growing up in Fighters, it was drilled into me, "Never lose sight of your lead."  Ever.  No matter what.  I actually had a lead tell me that "if my Lead hit the ground while I was in formation, there'd better be two holes."

The last flight of the T-38 Thunderbirds comes to mind.

However, while upgrading to flight lead, the corollary to the the wingman's rule was hammered home.  "Never leave your wingman behind."  Ever.  No matter what.

So, I have somewhat of an understanding of the Cavalryman's train of thought.

Not having anything to contribute to that thread of comments, I went about my business and turned to U2B (as Prairie Adventurer likes to say).  One of my recommendations was a History Guy video entitled "Jesse Brown and Thomas Hudner: A Tale of Two Pilots ".  Since the lead picture was of a F-4U Corsair, I figured it would be worth spending 15 minutes to watch.

This is where the great convergence came into focus.

The event takes place in the Korean War.  Ensign Jesse Brown  was the first African-American Naval Aviator flying off the USS Leyte in Fighter Squadron 32.  His flight lead is LTjg Thomas Hudner.  They are flying sorties in support of Marines around the Chosin Reservoir.  The Chinese have entered the war and vastly outnumber the Marines who are trying to retreat.  It's winter, it's cold, even by Korean standards.

The Corsairs are flying Close Air Support for the Marines.  After several passes, Ensign Brown radios that he's taken a hit and is losing fuel pressure.  After trying to fix the problem unsuccessfully, Ensign Brown radio's that he's going to have to belly land the aircraft and does so.

Unfortunately, during the landing, the instrument panel breaks free and traps Ensign Brown's legs.  Worse, the aircraft has started a small fire.  (Fire and High Octane Aviation Fuel is NOT a good combination).

Lt Hudner does a low level fly by of the crash, see's Ensign Brown in the cockpit waving at him, so knows he's alive.  The site is about 15 miles behind the enemy's lines, so time is of the essence.  He explains the situation and a rescue helicopter is launched.  However, it becomes apparent to Lt Hudner that Ensign Brown is trapped in the cockpit.

He elects to crash land his aircraft nearby and does so.   Uninjured, he rushes over to Ensign Brown's aircraft and tries to extricate him, unsuccessfully.  Radioing the other aircraft, requests that the helicopter bring an ax and saw to help with the extraction.  Then he begins trying to put out the fire with snow, using his bare hands.  Successfully.

The helicopter arrives and the pilot and Lt Hudner try until nightfall to extract Ensign Brown, unsuccessfully.  They make the Ensign as comfortable as possible and plan to come back in the morning with better equipment to extract him.

The mission the next morning to extract is cancelled by higher headquarters due to extreme risk.

On September 15th 1952, another example of never leaving your wingman occurred.  Lt Col Robbie Risner (Rise'- nur) was escorting Fighter Bombers attacking a target on the Yalu river, the border between North Korea and China.  During the mission, they are attacked by Chinese MiGs.  Risner engages then and is chasing one back towards its home base.  Having scored multiple hits on the MiG, Risner chases it between hangar buildings scoring more hits.  Eventually, he shoots the MiG down.  It crashes into parked fighters.

On the way out of the area, his Wingman, Lt Joseph Logan, is hit in the fuel tanks by AAA (HISSSSS!) and is draining fuel.  In an attempt to get him home, they climb to altitude.  Risner then has Lt Logan shut down his engine.  Risner gets behind him and sticks the nose of his F-86 in the F-86's tailpipe and begins to push him in an attempt to minimize his sink rate and get him within gliding distance of friendly territory.

 Near an Allied occupied island in the Yellow Sea, Risner tells his wingman to bail out.  He does, however, winds cause his chute to drift out to sea.  On landing, he becomes entangled in his chute and drowns.  Risner runs out of fuel shortly thereafter, but manages to dead stick his jet to a landing at Kimpo AB outside of Seoul.

I knew of Brig Gen Risner, through his exploits as a POW during the Vietnam war.  I didn't know about this episode until I was "pointed" to it while viewing another little convergence recommendation.

I had heard about this next convergence episode while transitioning to the F-4, in 1978.  Virtually all my IP's and IWSO's had combat time in Vietnam.  Unfortunately, "Jimmuh" was in charge, so rules were plentiful and flying time was not.  Neither of which were  conducive to building combat skills.  However, buying my instructor's a beer at the squadron bar would give me extensive lessons on what I needed to know.

One of those stories was known as Pardo's Push.  The convergence here was a fairly recent article in the San Antonio Express News about the event and its aftermath.


 It's March 10th, 1967, Capt Bob Pardo is a pilot in the 8TFW (of which, both Sarge and myself are alumni) and is scheduled to fly as #2 in a 4 ship attacking a North Vietnamese Steel Mill.  During the attack, both Pardo and # 4, flown by his friend Capt Earl Aman, are hit.  Aman is leaking fuel badly and starts an immediate climb to altitude with fuel streaming from his aircraft.  A fuel check shows that he doesn't have enough gas to exit North Vietnam.

Pardo maneuvers his Phantom under Aman's plane attempting to piggy-back it out of danger.  He forgets that air rushes both under and over the airplane.  As he makes the attempt, the airflow from Pardo's aircraft pushes Amans tail higher into the air, meaning the aircraft starts descending into Pardo's.


Pardo backs out, and then has Aman lower his tail hook.  The tail hook on the F-4 was a holdover from when the Phantom was a Navy jet.  It's humongous.

Aman does and Pardo moves back into position and puts the tail hook directly on the front pane of the canopy.  This section is very thick and supposedly bullet proof. The "lore" of this tale says that Pardo pushed Aman to safety this way.

This painting is correct, if you notice the hook is not on the windscreen

Pardo, in this article, says that very shortly after making contact, the canopy glass started to fracture, so he backs out again.  Still not giving up ("Never give up, Never Surrender"), he moved back in.  This time he positions the hook on the metal vent that is used to blow hot engine exhaust over the wind screen for rain removal and anti-fog protection.

(I used that once.  It got very hot, very fast in the front seat.  It was effective, but uncomfortable. 800o exhaust gas is somewhat...warm.)

Back to the story, juvat!

Aye, mi muy viejo sargento de la fuerza aérea!

This vent apparently is sufficiently strong, as they are able to progress towards Laos.  Finally, near a Special Forces base, and almost out of fuel and altitude and having shut down one engine due to a fire, Pardo backs away and Aman and his WSO bail out.  They are successfully recovered.  

Pardo attempts to make it to a near by field, but flames out shortly thereafter.  He and his WSO successfully bail out and are recovered.

When asked what the favorite part of this story was, Capt Pardo replied “Lucy may tell you she thinks it’s wonderful because Earl came home and they got to have two sons,”

Lucy is Capt Aman's wife. 

Now for the (as Paul Harvey might say), the "rest of the story".  Lt Hudner received the Medal of Honor for his actions with Ensign Brown. Ensign Brown received, posthumously, the Distinguished Flying Cross.  Brig Gen Risner would go on to receive 2 Air Force Cross medals in Vietnam, the first for Gallantry in Air Operations, the second for his actions as a Senior POW.  I also detailed a similar rescue last month which resulted in Major Bernie Fisher receiving the Medal of Honor for rescuing his wingman in Vietnam.

Well...what about Capt Pardo, juvat?

Capt Pardo ran afoul of the 7th AF Commander, Gen Spike Momyer (MO' my-er), who wanted to court martial him for his actions.  Shoe Clerks** got to shoe clerk.  Capt Pardo's Wing Commander, Col Robin Olds went to bat for him.  Momyer agreed not to court-martial him if Col Olds would not put him in for a medal.

That was that, until well after the war.  Capt Pardo's story was becoming well known among pilots and reached the ears of Senator John Tower, R-TX, who asked him about it.  After hearing the story, Senator Tower recommended that Capt Pardo and his WSO be awarded the Air Force Cross.  In 1989, they received the Silver Star as did Capt Aman and his WSO.

 I think the Cavalryman in the Painting would approve of these warriors.

* Standard Juvat Caveat

** There are two kinds of people in the USAF.  Fighter Pilots and Shoe Clerks.  A Fighter Pilot puts the mission and its people first.  Shoe Clerks put themselves first.  Many pilots who fly fighters are Shoe Clerks.  Many folks that don't fly fighters are Fighter Pilots.  This is the USAF translation of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Hell on Earth

Aerial view of Iwo Jima in 2014
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Trevor Welsh
From the 19th of February to the 26th of March, 1945, 110,000 U.S. troops fought against approximately 20,000 heavily dug-in Japanese troops to seize the island of Iwo Jima. It was thought that the island could be used to stage air raids against the Japanese mainland, roughly 800 miles away. That did not happen, though the island did save many an airman who would have otherwise been lost as damaged B-29s were able to land there after it was captured.

United States strength:*
  • 110,000 Marines, Soldiers, Corpsmen, Seabees, USAAF personnel, and others
  • 500+ ships
Japanese Strength:*
  • 20,530–21,060 troops
  • 23 tanks
  • 438 artillery pieces
  • 33 naval guns
  • 69 anti-tank guns
  • ~300 anti-aircraft guns

The cost was high.

United States casualties:*
  • 6,821 killed
  • 2 captured but recovered
  • 19,217 wounded
  • 26,040 total casualties
  • 1 escort carrier sunk
  • 1 fleet carrier severely damaged
  • 1 escort carrier lightly damaged
  • 137 tanks destroyed
Japanese casualties:*
  • 17,845–18,375 dead and missing
  • 216 taken prisoner
  • ~3,000 in hiding
The last two survivors of the Japanese garrison surrendered in 1949, four years after the end of the war.

Brave men on both sides, a fight to the death.

"Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue."
- Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz

Remember them...

* Source

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Awfully Glad the Weekend is Here...

Dusk, 21 February 2020
The Missus Herself has returned from her forward deployment to California in support of Operation Spoil the Grandkids. So now I have to return to being human while in the friendly confines of Chez Sarge. I mean for three weeks it was just me and the feline staff. We spoke in a series of chirps, meows, and grunts. Well, it was mostly Your Humble Scribe doing the grunting.

During all that time things at work have been mighty slow, as a matter of fact, things have been slow since the end of December. Defense contracting has a certain ebb and flow, right now we're in the ebb part of the cycle. New contracts are coming in, some older contracts have throttled back as once again the Navy tries to do "more with less." I hear that a lot of bucks have been taken from the Sea Service in order to build a wall somewhere.

One thing is for sure, the wall will no doubt be more effective than the LCS*, at least one hopes.

As noted a while back, you may find yourselves on short rations, post wise, from time to time in the now and the immediate future. Not missing posts, mind you, but shorter posts, fewer calories as it were. I too am trying to do more with less, though in my case it be time that's lacking, not money.

Anyhoo, I made some more headers, no doubt I've missed (or forgotten) a reader suggestion here and there. Feel free to beat me about the head and shoulders for that, I can take it.

First off, here's that Ardennes header modified according to juvat's specifications, I think it works. (Again, click to embiggen.)

The Knox Expedition, the colonials hauling cannon from Fort Ticonderoga all the way to Boston. Under the command of Henry Knox, a former bookseller.

Encounter at Lexington Green, April 1775.

The Battle of Bunker Hill.

The death of American General Hugh Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 1777.

German infantry advance near the beginning of the Battle of the Frontiers, August 1914.

German infantry being routed by Cossacks during the Battle of the Frontiers, August 1914.

British infantry clash with the Germans outside Mons, Belgium - August 1914.

French lancers advancing towards the front during the Battle of the Frontiers, August 1914.

More French cavalry during the Battle of the Frontiers, August 1914.

U.S. Marines advance on Belleau Wood, France, June 1918.

That'll do for now methinks. I am tired and I hear my rack calling.

Or maybe it's one of the cats...

* Yes, that's on the Acronym Page, I just can't bear to spell it out. It's the Voldemort of ships, that which shall not be named...

Friday, February 21, 2020

Imagine That

Dutch Attack on the Medway, June 1667
Pieter Cornelisz van Soest
Imagine, if you will, an enemy naval force sailing into the Chesapeake, right into Naval Station Norfolk, trashing the place, wrecking a bunch of ships, then towing a Nimitz-class carrier away. Said carrier then put on display as a tourist attraction in the enemy country.

Kind of a kick in the you-know-whats for a major naval power, innit?

Well, back in June of 1667, the Dutch did exactly that. To the English Royal Navy!

That's also how New Amsterdam became New York City...

Imagine that.

Interesting reading here:

Love that History Guy!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

"Favorite" Battles

Wellington's march from Quatre Bras to Waterloo
Ernest Crofts

So the other day I was thinking about my favorite battles...

Uh, Sarge, what do you mean "favorite battles," like favorite color, favorite flavor of ice cream?

Well, sort of. Truth be told, I've been referring to Waterloo as my "favorite" battle for years, probably since I was a little kid. Now as an historian (a title I claim as an amateur, I have a history hobby, if you will), I often get deep into the facts, the who, what, when, where, why, and how of things. I see these as distant events which took place in foreign lands and/or different times (sometimes not that long ago, sometimes long, long ago). Often I gloss over the fact that real live people were involved in these events.

Aftermath of Waterloo
Many of those people did not survive those events, many others had their lives changed forever, often in less than pleasant ways. Imagine if you will being an old soldier back "in the day" who had lost both legs in battle, consigned to living in the streets and begging for the remainder of your existence.

The colorful uniforms (which seldom looked the same on campaign as they did on the parade ground, on campaign these were often faded, tattered, and covered in mud!), the drill, the tactics, and the strategy all tend to drown out the voices of those who actually fought the battles.

So there are times that I have to remind myself, that while there are battles and campaigns which I prefer to study, or have a greater interest in then others, I need to refrain from calling them "favorites." As a soldier, your favorite battle is the the one you survive unharmed. Win or lose, coming away whole in mind and in body is the thing, one always hopes that it was your last battle as well.

All that being said, the battles and campaigns I have spent the most time studying (so I guess that they would be favored over other battles and campaigns, i.e. my "favorites") are, in no particular order -
  • The Waterloo Campaign of 1815
  • The Gettysburg Campaign of 1863
  • The Battle of the Bulge in 1944
  • The Normandy Campaign of 1944
  • The Battle of the Frontiers in 1914
  • The Eastern Front in World War II
  • The North Africa Campaign, 1941 - 1943
  • The Air Campaign in the European Theater
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Midway
  • The Campaigns of Alexander the Great
  • The Campaigns of Frederick the Great
I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting.

Still and all, I need to come up with a better way of describing my "favorite" battles. The word "favorite" just seems to trivialize the sacrifices entailed in those events.

As I get older, I think that maybe I tend to over-think things. As opposed to my youth when I would plunge in with hardly any thought at all.

Odd that.

Surprise, surprise... (Yup, more headers.)

C. M. Russell, When The Land Belonged to God

C. M. Russell, The Custer Fight

USS The Sullivans (DD-537)

USS Connecticut (BB-18)

Charles Schreyvogel, My Bunkie


I also modified two others per juvat's suggestion -

This one...

or this one...

Still not that easy to discern the blog title, but blurring or covering the background was just ugly. This seems better. Juvat?

Okay, squeezed in one more, I mean how can you not love a guy who's last name translates to "Beer City"?

Albert Bierstadt, detail from Mount Corcoran

While the header format is just too short to display the full magnificence of Bierstadt's work, you can see some of it. (Click on this link to see the whole work, you won't regret it.)

No doubt someone will suggest yet another topic for a header. The folks in the Header Production Department thank you, after all your efforts keep them employed. (Juvat, Beans, and Tuna, you may notice a slight decrease in your paychecks this month, someone has to pay for those headers. 🙄)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


So the header thing for the blog has been a recent obsession. True, I've been having a lot of fun with it, and no doubt spending too much time doing it. Making new headers that is. Someone suggests something then I start chasing photographs (or paintings) online in order to create yet another header. So the other day I wrote "One more, that's it, for now..." - remember that? Well yeah, I lied.

I've created nine more (yes, nine) for your enjoyment which I will show you near the end of the post. Patience. (I'm told it's a virtue, yet another failing of mine. Who knows, by the time I publish this post there may be more than nine. It's an obsession I tell you.)

Anyhoo, while searching for something to write about I was sidetracked a bunch of times.

The first sidetrack occurred while I was running the blogs in the morning, this post of Old NFO's caught my attention. A delightful look back at what flying commercial was like when only people with lots of money could do it. Then, the first sidetrack occurred. The post went from talking about the Boeing 314 Clipper, the more famous of the commercial flying boats, to a mystery surrounding the Hawaii Clipper, which was actually a Martin M-130 flying boat. (Which led to another sidetrack, did you know that there were actually three commercial flying boats? The Sikorsky S-42, the Boeing 314 Clipper, and the Martin M-130? I didn't. All were built to meet Pan Am requirements for trans-oceanic flights.)

None of those aircraft were built in quantity, only ten Sikorsky S-42s, 12 Boeing 314s, and three M-130s. Now of the three Martin flying boats, one, the Hawaii Clipper, went missing in the Pacific. Old NFO mentions one story going the rounds about the aircraft landing on a Japanese base in the Pacific, where the passengers and crew were executed by the Japanese. The story says that the Japanese wanted the engines of the aircraft. I cannot find anything to verify that story, though one chap seems to have made something of a career out of trying to discover what happened to that aircraft.

From my point of view, the Pacific is a BIG ocean (truth be told they're all freaking big) and it's not hard to lose stuff out there. (See Amelia Earhart...)

Anyhoo, after digging through all of that, which did make for interesting reading, I thought about doing a post on the sole Coast Guardsman to receive the Medal of Honor. Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro was awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously, for his actions on Guadalcanal in World War II. That story has a number of different facets which will take some time to put together and do justice to. Hopefully I can get to that soon. (Heck, the Coasties did such a great job during that campaign that they even impressed the Marines! Not easy to do.)

So a couple of great stories, one for which little evidence exists to support blaming the Japanese, the other needs more time to write it up properly. Which still left me with needing a topic for a post. Today.

So I thought, "Heck, I've got all these new headers, just write about those." So I went searching for a good opening graphic. Based on the keyword "header," which led me to concussions in soccer (what the rest of the world calls football) due to heading the ball. Which is the act of redirecting the flight of the ball by using one's head. Having been there, done that, trust me, that can hurt. Especially if the ball has any "way" on it. (To use a nautical term.)

Which led me to a blog from a Boston University journalism professor regarding doing away with the header in soccer. I panicked a bit when I first stumbled across that post "Ban the header!" Because I like the header on my blog, most blogs have a header, the header sets the tone, and, oh wait, the word "SOCCER" precedes the whole "Ban the header!" thing. So to borrow from juvat -

Anyhoo. There will be no banning of the header here at The Chant, though I may need to ban creating more headers (which means I will have to lay off most of the Header Production Department, poor bastids).

Speaking of headers, here are the new ones, with a brief explanation as to why I made that header. (As always, click to embiggen.)

How could I not have a header dedicated to the landings in Normandy on the 6th of June 1944? Besides which, that is an iconic photograph of the landings. The men in the photo wading ashore at Omaha Beach are from Company E, 16th Infantry Regiment, the 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One. Two-thirds of those men became casualties on that day. (The photo is catalogued in the National Archives with the title, "Into the Jaws of Death - U.S. Troops wading through water and Nazi gunfire."

The North American F-100 Super Sabre was suggested by one of you, the readers As this was the very aircraft which the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds were flying when I first saw them as a kid, I chastised myself for not thinking of that myself. (Now I need to hunt down a good photo of the Grumman F-11 Tiger in Blue Angels livery, for that was the aircraft they were flying when I first saw them. As a kid. Before I saw the Thunderbirds.)

The Aggressive-class minesweeper header is a tip of the hat to fellow blogger (and all around great guy) HMS Defiant. As USS Esteem (AM/MSO-438, he served aboard that one) graces his blog's header, I chose a different one, so I picked USS Fortify (AM/MSO-446). The photo actually shows her at sea, most of the other photos wouldn't fit in the header (1476 x 466 pixels, no exceptions) or were tied up to the pier.

World War I aircraft was another reader suggestion. But what aircraft, there were so many. So I chose an iconic event from the air combats of the Great War - the downing of Manfred von Richthofen, the leading ace of that war with 80 aerial victories. The red triplane (Fokker Dr.I) in the painting is the Red Baron's aircraft. The Sopwith Camel on his tail is flown by Canadian Captain Roy Brown. Whether it was Captain Brown or ground fire from an Australian unit that killed von Richthofen will probably never be settled to anyone's satisfaction. Suffice to say, the Red Baron was no more. (The blurriness to either side of the main action is something I did to stretch the painting into the correct width. I wasn't happy with it at first and tried to mend it, nothing satisfied me. Then I thought that the blurriness to the left and right of center imparts a sense of motion. Anyhoo, that's my story and I'm sticking to it)

I think we all know juvat's love of destroyed armored vehicles and his hatred of fully functioning tanks. (Which stems from his having been attacked by the hood of a Dodge Ram pickup in his formative years.) So I really did need to include a header with a destroyed tank on it. As this particular photo also includes Dwight D. Eisenhower, general, President, namesake of The Nuke's first carrier, and a man with whom my paternal grandfather served, I thought, "Why not?" It's a good photo.

I ran across this painting quite by accident. Two stretcher bearers carrying a wounded comrade away from the front in World War I. It struck me that I needed to honor the docs, nurses, medics, corpsmen, etc. who treat the wounded. I hold them in great respect and no little amount of affection. Expect to see this around Memorial Day or around what some call Veterans Day, but which to me will always be Armistice Day. Maybe both. Here's to you Doc!

Another painting which I "stumbled across." Actually, on one of my sidetracks I thought of the great American painter Frederic Remington (may have been triggered by a comment over on koobecaF by my friend Brig, who knows her Western art). So I though that a Remington-based header would be nice. (A Dash for the Timber is one of my favorite Remington paintings.)

The Battle of the Bulge is one of my "favorite" battles (a topic I need to think on and post about, how can one have a "favorite" battle, as if it's like a flavor of ice cream. Dammit Sarge, people die in battle, how can you have a "favorite"? Yep, sidetrack, right there.) Anyhoo, the long line of American infantry marching off into the snow and cold in the Ardennes is evocative of that battle, at least to me. Expect to see this one used in the mid-December time frame.

Another reader suggestion was the C-47, the ubiquitous "Gooney Bird." The aircraft which delivered paratroopers to many a far-flung battlefield, a cargo hauler extraordinaire, and an iconic symbol of the Allied victory in WWII. Not to mention a very successful aircraft design which is still in use after it's first flight roughly two weeks after Pearl Harbor. Like John Blackstone said, "When the last C-47 is delivered to a museum somewhere, the crew will probably get a ride home in a C-130."

No doubt.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Flight Deck Ops

(May 19, 2003) -- An EA-6B Prowler assigned to the “Black Ravens” of Electronic Attack Squadron 135 (VAQ-135) prepares to launch from one of four steam powered catapults during flight operations on the flight deck aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Yesenia Rosas.
Cuppla readers pointed out yesterday that flying from the deck of a carrier is just one part of the picture when it comes to naval aviation. They're right, there's a lot more going on than just cat shots and traps.

And what do all those shirt colors mean? Though this video was made for kids, it's very good.

Without the marshallers, maintainers, ordies, shooters, fuelers, and the like, the aircraft never leave the deck.

There's also the men and women who maintain and drive the airfield itself, the aircraft carrier which is the home to all of those aircraft and the folks in the air wing, they're called ship's company. Not to annoy The Nuke or anything, but those folks own "the boat," which is what the air wing calls that big gray beast that displaces 106,300 tons, is 1,092 feet long at the flight deck (1,040 feet at the waterline), and is 252 feet wide at the flight deck (134 feet at the waterline).

Without the ship, the air wing isn't going anywhere...