Tuesday, January 21, 2020


LT (jg) Patton on the left, his section leader (talking with his hands) LT Peter Russell on the right.
(Source - Go, read the whole thing...)
Last week I posted twice about the Spad, the venerable A-1 Skyraider, an aircraft for which I have developed a great affinity. I mean it's big, it's loud, it's kinda like Your Humble Scribe, only way more effective. I like the bird so much I went out and bought this -

The beauty of Amazon, ordered it Thursday afternoon, had it in hand less than 24 hours later.

But this isn't another Skyraider post.

In the comments on this post, Navy Davy informed us that LT Russell returned to Vietnam flying OV-10 Broncos with VAL-4.
VAL-4 (Light Attack Squadron FOUR) was established on 03 January of 1969 with the mission of conducting surveillance and offensive operations in support of river patrol craft, as well as providing air support for SEALS and combined U.S. Army, Navy and South Vietnamese operations. (Source PDF)
Unfortunately, LT Russell was killed in action on 26 May 1969. According to the National Naval Aviation Museum's website -
On May 25, 1969*, VAL-4 aircraft received radio calls for assistance from two Navy river patrol boats (PBR) taking fire from Viet Cong positions in the jungle along the Cai Lon River Arriving quickly on scene to the surprise of some of the boat crews—VAL-4 had been in country for a relatively short time and not all of the men of the riverine forces were aware of their existence—the OV-10 flown by Russell and Johnson along with the airplane of their wingmen, Commander Gil Winans and Lieutenant (junior grade) Roy Sikkink, executed a series of rocket attacks against the enemy positions. When their rockets were expended, they initiated close-in strafing runs in using the M-60 machine guns on their aircraft.
Flying Black Pony 107, Russell and Johnson were making a strafing run when a single 7.62 millimeter round struck the right side of the canopy of the front cockpit, hitting Russell in the head. From his position in the rear cockpit, Johnson had been leaning forward over the top of Russell’s ejection seat to get a good view of the strafing run when the bullet struck. He slumped over to the left after pieces of shattered Plexiglas struck him in the face, but quickly realized that the airplane was in a steep dive and the control stick between his legs was offering no resistance when he moved it. That fact and the lack of response to his radio calls to Russell indicated that the pilot was incapacitated, prompting Johnson to pull back on the stick. The OV-10 responded, exiting its dive just thirty-five feet over the water.
Johnson flew the airplane back to Binh Thuy with the engines at full throttle, not knowing until he landed that Lieutenant Pete Russell had been killed. “For the Black Ponies, it was a wake-up call,” Johnson later recalled. “I think everybody now realized this was serious business. “
Truly a man worth remembering.

The aircraft in which LT Russell lost his life, BuNo 155472,
currently on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola, FL.
It's one of our missions here at The Chant, remembering those who gave the last full measure. RIP LT Russell...

High Flight
Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds -
and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of -
wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there I've chased the shouting wind along
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
and, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
put out my hand and touched the face of God.


* The date of LT Russell's death is given as 23 May 1969 here.


  1. A friend of mine who flew OV-10A's for the USAF (and later F-15's) was a dinner guest at my house, at the White Wolf Mine. Another guest flew A-1 Sandy's for the USAF and we discussed the virtues of these aircraft. As one of the people that these aircraft and aircrews supported, I appreciated people who had the guts to fly low and lay it out. It's not to say that the B-52 crews or F-105 pilots were any less brave. That's not my point. I just have a personal love for both the A-1's (whether a USAF or a Navy pilot) and for the OV-10's who sometimes came down and shot smoke at the gomers because that's all they had to shoot, in order to save their brothers in the mud. A lot of those brave men paid for it with their lives.

    We can't choose our wars. We hope that our leaders pick just wars. We hope that our lives will be sold dearly for causes that are worth dying for. But at the point of kinetic contact it's not about justice or value. It's about brotherhood.

    1. The folks on the ground usually have a better appreciation for the guys who fly low and mix it up with the gomers.

      Roger that on hoping (and praying) that those who lead us pick righteous reasons for going to war and not spend our lives cheaply. It is, in the end, about the guys next to you.

  2. RIP Lt Russell. Another fallen warrior to remember, thanks for posting this Sarge.

    1. Part of our mission, remembering. Thanks for helping out in that respect Nylon12.

  3. I may have mentioned this in long past comments, but the Ft. Worth Aviation Museum is focused in great part on the FAC mission. Definitely worth the stop if you're in the area, or if you're in the mood for a road trip (juvat). I like their logo being a combination of wings and longhorn silhouette, and their "most touchable warbirds in Texas" catch phrase. I don't think they have any Spads, but they have several other FAC aircraft, including O-1, O-2 and OV-10. They have an unusual A-12 Avenger prototype/mockup, and the A-7 they have was restored in part by two aviators who flew it while in service. It's now painted on one side in one man's squadron colors and on the other side with the other man's livery.


    God bless those flying low and slow in support of ground troops!

    1. That's a nice looking museum!

      Amen on your last.

    2. Speaking of... https://youtu.be/jWi7xYE2JWg

    3. How did I miss this? Good thing I read your blog. 😁

  4. R.I.P. Lt Russell you will be remembered. I always try to remember those who gave their last full measure. It really strikes home
    when you actually knew someone who did so. I have three good friends whose names are on that long granite wall.

    Do not stand at my grave and weep.
    I am not there, I do not sleep.

    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glints on snow.

    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the Gentle autumn rain.

    When you awaken in the mornings hush,
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    of quiet birds in circled flight,
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.

    Do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there, I did not die.

  5. When I first moved back to the states, in July of '73, there were A-7s, O-2s and OV-10s flying constantly in and out of Patrick AFB, just a few short miles north of the Family Casa de Frijoles.

    I always liked the A-7s.

    The O-2s were neat. Good idea and execution for an observation vehicle, especially since it fit the 'must have two engines' requirements for the job.


    The OV-10s were my favorite (until the A-10s started flying in and out.) Loved seeing the Broncos. So nimble and predatory, able to low and slow or low and fast, with incredibly fast response. Excellent STOL capabilities (Short Takeoff and Landing,) so much so that they could fly off of our helicopter carriers with just a tad bit of worry, and not needing anything to fly off or on our fleet carriers.

    And hold 4-5 men in the back, or a couple stretcher patients, or supplies.

    One day I watched a Bronco fly around with it's rear door ajar, flapping in the breeze.

    Sad day for tactical air when that plane was retired. Nothing in the inventory since has filled it's capabilities, though the armed Predator drone fills part of the need (just can't carry all the varied weapons-load of the Bronco.)

    Funny, when the War on Terror got going, North American Rockwell refurbished a squadron of them for use in Afghanistan and they earned the same respect as the Soviet's Hind attack helicopters, except the Bronco was quieter, and just as maneuverable (well, except for no hovering, which when people are shooting at you, hovering is bad.)

    We could have had the OV-10X, made with more composites and more robust structure, for far less than the AF is contemplating spending on the Tucano, plus the Super Bronco would have had two engines and having that high-mounted wing gave excellent visibility, but, nooooooooo... Can't have a US made craft that was ready to fly and fight in 2007, nooooo, had to fiddle fart around and still not have any Low Intensity Attack aircraft still (well, the USAF finally is training with them, not using them in combat yet.)

    Sad. USAF sucks sometimes. But I can blame it on a couple of administrations, so, yeah, politics.

    Thank you for introducing us to so many fine gentlemen on this blog. Dammit, must have truly sucked to be out of communication with your copilot and find out he's no longer with you when you landed. That must have been quite a soul-rattling moment. knew some pilots who only wanted to fly solo because they never wanted to experience that.

    1. There is much blame to go around for the various shenanigans involving the procurement of weapons systems, in all of the services. Blame the defense contractors who only care about the bottom line and their stock holders, blame the e-jits in procurement on the DoD side (who apparently can't make up their GD minds on what is wanted/needed so they change the requirements, damned near constantly), and blame Congress for not exercising their duty to oversee all of this bullshit. All those assholes care about is being re-elected. That alone makes term limits desirable. Not that I have any personal knowledge of this. 🙄

  6. Thanks for posting this. More info here on the Navy's only OV-10 squadron. https://www.amazon.com/Flying-Black-Ponies-Support-Squadron/dp/159114468X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=D4VU4M2IRJ7D&keywords=flying+black+ponies&qid=1579639784&s=books&sprefix=Flying+Black%2Caps%2C142&sr=1-1

    1. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Thanks for the link as well!

  7. Rest easy, Warrior. Others have the watch now.....

  8. Darn dusty in here tonight...

    Thank you to Sarge for helping to keep these brave men's memory alive.

    Thank you to those brave men who went, and came back (like LL, rk, and ND) to share the exploits of those who didn't make it back safely. Truly, we are blessed as a country to have men who were, and still are, willing to go off when sent, and do their duty that the rest of us might be safe. And yes, one can only hope that the politicians can learn to use our military big stick of boots on the ground as a very last option when having to deal with bad actors.

  9. Frickin' golden bb's.

    The sad is okay. Don't forget to cherish the gift though.

    1. Yup, Golden BB. When it's your time, it's your time.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.