Friday, March 6, 2020

Eight Years On - Lex

Sailors “man the rails” aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CV-64) as it pulls into Perth, Australia, for a port call on her return transit to her homeport of San Diego, California (USA). Constellation, with assigned Carrier Air Wing 2 (CVW-2), was deployed to the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean from 2 November 2002 to 2 June 2003. This was her last deployment before her decommissioning on 7 August 2003.
U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Timothy Smith

It's been eight years since Lex came to Earth one last time. He flies with the angels now, not the Blue Angels mind you, but the angels in Heaven. He has "gone West" as they say, he has "entered the clearing at the end of the path." His time with us ended eight years ago.

I miss him terribly.

This year, rather than me talk about him, I offer this -
CAPT Carroll “Lex” LeFon, USN (ret), died while flying a F-21 KFIR aircraft for the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC), serving as a civilian contract adversary pilot at NAS Fallon, NV. Lex was extremely well respected in the Naval Aviation Community for his flying ability, leadership skills, and warm personality. In addition, he was well known for his exceptionally well-written blog “Neptunus Lex”, which initially reflected on issues of interest to Naval Aviators. The quality of his writing was such that his blog grew in popularity well beyond the Navy; his thoughtful reflections touched the imaginations and hearts of countless people. They identified themselves as “Lexicans”, and when word of his death spread across the internet, their grief was palpable, regardless of whether they had actually met Lex in person or not. Even the Secretary of the Navy got involved. SECNAV Ray Mabus wrote, "I mourn the passing of a great naval aviator, a professional analyst of all things naval, and a soulful and compelling writer of poetry and prose."
Lex left behind a beloved wife, a son, and two daughters. His blog came down shortly after his accident, but his online friends preserved most of it and continue to make it available for new fans to discover.
Lex was born in Washington, DC and grew up in Alexandria, VA. He attended the US Naval Academy, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science in 1982. In his senior year, he captained the varsity fencing team and earned honors as a first-team All-American during the NCAA national championships.
Upon commissioning, Lex accepted a language scholarship in Tours, France, subsequently reporting to flight school in Pensacola, FL in December of 1982. Following completion of primary flight training, he reported to NAS Meridian, MS for basic and advanced jet training. Earning his wings in April, 1985, Lex remained in Meridian for eighteen months as a flight instructor before reporting to NAS Lemoore, CA for transition training in the FA-18 Hornet.
Lex reported in 1987 to VFA-25, the “Fist of the Fleet”. He participated in three extended deployments to the Western Pacific and North Arabian Sea, flying off the USS Constellation and USS Independence. Shore duty brought him to NAS Key West, FL in 1990, where he taught advanced air-to-air tactics as an adversary pilot flying the F-16N, F-5E and A-4E aircraft with VF-45. He returned to Lemoore in 1993 for refresher training in the FA-18 in preparation for his department head tour with VFA-192 at NAF Atsugi, Japan, again deploying off the USS Independence. In 1996, Lex reported to the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) as an instructor. While at TOPGUN he served as the school’s Executive Officer and managed an integrated product team developing an academic and flight training system for fleet strike fighter pilots. Lex screened for command of an operational FA-18 squadron in 1998. He reported to NAS Lemoore and joined VFA-94, the “Mighty Shrikes”, initially as Executive Officer and then ultimately as Commanding Officer. The squadron deployed aboard USS Carl Vinson.
Upon completion of his command tour in 2001, Lex reported to USS Constellation to serve as Operations Officer for two deployments, including the Connie’s final deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. When the ship decommissioned, he reported to Commander, Carrier Group ONE as Operations and Plans Officer (N3), and participated in the training of five West Coast carrier strike groups. His final tour of duty was as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Training (N7) under the Commander, Naval Air Forces. During this tour, Lex earned a Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering Management and Product Development from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
Lex retired from the Navy as a Captain in the summer of 2008. During his career he amassed over 4,400 flight hours in fighter aircraft and served on seven overseas deployments.
A great guy, incredible pilot and officer, and an amazing husband and father, he is greatly missed. Among his blog writings, one post from 2006 reflected on the meaning of family portraits, and provides a beautiful epilogue of what mattered most to him, despite his impressive Navy career.
“Every family portrait is a snapshot in time, an attempt to seize a moment of perfection and hold on to it. But time cannot be restrained, it runs on, runs on, and eventually, for each of us runs out. Which seems a melancholy way to end this post, but it’s worthwhile knowing and sharing because we can never be entirely grateful for that which we take for granted.
And for my own part, I have so very much to be thankful for. Just look again at that top picture. (his family) Happiness to you all as well, gentle reader, and hold on to it as best you might.”
Written by Rob Bennett (Source)
Lex was aboard Connie in that photo above, he is quoted at length in this article from the Navy's website -
Constellation Battle Group Kicks off COMPTUEX
By Journalist 2nd Class Chad Pritt, USS Constellation Public Affairs
ABOARD USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64), At Sea (NNS) -- Upon pulling away from the pier at Naval Air Station, North Island recently, Constellation, along with the entire Constellation Battle Group (CBG), began the next evolution in preparing for war: Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX).
"This is the intermediate phase of the inter-deployment training cycle," said Cmdr. Carroll LeFon, Constellation's Operations Officer. "The real goal is to work on command and control through comms [communications] and data-links; to integrate with other ships. During TSTA we looked at the question, 'can Connie fight and defend itself?' For COMPTUEX, we're preparing for the advanced training phase, with JTFEX [Joint Task Force Exercise] coming up in October."
For the first time since returning from its last six-month Western Pacific deployment, CBG, made up of two cruisers, two submarines, a five-ship destroyer squadron and a replenishment ship, is sailing together. More than 10,000 servicemembers and civilians are a part of the exercise, which pits the battle group against countries Red and Orange. All of this is under the scrutinizing eye of Commander, Carrier Group One (CCG-1), a training command, which assesses the readiness of each Pacific Fleet carrier battle group.
"The battle group's initial goal is to prevent tensions from rising," said LeFon. "But we'll soon find tensions rising, and the last three days of COMPTUEX is a hot war, which is called the final battle problem."
Unlike the real world, CBG will have the opportunity to test itself to gauge how well it is prepared to fight in the final battle problem.
"There will be two mini scenarios, which are four-hour battles, and we'll sit back afterwards as a battle group and see how well we've done, and what we might do differently," said LeFon.
One critical mission of COMPTUEX for both the carrier and the carrier air wing is to achieve No Divert/Blue Water Certification.
"We have to be able to prove that we can operate without having to divert airplanes to land ashore," said LeFon.
There are several contributing factors in gaining Blue Water Certification, such as the combat boarding rate. A CCG-1 representative will look at the daily air plan, as well as flights added over the course of a day, and assess Constellation's ability to execute that plan. Cancellations of sorties on the air plan, bolters and even foul-deck wave-offs, count against the Constellation,/Air Wing Two team.
"Our ability to get planes off and on the deck will be scrutinized," said LeFon. "Tactically, the air wing pilots will be graded on how well they can acquire a target, hit it, and get the bomb damage video back to the ship."
Sailors and Marines will notice a few extra ship riders during the COMPTUEX period.
"There are going to be a lot of ship riders looking over our shoulder," said LeFon. "They're there to make us better war fighters, and to see how prepared are we to carry out national tasking."
Coming on the heels of a highly successful Tailored Ship's Training Availability (TSTA) II and III, and Final Evaluation Problem (FEP), Constellation has already put some of the tasking behind it.
"There's a lot of small things that we've accomplished," continued LeFon. "We're ahead of the game, but we will be challenged. It's been designed to be challenging." (Source)
Finally, there is this -
When I first thought about serving my country, I considered the Air Force, but decided I’d rather be in the military instead. My father told me once that in the Army, you’d live like rats and die like gentlemen. In the Navy, you’d live like gentlemen, and die like rats. I rather counted on living, and that has made all the difference. Quote Yeats to me and you’ve won my heart… Lex
Go, read the whole thing.

Miss you Sir, see you on the other side some day...

For strength...


  1. I still miss the Skipper. That is how we had our relationship. Skipper to the Airframes LPO if you will.

    1. Even the trogs of the MarDet loved the Skipper... "'e wuz a perfect gent'lman, 'e wuz..."

  2. Terribly dusty in here this morning.

  3. Well said Sarge. Well said....

    1. It was weird to find an article quoting Lex. Somehow sad, yet comforting as well.

  4. Thanks Sarge. Lex continues to make a positive difference in my life.

  5. I meant to say Lex AND the Lexicans.....

  6. Best of all, he was a Good Man. BADGER PAW SALUTE!

  7. Lot of pollen here today.

    Hugs to you and his family, sir.

  8. You know I asked them to dinner to sit down with my sister and her husband who have written many books and the goal was to sort of try to bring Lex around to the idea of writing a book or two. Of course they spent the next two hours having a grand time talking about their times in France. Sheeesh. He was a very fine man and I really miss his presence at his blog. I'm sure he'd have had a great time walking us through some of the wonderfully insane things the US has gotten up to over the last few months. He might have observed as how those people standing on the nominally pointy end of that aircraft carrier at the top of this page aren't sailors.

    1. Heh, you're right. I used the original caption from the photo. Quite sure Lex would have found it amusing.

      Would have loved to have read his thoughts on this past decade.

  9. Got no idea why life works the way it does. Or why life has thrown so very many perfect moments at me. Many I cherish now with perfect gratitude since the possibility of taking them for granted is gone forever. The meet-up in the clearing will be epic!

    Thanks Sarge.

  10. "Neptunus Lex" was the first thing I opened every morning after "discovering" Lex. Probably two years or more plus going back to "catch up" on his previous writings. I can't recall if I ever commented or not but, knowing my inability to keep my mouth shut, I imagine I did. Like most I'm sure, I felt part of his virtual "family." I will never forget the shock and sadness the morning I opened "Neptunus Lex" and he was gone. Gone West, Hope to meet you on Fiddler's Green, Thank You for Your Service, respectfully, Alemaster

  11. (Don McCollor)...that sunset picture "Lex Departing"...going to have to do some serious dusting tomorrow...

  12. Slight departure from the subject matter here, but didn't the USS Constellation have a major fire while under construction back in 1960 or maybe 1961 which delayed its' completion by a year or so? I seems to remember some live coverage of the event on TV back then.

  13. The impact Lex has had on so many of us is wonderful and amazing. While I knew of his readers, I can't say I knew very many of them well. But because of his death, I have grown closer to many, you included. We are all keeping his memory alive and I think we're doing a pretty good job of it.

    1. By the way, I just read that the Aussies will selling their retired Hornets to a US Aggressor firm. Makes me wonder if Lex would have had a better chance flying a Hornet over a Kfir.

    2. Tuna #1 - I feel that Lex will always be with us, as long as we remember him.

    3. Tuna #2 - That was my first thought when I saw that.

    4. Or, unfortunately, only as long as we're alive...btw, wasn't there some Lexican who had saved of Neptunus Lex, to incl all comments? If true we/he need(S) to publish that..

    5. Most, if not all, of Lex's posts were saved to pdf, no comments though. If you go to the Neptunus Lex Archives page, a lot of Lex's posts, with comments, are stored in the Wayback Machine (if you chase the links you'll see what that means).

      I do believe publishing is in the works, can't say more, both the blog (though not all of it) and Rhythms. Last I heard and it was from a very reliable source. We shall see. When it happens, I'll announce it here.


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.