Last Take Off 2011 - They Will Be Missed

NOTAM 10-2011 (Axtell)

NOTAM 1-2011 (Murray)

Dear Golden Eagles,

It is with sadness that I report to you that Captain Gordon L. Murray, USN (Ret.) made his last takeoff on Saturday, February 19, 2011 in Charleston, South Carolina. His devoted wife Sara; son Gordon L. Murray III of Roswell, GA, and his wife Amy and daughters Emma and Maggie; son Michael J. Murray of Charleston, SC, and his loving friend Cathleen Nixon; and daughter Susan Murray Sorensen of Hanover, NH, and her husband Paul, and sons Daniel, Christoffer, and Martin survive him. A Funeral Service will be held at First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, 53 Meeting Street, (Downtown) Charleston, SC on Monday, February 28 at 11 a.m. Committal services will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date to be announced. Memorials may be made to the Navy-Marine Relief Society, 875 N. Randolph St., Suite 225, Arlington, VA 22203; or to the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, 1750 Radford Blvd, Suite B, NAS Pensacola, FL 32508.

CAPT Murray joined the Navy in Sept 1956, and upon completion of flight training was designated a naval aviator on 1 Nov 1957. He reported to VF-101 for F-3H training, then to VF-41. He served with VF-74 in a subsequent sea tour, and made a combat tour to Vietnam as part of first F-4 deployment with VF-102 aboard USS America (CV-66) in 1968. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, 11 Air Medals, and two Navy Commendation Medals for his heroic actions.

Gordo distinguished himself as an outstanding aviator and leader early in his career and was selected as the first “Bobby Sox” Skipper (LCDR Commanding Officer). He commanded VF-33 (F-4) from June ’71 to June ’72. He also served in important billets both afloat and ashore, including: Operations Officer and Executive Officer of USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), and in OP-506, Bureau of Naval Personnel, and Naval Air Systems Command in Washington, D.C.

Gordo loved the Navy and led the Washington Squadron of the Association of Naval Aviation during some trying times. Always upbeat, he also was a tireless proponent of initiating an annual remembrance of the pivotal Battle of Midway. He was instrumental in turning those annual celebrations into an ongoing tradition. Gordo was gregarious and a friend to all. His good humor and ever-present smile made him a popular shipmate, and his perseverance and courage remained very much in evidence throughout his illness. He will be missed.

Sadly,

Bill Gureck, Pilot

NOTAM 2-2011 (Langstaff)

Dear Golden Eagles,

I am saddened to report to you that Lieutenant Colonel Harold A. Langstaff, USMC (Ret.) made his last takeoff on Friday, April 8, 2011 in Sacramento, California. Ruthie, his loving wife of 64 years; son Gary and his wife Claudia of Fresno, CA; son Gordon of Davis, CA; daughter Nancy and husband Jake Krakauer of Pleasanton, CA; and four grandchildren survive him. Committal Service will be held at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, 5810 Midway Road, Dixon, CA at 2 pm on Monday, April 25, 2011.

LtCol Hap Langstaff joined the Marine Corps in June 1941, entered flight training in September, and was designated a naval aviator on July 23, 1942. After completing additional fighter training and carrier qualifications, he reported to VMF-215, 1st Marine Air Wing and flew F4F’s and F4U’s in support of the Guadalcanal Campaign. He flew113 combat missions from April 1943-April 1944, and was credited with shooting down three Japanese Zeros in the Solomons. Hap was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and eight Air Medals for his heroic actions. Following a tour back in the States, he returned to the Pacific with VMF-321 flying F6F’s, and took part in the Japanese Occupation from August 1945-February 1946.

After six years ashore following WWII, during which time he attended both the University of Michigan and Stanford University and earned a Master’s degree, as well as completing a tour with VMF-114, Hap returned to combat in Korea. He flew 75 combat missions with VMF-311 in F9F-5’s.

Hap commanded VMF-314 in ’56-’57, and VMF-115 from ’57-’59. While commanding VMF-314 he flew as a member of the squadron aerial gunnery team which won the All Navy/Marine Weapons meet. The squadron also won the Commandant’s Trophy. While commanding VMF-115, the squadron deployed to Formosa for six months following the Quemoy Incident and provided night and all-weather patrols along the Chinese coast.

LtCol Hapstaff served as the Director of Aviation Technical Training in the Division of Aviation, Headquarters, USMC from ’59-’62, and retired from active duty in June 1962.

Hap was an aggressive and skilled fighter pilot who led by example. He flew over 6400 accident-free hours in an era when this accomplishment was a rare exception, and included combat operations in two wars. He was an active and proud Golden Eagle whose loyal presence at our annual reunions was always a welcome sight.

We have lost another of our honored heroes of WWII, and one who saw combat in Korea, as well. He will be missed.

Sadly,


Bill Gureck, Pilot


NOTAM 3-2011 (Brady)

Dear Golden Eagles,

It is with sadness that I report that Colonel Eugene R. Brady, USMC (Ret.) made his last take-off on Thursday, June 9, 2011 in Irvine, CA.  Four of his six children; Janet Brady, Eugene R. Brady, Jr., Jennifer B. Andrews, and Jeffrey Brady; 11 grandchildren, and four great grandchildren survive him. A home memorial/reception will be held on June 18th from noon until 5PM at 56 Canyon Ridge, Irvine, CA. Internment will be at Arlington National Cemetery on a date to be determined.

Colonel Brady joined the Marine Corps in 1946, entered flight training in ’49, and gained his commission and wings in December ’50. He joined VMF-122, then VMF-223 at MCAS Cherry Point, NC before being transferred to VMF-311 where he served in Korea flying F9F-2’s in combat. From late ’52 until December ’60 Gene served in a variety of billets flying props as a Training Command instructor, transports while an aide-de-Camp to Commanding General, 1st Marine Air Wing, and other utility aircraft while in staff assignments. He returned to the fighter community in VMF(AW)-542 and served as the XO from ’62-’63. He made cruises aboard both USS Ranger and USS Lexington during this tour.

After a year at George Washington University to attain his BS degree, Gene found himself among a number of Marine aviators asked to switch to helicopters to meet the need for leadership in that community. Gene made the switch late in ’67, and in October ’68 was assigned to Marine Air Group 16 at Marble Mountain, Vietnam flying CH-46’s. Following a one-month hospitalization to recover from wounds received in action, Gene took command of HMM-364 “Purple Foxes” in January ’69. A fierce warrior and highly respected leader, Col Brady was awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and 51 Air medals while flying 427 combat missions in the CH-46. He was proudest of the opportunities he had to successfully complete a number of emergency evacuations of wounded Marines from Landing Zones under fire.

Col Brady had six aviation commands during his illustrious career, culminating with his command of Marine Air Group-16, MCAS Tustin and MCAF Camp Pendleton CA in’74-’75. In the decade following his tour in Vietnam, in addition to his command tour, Gene attended the Army War College, earned a MS degree, served on the Headquarters Marine Corps staff, and served as a special assistant to Commander U.S. Naval Forces Korea, and as an advisor to the Korean Commandant of Marines. Colonel Brady retired in October 1980.

“Papa Fox” was proud of being a Golden Eagle, and although he was already in much pain from his illness, he temporarily increased his intake of pain medications so that he could attend the Pensacola Reunion May 1-3.  He attended all events, and was thankful to be with his comrades one last time.

We have lost another multi-war hero, and a compassionate, inspirational leader. He will be missed.

Sadly,

 

Bill Gureck, Pilot


NOTAM 4-2011 (Streeper)

Dear Golden Eagles,

I am saddened to report that Captain Harold P. Streeper, USN, (Ret.) made his last takeoff on Thursday, June 23, 2011 in Greenville, NC. His wife Evelyn survives him, as do stepsons William F. Bullock and wife Jane, Gregory C. Bullock and wife Linda, and five step-grandchildren. The family received friends at the Wilkerson Funeral Home in Greenville, and a west coast memorial service will be held at a date to be determined.

CAPT Streeper graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio in 1942, and immediately enlisted in the Navy. He entered flight training, and upon completion was commissioned and designated a Naval Aviator in January 1943. During WWII he flew combat missions in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, including 22 strike missions in support of Philippine Islands operations at Samar, Mindora, Cebu City, and Nichols Field. “Jeep”, as he was affectionately known throughout his stellar career, took part in the Korean hostilities with both Navy and Marine units. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and five Air Medals for his heroic actions in combat.

CAPT Streeper, in early ’54, participated in the Fleet Test and Evaluation of Navy’s first steam catapults, installed in USS Hancock (CV-19). In ’55 he commanded night all-weather squadron VFA-194. He was Commander Carrier Air Group FIFTEEN from’61-’62 making a nine-month cruise to West Pac aboard USS Coral Sea (CV-43). CAPT Streeper served as Commander Carrier Division ONE/ Commander Task Force SEVENTY-SEVEN Operations Officer engaged in Vietnam air operations during ’64-’65. He then was Commanding Officer, USS Tulare (AKA-112) involved in amphibious operations in Vietnam. CAPT Streeper commanded USS Hancock (CV-19) from Nov. ’66- Nov.’67, again in the Vietnam combat area, launching over 10,000 combat sorties and earning the Navy Unit Commendation.

CAPT Streeper always seemed to find a way to be assigned to the tough jobs and enjoyed the challenges. Ashore, he was a flight instructor in Pensacola, participated in the Berlin Airlift, was Naval Attache to the Republic of Korea, served two tours on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, and was Force Training Officer for Commander Naval Air Force, Pacific. He was also a graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. CAPT Streeper retired in December 1968.

Jeep was a gregarious and popular leader who led by example, and was quick to give full credit for any recognition to his shipmates. He stayed close to the cockpit as much as he could, and accumulated over 7,000 hours of flight time during his career. A sailing advocate, he spent many years in retirement cruising on his motor yacht “Fox Corpen” in the Pacific Northwest. Failing eyesight led him to return to the east coast and to donate the yacht to Cartaret Community College for use as a floating classroom.

CAPT Streeper was very proud to be a Golden Eagle, and attended reunions regularly while his health permitted. We have lost another hero of WWII, and one who saw combat in Korea and Vietnam, as well. He will be missed.

Sadly,

Bill Gureck, Pilot


NOTAM 5-2011 (Thrash)

Dear Golden Eagles,

I am saddened to report that Lieutenant General William G. Thrash, USMC (Ret.) made his last take-off on July 4, 2011 in Hilton Head Island, SC. His wife Margie, son Lt Col William G. Thrash, Jr. USMC (Ret.) and wife Jayne, stepsons Jeffrey Guss and Robert Guss, two grandchildren and a great grandson survive him. Burial and full military honors were conducted on Friday July 8, 2011, at 11:00 AM, at Beaufort National Cemetery.

General Thrash was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in July 1939 upon his graduation from Georgia Tech. He entered flight training in September 1941 and was designated a naval aviator in March 1942. He served in WWII first with VMD-154 in the Gilbert and Solomon Islands, and later as Commanding Officer of Marine Carrier Air Group FIVE aboard USS Salerno Bay (CVE-110). He flew 100 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and five Air Medals for his heroic actions in WWII.

Gay served in Headquarters Marine Corps, attended Naval War College, and instructed at the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, VA before he again saw combat, this time in Korea. He was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group Twelve from June ’51- September ’53. He was awarded the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and two Air Medals for heroism during the Korean Conflict, and a second Legion of Merit for his exceptionally meritorious conduct while a prisoner of war after being shot down in Dec ’51. As the senior United Nations officer in his prison section from Dec ’51- Sep ’53, he immediately organized the prisoners on a military basis and tightened discipline among them. As a result of his outstanding contributions to prisoner discipline/welfare, he was placed in solitary confinement for eight months and subjected to various types of maltreatment by his Chinese Communist captors.

After his Korean duty and a tour with the Division of Aviation in Headquarters, Marine Corps, General Thrash attended National War College. Following graduation, he became Commanding Officer of Marine Aircraft Group Twelve in Hawaii. He was later deployed to Thailand as Chief of Staff of the Second Marine Expeditionary Unit, and upon its return was assigned as Chief of Staff of the First Marine Aircraft Wing in Iwakuni, Japan. In ’67 Gay served as the Commanding General, Marine Corps Bases West.

General Thrash served in combat yet again in ’69 as the Commanding General, First Marine Aircraft Wing in Vietnam, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his sterling leadership. He was the Director of Education at Quantico, VA upon his return from Vietnam, and then served as Commanding General, Marine Corps Development and Education Command until his retirement in June 1972.

Gay led by personal example, and was either leading or teaching fellow Marines throughout his exemplary career. Proud of his association with the Golden Eagles, he was a popular shipmate at reunions in the years when his health still permitted.

We have lost another hero of WWII, and one who served also with great distinction in Korea and Vietnam. He will be missed.

Sadly,

Bill Gureck, Pilot


NOTAM 6-2011 (Taylor Brown)

Dear Golden Eagles,

I am saddened to report that Rear Admiral F. Taylor Brown, USN (Ret.) made his final take-off on Monday, July 11, 2011 in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is survived by his wife Shirley and his daughters and step-daughters: Leslie Brown Heitz and husband Bill of Atlanta, GA, Diane Brown Weaver and husband Tim of Vilonia, AR, Cindy Thomas Pugh and husband Tom of Little Rock, and Jill Thomas McIntyre and husband Andy of Jacksonville, AR; three grandchildren and four step-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 1 PM, Saturday, July 16, 2011 at St. James United Methodist Church, 321 Pleasant Valley Drive, Little Rock, AR 72212. A reception will follow at the church. His ashes will be interred in Westfield, WI at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to St. James United Methodist Church or to the National Aviation Museum Foundation, 1750 Radford Blvd, Suite B, NAS Pensacola, FL 32508.

Admiral Brown joined the Navy Reserve upon graduation from high school in 1943, and in ’45 was called to active duty and designated an Aviation Cadet. He was commissioned and designated a naval aviator in November ’45. He joined Fighter Squadron FIVE in San Diego where he flew FJ-1’s in the Navy’s first jet squadron. After a brief stay at Marquette University and Line School, he spent three years in VF-171 flying the F2H-2/3 Banshee. In ’57 Taylor attended Empire Test Pilot School in Farnborough, England. In ’58 Taylor joined the Navy’s first F8U Crusader squadron and developed a new concept of periodic maintenance that was later adopted Navy-wide. From ’60-62 he served as Head of Flying Qualities and Performance Branch of Flight Test at the Naval Air Test Center Patuxent River, MD. From ’62-64 Taylor was XO and CO of VF-143 where he led fighters on the first U.S. strike against North Vietnamese forces. As Commander Air Wing NINE aboard USS Ranger (CV-61) in early ’65, he led first coordinated Navy/Air Force attacks against North Vietnamese ground targets. He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals for his heroism in Vietnam actions.

Admiral Brown attended National War College in ’67-’68, and attained his Bachelor of Science degree at George Washington University in Jan ’69. He commanded USS Guadelupe (AO-32) in the Vietnam area of operations, USS Inchon (LPH-12), and as a Flag officer was Commander Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River. He also served as Defense Attache, U.S. Embassy London, England. He retired in August ’79.

In a career highlighted by many “first’s”, Taylor won the Bendix Trophy Race of the Cleveland National Air Races in ’48 as a junior officer. He set the World Time-To- Climb record to 20,000 meters flying the F4H Phantom while assigned to Flight Test. He was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in ’91. A charismatic leader, Taylor led from the cockpit throughout his impressive career.

Taylor was an avid do-it-yourselfer who could fix almost anything, and enjoyed using his skills to help others. He had a passion for golf, and was competitive in many Golden Eagles tourneys. He was a cheerful and warm addition at all Eagles reunions. We have lost a great aviator and loyal shipmate. He will be missed.

Sadly,

Bill Gureck, Pilot


NOTAM 7-2011 (Coats)

Dear Golden Eagles,

I am saddened to report to you that Captain Robert C. Coats, USN (Ret.) made his last take-off on July 7, 2011 in Federal Way, Washington. His son Robert Jr., his wife Beth, along with three grandchildren Catherine, Kristi, and Bill, and two great grandchildren survive him. No local services were held, in accordance with Bob’s wishes. Interment will take place in Delhi, LA on a date to be determined.

CAPT Coats joined the Navy in August 1940, and upon completion of flight training, was commissioned and designated a naval aviator in June ’41. Bob was an instructor in the Training Command from graduation until July ’43, when he was assigned to VF-18 aboard USS Bunker Hill (CV-17). Deployed from Oct ’43 to Mar ’44 in the Southwest Pacific, Bob took part in Solomon Islands, Gilbert Islands, Tarawa, Kwajalein, Truk, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima operations, among others. He shot down three Japanese aircraft during these operations. He was transferred to VF-17 at NAS Alameda, CA in Mar ’44, and in Dec returned to combat in the Pacific theater aboard USS Hornet (CV-12) flying F6F-5’s. Bob participated in operations against the Japanese homeland islands, Okinawa, and Japanese occupied islands. He flew 131 combat missions in WW II, and was credited with downing 10 Japanese aircraft and three probables, including five Japanese aircraft in one flight. He was awarded the Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, and six Air Medals for his heroic actions during WW II.

After WW II, Bob was selected to attend Test Pilot Training as a member of Class Zero in June ’46, and served in the Armament Test Division for two years. As Commanding Officer of VF-43 in’49, he had a fire in the cockpit of his F4U-4 immediately following a catapult shot, and made a controlled ditching in rough seas. He suffered severe rib and back injuries, but after hospitalization and recuperation ashore, he returned to lead VF-14 from Jun’ 50-Dec ’51 deployed aboard four CVE’s and USS Oriskany (CV-34). CAPT Coats served on the Commander Operational Development Force staff, and in the Armament Division of the Bureau of Aeronautics before assuming command of VA (All- Weather)-33 in ’59. He attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and served on the CNO Staff as a Branch Head in the Research and Development Division before again assuming command. He was Commanding Officer of Navy Station Chaguaramus, Trinidad from ’64-’67 and was the primary pilot for the station HU-16 amphibious aircraft for missions varying from admin support to medical evacuation. Following tours with Chief of Naval Air Training staff in Pensacola, and with the Strike Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL, Captain Coats retired in February 1971.

CAPT Coats was an aggressive and accomplished combat fighter pilot who led by example. On the flight in which he shot down five Japanese aircraft, Bob led five F6F’s against superior Japanese forces. Largely because of his skilled leadership, the flight downed 11 Japanese aircraft, maintained excellent flight discipline, and returned to the carrier unscathed.

We have lost another hero of WW II and a distinguished aviator. He will be missed.

Sadly,

Bill Gureck, Pilot


NOTAM 8-2011 (Gayler)

Dear Golden Eagles,

With sadness I report that we have learned belatedly from several national news sources that Admiral Noel A. M. Gayler, USN (Ret.) made his last take-off on July 14, 2011 in Alexandria, Virginia. Survivors include his wife Jeanne; five children from his first marriage, Caroline Maness of Charlotte, Deborah Poisot of Austin, Anne Gayler of Monroe, NY, Alexander Gayler of Blacksburg, VA, and Christopher Gayler of Los Altos, CA; three stepchildren, Scott Landers of Sherman Oaks, CA, Logan Landers of Encino, CA, and Jeanne Mattison of Washington, DC; seven grandchildren; and four great- grandchildren. Funeral/internment plans will be forwarded when known.

Admiral Gayler graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1935, and from ’35-’40 served in battleships and destroyers before entering flight training. He completed flight training in ’40, and was assigned to VF-3 aboard USS Saratoga (CV-3). In’42, during a four-month span, he was awarded three Navy Crosses for valorous actions in Central Pacific actions. He was assigned to VF-2 aboard USS Lexington (CV-2) during the Coral Sea battle and shot down five Japanese aircraft, becoming an Ace. He was serving as Operations Officer for Vice Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. at the end of WWII, and witnessed the Japanese surrender onboard USS Missouri (BB-63). He also visited Hiroshima soon after the atomic attack.

Noel held eight aviation commands during his illustrious career: VF-2, VF-3, VF-8, VF-12, VX-3, USS Greenwich Bay (AVP-41), USS Ranger (CV-61), and Carrier Division TWENTY. He was a test pilot at Naval Air Test Centers Anacostia and Patuxent River where he evaluated German, British, and U.S. fighter aircraft of WW II vintage. He was the navy’s fourth jet pilot. As Commanding Officer of VX-3, he flew a low level cross-country flight from a carrier east of Norfolk, VA to Denver, CO and return nonstop, all below 200 feet, to demonstrate the feasibility of low-level penetration and attack.

Noel served variously as the head of the Fighter Design Branch at the Bureau of Aeronautics, Senior Aide to the Secretary of the Navy, Naval Attaché London, and Deputy Director of Joint Target Planning Staff. After selection to Vice Admiral he was assigned as Director of the National Security Agency from ’69-’72. Noel relieved Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. as Commander in Chief of U.S. Pacific Forces in ’72. He greeted the return of American prisoners of war from Vietnam, oversaw the U.S. evacuation from Saigon, and helped organize the waterborne transport of tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees during his tenure. Admiral Gayler retired in 1976.

Admiral Gayler credits several Golden Eagles for his good fortunes as an aviator, including VADM Jimmy Thach (LTO 1981) who was his CO in VF-3 during WW II, RADM Pierre Charbonnet (LTO 11/24/2005), as well as RADM Whitey Feightner, his XO at VX-3.

We have lost another hero of WW II and one who served in three wars with distinction. He will be missed.

Sadly,

 

Bill Gureck, Pilot

NOTAM 9-2011 (Lewis)

Dear Golden Eagles,

I am saddened to report to you that Colonel Robert W. Lewis, USMC (Ret.) made his last take-off on Monday, August 15, 2011 in Lake Saint Louis, Missouri. Barbara, his loving wife of 55 years; son David and his wife Rhonda of Milwaukee, WI; son John of Wellsboro, PA; daughter Sherri and husband Craig Bevan of Twenty-Nine Palms, CA; and four grandchildren survive him. Services will be held with full military honors at 11 AM, Saturday, August 20, 2011 at the Dardenne Presbyterian Church, Highway N, O’Fallon, MO. Burial will be Monday, August 22 in a private ceremony at the family plot in the Resurrection Cemetery, Oklahoma City, OK.

Col Lewis joined the Marine Corps in 1950, was assigned to flight training in ’51, and earned his wings in August &rsquo52.  He joined VMF-122 and deployed to the Mediterranean aboard USS Coral Sea (CV-43) with Air Group EIGHT, flying F9F-5’s. In ’54 he was assigned to VMF-223 in Japan and, after returning to the states in ’55, joined the Third Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) at MCAS El Toro, CA. Bob flew FJ-3’s and the F-8 with VMF-235 at MCAS Beaufort, SC from ’58-‘61, and was a member of the Marine Corps East Coast Weapons team which competed in the first Navy/Marine “Top Gun” Weapons Meet at Yuma, AZ in ’59.

After a tour ashore, Bob joined Second MAW at MCAS Cherry Point, NC and served as Executive Officer of Marine Composite Reconnaissance Squadron-2 (VCMJ-2) from ’64-’66. He was responsible for the fleet introduction of the EA-6A, and flew electronic intelligence missions on the Cuban periphery.  In &rsquo67-‘68 Col Lewis commanded VCMJ-1 in Vietnam. He flew 175 combat missions and helped develop ECM escort tactics in direct support of deep bombing missions in North Vietnam. He was awarded the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, and 13 Air Medals for his heroic actions.

Bob served significant tours as the Airborne ECM and Reconnaissance System Program Manager at Headquarters Marine Corps, and as the senior marine with the North American Air Defense Command at Colorado Springs, CO. He was Commanding Officer of Marine Aircraft Group-12 at Iwakuni, Japan in ’74-’75. During this tour he directed the first overseas deployment of the AV-8A Harrier, and VMA-513 operated the year without an aircraft accident or serious incident.

Col Lewis attended Army War College and was Plans and Operations Director on the staff of Commander Naval Strike Forces Southern Europe. He reported as Chief of Staff, 4th MAW at New Orleans, LA in ’79, and retired in 1980.

Col Snake Lewis was an outstanding aviator and leader who led by example. He excelled in every challenging assignment, and played an important role in the introduction and deployment of vertical lift aircraft in the Marine Corps.

Bob was a proud Golden Eagle, a popular shipmate, an aggressive warrior, and loyal friend. He will be missed.

Sadly,

 

Bill Gureck, Pilot

NOTAM 10-2011 (Axtell)

Dear Golden Eagles,

With sadness I report that Lieutenant General George C. Axtell, USMC (Ret.) made his last takeoff on Saturday, August 20, 2011 in Landrum, South Carolina. His wife Phyllis preceded George in death in 1975. Shirley Barnes Axtell, his wife of 34 years; sons LtCol Grey Axtell, USMC (Ret.) and Guy Axtell and his wife Virginia; four grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren survive him. LtGen Axtell will be interned at Arlington National Cemetery at 1:00 PM Nov 30 2011.  In lieu of flowers the family requests that contributions be made either to Hospice of the Carolina Foothills, 130 Forest Glen Drive, Columbus, NC 28722, or to the House of Flags Museum, 363 Green Creek Drive, Columbus, NC 28722.

General Axtell joined the Marine Corps in 1940 as a Marine Aviation Cadet, and earned his wings and commission in May ’41. He instructed Instrument flying at Pensacola and attended Postgraduate School at the Naval Academy studying Meteorological Engineering until 1943. He was assigned as Commanding Officer of VMF- 323 at the age of 22, and trained the squadron in ’43 before deploying to the Pacific Theater in ’44 for the Okinawa campaign. His F4U squadron shot down 124 ½ enemy aircraft within six weeks, the most of any squadron, and 12 pilots qualified as Aces, including George who recorded six aerial victories. No squadron pilots were lost in aerial combat. In ’45-’46 he was Commanding Officer of Marine Carrier Air Group-16 aboard ship. For his heroism during WWII George was awarded the Navy Cross, the Legion of Merit with Combat &ldquoV”, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and six Air Medals.

After this mercurial start to his career, Gen Axtell continued to excel in academics as well as in aviation. He graduated from George Washington University with a Law Degree in ’52, was admitted to the Supreme Court Bar in &rsquo56, and earned a Masters Degree (Comptroller) in ’58. He graduated from National War College in ’64.

General Axtell held ten aviation commands during his remarkable 34-year career including eight squadron and air group commands. He flew 52 missions in WWII as CO, VMF-323; 123 carrier-based missions in Korea as CO, VMFA-312; and served as Chief of Staff, III Marine Amphibious Force and Commanding Officer, Force Logistics Command, Danang, Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He flew 7900 hours and compiled 235 carrier landings in F4U Corsairs.

Gen Axtell’s other significant tours included two tours with Headquarters, Marine Corps in Aviation Personnel; Chief of Staff, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific; and Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics at Headquarters, Marine Corps. From ’70-’72 he was Commanding General, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Cherry Point, NC; and then served as Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic in Norfolk, VA from ’72-’74. He retired in August 1974.

George was a charismatic leader who was popular with his peers and his squadron-mates. His VMF-323 “Death Rattlers” continued to hold squadron reunions well into the 21st century. He was an active Golden Eagle for as long as his health permitted, and was respected for his cordial and gentlemanly demeanor.

We have lost another hero of WW II, and a shipmate who served with valor in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He will be missed.

Sadly,

Bill Gureck, Pilot

 


NOTAM 11-2011 (Howard) 

Dear Golden Eagles,

I am saddened to report that Colonel Robert E. Howard, Jr., USMC (Ret.) made his last take-off on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His loving wife Peg, four children, Lisa Buchanan, Caroline Coombs, Monty Howard, and May Hollas; brother Monty Howard and his wife Jane, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren survive him. A Memorial Service will take place on Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 at 11AM at The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, 13112 N. Rockwell Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73142. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to either The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection or Disabled Veteran’s Association (DAV), PO Box 14301 Cincinnati, OH 45250-0301, www.dav.org. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be determined.

Col Howard joined the Navy as a flying midshipman in 1946, entered flight training in ’49, and earned his wings and commission in the Marine Corps in October 1950. Following a short stint in VMT-2 at MCAS El Toro, CA training in F4U-4’s, he was assigned to VMF-312 and saw combat in Korea, flying from USS Bataan (CVL-29) and shore bases for a total of 105 missions. In &rsquo53 Bob attended Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River, MD, Class 10. From &rsquo56-’60, he was the USMC Project officer for the Sidewinder missile at Naval Operational Test Station China Lake, CA and fired a number of missiles at test points between 60-70,000 feet at speeds from 1.5-2.0 mach. Perhaps the main challenge was operating in afterburner for much of the flight, burning 28,000 lbs/hour in the F-104A carrying just 6,000 lbs of fuel.

Col Howard attended the USN Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA and graduated with BS/ MS degrees in Aeronautical Engineering in ’63. He then served as assistant Operations Officer with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. Following a three-year tour with the Joint Planning Group at Headquarters, USMC in Washington, DC where he was Action Officer on JCS matters, Bob attended National War College and received a MS degree in International Affairs in ’69.

Col Howard returned to combat in ’69 serving in Chu Lai, RVN as Operations Officer, Marine Air Group 13, then as Commanding Officer of VMFA-122. Bob flew 330 missions in Vietnam in the F-4B, and was awarded the Legion of Merit with combat ”V”, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 26 Air Medals for his heroic actions during the Korea and Vietnam conflicts.

Another tour at Headquarters, USMC, this time as Head, Enlisted Assignments, Personnel Department, followed Bob’s Vietnam duty. He completed his exemplary service career as Commanding Officer, Marine Aircraft Group 11 at MCAS El Toro, CA.  Col Howard retired in July 1975.

Bob was proud of his Golden Eagles affiliation, and was an affable and welcome participant at our reunions. An accomplished test pilot and combat aviator, he led by example throughout his career. A veteran of two wars, he served with distinction in both conflicts. He will be missed.

Sadly,

Bill Gureck, Pilot

NOTAM 12-2011 (McCarthy)

Dear Golden Eagles,

I am saddened to report to you that Vice Admiral Paul F. McCarthy, USN (Ret.) made his last take-off on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 in Coronado, California. His wife Sandy, daughter Stacy, and son Paul survive him. A Celebration of Life Service will be conducted at the Episcopal Christ Church, 1114 9th Street, Coronado, CA on Monday, October 24, 2011 at 11 AM. A brief reception will follow. Internment with full military honors will be at Rosecrans National Cemetery at 2 PM. All are welcome to attend either or both services, and the family would appreciate seeing you. In lieu of flowers, a contribution may be made to Paul’s alma mater, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy at www.Maritime.edu/donate. Please comment, “Contribution made to the RLF ’54 in memory of Paul F. McCarthy, Class of ‘54”.

Admiral McCarthy entered the Navy in September ’54 following graduation from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and earned his surface warfare qualifications aboard USS Savage (DER-386). He entered flight training in February ’56 and was designated a naval aviator in July ’57. Paul’s first aviation tour was with VF-71 flying F2H-3/4 Banshees. He was in the first RAG Class in VA-44 where he transitioned to the A-4 in ’59. He made a Mediterranean cruise as LSO/Operations Officer in VA-12 during ’59-’61. A stint with VX-5 at China Lake, CA followed, then Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, CA where he obtained an MS degree in Financial Management.

Paul saw his first combat in Vietnam as Operation Officer of VA-15 flying A-4C’s in ’67. He returned to Vietnam in ’70-’71 as XO, then Commanding Officer of VA-195 flying the A-7E. He flew a total of 251 missions, including 38 Alpha strikes, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, and 27 Air Medals for his heroic actions.

Admiral McCarthy was Commander Air Wing NINE in ’73-74 in Vietnam and, following a D.C. tour in OP-962 as Deputy Systems Analysis-Air Warfare, he commanded USS Niagara Falls (AFS-3) in the Western Pacific and won the Pacific Fleet “E” in ’77. Paul was Commanding Officer USS Constellation (CV-64) from ’78-’80 and won the Golden Anchor award in ’79.

His flag tours included seven consecutive years in command at-sea as Commander Carrier Group ONE, Carrier Group FIVE (CTF-77), and Commander SEVENTH Fleet. In November ’87 he returned to Washington, D.C. where he served as Director of Research, Development and Acquisition (OP-98) until his retirement in February ’90.

Paul was a bright, dynamic, and talented naval officer. A charismatic leader, he led by example and exhibited flawless airmanship from his very first tour. He made major contributions to the development of combat weapons delivery tactics, and was a bold warrior in combat. He will be missed.

Sadly,

Bill Gureck, Pilot

Dear Golden Eagles,


I am saddened to report that Vice Admiral Joseph B. Wilkinson, Jr., USN (Ret.) made his last take-off on Sunday, October 16, 2011 in Great Falls, Virginia. His loving wife of 56 years Jane, daughter Dr. Mary Wilkinson and her husband David Heyer, and two grandsons Michael and Christopher Heyer, survive him. Service and burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery on February 7, 2012 at 1045 AM.

Admiral Wilkinson graduated from the US Naval Academy in ’52, entered directly into flight training and was designated a naval aviator in October ’54. He served a year in VF-92 flying AD-4’s, then transferred to VA-96 at NAS Moffett Field, CA where he flew the AD-6 for two more years. In ’58 he began a three-year tour at Naval Postgraduate School and MIT where he earned a BS in Aeronautical Engineering, and a MS degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics. His second sea tour was as Flight/Operations officer with VA-72 flying A4C’s. Joe was next assigned to Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force (COMOPTEVFOR) staff from ’64-’65 and attended Armed Forces Staff College in ’66.

Admiral Wilkinson returned to sea duty in October ’66. He served first as XO, and then Commanding Officer of VA-94, on two combat deployments in the Vietnam area of operations. He flew a total of 245 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, and 24 Air Medals for his heroic achievements.

Subsequent to his combat tours, Admiral Wilkinson served with distinction in a variety of acquisition management billets including as Deputy Program Manager at Air Force/Navy Joint Engine Project Office at Wright Patterson AFB, OH; Program Manager for A-6/EA-6 at Naval Air Systems Command, Washington, D.C.; and as Deputy Commander for Plans and Programs at Naval Air Systems Command. He attended National War College in Washington, D.C. He was Commander, Pacific Missile Test Center, Point Mugu, CA from ’82-’84. Joe returned to Naval Air Systems Command in late ’84, and was the Vice Commander for a year before assuming the top spot. He served four years as Commander, Naval Air Systems Command until his retirement in September ’89.

Admiral Wilkinson was proud to be one of the first Navy flag officers selected from the acquisition management career track. He was even prouder of when, as Commanding Officer, he brought his squadron home from Vietnam without a combat or operational loss. Joe was a polished, highly professional naval officer, and an outstanding pilot and combat leader.

Joe was a consummate gentleman, admired as a “class act” by his contemporaries, and a valued shipmate in combat. We have lost another Golden Eagles stalwart. He will be missed.

Sadly,

Bill Gureck, Pilot