THE GOLDEN EAGLES
The Early and Pioneer Naval Aviators Association, better known as "The Golden Eagles" was founded in 1956 and functions as a living memorial to those early Naval Aviators who pioneered and provided the leadership for the development of this unique military aviation force. Originally, the membership was limited to one hundred whose designation as Naval Aviators for the most part were within the first 1,900 who qualified for their Wings of Gold. Membership was later expanded to include aviators who qualified for carrier landings during the period when the USS Langley (CV-1) was the only United States airplane carrier and pioneer jet and helicopter pilots. Over the years the membership has been expanded to two hundred regular members because of the growth of Naval Aviation. Membership qualifications were broadened due to the advancing age of the original pioneers but the qualifications remained highly restrictive. In-order to perpetuate the spirit of the earlier members, selections for membership are made from those Naval Aviators who are pioneers in some new aspect of Naval Aviation or who are respected by their peers as being leaders because of their outstanding skills as a pilot, their wide experience, good judgment, personal character, and their dedication to flying.
This Web Site, "The GOLDEN EAGLES ROOST", is provided for the support and preservation of Naval Aviation and in honor of the members, their spouses and other members of their families whose support and sacrifices made Naval Aviation the unique military force it is today. The material provided herein is not a definitive history, but is an assembly of individual biographies which cover most of the advancements and milestones of events and accomplishments of Naval Aviation.
Finally, it is important to recognize that the planning, organization, assembly, editing , of the biographies herein was accomplished almost single-handedly (his lovely and gracious wife Rita was indeed his guiding light and right arm through it all) by Captain Jerry M . Zacharias USN (Ret), a renown carrier landing signal officer (LSO), an intrepid A-6 Intruder pilot and Navy Cross recipient during the Vietnam war. All the Golden Eagles are deeply grateful for this massive tedious effort.
Noteworthy accomplishments of the current Golden Eagle membership include:
Participants in the Battles of the Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal and other significant WWII, Korean, and Vietnam campaigns;
A Medal of Honor recipient;
Three Congressional Space Medal of Honor recipients who were Navy, Marine and/or NASA Astronauts; First man on the moon;
Holders of 43 Navy Crosses (some multiple awards);
65 Silver Star awards;
393 Distinguished Flying Crosses;
93 Bronze Stars;
35 Purple Heart Awards for wounds suffered in combat;
2,857 Air Medals;
154 enemy aircraft shot down - and 17 Fighter Aces;
NAA 16 Holders of World Speed, Altitude, Distance, Endurance, Time-to-climb or other international records;
7 former leaders or members of the Blue Angles Flight Demonstration Team;
7 Navy, Marine Corps and/or NASA Astronauts who flew in Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Discovery and/or Space Shuttle space flights;
Two former Chiefs of Naval Operations;
One Korean War and three Vietnam former Prisoners of War;
65 Graduates of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force or the British Empire Test Pilot Schools;
55 Graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy
Collectively the Golden Eagles represent over 1.43 million flight hours, 34,007 combat missions, 116,447 carrier arrested landing, 5,659 ship rotary wing/vstol landings and 43 airship landings aboard a Naval vessel.
In addition, among the Deceased Golden Eagles;
Eight were awarded the Medal of Honor;
Others held 71 Navy Crosses;
41 Silver Stars;
22 Purple Hearts;