It is with a heavy heart that I pass bad news about John (Spineripper)
Waples from his brother Bill. John was killed in a single car
accident Wednesday on his farm in Pulaski, TN.
Capt John M Waples was a superlative Naval Aviator and a true Attack Pilot. He started in Spads, transitioned to the Skyhawk, commanded an A-7 squadron, an Airwing on the Ranger, and fleet oiler. He was known for his direct approach to problem solving, with near God like clarity and reasoning. John was an inspiration to the JO's, was highly respected by his contemporaries and known up the chain of command as forthright, dependable and aggressive.
Spineripper was a true warrior. He would take the air battle to the enemy, no target was too hard, no threat too great. He was my wingman in May, 1967 during the first USN attack on a NVN Mig base, Kep, and rolled up a pair of MiG-17,s on the runway during the raid. Two months later in the middle of the strike group, he called bandits at the Ironhand six-oclock, alerting the Gators, and in the ensuing fight, it was F-8,s- 3, MiGs -0. John was born and bred to fight. He would steam and stew in ops monitoring any strike he was not on , suited up, ready to launch and make any survivors burn, bleed and blow up. He was the original shock and awe combat leader.
Wapes was one of the greats of Naval Aviation. He had over 1300 carrier landings, over 400 at night, all the hard way, and a bunch of combat missions. I'm sure there are many Waples fans on distribution who can weigh in with TINS tales about the Spineripper. May he rest in peace.