Reporting direct from the Hook '08 Hangar Bay, aka the Nugget Hotel in Reno, Kathy Schmolt of the Colorado Ready Room brings us the following gem about James "Jig Dog" and Ginger Ramage!
"Jig Dog" for whom the awards luncheon is named for, and his beautiful wife Ginger were sitting next to the registration desk after they walked every aisle of the booths. I asked if I could take their picture and they both just beamed. And they stated that they were more than happy to share information for the Daily Briefing.
I asked him, "What was the highlight of your career?"
And with no adjectives verbs or anything, he rattled this off:
"Commanding Officer of Bombing 10 USS Enterprise, Battle of Philippines Sea June 19 & 20, 1944!"
For those of you who are not familiar with The Battle of the Philippine Sea, it was the fifth and last major carrier-vs-carrier battle of the Pacific War and setting for the well known Marianas Turkey Shoot! Pitting the US Task Force 58 and it's fifteen carriers against the Japanese Mobile Fleet of 9 carriers. Details can be found here [link].
I then asked Ginger, what was the highlight of her "career?"
She smiled slyly and said, "It was ALL a highlight!"
They were married in Rome in 1964 where he said that culture's 'rules' were:
#1 Husband was head of household
#2 Everything owned was the husband's
#3 Everywhere he went, she went
I thanked him for his service to our country and with a humble smile, he nodded at me. Then I thanked her for her service, too. She said, "Oh, I was just in it for the paycheck !"
Not to let that go... "Jig Dog" was quick to point out, "And she got 100% of it!"
They both exuded sunshine with their giggles and smiles and adoration for each other.
I explained once more that this could possibly be posted on the Internet, to which she said, "Oh, we have nothing to hide in our lives." He quickly interjected, "Maybe not in YOUR life..."
A Bit Weary but Still Reporting Live from Sparks,
- "The Boss"
As promised I'll try to keep a continuing repository of the stories and photos from this year's Hook '08!
I begin with contributions from The Colorado Ready Room, headed up by Hans "Big Guns"and Kathy "The Boss" Schmoldt. They arrived early at the Nugget to set up the Colorado Ready Room Booth and then headed out with other Colorado Chapter Members to enjoy some time at the NAS Fallon O'Club. Here's some of the fun courtesy of Kathy! Keep 'em coming!
Elvis is in the building!
(L) As always, the Nugget is a very welcoming facility! (R) Hans "Big Gun" Schmoldt setting up the Colorado ready Room Booth.
(Above): Hans Schmoldt and Bart Flaherty "Bad Bart" from Golden,CO - State Dept. just returned Sunday from his 7th time in Mongoliaand and Phantom Dude! Enjoy the finest nature has to offer, a pint of Guiness at the O'Club!
(Above): (L) Doug Thompson well known FBO manager at NAS GJT, enjoys a conversation with "Cyrus" Vance. (R) Kathy "The Boss Schmoldt" mugs for the picture with her Sundowner (VFC-111) Buddies Jason "Lickma" Boles and David "Boats" Bowen.
(Above): (L) CAPT Chet Alexander US Navy retired with Bart Flaherty (see above), Roy Rogers and Sr. Chief Robert Prater retired, President Navy League - said there were streets in Reno named for him...they are all ONE-way streets. (R) "Boatsie" shows the best kind of "Fat Tire" to have after landing at Fallon!
More to come...
It begins today! HOOK '08 is underway, with a fairly light load today!
Thursday, 4 September 2008
I will continue to update The Daily Briefing with reports from Reno as they come in!
If you would like to contribute tales or photos! (ESPECIALLY PHOTOS!) please send to me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
When you provide Photos it is useful if you provide character names and context (what's happening in the photo?)
HOOK 08 CONVENTION SCHEDULE - A TRIBUTE TO THE LSO
Thursday, 4 September 2008
Friday, 5 September 2008
Bus departs from Nugget Hotel East Exit, Bus Transportation Area
Bus departs from Nugget Hotel East Exit, Bus Transportation Area
Bus departs from Nugget Hotel East Exit, Bus Transportation Area
FRIDAY SYMPOSIUM- Rose A Ballroom
Saturday, 6 September 2008
SATURDAY SYMPOSIUM - Rose A Ballroom
Sunday 7 September 2008
From: COMMANDING OFFICER, FIGHTER SQUADRON COMPOSITE ONE ELEVEN
June 12, 2008
Dear Sundowner Aircrew Alumni,
It’s with great excitement that I announce the Sun Downer Reunion 2008, in conjunction with Hook ’08 in Reno, Nevada.
Date: Thursday, September 4, 2008
Time: 19:00 till Bingo!
Place: The Nugget Hotel and Casino, Reno, Nevada
Since the re-establishment of the greatest Navy Fighter Squadron, we have been looking for the perfect opportunity to host a reunion. Tailhook will afford us the opportunity to re-connect with our Sundowner squadron mates, as well as other friends in carrier aviation over a fantastic weekend in Reno.
I encourage you to register soon for Tailhook, and RSVP for our own reunion. We need to get a rough head count (including spouses attending), so we can arrange for appropriate size reunion accommodations with the Nugget. I have appointed two officers from our current ready room to coordinate the reunion. Their names and contact info are listed below. Please utilize the Hook ’08 information to arrange your personal accommodations.
Hook ’08 Registration: www.tailhook.org
I look forward to meeting you in Reno!
CDR Rob “Rudy” McGregor
CO, VFC-111 Sun Downers
We look forward to seeing you all in Reno!
Nice "Sierra Hotels"!
I had the honor this past weekend in San Diego to meet hundreds of gathered Intruder Pilots, BNs, Tech Reps, their families and friends. I listened to their stories accurate as a Cracker Jack Prized Watch, laughed at their jokes, smiled with them as their joy overflowed at the first sight of long ago friends and comrades not heard from in 30 years, and I cried with them too as they raised their glass to missed friends left long ago... eternally young.
The compassion in the rooms was tangible, hugs and vice grip handshakes abounded. These men are INTRUDERS and always will be. And there is something to be said and yes even possibly envied for being able to claim that moniker. At least one sure felt that in their company.
These men flew and fought in a truly unique aircraft. Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder... or in this case the crew of an Intruder! The A-6 in its many variants with the exception of a few bumps here, and a few radio fins there, and a giant chin pimple called a TRAM, the overall airframe remained throughout its historic career much as it was when she first rolled off the Grumman Iron Works assembly line in 1960... she was a flying DRUMSTICK!
But despite having looks only a mother could love, the A-6 piloted by heroic crews, earned a reputation, even legacy, no other aircraft can match. And I do mean Crews... the Intruder is a 2 man aircraft, Pilot and Bombardier Navigator (BN) and it takes these two to make this aircraft the formidable weapon she became known as.
Featured Speaker, and A-6 transplant (from Vigilantes of all planes!), Admiral Fox Fallon, alluded to the uniqueness of this great airplane in that the crew sat side by side instead of the more common tandem arrangements familiar to most in NAVAIR since WWII. This seating allowed for unique communication between Pilot and BN, one could recognize trouble or confidence in a simple look exchanged between crewmates. Navigation advice could easily be exchanged without the need for the later "Banana on a Broomstick" method employed NFO's in F-4's and F-14's. Also, the Intruder's mission often required single aircraft going in a night, low level, without the benefit of today's modern conveniences of NVG's or FLIR's... without their crewmate they would indeed be "Alone." This is also why a number of Intruder crews would be lost without benefit of a clear accounting for the causes or knowledge of their final resting.
It was these unique men, that openly shared their stories of, "Aw Gee, we were just doin' our job... that black night... on one engine... inverted... with the RADAR crapped out... in the mire... and both generators sounding like coffee grinders, when we dropped all 18 slicks in the smoke stack of that there COMMIE power generator!" "Shur was a fun firework show that night!"... "Then Sheeeaught, we had to return to the damn dutch rollin' boat... by the way, Paddles is STILL A LYIN' SUMBITCH! I was not high! The hook skipped!"
As I mentioned there were not only crewmates here, there were also the wives and other family members of these fine men here as well. And believe me the stories to be heard from these women were equally awe inspiring, albeit from a different perspective. The trials and tribulations these women had to endure being Officer's Wives, CO's Wives, Mom's to their own kids as well as in many cases a Mom to the Newlywed JO's wives in a world that would be foreign enough had it simply been Naval Aviation... without the war, demonstrated a different breed of heroics, but recognizable none the less. There were many tears at seeing the wives not seen in these many years as well... but most of our tears were shared for one cherished wife especially... Tonya Clark.
February 18, 2004
Lieutenant Alan Clark was in the last Navy plane shot down in Vietnam; remains identified January 2004 and he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
He was the love of her life. Her husband. Her soulmate. Her everything.
"I just didn't want him to go," says Tonya Clark.
Alan Clark went. He went to Vietnam. And before it was all over, the A-6 Navigator based out of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, would make history.
His shipmate from the USS Midway would write about him in his book: "I felt the tears pouring down my cheeks," Jim Horsley says.
Alan's wife would be haunted by the question: What if? What if the war had ended just two weeks earlier?
January 10, 1973. Lieutenant Alan Clark's plane was shot down. It was the last Navy plane shot down in the war. Pilot Jim Horsley searched for the two Navy flyers.
"With my oxygen mask on, I'm sobbing tears," says Horsley.
They found nothing. Two weeks later, the Vietnam War ended. Troops started coming home.
"I remember when the guys came back. It was so hard seeing them flying in and they had the missing man formation and that was just so difficult," says Tonya.
For the next 31 years, Navigator Alan Clark and his pilot remained missing.
"When you go to war it's a hard thing," says Clark. A hard thing leaving your wife -- your pregnant wife -- to go to war.
Tad Clark was just two months and 10 days old when his father was killed in Vietnam.
"He never got to hold him and see him!" Tonya said.
Tad never met his father, but he would do something that would have made him proud. He followed in his footsteps. Tad Clark is an Air Force Pilot and Thunderbird!
"He just wanted to be a fighter pilot all of his life," says Tonya Clark.
... Tonya always had faith that one day, the military would find Alan.
And they have. Alan Clark's remains were finally found and identified through DNA. In 2004, his shipmates and family helped bury Navy Lieutenant Alan Clark, the recipient of the Purple Heart, at Arlington National Cemetery.
"You just can't help by feel grateful and say 'Oh God this is so amazing' It is amazing," says Tonya Clark.
Tonya's soulmate; her best friend; her everything, is home.
Tonya was as beautiful as ever, and we were all thrilled to see her there!
The Intruder is long gone, now relegated to a museum piece or a gate guard, or a reef in a nearby ocean. But these crews are still with us, to share with us their knowledge, their humor, their warmth, their love of flying, their love for their fellow man... But we're not breeding any more of them. So I highly recommend getting to know these men while you can, the tales are great, and 100% truthful. ;-) Below are but a sampling of the images of this reunion.
YHS had the opportunity to intrude on VA-115's special moments (nepotism will do that, right Hoagy?) thus many of the photos are of the men and wives of the ARABS of 1972-73. But if you have good digital images of friends at the Intruder reunion, please send them to me, I am compiling and creating a public image gallery of as many as I can gather. I will post all there for free download for all! Captions and info about the subjects of the images are very welcomed.
Ready Room 5 Dedication, complete with ship's bell calling to order, and Red Bull Air Races off the port side competing for our attention!
VA-115 Circa '72-'73
And finally Tonya Clark! Our Hero!
UPDATE: Thanks to folks like, Larry Yarham and Paul Barrish we are beginning to add to our collection of Reunion Photos! And rather than posting them all here I have created a repository Gallery of all of the submitted photos for your viewing pleasure! Click the hyperlink below and visit the gallery...
Please feel free to add your comments for clarification of individuals in the images, I will work to update the captions accordingly. Also once in the gallery simply click on the larger image to see a variety of size options available for free downloads and if you are not computer savvy you can also order prints direct from the site!
Here's a few for a taste...
PLEASE! If you have other photos of the Intruder Reunion, please send them to me at email@example.com I will gladly write an addendum to this article and include them in the planned gallery which I will identify here once I have it established.
Thank you Intruders! It was a blast!
Editor, John Carmichael
The 2008 National Navy/Marine Intruder Reunion is being held from 01-04 May in San Diego, CA.
A special and exciting reunion program has been planned. Feature events include the Intruder Ready Room Dedication on board the USS Midway, a day at MCAS Miramar that includes a golf outing, the dedication of the recently restored A-6 at the Flying Leatherneck Museum and a Happy Hour at the World Famous Miramar O'Club. An elegant San Diego cocktail cruise will end the day for those desiring to participate.
A hotel "Ready Room" with a panoramic view of Mission Valley will be open to all during the entire event so that folks can gather and meet old friends. The hotel also has poolside rooms perfect for individual squadrons/groups to rent for their own reunion ready room.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
Thursday, 01 May
Hotel check-in and reunion registration. Welcome reception at the Town and Country poolside with heavy hors d'ourves and no-host bar. The hotel ready room will be open for late-night drinks and conversation.
Friday, 02 May
Hotel check-in and reunion registration. Golf at MCAS Miramar Golf Course followed by the dedication of a Marine A-6 at the Flying Leatherneck Museum, Miramar. Invited guest speaker is Major General USMC (ret), A-6 pilot and Astronaut Charles Bolden. Following the dedication, the Miramar O'Club will host a Happy Hour with heavy hors d'oerves. A San Diego Harbor cruise with heavy hors d'oerves and a no-host bar is also available that evening. The hotel ready room will be open for late-night drinks and conversation.
Saturday, 03 May
Intruder Association membership meeting in the morning followed by the dedication of the World Class Intruder Ready Room on the USS Midway, San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum. All attendees will have a 3-day pass to the USS Midway allowing ample opportunities and time to tour all the superb displays and areas of the Midway. The coat & tie Reunion Banquet will be in the Convention Center of the Town & Country and will feature a no-host cocktail hour to renew old friendships, an excellent dinner and a featured guest speaker. The hotel ready room will be open for late-night drinks and conversation.
Sunday, 04 May
Early Bird breakfast of coffee and pastries in the hotel "ready room" for those catching early flights. A reunion send-off buffet breakfast at a hotel restaurant starts at 0800 for those who are not as rushed.
The hotel "Ready Room" with a panoramic view of Mission Valley will be open to all during the entire event so that folks can gather and meet old friends.
For More Information Visit the INTRUDER ASSOCIATION
Editors Note: I will be in attendance at many of the Intruder Events and look forward to meeting all of you. If you see me standing around, please feel free to introduce yourself, you will always have a willing listener of ALL of the ENTIRELY TRUTHFUL stories I am sure to hear!
- John Carmichael, Editor, Tailhook Daily Briefing
From LCDR Kevin "Proton" McLaughlin (Colorado Strike Force)
Back from all the hard work and lack of fun in Reno this past weekend. For those concerned, my liver transplant yesterday was successful, but I am rapidly running out of tee-totaling benefactors in the greater Colorado Springs area. If you know of any organ donors, please pass along their info.
The event was a HUGE success. Over 2500 registered attendees (and many,
many more "unregistered") and the largest airlift support contingent
since 1991--over 350 active duty personnel from both the East and West
The highlights, as always, were the Bug Roach mixer on Friday night and the Flag Panel on Saturday. The mixer had over 1,400 folks in the large banquet room and easily another 1,000 in the admin suites surrounding the space. For the number of people and amount of "conviviality" there were surprisingly ZERO incidents. VFA-122 and VFA-125 shared an admin suite and it was going STRONG when I went up to bed just prior to 0600 on Saturday morning (which, incidentally, made Saturday one of the longest hangover days on record--somebody call Guinness for me).
The Flag panel was chaired by VADM Kilcline (AIRPAC/Air Boss), and consisted of (left to right on your radio dial) RDML "Guads" Gaudagnini(CNATRA), BGEN "Whaler" Walsh (DC Aviation), RADM "Waldo" Emerson (NSAWC), VADM "DJ" Venlett (NAVSYSCOM), RADM "Goody" Goodwin (AIRLANT), RADM "Santee" Clingan (N88), and RADM Jeff Lemmons (CNAFR). Some solid,pointed questions were tossed at them with the primary recurring theme of letting "Jointness" take over Naval Aviation (my fellow Joint-serving O-4's feel that particular pain) at the seeming expense of Tactical development and leadership. All-in-all, a good solid exchange between the crowd and the Flags.
Colorado attendees included Hans and Kathy Schmoldt from GJT, Spook
McFillen, Black Bart Flaherty (who got the crowd in a frenzy with a
pointed question to the Flag panel--NICE WORK!), Lipper Lee, Rusty
Barber, Dick Trickle, and yours truly. If I forgot anyone, I apologize--if we chatted, you were probably looking at/talking to my evil twin Neutron.
Finally, the speaker at the Banquet was Gene Cernan, retired CAPT and the LAST man to set foot on the moon. An UNBELIEVABLE speaker, aviator,astronaut, and gentlemen. He brought a PowerPoint brief with him that
had his own personal pictures from Apollo XVII and they were astounding.
He got very choked up a few times, but none
more so than in his final remarks when he said that of all the groups / societies/ associations he is associated with, the one he is most proud of is the fraternity of Naval Aviation.
Thanks Proton [Ed.]
Actually from Friday afternoon... However a very good (video) take on the Tailhook National Symposium, Reunion, Conference (whatever we're officially calling it) allusions to why its important, and to some of the camaraderie unique to the event... not to mention the Golf.
From Neptunus Lex: [Click Here]