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Working the Deck

I think the Oriskany was the first carrier we went out on. I remember the Bennington, the Kearsarge and the Yorktown also. They were exciting times for a nineteen-year-old kid. Remember boarding the Kearsarge on Ford Island and there was a big sign on the side saying "Canaveral To Kearsarge". They had just come in from picking up one of the first space shots.
I remember the carrier quals when we had to jump on the wing tips after the trap because of choppy weather and those stubby little wings would flip that A4 on the deck with a little cross wind. Nothing to hold onto (except vortex generators) as you taxied to the cat and tried to time your drop off so that you wouldn't get launched with the airplane. I remember Liguori walking into an F8 exhaust and blowing down the deck. Burnt off his eyebrows.
One day, Almanderez and I were taking a break next to the island when an A-4 from VMA-214 came skidding on its belly right at us. He had hit the round down, sheared off his gear, but caught the last wire. Stopped right in front of us. Al and I got the pilot out and I remember him being kind of shaky. Knees couldn't hold him up. Probably needed a skive change too.
Also remember the tradition of painting our squadron decals on the squid airplanes. One of their S-2F's looked like it had chicken pox when the jarheads left the boat.

Feb. 2, 2004 VMA-212 (Devil Cat) Plane Captain Norm Spillith.
Semper Fidelis,
"Speed Brakes"


Working the Deck




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