Monday, December 12, 2016

It was early September 1962. VF_11 had checked out of Barracks 93 and had headed to Mayport Carrier Basin, Jacksonville, Florida, via chartered buses. I had the duty along with everyone else in Duty Section 3. Some had the chore of cleaning up the barracks. Larry Purser, Hal Hearn and I had the task of transporting about 100 cans of paint and other flammable liquids to the "dump" at NAS Cecil Field. We loaded all the stuff on a "Duece and a Quarter and headed to the dump. This truck had two way radios in it. To get to the dump, we had to cross over two runways. I stopped the truck at the "Hold Short" line, and waited for the green light from the tower. We could also hear the tower respond to traffic both in the air, and us on the ground. The tower flashed us green, but requested we stop short of the 13,000 foot runway, and wait for a A4 to land. It touched down ,and the tower gave us permission to cross over and head to the dump. I drove the truck into the dump. We started tossing the paint cans and the other flammable liquids over the sides of the truck. The first seventy five cans of paint made it into the piles of trash without a hitch. Number seventy six must have hit metal to metal causing a spark."Whoomp"!An oily black smokey fire now engulfed the truck on both sides. Startled, I hopped back into the truck and pulled it forward out of the flames. We finished tossing the rest of the cans into the dump, taking care to avoid the fire. I started to retrace our steps back to the barracks. We heard over the radio from the tower the black smoke was coming from the dump,and that the smoke was headed towards the duty runways. The fire trucks had the OK from the tower to proceed directly to the dump. It passed us as we crossed over the runways and headed back to report to the duty section chief, what had happened. He said to us" Take the truck back to motor pool, get your seabags and get on the charter bus". Not to worry guys we're going to be gone for nine months. We were the last guys in VF-11 to get aboard the carrier. The trip to Mayport from NAS Cecil Field took about thirty minutes. We took in the countryside on the way as it would be the last time we would see it until May the following year.
The Roosevelt had been in Mayport Carrier Basin all summer. And it was a hot summer in Jacksonville, Florida. The ship's hull just absorbed the sun and kept its heat well into the night. Many guys chose to sleep on deck, because we had no air conditioning in the crew's quarters. Officers and chiefs had air in their compartments. The rest of us had to grin and bear it. The "racks" that the crew slept on, were canvas stretched over aluminum framing. The racks could be raised or "Triced Up", when not inn use. The mattress and sheets, called a fart sack were two sided. You slept on one side for a few days and the turned it over to attain a clean side to the sheet. It was so hot in our compartment that you were drenched in sweat by morning. The outline of your body was clearly seen on the sheets, kinda like the"Holy Shroud of Turin".We'd overcome the oppressive heat in few days when we left port and sailed north to the MED. It would take eleven days. Each day the crew would gather in Hangar Bay 3 for classes on local customs and laws of various countries that we would take Liberty in. For instance in Istanbul,Turkey if a cabbie with a fare riding in it were in an traffic accident, the cab driver was not liable, rather the fare was. Consequently the cab driver drove like Parnelli Jones through the streets of Istanbul. pedestrians would fling themselves up next to walls as the cab sped through. It was rather exciting. The presenter were entertainers hired by the Department of Defense to present the info in such a manner that sailors would remember. They did a decent job as I can still recall some of their finer nuances. For example in Italy you don't put your hand out in a "stop" motion with your fingers spread. As that is an insult in Italy. We had the usual VD lectures from the Medical Department. The pictures were so graphic that you really didn't want to interact with the opposite sex..... well until at least three or four beers.

Monday, June 03, 2013


I vow to thee, my country
All earthly things above
Entire and whole and perfect
The service of my love

The love that asks no question
The love that stands the test
That lays upon the altar
The dearest and the best

The love that never falters
The love that pays the price
The love that makes undaunted
The final sacrifice

And there's another country
I've heard of long ago
Most dear to them that love her
Most great to them that know

We may not count her armies
We may not see her King
Her fortress is a faithful heart
Her pride is suffering

And soul by soul and silently
Her shining bounds increase
And her ways are ways of gentleness
And all her paths are peace

And all her paths are peace

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friday, October 01, 2010

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I got the patches, they look excellent. Thanks for letting me buy two of them. The envelope held up well in the mail and is in like new condition.

I have a lot going on right now so I can’t spend a lot of time with the history.

Attached is some of the information about the patches history.

The insignia, depicting Peg-leg Pete with an aircraft carrier under his left arm and a machine-gun for a right leg, was painted on the bulkhead of the gasoline storage tank on the hanger deck when Admiral John Hoskins took command in November 1945. He lost his leg when the earlier Princeton CVL-23 was sunk during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944.

I believe that the 81st Squadron was onboard at that time?

The patch was designed by Walt Disney (January 1946) during WWII for Bombing Fighting Squadron 81 aka VBF-81, which later became VF-14A, and later VF-132.

Vice Admiral John Madison Hoskins the Navy's only peg-leg Admiral, was born on 22 October 1898 in Pineville He was reared in Pineville graduated from Pineville High School. He was the youngest of six children born to Thomas Jefferson and Lucy Renfro Hoskins.
He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1921. Following a period of serving on surface ships he entered flight school in 1925. After earning his wings, Hoskins served in observation and scouting units. He attain squadron command in 1937. His ship was in charge of trying to find Amelia Earhart when she was lost. His ship Memphis brought Charles Lindberg and the Sprite of St Louis back from France after his famous flight. He was Air Officer and Executive Officer of USS Ranger (CV-4) during 1941-42. During 1943-44 he served in Washington D.C., and as Chief of Staff to Commander, Fleet Air, at Quonset Point Rhode Island.
Captain Hoskins was assigned as prospective commanding officer of USS Princeton (CVL-22) in September 1944 and lost a right foot when that ship was bombed on 24 October 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Despite the loss of his foot, he continued on active duty, becoming commanding officer of the new USS Princeton (CV-37) in November 1945. Promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral, he became Commander, Carrier Division Seventeen in December 1946. After serving as Chief of Staff to Commander, Air Force, Pacific Fleet he assumed command of Carrier Division Three in March 1950. He was the first person to take off and land a jet airplane on an aircraft carrier. The Navy said it couldn't be done because jets were too heavy. He proved them wrong and was place over out fitting all carriers to land jets.
When the Korean War broke out on 25 June 1950, Rear Admiral Hoskins' flagship USS Valley Forge (CV-45) was the only U.S. carrier in the Western Pacific and launched the first U.S. Navy air strikes of the conflict. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his action in Korea. He also was awarded the following medals: Purple Heart, Legion of Merit, China Service Medal, Order of Military Merit, from the Philippine Government, the Philippine Liberation Medal, Atlantic Fleet Clasp, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, plus others.
In 1955 a movie was made of his 10 years of WW2 and Korea, The Eternal Sea. This was shown at the Bell Theater during the Mountain Laurel Festival.
Admiral Hoskins married the former Sue Waters of Gaithersbury, Maryland and had three children, John Madison Jr, Renfro Waters and Mary Sue. His brothers and sisters were Mrs Bess Williams of Cincinnati, Ohio, J.K. Hoskins of Pineville, Kentucky, Mrs Charles Gragg, Pineville, Mrs George Hodges, Pineville and Carl B. Hoskins, Williamsburg, Kentucky. His wife and children live in Falls Church, Virginia.
Admiral Hoskins died in March 1964, and after a funeral with full Military Honors was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Photos of Princeton burring
Photo of Admiral Hoskins Hawaii watching Korean casualties being transported
Photo of Admiral Hoskins Hawaii talking to 4 Red Cross workers.
Index of photos and newspaper articles
I hope this helps.
Jerry Ruckle
745 Dixon Drive NW

Thursday, September 30, 2010

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Monday, July 19, 2010

It is April 1963.The USS Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA 42 had completed its nine month Med Cruise. The USS Saratoga CVA 60 would relieve us and take our spot in Task Force 6.0. The change of command ceremony would take place at Suda Bay, Crete. Then the FDR would head home to Mayport, Florida.

We'll have Flight Ops one more time, as the Saratoga enters the Straights of Gibraltar. Commander H.H. Lowery the CO of Fighter Squadron Eleven the "Red Rippers", walked towards F8E Crusader #201. Bureau number 150301. He handed me his helmet, as we started the pre-flight routine. I hung the helmet in its carrying case on the sidewinder rack on the port side. Inside the helmet was a rubber chicken. A rubber chicken? I looked over the other Crusaders being readied for launch. Their pilots were carrying rolls of toilet paper. What the ....................? Those pilots asked the plane captains to put the rolls of toilet paper inside the speed brake,and then pump up the speed brake by hand so the TP and rubber chicken wouldn't fall out before the engines started.

It seems our relief carrier Saratoga had entered the Med but was a few days away from Suda Bay, Crete. The mission of this sortie was to find, and buzz the Sara, dropping the rubber chicken and toilet paper as Air Group One's way to say" Hi welcome to the Med". The" going home hi jinx" had begun.

Both carriers anchored at Suda Bay. Libety launches from both ships shuttled crews of bot ships back and forth. Larry Purser and I were going to go over, but we see an old shipmate Duke Buettner from our old squadron VF-132, walking over to us in Hangar Bay 3. I ask3ed Duke if he still carried his one gallon jug of Listerine on long cruises. Judging from his big grin, he still did. Duke replaces the Listerine with rye whiskey. a good man to know on long cruises. we exchanged small talk for a short time. We told him where to go in each Liberty Port, our favorites, and ones to be avoided.

Early the next morning after Change of Command, the FDR began to sail slowly out to sea. The ship unfurled the "Homeward Bound"pennant. It was longer than the normal six month cruise banner as we were on station and extra three months. The destroyers in the plane guard and the light cruiser USS Boston joined us as we sailed to the Straight of Gibraltar. Regulations and normal shipboard routine were relaxed. There was a beard growing contest, mine was pathetic but much better than some of the officers in the squadron. Because of Russian Bear overflights and the presence of Russian trawlers, Captain Clark announced over the ship's 1 MC that the Roosevelt would sail a southernly course, while the rest of the ships in the flotilla would take the normal route back home. For the next 72 hours all electronic gear, including electric razors must be turned off. It seemed eerie to see the rest of battle group sail away leaving us alone except for the submarine escort. In ten days we would be home.

Those ten days would be spent packing shop equipment into cruise boxes to be hauled back to NAS Cecil Field. About three days out of Jacksonville, Fla. e saw our first signs of civilization. Bottles, tree branches, and other flotsam and jetsom were espied. Two days out and you can smell land. It has the smell of a compost pile. The exercise to fool the Russians had ended a few earlier. Personal radios were now allowed. The ships radio, played over the 1 MC local Jacksonville stations. The first station I heard was W.A.P.E radfio 760. approve by the FCC to broadsat from Sun up to sunset. with call letters such as WAPE, the management had a Tarzan ape call going to and from commercials. It also had Preparation H as a sponsor. It went tlike this, Tarzan ape call, sponsor tunes in with the announcer in a slow southern drawl," Freeenz............ do you suffer from hemmor hoids? It always gathered a laugh, and still does.

One day out of Jax, we had the last Air Op. All aircraft that could fly would go in this launch. The ilots get home one day early. VAH 11 would transit their A3 SkyWarriors back to NAS Whidby Island, Washington state. The A1H's of VA 35 would fly to mainside at NAS Jacsonville. The Willie Fudds of VAW 12 , and helos of HU2 head back to NAS Oceana, Virginia. VF-11, VF14, VA 12, VA 172 would return to Cecil Field where we had started the cruise last year.

The pilots shaved off their beards to allow for a good seal on their O2 masks. Pilots and plane captains scurry about the flight deck. Flight Deck personnel , in various colored shirts, shwing their jobs are all anout the deck.

One last time from the bridge:"On the flight deck.Pull down your goggles, roll down your sleeves, buckle your helmets. Check chocks, tie downs , fire bottles and all loose gear about the deck. Stand clear of jet intakes and tailpipes. Stand clear of props and helo blades. Stand by to start the Heavies and the props. Start the Heavies, start the props. Silence is broken by APU's ( Auxillary Power Units), and huffers. The APU's give electrical power to te plane before the jet engine can start. The" huffers" spin the blades of the jet by blowing air over the engine blades The Heavies A3's and props A1H's are "Spotted" on the fantail. Thus begins the "Airedale Ballet". Yellow shirts give directions to blue shirted plane handlers and brown shirted plane captains. The A3 heavies engines roar to life. The propellers of A1's become a blur as the engines come to life.

Commander Lowery and I had completed the preflight walk around. I help the CO to strap into the Martin Baker ejection seat. He puts the leg lanyards from the cockpit floor through the loops in the legs of the flight suit. In case of ejection the lanyard will pull his feet snug into the seat. Thus avoiding having his feet severed as he he leaves the plane. I take out the safety pins from the seats face curtain, drogue chute. and canopy firing mechanism. He hands me the safety pin from the ejection handle between his legs. We count the pins, and check hem to seeif any springs may have come off on the seat. We find they are all accounted for. We agree the seat is armed. The Martin Baker Ejection Seat will send a 200 pound pilot 50 feet in the air while on the deck. Always a good idea to beware of things that can go boom. The APU hooks up to our Crusader, followed by the huffer. I signal the pilot one finger, he give me a thumbs up he has external power. I signal him two finger and begin to turn he two in a circular motion. The blades on the JP 57 P20 engine begin to spin. I watch the UHT ( Unit Horizontal Tail) spring to life and level off at at the first position. Flaccid flight controls come to the active positions. ( Another flight deck axiom: check flight controls to see if they're in a flying configuration. another is don't walk in front or behind things that are round. Like jet intakes, tailpipes , 20mm cannons. It's much harder to do at night. Primary flight deck hand signal, one you never want to see is the balled fist being pulled out of an open hand. It means get you head out of your ass, or you're gonna die). The CO signals the engine is running. As quickly as I signal"Pull" the yellow shirt sends them to the next plane to be started. I signal the skipper to "raise the wing" the Crusader has a variable incident wing. I check the space beneath the wing for fuel leaks. There are none. I check the leading edge droop for leaks. none.

Friday, January 15, 2010

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