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AMERICAN WARRIORS-PAST AND PRESENT


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During the 3-1/2 years of World War II that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 and ended with the surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, "We the People of the U.S.A

World War II Purple Heart recipient Edward Murphy marked his 100th birthday Saturday in Georgia.   A World War II Purple Heart recipient who turned 100 says that age is only a number. “

A NEW CHRISTMAS POEM    

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Johnno.... WTG finding and posting that! Thanks

I AM A VIETNAM VET

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Thank you Mr. Gundy!!

And thank you Don for posting, I throughly enjoyed watching that, very moving!!

Skip

P.S. That video got me to thinking how bad it would be for some other nation to try and invade this country, I'm sure ya'll have heard the expression "Don't pick a fight with an old man, he just kill you" and we have a lot of the older generation that are still able to do just that, if they get by our military they would still have to deal with us old guys. :olddude: :olddude:

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MOMENT TO LOOK AT THIS -- NO ADDED COMMENTARY IS NEEDED....

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I got shot down over N Vietnam in 1967, a Sqdn. Commander.

After I returned in 1973...I published 2 books that dealt a lot

With "real torture" in Hanoi . Our make-believe president is

Branding our country as a bunch of torturers when he has

No idea what torture is.

As for me, I was put thru a mock execution because I would not respond...

Pistol whipped on the head....same event.. Couple of days later...

Hung by my feet all day. I escaped and a couple of weeks later, I got

Shot and recaptured. Shot was OK...what happened afterwards was not.

They marched me to Vinh...put me in the rope trick, trick...almost

Pulled my arms out of the sockets. Beat me on the head with a

Little wooden rod until my eyes were swelled shut, and my unshot,

Unbroken hand a pulp.

Next day hung me by the arms...rebroke my right wrist...wiped

Out the nerves in my arms that control the hands....rolled my fingers

Up into a ball. Only left the slightest movement of my L forefinger.

So I started answering with some incredible lies.

Sent me to Hanoi strapped to a barrel of gas in the back of a truck.

Hanoi ..on my knees....rope trick again. Beaten by a big fool.

Into leg irons on a bed in Heartbreak Hotel.

Much kneeling--hands up at Zoo.

Really bad beating for refusing to condemn Lyndon Johnson.

Several more kneeling events. I could see my knee bone thru

Kneeling holes.

There was an escape from the annex to the Zoo. I was the Senior

Officer of a large building because of escape...they started a mass

Torture of all commanders.

I think it was July 7, 1969...they started beating me with a car fanbelt.

In first 2 days I took over 300 strokes...then stopped counting

Because I never thought I would live thru it.

They continued day-night torture to get me to confess to a non-existent

Part in the escape. This went on for at least 3 days. On my knees...

Fan belting...cut open my scrotum with fan belt stroke. Opened up

Both knee holes again. My fanny looked like hamburger...I could not

Lie on my back.

They tortured me into admitting that I was in on the escape...and

That my 2 room-mates knew about it.

The next day I denied the lie.

They commenced torturing me again with 3- 6- or 9 strokes of

The fan belt every day from about July 11 or 12th..to 14 October

1969. I continued to refuse to lie about my roommates again.

Now, the point of this is that our make-believe

President has declared to the world that we (U.S..) are a bunch of

Torturers...Thus it will be OK to torture us next time when they

Catch us...because that is what the U.S. Does.

Our make-believe president is a know nothing fool who thinks

That pouring a little water on some one's face, or hanging a pair of

women's pants over an Arabs head is TORTURE.. He is a meathead.

I just talked to MOH holder Leo Thorsness, who was also in my squadron,

In jail...as was John McCain...and we agree that McCain does

Not speak for the POW group when he claims that Al Gharib was

Torture...or that "water boarding" is torture.

Our president and those fools around him who keep bad mouthing

Our great country are a disgrace to the United States . Please pass

This info on to Sean Hannity. He is free to use it to point out the

Stupidity of the claims that water boarding...which has no after

Effect...is torture.

If it got the Arab to cough up the story about how he planned the attack on the twin towers in NYC ...

Hurrah for the guy who poured the water!!

____________________________________________________________________

"Bud" Day, Medal Of Honor Recipient

George Everett "Bud" Day(born February 24, 1925) is a retired

U.S. Air Force Colonel and Command Pilot who served during the

Vietnam War. He is often cited as being the most decorated U.S.

Service member since General Douglas MacArthur, having

Received some seventy decorations, a majority for actions

In combat. Day is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

--------------

Please pass on to your

family and friends

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WOW, those were some brave and dedicated men!

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My dad had a full flight suit of lambs wool...the skull cap with the straps and snaps to hold their oxygen mask

on with and their microphones and headsets....the full heavy jacket and the pants and boots and gloves....all

heavy leather like material on the out side and about 1"-1 1/2" of lambs wool inside....he said he still almost

froze to death....

After I started flying he still wouldn't get back in an aircraft even though it had been 30 plus years...I told

him many times he could sit in the cabin with other folks where it was air conditioned instead of the tail

gunners bubble in his B17.....

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Recon Marine Awarded Navy Cross

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May 17, 2011

Marine Corps News|by Sgt. Michael S. Cifuentes

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Gunnery Sgt. Brian M. Blonder shot and killed an insurgent who was aiming a rocket-propelled grenade at his Marines. After that, Blonder and his Marines averaged killing one insurgent about every 10 minutes.

At the end of an all-day fight, more than 50 Taliban were dead, scores were retreating, and the Marines took control of a key supply route through the village of Shewan, Afghanistan.

Blonder said it was what he came to do, and it’s what Marines do best – kill the enemy. And his unit did that exceptionally well that even though the Taliban outnumbered the Marines roughly eight to one.

For thriving in the face of danger, Blonder, a native of Deer Beach, Fla., was awarded the Navy Cross during a ceremony at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va., May 10. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus presented the award and said Blonder is “one of the most selfless and disciplined Marines” he’s ever met.

“He’ll be remembered for this for generations,” Mabus said. “His attack was relentless. The insurgents grew afraid.”

Blonder deployed to Afghanistan in the summer of 2008 with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. As a reconnaissance Marine by trade, he was serving as platoon sergeant for Force Reconnaissance Platoon, a group of 30 Marines, who were attached to the battalion’s Company G.

The firefight began when Marines and Afghan National Police were patrolling in Shewan, Afghanistan, a desert village in southern Afghanistan closer to the Iranian border, late morning Aug. 8, 2008. Blonder and Force Recon Platoon, along with an equal-sized element from Company G, were patrolling the village streets, anticipating enemy activity. Blonder and his Marines entered the village from its eastern border, while the Company G Marines entered from the North.

Taliban insurgents had control of the village and were known to man fighting positions along Route 517, a major roadway in southern Afghanistan.

Blonder said Afghan National Police had previously reported heavy resistance from insurgents in the village, to include many roadside bombs on Route 517. The Marines’ mission was to gain control of the roadway, rid the village of Taliban, and help the Afghan police establish a presence in the village.

The Marines planned weeks in advance for a sure fight when they stepped foot into Shewan. Blonder wasn’t surprised when he saw the inhabitants had either left or stayed inside their homes.

“It’s standard when Marines or coalition forces enter towns with insurgents that the local populace don’t come out,” Blonder said.

Force Recon Platoon patrolled for three hours before the first shot was fired. Taliban fighters, who were hidden in a drainage trench, fired an RPG at Blonder and his crew. Chief Petty Officer Joe Martin, the platoon’s Navy corpsman, spotted the enemy through the smoke trail of the RPG.

Blonder and Martin dropped into the trench, which the three-man enemy RPG team used as a getaway path, and pursued the attackers.

“At one point, one of them kind of popped up and silhouetted himself. So, I shot that guy and killed him. The other two continued on down the trench line,” Blonder said.

A four-man team of Marines, lead by Gunnery Sgt. Garrett Dean, supported the pursuit by flanking the enemy’s escape.

The pursuit ended in minutes when the two insurgents where killed by Dean’s team.

When intense small arms fire and explosions erupted nearby, Blonder and his men moved to the sound of the fight. Taliban had ambushed the Company G Marines and were in multiple fortified fighting positions firing a barrage of RPGs. Blonder’s team rescued a destroyed humvee’s occupants and withdrew to a safe area away from Taliban gunfire.

Blonder repositioned his outnumbered Marines, and in direct, close combat, maneuvered against the enemy.

Through Blonder’s order, the aggressiveness of the Marines, and their leaders’ selfless actions and initiative, a unit of approximately 30 Marines ousted a force of an estimated 250 Taliban combatants – some intelligence reports claimed there were as many as 500 insurgents. Blonder’s planned flanking attacks slowly but surely gained more and more territory that was once occupied by Taliban insurgents earlier in the day.

The Marines’ assault was also bolstered by mortar and air support. Several 500 to 1,000-pound bombs were dropped on enemy positions.

“Our goal was to push the enemy out of their trenches,” said Blonder. “We kept pressing the attack until we did just that.”

More than 50 insurgents were confirmed dead and numerous more were wounded, while the Marines suffered no losses. Blonder was personally responsible for killing at least three that day.

Fighting ceased by sunset when the enemy had either fled or were killed.

Blonder said he was happy to be victorious.

“When it was all over with, and I was standing on the battlefield and the enemy was gone, I had a great sense of pride and accomplishment,” Blonder said. “When you’re not standing on the ground of the enemy at the end of the day, the enemy won. Instead, we took the stand, we drove the enemy out of their homes, and then we left on our own terms when we were ready to.”

Many Marines who participated in the battle were awarded with medals for valor.

“When you inflict that number of casualties on the enemy and none of us were killed, that’s a pretty successful fight,” said Martin. “The more chaotic things got, the more calm and on point [blonder] was. I don’t think I’ll ever have another platoon sergeant like Gunny Blonder.”

Their mission of seizing control of Shewan’s portion of Route 517 and ridding insurgents from the village was accomplished. In fact, Blonder said he hadn’t heard of Marines or coalition forces receiving any more casualties in that area from insurgents during the rest of the deployment. The victory disrupted several Taliban unit networks, which Blonder said crippled Taliban spirits in southern Afghanistan.

“Our number one job is to locate, close with and kill the enemy,” said Dean. “What we did that day is what we trained for, and that’s what we’ll always do.”

Blonder remembers the triumphant and tiring day vividly. From the rifle fire Sgt. Frank Simmons bestowed upon the enemy, killing “countless” insurgents with single shots to the head or chest, to the accurate sniper fire of Staff Sgt. Richard Powell, Blonder said he’ll wear the Navy Cross as a representation of the Marines he fought alongside that day.

“It was a busy day,” Blonder said. “Every Marine out there was a huge part of that fight. From the NCO (noncommissioned officer) leadership all the way up to the officer leadership – everyone contributed all they had to that fight.”

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A well deserved citation and I love the quote:

“Our number one job is to locate, close with and kill the enemy,” said Dean. “What we did that day is what we trained for, and that’s what we’ll always do.”

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Garimpo,

My brother was very moved by your appreciation, I believe respect from a total stranger tends to carry a lot of weight.

God Bless all our military.

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Thank this man for his service and thank God for His service to this man.....

Here's a harrowing emergency. Talk about things multiplying against you....

It's amazing this pilot survived.

FELL 15,000 FEET AND LIVED....

Cliff Judkins

"'Jud you're on fire, get the hell out of there!" Needless to say that startling command got my attention. As you will read in this report, this was just the beginning of my problems!

It had all started in the brilliant sunlight 20,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean as I nudged my F-8 Crusader jet into position behind the lumbering, deep-bellied refueling plane. After a moment of jockeying for position, I made the connection and matched my speed to that of the slowpoke tanker. I made the graceful task of plugging into the trailing fuel conduit so they could pump fuel into my tanks.

This in-flight refueling process was necessary, and routine, because the F-8 could not hold enough fuel to fly from California to Hawaii . This routine mission was labeled "Trans-Pac," meaning Flying Airplanes across the Pacific. This had been going on for years.

Crusaders in-flight refueling from a C-130 Tanker

Soon, after plugging-in to the tanker, my fuel gauges stirred, showing that all was well. In my cockpit, I was relaxed and confident. As I was looking around, I was struck for an instant by the eeriness of the scene: here I was, attached, like an unwanted child, by an umbilicus to a gargantuan mother who was fleeing across the sky at 200 knots as though from some unnamed danger. Far below us was a broken layer of clouds that filtered the sun glare over the Pacific.

In my earphones, I heard Major Van Campen, our flight leader, chatting with Major D.K. Tooker who was on a Navy destroyer down below. Major Tooker had ejected from his aircraft, the day before, in this same area, when his Crusader flamed out mysteriously during the same type of refueling exercise.

At that time no one knew why his aircraft had flamed out. We all supposed it had been some freak accident that sometimes happens with no explanation. One thing we knew for sure, it was not pilot error. This accident had to be some kind of mechanical malfunction, but what? Our squadron had a perfect safety record and was very disturbed because of the loss of an airplane the day before.

Eleven minutes to mandatory disconnect point, the tanker commander said.

I checked my fuel gages again, everything appeared normal.

My thoughts were, In a few hours I knew we'd all be having dinner at the Kaneohe Officers Club on Oahu , Hawaii . Then after a short rest, we'd continue our 6,000-mile trek to Atsugi , Japan , via Midway and Wake Island . Our whole outfit - Marine All Weather Fighter Squadron 323 - was being transferred to the Far East for a one-year period of operations.

Nine minutes to mandatory disconnect.

My fuel gages indicated that the tanks were almost full. I noticed that my throttle lever was sticking a little. That was unusual, because the friction lock was holding it in place and was loose enough. It grew tighter as I tried to manipulate it gently.

Then - thud! I heard the crack of an explosion.

I could see the rpm gauge unwinding and the tailpipe temperature dropping. The aircraft had lost power the engine had quit running this is a flame-out!

I punched the mike button, and said, This is Jud. I've got a flame-out.

Unfortunately, my radio was already dead; I was neither sending nor receiving anything via my radio.

I quickly disconnected from the tanker and nosed the aircraft over, into a shallow dive, to pick up some flying speed to help re-start the engine. I needed a few seconds to think.

I yanked the handle that extended the air-driven emergency generator, called the Ram Air Turbine (RAT), into the slipstream, hoping to get ignition for an air start. The igniters clicked gamely, and the rpm indicator started to climb slowly, as did the tailpipe temperature. This was a positive indication that a re-start was beginning. For one tantalizing moment I thought everything would be all right. But the rpm indicator hung uncertainly at 30 percent of capacity and refused to go any faster. This is not nearly enough power to maintain flight.

The fire warning light (pilots call it the panic light) blinked on. This is not a good sign. And to make matters worse, jet fuel poured over the canopy like water from a bucket. At the same instant, my radio came back on, powered by the emergency generator, and a great babble of voices burst through my earphones.

Jud, you are on fire, get out of there!

Fuel was pouring out of my aircraft; from the tailpipe; from the intake duct; from under the wings, and igniting behind me in a great awesome trail of fire.

The suddenness of the disaster overwhelmed me, and I thought: This can't be happening to me!

The voices in my ears kept urging me to fire the ejection seat and abandon my aircraft.

I pressed my mike button and told the flight leader, ï'm getting out!

I took my hands off the flight controls and reached above my head for the canvas curtain that would start the ejection sequence. I pulled it down hard over my face and waited for the tremendous kick in the pants, which would send me rocketing upward, free of the aircraft.

Nothing happened! The canopy, which was designed to jettison in the first part of the ejection sequence did not move. It was still in place and so was I.

My surprise lasted only a second. Then I reached down between my knees for the alternate ejection-firing handle, and gave it a vigorous pull. Again, nothing happened. This was very surprising. Both, the primary, and the secondary ejection procedures had failed and I was trapped in the cockpit of the burning aircraft.

The plane was now in a steep 60-degree dive. For the first time, I felt panic softening the edges of my determination. I knew that I had to do something or I was going to die in this sick airplane. There was no way out of it. With great effort, I pulled my thoughts together and tried to imagine some solution.

A voice in my earphones was shouting: Ditch the plane! Ditch it in the ocean!

It must have come from the tanker skipper or one of the destroyer commanders down below, because every jet pilot knows you can't ditch a jet and survive. The plane would hit the water at a very high a speed, flip over and sink like a stone and they usually explode on impact.

I grabbed the control stick and leveled the aircraft. Then I yanked the alternate handle again in an attempt to fire the canopy and start the ejection sequence, but still nothing happened. That left me with only one imaginable way out, which was to jettison the canopy manually and try to jump from the aircraft without aid of the ejection seat.

Was such a thing possible? I was not aware of any Crusader pilot who had ever used this World War II tactic to get out of a fast flying jet. I had been told that this procedure, of bailing out of a jet, was almost impossible. Yes, the pilot may get out of the airplane but the massive 20-foot high tail section is almost certain to strike the pilot's body and kill him before he falls free of the aircraft. My desperation was growing, and any scheme that offered a shred of success seemed better than riding that aircraft into the sea, which would surely be fatal.

I disconnected the canopy by hand, and with a great whoosh it disappeared from over my head never to be seen again. Before trying to get out of my confined quarters, I trimmed the aircraft to fly in a kind of sidelong skid: nose high and with the tail swung around slightly to the right.

Then I stood up in the seat and put both arms in front of my face. I was sucked out harshly from the airplane. I cringed as I tumbled outside the bird, expecting the tail to cut me in half, but thank goodness, that never happened! In an instant I knew I was out of there and uninjured.

I waited . . . and waited . . . until my body, hurtling through space, with the 225 knots of momentum started to decelerate. I pulled the D-ring on my parachute, which is the manual way to open the chute if the ejection seat does not work automatically. I braced myself for the opening shock. I heard a loud pop above me, but I was still falling very fast. As I looked up I saw that the small pilot chute had deployed. (This small chute is designed to keep the pilot from tumbling until the main chute opens.) But, I also noticed a sight that made me shiver with disbelief and horror! The main, 24-foot parachute was just flapping in the breeze and was tangled in its own shroud lines. It hadn't opened! I could see the white folds neatly arranged, fluttering feebly in the air.

This is very serious, I thought.

Frantically, I shook the risers in an attempt to balloon the chute and help it open. It didn't work. I pulled the bundle down toward me and wrestled with the shroud lines, trying my best to get the chute to open. The parachute remained closed. All the while I am falling like a rock toward the ocean.

I looked down hurriedly. There was still plenty of altitude remaining. I quickly developed a frustrating and sickening feeling. I wanted everything to halt while I collected my thoughts, but my fall seemed to accelerate. I noticed a ring of turbulence in the ocean. It looked like a big stone had been thrown in the water. It had white froth at its center; I finally realized this is where my plane had crashed in the ocean.

Would I be next to crash? were my thoughts!

Again, I shook the parachute risers and shroud lines, but the rushing air was holding my chute tightly in a bundle. I began to realize that I had done all I could reasonably do to open the chute and it was not going to open. I was just along for a brutal ride that may kill or severely injure me.

I descended rapidly through the low clouds. Now there was only clear sky between me and the ocean. This may be my last view of the living. I have no recollection of positioning myself properly or even bracing for the impact. In fact, I don't remember hitting the water at all. At one instant I was falling very fast toward the ocean. The next thing I remember is hearing a shrill, high-pitched whistle that hurt my ears.

Suddenly, I was very cold. In that eerie half-world of consciousness, I thought, Am I alive? I finally decided, and not all at once, Yes, I think I am . . . I am alive!

The water helped clear my senses. But as I bounced around in the water I began coughing and retching. The Mae West around my waist had inflated. I concluded that the shrill whistling sound that I had heard was the gas leaving the CO2 cylinders as it was filling the life vest.

A sense of urgency gripped me, as though there were some task I ought to be performing. Then it dawned on me what it was. The parachute was tugging at me from under the water. It had finally billowed out (much too late) like some Brobdingnagian Portuguese man-of-war. I tried reaching down for my hunting knife located in the knee pocket of my flight suit. I had to cut the shroud lines of the chute before it pulled me under for good.

This is when I first discovered that I was injured severely. The pain was excruciating. Was my back broken? I tried to arch it slightly and felt the pain again. I tried moving my feet, but that too was impossible. They were immobile, and I could feel the bones in them grating against each other.

There was no chance of getting that hunting knife, but I had another, smaller one in the upper torso of my flight suit. With difficulty, I extracted it and began slashing feebly at the spaghetti-like shroud line mess surrounding me.

Once free of the parachute, I began a tentative search for the survival pack. It contained a one-man life raft, some canned water, food, fishing gear, and dye markers. The dye markers colored the water around the pilot to aid the rescue team in finding a down airman. All of this survival equipment should have been strapped to my hips. It was not there. It had been ripped away from my body upon impact with the water.

How long would the Mae West sustain me I wondered.

I wasn't sure, but I knew I needed help fast. The salt water that I had swallowed felt like an enormous rock in the pit of my gut. But worst of all, here I was, completely alone, 600 miles from shore, lolling in the deep troughs and crests of the Pacific Ocean . And my Crusader aircraft, upon which had been lavished such affectionate attention, was sinking thousands of feet to the bottom of the ocean.

At that moment, I was struck by the incredible series of coincidences that had just befallen me. I knew that my misfortune had been a one-in-a-million occurrence. In review, I noted that the explosion aloft should not have happened. The ejection mechanism should have worked. The parachute should have opened. None of these incidents should have happened. I had just experienced three major catastrophes in one flight. My squadron had a perfect safety record.Why was all of this happening was my thinking.

In about ten minutes I heard the drone of a propeller-driven plane. The pot-bellied, four-engine tanker came into view, flying very low. They dropped several green dye markers near me, and some smoke flares a short distance from my position. They circled overhead and dropped an inflated life raft about 50 yards from me.

I was so pleased and tried to swim toward the raft. When I took two strokes, I all most blacked out due to the intense pain in my body. The tanker circled again and dropped another raft closer to me, but there was no way for me to get to it, or in it, in my condition.

The water seemed to be getting colder, and a chill gripped me. I looked at my watch, but the so-called unbreakable crystal was shattered and the hands torn away. I tried to relax and surrender to the Pacific Ocean swells. I could almost have enjoyed being buoyed up to the crest of one swell and gently sliding into the trough of the next, but I was in such excruciating pain. I remembered the words W.C. Fields had chosen for his epitaph: On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia .

In about an hour, a Coast Guard amphibian plane flew over and circled me as though deciding whether or not to land. But the seas were high and I knew he couldn't make it. He came in very low and dropped another raft; this one had a 200-foot lanyard attached to it. The end of the lanyard landed barely ten feet from me. I paddled gently backward using only my arms. I caught hold of it and pulled the raft to me. Even before trying, I knew I couldn't crawl into the raft due to my physical condition. I was able to get a good grip on its side and hold on. This gave me a little security.

The Coast Guard amphibian gained altitude and flew off. (I learned later that he headed for a squadron of minesweepers that was returning to the United States from a tour of the Western Pacific. He was unable to tune to their radio frequency for communications. But this ingenious pilot lowered a wire from his aircraft and dragged it across the bow of the minesweeper, the USS Embattle. The minesweeper captain understood the plea, and veered off at top speed in my direction.)

I was fully conscious during the two and a half hours it took the ship to reach me. I spotted the minesweeper while teetering at the crest of a wave. Soon, its great bow was pushing in toward me and I could see sailors in orange lifejackets crowding its lifelines. A bearded man in a black rubber suit jumped into the water and swam to me.

Are you hurt? he asked.

Yes, I said. My legs and back.

I was now very cold and worried about the growing numbness in my legs. Perhaps the imminence of rescue made me light-headed, for I only vaguely remember being hoisted aboard the ship. I was laid out on the ship's deck as they cut away my flight suit.

Don't touch my legs! Don't touch my legs, I screamed.

I don't remember it. Somebody gave me a shot of morphine and this erased part of my extreme pain.

An hour or so later a man was bending over me and asking questions. (It was a doctor who had been high-lined over from the USS Los Angeles, a cruiser that had been operating in the area.)

He said, You have a long scar on your abdomen. How did it get there?

I told him about a serious auto accident I'd had four years earlier in Texas , and that my spleen had been removed at that time.

He grunted, and asked more questions while he continued examining me. Then he said, You and I are going to take a little trip over to the USS Los Angeles; it's steaming alongside.

Somehow they got me into a wire stretcher, and hauled me, dangling and dipping, across the watery interval between the Embattle and the cruiser.

In the Los Angeles 's sickbay, they gave me another shot of morphine, thank God, and started thrusting all sorts of hoses into my body. I could tell from all the activity, and from the intense, hushed voices, that they were very worried about my condition.

My body temperature was down to 94 degrees; my intestines and kidneys were in shock. The doctors never left my side during the night. They took my blood pressure every 15 minutes. I was unable to sleep. Finally, I threw-up about a quart or more of seawater. After this my nausea was relieved a bit.

By listening to the medical team, who was working on me, I was able to piece together the nature of my injuries. This is what I heard them saying. My left ankle was broken in five places. My right ankle was broken in three places. A tendon in my left foot was cut. My right pelvis was fractured. My number 7 vertebra was fractured. My left lung had partially collapsed. There were many cuts and bruises all over my face and body, and, my intestines and kidneys had been shaken into complete inactivity.

The next morning Dr. Valentine Rhodes told me that the Los Angeles was steaming at flank speed to a rendezvous with a helicopter 100 miles from Long Beach, California .

At 3:30 that afternoon, I was hoisted into the belly of a Marine helicopter from the USS Los Angelesï¿∏s fantail, and we whirred off to a hospital ship, the USS Haven, docked in Long Beach , CA .

Once aboard the Haven, doctors came at me from all sides with more needles, tubes, and X-ray machines. Their reaction to my condition was so much more optimistic than I had expected. I finally broke down and let go a few tears of relief, exhaustion, and thanks to all hands and God.

Within a few months I was all systems go again. My ankles were put back in place with the help of steel pins. The partially collapsed left lung re-inflated and my kidneys and intestines were working again without the need of prodding.

The Marine Corps discovered the cause of my flame-out, and that of Major Tooker, the day before, was the failure of an automatic cut-off switch in the refueling system. The aircraftï¿∏s main fuel tank was made of heavy reinforced rubber. When the cut-off switch failed, this allowed the tank to overfill and it burst like a balloon. This then caused the fire and flameout. We will never know why the ejection seat failed to work since it is in the bottom of the ocean. The parachute failure is a mystery also. Like they say,

"Some days you are the dog, and others you are the fire-plug."

Do I feel lucky? That word doesn't even begin to describe my feelings. To survive a 15,000-foot fall with an unopened chute is a fair enough feat. My mind keeps running back to something Dr. Rhodes told me in the sickbay of the Los Angeles during those grim and desperate hours.

He said that if I had had a spleen, it almost certainly would have ruptured when I hit the water, and I would have bled to death. Of the 25 pilots in our squadron, I am the only one without a spleen. It gives me something to think about. Maybe it does you as well.

Cliff Judkins

Author's Note: Amazingly, Cliff Judkins not only survived this ordeal but he also returned to flight status. He was flying the F-8 Crusader again within six months after the accident. After leaving the Marine Corps he was hired as a pilot with Delta Airlines and retired as a Captain from that position.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I COULDN’T EVEN GUESSTIMATE THE AMOUNT OF MANHOURS THAT WENT INTO THIS PAINTJOB.

For all of you veterans...

This is a really cool paint job.

Take a close look at the detail.

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May God Bless the USA , every Veteran and Active Duty Military Member.

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