“Eight of the Eleven Were Frantic”
My first squadron (VP-4), was the only mining squadron in the Pacific Fleet and was tasked with developing tactics for all Pacific Patrol squadrons. Our task was to have three planes airborne with two hours of notice, another three planes within 12 hours and the last three within two days (as I remember). We had even been trained for a primary target in case of WWIII. The time arrived when we put our squadron through a practice deployment to Guam where we practiced an actual simulation from Guam to a manned target site in the Philippines:
The Skipper, Exec, and Operations Officer were each to lead a three plane section to the target for grading (each section on a different date). I was the Copilot for the Operations Officer. The plan was to take off at night in time to be over the target at 6am to drop our mines in the prescribed pattern. Our three planes took off as briefed with us in the lead in a slow climbing 180 degree turn heading West for our target.
probably had poor night vision). I am getting concerned as we should have been in formation during the slow turn. Suddenly, while scanning the 9 O'clock level position I saw the red and green wing tip lights very, very close! I grabbed the yoke and pulled it into my stomach while watching the airspeed indicator, pushing over prior to stall speed. The other aircraft reported missing us by inches (if that). Can you imagine the news reports of losing two planes and 22 souls with no sight of either in the ocean?
The navigator had seen the craft approaching at 9 O'clock level and was reporting on Inter-Com … CREW … during the entire hair raising experience. This means that eight of the 11 aboard were frantic while listening to the screams from the Navigator.
The mission continued with success in laying our patterns.
I don't recall anyone discussing it later.