“The Lucas Gang …. Naval Aviators” 1
One of the proudest guys to attend the FLYING MIDSHIPMEN Reunion last year in Reno, Nevada (piggy-backed on TAILHOOK) was Phil Lucas. And why was he that … you might ask? Well, he was mighty pleased to introduce his twin sons, James and Kevin, both Naval Aviators, to all his old Flying Midshipmen comrades who were there … and anyone else who was around too.
For a brief on Phil: He matriculated through Advanced Training in F4Us at Cabaniss Field; got wings on July 7, 1949, and then reported to old VF-43 at JAX flying F4U-4s. After only 2 months, he had to check into the Naval Hospital for disc surgery. Following a lengthy recovery ... it was late spring 1950 … CVG-4 was being decommissioned in the downsizing the Navy was then experiencing. He was in the process of being separated when the Korean War (oops-Police Action) started. He accepted the offer to extend, and, as it turned out, CVG-4 was re-established, and he received orders to the new VF-43. The new VF-43 was outfitted with the more powerful F4U-5s at Cecil Field. Phil flew his first hop on September 23, 1950. The Air Group, after settling in and gearing up, embarked on the Oriskany (CV-34), which at that time was a relatively new Essex Class straightdeck. The Oriskany joined the Sixth Fleet in the Med for the summer, so the Air Group was with her from May I, 1951 to October 3, 1951. On returning to Cecil, training and proficiency flying was the weekly routine.
In February, 1952, the squadron traded in the dash 5s and the squadron went back to F4U-4s. A month later in March, CVG-4 did a 4-week cruise on Coral Sea (CVB-42) down off GITMO. In April, '52, AirLant put out a search for a for a Corsair pjlot to transfer to VF-74 with CVG-7 which was about to TransPac on the Bon Homme Richard (CV-34) to join the Seventh Fleet off Korea. Phil told his skipper he would not have any objection if his name was submitted for the transfer. And that's how he ended up with VF-74 on the Korean Cruise in the last six months of 1952. Lucas flew 56 missions over Korea; the Air Group was with the Seventh Fleet from the end of May,'52 to Christmas Eve of that year, when they set sail back to the States. Upon their return, Phil was transferred to Saufley Field in Pensacola. His duty there was as Formation and Tactics instructor. He then requested release from active duty and left the Navy in August of 1953. Phil is genuinely modest … but he was awarded two Air Medals for Korean combat missions and as he says, "the normal ribbons and medals that went with the territory."
Now for the Lucas' twin sons:
LT James J. Lucas was winged at NAS Meridian [MS] on January 7, 1994. He was designated to fly the EA-6B Prowler and transitioned through VAQ-129 at NAS Whidbey Island. One of his first assignments after reporting to his squadron, VAQ-130 was to ferry a Prowler from Whidbey to Aviano AFB, Italy. While there, he flew several missions over Bosnia, and on one occasion, earned a Letter of Commendation for his participation in the rescue of two French pilots whose aircraft had been shot down by enemy fire. This occurred in the fall of 1995 and he returned to Whidbey in December that year. Early in 1996, he and his brother, Kevin, put in for LSO training, and as it turned out, attended the same class. After LSO school, he returned to his squadron, and after a short break-in period became the squadron Lead LSO for the remainder of his tour with VAQ130. The Air Wing was aboard the Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) from November, 1996, to May, 1997, for a LantFleet cruise in the Med. with a few weeks spent in the Gulf. Before completing the cruise, he was certified as CAG LSO, qualified to bring in every type aircraft in the Air Wing. After completing his tour with VAQ130, he returned to the Prowler RAG, VAQ 129, as an instructor where he is currently serving as the lead LSO, responsible for all CarQual standards, syllabus and training of new Prowler pilots.
LT Kevin P. Lucas was winged at NAS Pensacola on January 7, 1994. He was designated to fly the E2C Hawkeye. Completing transition, he reported to VAW-113, at that time based at NAS Miramar [CA]. During his tour, he quickly qualified as pilot-in-command; then applied for LSO training. Coincidentally, he and his twin brother, James were enrolled in the same class. On return to VAW-113, he became the lead LSO (as did his brother in his assigned squadron). Kevin's Air Wing was aboard the Carl Vinson (CVN 70) from June, 1996, until November, 1996. They deployed on a WestPac cruise and spent several weeks in the Gulf due to Saddam's troublesome ways. Upon completion of his tour with VAW-113, Kevin reported to VT-9 Tigers at NAS Meridian as a flight instructor in T-2C Buckeyes. He is currently serving with the Tigers as the lead LSO, responsible for the syllabus, standards and initial CarQual training for soon-to-be new Naval Aviators. In September 1998, and in August 1999, Kevin was named Flight Instructor of the Month. In November, 1999, he won the 1999 Training Wing One LSO of The Year award and was runner-up nominee for the same award from CNATRA.
If you were paying close attention … you would have noticed that these twin brothers were "winged" on the same day … January 7, 1994. And it so happened at about the same time of day … James at Meridian, the Kevin at Pensacola … so Mom, Sally, was at Meridian and Pop, Phil, was at Pensacola!
FLY NAVY !
1 Aviation Midshipmen Log, summer 2000; © 2000.