Letter to Ives
March 8, 1989
Mr. Burdett L. Ives
1109 Fox Ridge
Earlysville, VA 22936
Attached are some thoughts on the "Midshipmen That I Knew."
I'm not sure of just what you will end up with or how you will portray it. It's substantive enough material to be a book - but make it a book with flair. Whatever you do, don't write a gray history - it won't sellar interest people and in the long run you all won't get the credit due for what you did.
Naval Institute Proceedings has a lot to help you with. They know what" sells" and what doesn't. They also do a lot of gray matter that gathers dust on the shelves.
I don't have the time right now to write stories for you, but I will provide shorthand items upon which you will have to build. These are attached.
Nice to hear from you and I hope you will see the way to complete a great story.
All the best,
Donald D. Engen President
They were a very dedicated group of young men who came into the Navy at a time of traumatic budget events. They served well and can be very proud. Like all Naval Aviators, some were outstanding, some were good and some didn't take to aviation as well as the others. As a class of young men, I rate them as the best. To a person, the midshipmen who I know and flew with were great shipmates.
In reference to the budget events, this entails flying for little to no pay and being moved from pillar to post like the rest of us in those trying post WWII years of 1947-1950. Squadrons were being formed and decommissioned with such rapidity that we hardly learned the squadron title before it changed again and we were sent to new Naval Air Stations without travel orders or the pay to accomplish the moves.
As a 23-year-old Lieutenant of three-years seniority, I was Operations Officer of VF-212, a night all-weather fighter squadron in Air Group Twenty-one. We were flying F6F-5Ns. _From time to time we would send someone to pick up a new airplane at San Diego. (With the passage of time, I honestly don't remember if this story relates to a Midshipman from VF-211 or VF-212 - you can certainly find out. I believe it might have been Mort Jones 1, but it was one of our Midshipmen.) The Midshipman was sent to San Diego to pick up a "new" F6F-5N.The trip down was uneventful as was the pick-up of the airplane and the first two legs of the solo cross-country flight back to NAS Seattle. Because of impending weather, the Midshipman landed at Corvallis, Oregon, then a civil field having once been a Naval Air Station. The weather did not clear. Because Midshipmen did not have the required number of flying hours to merit an instrument card, they were trained well to fly instruments but legally could not fly alone.
The weather stayed on the deck. The Midshipman waited one day, two days, and on the third day ran out of money. He dutifully called Seattle each morning to check in. Running out of money, he checked the tiedowns on his grounded airplane and marched out into town and went to work to make money to pay his board and room shelling and canning the current crop of peas. He did this for about a week before the weather cleared and he climbed back into his airplane to return to Seattle.
There are other stories, but I don't have the time to set them down. Names of Midshipmen I flew with were John Nyhuis (my wing man and shot down in 1950), Eldon Brown, Jack Dewenter, Mort Jones and many others.
1 Probably Johnny Nyhuis. Mort Jones was not an Aviation Midshipman.
“Temporary Additional Duty” 1*
I was a 23 year old LT with 3 year's seniority; Ops Officer of VF-212, night All-Weather Fighter squadron at NAS Seattle flying F6F-5Ns. From time to time, we would send a pilot to San Diego to pick up a 'new' airplane. This one time, we sent an Aviation Midshipman, Johnny Nyhuis, to do the pick up. The solo trip back was uneventful for the first two legs, but bad weather forced the Midshipman to land at Corvallis, Oregon--then a civil field--formerly a Naval Air Station. The Midshipman had a 'Restricted' instrument rating (Pink card) and could not file “Solo on Instuments." The weather stayed 'on the deck.' He waited one day … two days … the third day his money gave out. He dutifully checked in with Seattle each morning, but being out of money, he checked the tie-downs of his grounded 'bird' then marched into town to make money to pay for his room and board--shelling and canning the current crop of peas. This continued for about a week before the weather cleared and he climbed back into the F6F and flew on to Seattle!
1* Flying Midshipmen Newsletter, September 1990; © 1990.