I was at CQTU·4 at Corry Field getting qualified to go aboard ship in the SNJ in September of 1949. After a training flight at Barin Field, I was heading back to Corry at 1500 feet when I decided to do an 8·pointer. When I landed, I found to my sorrow that there had been an instructor behind me watching the whole thing. (It was too early to have "check your six" ingrained in me.)

The Skipper restricted me to quarters for the 3 days before we were due to go aboard the USS Cabot, indeed. That great day arrived and went very well. We put on our new brown shoes and headed for town to celebrate. As I recall, there were 5 of us in Art Goudey's two·door coupe. We had consumed our share of beverages when someone pro­duced a Mae West flare and we had the brilliant idea of going thru Warrington with the car lights off while holding the flare out the window. Not content with that and not know­ing in our embryo stage that it's the second pass that gets you, we went back through town with the smoke end going, thereby stopping all local traffic. We then headed for the nearest bar and I remember throwing an empty Martini glass out of the window, which caused a siren to go off. A couple of police cars stopped us because someone reported that we were driving around town with a huge red flashlight. (The dumb civilian didn't even know what a flare was!)

The police called the Shore Patrol and a paddy wagon arrived to take us to S.P. Headquarters. We kept telling the CPO driving that we were future officers and potential gen­tlemen, but his only reply was, "Shut up!" The S.P. officer on duty was a Marine captain who just happened to be a CQTU·4 instructor. When he heard my name, he allowed as how the Skipper was going to be really teed at me for this 2nd offense. He said he didn't go off-duty until noon and could I be checked out to Corpus by then. There's only one answer to that! I not only got checked out, but managed to get over to Chevalier Field and find an R4D heading to Corpus. By noon I was airborne. There were 42 of us who had become Masters of Naval Aviation (junior size) at the same time and when I showed up alone for assignment, the LT asked me where the other 41 were. I told him they would be in tomorrow, but, since I was here, could I list my choices. He gave me the form and I wrote down only one choice-fighters! He told me to report to VF ATU-2 at Cabi­niss Field where there were 48 beautiful F8F's waiting for me.

The funny thing is that I had never flown an F8F, but that is another story.


Pensacola Preflight Class 16-48