(from 13 November 1988 letter)
“Do You Remember?”
I have quite a few memories of the Midshipman days. It was the most exciting time of my life so the memories are "burned in" so to speak. Perhaps you could pass these along to Lou Ives for me.
Remember the poem written by one Blackie Shugrue sp?? It began, "Sound ye Buzzers Ring ye Bells, Heed ye not the awful smells, for this is Pre Flight school young man, and what ye smell hath hit the fan." There was a lot more to the poem about a typical preflight day. Another line was, "we return to our barracks and there we do sit, to shave, to shower, to shine, and shampoo." I have forgotten all but these parts.
Remember our Battalion Officer Marine Lt. Larry Stein [STEEN]. He had a hugh picture of a Corsair behind his desh and everybody feared and respected him. Later we learned that he flew Stinson L-5s in the war and had never been in a Corsair.
Remember the athletic instructor "Mighty Mouse" Mano? [Transcriber: Certainly. Ottumwa '46.] He had it in for college boys and used to say, "Awright, you guys been to college, you should be smart enough to remember how to do this--whatever it was. He also used to shout, "Get Off the Trampoleeeens!" at us a lot. At the graduation party for Class 4-48 we were delighted when his wife told us that Lt Mano had tried to take off in a TBM with the wings folded, and bored a TBM-shaped hole a considerable distance into the boondocks off the runway in Jacksonville. That must have been at Cecil Field since I don't remember anything off the runway at the main base except river.
Remember "Honest John" Worthington, the guy who taught Naval Justice? He was the world's most upright and honest citizen. After the same party with class 4-48, Mr. Worthington gave two midshipmen a ride into town--to the San Carlos Hotel in fact. As they started to get out of the car, He said, "Don't bother to get out," and then tried to drive his car up the steps of the hotel.
My Memory of him is sometimes confused with "ENIAC" Miller who used to tell us about this new and wonderful thing called a computer--and its name was ENIAC. I don't remember now what the letters stood for.
Midshipman Jack Franklin, who is now a professor of Aerospace Science at the University of Texas in Arlington, had a little trouble night flying at NAAS Saufley Field. He groundlooped off the runway when landing on runway 18. If you remember the field, in the triangle between runways 18, 22, and 27, there was about a fifteen foot depression where dirt was taken out to level the surface of the runways. I remember the crash crew rushing down the runway, and then back, and then cruising around trying to find the airplane that just crashed. It took quite a while until they found him down in the hole.
Does anyone else remember the trouble and confusion in trying to taxi the SNJ at Corry· Field? All the SNJs at Whiting had steerable tailwheels, which were easy to taxi. Upon going to Corry for aerobatics and Instruments, lo and behold, all the SNJs there had locking swivel tailwheels. Taxiing those things was a real art form and it took quite a while to get the airplane headed in the direction you wanted to travel in.
Does anyone remember a really wild water fight as Class 4-48 completed Preflight? My memory is dim but I do remember throwing one of our instructors into the bay--over near the Gym. Also I remember hiding on top of the lockers while a battle raged in the hallway with swabs and scrub buckets. That was in our barracks--building 684 I think.
Gunnery Flight 100 at Saufley (January 1949) consisted of six Midshipmen, Oslund, Brandenburg, Crowl, Gooding, Pollard, and Jenista. We thought we were really hot stuff, and named ourselves "The Blue 100" after the Blue Angels. We bought blue scarves (I still have mine) that we wore while flying. One day we decided that we would really show the instructor how fast we could get joined up. We took off on runway 9 (from the midfield position in those days meaning only 2500' to the end). ·We wanted to have all six planes in formation by the time we got over the fence at the end of the runway. We almost made it. I think everyone was in place about 1000' after we passed over the fence.
In gunnery at Saufley, all the SNJs were parked facing the hanger. One day while we were there an ordnanceman who was clearing the .30 cal gun in an SNJ fired off one round. It went through a window on the second floor of the hangar and hit a wall just a few feet over the XO's head. Within 30 minutes, all of the SNJs were turned around facing away from the hanger and they stayed that way forever after.
Remember the midair collision between Midshipmen Zerbe and Thornberg in Corsairs out of Cabaniss Field on a high altitude hop. The entire tail of Zerbe's ·Corsair was cut off and the remainder fell off into a spin. Zerbe had just been to a lecture on spins in the Corsair and they told him that it took 5 turns to recover from a spin. Good ‘ol Zerbe whipped in opposite control and held it for the full five turns before noticing that it was windy in the cockpit and in fact there was no more airplane behind the back of the seat. He had quite a time getting out and got all tangled up trying to leave the airplane. As I remember it, he pulled the ripcord in desperation and the parachute jerked him clear of the airplane at the last minute.
There are more memories, but I’m out of time.
Anonymous follow-up letter 2 May 1989:
Do you remember LT Jack Grentzer, one of the roughest instructors at Saufley, who was discovered to be human after all when he attended Photo School in late ’49 with Mid’n J.P. Jones and E.A. Vanderbeck?
Who remembers the big water fight in Bks. 1402 at Whiting Field, late summer of ’48? Water pumps, fire hoses, plus; moved a lot of water in a delightful near riot. We were all moved to another Bks. The next day.