October 14, 1992

I believe I was one of the first if not the first Aviation Midshipman to go Marine upon completion of flight training. I was designated Aug 30, 1950 and commiss-ioned a 2nd LT at that time.

Also possibly the first ex-AvMid’n to ditch an F2H-2 Banshee after a “cold” cat shot. Happened from the USS Coral Sea [CV-43] on 1 Mar 1951 (the cat officer had assured us in a prior briefing these cats were foolproof!). This was the hydraulic cat, in the days before the steam catapult. Also no canted decks in those days. I carrier qualified on the Coral Sea in the F2H-2 Banshee, 2 Mar 1951.

Another possible first – Made 7 “free deck launches” in the F2H-2 Banshee on 22 April 1951 doing carrier quals from USS Oriskany [CV-34] (cat was “down”). Squadron was VMF-122 and had been switched from the Coral Sea to the Oriskany. Seems the Coral Sea Captain didn’t like Marines too well. And our squadron commander LtCol Dave Marshall was the stereotype Marine. All spit and polish, including stripping all Banshee noses to bare aluminum and polishing same to a high gloss!

I am confident that I was the first ex-AvMid’n Marine to complete a Med cruise with the fleet. Our Task Force included the USS Coral Sea and the USS Oriskany. Departed from Quonset Point RI, 15 May 1951 on the Oriskany and flew from Oriskany to Norfolk, VA 3 Oct 1951. Had some rather interesting “dog fights” with Vampire jets over Malta, until a couple of VF-11 (Red Ripper) Banshees from the Coral Sea had a mid-air. That stopped the mock air-to-air engagements with the Brits. By the way, one doesn’t play “chicken” with the Brits – they won’t move over.

Also had the opportunity to perhaps be the first ex-AvMid’n to fly the rather rare F9F-4 (same as the F9F-5, except for its Allison engine – competition to the Pratt-Whitney engine used in the F9F-5), after being transferred to VMF-115 on 10 Dec 1951. The entire VMF-115 squadron, including all support equipment was moved from Cherry Point, NC to Korea (K-3) for a combat tour there beginning in Jan 1952. Transport was courtesy of the Navy via the USS Bataan [LHD-5] from San Diego to Yokosuka. Marine squadron includes not only 24 aircraft, but a number of trucks, jeeps, etc. What a sight on the flight and hanger decks of the Bataan. Even went through a typhoon on the way over. I feel sick just thinking about it again.

Our squadron commander turned down the Captain of the Bataan’s idea for us to fly the aircraft off the Bataan when within range of Japan! That really would have been a first – F9F-4s flying off a jeep carrier! Cooler heads prevailed and dockside cranes did the job just fine in Yokosuka.

/s/ Lee C. Pulsipher, Capt USMCR (AvMid’n Class 5-49)


Email to Lou Ives

Lee Pulsipher
August 13, 2010

Hello Lou Ives,

Not sure if you need or want my story. I was selected for the Naval Aviation College Program [NACP] and attended the University of Southern California 3 semesters and a Summer session before reporting to Pensacola in Feb 1949. I was an Aviation Midshipman in Class 5-49 [same class as Neil Armstrong, Bob Smith, Joe Akagi, Ken Schechter, Jerry Bell, and others] and completed flight training in August 1950, flying F8F Bearcats. At the conclusion of flight training I desired to join the Marine Corps. Since the Marine Corps could not accept Navy Midshipmen in their squadrons, it was necessary for me to resign as a Midshipman and become a NavCad for about 1 week [time it took for orders and commission as a Marine 2nd Lt to process].

After Jet training at JTU-1, Whiting Field, in TO-1s, I reported to VMF-122 at Cherry Point, NC. We flew F2H-2 Banshees and were deployed on a Med cruise aboard the USS Oriskany. After the Med cruise, was transferred to VMF-115 for deployment to K-3 in Korea. Flew F9F-4 & F9f-2 Panthers out of K-3 [Pohang] during the war.

Had a number of close calls including a “cold” cat shot off the USS Coral Sea [splashed off the bow in the Atlantic during Carquals—scratch one Banshee]. Also ejected from an F9F-2 after my plane was “shot up” by shrapnel from a 260# daisy cutter [with proximity fuse] that exploded on my flight leader’s plane over Korea [Capt Howard “Soup” Campbell was killed instantly].

After Korea was a flight instructor at Kingsville, Texas in F6Fs [ATU-102] and then TV-2s [ATU-200]. Finally flew F9F-6 Cougars in VMF-123, a reserve squadron at NAS Los Alamitos.

Thus I really didn’t fly in the “fleet” as a Midshipman. Let me know if you can use the complete story.

Many thanks and best regards,
Lee C. Pulsipher, former Capt. USMCR. 





Pensacola Pre-Flight Class 5-49