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Nightmare Scrapbook For January, 2002|
The Twelfth Month Of Command
Pilot's view of an expeditionary missile shoot . . .
. . . first, we get jet fuel, courtesy of some of the professionals
at Marine Wing Support Squadron 371,
the "Sand Sharks"
Below, my plane captain waits for me to top-off.
In his hand is my fuel cap.
The shadow across his chest is my extended aerial refueling probe
Our newest pilot 'Puke,' is on my wing
Like me, he didn't get to choose his callsign . . . .
We approach the target, carrying laser-guided Maverick missiles.
The target appears real from altitude, but it has sensors for scoring hits.
For perspective, that's a large bus at the south end of 'town'
OK Puke, push out into combat spread formation
As Puke rolls left, you can better see his weapons
OK, it's time to begin the delivery run
If you click on this image, you'll get a better view
You can't beat the flying weather here--especially in January!
Visibility exceeds 60 miles--we can see Mexico's Gulf of California
For perspective, the concentric circles are composed of tires . . .
Attack Pilots know this target as 'Cactus West'
The Goldwater Bombing Range is suitably desolate.
Environmentalists have filed suit to close it, but freedom
depends upon combat readiness--a point they don't grasp.
Call it "willful negligence."
View over my nose (and glare shield) as we approach home plate: sunny Yuma
The wind vane helps me to hover in the gusting desert breeze safely
Back home in time to promote some Marines!
A new Gunny and a new Staff Sergeant!
Check out my Sergeant Major's new bushy mustache--yikes!
This is what happens when the CO distracts Marines . . .
. . . with his camera when they're trying to work
The Lieutenant Colonel that you sent to succeed me at the conclusion of my tour of duty
is a great guy. However, he doesn't subscribe to a traditional dress code at organized
social events, and I was wondering if you might consider extending my tour of duty another year
as we work out the KINKS?
Pilot's view flying north from Yuma toward the Yuma Proving Grounds
Not many noise complaints out where we train...
Looking east from one mile north of Yuma's runways
Looking west down 16th street from the Shilo Inn
Yuma Golf & Country Club
Welcome to our new Commissioned Officers: "Parts" and . . .
. . . "Squirrel"
The Nightmares, like every Harrier Squadron I have been associated with, have no shortage
of practical jokers. On 25 January at 1400, I was sitting in my office doing paperwork
when one of our new joins --a Private First Class-- reported to me for his "pre-flight brief
with the CO"! Temporary confusion shucked away as I examined his attire. He was dressed in
a cold weather anti-exposure dry suit (which is VERY uncomfortable), a G-suit, torso harness,
flight helmet with oxygen mask. He wasn't just ready to fly, he was ready to transpac! He
held in his hand a
pilot's engine start checklist and gave me the most sincere, almost grave return gaze of
expectation and anticipation. Yikes, some mischief was clearly afoot. I asked him to sit down
and I closed my office door. It seems that the Marines in his shop had convinced him that the
squadron had a "PFC to Pilot" program. They went so far as to draft a bogus flight schedule
with his name on it for a 1500 departure.
What to do? He held his checklist in both hands and leaned forward attentively.
I asked him if he was serious about wanting to fly the difficult and dangerous Harrier, and he
responded immediately in
the affirmative. Stymied, I next asked him whether he had ever flown before, and he responded
with details of a Cessna 152 ride and accurately described the effects of flight control inputs.
"Do you really think that you could even get it started?" I pursued.
"Yes, definitely sir. I have the checklist and everything in the cockpit is labeled."
This Marine was truly committed to getting airborne -- and soon.
I then contemplated how he could have some fun with those behind this practical joke. I quickly
explained what was going on and told him to head out to A/C 03. "Don't actually get in, just
start preflighting the jet and watch them panic. Don't let them think that you're not really
going flying." He did as instructed and they swooped in to save his life--this Marine is a superb
actor. It's clear that I will have to keep an eye on him in the future. As I type this,
our first PFC-to-Pilot nominee is in the Harrier simulator with Puke. The Nightmares
also specialize in happy endings. Below is the image I snapped of the PFC after he turned
the tables on his NCO's.
Nightmares never forget that THESE are the Marines we work for:
Some of you might recognize "Hawk" from the "Avenger Scrapbook" on HowNowCow.com
Hawk presently serves as a test pilot at VX-9 in China Lake, CA
It has been exactly one year since I assumed command of the Nightmares. Coincidently, Zieg
-- my first XO -- assumed command of the VMA-311 Tomcats (next door) today. Congratulations
Zieg! Above is our former squadronmate, "Don Ho." Don Ho used to be both a Nightmare and a
Tomcat. Here, he poses next to one of our plaques with his name on it after Zieg's
change of command.