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Nightmare Scrapbook For March, 2001


The Second Month of Command . . .

The Goldwater Bombing Range

The Bovine Settles In

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'Sanitized' Flight Suits After a Successful Surge Operation

This article was published in the local newspaper after our Offensive Air Support "Surge Day." What made it so much of a success is that the squadron flew all the aircraft aircraft assigned (with engines installed) and at the end of the day, all but one were "full mission capable." Not one of the scheduled sorties failed to launch.

The Yuma Daily Sun
March 13, 2001
Pg. 1

Back in business:
Harrier Squadron returns to skies with surge operation


Idleness and inactivity were a thing of the past today as Marine Attack Squadron 513 roared off Yuma's runways today to slam 50,000 pounds of live high explosive bombs onto the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range.

Every pilot in the squadron who isn't on temporary duty elsewhere participated in today's "surge" operations, including the squadron's commanding officer, Lt Col David Gurney. The first mass take-off was scheduled for 7 a.m. and the last was scheduled for 5:20 p.m. Thirty-six sorties in all were scheduled and thirty-six were flown.

The last time the squadron had a surge day was two years ago at Twentynine Palms, Calif., during a combined arms exercise with other units, Gurney said. Although it's unusual to have mass sorties with live high-explosive ordnance flying out of Yuma, Gurney said it was necessary in order to shake off a long period of forced inactivity due to maintenance problems with the Rolls Royce Pegasus engine in the squadron's AV-8B Harriers.

"Because of a series of red stripes - an alternate term for aircraft groundings - some atrophy of skills has set in among everybody at all levels," Gurney said. The planes are flying today in divisions of four with groups taking off simultaneously throughout the day.

Gurney said it's not as much of a problem for pilots to fly in large groups as it is for maintenance and ordnance crews to launch and load bombs on several aircraft simultaneously and repeat the process continuously throughout the day.

He said the intrinsic value of surge operations is akin to running a marathon.

"You can get your mind right for a marathon, but until you actually run one, you can't appreciate all the details and unexpected challenges you will face," Gurney said. Surge operations produce unforeseen consequences for Marines who don't clearly remember the fastest way to replace things or the most efficient way to get the ordnance on the bomb racks, to cite two examples.

"When you're faced with many simultaneous tasks, which is the most efficient way to address the load? It's like tying your shoes - do you go sock, shoe, sock, shoe, or do you do sock, sock, shoe, shoe? Those types of efficiencies are things that one forgets."

Gurney said the two groups who are under the most pressure today are the Marines working in Powerline and the ordnance crews. The Marines in the Powerline Division start up and do the final checks on the aircraft and then direct the planes as they taxi out to the runway. The Marines in the Ordnance Division build-up, fuse, load, and arm the bombs, then download any bombs that happen to be returned. They also "safe" the bomb racks, making sure there is no buildup of static electricity before the cycle begins again.

The bombs carried by the Harriers today are the 500-pound Mark 82 and the 1,000-pound Mark 83. Both are filled with high explosives. Each plane carries eight bombs strapped under its wings.

"This is real, war-time ordnance," Gurney said.

To the pilots it is somewhat irrelevant whether the ordnance is live or not, Gurney explained.

"We don't hear bangs, we don't see explosions," Gurney said. "It's true that we can look back over our shoulders and see flames and smoke rising a thousand feet into the air, but usually we're too busy with pressing tasks like guarding our wingmen from enemy fighters. Unless you are last in the formation, you don't see any fireworks - we're going so fast that most of us are already well past the target area. In addition to safety around the airfield and performance considerations, one thing is especially critical for pilots carrying high explosive ordnance, and that is [the] fragmentation envelope. In our steep deliveries, we can't fly below a certain altitude because of the fire and steel coming up from the aircraft in the strike package 30 seconds or more ahead of us."

The pilots also have to make certain the bombs are dropped with enough time - six seconds for the steep dive scenario planned - to arm their fuses before they hit the ground. Arming is done by a small pinwheel on the nose of the bomb that turns a certain number of times until the fuse is activated. If the bombs are dropped too low to the ground, they won't have time to arm and will become duds.

"They will hit and go into the ground, and instead of being a bomb, they will become a land mine," Gurney said. Then the explosive ordnance demolition team has to go out and disarm them.

Some of the bombs being dropped today are from war stocks labeled 1961. That makes them older than almost all the Marines loading them, Gurney said.

Because of their age, the bombs need to be rotated out of the Marine Corps' war supplies. That way only the newest bombs will be on the shelves of the Corps' war-fighting supermarket, Gurney said.

Chief Warrant Officer Mark Mitchell, ordnance officer for VMA-513, said his men were ready for action today.

"They are definitely excited and ready to go," he said.

The squadron is nicknamed the Flying Nightmares. It made history by achieving the first night radar kill of an enemy aircraft (MiG-15) during the Korean War. It more recently participated in the Gulf War and returned from ship-based combat missions without any loss of planes or lives.


T.M. Shultz can be reached at or 539-6852.

The View From MCAS Yuma's Control Tower

Preparing To Take Fuel From An Air Force KC-10

Static Display Camera Work

On 10 March, NAS El Centro held its annual airshow, which annually marks the beginning of the Blue Angels performance season. Lurch took a static display aircraft to the event and ten Nightmares drove over to peddle images in support of the "Nightmare Room" renovation effort. The fund continures to grow and the Nightmare Room will soon be ready for prime time--at no taxpayer expense! Expected completion date is in April.

Winter home of the Blue Angels

The Best Part Of The Job!

Reenlisting a Great Marine!

View of the Service Club from the Control Tower

Kangaroo Courts are a time-honored tradition in Naval Aviation, and no two are alike. Without betraying too much regarding the inner workings of a secretive and traditionally macho subculture, suffice to say that there are periodic frictions between well-cultivated egos that need periodic defusing. "K-Courts" are little more than an espirit-enhancing vehicle to address professional and social behaviors that the majority find either laudable or inconsistent with collective visions of excellence nurtured by all combat organizations (to various degrees). In other words, they are socialization devices intended to promote consensus, predictability and trust in an organization where life and death ride on such attributes. The Cow grasps that some aspects of the "letter of instruction" reprinted below might be offensive to those committed to wearing their hearts on their sleeves, but the reader should relax. This is all in good fun and truly, there is not one shred of evidence to support the ridiculous contention that life is really serious.

Cow's Cruel Captains


This Cosa Nostro, “thing of ours,” goes back centuries. Tonight, our Nightmare Harrier “Famiglia” cleanses itself of bad blood and old ammo. The consigliore, “Dino,” has asked his Godfather to convene a meeting of the Dons (bloated field grade parasites) and the Cappos (productive company grade studs). Button-men (young guns) have been called to the mattresses in order to ensure their Cappos’ cups are filled and their Dons are protected from vendettas. The appuntamento (rendezvous) will be Sunday night March 11th at Jimmy-Dee’s. Discretion and secrecy is essential if the Famiglia is to prevent interference and gratuitous bloodshed from the other Famiglias. All members will be armed per tradition; the Godfather bearing the Famliglia Pugnali (Dagger), symbol of power and vendetta. The Godfather has asked his Cappo’s to attend in their best attire (Guido Suits). The Dons who have redundantly embarrassed and disgraced the Famiglia will don “wife-beating, spaghetti-stained tank-tops” on arrival as a token of rare contrition. The Button-men shall attire themselves in black per tradition.

Il Organizacione:

Godfather (Judge) - Capt “Steroid”
Consigliore (Lawyer) - Capt “Dino”
Accusatore (Prosecutor) - Capt “Jolly”
Bodyguard (Bailiff) - CWO2 “Guns”

Il Dons:

Don Cowlini - LtCol “Cow”
Don Zigi - LtCol “Zieg”
Don Screchesi - Maj “Screech”
Don Cliffi - Maj “Cliffy”
Don Vincenzo - Maj “Vino”

Il Cappo’s:

Cappo Waldo - Capt “Waldo”
Cappo Macaroni - Flt Lt “Maccer”
Cappo Torche' - Capt “Torch”
Cappo Grimace - Capt “Critter”
Cappo Carlo - Capt “Dano”
Cappo Heedo - Capt “Heed”
Cappo Diablo - Capt “Satan"
Cappo Hula - 1st Lt “Hula”
Cappo Bruno - CWO2 BA
Cappo Ratto - CWO “Rat”

Il Button-Men

Lurch - Capt “Lurch/Dunks/Heinz” (Sponsor: Carlo)
Chunki - Capt “Chunks/Chip” (Sponsor: Grimace)
Clam - 1stLt “Clam” (Sponsor: Torch)
Cheri - 2ndLt “Cherry” (Sponsor: Hula)

Rules of the Mob

1. The judge will always be addressed as “Godfather,” “Cappo du Tuti,” “Don Annibale” or “Don Steroid.” Show respect.

2. Thick New York, Jersey, and Italian accents are encouraged. Don’t talk like a panzi . . . or a Royal Air Force Limey.

3. The prosecutor will be addressed as “Accusatore” or “Accusatore Jolli.” (Kissing of Annapolis rings is punished above and beyond the inherent loss of face.)

4. The lawyer will be addressed as “Consigliore,” “Consigliore Dino” or “Don Dino.” Begging and prostrate wailing are permitted until expressions of levity subside. Don’t grandstand.

5. As in the days of Machiavelli, alliances are vital in one’s defense and traitors are everywhere. After the Accusatore reads the charges, the accused may grovel or ask the Consigliore to defend him and produce any living witnesses. Then the Accusatore will produce his witnesses (Field Grade credibility lacks cachet). The Godfather will decide the fate.

6. All cash fines will be paid to the Godfather’s personal Bodyguard, the notorious 'Guns.' Exact change only--or face retribution and certain humiliation. Physical violence is exercised insofar as it amuses.

7. Allowing a Don to see this ROE prior to the Appuntamento is an act of treachery necessitating retribution. Don’t fail the Famiglia by sucking up to the Field Grade Doughnut Choir.

8. Button-men will carry themselves in deference and respect for their Cappos and Dons by ensuring glasses are unfailingly charged and tables clean (don’t touch weapons). Ashtrays will be emptied following a minute nod-don’t miss it (Dons tend to wink; don’t ask, don't tell). If a Don must ask for service, it is too late to apologize.

9. If it is necessary for someone to be clipped, the Button-men will ensure there is butcher paper down on the floor and use the kitchen facilities to chop up the body. The Godfather wants to leave the bar clean and free of evidence.

10. All pistoles are to be emptied prior to entering the club (preferably in a member of another Famiglia). In the tradition of old, knives and garrotes are acceptable, but should be exercised with restraint. Reprisals outside the establishment-- especially cowardly Muslim-style bombings, will be punished.

11. During the review of aliases (call signs), the Button-men shall exit the room. Only Cappos and Dons may vote on aliases. In the event of a dispute, the Godfather will rule the survivors with the justice and glory for which he is known and admired by thinking men.

12. The Organizacione comes first; none shall hold vendetta in response to the cleansing of bad blood.

13. Any escorts other than those sanctioned by the Organizacione are strictly prohibited. Especially broads of the clothes-discarding persuasion.

14. Any mention of events, verbal or physical committed in the Appuntamento to wives, girlfriends, mistresses or other Harrier Mafia Famiglias in the hood will be sufficient justification for a sanctioned hit. Expect no mercy.


Capos and Button-men will meet at the Appuntamento at 1930. We will socialize with cocktails and make alliances. The Dons will arrive at 2000. Button-men will respectfully frisk the Dons for heaters and escort them to the bar. The Dons will be handed their “wife beater Guinea t-shirts” and handed a copy of the ROE. All Famiglia members will drink at the bar; reveling in machismo and bravado is acceptable. None shall take his seat until the Godfather, Don Annibale, takes his. His personal Bodyguard will be positioned to his boss’s immediate right. Consigliore and Accusatore will flank their Godfather. Cappos will fill in the remaining seats on their Godfather’s flanks. The Dons shall sit at the table facing the Godfather; better seen and not heard. Button men will stand behind their respective sponsor Cappos. The Godfather will withdraw the Famiglia Pugnali (dagger) and bang the hilt on the table calling the meeting of the Famiglia to order.

The Godfather will introduce the Dons and Cappos to the Button-men, some of whom may be unfamiliar to the Made-men. Button-men shall only nod politely and not speak unless asked a direct question. All Cappos and Dons will hold their title. The proper address or response from a Button-man to a Don would be; “Scussa Don Cowlini, woulda you care for another glassa milk?” or “No, Don Screchesi, I don’t think you are the coolest, with all due respect.”

The Godfather will then remind all why they are there, and explain the cleansing of all bad blood. The Accusatore will read the Mob Rules and bring forth the first charge of betrayal.

After all charges of betrayal have been dealt with, the Godfather will call for the Button-men to adjourn. Then the Godfather will allow his Consigliore to bring forward the list of aliases. All Cappos and Dons will vote per the Rules of the Mob. If a Cappo has an alias that the Consigliore wishes changed, he may remain to witness, but shall have no vote or voice. Changing a Cappo’s Alias is a serious thing and may only be considered if the Godfather approves. Reasons for this may be heinous and embarrassing acts, or multiple aliases that generate confusion among the Famiglias, the law, or sundry enemies. Once the aliases have been formalized, the Bodyguard will escort the Button-men into the Club. The Button-men will stand before their Godfather and learn their alias in la Famiglia.

The Godfather will then welcome new members and say goodbye to Cappo Heed who must pass on to serve a term in the Big House. The Godfather will then toast members who could not attend, to those who have been killed in action, and to the long life of the Nightmare Mafia.

Don Cowlini ended up promoting Dino and Steroid to Major the following day (12 days late at their request--allowing them to run the "Court of Marsupial Justice" as "Cappos") The "TEAM" always!

The Godfather

The Field Grade Parasites

Cappo Guns presses the button

Shoot-out At Jimmy Dee's

Attack!  It's Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

Naval Aviator Wings