Arthur Padios (2002)
In the fall of "64" VMA-225 had a requirement for all its special weapons delivery
pilots to refresh their carqual records with 2 traps & 2 cats. We were flying out
of either Naha or Kadena on Okinawa and caught the "Connie" in transit back to the
states. I'm sure the last thing those 'black-shoes' wanted to see was a herd of
Jarheads coming to their boat and smashing into the deck, especially since it
delayed her transit to CONUS.
I was flying #2 in the first flight. With our Marine LSO aboard the ship,
I picked up the ball on my first pass. With a center-ball, I remarked to the
LSO that I felt 'flat.' "Oh, yeah," he said, "I forgot to tell you guys, that's
a spad ball on the mirror - it's a 3 degree slope and only gives you about 5 feet
hook-to-ramp clearance." I immediately adjusted my pass to accept a slightly high ball.
No big deal.
After trapping, I cleared the gear and was directed to the starboard
cat with my flight lead on the port. As I approached the cat a "Grape" held up the
blackboard with "Fuel" printed on it. I replied with my actual fuel state of about
1,800 pounds. Lead and I both cranked up to 100% with tension on both cats.
He fires first and appears to just "stagger" into the air. At this point, I've
already saluted the Cat Officer when lead comes up and tells Pri-Fly that he only
had 100 knots over the bow. Pri-Fly casually answers, "You
had sufficient end speed." Whammo, off I go, same thing about 105 knots. The valiant
little A4-C struggles into the air, accelerates, and is climbing. I come around
for my second trap, clear the gear, see the same "Grape" with his little blackboard,
and promptly indicate my fuel weight is now 4,500 pounds. He
holds up the board with 4,500? Yes, I indicate 4,500! Nice smooth, comfortable cat
shot with an end speed of about 125 knots.
God, Naval Aviation is a joy, isn't it?
The "Scooter" gets it done!
Arthur Padios (2002)
Categorizing the missions in Vietnam, I think there were three basic
1. Direct Close Air Support of US troops in close combat (the most
2. Strikes against hard targets (frequently the hairiest because
the baddies were shooting back, often big-time).
3. Bombing suspected VC trees (sheer boredom, a waste of assets, JP fuel, and time).
In close support I'm guilty of becoming over zealous. On one of my '69 missions into the
DMZ in support of a Marine rifle company (don't ask what they were doing in the DMZ,
except getting themselves surrounded), I burned up two $15,000 each 20MM Mark 4 Gun
Pods strafing the gooners - 300+ KIA. When my Ordnance Officer and good friend
(CWO Warren Rook), chewed me out for destroying his guns, I told him to order two more,
after all the gooners only cost us $100 a head - fair bounty for the afternoon's work.
On occasion, some of us would stumble into a
meaningful mission simply because of being airborne at the right time with the right
ordnance load, or being scrambled from a hot-pad. An
example would be when one of our helicopter's was shot down. Often close cover by
the Skyhawks would make the difference between buying time for a rescue mission to
extract the crew, or they being overrun and killed/captured.
Another was running across Marine Recon troops trying to get away from the bad guys
after becoming entrapped. You know the motto - "Swift, Silent, and Deadly".
We called them "Swift, Silent, and Surrounded". In "65" I ran across a 4-man fire
team beating feet in the foothills some 30-40 miles west of DaNang. My flight of
4 and I were loaded with slick 500 pounders (before Snake Eyes) and some 2.75" rockets.
Talking directly to the Fire Team Leader on the radio, he asked me to drop a pair of
500's on the eastern edge of a small river. Considering the
baddies were chasing him from the west, I couldn't figure out what good the bombs
would do east of him. When I asked he quickly replied, "We need an instant fox-hole
and don't have time to dig one." I dropped where he asked.
Arthur Padios (2002)
A SLOSHING GOOD TIME AT TRADER JOHN'S:
Back in the '60's every flight student at Pensacola spent as much time as possible at it's most famous watering hole,
Trader John's, or as it was and is affectionately known, TJ's. Not only was it a neat place to go to immerse yourself
in aviation history, it was also a class strip joint with good looking strippers who tastefully removed just enough
clothes to excite and inflame the imaginations of the ever-horny flight students. Occasionally, TJ himself would
conduct some sort of contest, usually involving some feat of physical strength and give away booze to the winner,
if any. On several occasions I was fortunate enough to win bottles of champagne for pumping out 50 military push-ups
in less than 60 seconds. A great way to get a free buzz at TJ's expense until he began to canvass the audience to
ensure I was not available before running the contest.
My most memorable night in TJ's occurred after a parade at the air station one Friday summer afternoon.
As with most parade's during the summer season, the participants wore dress whites; both Navy and Marines.
Now there was, at the time, a sensuous stripper performing at TJ's who was very erotic to watch. Her act was
a solo, but performed with a partial mannequin attached to her left arm, who simulated her lover for the
duration of her act. The 'two' would start the music with what appeared to be some 'kissing' and heated
petting and progressed toward her 'lover' caressing her and removing some articles of her clothing.
Eventually, she would place her back on a low stool on a stage that was at the eye-level of the bar patrons.
Her lower torso would be suspended in air as her feet were on the floor. At this point she would simulate the
act of love with her 'lover', her pelvis gyrating frantically towards orgasm as the music reached a crescendo - very erotic.
It was shortly before the climax of her act that I overheard an argument develop between two patrons in the audience
at the next table, a couple of Naval Aviators, a Marine Captain and a Navy Lieutenant, both in dress whites.
The argument generally evolved something like this:
Lieutenant, "You don't have the b---s."
Captain, "Like hell, I don't."
Lieutenant, "You wouldn't dare do it. You don't have enough hair on your a--."
Lieutenant, "I'll bet you $100 you don't have the guts to do it."
Captain, "You're on, that's a bet."
Upon accepting the bet at the climax of the performance, the Marine grabbed a fresh pitcher of cold beer off
his table, jumped up on the stage before our amorous stripper was aware of his presence, and poured the
beer directly on her frantically undulating crotch bringing about the most horrific scream I've ever
heard from a woman before or since. Immediately upon finishing dumping the beer on her, the Marine
dropped the pitcher and exited stage left. Running at full speed over the tabletops, covering at
least four of them before jumping to the floor and vanishing out the door onto the streets of Pensacola.
It all happened so fast that no one in the bar had time to react or try to restrain the Captain who made
a clean getaway. I always wondered how he spent his winnings and it made me proud to be in the same service with him.
WOODY SPROUSE - THE HAIRIEST THING I'VE EVER DONE:
Arthur Padios (2002)
Heywood 'Woody' Sprouse and I were flight students together from the start of Pre-Flight at
Pensacola in 1960 until the day we both got our wings in August 1961 at NAS Kingsville, TX. Woody
went on to serve with distinction and completed a very successful career as a Naval Aviator achieving
the rank of Navy Captain, and capturing what will probably become the all time carrier arrestment record
by one aviator because of the reduced flight time now being suffered by Naval Aviators. Woody and I had
not seen each other from the time we got our wings until we happened to bump into each other at Naha
in Okinawa in the fall/winter of 1964. In 1964 Woody was flying the A3D Skywarrior off the USS Hancock,
one of the few remaining 27 Charlie (Essex-Class) carriers still in operational existence at the time.
With a 'center-line' arrestment aboard the Hancock, there was 12 feet wing-tip clearance between the
aircraft and the island of the carrier. That would be hairy enough for the average aviator during the
daytime; I shudder to think what night traps must have been like - or single engine landings. Also,
there were no ejection seats in the A3D. Bailouts were accomplished by sliding down a chute behind
the crew seats. So, the reader may infer, a crash on the deck of an aircraft carrier meant the crew
had to manually egress from the aircraft - no ejections for these guys. The pilots and crews who
flew these aircraft off carriers must have had balls the size of helmet bags. Anyway, after we got
back together in Naha, Woody related the following story to me.
After we got our wings, at the start of his flying career in the fleet, Woody was assigned
After leaving the A3D, the A4C's were supposed to stay on the run-in heading provided by the mother-plane,
Upon completing this hair-raising stunt, Woody flew on back to the carrier where he made a successful
"You mean you really did it?"Woody sheepishly confessed that he felt rather
foolish when he learned the other pilots, after leaving the A3D, were making the run-in on the target level
at 1,500 feet and 'punching' the bomb off the aircraft while flying straight and level at 300 knots.