For those who served in the RVAH Community, their families, and friends!
Hi, my name is Bernie Klunke an OLD (74) ADJ-3 and I joined VAH-1 back in 1958 when at Jacksonville, FL before moving to Sanford, FL. I remember when Lt.Cmd Morris landed his Whale with one nose wheel, one left main mount, and a right stub for a right main mount. Prettiest thing you ever saw! Fire department foamed the runway while the other two crewmen bailed out. Cmd Morris touched down on his left main and after a distance touched down with his nose wheel. Then touched the rt. main and brought it back up again doing so as he went further down the runway until stopping. The fire truck followed and squirting foam all over the plane. Cmd. Morris came up through the top hatch shaking his fist at them for getting his plane all messy. I remember sailing on the shakedown cruise of the Indy CVA-62 when we had water hours because someone turned the wrong valve and pumped 4,000 gallons of fresh water overboard. I remember when we had Marines with loaded pieces to stop some racy things happening aboard. I remember one of them challenging me next to an aircraft seeking the color of of approved tag.
I remember when we lost two aviators because of a cold cat shot and one survivor Jon Shanks told me he remembered what to do. Wait for the second thump before unbuckling the harness. I remember when one of out pilots (sorry forgot his name) had to ditch a whale after taking off and steered the crashing plane away from a school before bailing out. He said he popped his chute inside the cockpit and jumped out throwing it into the air. I blossomed once and landed. He later said the last thing he did was to look at his altimeter and it said a little over 800 feet.
I remember when our Squadron Leader popped his drag chute while making a pass over the runway at Sanford.
I remember that VAH-1 is Unique and Special. The 1st Squadron to Carrier-Qual and deploy with A3D-1 Skywarrior. (WHALE)
Here's an update to the incident above on Cmd. Morris landing with right wheel missing. Several years ago I red'c contact from Cmd. Morris's son who told me of the story and thanked me for writing about his dad. He rec'd a ph. call from the base at that time (he was 12 years old) he took that call because his mom wasn't there. He was told that his dad had an incident earlier and he really didn't comprehend the full extent of what really happen. He told his mom about the ph. call and she went ballistic, and in a panic mode contacted everyone she could think of who would tell her what happened. His son said his dad made Captain before retiring from the Navy, like most fathers got a 9-5 job and had since passed.