For those who served in the RVAH Community, their families, and friends!

Donald Stoffel
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  • Palmdale, CA
  • United States
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Heavy Nine "Stays Loose" In Rota, Spain 1971
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Please find attached the "Hooter News" newsletter from the 1971 Rota, Spain deployment where the squadron established the MMF there.We thank Ltjg. Tom Brem for providing the newsletter to the group. …Continue

Started this discussion. Last reply by Donald Stoffel Feb 20, 2016.

Vigi on Deck Landing with One Engine
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We were on board the Midway this past weekend.  One of the retired F-4 pilots commented that is what not an uncommon event to land on the carrier with only one engine for the F-4.  He was responding…Continue

Started this discussion. Last reply by Steve Ewing Jun 27, 2015.

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Wes Thompson left a comment for Donald Stoffel
"Hi Don, me email is wbt@prodigy.net.  ....Wes"
Nov 12, 2017
Wes Thompson left a comment for Donald Stoffel
"HI Don, thanks for the welcome. Yes that is my name on the plate of the first deployment and install of the van complex at Rota.  .....Wes Thanks for the offer, I'd like an electronic copy of the nameplate if you can…"
Nov 12, 2017

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Date of Birth
July 17, 1949
What Squadrons were you in?

I arrived on the Saratoga  in Mayport, FL June 15, 1970 a couple of days before the carrier left for the Med.  I worked in the AQ line shop after completing mess duties.

I made the first 1971 Rota deployment where I worked in the MMF avionics AIMD van complex that we established there.  I worked as an AQB3 in the AN/ASB12 van.

I spent a lot of time in NAMTRD schools in between deployments.  I spent a few months before and after in the Albany AIMD avionics shop in both 1971 and 1972.  I was assigned in early 1972 to work with the chief design engineer from Autonetics  on fine tuning the new SATE test bench in the AN/ASB12 section of the shop.  Autonetics was trying to sell all new SATE test benches to the Navy at that time.  The new test bench was more of a solid state system that eliminated a lot of the relays in the old SATE bench.  I never knew if the Navy purchased any more of these SATE test benches.  This engineer was one sharp individual and taught me a lot in the few months that I was assigned to him. 

I made the second Rota deployment in 1972/1973 and worked as an AQB2 in the AN/ASB12 van.  Our van was authorized 7 people and we deployed only with three people and only two of us had one previous deployment under our belts.  I spent the last half of the deployment in the van by myself as one squadron mate completed his service and the other squadron mate didn't cut it and was sent out to the detachment on the Forrestal. 

I left Rota in May of 1973 to head back to college. 

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At 7:12pm on November 12, 2017, Wes Thompson said…

Hi Don, me email is wbt@prodigy.net.  ....Wes

At 5:54pm on November 12, 2017, Wes Thompson said…

HI Don, thanks for the welcome. Yes that is my name on the plate of the first deployment and install of the van complex at Rota.  .....Wes

Thanks for the offer, I'd like an electronic copy of the nameplate if you can send it. 

PS - Here's another RVAH website I discovered a while ago.  ===> http://rvahnavy.com/5home.html

- Cruisebook website for the Saratoga that shows most of us. I don't remember when they took the pictures for the book but it might have been when I went out before the 1971 cruise to check out the on board SATE systems.  I found the website around the time of the decommissioning of the Sara. 

====> https://www.navysite.de/cruisebooks/cv60-71/246.htm 

At 12:41pm on June 14, 2016, David H Small said…

Hi Donald,

I actually observed a pilot eject just after takeoff. If I remember correctly he was flying an A-3. I was on the flight deck by the fan tail when I observed the plane go down in front of the Carrier, and then the pilot ejected. From my vantage point it looked like the carrier was going to run over pilot as the chute and pilot sank in front of the bow. Luckily they picked the pilot out of the water about 15 minutes later. He recovered. A harrowing experience to see.

Dave Small

At 12:32pm on June 14, 2016, David H Small said…

Hi Donald,

I got out in July 69 just

At 11:43am on October 9, 2015, Mac McCord said…

Thanks Don, I have been on here for a few years, just couldn't sign in with my old sign in and had to make a new one.  Bats forever..

At 8:25pm on August 4, 2015, Steve Ewing said…


PS: if the photos you want to add are for the Last Full Measure of Devotion album please send them to rvahroster@gmail.com address, that way they can be added to the album. The only way you could do anything yourself would be to attach them as a comment to that album.

At 8:20pm on August 4, 2015, Steve Ewing said…


Here's my theory: 1) At the top of any page on the site click on "Photos"

2) Click "My Photos"


3) Click "Add"

4) Click the camera icon and a new explorer window will popup that will allow you to find and select your pictures on your PC

At 12:45pm on June 3, 2015, Richard Affeld said…

Mr. Stoffel,

Thanks for the memories of a great squadron and some really great men who made RVAH-9 so significant for me.  I enjoyed hearing from you.

The North American ejection seat was not a zero-zero seat; as I recall it needed at leat 100 kts, 100 ft and wouldn't have time if the negative sink rate was too high.  It was meant to be a high-speed, high altitude system.  The RAN could initiate ejection for himself, but if the Pilot elected to eject, the RAN's seat would go first, and then the Pilot's seat would fire.  There was a delay in firing the Pilot's seat, since both seats were rocket-propelled (not a mortar-type charge like the Martin Baker seat) and the delay ensured that the Pilot's rocket didn't burn the RAN.

Glad to see your comments and congratulations on your continued interest in aviation-related subjects.  I envy your chance to see the Blue Angels;  living in Colorado Springs means we see the Thunderbirds annually, and the Blue Angels never. 



At 12:27am on May 31, 2015, peter c derose said…

WOW , Three of us swabbies scuba dove at a bay in Mallorca in 65 when the fleet pulled in for ship change of the fleet at the time ! [had fun ] Also was back to a Greek island Kafalonia in 95 for 10 days was great !  

At 8:35am on May 27, 2015, Michael E. Dombrowski said…

Hi Don.  It was great to hear from you.  I haven't kept with our guys from IMA very well.  Last I heard from Joe Ruff was probably 20 years ago and they were living somewhere in PA.  I just made contact with Donnie (Norman) Hammock a few months ago and he is Florida.  I attended the RVAH reunion in 2003 at Sanford.  Got to talk with Chief Hatten and several other older guys.  None of the otherguys from the Rota Van Project were there.

You either have a great memory or you kept a diary while we were in Rota.  I had forgotten most of the incidents (snafus) that you mentioned.  It was frustrating but rewarding.


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