For those who served in the RVAH Community, their families, and friends!
I missed ya' by a couple of months. I and a couple other PT film interpreter guys reported into Sanford, Florida, straight from holiday leave and just out of the latest Air Force hosted, Denver Intelligence School, ready for several weeks training on the recon film computers. We arrived at about 4 pm on January 9, 1967. The squadron headquarters building that we were directed to were all but deserted. In one of the offices I found a cleanup detail. PT 1st Class George Kisner was in charge and he told me to grab a broom. I had my duffel and a second duffel full of warm weather and beach civvies.
Florida... Daytona... Cape Canaveral!
But the soon-to-be Chief laughed and said I wouldn't be needing them, "until we got back."
- - "Back? Where we goin'?"
"The rest of the Squadron is already in Norfolk. We're the final cleanup crew and we're leaving on a transport a little later."
- - "What's in Norfolk?"
"The USS America, America's newest"
- - "Newest what… …and how long will we be in Norfolk?"
"Not long. We leave port first thing in the morning."
- - "WHAT? To where? For how long?"
"The Mediterranean. 9 months."
. . .
- - "...I gotta call my mom."
In the cold, pouring Norfolk rain around 11 pm that night I stepped off the bus and asked again. "Chief, can I try to call home again? They gotta be home now!"
"Sure," the Chief said, "On the double. Phone booths are at the end of the dock. Then get back here and we'll report on board."
- - "OK, thanks", as I ran toward the street light and the phones, "but, where's the ship?" I yelled.
I glanced around, then stopped and looked up, straight into the pouring rain.
- - "Oh my God!"
My first look at a Navy ship. Bigger than life. Up close and personal.
During that cruise and then on to the 1968 WestPac Cruise on the Connie, RVAH-5 became my family and home, and the Chief my adopted Dad until August of 1969, when I decided to go home to PA and try college.