Weather: Hot and humid high 80s
Location: LAT 36.804722, LONG -75.996111
The main reason for coming to Virginia Beach was to attend the 2018 Navy reunion of 1978-1983 VF-41 personnel.
Here’s little history of what took place during out time in the squadron:
In 1980 the Nimitz and Carrier Air Wing 8 took part in a round the world cruise. During this cruise the carrier served as the seaborne base in response to the Iran hostage crisis and the subsequent attempted rescue of the U.S. Embassy hostages from Iran.VF-41 (and the rest of the battle group) spent 144 continuous days at sea, the longest period the squadron had spent at sea without a break since World War II.
During workups for the 1981–1982 Mediterranean cruise, an EA-6B Prowler piloted by Marine Lieut. Steven E. White, crashed on the deck of the Nimitz. Upon crashing onto the deck, the EA-6B Prowler rammed broadside into a “six pack” of fueled F-14 Tomcats causing a fuel fire and ordnance to explode, including an AIM-7 Sparrow missile. The incident, which caused only superficial damage to the Nimitz, resulted in three F-14s destroyed, 45 injured sailors and fourteen casualties with VF-41 losing three shipmates.
While on deployment in the Mediterranean Sea on August 19, 1981, during a routine combat air patrol mission over the Gulf of Sidra, two Libyan Su-22 “Fitter” aircraft were shot down by Black Aces aircraft. The incident marked the first Navy air combat confrontation since the Vietnam War and the first ever for the F-14A Tomcat. It was the first time a variable wing aircraft shot down another variable wing aircraft. 1981 was also the first year in which the Black Aces won the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle Efficiency “E”, signifying them as the most efficient squadron in the Atlantic Fleet. (VF-41 was also awarded the Battle “E” in 1985 and 1989)
The reunion began with lunch on Friday at the Mission BBQ. According to their website MISSION BBQ opened its doors for business on September 11, 2011. Ten years after our world changed forever, in some small way we wanted to change it back.We believe there is nothing more American than BBQ. And nobody more American than the brave men and women who have sworn to protect and serve Our Communities and Our Country. We do what we do for the love of our soldiers, firefighters, police officers, first responders—all our loved ones in service. At MISSION BBQ, we are Proudly Serving Those Who Serve.
I was very impressed with their service and food, and can safely say they are accomplishing their mission. They have locations throughout the country, and I plan on visiting them again as we travel.
Friday night was the not-so formal dinner at the Gordon Bersch Brewery. Everyone enjoyed themselves and reminisced about our past days when we were the young, sometimes drunk, freedom fighters of Fighter Squadron 41, The Black Aces.
Saturday’s event was the airshow at the Naval Air Station Oceana, our old home base, who was celebrating their 75th anniversary. It was extremely hot out on the flight line, but being in the third road were got to see everything up close. Unfortunately, it’s hard to take pictures of a jet screaming by with an iPhone, but I was able to capture so good pictures nonetheless.
Several of my shipmates and their wives, stayed at the campground we’re at either in an RV, or in one of the cabins, and each evening the party continued around the campfire.
It was good to see my squadron mates after all these years, meet their wives, and just remember the good, and bad, times we shared. The next reunion is in two years, and hope to attend if we are in the area.
For now, it back to work this week, and then we point ourselves west as we begin our trek towards Rt 66, and Arizona.
Until next time.