Tag Archives: Checkerboarders

Top Gun: The Rest of the Story

Live and learn, right? But maybe it’s taken all these years to learn a lesson about military funding. Trump’s got it right. Here’s why:

At the end of any war there is a push by politicians who have no military background to cut military funding down to just about nothing, as if no other war would ever take place.

What happens is that training goes to hell and no one knows how to do anything anymore. No more tactics. No more talent. An entirely vulnerable nation. But it’s like clockwork. Politicians play on the heresy of false optimism, that we’ve saved ourselves because we played out some fearfully effective strikes in the last war, yesterday. So, now it’s all good. We don’t need funding. Let’s spend money on pork projects for my constituents. Then, for just a few individuals, literally, the entire nation is put at risk.

After WW2, and then, “after” the Korean conflict (which Trump will hopefully now bring to an effective and formal close), back in the 1950s, pretty much the entire budget for pilot training was slashed to nothing, that is, just when the first jets were coming out.

My dad, commander of the famed Checkerboard fighter attack squadron out of the Marine Corps Air Station (Merritt Field) of Beaufort, SC, just up from Parris Island, came back from his ten years in the South and then North Pacific Corsair flying (VMFA-312) so as to teach the guys how to fly at Andrews just South of D.C. while he was put through JAG school at Georgetown University. After this, he went to Chicago to continue to teach a new generation of fighter pilots.

But that’s when the funding was cut. He knew how to fly by instinct and could handle the new jets, but his students couldn’t learn the instinct because there was no funding except for just a practice flight here, maybe again later, there. Nothing really. They had to think about flying the planes. Not good enough. They flew the planes literally straight into the ground.

My dad complained ferociously about the need for more funding for more flights. Denied. Again and again. More deaths of the best of the best.

And that was it for him. He wasn’t going to kill off an entire generation of pilots just because some self-congratulatory politicians thought they could please a few pork recipients.

So, dad took a cut in rank, left the Department of the Navy, moved to Minnesota to be a civil lawyer and politician himself, meanwhile joining the National Guard for something like another 20 years. But his heart was still with flying for the USMC. He would often bring me to airfields, and sometimes was able to commandeer a fighter to buzz over the rooftops of our local city where he was mayor. Why? Because his heart was still with the guys who were flying their planes straight into the ground because there was no funding for pilot training in the hippie days of the early-mid 1960s. Guys thought they could fly. They knew nothing. They were taken out with great ease by the enemy. We had now lost everything. Tactics. The whole lot. Gone.

Finally, with enough dead, people woke up. Top Gun school was created. Now, looking back, we all wish the Top Gun of Top Guns would have been heard. But at the time, all that could be heard was the ♬ kaching ♬ of greed. I, for one, am happy for the renewed military spending, and that, finally, finally, we are taking a look at the plight of our pilots.

Here’s dad, George Byers Jr, getting out of one of the planes he so loved to fly:

george-byers-jr-usmc-corsair

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Update: Israeli Air Force getting cocky about doing the impossible. Dancing.

But the Israelis are not the first to land an attack fighter with only one wing. Perhaps my dad was the first. He also had the wing of his gull-wing corsair knocked off during a training exercise at Andrews Air Force Base in D.C. by a knucklehead student pilot coming up out of a barrel roll a bit too quickly. In the case of my dad, Commander of the Checkerboarders, he was able to keep the inevitable spin from happening by holding the stick all the way over while flying at 45 degree angle, landing on the tip of his good wing, and then the wheel of his good wing. Hah! He would have used the side of his plane for the necessary lift. Hah!

corsair vmfa 312 USMC Korea

Whenever I see cockiness trounced, I am tempted to do a dance. Attack pilots are the same. And attack pilots are pretty much all the same. Here are some Russians. I can just hear the criticisms, saying that those are toy planes without any serious possibilities in a real war, blah blah blah. Regardless, this is some good flying:

Even if tender snowflakes are offended by this, I have to say: Competition is a good thing. It’s hilarious. It brings us beyond where we’re at. A challenge to overcome. Let’s see what Saint Paul says in Romans 12:10-19:

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. [Outdo one another in showing honor.] Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. [Outdo one another in showing honor.] Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. [Outdo one another in showing honor.] Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.[!] Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. [Outdo one another in showing honor.] If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. [Outdo one another in showing honor.]

You get the idea.

Update:

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Nostalgia: VMFA 312 Checkerboarders

george-byers-jr-usmc-corsairI sometimes get nostalgic when I’m not feeling well. Yesterday, in the minutes it takes to get back from Graham County to Cherokee County, my right eye swelled shut for who knows what reason, although it looks like I was in a fight. If I had gone to the emergency room (I wouldn’t!) they might have been tempted to call the LEOs who would ask what really happened. I would just say, “I don’t know.”

Meanwhile, the face being what it was, I had a moment to be nostalgic and so looked up a phrase involving Pappy Boyington and my dad’s name just on a lark. Hah! Another picture of my dad perhaps in his early-twenties. A bit after this picture, he would end up in another USMC Fighter Attack squadron, the VMFA 312, the famed Checkerboarders, which was the squadron used to portray Pappy in the series Bah Bah Blacksheep, though my dad headed up the Checkerboarders and was later in command of one of the bases in Japan. Dad died back in 1993 with all the sacraments. So very important. I really have to wonder if he and Pappy ran into each other. Dad could put back some liquor at the time and be a bit boisterous and be a bit of a troublemaker, just like Pappy. Maybe they were too much like each other and so had to be in different squadrons as far apart in the Pacific as possible.

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