Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sundown of the S-3 Viking

Friday, February 20, 2009
An end of an era came to a close recently.  The last S-3 Viking squadron was decommissioned a few weeks ago.  I've been very fortunate to have spent almost my entire Navy career in the cockpit of this fine machine:

The only non-flying jobs I've had so far were my year at the Naval War College getting my master's degree, my tour at US Southern Command in Miami and now as the Commanding Officer of Military Sealift Command Korea here in Busan.  People ask me if I miss the flying.  I do, but not as much as I thought.  What I really miss is flying with certain people - Nancy, Hoss, Whip, Knobby... the bonds you make with these great Americans are incredible.  That's what I miss - the camaraderie of a squadron and belonging to this special band of brothers.

Here's a little stroll down memory lane for you S-3 Viking Bubbas out there and Navy types in general.  The Mighty War Hoover - we're gonna miss you!

My drive home from work now is just a tad different from this old ride home.  People ask me who has better pilots - Navy or Air Force?  Well, Air Force pilots get to land on big long runways.  Navy guys have to land on a moving postage stamp with stuff on their right and left.  You make your own decision.  Man I miss this!  I've got about 850 aircraft carrier arrested landings.  It would've been nice to hit 1000.

Ah, a packed aircraft carrier!  This is home for months at a time.  To give you a reference, in 2004, I was home approximately 60 days out of the entire year.  It can get rough.

This is the ready room of the VS-30 Diamondcutters onboard the USS John F. Kennedy.  We're conducting some training while wearing this really sexy protective equipment.

This is the "Run Across the Atlantic" by VS-30 in 2002.  At the tail end of our deployment aboard the USS George Washington, we "ran" across the entire Atlantic Ocean, 24 hours a day until we reached the east coast of the US.  The running was done on a treadmill with the officers taking their turns.  It was an awesome team building event led by the great VS-30 Junior Officers.

This is me in Fallon, Nevada, standing in front of my troops.  Those guys are a big part of why I'm still in the Navy.  It's inspiring to work with such a dedicated and hard working group of folks.

The Shamrocks of VS-41 based in San Diego.  This was a shore duty tour that I spent as a flight instructor.  One of my favorite things (and Carol's least favorite things) was flying out to the aircraft carrier with new students so they could get their carrier landing qualifications.  It's their first time ever seeing the aircraft carrier at night and I'm flying right next to them.  Pretty exciting stuff.  I think I've crocheted a couple of doilies with my sphincter during a couple of those night carrier qualification flights with a newbie pilot.

My first deployment in 1995 with the VS-24 Scouts aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.  The Bosnia situation really blew up and it kept us busy in the Adriatic Sea.  Then Scott O'Grady, an Air Force pilot, got shot down and it made things really interesting.  No complaints about doing a combat cruise for my first deployment.

The S-3 Viking expending flares.

Hoss and I about to go flying!

Chilling in Paris with some great squadron mates.  That's Whip, Deke, me, Joose and Knobby. Whip is the Mini-Boss on the USS George Washington in Japan.  Deke is the Executive Officer of an EA6-B Prowler squadron in Washington state.  He got back recently from a very long deployment in Afghanistan.  He'll take over as the Commanding Officer soon.  Joose is an Aeronautical Engineering Duty Officer in Maryland.  Knobby will be the Executive Officer of an F-18 squadron in California.  Guys, no matter how scattered we are throughout the world, we will always have Paris.  Hmm, that sounded kinda Clay Aiken-ish.  Sorry.

The Scouts flying over Jacksonville.

Me and Whip down in Puerto Rico right before we shot this Harpoon missile.

The VS-24 Scout hangar at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

Second from the right is Chum Dailey, one of my former Commanding Officers.  A great leader and great American, he's one of the reasons I stayed in the Navy.  This is him after he got his 1000th trap, or carrier arrested landing.  That's a pretty big feat in the Naval aviation world.

There's nothing like a Navy homecoming!

Where else but the Navy can you have that first kiss all over again?

The Department Heads of VS-30.  You can hardly tell we've all had our lobotomies.

In the middle is Don "Stump" Cioffi.  On the right is Tom "Casper" Wilcox.  They passed away when their S-3 impacted the water after a night catapult shot off the USS John C. Stennis on March 15 1996.  Unfortunately, I have way too many friends that never made it to their final safe trap or landing.  You guys will always be remembered.

Getting pumped up before a flight.  Gimme some!

Fair winds and following seas to the S-3 Viking!  We won't forget you.  -- C2



Great memories Cruzer. Thanks for sharing and hope all is well in Korea!



You clearly know how to make us wish we were all Naval Aviators...


Tomorrow I'll sit at my computer for 3 hours and I may have lunch at chili's or macaroni grill. I don't know yet. Either way it's probably going to be a big day. What did you do... oh yeah, you're a Navy pilot. Great stuff.

The Cruzers

Moby - Korea is fantastic! Hope you, Lynn and Matthew are enjoying the college. Great pictures of the baby on FB. Your Saint Pius pic is classic!

John - Hmm...with my flying days probably behind me, I'm wishing I was a Naval Aviator too. Hope all is well.

Chris - Definitely Chili's. And by the way, you get to rock it out every single weekend and do incredibly IMPORTANT work - the most IMPORTANT work I can think of bro.


Thanks for a great look back at S-3 life!!! I miss San Dog and the guys in my 1st community. Enjoy Korea, completed a Super JO tour in Japan so I know the good & bad to overseas life. After 20 years in naval aviation, I'm with you its the only way go in the started the flying part of my 20 year career!!! Take care talk again soon.
Patrick Fernandes

The Cruzers

Menudo - It's absolutely great to hear from you! Hope the hornets are treating you well. You my friend, are my favorite Cape Verdian in the entire world! Best wishes to you and the family. -- Cruzer


I was in the fueling crew that fueled up Lt. Thomas P. Wilcox's Viking. I think about them often even though I never really met them. I was 19 then and the event still bothers me.

The Cruzers

To Anonymous,

I know one of the final checkers that gave the jet its final look through prior to that catshot. The incident definitely impacted this final checker's life also.

I'm guessing you're 31 or 32 years old now, more seasoned and mature than that young 19 year old sailor on the Stennis back in '96. No need for the incident to bother you. Be comforted by the fact that we've got great people willing to make tough sacrifices for our country.



I came across your blog while surfing. Nice blog. I enjoyed your photos. I served as a Navy Air Traffic Controller myself. Always loved Naval Aviation.
Currently a Controller at Phoenix TRACON.

I enjoyed Korea and Japan during the great Wetspac's. Enjoy your stay overseas.

Thanks for your service.

AC2 1983-1988

The Cruzers

Hey Jerry,

Thanks for taking a look. Appreciate your service as well. Enjoy Phoenix and Go Cardinals!



You were stationed with "stump" cioffi. Do you have any other pics of him? I went to school with his sister and it would be a great thing if you had any that she and her family could see. she was extremely close to Donny. I was in the corps for 8 years and staioned in Korea during Kernel blitz. It would be truly appreciated. thanks and Semper Fi


Cruzer, put your pants on mon!

St Martin memories. Nice blog!
You're right about Chum Daily, I always thought he was one helluva aviator. Still think about Cioffi and Wilcox...
I enjoyed serving with you and all the Scouts!!
I think there are at least 2 Vikings still flying out there somewhere. Saw some pics while at PMA 290.


My Dad is in the picture of CDR Dailey. Dirk was his callsign while he was stationed at VS-24. Was wondering if you knew him? Don Dirkin. he was also on the boat with you during the 95 cruise.

thank you sir! Great pics also!

The Cruzers

I remember your dad. Really enjoyed flying and serving with him. Please tell him Cruzer said hello. Btw, I have another picture from homecoming for the 95 cruise. Believe your mom is in that picture. Janine, right?

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