My wife and I are dressing for a combined Hail and Farewell party and her birthday in a good Italian restaurant in downtown Manhattan. The phone rings and it’s Capt. Tom Morgan. Just as I had reported aboard he fleeted up from CO CGAS Brooklyn to chief of staff to LANTAREA as held by VAdm Howie Thorsen.
Stories That Just May Be Beyond Belief
Aviators always precede an actual tale with “True Story”. As CDR F. J. Wight once put it: a story most likely to have occurred without too much embellishing in the telling. It can be an imaginative narrative of a search and rescue story or just a humorous look at the day in the life of a Coast Guard Aviator.
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I had seen every John Wayne movie about WWII, and all the naval movies plus newsreels and stories about air battles and aircraft. In every one that showed an aircraft carrier there was always a big wake streaming from the stern with the bubbling, turbulent water that could be seen for miles.
One of the contributions the 82 ft skippers made, that few are aware of, was to ride back seat in an L-19 with an Army Forward Air Controller when the mission involved Naval Gunfire Support. Marty was one of these volunteers. I believe that any aviator remembering back to their very first solo or “Why Me?” moment will identify fully with Marty’s story.
My Dad, Tal Sivils, CGAP 118/CGA 344, went to flight school with the legendary and last of the Coast Guard’s Aviation Pilots, John Greathouse. Among Master Chief Petty Officer Greenhouse’s many achievements over his long and distinguished career was that he and a crewmember were to become the first to bail out of a helicopter and live to tell the tale.
was XO at Sangley under Don Lucius and Gus Shrode. Don had done ground work to lease land for a 300 foot extension on the North end of the runway at Naulo Point. Wining and dining the Skipper of the CGC Kukui, a Classmate of his, Lucius talked him and his construction crew into building up and extending the runway.
They all stood atop the open ramp at the rear of the C-130 aircraft. Behind them I saw a I saw a brief metallic glint. I walked up the open ramp to where Connelly Beacham stood, dead center of the group. A broad grin on his face. Behind the line of seven men, tightly strapped down was one of the rental cars.
In September 1947, I left the farm in Illinois, went to Chicago and finally convinced CBM Charles P. Ashe (the CG Recruiter) to permit me to take the necessary exams for admittance into the Coast Guard. I was sworn in on 11 September 1947 and went to Mayport, Florida to attend “boot camp”. Upon completion of “boot camp” I was transferred to CCGD9 in Cleveland.
I was stationed at Air Station Miami, what was then and probably still is, ‘The Busiest Air/Sea Rescue Unit in the World,’ as a third-tour Lieutenant from January 1971 to December 1975. During that time, I had some of the most humorous and incredible experiences that you could imagine. They’re what made Miami the most enjoyable tour of my twenty year flying career.
Jack loved a good joke or story, and was known to pull off a gag or two when the occasion presented itself. The PBYs at Sangley point routinely re-supplied remote LORAN (Long Range Radio Aid to Navigation) at locations like Talampulan. They landed in lagoons and offloaded supplies into waiting boats for transfer to the LORAN station
The following story is unique in the annals of Coast Guard Aviation History. I know of no other situation like this and while on active duty including 7 years of continuous service at Coast Guard Headquarters in several different roles – Operations, Training, Long Range Planning, and Special Projects this was not known, and never discussed.
Men came tumbling out of the building through doors and windows, carrying with them empty rifles, dashing to the air raid trenches. One sensible sailor, like the fictional television character, deputy sheriff Barney Fife, kept a bullet in his pocket, just in case. He was ready for the enemy—and the only one—but his rifle accidentally fired as he fell into the air raid trench.
Ocean Station Vessel Delta reported a critical shortage of weather balloons, and requested that Coast Guard Air Station Salem fly out and air drop replacements. Sheesh! Fly over the North Atlantic just to deliver oversized condoms? You’d think, as Ops Officer, I could have scheduled someone else to go, but recent heavy SAR cases had depleted the pool of goat herders
Water landing rescues were not always possible, of course, and in the aftermath of the Marine Electric sinking in 1983, the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer program was developed. This new capability obviated the need for water landings, and the Pelican was subsequently replaced by the non-amphibious HH-60 Jay Hawk. To those who flew the Pelican, it was always a comfort to know that the water landing option existed, and could be trusted when the need arose.
To learn to fly a helicopter it takes time, perseverance, patience etc., and of course, an understanding instructor. My instructor was a nice fellow. At times he would become somewhat excited. And at times he would shout and there would be white stuff around his mouth but I was polite and pretended not to notice and just go flying on.
That afternoon we started to ferry the survivors from Courageous to the USS Saipan. We made three sorties to Saipan, the first with the five most seriously injured. The second sortie we moved another 15 (a few round trips). On the sortie, we moved three that did not survive. Out of 52 people on Olo Yumi, there were 38 lives saved, 10 deceased and four were never found. A long day.
During 3 – 7 July 1969 a strong weather front blanketed the eastern Great Lakes and the North East. Within the front were an unusual number of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. CCGD9 RCC in Cleveland was overwhelmed with over 200 overdue vessels and distress calls.
Well , t’was a dark and stormy night on February 7, 1969, at Coast Guard Air Station (CGAS) Port Angeles, Washington. I was standing the HU-16E ready Copilot duty with my Aircraft Commander LT David Ira Nelson. Dave referred to himself as the world’s oldest Lieutenant at the age of thirty five.
The PBM training program was divided into morning, afternoon, and evening launches. Crews reporting for the morning launch found their planes lined up on the concrete apron and standing tall on beaching gear (two main mounts and a tail wheel).
For a first-tour Coast Guard aviator right out of flight training, standing the duty at old Salem Air Station was exciting. The anticipation of a possible SAR case kept the adrenaline pump at the ready. But in the winter when all those SAR-generating pleasure boats were hibernating in shipyards, duty nights could be quietly spent watching TV. Or what was more interesting, listening to the old hands swap sea stories. And since all of my SDOs were WWII veterans, some of those tales were bound to impress a junior birdman like me.
This is the story of Captain Bud Muench. His flight was inspired by the 1919 flight of USCG Aviator #1, Elmer Stone, the pilot on very 1st flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Captain Muench’s flight occurred in the summer of 1956. Here, in his own words, is the story of his amazing journey.