ity through L earning Also in this Issue: Get Real Get Better: Building Warfighting Advantage - ADM Bill Lescher, USN The Importance of Being Present What I’ve Learned from Meditation - CAPT Brannon S. Bickel, USN The Human Advantage - 2022 Symposium in Review Summer 2022 Number 157
L etha L
Summer 2022 ISSUE 157
About the cover: Two MH-60 Sierras from HSC-3 after conducting day TERF landings and training in El Centro.
Rotor Review (ISSN: 1085-9683) is published quarterly by the Naval Helicopter Association, Inc. (NHA), a California nonprofit 501(c)(6) corporation. NHA is located in Building 654, Rogers Road, NASNI, San Diego, CA 92135. Views expressed in Rotor Review are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the policies of NHA or United States Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. Rotor Review is printed in the USA. Periodical rate postage is paid at San Diego, CA. Subscription to Rotor Review is included in the NHA or corporate membership fee. A current corporation annual report, prepared in accordance with Section 8321 of the California Corporation Code, is available on the NHA Website at www.navalhelicopterassn.org.
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Rotor Review #157 Summer '22 2
Photo taken by LT Casey Keilty,
FOCUS: Lethality through Learning CNO Updates Professional Reading Program..........................................................................26 HC-7 Seadevils and HT-28 Hellions: Creating a Learning Culture.....................................27 LT Audrey “PAM!” Petersen, USN / HT-28 PAO Leadership, NATOPS…and Amazon...........................................................................................28 CDR Matt “Trash” Persiani, USN (Ret.) The Importance of Saying Something........................................................................................32 LT Andrew “Gonzo” Gregory, USN Ground Job Training – A Matter of Professionalism and Safety............................................34 LCDR Robin Dirickson, USN / HSC-8 Department Head The Good Ones Really Care!......................................................................................................36 CAPT Andy “Big Tuna” Berner, USN Clear Direction or Standardized Execution: ...........................................................................38 A Defense of Multi-Mission in Expeditionary HSC LCDR Rob “OG” Swain, USN CSG 5 Update................................................................................................................................45 LCDR Calvin "Spicy J" Kirtley, USN Inside the MQ-8: A Super JO's Perspective..............................................................................46 LT Bryan “Twilight” O’Loughlin, USN PEP, Part 4: Flight Operations in French Naval Aviation.......................................................48 LT Randy Perkins, USN NHA Symposium 2022 in Review.....................................................................................52 Get Started Telling Your Stories..................................................................................................82 Writing for the Right Reasons CAPT George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.)
Yankee in King Arthur’s Test Pilot School
“3D” Putbrese, HX-21 www.navalhelicopterassn.org 3 EDITOR -IN - CHIEF LT Michael "Bubbles" Short, USN firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGING EDITOR Allyson Darroch email@example.com COPY EDITORS CDR John Ball, USN (Ret.) firstname.lastname@example.org LT Luke "TUC" Vaughn, USN email@example.com AIRCREW EDITOR AWR1 Aaron Messner, USN firstname.lastname@example.org COMMUNITY EDITORS HM LT Molly "Deuce" Burns, USN (HM) email@example.com HSC LT Alden "Caspr" Marton firstname.lastname@example.org LT Tyler "Benji" Benner email@example.com LT Andrew Gregory Andrew.L.Gregory92@gmail.com LT Fred "Prius" Shaak firstname.lastname@example.org HSM LT Elisha "Grudge" Clark., USN (HSM) email@example.com LT Johnattan "Snow" Gonzalez, USN (HSM) firstname.lastname@example.org USMC EDITOR Maj. Nolan "Lean Bean" Vihlen, USMC email@example.com USCG EDITOR LT Marco Tinari, USCG firstname.lastname@example.org TECHNICAL ADVISOR LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.) email@example.com HISTORIAN CDR Joe Skrzypek, USN (Ret.) firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Staff DEPARTMENTS Editors Emeriti Wayne Jensen - John Ball - John Driver Sean Laughlin - Andy Quiett - Mike Curtis Susan Fink - Bill Chase - Tracey Keefe Maureen Palmerino - Bryan Buljat - Gabe Soltero Todd Vorenkamp - Steve Bury - Clay Shane Kristin Ohleger - Scott Lippincott - Allison Fletcher Ash Preston - Emily Lapp - Mallory Decker Caleb Levee - Shane Brenner - Shelby Gillis Chairman’s Brief ......................................................................................................................6 Executive Director's View.........................................................................................................7 National President's Message................................................................................................8 National J.O. President Message ...........................................................................................9 Vice President of Membership Report................................................................................10 From the Editor-in-Chief......................................................................................................12 Scholarship Fund Update .....................................................................................................14 Historical Society.....................................................................................................................16 View from the Labs ..............................................................................................................19 CAPT George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.) On Leadership.........................................................................................................................20 Get Real Get Better: Building Warfighting Advantage ADM Bill Lescher, USN Commodore's Corner...........................................................................................................22 The Importance of Being Present What I’ve Learned from Meditation - CAPT Brannon S. Bickel, USN Report from the Rising Sun................................................................................................24 LCDR R. "OG" Swain, USN Industry and Technology.........................................................................................................66 Redefining the Golden Hour CAPT Christopher “chet” Misner, USN (Ret.) Squadron Updates ................................................................................................................68 “The” Rotorhead Rumble - CAPT Mark Vanderberg, USN (Ret.) HSM-79 Establishes New Spain Detachment, CNAL Presides - PO3 D.S. Randol, USN HSM-51 Change of Command - LT Mark S. Nankervis, USN “Assassin” visits NASWF - LT Laura “Bambi” Lutz, USN HSM-78 Attends the First All-Female Air Show - ENS Savannah Pankow, USN Helo History............................................................................................................................74 Main Rotor, Meet Tail Rotor - Craig Thorson The Rotary Wing Angels - Brian Miller Marco Monoplane - Maj. Jean F. Rydstrom, USA Off Duty ..................................................................................................................................80 Wings of Gold by Beverly Weintraub - Reviewed by LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.) Radio Check ..........................................................................................................................85 Change of Command ...........................................................................................................88 Engaging Rotors ....................................................................................................................92 Signal Charlie .........................................................................................................................96 RDML William Terry, USN (Ret.) CAPT James Frederick Ponzo, USN (Ret.) CAPT Melvin A. Runzo, USN (Ret.) CAPT John Scott Kistler, USN (Ret.) LCDR Thomas L. Phillips, USN (Ret.) ©2022 Naval Helicopter Association, Inc., all rights reserved
Rotor Review #157 Summer '22 4 Gold Supporter executive patronS Our Thanks to Our Corporate Members - Your Support Keeps Our Rotors Turning To get the latest information from our Corporate Members, just click on their logos. Small BuSineSS partnerS Platinum SuPPorterS
President....................................CDR Emily Stellpflug, USN
Eli Owre, USN
Executive Director...............CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.)
Business Development..............................Ms. Linda Vydra
Managing Editor, Rotor Review .......Ms. Allyson Darroch
Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.)
Legal Advisor...............CDR George Hurley, Jr., USN (Ret.)
VP Corp. Membership..........CAPT Tres Dehay, USN (Ret.)
VP Awards...........................................CDR Ian Adams, USN VP Membership
VP Symposium 2023
James Teal, USN
Eli Owre, USN
Secretary..........................................LT Jimmy Gavidia, USN
NHA Branding and
Shaun Florance USN
Senior HSM Advisor.............AWRCM Nathan Hickey, USN
Senior HSC Advisor ......AWSCM Darren Hauptman, USN
Senior VRM Advisor........AWFCM Jose Colon-Torres, USN
Directors at Large
Chairman...............................RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Gene Ager, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Chuck Deitchman, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Dennis DuBard, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Tony Dzielski, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Greg Hoffman, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Mario Mifsud, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Matt Schnappauf, USN (Ret.)
LT Alden Marton, USN
AWRCM Nathan Hickey, USN
Ed Johnson, USN
CDR Santico Valenzuela, USN
Region 5 - Pensacola Director
Jade Lepke, USN President
Region 6 - OCONUS Director
Annie Otten, USN
Derek Brady, USN President
Jonathan Dorsey, USN
President .............................CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.) Executive VP/ VP Ops ...CAPT Todd Vandegrift, USN (Ret.) VP Plans................................................CAPT Jon Kline, USN VP Scholarships ..............................Ms. Nancy Ruttenberg VP Finance ...................................CDR Greg Knutson, USN Treasurer........................................................Ms. Jen Swasey Webmaster........................CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.) Social Media .............................................................VACANT CFC/Special Projects ...............................................VACANT NHA Historical Society President............................CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.) Vice President……...…....CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.) Secretary................................LCDR Brian Miller, USN (Ret.) Treasurer..........................CDR Chris Fitzgerald, USN (Ret.) S.D. Air & Space Museum...CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.) USS Midway Museum....CDR Chris Fitzgerald, USN (Ret.) Webmaster........................CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.)
Region 1 - San Diego Directors ............................ ..... CAPT Brannon
President ............................ CDR
Director ....................................... CAPT
Naval Helicopter Association, Inc. P.O. Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578 (619) 435-7139 www.navalhelicopterassn.org NHA Scholarship Fund
Ed Weiler, USN
Sam Bryant, USN
Nathan Rodenbarger, USN
Dave Vogelgesang, USN Region 2
Andy Berner, USN
Tony Perez, USN
Pat Jeck, USN (Ret.) Region 3
Teague Laguens, USN
Dave Bizzarri, USN Region
'22 Fleet Fly-In Coordinator..LT Connor
Junior Officers Council Nat’l Pres / Region 1 ….... LT Alden "CaSPR" Marton, USN Region 2 ......................................................................VACANT Region 3 ....................... LT Bryan “Schmitty” Schmidt, USN Region 4 ...................................LT Lei “REPTAR” Acuna, USN Region 5 ..................LT Connor "Humpty" McKiernan, USN Region 6......................................................LT Dan Beck, USN NHAHS Committee Members CAPT Dennis DuBard, USN (Ret.) CAPT Mike
(Ret.) CAPT Arne
(Ret.) LCDR Brian
(Ret.) CDR Mike
Drew Hamblen CDR D.J. Hayes, USN (Ret.) CAPT C.B. Smiley,
(Ret.) CAPT J.M. Purtell,
CDR H.V. Pepper,
(Ret.) CAPT A.E. Monahan, USN (Ret.) CAPT Mark R. Starr, USN (Ret.) CAPT A.F. Emig, USN (Ret.) Mr. H. Nachlin CDR H.F. McLinden, USN (Ret.) CDR W. Straight, USN (Ret.) CDR P.W. Nicholas, USN (Ret.)
Nelson, USN (Ret.)
John Ball, USN (Ret.)
Fitzgerald, USN (Ret.)
Navy Helicopter Association Founders
Italian Racing and Symposium 2022
By RADM D.H. “Dano” Fillion, USN (Ret.)
NHA Symposium 2022 was like no other in the history of NHA. VCNO 1v1 with JOs and 04s, nobody else, and folks spoke their minds and the organization is better for that event! Keynote speaker, Navy Spouse of a Navy Seal, and two ladies discussing family planning options for married and single members of the rotary wing aviation team, topics that have never been addressed at Symposium. Navy spouses of retired senior leaders and folks who did their time and left the service, and all became extremely successful entrepreneurs; first ever for NHA. Suffice it to say that with the exception of three events, all the events at Symposium were first of a kind!! You, the membership, and our industry partners are why there were so many "First-Evers," because you gave us the pros and the cons of previous symposiums, and we listened and adjusted accordingly. We received much feedback during the event. When I asked folks what they liked/disliked, they gave me feedback; plenty of it and I truly appreciate it and I promise the organization is listening. Callsign “SLAM” gave me an earful at Top Golf, and it was very objective, professional and will benefit the organization! Thanks to all who made this event happen (CAPT Jim “Super-G” Gillcrist has listed virtually everyone who made Symposium a success) so I just want to recognize all the spouses who supported their favorite NHA member attending and call out CAPT "SteveO" Thomas and CDR Emily “ABE” Stellpflug; these two LEADERS shouldered darn near all the heavy lifting for the event. Young warriors from multiple AW shops, ready rooms and the hangar bay were the energy bombs throughout the event. The real veterans of all things NHA Symposium are the ladies and gentlemen at NHA Headquarters on North Island; their guidance is always instrumental in the organization’s success!
So, as we look at rotary wing aviation through an optic of “Lethality through Learning, I am confident we can reflect on topics from Symposium 22 that educated all of us and therefore I will argue, if need be, are making all of you frontline fighters better!!” Thank you for all the feedback and I truly mean it, we are your organization!
So, why the “Italian racing” wording in the article title….well some of you have heard this before ;
“Why are there no rear-view mirrors on Italian race cars?”
“Because what is behind you is of no importance!” ............ HSL/HSM
After Action Reports for Symposium 2022 are complete and now we (your organization) are laser spot on Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-In 2022 and NHA Symposium 2023!
We will make you proud and please keep the feedback coming!!! (I wonder if “SLAM” will call me?)
As always, I am, V/r and CNJI (Committed Not Just Involved), Dano
Rotor Review #157 Summer '22 6 Chairman’s Brief
Shoutout - Norfolk’s Human Advantage Made the Difference
By CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.)
The 2022 Symposium in Norfolk proved to be a huge success on many levels. The going in position was to do things differently and mix it up (listen and deliver on input received from the previous Symposium). The VP for Symposium, CAPT Steve-O Thomas, gave commander’s intent and the Fleet Angels / Norfolk HSC Volunteer Team led by LT Tyler “Kuzco” Bothel crushed the planning and execution. From theme to logo, from Keynote Speaker, Jamie Cochran, to VCNO Calls with DHs and JOs, and from an Aircrew Challenge at the Oceanview Pier to Top Golf, Symposium was new and different. Even the Second Sea Tour Panel was new, and value added. Other guest speakers such as Katy Hendrickson, CAPT Sunita Williams, Andy Harold, and Joy Doyle enriched our members. RDML “Pepper” McCoy connected with Navy and Industry leadership at the VIP Lunch. Bottom line: The Norfolk HSC Community was the “human advantage” for Symposium. A cast of all stars deserve a shoutout to include the HM-14/15 Bus Drivers, Kuzco, Gonzo (HSC-2), Kelly, TWON, AWSCM Nord, BOJ, MEEP, ABE, Reptar, Zoo, Rhino, Fatty, CaSPR, Frizzle, WYLD BILL, Big Bird, Bus, Bubbles, IKE, Quiet Riot, Gonzo (HSC-3), Squids, Prius, JoJo, Homeskool, Rumspringa, Musband, LiMP, Whiz, Juddy, Llama, Chastity, Dimitri, DQ, Average, McMuff, and Milkman. Additionally, a big thanks to Ronnie Boone, owner and operator of the Oceanview Fishing Pier, who hosted the Aircrew Challenge – his enthusiastic support was huge.
Getting JOs and Aircrew more involved in NHA from coast to coast as Regional Reps, in production of Rotor Review Magazine, in social media outreach, in planning and execution of regional events, and in the planning and execution of Symposium and Fleet Fly-In creates a stronger organization that offers a richer experience. For this reason, we are starting the planning for the 2023 Symposium at Harrah’s Resort Southern California. The VP for Symposium is CDR Eli “Whiz” Owre, and we are putting the JO & Aircrew Volunteer Team together, pulling talent from HSM-41, HSC-3, VRM-50, and Region 1 Squadrons.
Exceeding 3,000 active members this year was a strategic priority. Currently, NHA is at 3,051 members. Membership remains the lifeblood of the organization, and it is NHA’s “human advantage!”
• Please keep your membership profile up to date.
• If you should need any assistance at all, give us a call at (619) 435-7139 and we will be happy to help – you will get Linda, Mike, Allyson, or myself.
Warm regards with high hopes, Jim Gillcrist.
P.S. A final shoutout to LT Mike “Bubbles” Short as Magazine Editor-in-Chief is appropriate. He poured his heart and soul into the magazine, and it shows in the caliber of the content. Thanks Bubbles for “raising the bar” and making Rotor Review so much better!
P.P.S. Lastly, a “final salute” to Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO), ADM Bill Lescher, for an incredible Naval career and for his years of strong support to NHA – never too busy to be involved – we hope you enjoy the “On Leadership Column” in this issue. For his entire body of work within the Rotary Wing Community, the NHA Board of Directors recognized ADM Lescher as recipient of the 2022 NHA Lifelong Service Award.
With admiration from the NHA Staff: “Fair winds and following seas!”
Every Member Counts / Stronger Together
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 7 Executive Director’s View
Oceanview Fishing Pier serves as an awesome VFR check point!
Old Dog, New Tricks?
By CDR Emily “ABE” Stellpflug, USN
As a former MH-60S pilot now transitioned to the CMV-22 Osprey, there are many moments that I struggle to learn and adapt to a new aircraft and mission. Years of experience in any craft can make a person resistant to change and growth. Can an old dog learn new tricks? The short answer is—we must. To be masters of our craft, we must remain curious and eager to evolve as our aircraft, threats, and tactics shift.
There is a Zen Buddhism concept called Shoshin meaning “beginner’s mindset.” This concept “refers to having an openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would." Most of us learn best when being exposed to material for the first time. That is probably why we still remember ditties from flight school such as “down, right, idle, turn." The “beginner’s mindset” challenges a person to approach a problem or new skill with the same curiosity as if seeing it for the first time.
What is it about being an old dog that can make a person resistant to learning and change? I can think of many factors that may come into play—ego, fear of failure, stubbornness, laziness—just to name a few. Those are barriers that must be overcome as we hone our skills as aviators. Each time we step into a debrief, we should have an open mind and set our egos aside in order to learn and grow from that event. That is a critical piece of our aviation culture and key to success.
This Rotor Review explores "Lethality through Learning" and the importance of our Rotary Force being willing to learn and evolve. I would challenge each of us to read the articles with a beginner’s mindset in order to discover all that this issue has to offer!
V/R ABE NHA Lifetime Member #481
Rotor Review #157 Summer '22 8 National President's Message
LT Alden "CaSPR" Marton, USN
If you haven’t had a chance to see Top Gun 2: Maverick, I’d recommend stopping right now and watching it. The movie is a high-production example of this issue's theme in action: "Lethality through Learning." While I don’t condone throwing NATOPS into the trash can on your first day, the bedrock of the movie is how training adapts to the warfighting landscape. How do we train to the limit of human ability? What can we do to get the edge? What are we doing as the rotary wing community to push our human advantage?
I’ve had an opportunity to see some of the dramatic changes across the aviator pipeline, and I can’t express how different it is as compared to when I was going through a mere 8 years ago. VT Primary is testing Project Avenger where individual ability determines the number of training events. Once a pilot demonstrates mastery of a skill or event, they move onto the next unit, tailoring training syllabi pilot-to-pilot to expedite training pipelines. HT Advanced is revolutionizing the training simulators by connecting with live ATC members in their sims and by implementing augmented reality simulators for student walk-ins. They’ve even got an allglass cockpit replacement for the TH-57, the TH-73. Everywhere you look, the Naval Aviation Enterprise is finding unique ways to change our training pipeline for the better. While we still focus on the content of training and readiness, it’s refreshing to see such a focus on how we learn.
While the importance of tactical training opportunities cannot be stressed enough, my naivety made me believe that onthe-job training was the building block of strong naval leaders. That being “in the thick of it” was, pound for pound, the most important developmental leadership trait the Navy had to offer. At this recent Symposium, I found myself in company with the Commander of Naval Personnel Command, RADM Alvin Holsey. As I waxed philosophical on these thoughts of leadership, RADM Holsey stopped me short and provided perspective which resonated. He countered that higher education and continued academic learning is not only helpful, but it is critical for quality leadership. Rigorous academics through our War Colleges, NPS, and civilian institutions can open the apertures for problem solving. Exposure to different ideas transform into the sharpest weapons the military can offer – critical thought and adaptability. We have historically looked at higher education as a “good deal” instead of treating it with the importance it has on our personal development and combat prowess. Over the last decade, the U.S. Navy and DoD have had a mindset shift where education opportunities in the form of education grants, remote learning, tours with industry, etc. come together to create a new model Naval Officer – taking from all aspects of experience to innovate, adapt and overcome. Our upper echelons have recognized this return on investment and the Fleet is more lethal because of it.
All of this is cause for reflection. Take one step back and look at the last two paragraphs from the perspective of the first Rotary Wing Aviators. Simulators, Masters Degrees, Augmented Reality… we are a completely different group of pilots and aircrew than when we started in 1948. The geo-political landscape has changed drastically and while we still have tail pedals and rotor blades, the advancement of technology, training, and education create a flying cadre more resilient than it has ever been. Our rotary wing legends fought the toughest enemies of their day, but our enemy is changing. We’ve needed to change accordingly, exposing our aircraft and our people to some of the toughest challenges our creativity can invent. These developments in how we learn are how we become the toughest and most lethal pilots and aircrew in the world. Cue “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siwpn14IE7E.
NHA events are a hotbed for these reflective moments. The planning for the 2022 Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-in and the 2023 NHA Symposium in San Diego is underway and I can’t express how excited we are to see more of these conversations in-action!
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 9 NHA JO President Update
Fly Navy, Alden “CaSPR” Marton
VP for membership Report
Three Thousand is a Milestone
By LCDR Bill "WYLD Bill" Teal, USN
CNAF, NATOPS, NAMP, IETMS, SEAWOLF, Wing SOPs, and Squadron SOPs, we have an instruction for everything we do. This is what standardizes us, and ensures we accomplish missions and maintenance the way they are intended to be done: safely, efficiently, and correctly, and in a repeatable manner. But how many times have you checked something extra? Pulled on that hose to make sure it’s secure? Touched that castle nut or cotter key to make sure it was all the way in? Verified the movement on a control or control surface? That check isn’t in the publication. It is not part of the preflight, or postflight, or the Daily or Turnaround Inspection, yet you check it.
With as many publications as we have, as many mishap reports, hazard reports, or ASAPs, it is just not possible to capture all of the organizational knowledge that is out there. However, this knowledge is imperative to our success, our advantage, and our lethality.
Organizational knowledge can be difficult to retain and transfer to everyone who may need it. However, a strong community with a common mission and values can foster a culture of expanding organizational knowledge, thus making the organization more effective, successful, and lethal.
As part of NHA, you possess that organizational knowledge. The experience to check that hose on pre-flight; the experience to slightly lower the collective before a hard left bank and the experience to respond to the compressor stall because the anti-ice valve has stuck again are part of our common knowledge. We pass that same knowledge through this publication, through social functions like Symposium and Fleet Fly-in, and through routine ready room discussions. This is lethality through learning on display everyday. It is what makes our organization and organizational knowledge strong. It proves that we are stronger together and why every member counts.
Every time I reached a new milestone, I was told there is so much more to learn. I know we haven’t stopped learning and that our capabilities continue to grow as individuals and an organization. So, the next time you are hanging out, talking shop, and come across someone with a gem of insight, a different perspective, a creative solution or just sound advice, encourage them to join NHA and increase our organizational knowledge, our lethality.
Rotor Review #157 Summer '22 10
Congratulations to Our Newest Lifetime Members We are NHA - in it for Life! 230 Jim Raimondo 331 Scott Pritchard 637 David Valsassina 636 Mike Wellman 635 Brad Cadwall 634 Rob Meyer 633 Larry Carello 848 Dan Thomas 526 Francis Atkinson 632 Scott Hatch 980 Chris Pinar 626 Scott Moak 631 Michael Simonetti 628 Larry McCullen 720 Jeffrey Storer 625 Zach Humphreys 623 Carl Hess 624 John Pelzer 629 David Farrell 630 Joshua Kautzman 622 Wade McConvey 621 Roger Rich 779 Brett Elko 617 Mike Kilman 618 Patrick Boensel 614 Tom Beard 616 Andrew Pagliarulo 994 James Thomas 613 Tim Matthews 615 Tim Saye 612 George Aguilar 608 Cullen Hankes 609 Daniel Smith 610 Mathew Kiser 606 Joshua Avila 607 Jared Powell 605 Reed Carr 604 Robert Bixby 601 Jim Schmitt 602 Elizabeth Janca 603 Chad Westfall 599 Bruce Pollock 598 Nathan Marshall 596 Gregory Dewindt 597 Ian Grover 595 Ronnie Fleming 594 Joe Stuyvesant 592 Adam Patterson 593 Hannah Vincent 591 Chad Glasscock 590 Curtis Shaub 589 Nick Schnettler 778 Justin Eckhoff 585 Nathaniel Wilson 586 Ben Allen 588 Jack Lahey 619 James Stranges 582 Justin Tate
Max Beep Awards at Symposium
The 2nd Place Max Beep prize was awarded to the HSC-12 "Golden Falcons." CAPT Weiler, Commodore HSCWP, accepted the symbolic check for $1000 on their behalf.
The 3rd Place Max Beep prize was awarded to the HSM-75 "Wolf Pack." CDR Mashuda accepted the symbolic check for $500 on behalf of the Wardroom.
The 1st Place Max Beep prize of $1500 was awarded to the HSC-21"Blackjacks."
From the Editors-in-Chief
This will be my final column as Editor-in-Chief of this fine publication. At the release of this issue, I’ll be turning my duties over to LT Annie “Frizzle” Cutchen, a friend and fellow Fleet Angel of HSC-2. Rotor Review #157, themed “Lethality through Learning,” seems like an appropriate conclusion for my time with the magazine. My time as head of the Rotor Review Editorial Staff has been, if nothing else, a journey of learning.
Serving as the Editor-in-Chief of Rotor Review has been one of the great honors of my nine year naval career. This position has allowed me to interact with outstanding thinkers, writers, and leaders from across the Naval Rotary Wing Community. It has given me the opportunity to expand my comfort zone and professional knowledge while leading a passionate and professional editorial staff in the publication of two years’ worth of issues. We set out with a goal to curate and publish content that was relevant, thoughtful, and entertaining. We sought out submissions from contributors with ideas that could take our community forward. I believe we have been, and will continue to be successful in these aspirations.
To the NHA Staff and community leadership, thank you for trusting and empowering me to lead the full spectrum of this magazine’s editorial process.
To our contributors and columnists, thank you for your dedication to community-advancing thought leadership. Without the high quality pieces you consistently provide, there would be nothing for us to publish.
To Rotor Review’s Community Editors, thank you for your commitment to this magazine. Your tireless editorial efforts have allowed us to produce issue after issue of excellent material.
I am immensely proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish together, but the work continues! It is critical that members of our community continue to write about their experiences, problems, and solutions, and submit them to professional publications like this one. We all learn and grow through the sharing of ideas. I am grateful for the opportunity to have served as Rotor Review’s Editor-in-Chief. As always, thanks for reading!
V/r, LT Mike “Bubbles” Short
For those of you I have not yet had the opportunity to meet, my name is LT Annie “Frizzle” Cutchen. I come from a long Navy lineage, spent my first tour with the HSC-6 Screamin’ Indians, and am now proud to call myself a Fleet Angel. I am very excited to take over the role of Editor-in-Chief, but recognize that I have some massive shoes to fill.
When Bubbles announced that he was searching for a relief, I jumped on the opportunity. I had seen how the position facilitated communication with the Naval Rotary Wing Community past and present. I also noted what an outstanding forum Rotor Review is for you all to promulgate information and push the agenda you care about.
There has yet to be a moment in the editorial process that I do not feel an immense sense of pride to be a part of this incredible community. During the turnover process, I was met with a few surprises—luckily all of which were positive and in tune with the theme of this issue. I did not realize that I would have the opportunity to again work alongside so many of my incredible mentors including CAPT Steve “SteveO” Thomas, CDR Emily “ABE” Stellpflug, and CDR Ian “Zoo” Adams to name a few. I have also had the privilege to gain some new mentorship from RADM Fillion, CAPT Gillcrist, and Allyson Darroch. This list would not be complete without the mention of LT Mike “Bubbles” Short.
Bubbles has been an incredible peer mentor in and outside of the context of Rotor Review. He embraces “Lethality through Learning” to his core. That man is an incredible instructor and a huge part of his success is that he constantly has a learning mentality. Mike, thank you for entrusting me to take the torch. You have put so much time and effort into making this magazine the incredible publication that it is today and I hope to continue to do justice to your vision.
How do we continue to improve? We take lessons learned from those who came before us. We build upon the strong foundation constructed before our time. With that in mind, I am excited to announce the theme of our Fall 2022 Issue (Rotor Review #158) is “Past Informs the Present.” We are excited to hear what historical events (both recent and long past) have informed our modern-day operations and influenced you. This upcoming issue covers now through January of 2023. Some important events in that timeframe include Sikorsky Aircraft Company 100th Anniversary (2023), Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-In themed “Next Generation,” and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Summit to name a few. Rotor Review staff looks forward to hearing from you on this comprehensive theme.
Please enjoy RR #157 and show your appreciation to Bubbles when you see him!
V/r, LT Annie “Frizzle” Cutchen
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Letters to the Editors
It is always great to hear from our membership! We need your input to ensure that Rotor Review keeps you informed, con nected and entertained. We maintain many open channels to contact the magazine staff for feedback, suggestions, praise, complaints or publishing corrections. Please advise us if you do not wish to have your input published in the magazine. Your anonymity will be respected. Post comments on the NHA Facebook Page or send an email to the Editor-in-Chief. Her email is email@example.com or to the Managing Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can use snail mail too. Rotor Review’s mailing address is: Letters to the Editor, c/o Naval Helicopter Association, Inc., P.O. Box 180578, Coro nado, CA 92178-0578.
The theme for Rotor Review #158 is “Past Informs the Present.” Those of us who currently have the privilege of spending our days with rotors turning overhead couldn’t operate as knowledgeably, safely, and efficiently as we do if not for the foundation set by those who came before us.
Naval Aviation as a whole has an incredible history which can be broken down further into squadron, aircraft, and even individual history. “There I was,” “lessons learned,” and “open kimono” conversations happen in wardrooms and messes across the world. From these, we learn from our Navy and Coast Guard Shipmates and fellow Marines about how to be better in and out of the aircraft.
What are some historical events that have set the stage for what rotary wing aviation is today? What mission sets have you performed that you have seen grow and develop into modern day operations? Is there any particular historical event, big or small, that has made an impact on you and the decisions you have made? What is your “there I was” that impacted you and your career? Do you have advice for the next generation of rotary wing aviator to make them better based on your experiences?
We want to hear from you! Please send your responses to the Rotor Review Editor-in-Chief at the email address listed below.
V/r, LT Annie “Frizzle” Cutchen Editor-in-Chief, Rotor Review email@example.com
Articles and news items are welcomed from NHA’s general membership and corporate associates. Articles should be of general interest to the readership and geared toward current Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard affairs, technical advances in the rotary wing / tilt rotor industry or of historical interest. Humorous articles are encouraged.
Rotor Review and Website Submission Guidelines
1. Articles: MS Word documents for text. Do not embed your images within the document. Send as a separate attachment.
2. Photos and Vector Images: Should be as high a resolution as possible and sent as a separate file from the article. Please include a suggested caption that has the following information: date, names, ranks or titles, location and credit the photographer or source of your image.
3. Videos: Must be in a mp4, mov, wmv or avi format.
• With your submission, please include the title and caption of all media, photographer’s name, command and the length of the video.
• Verify the media does not display any classified information.
• Ensure all maneuvers comply with NATOPS procedures.
• All submissions shall be tasteful and in keeping with good order and discipline.
• All submissions should portray the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard and individual units in a positive light.
1. All submissions can be sent via email to your community editor, the Editor-in-Chief (firstname.lastname@example.org , or the Managing Editor (email@example.com). You can also use the USPS mail. Our mailing address is Naval Helicopter Association Attn: Rotor Review P.O. Box 180578 Coronado, CA 92178-0578
Tell Us What You Think!
By CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.) / President NHA LTM #4 RW#13762
From the annals of the NAS Norfolk LP Hangars, come the Legends of Wings of Green and Gold. This quarter, “How I lost my first flight jacket.”
As the NHA Scholarship guy, I meet a lot of aviators and aircrew and am surprised in the variety of flight clothing now available, worn on base, and off. Intrigued by these various offerings, I looked back in comparison on the various flight gear rules in place at NAS Norfolk (back in the day) - my experience beginning with the demise of Brown Shoes in the Bi-Centennial Year to their welcomed reappearance in 1988.
1976-77 Facts, leading to the loss of my first flight jacket…April 1976, I arrived at my Fleet squadron fresh out of TRACOM only to retire my brown shoes in June. We weren’t flying much anyway (CNO’s MC rate for RH-53Ds was 30%) and things in Norfolk, like the uniform of the day, took on a strange amount of significance, and seemed sort of formal, because…
• We shared the base (environs) with 2 four stars (the Unified CinC and the Fleet CinC) and a bevy of 3 stars (e.g., AirLant, SubLant, SurfLant), and probably a dozen 2 stars
• Khakis were summer only – mid-May to October – and Brown Shoes were banned (‘76 to ‘88) during these sad years… and in return we had “salt and peppers…” (Hoorah?)
• Flight suits could be worn in the hangar/on the flight line only…. but you had to be on the flight schedule
• Important point - flight jackets were flight clothing – hangar and flight line only, and no flight jackets in or out of the gate
• Winter blue (prescribed) required a tie and ribbons (not so bad, most JOs only had one row anyhow…) and a clean white combination cover or the (“hard hat") made the “two hat” gambit tough to engage
• Leaving the squadron area (to memorize the exchange, get a haircut, or grab a ‘Sub’ at the flight line geedunk) required the uniform of the day, normally as described above
• Note to self…avoid Gilbert Street, NOB’s main thoroughfare, and most of NOB. If unable, do not fail to salute any oncoming black sedan, festooned with stars and miniature flags flying from the forward fenders.
OK, stage set. Late one cold, mid-February morning, one of HM-12’s Ops JOs was tasked with a ‘cross-base’ errand which would require time aboard NOB, coinciding with the lunch hour. I was asked to come along, and knowing that the OAT was about 36oF in light rain and slush, yelled across the Line Shack, “OK, but first, let me grab my reefer!” This caused the normally loud and busy Line Shack to come to a complete and silent halt, as all hands stopped to see what, exactly, the young JG kept in his locker.
Rotor Review #157 Summer '22 14 Naval Helicopter Association Scholarship Fund
I opened my locker, swapped my flight jacket for my Reefer (officer’s pea coat) and locked the door, leaving the Line Division plane captains to wonder about the LTJG’s Reefer –was it still in the locker or did he take it with him?
Hours later, returning to the hangar, I found my locker open … and empty. I have always wondered if the thief just wanted the flight jacket, or…that he thought the locker contained a different kind of reefer… and not finding what he was looking for and not to be completely disappointed, took my flight jacket as a consolation.
Moral: When in doubt, salute…or something
And now for something completely different.
This year, 2022, we had 50 highly qualified candidates apply for sixteen $3,500 scholarships. We announced our selectees at the Annual Symposium in May and published the results in the Rotor Review. It was a good year and followed our Strategic Plan to increase scholarship amounts by $500 each year. This year, we will raise the scholarship value to $4000.
This summer, our goal is to raise an additional $12,000 (or three $4,000 scholarships) by 31 August to make up for recent unrealized investment losses and replace some corporate sponsorships that dropped off unexpectedly. Your donation can support our next scholarship winners while we rebuild our investment portfolio to ensure growth and long-term sustainment.
Please consider giving to or establishing a memorial or legacy fund (ex., NHASF General Memorial Fund, the HS-5 Night Dipper Legacy/Bill Roop Memorial, or the H-53/Big Iron Legacy) to preserve the legacy of our communities and heroes with either an annual “pass-through” or a scholarship in perpetuity.
Also, consider re-joining or extending your current membership in the NHA as a new Lifetime Member. Some will say, “Wait, I paid my dollar and got my card in the 80’s…” like I did. But those were different times. Today, it’s about sustained growth of the association.
I look forward to your support in the 2022-23 scholarship rounds and seeing you at the NHA National Symposium in May 2023 at Harrah’s SoCal Resort!
Summer in San Diego
By CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.) / President, NHAHS LTM#46 / RW#16213
it doesn’t seem possible but it is summer again in San Diego. This is the post NHA Symposium edition of the Rotor Review Magazine and a lot has happened since the gathering in Norfolk 11-13 May 2022. While I was unable to travel to Norfolk for the 2022 Symposium because of a recurring medical problem, I am happy to make the following report with regards to the NHA Symposium activities.
NHAHS accomplished the following:
Presented the Oldest Helix Award to 91 year “young” Captain Paul L. “Scratch” Hryskanich, USN (Ret.) – which was very well received with Scratch accepting the award to a standing ovation.
NHAHS presented for the first time the Silver Crew Chief Award to Master Chief Bill Moss, USN (Ret.) who is the oldest (read the wisest and most experienced) Naval Helicopter Crew Chief alive.
Another first…NHAHS presented the Golden Crew Chief Award to Master Chief Drew Smith, USN at a Region One Retired Luncheon after the Symposium as Master Chief Smith was unable to travel to Norfolk to accept the award. This award is presented to the oldest (read the wisest and most experienced) Naval Helicopter Crew Chief on Active Duty. Master Chief Smith will retire in November 2022 and is looking for his relief who will be the recipient of the next award at the 2023 Symposium.
CAPT Dave Zinger, USN (Ret.) was Awarded the Mark Starr Pioneer Award by CDR Joe Skrzypek, USN (Ret.) after the Symposium. Joe drove up the coast and presented Dave the award at his home with his wife in attendance.
I would like to acknowledge and thank all those who participated in the Top Golf Charity Event that supported both the NHA Historical Society and the NHA Scholarship Fund which was held on the last day of the Symposium on Friday Night in Virginia Beach. I heard it was a great time and raised some much-needed funds for both organizations.
I would also like to recognize Katherine Gillcrist who coordinated an Opportunity Basket Drawing at Symposium which everyone enjoyed and again raised money for both organizations. Katherine thank you for dedicating your time and efforts to coordinate this event. Well done!
Last bit of Symposium business…I would like to pile-on and congratulate CAPT Chuck Deitchman, USN (Ret.) for what has been an outstanding Navy career and all the support that he has provided NHA, the NHA Historical Society and the NHA Scholarship Fund over the years while working for Sikorsky. Chuck thank you on behalf of the entire Rotary Wing Community and Helicopter Family. We wish you and Nancy all the best in retirement!
Update on the SH-60F Project for the Front Gate at NASNI.
I would like to acknowledge the support and very generous donations made by Mr. Dan McKinnon, Benny Hunziker, Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company and General Electric (GE). Your donations are greatly appreciated and we couldn’t do a project of this magnitude without your support. Those people and two companies have been major contributors to the project thus far. For a complete list of donors, see the list here at https://sh60fhoas.navalhelicopterassociation.org/donors/. See the adjoining page if you might be interested in making a donation. I would point out that the engraved brick donations are a nice way to make a lasting tribute to your name or the name of someone else who has served in support of the Helicopter Community by purchasing a brick that will be built into the base of the monument. The SH-60F project is coming along and the plan is to dedicate the project in 2023, commemorating the 55-year anniversary of Clyde Lassen’s Rescue that was performed on 19 June 1968.
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Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society
Mark Starr awardee CAPT Dave Zinger and Mrs. Zinger
Display Aircraft Wash and Upkeep
I would like to recognize the leadership provided by Chief Matt Fleshman from the HSC Wing who planned and coordinated the last aircraft wash at Flag Circle on Thursday, May 19, 2022. This was the second wash performed by a group of volunteers and was a very successful evolution with everyone having a good time while earning 6 hours of volunteer service time toward their Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Award. A BIG “Thank You” goes out to Chief Fleshman, Mr. Walt Loftus and all those volunteers who helped wash the aircraft! Well done!
The next aircraft wash is planned for Friday, September 30, 2022 and will be coordinated and performed by the Chief Selects. I would also like to recognize and thank Mr. Steve Snietzel from Sunbelt Rentals for agreeing to donate a manlift so we can get up to those hard-to-reach areas. In a related project, USS Midway artisans along with volunteers from the Reserve Wing and HSC-85 performed a major paint touch-up effort on the H-3 Sea King at Flag Circle.
NHAHS is also working on helping to make a movie about HC-7 Sea Devils. We continue to raise funds for what will be a two hour documentary film on the squadron for television.
I would also like to thank the pilots and aircrew who supported the fly-over for the LCDR Tom Phillips Memorial Services on Saturday, June 25 which was held on board the USS Midway Museum. We appreciate your flying tribute to Tom.
That is it for now. Consider making a donation to the SH-60F Display Helicopter on a Stick. Until then, keep your turns up.
Display aircraft wash at Flag Circle Aircraft are looking good.
Rotor Review #157 Summer '22 18 Mail Checks to: Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society, Inc. (NHAHS) NASNI SH-60F Project PO Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578 To donate with Paypay visit https://www.nhahistoricalsociety.org/indexphp/donations/ and click on the Paypal icon or copy and paste this link in your browser https://www.paypal.com/donate?token=dUz7iSsDDUkFxuXCIsSpZE5lRrmAZ7M5diK1LRJ315ULqrsnyvU3nuz4WHPu0z4ZBCW7xiw34NubTIs Paypal Donation Link Computer Rendition of NASNI Stockdale Entrance with SH-60F on a Pedestal
Lethality through Learning
By CAPT George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.)
Our Rotor Review editors have teed up a great topic that flowed naturally from our 2022 NHA Symposium. While most think of “learning” as something that happens in a schoolhouse, for our community this happens every day: in ready rooms, during flight briefings, in the line shacks, and just about everywhere.
Without getting all misty-eyed about it, we should celebrate this. The way we do things is so different from the way things work in other parts of government and in industry. There, you could likely have a boss you report to who is just your manager and does not impart any “learning” to you, except to ensure that you follow all the rules and regulations of the organization.
How different it is from the way we bring along a recent FRS graduate. I’m using an aviator example, but this happens throughout a squadron. That FRS grad learns every day as a copilot until he or she acquires enough flight hours to be considered for Helicopter Aircraft Commander. The learning continues until that designation is conferred, but it doesn’t stop there. Not by a long shot.
Even experienced squadron aviators must continue to learn and take NATOPS Checks, Instrument Checks and other learning experiences across the board. Then, there is the whole learning experience of pre-deployment workups where in addition to honing your aviation skills, you learn about the ship you are deployed aboard.
Look, none of this is designed to have us beat our chests and proclaim: “We are the best and everyone else has it wrong.” Far from it, that’s not the purpose. Rather, it is to encourage us to treat those evolutions that seem like a pain as learning opportunities, not as something that has to be endured to get to some point or finish line.
Okay, so I suspect you get all that, and thus far I’ve talked about individual learning. What about learning as a squadron? That is just as important – maybe more important – as what pilots, aircrewmen or maintenance or other specialists learn in their individual roles and responsibilities. If you – especially your commanding officers, executive officers, department heads and master, senior and chief petty officers want to help this process, I recommend the book: "The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization" by Peter Senge.
I was exposed to this book years ago in graduate school and it has become a classic in the field. Here is just one editorial review:
Learning organizations are possible because, deep down, we are all learners. No one has to teach an infant to learn. In fact, no one has to teach infants anything. They are intrinsically inquisitive, masterful learners who learn to walk, speak, and pretty much run their households all on their own. Learning organizations are possible because not only is it our nature to learn but we love to learn. Most of us at one time or another have been part of a great team, a group of people who functioned together in an extraordinary way– who trusted one another, who complemented one another’s strengths and compensated for one another’s limitations, who had common goals that were larger than individual goals, and who produced extraordinary results. I have met many people who have experienced this sort of profound teamwork–in sports, or in the performing arts, or in business. Many say that they have spent much of their life looking for that experience again. What they experienced was a learning organization. The team that became great didn’t start off great–it learned how to produce extraordinary results.
Take the book for a test drive – you may find it helpful in upping your game in making your squadron a learning organization – and a more lethal one.
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 19 View
from the Labs
"On Leadership” is a feature column in which Rotary Wing Flag Officers submit articles on leadership topics of their choosing.
Get Real Get Better: Building Warfighting Advantage
By ADM Bill Lescher, USN
For 42 years, I’ve had the immense privilege of serving as a Navy leader, a naval aviator, and a proud member of the rotary-wing community. The opportunity to work with many of you, from the flight line to the halls of the Pentagon, has been deeply rewarding, and I continue to be impressed with the caliber of our team and the work we do together in support of our country.
We remain the most powerful Navy in the world. In 2021, the Navy-Marine Corps team flew over 1 million hours and steamed 22,000 days. We operated all over the world, from the Arctic to the South Pacific, protecting the nation’s interests and promoting American prosperity. No other Navy comes close to this level of global impact. The contributions that rotary-wing aviators make on a daily basis to this naval power, from hunting submarines, to providing maritime ISR, to supporting heavy-lift logistics, have been exceptional in making our Navy stronger and more lethal.
The core of our strength has always been our people and a Navy culture that values learning. Throughout the major conflicts in our history, our Sailors have learned and adapted to meet every challenge. As CNO stated back in January, “History shows the navy which adapts, learns and improves the fastest gains an enduring warfighting advantage.”
The evolution of the rotary-wing community offers a great example of the impact of those who embrace a learning mindset. From the early days of limited Search and Rescue birds, to the multi-mission, multi-domain war machines we have today, our best Sailors learned and incorporated new technology and tactics to deliver a strong warfighting advantage.
But we should be clear-eyed to the reality that our maritime superiority is in jeopardy. As we transition from two decades of primarily supporting land forces ashore in the Violent Extremist Organization (VEO) fight, we now face near-peer adversaries intent on overtaking our military dominance and challenging the international rules-based order. China is our pacing challenge, driving a shift to a sea control fight and threatening our advantage with sizeable investments in military capability, industrial capacity, technological development, and civil-military fusion. Russia’s specialization in Undersea Warfare and their destabilizing actions in Europe clearly endanger our NATO allies.
Once again, we find ourselves at the forefront of Strategic Competition, facing real and dangerous threats to our homeland and way-of-life. We must work together powerfully to accelerate our maritime advantage in this critical decade.
Across every organization in the Navy, we must ask ourselves: Are we doing enough to prepare for combat?
In our very best teams, the answer is ‘yes.’ We see highperforming leaders who embrace the learning culture needed to deliver the advantage we need. These leaders are obsessed with finding poor performance in their units. They fix problems when they’re small by systematically identifying and addressing the underlying root causes, and build inclusive teams that learn.
But over years of studying Navy performance in depth, I have seen unacceptably large variability in how we lead. In contrast to our strongest leaders and units, I see areas in our Navy where our ability to learn and improve has dulled, driven by behaviors that oppose learning. We see leaders who struggle to perform and fail to promote the learning mindset that drives our best-performing commands. Our least effective leaders have grown up in the Navy to believe that, to get ahead, they must grind through the friction of status quo processes, keep problems within the lifelines, work barriers to improvement without asking their boss for help, and solve the problems most constraining their improvement by pouring resources and activity on it rather than seeking to understand and correct root causes.
Too often across our Navy, this kind of leadership has resulted in problem-solving by addition of more instructions, more process, and more complexity. Over time, this approach, combined with an unwillingness to accept any level of failure, has overwhelmed our people with activity and bureaucracy.
While we were able to muscle through the damage from this kind of behavior in the counter-VEO fight, it is insufficient
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Tactical Operations Training at HSM-41
for Strategic Competition with China and Russia today. The inconsistent practice of Navy-best leadership and problemsolving behaviors is the greatest constraint we have to accelerating warfighting advantage.
As we deeply studied our tragic mishaps, areas of sustained weak performance, and the winning behaviors of our strongest commands, we’ve seen recurring similarities in the best leadership practices leading to our best outcomes and the root causes leading to our worst outcomes.
This learning is core to our intent to build on strong core values and Navy-proven best practices to bring consistency across the Navy to how we lead and learn.
This is what the Get Real Get Better leadership standard provides.
Get Real Get Better has focused our learning to the essential, most impactful, leadership behaviors that are both significantly different from common Navy behavior and consistently practiced by our very best Navy leaders. These behaviors come with measurable standards to hold ourselves accountable.
Building on our core values, Get Real means having the courage to transparently self-assess—to build teams that embrace frank, hard, looks at our performance and understand our actual strengths and shortcomings. Get Better is the commitment to improve—to be self-correcting: taking pride in high standards and fixing problems together when they’re small, before they grow large and complex, focusing on what matters most in a disciplined way.
These principles are how our best commands throughout the Navy learn and build winning teams today.
Throughout the next few months, you’ll be hearing more about the Get Real Get Better leadership standard as we work to bring consistency to how Sailors lead. In the long-term, this initiative includes reforms to our talent management and personnel systems (such as changes to FITREPs, Evals, and promotion board precepts) so that we reward and promote Sailors who embrace this proven way of leading. Additionally, we’ll teach and reinforce these leadership and problem solving best-practices throughout a Sailor’s career, from accession pipelines to milestone schools, so that they are better prepared to lead and solve problems in the future.
As we work to bring more consistency to learning and leadership in the Navy, here are three Get Real Get Better leadership behaviors you can start doing today.
Act transparently, up and down the chain of command. Fixing problems at speed requires strong self-assessment and bold “Get Real” conversations with each other.
Transparency allows us to align on standards and goals, and understand whether we are meeting them. We see the power of transparency in how we mission plan and debrief flights, with no-holds-barred feedback—regardless of rank—and a focus on what didn’t go well rather than just the good. This strong behavior of “embracing the red” performance in order to learn must come alive in every part of Navy work, from readiness generation, to weapons development, to personnel issues. Unless we Get Real through hard conversations with each other, we cannot Get Better.
Focus on what matters most. Our Get Better commitment to continuously self-correct requires each of us to prioritize risks and understand root cause. Taking the few extra steps to define the problem, “ask why five times,” or identify friction points will lead to better results because we are solving the real problem and learning along the way. Instead of rushing in with temporary solutions or added requirements and complexity, we must use proven methods to focus effort to the most impactful actions, and put solutions in place that last. When working to solve problems, our strongest leaders are the ones who take pride in removing barriers for their people. This can be done inside a department, at the squadron-level or across the wing. Measure yourselves on the opportunities to do so.
Build learning teams. Every leader must foster a culture of trust and respect in their commands, where Sailors can feel empowered to learn, innovate and contribute. Our teams cannot effectively learn absent the trust established by strong care and respect for our people. Our teams cannot embrace the red absent the trust that engenders frank and honest conversations. Caring for and respecting our people manifests in how we train and mentor them as individuals, equipping them with the tools and skills they need to excel in any environment they might encounter. We’ve seen as well that learning teams require leaders who clearly specify ownership of problems and opportunities so the team understands exactly how to collaborate to support making their team better.
There’s much more to Get Real Get Better, but if we lead more strongly in just these three ways, we’ve learned that we can powerfully improve our ability to adapt, learn and improve, the keys to winning in combat.
It starts with each of us. With key roles across our Navy, you are the generation that will meet the challenges ahead and, should conflict come in this critical decade, lead in combat. How you lead and learn today drives the Navy culture that we’ll have when the fight starts. For us to win, this must be a learning culture, building on how our best teams lead and solve problems today. I am confident that Get Real Get Better is the right approach, and that you are the right ones to make it come alive.
The Importance of Being Present – What I’ve Learned from Meditation
By CAPT Brannon S. Bickel, USN
Besides the universal leadership traits of courage and humility, Naval leaders must be able to listen and be present in the current moment. Being present builds the connections that we make with others. In addition to character and competency, connection is a critical component in the Navy Leader Development Framework. Our connections bring us closer together as a combat element, as a detachment, squadron, and as a Rotary Wing Community. Connections at work not only build trust in each other but also confidence that we will prevail when we find ourselves in a crisis. NHA is our connection between HSM, HSC, HM, VRM, USCG, and USMC. It is also our connection to the past – the leaders and heroes who have come before us – the proverbial “giants on whose shoulders we stand.” My relationships with our retirees from the community motivate me to be better. I certainly enjoy their sea stories but I am most proud to tell our story to them. Stories of the demanding work that you all put in everyday to fly and train with our Air Wings, onboard our carriers, destroyers, cruisers, military sealift vessels, and littoral combat ships. Stories about how we battled through COVID-19 to deploy carrier strike groups and an amphibious readiness group on time during a global pandemic. The mental toughness required to fly, fight, and fix aircraft on deployment without the previous reward of an overseas port visit. Sustainment deployments, unplanned surges in support of our National Defense Strategy, deterring peer actions that would threaten allies or the sovereignty of nations, and the freedom to navigate on the open oceans of the Indo-Pacific, North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Seas. This is all challenging work that has had a tax on our mental state. Being present in our daily lives helps reduce that mental stress and enables us to stay connected to those around us.
What are things that we can do to be more present in daily life? Personally, I can turn away from distractions when I’m talking to my spouse or children. If the TV is on or music is playing in the background, turn it off and be present in the conversation. I’m guilty of using my phone at the dinner table. You can hear the dialogue, “Sorry babe, it’s a work issue I have to handle.” If we want to truly be present for our family, it would be better to leave the phone somewhere else or turn on the do not disturb function. We can dedicate quiet time for reflection every day. What I’ve learned from meditation is that a simple practice devoted to a focus of attention whereby
one does not respond to every itch, sound, or annoyance can have a powerful effect on one’s ability to focus on what’s profoundly important when not meditating. I’m not trying to reach a different state of mind or harness a new skill that will make me more mindful. I already have the skills to be mindful. I just need to be present and aware to recognize that I live life moment by moment. Meditating is being aware for a fixed period of time. The answer that we’re looking for is found during many moments of awareness throughout the day – being present and leaving our worries and anxiety aside.
Meditation helps me build the critical skills of concentration, clarity, authenticity, gratitude, and equanimity. These are qualities that I’m trying to improve. I think those are skills that would make us all better leaders.
So back to the question, how does meditation make me better – more resilient, tough under pressure, and lethal? Through the practice of meditation, I can slow down my response and allow myself to focus on what is profoundly important in the moment. It calms the inner voice that brings so much chaos into my daily life. I can filter out noise and act on the most important thing. The practice better enables clarity in crisis and drives a conditioned response like that first step of every emergency procedure – step 1: Take a breath. The more we can prepare for the day when we are called to action, the better. Building mental toughness is just as important as building physical toughness.
In a broader context, building combat lethality is a herculean effort, but a simple practice of daily discipline can have a profound effect on our individual toughness. That toughness builds as we train, operate, and practice our tactics, techniques, and procedures. Through repetition, like a weightlifter, our mental muscles are honed into precision, and we gain confidence in our ability to operate the next time. Those building blocks eventually turn into credible combat power and demonstrate to our adversaries that we are willing to impose a cost to protect the solidarity of nations, to strengthen alliances, and to protect freedom of navigation. As Americans, it’s more than our moral obligation. We have a direct and visceral interest in maintaining the rules-based order of the world and protecting our way of life. 330 million American citizens are counting on us!
Rotor Review #157 Summer '22 22 Commodore's Corner
Navy Core Values: The Guiding light for our Sailors and the World
LCDR Rob “OG” Swain, USN
Aisatsu ( ) Naval Helicopter Association! I’m writing to you in the midst of CVW-5 preparations for our annual summer patrol aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). While I personally relish the challenges and rewards of life in the forward deployed naval force (FDNF), I will not deny that for the thousands of families stationed in Japan, annual deployments call for a level of sacrifice unique to the FDNF optempo. The proximity of our global competitors, the immediacy and unpredictability of their actions, and the operational availability of U.S. forces oblige our units to “get ready and stay ready.” Whether at sea or training ashore, when fatigue, complacency, or cynicism begin to cast a shadow over service, allow our Navy’s core values to provide a “guiding light” toward resilience–more to follow on that later.
The demands of continuously operating forward deployed challenges our units to directly engage with the Navy core values of honor, courage, and commitment on a daily basis. Honor – the privilege to live in a foreign country requires each individual Sailor to demonstrate integrity and respect to themselves, their shipmates, and the population of the host nation. Courage – the regional security imperative to deploy inside contested and disputed territory can prove volatile. It takes courage to own the decision making and risks which carry strategic implications. Commitment – effective leaders recognize that the all-volunteer nature of our Navy is what makes us most lethal. Every service member who raises their hand and takes the oath understands that they commit to selflessly serve ideals greater than their own desires. While all three core values shape the ethos and cultural foundation of our Navy, no virtue is attainable without the courage to take the hard road and defend what is right and just. In this segment of Report from the Rising Sun (RFTRS), we’re going to talk about courage.
One of the greatest examples of American ingenuity, Thomas Edison, contributes beautifully to the historical discourse on courage. In 1931, during his final public address, Edison shared:
"My message to you is: be courageous! I have lived a long time. I have seen history repeat itself again and again. I have seen many depressions in business. Always America has come out stronger and more prosperous. Be as brave as your fathers before you. Have faith! Go forward!"
When I first read this quote in John Maxwell’s book, Success is a Choice, I wondered if Edison bore any affiliation with Japan during his life and work. I am not an Edisonian historian, so I googled “Edison…Japan.” The search generated an exciting tale intertwined with examples of commitment and courage which I am eager to share.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, Edison had joined the ranks of international inventors seeking to commercialize the incandescent lamp (light bulb). Incandescent lamps function by using electricity to heat a thin strip of material, called a filament, until the material grows hot enough to glow and produce light. This cohort of inventors and engineers faced a litany of issues keeping the lamps aglow – some light bulbs will only stay illuminated for short periods of time, others can function longer but at costs preclusive to large scale commercialization.
Undeterred by failure, Edison demonstrated commitment to the objective. Later in life, he said that between 1878-1880 he and his assistants “tested no fewer than 6,000 vegetable growths, and ransacked the world for the most suitable filament material.” After trial and thousands of errors, Edison concluded that carbonized cotton demonstrated the properties he was looking for in a light bulb filament. His carbonized cotton light bulb remained lit for a record 14 hours.
Through all of his endeavors toward discovery, Edison understood the force-multiplying impacts of a strong team aligned through clear guidance and a commonly understood vision. Edison leaned heavily on his network of assistants to load-share, synergize ideas, and sustain constant vigilance despite failures. One of his assistants returned to the New Jersey laboratory with a souvenir bamboo hand fan from Japan. Edison carbonized a fiber from the fan and the bamboo filament burned for 1,000 hours. Without delay, Edison sent his team all over the world to find the best bamboo.
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One of these assistants, William Thomas Moore, journeyed to Japan and was received by the Japanese Prime Minister in Tokyo. The Prime Minister directed Moore to Yamata, a small town on the outskirts of the ancient city, Kyoto. There, on Mount Otokayama, bamboo grows in forests surrounding a twelfth century shrine. The priests from Iwashimuzu Hachimangu shrine assisted Moore in harvesting bamboo samples to bring back to New Jersey. Edison proceeded to standardize the bamboo filament and bamboo remained in commercialized light bulbs for the next 24 years.
In 1934, three years after Edison’s death, the Japanese commissioned a memorial on Mount Otokayama dedicated to the man who brought light to Japan. Yamata City established annual festivals on Edison’s birthday (Edison Setai-San) and the day of his death (Edison Hizen-Sai). Seven years later, shortly after Japan launched their attack on Pearl Harbor and war erupted between our two nations, the Japanese government instructed Iwashimuzu Hachimangu shrine to tear down the monument honoring a national of the enemy
state. The Shinto priests defiantly responded, “Science has no borders.” Due to the courage and commitment of those Japanese priests to their principles, the monument remained standing throughout World War II, and Mount Otokayama still hosts visitors to the Edison memorial today.
Navy core values shape the fundamental beliefs of our sea service, but honor, courage, and commitment are virtues threaded through the common tapestry of human history. They provide a bridge which transcends culture, language, nationality, and geography. By reflecting on and choosing to live by Navy core values in and out of the aircraft, you set a global standard of excellence. This is an example which affirms to our partners and allies that they should continue to look to the United States as the paragon of freedom, democracy, and virtue, thus emboldening them to join in deterrence of coercion and aggression around the world. Be courageous! Have faith! Go forward! Fly Navy! And standby for future Reports from the Rising Sun.
CNO Updates Professional Reading Program
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral Mike Gilday, released an update to the CNO Professional Reading Program on May 6.
The CNO-Professional Reading Program consists of 12 books and is a mix of writing genres including fiction, non-fiction, military, strategy, management, and technology, among others. “A learning mindset is essential to accelerating our warfighting advantage,” said Gilday. “A Navy that learns, adapts, and improves the fastest will be the most successful. Knowledge sharing is essential to creating a learning culture.”
The goal of the program is to contribute to a culture dedicated to warfighting and learning, while simultaneously supporting the personal and professional development of Sailors beyond that of their primary designator or rating.
This is a graphic made for Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday's Professional Reading List 2022. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Amanda Gray.
“We are driving a Fleet-wide campaign of selfimprovement,” said Gilday. “We must foster an organization that supports and empowers Sailors to have an independent quest for knowledge through reading and information sharing. What you know and how fast you learn is relevant in this era of strategic competition.”
The following books are included in the newly released update:
To Rule the Waves by Bruce Jones
A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy by James Holmes China as a 21st Century Naval Power by Michael. A. McDevitt Not One Inch by Mary E. Sarotte
The Sailor’s Bookshelf: Fifty Books to Know the Sea by Admiral James G. Stavridis Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War by Paul Scharre Fortune Favors Boldness by Barry Costello
The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour by James Hornfischer World War II at Sea: A Global History by Craig Symonds
Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle T. Lemmon Dare to Lead by Brene Brown Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
Here is a link to CNO’s Professional Reading Program website: https://www.navy.mil/CNO-Professional-Reading-Program/.
Most of the books are available at no cost to Sailors in both e-Book and digital audio format from the Navy MWR digital library collection. Eligible patrons can download the books through: https://www.navymwrdigitallibrary.org.
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Seadevils and HT-28 Hellions: Creating a Learning Culture
By LT Audrey “PAM!” Petersen, USN HT-28 PAO
In the fall of 2021, CNATRA directed a shift of focus for All Instructor Meetings (AIMs) with emphasis on professional development and safety pauses. To date, the HT-28 “Hellions” have branched outside typical around-the-room style wardroom AIMs in response to CNATRA direction. The “Hellions” Instructor Pilots visited the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola and learned about the Navy’s initial helicopter trainer, learned about the history of its namesake (VMF218 “Hellions”) and its WW2 combat actions, and celebrated its birthday with the "Hellion Big Stick” Competition to test leadership, teambuilding, and tactical prowess. Every good aviator has NATOPS procedures, EPs, limits, and tactical considerations committed to memory. But, long after forgetting those numbers, great aviators continue to tell the “there I was” sea stories that tested them. This past April, on the 55 year anniversary of its establishment, the men and women of the Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 7 (HC-7) “Seadevils” and their families gathered for their biennial reunion on Pensacola Beach. The HT-28 IP cadre participated in this year’s reunion, reading tales of heroic rescues under fire and hearing those great sea stories and Vietnam combat experiences which helped develop current Fleet CSAR tactics.
As the Navy’s first and only active duty dedicated CSAR squadron, HC-7 remains one of the highest decorated Navy helicopter squadrons to date. The “Seadevils” dedicated over seven years to CSAR missions during the Vietnam War and logged close to 100 wartime rescues. Every Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard pilot who has received Wings of Gold since January of 2017 has been pinned in the CDR Clyde E. Lassen Memorial Auditorium onboard NAS Whiting Field. CDR (then LTJG) Lassen was awarded the Medal of Honor for the June 19, 1968 rescue of two downed aviators in hostile Vietnamese territory. Lassen, the aircraft commander, executed multiple rescue attempts in the midst of enemy fire well after midnight during low light conditions. Their crew eventually succeeded in the pickup via use of the landing light as the only means of communication (even though it risked exposing their position). His crew successfully rescued the two downed aviators and landed onboard USS Jouett (DLG 29) with an estimated five minutes of fuel remaining.
CDR Lassen’s rescue report was just one of many that laid protected in binders on the reunion tables this year. More than 80 individually numbered stickies were tacked onto corresponding areas of rescues, or attempted rescues, on Vietnam area charts hung on the walls of the hotel reception room. Four of those neon tags told the accomplishments of LT Harry Zinzer, who had four CSAR pickups in a period of two weeks and was later awarded the Navy Cross for his actions. His first was July 24, 1972, when he and his crew took off in Big Mother 71 to rescue the aircrew of an F-4E Phantom that had been shot down by a MiG-21 during a daytime raid. The report was laden with impressive details about Big Mother 71’s HIFR and RESCAP coordination prior to arriving on scene. Statements from AO3 Hilyer (crew chief) detailed how the aircraft, crew, and survivors took enemy fire from all directions while trying to jump AT2 McCann (rescue swimmer) at 10 feet/10 knots for the pickup. In true Navy fashion, he made sure to rag on one of the Air Force aviators he rescued and documented that the pilot entered his horse collar backwards. His biggest takeaway was that he recommended more training for the Air Force pilots in his after action report. Go Navy!
The pilots, rescue swimmers, maintainers, and surviving generations of HC-7 squadron members proudly reunite every couple of years to keep their own sea stories at the forefront. This year, aviators spanning close to three generations sat amongst each other comparing deployment experiences, remembering fallen brothers and sisters, and discussing the impressive commonalities between Vietnam era tactics and common day Fleet CSAR tactics. HT-28 Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard Instructor Pilots shared their own sea stories from 5th Fleet Gulf and Straits of Hormuz transits, 7th Fleet Guam and Japan deployments to the South China Sea, Air Ambulance Iraq exposure, and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) support. Current Fleet trained CSAR tactics can be attributed to the expertise of the “Seadevils” of HC-7 and their sacrifices, expertise, and heroically historical accounts from 1967-1975. The HC-7 commemoration website is filled with over 1,000 publicly accessible documents, pictures, and rescue reports that can be found at: (http://www.hc7seadevils.org/new/index2.html).
Aircrewman Mark Becker, CAPT (ret.) Tom Pruter, and LT Audrey PAM! Petersen are photographed in the memorabilia room. Navy Cross awardees, Bill Young and Harry Zinser, are being interviewed by a local reporter for their night time rescue of a downed A-7 pilot on 7 Aug 1972.
Leadership, NATOPS…and Amazon
By CDR Matt “Trash” Persiani, USN (Ret.)
This is a transition story of how my resume of experience in Naval Aviation, insightful civilian leadership, and NATOPS knowledge got me a job with Amazon Web Services.
When I made the decision to transition out of the Navy, I set my sites on the big tech world of cloud computing. I see cloud technology as the way of the computing future, and I wanted to be a part of it. The largest cloud computing companies in the world, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, are all competing for the Joint Warfare Cloud Computing (JWCC) contracts as part of the DoD’s effort to migrate into the cloud computing realm. Post-Navy, I decided that industry is where I wanted to be. I could envision my path forward and I knew I had a chance despite being a helicopter pilot and not a computer engineer. My undergrad degree was in Information Technology from Virginia Tech, but it was 21 years old. My IT education was antiquated to say the least–the programming I learned was to fix Y2K problems! But because of the JWCC initiative I knew my security clearance and program management skills would be valuable. I saw the JWCC as an opportunity to put one foot in industry while also keeping one foot in the DoD so I could leverage what experience I did have in a world far away from Naval Aviation.
In my transition process, I rewrote my resume countless times and read hundreds of job descriptions. Reading the job descriptions for the big tech companies, especially in cloud computing, proved demoralizing at times when I constantly read the minimum requirements for the roles. This was especially true for someone like myself who has been a helicopter pilot for the past 21 years with zero industry cloud experience, and who was not a programmer or network engineer. The overarching theme of the roles posted on Amazon, Google, and Microsoft was for someone who had a Top Secret or higher clearance, 5-10 years of Leadership and Program Management experience, and was a computer scientist or network engineer with 3-5 years of cloud experience. I’m still not sure where these unicorns exist but I figured I had two of the three, so why not me?
Trying to get my foot in the door with the big tech companies was harder than I anticipated. I finally got an opportunity when N98 supported me to do a Skillbridge Program. I was able to connect with the Skillbridge Recruiter and Program Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS) who was aggressive in helping me find a fellowship. He connected me with the technical recruiter for the Amazon Dedicated Cloud (ADC) Network Engineering Team. During my phone call screening, I told the recruiter the extent of my technical experience. He assured me the team he wanted to place me on needed my skill set despite my lack of computer networking experience. The team was having problems recruiting people with a security clearance, leadership, and program management skills who were also experienced cloud network engineers. Apparently,
those people are hard to find. So, I interviewed with John, the Team Manager. I was very upfront with him regarding my technical experience, but he told me, “Hey, you have two of the things I can’t teach. Leadership and a security clearance. I can teach you networking.” I got the fellowship with AWS working as a Technical Program Manager (TPM) designing networks for new cloud data centers.
The fellowship was going great! I was placed on a great team and assigned a great mentor who really took the time to teach me the ins and outs of the AWS Cloud and how to manage the building of networks for data centers. Our team’s network engineer was a former Navy Sailor who loved to tell me his sea stories. He was also a great mentor and teacher for me to understand the nuts and bolts of massive computer networks. The whole team, from John on down, really embraced me and wanted me to succeed. After a few weeks, I was told I would get my chance to “Loop” for a full time position, and that’s when I started getting nervous.
The “Loop” is Amazon’s interview process. Nobody escapes doing the Loop, it is sort of a badge of honor within the company. If Jeff Bezos decided to come back to Amazon, I’m sure he’d have to Loop. The Loop entails a writing assignment along with about five separate interviews, each about an hour long. For the TPM Loop, which I was facing, the interviewers deep dive into your leadership, program management, culture, and technical experience. The Loop is a HAC Board on steroids.
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So why was I nervous for a HAC Board? I wasn’t, for the most part. I can talk about leadership and program management with the best of them. I was nervous for the technical part of the interview. I worked hard and had learned a lot of technical networking knowledge in my first month as a fellow at AWS, but I knew that I could not hold up against the other TPMs on my team who have been doing networking for over 10 years. There was no way I was going to pass the technical part of the Loop answering questions about diagnosing Border Gateway Protocols or mapping a subnet. I knew I could get there; I just needed more time than my two month fellowship would allow.
The last month of my fellowship went great, and I continued to learn volumes. Slowly, I was able to hold my own in the conversations with the engineers. It was time for my Loop. Despite our earlier conversation, John decided to test my technical knowledge during my interview. He gave me plenty of warning and opportunity to study. He also told me that if I did well enough on the program management and leadership portions of the Loop, but fell short on the technical stuff, our original plan to be hired as a PM was still an option. I studied Amazon’s 16 leadership principles and had career experiences for each one to demonstrate I met Amazon’s leadership and program management standards. I also studied my technical notes, the Networking For Dummies book, and many Amazon training videos. My career in Naval Aviation readied me for this experience.
I scheduled a meeting with John to discuss my concerns of heading into a potential technical firing squad on my Loop. I could not afford being set up to fail. I had two months left in the Navy and needed a job. John was great and understood my concern and situation. He offered me the opportunity to continue with the fellowship and he would strip the technical portion of my Loop and bring me on as a regular Program Manager (PM) instead of a TPM with the understanding that I would study to earn the “T” in six to nine months. Basically, hire me as an H2P with the expectation of making HAC.
John explained how important the “T” was at Amazon, a tech company, and why it was in the best interest for both me and the team. The difference between a TPM and a PM at Amazon is the difference between a designated and undesignated Sailor in the Navy. There is plenty of work for an undesignated Sailor to do but only a designated Sailor has a career path with true value to the organization. Same goes for a TPM vs. PM at Amazon. Please do not mistake this as PMs are not valued by Amazon, they certainly are, but TPMs and PMs are on different pay scales for a reason. The TPM is expected to have the ability to get their hands dirty with the Network and Software Engineers in the troubleshooting of technical hardware and software issues. Sound familiar? Having a PM doing the work of a TPM would be like having a VFA pilot as your copilot on an FCF. The fighter pilot can read a checklist and understands aviation but can do very little in troubleshooting with the maintenance team to create an up helicopter. In a way, Amazon program management values technical acumen the same way as Naval Aviation.
After my five hour Loop, my brain felt like I just finished my first HAC Board. Overall, it went great. The leadership and program management portions were tough but nothing a Naval Aviator couldn’t handle. I thought I even held my own during the technical interview. There were plenty of questions I didn’t know the answer to but, as advised, when I didn’t know an answer, I didn’t guess. After a few days John told me I did well, but I was going to be given a job offer as a PM with a training track to be a TPM. I always knew that was the most likely outcome and I was pumped! After a tough year, I got my job doing cloud computing at Amazon.
Then came the job offer. Remember I mentioned how the organization values a designated Sailor vs. an undesignated Sailor? I found out just how much Amazon values a TPM vs. a PM. I expected my total compensation to be lower as a PM compared to a TPM, but I was not prepared for the offer I received. I could not support my family on the salary offered in Northern Virginia, even with my retirement income. The offer was beyond the reasonable negotiating window.
With only three weeks, and two paychecks, remaining in the Navy at this point, my situation wasn’t as dire as it seemed. Throughout my fellowship at Amazon, I hedged my bets and continued my job search with other companies. I wasn’t about to put all my eggs in one basket. I was fortunate enough to get a great job offer in the global risk management division of a large financial tech company. The job was great, and the total compensation was where I wanted to be. The company is incredible, and even though financial risk doesn’t excite me as much as cloud computing, I was fortunate to have that job offer.
I scheduled a meeting with my Amazon manager John to discuss my job offer. I told him about my other offer and said thank you, but no thank you to my offer from Amazon. After I compared the two job offers with him, he didn’t question my decision one bit and he knew I was doing what was best for my family. He told me he felt bad the job offer was low, way lower than he even expected it to be, but Amazon has
their pay scales and his hands were tied. John also told me that he thought I did well enough on the technical part of my Loop where he voted to bring me on as a TPM, but the other interviewers voted for the PM route. Too much detail for this story, but even though John was the hiring manager, Amazon’s hiring process did not give him the final say. I thanked John for the opportunity he gave me and said my goodbyes to the team I worked with as a fellow.
Two days later, as I was proceeding forward with my financial tech job offer, I received a phone call from John. He told me that he went to bat for me and pleaded my case to the Director for AWS Cloud Networking Operations, Greg, to be hired as a TPM. John said Greg was willing to have a conversation with me to discuss the opportunity and to expect a call that afternoon. I had no idea what to expect but I wasn’t getting my hopes up. What I expected to be a “conversation” turned into a two hour phone interview.
Greg wanted to test my technical acumen to see if I could handle the TPM role. For the first hour he dug deep into my job as a Requirements Officer in the Pentagon. Greg has no military or aviation background, but he asked perceptive questions regarding conversations I had with NAVAIR engineers trying to acquire a passive detection system for the MH-60S. We talked about the SLAP/SLEP process as well as technical upgrades to the MQ-8C to include an optical landing system with see-and-avoid technology and my role as a Requirements Officer to ensure we deployed the capabilities our customers needed. Trying to describe the technical details of my job at N98 to someone who doesn’t speak Pentagon, budgets, NAVAIR, or Naval Aviation was difficult to say the least.
"I think my description of the hydraulic system to Greg would have passed a CO’s NATOPS check but any MH-60 JO NATOPS Officer probably would’ve laughed at my system knowledge."
Greg’s second round of questioning was the most interesting. He asked me to pick a system, whether it be a system I worked on at AWS or any other system and describe the technical details. He wanted me to get as detailed as I could while discussing the system engineering and dependencies. First thing that went through my head was, I thought I was done with NATOPS Checks. Guess not, because I spent the next 45 minutes breaking down the Hydraulic System of the MH-60S NATOPS Check. I started off with, “There are two primary pumps and one backup …” and went from there. I discussed the Leak Detection and Isolation System, Tail Rotor Servos, Boost Servos, and more. I even went into the emergency procedures and how pilots interacted with the system. He asked a lot of questions throughout. Keep in mind I hadn’t
thought about the Hydraulic System in over two years. I barely thought about it during my CO/XO tour. I think my description of the Hydraulic System to Greg would have passed a CO’s NATOPS Check but any MH-60 JO NATOPS Officer probably would’ve laughed at my systems knowledge.
So, there I was, after a year of job searching, a Skillbridge fellowship, a rejected job offer, breaking down basic NATOPS knowledge with the Director for Amazon Cloud Networking Operations for a Hail Mary pass. It worked! After two hours Greg told me he was impressed. He said I was verbose when discussing my Pentagon job but when I discussed the systems of a helicopter I sounded like an engineer. He told me that I sounded confident while getting extremely technical. My reply was that it came from a place of confidence and 21 years of Naval Aviation training, and that any Naval Aviator could do it. Greg’s final compliment to me was that he wished every TPM at Amazon could discuss their systems the way I knew helicopter systems. Again, imagine what a JO could’ve done. He said all I needed was some time around Amazon spaces in conversations with engineers to learn the systems and I would be fine. I got the job offer for a TPM at AWS the next day. A job offer which I gladly accepted.
In the following weeks after I accepted my job offer with Amazon, I reflected on how the hiring process transpired. My first thought was that civilians who have no ties to Naval Aviation mostly understand our skills are transferable to industry. What I believe is misunderstood by our civilian counterparts who read our resumes is the standards Naval Aviators and Naval Aircrew train to in both systems and tactics and how those standards could be valued by their organizations. I’m still in shock that a leader at Amazon Web Services wished his tech people knew their systems as well as a retired Naval Aviator knew his aircraft systems. The standards we hold ourselves to in Naval Aviation, along with
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Instructor pilot Marine Capt. John Anderson and student pilots Marine 1st Lt. Shay Farrell and ENS Mathew Kautzman review their preflight brief prior to last familiarization (FAM) flight. U.S. Marine Corps photo by 1st Lt. Pawel Puczko, USMC.
our leadership abilities, are what make us amongst the best in the world at mission accomplishment. But how do you translate the total value of a Naval Aviator or Naval Aircrew successfully, beyond the job descriptions and accomplishments, on a resume or LinkedIn profile when applying for a job that has nothing to do with aviation or the Navy? I haven’t figured that one out yet. Based on my experience as a helicopter pilot and Naval Officer, I never would’ve directly applied for the role I was hired into and if I did apply I wouldn’t blame a hiring manager for passing on me. What it took for me was an opportunity to put my ability on display via Skillbridge and show them I could do the job. Every single one of you could have done what I did and probably have done it better.
My second thought was a reflection of my own leadership style. How do I professionally judge the value of people to an organization? How do I determine what people are ultimately capable of? Do I take their potential more on face value by reading FITREPS, EVALS, resumes, LinkedIn, and word-of-mouth? Sure, those are good inputs, but have I given people the opportunity to demonstrate their value outside of their subject matter expertise for the sake of organizational growth? Have I asked them the right questions? I’m not sure I’ve ever taken that risk on someone. Up until now, I’m not sure anyone has taken that risk on me. On a macro level, the Navy moves people to different jobs to develop us as well rounded leaders but, at the end of the day, we mostly remain within the DoD and have some level of useful knowledge no matter the billet. Even though I had little technical experience required by all the cloud computing job descriptions I discussed earlier, I didn’t fully understand how much Naval Aviation did to prepare me for this career transition. I got the job opportunity I set out for because a couple of civilian leaders, with no military experience, gave me the opportunity to demonstrate the value I described on my resume. They also dug deep with some odd questions to determine that I would be successful in their organization because they saw the inherent value in me which was developed from a career in Naval Aviation. I won’t let them down.
When it comes time for you to transition out of the service, remember that the totality of everything you have worked on in your career, no matter how menial of an impact you think it might have on your future is the key; experiences to include SDO, NATOPS Lectures, Admin Queens, SAR Evals, and FOD Walkdown, have contributed to and enriched the value you bring to an organization. When I started my career transition process, I thought my value to industry was the culmination of my accomplishments listed on my LinkedIn profile. What I have realized is that we are more valuable than the jobs we’ve held and the accomplishments we describe on our resume. Our challenge is in translating our comprehensive value developed duringa career in Naval Aviation to someone outside of the DoD. Not easy, but not impossible either.
Good luck! Study NATOPS, because you never know, and fly safe. If I can ever answer questions or help with your transition, find me on LinkedIn. I’m excited for the opportunity to pay forward the help that so many have offered me this past year. I’ll see you on the other side.
The Importance of Saying Something
By LT Andrew “Gonzo” Gregory, USN
On July 31, 2019, while embarked on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), I was the co-pilot of an MH-60S tasked with conducting a routine logistics mission. The first ship we were supposed to land on was late for an underway replenishment, and was therefore reluctant to slow down and turn into the wind–standard procedure prior to landing helicopters. When they provided us with their heading and wind readings, we realized that there would be a true tailwind on our approach. However, since they would be moving so quickly, we would at least still have a relative headwind. The ship also possessed a significant pitch and roll, providing us with a non-standard but technically legal approach overall.
At the time, I was an inexperienced helicopter second pilot (H2P) so my helicopter aircraft commander (HAC) elected to take the landing. Largely due to the sporty conditions, we experienced a relatively hard landing, touching down with the right wheel first as the ship was rolling upward on the starboard side. A moment later, the crew chief, HAC and I began to feel a lateral oscillation develop in the helicopter. Within seconds it had grown so severe that we were being physically thrown from side to side. Alarmed, we requested an emergency takeoff.
Immediately after becoming airborne, the violent oscillations stopped. Sufficiently rattled by the experience, we orbited while we determined whether the aircraft was safe. The crew agreed that it felt like we had just experienced ground resonance. We consulted our NATOPS which specifically delineated that ground resonance can be caused by a blade flying out of track, a malfunctioning damper, or a peculiar set of landing conditions. It further expanded upon “landing conditions” to include hard one-wheel landings, large descents coupled with drifts, and landing downslope with aft cyclic as potential contributors to ground resonance. We knew that the flight deck of this ship naturally had a three-degree downslope, and thus concluded that we had in fact experienced many of the peculiar landing conditions that lead to ground resonance. However, since NATOPS also specifically said the MH-60S “does not have a history of ground resonance,” we decided that we might be mistaken in our diagnosis of the problem. After a few minutes of discussion, we agreed that we would be safe to re-attempt a landing if the ship slowed down and turned into the wind, thereby reducing the chance that we could re-experience such a difficult landing and avoid any peculiar landing conditions.
The ship complied and we landed without issue. Our mission included multiple other shipboard landings which then continued for the rest of the day without any other issues. We hot-seated the aircraft and it continued to fly for another six hours with multiple other crews before shutting down at
the end of the day. It was only then that it was discovered that one of the damper hoses had disconnected in-flight and the aircraft had lost all of the hydraulic pressure in the rotor head. Upon learning this, we were convinced that we had in fact experienced ground resonance, and were confused as to why our publication suggested this never occurred. Concerned, I wrote an email to a Sikorsky engineer describing what had transpired to which he replied that all H-60s experience instances of ground resonance and damper hose failures are a recurring catalyst. Shocked, I wrote an article about our experience and submitted it to our Commanding Officer (CO) prior to making HAC. In the article, I made note of the fact that our NATOPS was misleading about the likeliness of ground resonance and pointed out that what we had done to overcome the issue was actually the opposite of what our emergency procedures said to do in the event of unusual vibrations. However, while my writing was well received by my CO, I was unsure that my findings were worth sharing with the community at large since no harm had been done to any people and the maintenance required to fix the damper was relatively simple.
In the end, I did not submit it for publication. I did not believe that anyone would be interested in the experience of a first tour JO. I knew that articles recounting aircraft emergencies were published all the time. Yet, I let my belief that the community did not need another near-mishap story, prevent me from proliferating information that could have helped others stay safe. I did not sound the alarm about the fact that our publications delivered us a falsehood, saying that this dangerous aircraft state was an unlikely occurrence for the MH-60R/S. I did not submit a NATOPS Change, believing it might be received with apathy. Perhaps this assumption was correct. To my knowledge, no article in a publication such as Rotor Review has ever resulted in a change to aircraft emergency procedures or maintenance practices. However, I do know that the pervasiveness of this issue was not brought to the attention of anyone outside of my squadron, and the MH-60 R/S Communities at large remained unaware of this problem, a fact that would be fatal.
On August 31, 2021, two years after my experience, Loosefoot 616 experienced a hydraulic damper failure on short final to the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and immediately upon landing was beset by a violent lateral oscillation due to ground resonance. Less than 20 seconds later, the aircraft ripped itself to pieces and flipped over the side of the aircraft carrier. Five of six crew members died.
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Immediately after the crash, and after initial findings suggested that ground resonance could have been the cause, squadrons across both communities held meetings to address the emergency. The discussions that resulted from these meetings revealed that many pilots had experienced ground resonance in the H-60 at one time or another over the course of their careers. What’s more, many of them had been identified as linked to similar mechanical failures that had occurred both in my experience and in the 616 crash. Even in the relatively short time-period since the loss of 616, multiple MH-60R/ Ss experienced ground resonance before widespread corrective actions were taken to address the issue. Now that the problem was being talked about openly, many of us were alarmed both that this emergency occurred so frequently and that it was so shockingly underreported.
Since the findings were released, I’ve heard several senior officers say that they had no idea ground resonance was even possible before the crash occurred. This should be a concerning revelation to all of us in the naval helicopter community. The lack of reporting and lack of proliferation of community knowledge about a recurring emergency speaks to both the inadequacy of our current reporting systems and the insufficient attention we give to matters of safety. It appears as though many aviators and their squadrons over the years just didn’t say anything about the matter since it had yet to result in a catastrophic accident.
Naval Aviation is often lauded for its culture of sharing hardearned lessons amongst its members. Nevertheless, the naval helicopter community has fallen short. I, along with many others, failed to bring this issue to light when doing so may have prevented a devastating loss of life. In the Navy, aircrews have traditionally been required to submit brief reports called ASAPs after every flight. I’ve never heard of a squadron that enforced this requirement with consistency, especially because the associated website often didn’t work (especially while underway). Historically, squadrons were incentivized to record ASAPs because safety award metrics included documentation that the number of ASAPs submitted corresponded to the number of sorties flown. This incentive notably lacked any importance placed upon quality of safety reporting, when encouraging quality reporting is the only thing that should matter. Aircrews were faulted in the past for failing to document safety issues but after years of receiving lackluster reporting from the Fleet, the Naval Safety Command should have driven a total re-work of the way that ASAPs and all postflight safety concerns were recorded to encourage more helpful data collection.
The old ASAP Program was recently eliminated and replaced with the Airman Safety App. However, this massive change was not accompanied by any information campaign informing aviators that this had occurred. Any change in safety reporting should be a very high-profile and transparent process considering that it involves the health and wellbeing
of aviators who risk their lives every time they strap into an aircraft. The fact that it wasn’t a more high profile change speaks directly to the lack of importance we place on safety. What’s more, while the new app doesn’t rely on a buggy website for access, it still presents a cumbersome process for submission of events. The average pilot or aircrew is unlikely to take the 10 minutes to submit a report about something that only could have been very dangerous. Especially after a long flight, it would be adding yet another step to a multi-step process that already exists.
One way to solve this could be linking safety reporting with already established routines. After every flight, someone in the crew logs a NAVFLIR and someone logs a SHARP. Either of these processes could be linked with safety reporting software of some kind. The amount of money and time that would go into the creation of something in this way is undoubtedly cheaper than the money lost through mishaps and subsequent safety investigations. Attaching safety concerns to a flight log submission means that most of the background data is already recorded so an individual could only have to add a sentence or two, or select a few more options from drop-down menus rather than recreate the whole event. There should be a "safety of flight" section in any flight log. We talk about them in our debriefs already, why not include them in flight logs for posterity and big-data analysis? Individual pilot and aircrew safety data can be collected more efficiently and allow our leadership to track widespread issues more effectively.
Experts in behavioral economics have shown that individuals are far more likely to do something in their interest if they are already opted-in to the action as opposed to having to opt-in on their own. What this means is that if pilots/aircrew had to choose not to include something about safety in their flight log, we would see a much higher level of safety reporting than if we make logging safety reports an optional supplemental activity. In order to submit a flight log, individuals should have to report whether anything related to SOF had occurred in the event. Just a simple tab included in a SHARP would undoubtedly lead to more reports of near misses or minor incidents.
The rate of Class A Mishaps remains unacceptable (three occurred in USN/USMC aviation in June 2022 alone), so we should all be coming up with as many ways as we possibly can to enhance safety processes. There is a common saying in Naval Aviation that our NATOPS is written in blood. It doesn’t have to be. Let’s create a better safety culture, one in which we do a significantly better job identifying hazardous trends early and communicating them. Improved safety documentation and reporting needs to become a higher priority for leaders in aviation from the junior H2P up to the Commodore. There is nothing more important than safety, and we shouldn’t have to lose any more friends before we choose to act. if you think something is a hazard, then trust your gut and say something by reporting it.
Ground Job Training – A Matter of Professionalism and Safety
By LCDR Robin Dirickson, HSC-8 Department Head
Naval Aviation is a profession. It requires discipline, training and experience to perform at the highest level. Naval Aviators are revered for their commitment to excellence through studying, critical debriefs and adherence to a wide spectrum of doctrine.
Flight school, Fleet Replacement Squadrons and ACTC syllabi indoctrinate pilots with these values and force their assimilation into the profession to maintain the high standards required for successful, effective operations at sea and in combat. The Navy provides intensive training to make professional tactics, safety and even legal officers. As professional officers, we receive training at the Division Officer, Department Head and Command level to ensure we are leading with knowledge and shared values. However, this training often falls short in specificity when it comes to achieving education in the ways and means of our ground jobs
As disciplined professionals, aviators want to approach their ground jobs with knowledge and skill. Instead, the system of passing down ground jobs with or without a turnover implies that performance in this half of an aviator’s work performance is unimportant. An article appeared in the Spring 2022 edition of Rotor Review which recommended a repository for lessons learned and a “how to” for ground jobs. I would go a step further and suggest that turnover for each ground job should include standardized training.
Failure to provide specific guidance implies that each ground job is a place to learn, to dip a proverbial toe. This undervalues the time and talents of the leaders we place in those positions. Junior Officers and Department Heads are valued for their dedication to the craft of flying and tactically employing aircraft commensurate with their experience. They desire to be just as effective in each of their ground jobs. Regarding officers as amateurs also undercuts their authority and erodes commitment to their position. If a Commanding Officer always turns to the Maintenance Master Chief (MMCPO) for questions or solutions regarding maintenance, the Maintenance Officer and DIVOs come to believe that they have no role in knowing or fixing what is happening within the department. This anecdote applies similarly across all departments, divisions and programs.
I first believed this training to be necessary after completing a nine-month stint as Maintenance Officer in an operational squadron. After reading the NAMP and a few other governing directives in Aviation Maintenance Officer Fundamentals School, I took charge of a maintenance department of nine
officers, 150 Sailors and six aircraft. I worked with a very competent MMCPO and several driven Mustangs who taught me about planning maintenance evolutions, guiding Sailors through their qualification process, and ensuring our procedures were accomplished in accordance with all written requirements. The course I’d previously received was a starting point for my experience, but the on-the-job training I received was a firehose of important information and leadership lessons.
After nine months, I was starting to feel like I had a handle on what actually goes on in a maintenance department and had developed healthy relationships with most of the members of the department. I turned over and within a week, my squadron suffered a Class A Mishap which was principally attributed to poor maintenance practices. Amidst intense grief at the loss of my friends, I felt simultaneously responsible and helpless. Since that day and since the Safety Investigation Report has been published, I have invested significant time considering how I could have identified the maintenance issues that contributed to the mishap. Could I have conducted my work as the MO in a way that would have saved these lives?
MO School should go much further than reviewing black and white publications. Exposure to the governing directives is critical, but covering the full scope of responsibilities and improving focus on application, including how to spot check that programs and procedures are being properly implemented, will develop a more capable Maintenance Officer. Going a step further to offer guidance on building relationships, navigating challenges, and learning from others will provide value added experience to ensure a new MO hits the ground running instead of learning every lesson the hard
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way. In keeping with the Air Boss’ directive to fight mishaps, future MOs (and CO/XOs who were not MOs) should attend a more useful, practical, experiential course. They deserve training that will prepare them to identify and mitigate risk armed with both an understanding of how to apply the knowledge contained within publications and the experience of those who have served before.
I recommend a multi-day course taught by experienced maintenance professionals which focuses on the MO’s role in regular maintenance functions, familiarization with applicable references, practical exercises for common responsibilities and guidance on what right looks like. This school could easily be twice as long with significantly more time spent on many of these topics. Professionals at the Wing, with significant operational experience and who control and inspect many of these programs, would be excellent instructors. The course likely only needs to be taught two to four times a year to capture most new department heads before they assume the MO role.
Returning to the bigger picture, there are experienced professionals at the Wing, Weapons School and FRS who could construct and instruct one- or two-day courses for the majority of other ground jobs assumed by junior officers and department heads. This upper level instruction ensures that the instructors have successfully completed the role and can pass on lessons learned and provide standardization. It also develops relationships between new and seasoned billet holders, including those who may even be inspecting the program in the near future.
Aviators are not the type of people who show up to work intent on muddling through, hoping to be ignored. Yet, this is how we regard our ground responsibilities by relying on ad hoc turnover and by failing to provide training or standardization. Many officers have succeeded at their jobs in the past, but significant time has been wasted on trial and error and mistakes repeated throughout the community unnecessarily. Ground training for ground jobs sets aviators up for success, improves their effectiveness as leaders across all command programs and signals that expectations are high for professionals in this business.
Beyond pride and professionalism, training is a matter of safety. The mistakes, the time wasted, the lack of standardization, the acceptance of ignorance and the undercutting of an officers’ authority create a shaky foundation for aircraft maintenance and flight operations. Providing training for ground jobs cements the officers’ role in assuring safe, standardized, high quality procedures are happening in every aspect of work our squadrons conduct. We preach that a Naval Aviator is more than a pilot, necessitating us to take on challenging roles. We must prepare for those roles in the same vein we prepare for a flight, because flight safety starts well before weight off wheels.
The Good Ones Really Care! (Spoiler Alert: Please use the NHA Mentorship Link!)
By CAPT Andy “Big Tuna” Berner, USN XO, Office of Naval Research Global
Aleader once told me “there is one thing that separates the good ones from the rest…the good ones always give a crap!” Translated for the editorial staff, I think what he really meant was “the good ones really care!”
It took me a while to fully appreciate this statement, but after some time in the Navy, it continued to resonate with me. The fact is that good leaders are good mentors, and a good mentor is someone who really cares about another person’s future, even more than their own. Mentorship enables us to pay forward the things that we have learned, so that the future is brighter, and easier, for the next generation. Mentorship is what takes an incredible organization like the U.S. Navy to the next level. The “good ones” understand this. The “good ones” are mentors.
Throughout my career, I have been blessed with some of the best mentors in the Navy. At the risk of leaving many of them out, I’ll quickly highlight just a few here. Early on, I was blessed to have some excellent Commanding Officers. Sure, these leaders taught me how to fly helicopters and they showed me how to take care of Sailors. But they also took a special interest in my career and in my personal development. One of my first COs often went out of his way to walk me back to the hangar after FOD walkdown, or to pull me into his office. He took a lot of extra time to really listen to me and to help me decide what to do when I left the squadron. I knew that he really cared and that to him, I wasn’t just another junior officer.
An Admiral became one of my favorite mentors when he took a special interest in my graduate education and my family life. He exposed me to as many of his meetings as he could, showed me how to make faster decisions, and taught me how to prioritize the stuff that really matters. He really cared, and I’ll never forget how he went out of his way to give a box lunch to a Sailor who we noticed as we raced through an airport.
Several other mentors helped me navigate my decisionmaking process after the Major Command Screen Board. In fact, two of them changed my life entirely after I made the difficult decision to turn down my initial assignment. These mentors suggested that I seek out the Command job at the National Reconnaissance Office (NAVWAR Space Field Activity). They opened my eyes to a highly classified world and a new future in the Space Community. They truly cared about what I did next, and through their mentorship, I was exposed to one of the most incredible and broadening jobs in the Navy. I set off on an exciting new career path that still involved leadership, but also space, science, and technology. It was the perfect path for me.
Interesting side note: one of these mentors was a Flag Officer and the other was a Captain – and I’m pretty sure that the retired Captain continues to be one of the Flag’s mentors.
But mentors don’t always have to be seniors. I’ll never forget the AWCM who took a special interest in me. There was the time he pulled me aside to correct my uniform - or the time during a high pressure TORPEX, that he calmly taught me how to gain contact despite our degraded mission system. I’ll also always be close to my Command Master Chief from my O-5 Command Tour. An incredible friend and mentor, he was always there when I needed him – and I needed him a LOT. He never let the command down. He truly cared about me and the squadron. So, the good ones really care!
One of the best ways to be a good mentor, much like the people I’ve mentioned above, is to be widely accessible to potential mentees. Thanks to CDR Mike “Bus” Short, NHA now has a tool that makes mentorship much more accessible to anyone in our rotary wing community. This tool enables anyone in NHA to find other mentors based on any career path they might be interested in exploring.
The tool is called the NHA Mentorship Search Engine. This search engine helps mentors and mentees within NHA connect based on their experience. It simply offers up the contact information for those pilots and aircrewman who really care and are ready and willing to offer mentorship to others – even if that mentorship is just sharing some quick lessons learned about a previous job, career choice, or duty location.
As a potential mentor, here’s all you need to do to let people find you:
1. Make sure that your member profile information is up to date after you log in to your account on the NHA Website at: https://nhea.memberclicks.net/login#/login
2. Just input your info and check off your past areas of experience. These areas will then be “searchable” by future mentees. It’s that easy! Oh, and don’t forget to save any changes you make to your profile!
As a mentee, here’s all you need to do to search for any potential mentors based on their experience:
1. Log in to your NHA Account at: https://nhea.memberclicks.net/login#/login
2. Click on the “Mentorship Search Engine” at: https://nhea.memberclicks.net/mentorship-searchengine#/
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3. Use the search engine to find mentors. You can search by multiple areas of experience or by someone’s name. Then, you can reach out to any potential mentor through the listed contact information. It’s that easy!
I’d like to personally thank all of those people who have cared enough to mentor me. Mentorship is one of the single
most important things that we can do to ensure our Navy’s continued success. My hope is that as many of us as possible will also show that we really care by updating our information on NHA’s Website so that we can make this type of mentorship as accessible as possible for our NHA Members and the future of our rotary force/tilt rotor community!
Clear Direction or Standardized Execution: A Defense of Multi-Mission in Expeditionary HSC
By LCDR Rob “OG” Swain, USN
The Jack of all Trades.”1 MH-60S aircrew lace this phrase with varying degrees of pride, frustration, ownership, and disillusionment. In January 2019, at the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, I listened to the Commanding Officer of HSC-6 advocate for specialized squadrons and rouse a section of the Seahawk Weapons and Tactics Instructor cadre who craved dedicated-mission helicopter employment. Three and a half years later, forward deployed with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, I read an impassioned Rotor Review contribution questioning the relevance of the Navy Tactical Tasks (NTAs) assigned to Expeditionary HSC and reflected on what shapes the author’s cynical perception of multi-mission operations.
Whether a sitting CO or a Fleet Replacement Pilot, the spectrum of professional experience yields a cohort of MH60S aircrew who wish to emulate the narrow functionality of joint service rotary-wing units. This ground swell of multimission frustration and “grass is greener” ideology is not a new sub-culture in HSC. By exposing the impracticality of specialization for modern-day shipboard naval aviation, emphasizing the necessity of our resourced maritime component rotary-wing requirements, sharing contemporary examples of HSC’s Great Power Competition application in the Indo-Pacific, and highlighting the importance of brilliance on the basics and task unit integration, I endeavor to outline the enduring responsibility for Expeditionary and CVW MH-60S Units on the LHD, LCS, ESB, and CVN to attack, assault, and rescue.
There’s no Greener Grass at Sea VA, VF, HC, HSL, VQ. Specialized naval aircraft with singular focus and independent supply chains exist in one place – permanently resting on stilts – untenable in today’s fiscal and operational environment. While the USAF enjoys the luxury of a superior fighter with the F-22 and a superior bomber with the B-2, these joint platforms do not satisfy the Theater Joint Force Maritime Component Commander's obligation to deliver organic air-to-air and air-to-surface fires. In the early 1990s, when the A-6B Attack Squadrons and F-14D Fighter Squadrons combined, the newly generated Strike Fighter (VFA) Community shared the same internal churn experienced by consolidating HS and HC. But bomber squadrons learned basic fighter maneuvering and fighter squadrons learned to bomb. The fighter/attack squadron synthesis yielded a more lethal CVW with more flexible operational availability.
Single-capability aircraft not only limit operational scope and adaptability of the aircrew, they complicate warfare commander decision making. Modern adversaries boast complex, all-domain, anti-access/area denial capabilities with impressive force ratios and endurance at sea. To adequately
meet these threats in combat, flight deck real estate on US Navy aviation and amphibious ships is at an all-time premium. The prospective loss of a specialized aircraft from the modernday flight deck would unnecessarily pressurize acceptable level of risk calculus, induce single points of failure into mission planning, and complicate the feasibility of rapidly regenerating combat power at sea. In 2012, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, echoed these considerations: “Forces suitable for a variety of missions, if smartly positioned, maximize the chance of being prepared for a crisis.”2
Today, with the F-35C and F/A-18E/F, VFA conducts surface, search, and coordination, air to air warfare, aerial refueling, anti-surface warfare, air interdiction, close air support, electronic support, electronic attack, maritime strike, and suppression of enemy air defense. When an F/A-18E blew off the Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) flight deck during underway replenishment in July, 2022, the aircraft loss was mitigated by the overall readiness and flexibility of CVW 1. The operational impact of losing a single-mission asset would have been much more acute if not for the VFA Community’s multi-mission modernization.
The M stands for Multi-Mission Objectively, the USA AH-64E and USMC AH-1Z provide superior attack capability, the USMC CH-53E and MV-22B provide greater lift capacity, and the USAF HH-60G and USCG MH-60T provide dedicated Search and Rescue availability...for their respective services. Joint asset proficiency, however, does not absolve the USN of its responsibility to organically source rotary-wing fires, combat logistics, and personnel recovery for the naval component of each geographic combatant command. Indeed, the “Sierra seems to provide redundant capabilities”3 and, in support of Global Force Management, “redundancies provide alternative means to accomplish an objective - which can be critical in war.”4
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LCDR "Kodiak" Galvin, HSC-12 OPSO
Funding a flight deck-efficient set of Navy rotarywing capabilities inspired the original Helicopter Master Plan of the mid1990s. Helicopter Master Plan consolidated eight distinct helicopter Type/Model/Series (H-3, H-2, H/SH60B/F/H, MH-53, CH-46, UH-1) and four communities (HS, HC, HSL, HM) into HSM, HSC, and HM. The Navy funded and resourced these new, multi-mission communities to satisfy contemporary and emerging rotary-wing-centric demands in the maritime fight.
The success of these two Navy initiatives is self-evident in today’s helicopter fleet. Rather than attempting to “stake claim in the battlespace”5 which can lead to friction, organizational misalignment, misunderstood priorities, and functional discontent, the Expeditionary HSC Required Operational Capabilities/Projected Operational Environment (ROC/POE) defines commander’s intent for community Training and Readiness (T&R). Within T&R, this translates to a laundry list of NTAs and a requisite number of skilled crews to fight and win at our assigned missions. Informed by these governing instructions, the MH-60S is equipped and Expeditionary HSC Aircrew are armed with baseline knowledge to progress through the Optimized Fleet Response Plan and Seahawk Weapons and Tactics Program. The end state of this preparation is the ability to embark on any vessel of opportunity or forward deploy to any expeditionary base with multi-mission lethality.
Dividends of Diversification
Skillsets acquired in training for one mission do not stovepipe to that warfare area. The multi-spectral targeting system (MTS) offers one functional example. Developing MTS proficiency during procedurally-controlled or dynamic attack (CAS/SCAR/ MARSTRK) improves an HSC pilot’s ability to effect a rapid defensive sensor posture during tactical insertion and extraction (NTA 220.127.116.11), maintain contact while collecting target information (NTA 2.2.1), or to search efficiently during rescue and recovery operations (NTA 6.2). After speaking with pilots from the 33rd and 66th Rescue Squadrons (RQS), and USCG operators from Maritime Security Response Team West, each of these “dedicated-mission” units voiced independent desire for the layered training and experiences multi-mission affords.
The versatility of HSC training improves the overall operational availability of expeditionary MH-60S detachments. In 2017, HSC-23 supported LCS-launched RGM-84D Harpoon-targeting with the MQ-8B while HSC-26 provided quick-reaction XCAS for Task Force 111 off the Arabian Peninsula. In 2018, HSC-28 stood Non-Combatant Evacuation alerts for the U.S. embassy relocation in Israel and refueled at Marine Wing Support Squadron FARPs in the Jordanian desert while HSC-21 flew overwater joint collection operations with the embarked MEU. The breadth of this operational employment speaks to the preparedness of the expeditionary detachments who earned higher headquarters trust and to the detachment officers-incharge (OIC) who nurtured multi-mission pride. Narrowing the scope of expeditionary T&R would artificially constrain MH-60S employment and limit operationally-validated “redundant capabilities” to officers in tactical command. While our adversaries have changed in capability, complexity, and capacity, our written requirements in HSC have not. The strength of our community lies in the scaled continuity of T&R across our deploying units and remains just as relevant in today’s fight.
HSC-12 "Golden Falcons" and HSM-77 "Saberhawks" conduct bi-lateral training with Republic of Korean Navy MK-99 LYNX
While a 1-Primary Assigned Aircraft (PAA) LCS detachment cannot attack surface targets (NTA 18.104.22.168) with the same capacity of a 5-PAA CVW squadron, the shared SWTP exposes all HSC aircrew to the tactics, techniques, and procedures for maritime employment. The 2 and 3-PAA expeditionary detachments share this tactical task, and the distributed nature of ARG/MEU deployments do not always guarantee the availability of USMC attack aircraft to conduct air operations in support of maritime surface warfare. The Defense of the Amphibious Task Force tactical memorandum acknowledges this operational reality and outlines the MH60S as the primary asset for close-in ship defense. Great Power Competition continues to validate this HSC requirement.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) may not pose the same explosive ship threat of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy’s Fast Attack Craft/Fast Inshore Attack Craft operating in the Arabian Gulf, but that does not negate the relevance of rotary-wing fires in the Indo-Pacific. The PLAN coordinates a “forest” of People’s Armed Force Maritime Militia and other third party targeting and collection vessels. These platforms operate without the robust surfaceto-air missile/weapon engagement zones of the larger Level I and Level II combatants, but still represent critical linkages for over-the-horizon (OTH) kill chains and adversary F2T, posing credible risk to high value units. To defend both the ARG and CSG from OTH-targeting, rotary-wing platforms launching from expeditionary staging bases, LHDs, and other vessels of opportunity provide force-multiplication and appropriate weapon-to-target pairing with precision guided fires. Composite Training Unit Exercise or deployment is not the time to outline rotary-wing fires capabilities to the chain of command. Task validation happens at the speed of relevance and the relevant time to vigilantly integrate and execute is the basic and advanced phase of the OFRP.
Maritime Interdiction (not to be confused with Department of Homeland Security Airborne Use of Force or Law Enforcement Operations which are not DoD rotarywing missions) is a fundamental task of Expeditionary HSC. Surprisingly, the MEU does not serialize MIO training in its own T&R or Pre-Deployment Training Plan (PTP). This is where tactically prepared Expeditionary HSC Detachments can appropriately advocate and educate task force planners. Joint execution does not occur passively.
In 2018, HSC-28 yielded the benefits of proactive integration to facilitate NTA execution. After a year of demonstrated interoperability with HSC-28.4 on the IWO JIMA ARG, the 26th MEU Maritime Reconnaissance Force (MRF) Commander departed for Manama, Bahrain to meet with Seal Team 10 and the Crisis Response Element's 16th Special Operations Air Detachment for a JSOC sponsored MIO Exercise FPC. During the conference, the SEAL Team 10 Liaison said to the MRF CO, “We don’t think HSC needs
to participate in the HVBSS. We don’t want the 160th to have to put the training wheels on for them.” The MRF CO snapped back, “Truthfully, I would rather do HVBSS with HSC-28. We have been working with them for a year and they don’t need to do 24 DLQs before we can execute.” Standardizing HSC’s role in MIO does not demand an evaluation of T&R. It requires detachment officers-in-charge willing to integrate, capable of demonstrating tactical competency, and materially ready through workups to execute with available assault units. Improving higher headquarters’ understanding of HSC’s central role in maritime special operations support advances at the speed of trust.
A discussion of HSC’s enduring role in personnel recovery demands qualification for the conjecture, “[huge distance] presents a unique challenge that is vastly different than the plane guard and local SAR capabilities the carrier squadrons provide.” In stark contrast to this statement, the 5-PAA CVW T&R Matrix is the only readiness document defining an HSC requirement for skilled crews trained to combat search and rescue (NTA 22.214.171.124). Over the past year, every CVW Squadron in INDOPACOM has conducted distributed maritime personnel recovery.
In June of this year, a section of HSC-12 aircraft configured with dual-aux tanks landed to receive lily pad fuel off ROKS MARADO (LPH 6112) during Carrier Strike Group Exercise 2022 between the U.S. Navy and Republic of Korea Navy. The recovery vehicles then transited to receive aviation-delivered ground refuel from an MV-22B FARP placed on Okinawa, Japan en route to a simulated survivor’s location. Over the past 12 months, Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, and Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group have each launched unescorted distributed maritime personnel recovery helicopters in support of CVW long-range maritime strike constructive kills and defensive
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counter air packages in the Indo-Pacific. A reevaluation of T&R could certainly introduce combat search and rescue skill to Expeditionary HSC Detachments supporting carrier strike group or expeditionary strike group operations. But again, execution does not materialize without a written requirement. Distributed maritime personnel recovery requires Composite Warfare Sea Combat Commander or Amphibious Task Force Commander advocacy and a willingness to coordinate cruiser/ destroyer/LHD/LSD lily pad or FARP placement. Those supported commanders will only posture assets at the speed of trust in the PR unit’s ability to execute.
Helicopter Sea Combat
While I disagree with the argument that existing 3-PAA Expeditionary HSC NTAs in attack, assault, and rescue provide “no solid position for a great power conflict,” I do believe the thesis echoes a more holistic community challenge. Major General Francis Donovan, who served as Commander Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Battalion, summarizes the hurdle: “The problem with HSC is that every expeditionary detachment is different. You have HSC ARG/ MEU Detachments who are tactically prepared and integrated to execute, you have HSC ARG/MEU Detachments who are tactically prepared, but have not integrated to execute, and you have HSC Detachments who just want to fly SAR and logistics. You never know what flavor you’re going to get.”
MajGen Donovan cuts to the heart of the issue. “Hanging our hat” has less to do with what our resourced capabilities are and more to do with how we demonstrate our ability to train, fight, and win. If HSC wants to employ their training and readiness in current and future conflict, it requires squadron and detachment leadership consistently poised and vigilantly prepared to advocate, integrate, educate, and demonstrate tactical brilliance on the basics in each of our assigned NTAs.
MajGen Donovan’s final thought in our correspondence was that Expeditionary HSC Detachments need APKWS, but that is a conversation for another Rotor Review article.
1. A spirited response framed with great respect for Jackson’s thoughtfulness. Thank you to Rotor Review for hosting a forum where professional aviators can engage in the debates which will chart the future of Navy Vertical Lift. Cotney, Jackson, LTJG, USN (2022). “Clear Direction for the Jack of All Trades: Confidently Defining a Role for the Expeditionary MH-60S Community in Future Conflict,” Rotor Review, 156, Spring 2022
2. Dempsey, Martin, GEN, USA (2012). “Capstone Concept for Joint Operations: Joint Force 2020,” JCS
3. Cotney, “Clear Direction.”
4. Dempsey, “CCJO.”
5. Cotney, “Clear Direction.”
HSC-12 and HSM-77 executed daily exercise serials during the first Carrier Strike Group Exercise with Republic of Korean Navy in 5 Years including Distributed Maritime Personnel Recovery with MAG-39, HVBSS with ROKN Special Forces, and Dissimilar Aircraft (DACT) Training.
CSG 5 Update
By LCDR Calvin "Spicy J" Kirtley, USN
Greetings from the USS Ronald Reagan! Due to the loss of a bet I made during the last port call with this column’s usual author, the newly promoted LCDR Rob “OG” Swain, I’ll be covering down on this issue. I can’t say my penmanship can equal OG’s in its eloquence, but I’ll certainly do my best. It’s been an action-packed two months underway for rotary wing aviation in Carrier Strike Group 5 (CSG-5). The HSC-12 World Famous Golden Falcons are out here executing the “mish” in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility, honing our skills, tackling community projects, and reassuring partner nations that there is no better friend than the United States Navy.
I’ll address our aircraft footprint first. It’s an exciting time in the HSC Community as we collectively gather data to inform recommendations to leadership on what the future carrier air wing (CVW) HSC complement will look like. The Golden Falcons are deployed with five aircraft on Reagan and operating in accordance with existing CV NATOPS requirements for plane guard. The squadron is also supporting a standard level of logistics support to CSG-5. Additionally, we are usually providing two alert aircraft as back-up for contracted vertical replenishment Super Pumas embarked on USNS vessels during underway replenishment—and launching more often than one would expect (our JOs have coined the mission “ALERTREP”). Simply put, the usual combat support requirements fulfilled by a CVW HSC Squadron still exist—we just have less aircraft. That said, with careful planning, the Golden Falcons have still managed to meet operational tasking demands and execute valuable dual-ship unit-level training when needed.
This was destined to be a different underway than I had experienced from the day the squadron flew aboard ship. Four of five deploying aircraft were configured with dual auxiliary fuel tanks from day one, underscoring our commitment to the Personnel Recovery (PR) mission. Flying “double-bubble” on a routine basis is not without drawbacks. Decreased cabin space and power margins, the potential for trapped fuel, and the increase in maintenance man-hours required to configure aircraft are all challenges that must be planned for and overcome. The distances involved in the Pacific battlespace are vast, however, necessitating the increased combat radius that two auxiliary fuel tanks afford. Configuring aircraft is only one piece of the PR puzzle; advising composite warfare commanders (CWCs) and Strike Leads of rescue vehicle (RV) response times, capacity, and cruiser/destroyer (CRUDES) stationing requirements for refueling during the mission planning process is also crucial to Distributed Maritime Personnel Recovery (DMPR) success. To that end, a Golden Falcon PR Representative is present during mission planning for all missions where the risk of an isolating event exists.
Shortly after getting underway, CSG-5 and the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy executed CARRIER STRIKE GROUP EXERCISE (CSG-EX). CSG-EX focused on interoperability between USN and ROK Navy assets, a highlight of which being an integrated HVBSS mission utilizing HSC and HSM aircraft to deploy U.S. and ROK maritime SOF assets in a simulated ship takedown. Additionally, the two navies successfully executed a bi-lateral U.S. Navy/Republic of Korea combat search and rescue exercise where a CVW-5 led CSAR Package launched to recover an isolated personnel on a remote island. HSC-12 launched a section of dual-aux aircraft to receive lily pad fuel off Republic of Korea Ship MARADO (LPH 6112) to facilitate the long ingress, execute the recovery, and then received follow on aviation-delivered ground refuel (ADGR) from a MV-22B FARP on Okinawa, Japan prior to egressing to Ronald Reagan; exercising DMPR on an international scale. Following CSG-EX, CSG-5 participated in the joint, multi-national exercise VALIANT SHIELD. VALIANT SHIELD 2022 proved to be a multi-faceted exercise, featuring HSC on a daily basis. The Golden Falcons integrated with Carrier Strike Group THREE, USS Tripoli Amphibious Ready Group, Air Force, and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force assets; supporting missions ranging from Helicopter Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (HVBSS) to Surface Warfare (SuW), DMPR, and cross-deck logistics. Of particular note, HSC-12 was able to utilize the Mixed Load Enhanced Targeting Capability (MLETC) afforded by the LAU-61/G Digital Rocket Launcher (DRL) and the Helmet Display and Tracker System (HDTS) to engage a target with Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) guided and unguided rockets on the same pass.
After a brief respite in Guam (thanks for the hospitality, Island Knights!), CSG-5 commenced Advanced Tactical Exercise (ATE). ATE was designed to operationally test tactics, techniques, and procedures that may be used in Great Power Competition (GPC). Rotary wing aviation was not sidelined for this exercise. In fact, different rotary wing flight profiles were a central part of the sequence of events. The Golden Falcons also utilized this timeframe to execute flights with the cockpit doors removed. Due to the geopolitical considerations of flying in and around Japan, mostly due to “things falling off aircraft” risk mitigation, flying doors-off is a rarity at HSC-12. It is so rare that aviators assigned to the Golden Falcons have gone entire tours without flying in this configuration—something the command wished to address. Experience with doors-off flight enables further operational flexibility for distributed maritime operations (DMO) should the need to detach to an overland location arise.
The Golden Falcons have done a lot in an exciting two months underway. No two weeks have been the same so far— our operations have been a testament to the multi-mission nature of the community. We’re excited to be able to take on these challenging missions and to continue to refine the processes that will help make future HSC aviators successful. More to follow in the next issue!
Inside the MQ-8: A Super JO's Perspective
By LT Bryan “Twilight” O’Loughlin, USN
Greetings from the USS Charleston (LCS 18), somewhere in the Pacific. I am LT Bryan “Twilight” O’Loughlin and I consider myself fortunate to be deployed with HSC-21’s Det 8, “The Hateful 8” as a single T/M/S MQ-8 Super JO. I pulled off what many consider to be the impossible… I managed to “avoid the boat” after my FRS Instructor tour and re-joined a Fleet squadron! I wanted to take this moment to talk about my background, being a single T/M/S Air Vehicle Operator (AVO), and why I willingly chose to leave the MH-60S and the FRS 12 months early to jump onto TWO back-to-back LCS deployments. After reading this, I hope some of the Fleet aviators out there will consider this new option for their disassociated sea tours (if it is still available) and that the NAE will see value in this tour.
I started my journey towards the mighty MQ-8 with the HSC-5 Nightdippers out of Norfolk, VA. Like most Naval Aviators from a carrier background, I believed my side of HSC was the only one that mattered. All we knew about the expeditionary side of the community was that they flew the MQ-8, which meant they had fewer flight hours in the MH60, and to me that sounded awful. The biggest takeaway from my first tour was that the HSC Community did not have a strong identity and there was internal disagreement about the future of our community. The only constant was change, and if you didn’t greet it with a smile you’d be miserable holding onto what you thought our community should be or used to be.
I was a dime a dozen checking into HSC-3 as a “fully qualified LVL 3,” since the same could be said of the other 50 Instructor Pilots (IPs). What I didn’t realize was that my peers over in expeditionary squadrons were growing and developing the community in areas that were soon-to-be in high demand as the importance of unmanned capabilities was quickly gaining the attention of the CNO. Being good at TERF was not going to get me very far in this new wardroom. Thankfully, the FRS allowed CVN pilots to get qualified and instruct in the MQ-8. This was partially due to the fact that expeditionary pilots who had experience in the MQ-8 were looking for new IPs to share a large course load with them and afford them more hours instructing in the MH-60. I was in the right place at the right time as the email asking for a volunteer to leave HSC-3 early and go on two deployments was sent out. Compared with the endless options for boat jobs after my time at the FRS, this seemed like the best of a bunch of bad choices. However, having held this position for seven months now, I’d like to share a few of the many reasons why I actually enjoy this job and think others would too.
First, this tour as a single T/M/S AVO is actually a flying tour. I did not know that at first, and was fully expecting to leave the MH-60S for two years, lose my annual flying currency, and then later have to return to the FRS as a CAT 3. In actuality, when you are not in an FRTP cycle with your Det, you revert back to your ACTC quals and fly with your
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Fleet squadron. I’ve been out of the MH-60 for seven months now, and I am just starting to really miss flying. While I think an FRS IP can handle juggling both MH-60 and MQ-8 on and off, a new PQM ought to focus on one or the other if we want them to achieve their highest potential . Going forward I would love if other IPs turned AVOs could continue to fly both aircraft as I have, with the MQ-8 as the priority, and only fly the MH-60 for currency or when needed for proficiency and to hit hours minimums instead of the proposed single TMS construct. I’m going to have to drop some flight hour waivers when I get home….
Second, being an MQ-8 AVO has enhanced my quality of life. From an IP stand point, a double bag in the MH-60 easily translates to 8-10 hours of work depending on whether or not you are a cold-go. Not to mention, after you land you still have to work your actual job. Once I started teaching MQ-8, two simulator events only took four hours. I was able to get the same amount of hours in my log book for way less time spent outside of the actual flying. Being an MQ-8 AVO gave me back my free time, and I was able to start surfing and doing the things I enjoy in San Diego again. Respect to the guys with 40+ hour months in the MH-60 in the FRS, but I just had different priorities. After all, it was my shore tour and I wanted to spend as much time at the shore (i.e. the beach) as possible. From a deployed standpoint, I definitely could do this for the rest of my career.
Third, I believe in putting the light where it is darkest, and this was a dark place. What I mean by this is that I know the MQ-8 has struggled with image. Students dreaded learning it, and many pilots saw it pulling us out of the MH-60. On previous LCS Dets the ship and even the pilots would look for almost any reason not to fly the MQ-8 because it was easier to fly the MH-60. It has been talked about as a negative thing liability--something that doesn't work well. To me, this sounds like a great problem to solve. If you want to make an impact and shape the future of unmanned aviation, this is a great place to do it. We have made meaningful strides in establishing routine MQ-8 and MH-60 operations into the deployment flow. Every fly day underway includes both aircraft flying at the same time. The Det has flown the most MQ-8 hours of any Det at HSC-21 so far. We have shown
MQ-8 operations are as reliable and as simple as MH-60 ops. With one person focused on flying the drone, the process is going smoothly and the ship is impressed with its reliability and various capabilities.
Fourth, I missed being in a Fleet squadron. There is something special and highly rewarding about being deployed with Aviators who were my students a few months ago in the FRS. Not many IPs get a chance to be out with the PQMs they just taught in the MH-60. Now I get to sit on their HAC Boards and help them learn their ground jobs. It is a beautiful thing to see. This LCS deployment so far is much more relaxed when compared to my 5th Fleet carrier deployment, but we are making great memories even without a lot of the usual trials of long deployments. In many ways, I like LCS life more than CVN life. The port calls are plentiful and the downtime is abundant. Suffice to say, there have been many beverages consumed in Japan.
Lastly, it is the first time since flight school I have had a singular focus. It is what I had imagined being a pilot would be like, no distractions, just flying (well, kind of flying). All I do is MQ-8. All my effort goes into making sure our drone is ready to fly. This singular focus is a reason we have been a successful Det. It is nice to not be spread thin across seven mission areas maintaining six different qualifications.
In closing, this is for the younger pilots out there. Don’t be afraid of the MQ-8. Go into it head first, amped on all of its potential if the right people get behind it. I don’t know if this job will be around in the future, or if it will eventually be handed over to Warrant Officers. However, until it is more established, I believe every AVO has the important job of representing this platform, and we need the best HSC has to offer in order to ensure its success going forward. This job needs to be filled with the future of HSC, and not just a warm body who went through a two-month FRS course.
PEP, Part 4: Flight Operations
By LT Randy Perkins, USN
Welcome to Part Four of the PEP (Personnel Exchange Program) Pilot articles in Rotor Review. In previous installments, we discussed the background of PEP, requirements for the tour, the AS-365 Dauphin Helicopter, and experiences flying while speaking a foreign language.
In “PEP, Part 4,” my goal is to dig a little bit deeper into the day-to-day flight operations within a French Naval Aviation Unit. I will attempt to speak principally to the differences between the MH-60S Community and the French squadron with which I fly. To give you initial insight into the first major difference, I’d like you to think back to HTs or the FRS and the first time you tried conducting the Pre-Start, Startup, or Post-Startup Checklist from memory. Maybe you were near the end of your syllabus and feeling confident. Or maybe you were in a rush, behind the aircraft, and thought the checklist would just slow you down. Either way, your instructor or Aircraft Commander probably asked you “what in the hell do you think you’re doing?” You then immediately pulled out your checklist like a shamed puppy who had misbehaved. Well, the philosophy within certain French Naval Aviation Units is, in fact, the opposite of ours. ”Didn’t use the checklist? Is there even a checklist? No biggie, the aircraft is started up and we’re ready to go!” Now before you make assumptions about safety and adherence to general aviation procedures, I am going to play devil’s advocate and offer some explanations in the coming paragraphs. Keep in mind, this stems from an experience within a single French Helicopter Unit that is part of a larger French Naval Aviation Community.
No more PowerPoints. All briefs, regardless of the event, do not use a PowerPoint or a pre-prepared standard briefing guide. Every brief is unique and drawn on a whiteboard. If you’ve ever participated in a MH-60S SWTP (Seahawk Weapons and Tactics Program), chances are you’ve experienced at least a few whiteboard briefings in your time before shifting to stealing someone else’s PPT and editing it to be yours.
Here at my unit, the co-pilot for the day generally draws the board an hour or two before the briefing begins. These outlines annotate almost every item found in the Standard/ NATOPS briefing section of the MH-60 PCL (Pocket Checklist). In addition to the outline, they draw out a diagram or schematic of any profiles that are typically found as discussion items in the Mission Specific briefing section of the MH-60 PCL. The final section of the board is the safety section. This section includes bullet points regarding emergency procedures, limitations, communications, fuel, and CRM in relation to the crew, aircraft, and mission.
French Naval Aviation
An AS-365 Dauphin F practicing “ZPEX” or “DZ” landings aka CAL Mountain Landings in the South of France.
This whiteboard process can serve as a good review for various flight maneuvers such as night automatic approach profiles or the French version of an “overshoot approach” prior to a CAL (confined area landing). Apart from the individual flight maneuvers, the admin and safety portions of the whiteboard remain largely unchanged from brief to brief. One could make the case that a pre-prepared list of standard briefing items, such as those found in the MH-60 Community PCL, would increase briefing efficiency and reduce time spent on writing out or drawing standard briefing items on a whiteboard.
Crew Resource Management (CRM)/Operational Risk Management (ORM) sheet is not completed for the briefing, nor is a discussion of the last time each member flew, currency, or crew rest. It is usually assumed that the flight schedule accounted for most of these factors. Generally, a thumbs up from each member implies that everyone is safe to fly for “CRM / ORM.” This is vastly different from the HSC world in which we would re-verify crew day, crew rest, human factors, IMSAFE (Illness, Medication, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, Eating), flight hours in model, additional ORM factors, etc. using our ORM/CRM Sheet.
In terms of power calculations, it is the role of the aircrewman to calculate the performance calculations before every flight. The aircrewman also re-calculates power requirements in flight prior to conducting a hover out of ground effect (HOGE) or high-altitude landing. In the briefing, the aircrew member will brief the day's power calculations followed by a discussion of max gross weight versus fuel load and passenger or crew capacity. This methodology has been partially adopted in the 60 community with regards to using TAB data for mountain flying as well through the crew mission planning mindset. During mission planning, each crew member participates and the aircrewmen are usually responsible for the day’s power calculations. By doing this, you gain an increased investment
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from each crewmember and enhance the CRM within the crew. The whiteboard briefing, in totality, takes 15-25 minutes.
As helicopter pilots, we are natural pessimists, always considering what could go wrong and reflecting on how we can or will act in the chance that we encounter a change in mission or an emergency procedure. Anyone who has seen the “Helicopter Pilots are Different” cartoon from 1977 will understand to what I refer. This is evident in the MH-60S Preflight where we open EVERY compartment: the nose bay, hydraulics bay, engine cowlings, ECS and APU sections, the tail drive shaft sections, and transition section in the tail cone. We open EVERYTHING and double check the daily or turnaround inspection that our maintainers have done. We climb up and inspect the rotor head with every preflight. This is done as a safety practice within U.S. Naval Aviation and critical components require a "double look." In French Naval Aviation, specifically for the preflight of the Dauphin, the construction of the aircraft doesn’t necessarily allow for the same in-depth preflight. A preflight is still conducted before every flight in the Dauphin to verify typical items such as oil levels, filters, PDIs, electronics in the tail cone section, and the tail rotor. Dissimilar, there is no real opening of any compartments to get a once-over on the hydraulic lines, transmission, or the engines. This is considered to have already been completed by the technicians, synonymous with maintainers, during the daily inspection. Additionally, each person conducts their own preflight. Whether or not an item has been checked by another crewmember is irrelevant as each person conducts their own tour of the helicopter, re-checking and re-verifying every preflight item.
For my first cockpit FAM I brought along a hefty, laminated checklist, similar to our pilot check list in the H-60 Community, to run through the pre, post, and startup procedures with a senior French copilot in the Dauphin. We hopped into the aircraft and after the copilot started to run through his procedures, I had to politely ask him to slow down and start over so we could follow the checklist and do things in order. He calmly responded - we don’t use the checklist, we use “un circuit visuel.”
Before continuing, it is necessary to understand that the models of the Dauphin present at the squadron I work at have significantly less avionics, screens, and tactical equipment. They may or may not have a Digital Electronic Control Unit (DECU) or Enhanced Digital Electronic Control Unit (EDECU) and most of the gauges are “steam gauges.” All this results in shorter prestart, startup, and postengagement checklists. Some of the aircraft have already hit their 10,000hour mark with equipment that has been around for decades. Instead of walking to the aircraft one hour prior to takeoff as we typically do in the H-60 Community, a comfortable 20 minutes is plenty of time to get the aircraft pre-flighted and started.
Additionally, there are three different models of Dauphins at the unit. Contradictory to the current methodology, this should highlight the benefit of using checklists to avoid confusion in three similar but different cockpits. After doing the prestart, startup, and postengagement checklist several 100 times, many pilots in the H-60 Community could also likely do the checks from memory with little chance of missing any items. After a while your hands seemingly find the appropriate switch in the correct order and you flow through the process without pause. At my unit, pilots have developed a visual flow or tour of the cockpit, “le circuit visuel,” that they follow the same way for every prestart, startup, and postengagement. Whether it is top to bottom or left to right, the left seat typically has his or her responsibilities, and the right seat theirs. This can lead to an incredibly quick start but doesn’t avoid the occasional missed item that using a checklist might avoid.
Among other French Naval Aviation Units, a visual circuit is also conducted but with a re-verification using the checklist that every item was completed. Outside of French Naval Aviation, the French Army and French Air Force typically stick to using their checklists. Now, everything after the postengagement checks is inconsistent with this methodology. Everything after the postengagement checklist has its own checklist to include: taxi, takeoff, post-takeoff, climbing in IMC, leveling off in IMC, before approach, before landing, etc.. These checklists are read aloud by the crew member in the back and conducted in a challenge-reply form. This is obviously different from the typical challenge-reply-reply checklist method used in the MH-60S Community for pre-start and start checklists which is only performed between the two pilots up front.
An interesting aspect of including a surplus of checklists in the air read in a challenge-reply method is that, in a way, it enhances CRM by having back to front communication often throughout the flight. On the flip side, having an aircrewman read a pre-approach IFR checklist for an IFR approach and simultaneously communicating with ATC can interfere with external communications more than just having the pilot flow through an approach plate.
In the MH-60S Community, the handling of emergency procedures is relatively standard across all squadrons, hence the name Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS). If you are in the midst of a training syllabus, such as Helicopter Second Pilot (H2P) or Helicopter Aircraft Commander (HAC), you might be asked to both recite critical memory items and fly while managing the given simulated emergency procedure. This methodology examines your systems and emergency procedure knowledge of the aircraft and tests your ability to fly the machine under duress in a potentially degraded state. However, once you have finished your evaluations in those syllabi, in a real-life emergency procedure we fully expect the 60S pilot not at the controls (PNAC) and pilot at controls (PAC) both execute the critical memory items for their respective crew position. It is
also expected the PNAC, whether they be a copilot or HAC, will break out the checklist and go through the emergency procedure (EP) with the crew member in the back.
Where this differs slightly in French aviation is that, as the CA or “Commadant d’aeronef” (HAC), once you have completed the aviate portion of aviate, navigate, communicate (ANC), or in French Naval Aviation the the fly portion of fly, identify, treat, decide (FITD), you immediately pass the controls so that you, as the aircraft commander, can manage the emergency procedure. You are releasing controls to free yourself of the stress of flying in order to properly manage the EP. Then, after having completed ANC or FITD, you take the controls back for any sort of single engine landing or procedure you are going to do.
Often in the MH-60S, we stick to simulated EPs during NATOPS Checks and, at some units, general familiarization (FAM/EP) flights for proficiency every 30-90 days per Squadron standard operating procedures (SOP) Here, amongst the French Dauphin Community, every flight in your Aircraft Commander syllabus is a blend of any type of currency flight Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP), Search and Rescue (SAR) Jumps, boat hoisting, etc.), a HAC Checkride, and a NATOPS check mixed into one. The emphasis is placed HIGHLY on your ability to handle emergency procedures during practical missions. This again branches away from the H-60 Community training methodology. Typically those currency flights are not currently conducted as part of a syllabus post-FRS.
In the H-60 Community, we tend to place our emphasis on the ability to tactically employ the airframe, thus spending the majority of our training in a tactical syllabus. These tactical syllabi and their flight requirements often do not facilitate the constant practice of emergency procedures while conducting the mission at hand. The lack of tactical equipment and tactical employment of the Dauphin F at this unit allows the focus to turn towards the opposite end of the spectrum with the focus on EPs during relatively simple missions. In comparison, in the MH-60, a more powerful and overall safer aircraft (with exception of perhaps the tail rotor Fenestron on the AS-365 F), we can potentially reduce the time spent practicing simulated EPs during everyday missions as we focus on the tactical employment of the airframe. I leave the debate floor to the age old battle of FRS versus Weapons School.
Pubs & Instructions
NATOPS? CNAF? Squadron SOP? LHD NATOPS? Ships Resume? MESM? If you can name the pub there is likely an equivalent or three in French Naval Aviation. Although size, language, and the Atlantic Ocean separate the two navies, both use a relatively similar process of documentation and publications. Anyone interested in relearning all their HAC Syllabus publications in a different language?!
Annual CRM is conducted for every pilot with a focus on mishaps and how the mishap could have been prevented. A discussion of how CRM, the 7 basic CRM Skills, and human factors played into the mishap does not necessarily occur, but more so an identification of what went wrong and how to potentially correct it.
An AS-365 Dauphin F conducting VERTREP training at sea. The Dauphin max load is ~2000lbs which is never put into practice due to a max gross weight of 4100kg limiting loads to 200 – 300kg.
To further illuminate the CRM mindset here, it is usually prohibited to have the lower ranking pilot act and be designated as the HAC during the majority of flights. If a higher-ranking pilot is present, he or she will be the HAC. Additionally, but not always, the highest qualifications are often attributed to the higher-ranking positions of the Squadron such as OPSO, XO or CO. There is a significant concern about the CRM troubles that could arise between a young HAC and a higher-ranking co-pilot. We, in the H-60 Community, do not typically follow this same methodology. We have a Lieutenant who flies often and has a deep understanding of NATOPS act as our NATOPS Officer. We have a Super JO or Tactics Officer/Training Officer who is the most current and proficient for the instruction of tactical syllabus flights. If a young HAC is current Night DLQs or Night TERF Landings, they will be the HAC for a flight with a Department Head or Skipper whose currency has lapsed. We talk extensively before the flight about “no rank in the cockpit,” and for the most part, do a great job managing the cockpit as a team. We leave pride and rank outside of the aircraft and focus on the safe completion of the flight. In my experience, having flown with my Commanding Officers, Deputy Commodores, or Commodores, it is often the senior pilot who mentions during the briefing that there is “no rank in the cockpit.”
I was lucky enough to grow up under a few aircraft commanders who highly emphasized the full ORM (Operational Risk Management) process of IAMIS. Identify the hazard (a condition with the potential to cause...), assess the hazard (in terms of probability & severity), make a risk decision, implement controls, supervise. We applied this to any and all HAC scenarios leading to a fantastic decisionmaking process and ability to analyze whether the “juice was worth the squeeze.” In U.S. Naval Aviation, we normally do
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a great job of implementing ORM. Some might say it can be to our detriment in terms of adding more paperwork to the pile or preventing us from conducting what might seem like a fun event. That being said, the majority of the time it can be to our benefit. Usually we’ll catch certain higher risks and decide how we can best reduce them or implement controls to avoid them.
This ORM process starts as the flight is being planned by OPS, continues on the flight schedule, is deliberately discussed with the ORM/CRM Sheet prior to the flight, and used as a decision making tool within the aircraft in flight. This process, as stated earlier with regards to briefing, is seemingly present here within French Aviation, but to a much lesser degree. The human factors are not emphasized nearly as much as they are in U.S. Naval Aviation. Is it due to culture? A smaller force? I haven’t quite figured it out, but it warrants a discussion.
A significant point that falls within the scope of ORM as a human factor is crew day and crew rest. Before every flight in the H-60 Community, we complete an ORM Sheet detailing currency, proficiency, sleep, crew day, crew rest, and verifying each member is “IMSAFE.” We do a great job at trying to catch one of the biggest contributors to aviation mishaps, the human factor. If someone has a personal trouble in their life, was not given the adequate amount of crew rest, or didn’t sleep well, the idea isn’t to punish the crew member or view them as weak with U.S. Naval Aviation. We identify the hazard and see if we can make a schedule change or simply cancel the event if needed. This isn’t always true on the other side of the world where to mention fatigue or stress can be seen as a fault. It is true that, as one of the largest militaries in the world, our size allows the flexibility to cancel, reschedule, or change crews for flight events. If a smaller military were to operate with the same “flexibility," it might be to their disadvantage. A smaller supply of aircraft and a lower quantity of pilots results in an increased value of every flight if that unit or navy wants to perform at an operational level.
In U.S. Naval Aviation, the cardinal rule in CNAF 3710 is a maximum 18 hour scheduled crew day. This is often put into practice by MH-60S crews holding the Search and Rescue alert at sea and normally reduced to a maximum 12-hour day when possible or when stateside. This is usually in tandem with no less than anywhere from 10-13 hours of crew rest and 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. We start our clocks for crew day and crew rest at the first military obligation of the day and the final landing of the evening respectively.
In French Naval Aviation, particularly amongst the French Naval Helicopter Community at sea, the rule is that within 24 hours your flight hours plus your alert hours cannot exceed 13. Additionally, your night hours count for 50% more time than your day hours when calculating crew day. However, there is no mention of a limit on the “scheduled day.” In terms of rest within those 24 hours, you shall have 8 hours of “rest,” four of which should be between 2000 and 0800. If either of these are
broken, the crew member receives 8 hours of continued rest. You can see how this can start to get complicated, especially without the notion of a crew day commencing with the “first military obligation.”
At the French Helicopter Squadron level the “homeguard” unit rules are more similar to that of a U.S. squadron in that you have a 12 or 13 hour maximum crew day with anywhere from 11-13 hours of crew rest. The biggest difference, however, is that in U.S. Naval Aviation we try to condense the workday if a member is flying regardless of the hours. In French Naval Aviation, at least within this specific unit, you can be scheduled for a 0800 flight as well as an 1800 flight regularly. The notion of shifting multiple flights in a day closer together in order to maintain a flight box is typically absent. This is seemingly a direct transition from the French culture which prefers long mid-day pauses for lunch and post lunch combined with a longer workday. The same mindset is reflected in the flight schedule as demonstrated by a large break in-between flights rather than pushing the events closer together.
I am ignorant of the dry suit requirements for USCG Aviation as well as civilian passenger transport, but within U.S. Naval Aviation, dry suits are a requirement anytime the water temp is less than 50 deg F for an overwater flight. The equivalent in Celsius is approximately 10 degrees. Compare this to the 20 degree nighttime (and within two hours of sunset) and 18 degree daytime limits imposed by the French Navy, and you can see that their drysuit requirements are double what we require in the U.S. Navy. You will often find yourself on a beautiful sunny day sweating away your breakfast or lunch in a drysuit in the cockpit of the Dauphin with a balmy water temp of 17 degrees.
Hopefully you have found this insight into French Naval Aviation Operations, CRM, and ORM interesting. Upon arrival to this unit, almost all of my assumptions and habits on how helicopter naval aviation functioned were put into question or challenged. Each and every step within French flight operations are similar but different to the extent that it makes you question the ways you’ve been operating for years. I leave it to you to take the positives and negatives of what you have read here and reflect on how we operate in U.S. Naval Aviation. Do we do certain things just because “that’s how they’ve always been done?” Or, do we constantly search for new ways to improve and to become more efficient? Are our current methodologies used in day-to-day flight operations safe or do they need revisiting? As always, contact me at randyperkinsIV@gmail.com for corrections or questions.
Symposium "The Human Advantage"
The NHA Annual Achievement Awards were presented at the 2022 Symposium. The competition from all regions was, once again, extremely intense and regional winners may be justifiably proud of their accomplishments and contributions to Naval Rotary Wing Aviation.
The Admiral Jay S. “Jimmy” Thach Award is presented for outstanding achievements and contributions to Naval Aviation. Sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, the award was presented by Mr. Paul Lemmo, President. to HSM-74. LT Zach Jones accepted the award on behalf of the squadron.
The Captain Arnold Jay Isbell Trophy is presented to superior anti-submarine and anti-surface squadrons. It is sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, and was presented by Mr. Paul Lemmo. The 2021 Isbell Award winners for CNAP are HSM-51 and HSC-23. Accepting the awards were CDRE Bickel, HSMWP, on behalf of HSM-51, and CDR Kyle McDaniel for HSC-23
The 2021 Isbell Award winners for CNAL are HSM-74 and HSC-26. Accepting the awards were LT Dave Wert, HSM74, and CDR Eric Severson, HSC-26
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The Rear Admiral Tomaszeski Squadron Commanding Officer Leadership Award is sponsored by G.E. Aviation and was presented by Mr. Harry Nahatis to CDR Matthew “Moto” Martin, Commanding Officer, HSM-37.
The Aviation Squadron Battle Efficiency Award
Competition for the Battle “E” is extremely competitive and is awarded annually to the aviation squadron that achieves the highest standards of performance readiness. The annual award also recognizes the squadron’s unit training and operational achievements.
For HSCWP: CDRE Weiler with NHA's Chairman, RADM "Dano" Fillion, USN (Ret.) presented the Battle E to CDR Ben Hendricks, HSC4 and CDR Jake Moore, HSC-25.
For HSMWL: HSM-48 and HSM-74 CDRE Laguens presented the Battle E to: LCDR Leah Blaine, HSM-48, and LT Zach Jones, HSM-74
For HSMWP: HSM-37 and HSM-78 CDRE Bickel presented the Battle E to: CDR Jacob Allen, HSM-37, and CDR Justin Eckhoff, HSM-78.
For HSCWL: HSC-7, HSC26, and HM-14 CDRE Keys presented the Battle E to: CDR Kevin Chambley, HSC-7, CDR Eric Severson, HSC-26, and CDR Nicklaus Smith, HM-14.
The NHA Aircrew of the Year (Non-Deployed) is awarded to the crew which accomplished the most notable non-embarked mission during the preceding year and is sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company. The 2021 winners are the crews of COAST GUARD 6032 and 6039 from USCG Air Station Cape Cod consisting of LCDR Travis Christy, CDR Brian Kudrle, LTJG Craig Campbell, CDR David McCown, AST2 Adam Via, AST3 Clayton Maidlow, AET1 Phillip Morales, and AMT2 Adam Niski. The award was presented by Mr. Paul Lemmoalong with RADM Melvin Bouboulis,USCG and AETCM Jaime P. Young, USCG to CDR Kudrle, USCG and AET1 Morales, USCG. The crews responded to the 146-foot Canadian Fishing Vessel ATLANTIC DESTINY taking on water 200 miles east of Cape Cod, MA with 31 souls on board. Both crews coaxed maximum performance from their aircraft as they battled 60-knot winds and 30-foot seas to save the lives of all 31 passengers.
crew of FROSTY 43 flawlessly executed humanitarian aid and
moving over 3,000 pounds of food, and more than 30 doctors and aid workers throughout southern Haiti and then transitioned to counter illicit drug trafficking missions in support of an embarked USCG Law Enforcement Detachment during USS Billings (LCS 15) maiden deployment in the 4th FLEET AOR.
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The NHA Aircrew of the Year (Deployed) is awarded to the crew which accomplished the most notable embarked mission during the preceding year. The 2021 winner is the crew of FROSTY 43 of HSC-28 DET 5 onboard USS Billings consisting of: LT Blake Nixon, LT Quinn Stanley, AWSCS Michael Garcia, and AWS2 Michael Kane. The award is sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company. It was presented by Mr. Paul Lemmo to the crew. The
The NHA Rescue Swimmer of the Year is awarded to the Rescue Swimmer who accomplished the most notable waterborne rescue mission. This award is sponsored by Breeze Eastern and was presented by Kelly Carnivale. The 2021 winner is AST2 Joshua Carlson of USCG Sector San Diego. Accepting the award on his behalf is RADM Bouboulis, USCG.
The NHA Aircrewman of the Year is awarded to an aircrewman who has consistently shown superior aeronautical ability and overall performance. This award is sponsored by Breeze Eastern and was presented by Kelly Carnivale to AWR2 Steven Herbold, USN of HSM-74.
The NHA Pilot of the Year is awarded to the pilot who throughout the year has consistently demonstrated superior aeronautical ability and overall performance. This award is sponsored by Trident Home Loans and presented by Ms. Taylor Gallagher to LT Adam Kumm of HSM-49.
The NHA Shipboard Pilot of the Year is awarded to a pilot on a disassociated sea tour who has consistently demonstrated superior performance in a ship’s company billet. This award is sponsored by the Vertex Company and was presented by Mr. Chris Maslowski to LT Morgan Maynard, USS San Diego, LPD-22.
The NHA Maintenance Officer of the Year is awarded to the maintenance officer whose dedication and effort have significantly increased the command’s ability to perform its mission. This award is sponsored by BAE Systems and was presented by Mr. Bob Novak to LCDR Andrew Gerry, VRM30.Accepting the award on his behalf is CAPT Justin McCaffree, USN, Deputy Commodore, VRM Wing.
The NHA Senior Enlisted Maintainer of the Year is awarded to the Chief Petty Officer or Petty Officer assigned to a maintenance department whose dedication and effort have significantly improved the command’s ability to perform its mission. This award is sponsored by BAE Systems and was presented by Mr.. Bob Novak to AECS AECS Broc Foster, HSM-79. CDRE Laguens accepted the award on his behalf.
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The NHA Junior Enlisted Maintainer of the Year is awarded to an enlisted person of E-5 and below whose dedication and efforts have significantly increased the command’s ability to perform its mission. This award is sponsored by the Vertex Company and was presented by Mr. Chris Maslowski to AD1 Hunter Maclelland of HM-15
The NHA Fleet Instructor Pilot of the Year is awarded to an instructor pilot who has consistently shown superior aeronautical ability and overall performance. This award is sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, and was presented by Mr. Paul Lemmo to LT Timothy Cadigan of HSM-40.
The NHA Aircrew Instructor of the Year is awarded to an instructor aircrewman who has consistently shown superior aeronautical ability and overall performance. The award is sponsored by CAE and was presented by CAPT Kevin Kenney, USN (Ret.) to AWR1 Justin Kangisser of HSM-40.
The Best Scribe Award is presented annually to the contributor whose article, published in Rotor Review, addresses the subject of career growth for helicopter pilots in the most original, constructive and informative manner. The award was presented by NHA Chairman RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.) to CDR Tom Murray, HSC-4, for his article: “A Tale of Two Futures” in Rotor Review Issue 154, Fall 2021.
The NHA Training Command Pilot of the Year is awarded to a CNATRA instructor pilot who has consistently shown superior aeronautical ability and overall performance. This award is sponsored by CAE and was presented by CAPT Kevin Kenney, USN (Ret.) to LT Andrew Regis of HT-18.
NHA Volunteer of the Year
and Naval Rotary Wing Aviation. This award was presented by NHA Chairman, RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.) to LT Mike Short, Editor-in-Chief, Rotor Review Magazine.
The Lifelong Service Award is presented by the Board of Directors to an individual for the most significant lifelong contributions to vertical lift aircraft and/or operations. Sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, this year’s recipient is ADM William Lescher, Vice Chief of Naval Operations The award will be presented to ADM Lescher at a later date.
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Award recognizes an individual for their outstanding support and dedication to the mission of the Naval Helicopter Association
The MQ-8 Firescout autonomous vehicle brings capability and capacity to the Fleet while serving as the pathfinder for MUM-T integration. It is transforming and modernizing the NAE’s approach to a variety of mission sets in an era of strategic competition. These awards are sponsored by Northrop Grumman and were presented by Mr. Lance Eischeid.
The 2021 Air Vehicle Operator of the Year is LCDR Pat Norwood, HSC-23 and the 2021 Mission Payload Operator of the Year is AWSC Salomon Padilla, HSC-23. CDR Kyle McDaniel, Commanding Officer, HSC-23 accepted the awards on their behalf.
The 2021 AVO Instructor of the Year is LT Angelo Lonero, HSC-3.
The 2021 MPO Instructor of the Year is AWS2 Colton Allen, HSC2.
Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society (NHAHS) Awards
The 2021 “Mark Starr Pioneer Award” winner is CAPT Dave Zinger, USN (Ret.) for his efforts in establishing the first helicopter mine countermeasures squadron. The award was presented by CDR Joe Skrzypek,USN (Ret.), on June 15, 2022 to CAPT Zinger at his home in Camarillo, California. You can see the video here: https://www.nhahistoricalsociety.org/wp-content/ uploads/2022/06/CAPT-Mark-Starr-Award-2021CAPT-Zinger-June-15-2022.mp4
The Oldest Helix Award is presented to the oldest and most experienced living Naval Helicopter Pilot. CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.), NHA Historical Society Vice President presented the Oldest Helix Award to CAPT Paul “Scratch” Hryskanich, USN (Ret.). Scratch was designated as Naval Helicopter Pilot #2771 on February 3, 1956.
The Golden Crew Chief award is presented to the oldest and most experienced Naval Helicopter Aircrewman on Active Duty. This award is sponsored by Ultra Sonobuoy Systems and was presented by Mr. Travis Hamilton. The Golden Crew Chief winner is AWRCM Drew Smith. Master Chief Smith enlisted in the United States Navy on July 17, 1992. He is currently serving as the Senior Enlisted Leader of Cryptologic Warfare Maritime Activity 61. Accepting the award on his behalf is CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.), NHA Historical Society Vice President.
The Silver Crew Chief Award is presented to the oldest living Naval Helicopter Aircrewman. This award was sponsored by Ultra Sonobuoy Systems and was presented by Mr. Travis Hamilton. The Silver Crew Chief winner is AFCM Bill “Red Dogg” Moss, USN (Ret.). Red Dogg received his aircrew wings at HT-8 in April 1968.
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CAPT Chuck Deitchman, USN (Ret.) received a Lockheed Martin Farewell Gift in the Sikorsky Exhibition Space at the 2022 NHA Symposium before industry peers. Onlooking are NHA Chairman, RADM Dan Fillion, USN, (Ret.) and renowned aviation caricature artist, Hank Caruso, who created a unique “Helicature” in recognition of Chuck’s combined 50 years of service to the Navy and Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Corporation.
CAPT Chuck Deitchman, USN (Ret.) receives a Sustained Recognition Award from NHA Chairman, RADM Dan Fillion, USN, (Ret.) at the 2022 NHA Symposium VIP Lunch for his 20 years of support of the organization while serving as the Navy Strategy and Business Development Lead for Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Corporation.
The Service to NHA Award is presented to the individual who has contributed most significantly to achieving the goals of the Naval Helicopter Association. This award was presented by NHA Chairman, RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.) to CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.) for his dedicated efforts as NHA Historical Society Vice President and NHA Retired Affairs Director, and Ms. Allyson Darroch for her dedicated efforts as Managing Editor, Rotor Review Magazine.
Symposium "The Human Advantage"
The Association of Naval Aviation Awards
The ANA Helicopter Aviation Award is presented annually to the individual or unit whose specific actions in support of flight operations most clearly and dramatically demonstrate Naval Aviation ideals of courage, resourcefulness, perseverance, innovation and concern for the well-being and freedom of the United States of America. The 2021 Helicopter Aviation Award was presented to to AST1 Jonathan Kreske, USCG, CG Sector Columbia River, OR for service as follows:
“On 13 February 2021, AST1 Kreske’s aircrew responded to a distress call from a vessel that had lost propulsion and was taking on water with three fishermen on board. They located the vessel, listing in 45-knot winds and 20ft seas while drifting towards the dangerous coastal surf zone. AST1 Kreske deployed into breaking surf and swam through the raging seas to the wallowing boat. He battled the massive breaking waves, calmed the panicked survivors, and wrestled them into the helicopter's rescue basket. When AST1 Kreske returned to retrieve the third survivor and his dog, the survivor became tangled in the vessel’s lines drifting through the debris and was trapped between the vessel and the oncoming breaking surf. AST1 Kreske untangled the survivor from the lines, and swam the survivor to the helicopter’s rescue basket just before the boat capsized. AST1 Kreske’s heroic actions were instrumental in the rescue of three fishermen and one dog.”
The award was presented by CAPT Rick Rudell, USN (Ret.) along with AETCM Jaime P. Young, USCG and RADM Melvin Bouboulis, USCG and NHA National Chairman, RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.) to AST1 Kreske, USCG.
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The ANA CPO of the Year Award is presented annually to the Chief Petty Officer whose specific actions relate to flight operations of the U.S. Navy. The ANA 2021 Chief Petty Officer of the Year Award was presented to AECS Stephanie Palen. CDR Kevin Chambley, Commanding Officer, HSC-7 accepted the award on her behalf.
ANA Fleet Support/Special Mission Award recognizes an individual or unit whose specific action or achievement relates to flight operations of Fleet Support/Special Mission aircraft. The 2021 Fleet Support/Special Missions Award was presented to HSC-22 Det 3. LCDR Chris Cabatu, Det 3 OIC accepted the award on behalf of Det 3.
The ANA Instructor Pilot of the Year Award is presented annually to the CNATRA Pilot whose specific actions related to flight instruction most clearly and dramatically demonstrate Naval Aviation ideals of courage, resourcefulness, perseverance, innovation and concern for the well-being and freedom of the United States of America. The ANA 2021 Instructor Pilot of the Year is LT Alex Chang, HT-28. LCDR Bill Teal from HT-28 accepted the award on his behalf.
The Winging Ceremony
The Winging Ceremony at the NHA Symposium is a way to recognize and welcome the upcoming generation of rotary wing pilots and aircrew and was sponsored by Elbit Systems of America. RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.) and CAPT Keys, USN, Commodore, HSCWL presented aircrew insignia to AWSAN Matthew Rodriguez, USN and AWSAN Cameron Weiss, USN. They will be joining the Dragon Whales of HSC-28.
The pilot receiving his wings is LTJG Guillen, USN, who will be joining the Airwolves of HSM-40 in Jacksonville, Florida to fly the MH-60R. Presenting his wings are CAPT Laguens, USN, Commodore, HSMWL and CAPT Justin Banz, CO of HSM-40 along with RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.).
2022 Symposium "The Human Advantage"
The NHA 2022 Symposium wasn't just panels and ceremonies; there was so much more! These are only a few of the moments. More can be viewed and shared at https://drive. google.com/drive/folders/1l0aiIa8nBaWJIHRvHENmoNCbyJliFeaK?usp=sharing
You can also watch the live stream of the panels, awards and opening ceremonies on the NHA Facebook Page ( https://www.facebook.com/navalhelicopterassn/ videos/?ref=page_internal).
We'll see you in May 2023 for the next NHA Symposium at Harrah's in Funner, California!
The Mentorship Breakfast
The Members Reunion
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The Exhibit Hall
The Flight Suit Social
The Aircrew Challenge
Redefining the Golden Hour
By CAPT Christopher “chet” Misner, USN (Ret.)
If the Navy should find itself in a conflict in the Pacific, the question the Navy and the Department of Defense will have to answer is how it would deal with mass casualty and medical evacuation scenarios in a protracted conflict. There is no doubt the Navy variant of the Bell Boeing V-22, the CMV-22B, will play a critical role filling any gaps in these critical mission areas.
For more than three decades, the V-22 Osprey has made fundamental changes in how the Marine Corps, Air Force, and now the Navy operate in combat and non-combat environments across the globe. With a fleet of over 400 aircraft accumulating more than 650,000 flight hours, the Osprey continues to prove it is one of the most versatile and operationally flexible aircraft with a focused logistics and
maintenance effort that has enabled deployed V-22s to have a strong record of operational readiness. Across the globe, the Osprey continues to be one of the most high-demand assets by theater commanders; second only to Intel Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Assets.
Leveraging decades of experience by the Marine Corps, the Navy has completed its maiden deployment on board USS Carl Vinson. The Navy’s second detachment is currently underway. While the primary function of the CMV-22B remains carrier-based logistics, there is no doubt this platform could be utilized in other mission areas such as Combat Search and Rescue, Humanitarian and Disaster Relief operations, Naval Special Warfare (NSW) support and Casualty and Medical Evacuation.
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Medical personnel carry a simulated patient during a medical transport drill on the flight deck of Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). The drill was the first-ever medevac by a Navy CMV-22B Osprey aboard an aircraft carrier. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Aaron T. Smith.
Industry and Technology
Operations during the first detachment, which deployed on USS Carl Vinson, showed this platform is well suited and effective for medical evacuations. The CMV-22B offers the same runway independence as the fleet’s legacy MH-60R and MH-60S but has a far greater advantage because of the CMV’s speed, range, and ability to be aerial refueled. During the CMV’s initial detachment, the Navy conducted several MEDEVAC missions. Marine Colonel Brian Taylor, V-22 Program Manager (PMA-275), recently spoke to reporters at a Naval Air Systems Command briefing as part of PMA-275’s involvement during the Navy League “Sea Air & Space Expo” held this past April. Colonel Taylor spoke about a medical evacuation mission from one of the CMV detachments deployed to the Indo-Pacific region. A CMV-22B was launched from a Navy aircraft carrier with a critical patient on board and was able to land at the Naval Hospital landing pad, located at Camp Foster, Okinawa.
In this retired Navy helicopter pilot’s opinion, there is no question the CMV is ideally suited for medical or casualty evacuation, allowing for rapid deployment with minimal ground-to-air or air-to-ground times. Casualties or critically ill or injured patients can be moved directly from an aircraft carrier to a helipad at the nearest medical facility. This saves valuable time and patient movement, thus eliminating the disruption and discomfort of switching to an ambulance or another form of air transport to get the patient to their ultimate destination. These time saving capabilities, which have been demonstrated in sustained operations ashore and on Marine Expeditionary Units for decades, could literally be the difference between life and death in an emergency, which is why the platform has now garnered the attention of
the military and aviation industry as a valuable resource for urgent care and potential mass casualty evacuation operations. In a January 22nd editorial in Military Times, Congressman and Physician Ronny Jackson recently wrote about these capabilities. “The battlefield is changing. Future aircraft must meet the required demands of speed, agility, and lethality on the modern battlefield, and have robust medical evacuation, or medevac capabilities. The advancement of medical technology combined with future long-range assault aircraft capabilities will create more favorable operational environments. The FVL [Future Vertical Lift] Program seizes the opportunity to improve upon medevac operations and redefines what is known as the ‘golden hour’ - a critical factor that saves lives and preserves quality of life for soldiers. The golden hour is a concept that presumes that some deaths are preventable if appropriate and timely care is provided.”
As the U.S. Military, and specifically the Navy, look to the possibility of a future conflict in the Pacific, the ability to evacuate large numbers of casualties is something leaders and planners must consider. Missions such as Search and Rescue, Medical and Casualty Evacuations, and Combat Search and Rescue are those missions that cannot fail. These missions are the backbone of a culture of never leaving a fallen comrade behind and are the bedrock of that “keep the faith” ethos inherent in those who risk their lives on the battlefield. The CMV-22B will be an essential force multiplier in these warfare areas. While the Navy continues to learn how to operate the CMV in the maritime and Joint Force environments, it is clear we are only scratching the surface of what the CMV can do, how it will benefit the Carrier Airwing of the Future, and exactly what this aircraft will bring to the Naval and Joint Force in any future conflict.
About the Author Christopher “chet” Misner is a retired Navy Captain and SH-60F/HH-60H pilot who commanded HS-15, NAS Kingsville, and UVA NROTC. He is currently a Senior Manager at Bell and the Team Osprey Co-Lead for Bell Boeing. These are his personal opinions.
Hospitalman Camryn E. Scott, assigned to Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), starts an intravenous access on LT William Rallya in the cabin of a CMV-22B Osprey from the “Titans” of Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30 during a medical transport drill. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Aaron T. Smith.
“The” Rotorhead Rumble
By CAPT Mark Vanderberg, USN (Ret.)
Rumble History (Briefly):
When Al Ferber hatched the idea of a Rotorhead Rumble in the summer of 2019, nobody, least of all Al, figured it would be a multi-year journey until it came to fruition this past April. The patience paid off though when, this past April, 150 "Eagles," some of them now of the bald variety, rendezvoused at NAS Jacksonville for a two day party. Those younger readers of Rotor Review might ask “what the heck is a Rotorhead Rumble?”
Well before the formation of the Naval Helicopter Association, a small group of intrepid rotary wing aviators would gather at the Quonset Point, RI Officers Club for a couple “quiet beers” and share stories of those moonless nights and daring rescues in Narragansett Bay. In the early 1970s, Quonset Point was the home of the East Coast HS and VS squadrons, their air wings, and several carriers. What started out informally, morphed into a professional competition between squadrons followed by a robust Happy Hour. Wives and girlfriends were eventually included as a somewhat formal dinner became part of the agenda. Despite the efforts of this author, details are skimpy at best but, it is not hard to imagine squadron drinking flags and good natured comradery. When Quonset was disestablished during the Nixon administration and squadrons relocated to points south including Jacksonville, the Rumble tradition followed.
Unlike today, the East and West Coast HS Communities were not well integrated. NHA emerged as a West Coast version of the Rumble (a few readers may even recall their one dollar Lifetime Membership in NHA!). Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, the Rumble tradition gained traction and became a much anticipated annual event. Professionally, squadrons competed in NATOPS, tactics, and maintenance proficiency followed by colorful Happy Hours on Friday evening. During one Rumble, a helicopter was manhandled and pushed by a group of junior officers from the flight line to the club. Colorful stories of various officers’ bizarre uniforms and one-up-manship became legendary. However, by the late 70s, NHA had become the rotary wing community’s professional organization and the annual symposium the highlight of the year. The multi-day symposium that we all know well, started to rotate between coasts and the Rumble faded from the forefront.
With fond memories of those rambunctious Rumbles, Al convinced Hardy Kircher, Rich Strickler, Bill McCamy, Wally Holstein, and me that now was the time to resurrect the Rumble from the “shadows of the past.” Little did we know that “now” had taken on a new definition thanks to COVID.
Like all great ideas, the devil is in the details. The first order of business was to see if there was any interest in a Rumble Reunion. With NHA’s help and a vast email bubba list, the initial blast went out in January 2019. The spring edition of Rotor Head Review announced “The Old Jax Rotor Head Rumble” for the spring of 2020 and provided an email address. It quickly became apparent that this was not the ideal method of organizing an event. Thankfully, Hardy created a Rotorhead Rumble Website and posted his first of 19 SITREPs in November, 2019. A series of organizational meetings to determine the format, locations, lodging alternatives, and other logistical issues ensued and the plan began to take shape. Jacksonville offered plenty of great options but early on, the planning group felt that NAS Jacksonville Officers Club (now called “River Cove”) should be the venue of choice. Initially, we envisioned a three-day reunion with optional tours of Jacksonville and the surrounding areas. Event coordinators were contacted, local hotel facilities investigated, and the many moving parts began to gain traction. There were still many more questions than answers at this stage but we knew there was great interest thanks to the terrific response. Thanks to Bill Vivian, a corporate sponsor who volunteered to help and we were off and running. Bill McCamy had a good relationship with NAS Jacksonville’s MWR Director who sharpened his pencil so those initial issues about cost, location, and format were resolved. The website allowed for registration, payment, and linked to lodging options and we were off and running. Then, COVID hit and, just like everything else, we went from “All Ahead Full” to “All Back Emergency.”
Cancellations and Rescheduling
A mere 36 days prior to our planned Rumble, COVID forced a delay at least until the fall of 2020. While the Committee transitioned to virtual meetings, it became clear COVID was a game-changer and in September, the second cancellation was announced with hopes for the spring of 2021- a year later than originally planned. We were saddened that some of our initial squadron mates had passed away but pleasantly surprised that there were very few refund requests. With NAS Jacksonville’s
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MWR facilities acting as COVID testing sites, we again postponed the Rumble until October 2021. These delays and cancellations were logistically challenging as they involved multiple MWR locations, squadrons, and NAS Jacksonville departments but Hardy and Al handled them all adroitly. Due to the very restrictive DoD COVID response, MWR facilities were shut down and staff furloughed, so in August 2021 we again postponed the Rumble until April 2022.
Kick Off Reception: With great excitement and anticipation, the 2020, 2021, and 2022 Rotorhead Rumble officially kicked off with registration and a reception Happy Hour. With the lovely ladies Sherry Ferber, Karen Kircher, Daria Ryan, and Bonnie Vanderberg at the reception desk, check in went flawlessly. A great deal of credit goes to Hardy and Karen for providing a detailed “flight schedule.”
Unexpectedly, high winds forced the outdoor reception inside to the St John’s Riverfront Room, but this did not hamper the festivities. Old acquaintances were rekindled and new ones formed as sea stories and iPhone photos of kids and grandkids were plentiful. It was abundantly clear that it was worth the wait. There were a few intrepid aviators who could still fit into their flight suits, a number of patch adorned leather flight jackets, and more than a little “hand flying” on display. The hallway featured a Memorial Table for Signal Charlie remembrances and a display of old cruise books, photos, and other memorabilia.
Admiral Roger Rich, often called the Godfather of the Helo Community, was in attendance and Betty Christy received a fair share of hugs from those Commodores who she kept in line during her many years of service at the Wing. The arrival of Southeast Region Commander, RDML Wes McCall, a fellow Rotor Head, was a welcome surprise as was
the attendance of the HS-60 CO, CDR Seth DiNola and his OPS Officer, all in flight suits!. With an open wine bar and beer keg, it was just like old times for many as the lumpia and shrimp disappeared as fast as it was served. Nobody went hungry, mind you, as there was a Mexican buffet following the Happy Hour Reception. Afterwards, many retreated back to the BOQ Bar, now called to continue the evenings revelries.
On the coldest day of the year in Jacksonville, twenty four golfers rolled over to NAS Jacksonville’s Casa Linda Oaks Golf Course. Wally Holstein had organized the event but after many cancellations, the number of actual golfers dwindled. Still, those who shook off the effects of the previous night and morning chill, were greeted with breakfast, range balls, and a great day off on the links. There were the usual side bets and banter, but when they returned to the 19th Hole, they were greeted with a delicious lunch. Al Ferber stepped in for Wally and along with the local pro, announced the winners. But all agreed, they all were winners.
There were two concurrent tours arranged for the nongolfers. One started at the Paul Nelson Building and the other at the HSM-60 Hangar. They then swapped half way through so everyone had the opportunity to fly the simulator and see the actual aircraft on the flight line.
Hardy led the tours at the Paul Nelson Building. Some might recall Paul was the CO of HS-3 who was tragically killed during the post-deployment fly off. Night Vision Goggles (NVG) were demonstrated and CNATTU provided tours of the Maintenance and Weapons Trainers. However, it was the MH-60R Simulator that drew the most attention. More than a few old H-3 drivers were humbled and it was a challenge to get everyone “stick” time.
Over on the flight line, HSM-60 welcomed groups who got an up front and personal look at the MH-60R. With pilots and aircrew standing by, there were plenty of questions about the FLIR, ALFs Sonar, and cabin configuration. Steve Kupka was heard commenting that he was heartened that all his and others' early R&D efforts into these sensors had borne fruit. VADM Kendall Card and RADM “Boomer” Smith shared their operational experiences and insights with squadron officers in the Ready Room. Each and every group enjoyed that special HSM-60 “Jaguar” Welcome.
MWR folks, the process went smoothly and the food was as delicious as it was plentiful. As the meal concluded, Nick Ross grabbed the squadron plaques, paraded around the room, and group photos were taken–many that appear on the Rumble Website. With prudent financial planning, The Rumble had a surplus of funds which were donated equally to the Navy Safe Harbor Foundation (https://safeharborfoundation.org) which supports Navy and Coast Guard Wounded Warriors and their families, and the Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society (https://www.nhahistoricalsociety.org).
Farewell Reception and Dinner
Later on Sunday evening, everyone transitioned to appropriate dinner attire and returned to the Officer’s Club. It was clear that everyone enjoyed connecting and reconnecting with fellow unrestricted Naval Aviators and telling, or retelling, their favorite sea stories. As before, beer, wine, and heavy hors d’oeuvres were served at the St John’s Riverfront Room. Meanwhile, dinner programs, “goodie” bags, and two bottles of wine were placed on tables in the main dining room. A “blast from the past” slideshow continuously ran on two screens thanks to the hard work of Al’s daughter. The dining room was revamped by Wally Holdstein to display HS squadron paraphernalia for the evening. At the sound of the dinner bell, the group transitioned to the Main Dining Room. It was open seating by design and Tridents, Night Dippers, Sea Griffins—you get the idea, rendezvoused. Al Ferber welcomed everyone and thanked them for their patience and perseverance. He noted a special table was set up so we could remember fallen squadron mates who received their “Signal Charlie.” The pledge and prayer followed and it was announced there were a number of retired Flag officers in the room which reflected the transformation of our rotary wing community as there were none (zip, zero) at the early Rumbles at Quonset. A special thank you to all and Al offered a turnover folder if anyone wanted to do another Rumble because “he ain’t doing it.” A fantastic Old Country Buffet and, thanks to the
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Sea stories were shared by Wayne Dunham and Chris Cole
Hardy Kircher, Ken Juul and John McKean
Thank you Jaguars for your hospitality!
HSM-79 Establishes New Spain Detachment as CNAL Presides
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Petty Officer D.S. Randol
John F. Meier, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, attended the ceremony along with CDR Brett Elko, the Commanding Officer of HSM-79, and CDR Nikolas Rongers, HSM-79’s Executive Officer.
“The establishment of HSM-79’s European presence exemplifies our commitment to our allies and partners and provides ready naval helicopter forces to support our collective defense in a vital region of the world,” Meier said. “My charge to all of you is to sustain and strengthen deterrence¸ while being prepared to prevail in conflict if necessary. I have the utmost confidence in this detachment’s success.”
This new detachment marks the first time an HSM squadron has been stationed at Naval Station Rota. The 'Griffins' operate the MH-60R helicopter, which is capable of conducting various missions including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, vertical replenishment, search and rescue, humanitarian relief and medical evacuation operations.
The HSM squadron will augment Forward Deployed Naval Forces-Europe (FDNF-E), providing support to FDNF-E guided-missile destroyers stationed in Rota. The helicopter enhances the ships’ capabilities by increasing range and mobility for anti-submarine warfare and search and rescue, while providing increased logistics and medivac capability, enabling Allied ships to maintain at-sea operations.
The FDNF-E destroyer force, commanded by Commander, Task Force 65 and Destroyer Squadron 60, includes USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), USS Porter (DDG 78), USS
Roosevelt (DDG 80), and USS Ross (DDG 71). USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) is scheduled to join the force in support of the U.S. Navy’s long-range plan to gradually rotate the Rota-based destroyers.
The squadron adopted its name from two decommissioned squadrons that focused on aircraft carrier-based antisubmarine warfare: Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 9 "Sea Griffins" and the Sea Control Squadron (VS) 38 "Red Griffins." The "Griffins" have continued their legacy since 2016.
Naval Station Rota is a strategically-located installation, providing operational and logistical support to all U.S. and NATO forces within the U.S. European Command area of responsibility and the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations.
HELMARSTRIKERON 51 Change of Command
By LT Mark S. Nankervis, USN
CDR M. E. Kawika Chang relieved CDR Timothy E. Rogers as the 25th Commanding Officer of the “Warlords” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 51 at a change of command ceremony held on Thursday, July 14 in the HSM-51 hangar bay on board Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi in Ayase, Japan.
CDR Rogers was honored for his service and successful tour in leading the “Warlords” by Commander, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, CAPT Brannon S. Bickel, and is transitioning to his new position at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) N7 Strategic Warfighting Innovation Cell. His previous tours include operational tours at HSM-71 and HSM-75, HSM-41 as an Instructor Pilot, Flag Aide to Commander Naval Air Forces, and serving as the HSM Community Placement Officer, Naval Personnel Command.
CDR Chang is a prior “Warlord” and assumes command after serving as executive officer since May 2021. His previous tours include the “Vipers” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 48, HSL/HSM-51 facilitating the transition from the SH-60B to the MH-60R, operational Department Head tour with HSM-74 “Swamp Foxes," and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington D.C. (J7, Joint Force Development Directorate). He has accumulated over 2,400 flight hours in Naval aircraft.
Assuming the duties as Executive Officer is CDR Thomas J. McDonald having most recently completed an assignment to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington D.C. (J7, Joint Force Development Directorate)..
Sailors hold a plaque at the establishment ceremony for HSM-79 detachment, Rota, Spain. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Nathan Carpenter
“Assassin” visits NASWF
By LT Laura “Bambi” Lutz, USN
At Naval Air Station Whiting Field (NASWF) we had the honor of hosting Lieutenant General Fred “Assassin” McCorkle (Ret.) in April of 2022. He is a distinguished Marine Corps officer who embodied selflessness and courage throughout his career. After earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from East Tennessee State University, he completed Officer Candidate School and earned his commission, with follow on training at The Basic School, before proceeding to Pensacola, FL in 1967 to complete flight training. LtGen McCorkle earned his wings of gold in 1969, and went on to serve in the Vietnam War with HMM-262 from 1969-1970, where he flew more than 1,500 combat missions. As a young man who showed up to flight school having never seen an airport, he ended up with more than 6,500 hours in 65 different series of aircraft throughout his career. LtGen McCorkle retired as the Deputy Commandant for Aviation (DCA) in Washington D.C.
LtGen McCorkle was our guest speaker for the Naval Aviator Designation Ceremony on April 14, 2022; 53 years after earning his own wings of gold. During his speech, LtGen McCorkle discussed the importance of being the best pilot you can be, embracing any aircraft you fly, and never letting others get you down. Along with his words of encouragement, came witty jokes and sea stories as he shared his Vietnam combat aviation experience. At NASWF, we train soon-to-be war fighters who will carry on the legacies of those gone before them. It was a privilege to have a legend like “Assassin” impart his wisdom and experience upon the future of Naval Aviation.
As an avid participant in the United States Marine Corps Helicopter and Tiltrotor Pop-A-Smoke Organization, LtGen McCorkle also partook in Professional Military Education (PME) during his visit to NASWF by briefing young Marines on his outstanding career. He discussed the importance of earning your wings of gold, not only on your winging day, but every day thereafter. He also discussed the value of being confident vice cocky, always showing up for your Sailors and Marines, and always treating people with the utmost respect. This was a great opportunity for our future aviators to receive vital mentorship and learn from his combat aviation experience during his time in Vietnam.
As the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with three gold stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross with a gold star, the Purple Heart, and numerous other personal decorations, LtGen McCorkle has a world of experience to convey to those he encounters. His untiring dedication to duty, country, and Corps shined bright during his time at NASWF.
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LtGen Frederick McCorkle,USMC, (Ret.) provided a rousing keynote speech. Photo by Whiting Field PAO
LtGen McCorkle stands with his fellow Marines at the April 14, 2022 Winging Ceremony.
HSM-78 Attends the First All-Female Air Show
By ENS Savannah Pankow, USN
From Friday May 20 to Sunday May 22, 2022, a crew from the San Diego-based Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78 “Blue Hawks,” attended the first ever all-female air show at Hillsboro Airfield in Portland, Oregon.
The Oregon International Air Show has been the state’s largest aviation event since 1988. This year was especially distinctive as it exclusively featured female pilots, aircrew, maintainers, skydivers, announcers, support personnel, and air boss. The event was organized not only to highlight the advances females have made in this field, but also to inspire younger generations to pursue the limitless possibilities available in STEM and aviation-related career fields.
Throughout the weekend, the sunny skies were filled with high-flying aerobatics and high-speed passes from a variety of aircraft. Highlights of the live performances included U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II, F-16 Viper, and F-15E Strike Eagle as well as U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-35C Lightning II. A full listing of the performances and displays is linked at the end.
On the ground, over 100,000 attendees came out to watch the show and interact with a variety of static displays. Spectators ranged from wide-eyed children eagerly reaching for the shiny controls to military veterans reminiscing as they took a seat in the familiar cockpit. Despite the diversity of observers, every individual present shared an appreciation for the aviation community.
The HSM-78 “Blue Hawks” operate the MH-60R Seahawk, a submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter. Its secondary missions include electromagnetic warfare, search and rescue, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation, and VHF/UHF/Link communication relay. The MH-60R and its mission systems have replaced the fleet's legacy SH60B and SH-60F aircraft.
HSM-78 pilots, LCDR Martina Hill and LT Emily Tucker, along with their supporting crew, began the weekend with a scenic flight along the West Coast in the MH-60R. They were met in Portland by clear blue skies and thousands of enthusiastic airshow attendees. The crew spent the weekend giving tours of the helicopter, letting the spectators sit in the cockpit while explaining its layout, teaching about the helicopter’s missions and capabilities, and discussing the avenues available to working in the aviation field.
HSM-78’s crew included LCDR Hill and LT Tucker, along with one of the squadron’s ground officers, ENS Savannah
Pankow. AM1 Anna Kolesova joined the crew from San Diego-based HSM-49 “Scorpions,” and AWR3 Jerrica Martin joined from HSM-37 ”Easyriders,” a Pearl Harbor-based squadron.
LCDR Hill has been in the Navy for 13 years. Her first fleet tour was with HSL-49 “Scorpions,” where she completed two Western Pacific deployments, conducting Freedom of Navigation operations. She also participated in OPERATION DAMAYAN, a humanitarian assistance operation in the Philippines, providing food and water to locals in the Leyte Gulf. Most recently, she completed an additional Western Pacific deployment with HSM-78.
LCDR Hill spoke to the advances she has personally seen for women in this field since beginning her career in naval aviation.
"When I first started doing this, people would ask me if I was the stewardess," she said. "I haven't heard that question once today." LCDR Hill shared that the airshow easily filled its openings with all-female crews.
The entire HSM-78 Crew for this event commented on the sense of pride that was felt to be part of the show. This sentiment seems to have been shared among all aircraft volunteers.
Canadian pilot Anna Serbinenko told KGW-TV, “It feels very special to be part of it, I feel honored and proud to be part of an all-female air show. Aviation is traditionally a very male-dominated profession.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the Oregon International Airshow and its 2022 events lineup, go to https://oregonairshow.com.
HSM-78’s crew (left to right) AWR3 Jerrica Martin, ENS Savannah Pankow, AM1 Anna Kolesova, LT Emily Tucker, and LCDR Martina Hill on the way to the Oregon International Airshow. Photo by ENS Savannah Pankow, USN
Main Rotor, Meet Tail Rotor
By Craig Thorson
Gray clouds hung low over Marine Corps Air Facility Santa Ana, California, the morning of October 2, 1952, as Captain Roy Thorson walked the ramp between rows of sea-blue Sikorsky helicopters. Thorson, my father, was a pilot for Marine Helicopter Transport Group 16, the Marine Corps’ first all-helicopter group, which comprised several squadrons. Its commander, Colonel Harold Mitchener, had selected Dad as his copilot.
Mitchener and Dad had met seven years earlier at Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Hawaii, as World War II ended. Mitchener, then a Major, was Executive Officer of Marine Aircraft Group 15, supporting the First Marine Air Wing in China. Dad was a young second lieutenant who had flown PBJs (the Marine Corps version of the North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber), and he was waiting to return to the mainland. He flew local missions in R5C (Curtiss C-46) and R4D (Douglas C-47) transports amid mundane ground tasks like serving as mess officer, and his practiced manner in handling those duties endeared him to Mitchener.
Dad finally shipped home to California in April 1946, and was discharged as a first lieutenant. But when the Korean War started, he was recalled to active duty, and in March 1951 was flying transports at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California when he learned that pilots were needed for helicopter training.
He reported to Naval Air Station Ellyson Field near Pensacola, Florida, in June, completing training the next month. Arriving at the Marine Corps base in Santa Ana, he was pleased to find he’d been assigned to fly the new Sikorsky HRS, the Marine Corps version of the S-55, in a squadron commanded by his old acquaintance from Ewa: Harold Mitchener, now a colonel.
Promoted to captain in August 1951, my father was soon qualified in the big Sikorsky. The following year, the growing number of squadrons at Santa Ana merged into a group commanded by Mitchener, while the helicopter pilots tested the new combat tactic known as vertical envelopment (rotary-wingspeak for air mobility). Part of the testing would culminate in Operation PHIBEX, the largest amphibious exercise at California’s Camp Pendleton since World War II,
involving 21,000 Marines, 150 Navy ships, and 100 aircraft, including the HRSs of Marine Helicopter Transport Group 16. The helicopters would rendezvous in San Diego eight days beforehand, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Valley Forge. Planned for their departure from Santa Ana was the largest helicopter formation flight to date, 28 in all.
Weather minimums for a formation flight were one-mile visibility and a 500-foot ceiling. By 10:25 a.m., the sky over Santa Ana was partially obscured by haze, reducing visibility to one mile. San Diego reported an 800-foot ceiling and 2.5 miles visibility. Mitchener decided to launch. He, my dad, and two passengers climbed into their helicopter. All 28 HRSs took off at 11:14 and flew southeast at 400 feet, maintaining visual contact with the ground. Twenty-five minutes later the formation reached the coastline, turned south, and immediately encountered lower ceilings and greatly reduced visibility. Mitchener could still see the coastline, but forward visibility was near zero. As he stated later, “Being unable to reverse my course because of the hills to my left and the large number of aircraft behind me, I elected to attempt to climb through the overcast. I notified the flight of my intention and started my climb. I could still see the beach line and decided to climb on my heading which I radioed to the flight as 200 degrees magnetic.”
Seconds later, things went from bad to worse. Looming out of the gray mist was another helicopter dead ahead. Both pilots reacted immediately and instinctively. “An HRS appeared in front of and directly below us,” my father said in his statement. “The flight commander and I pulled the cyclic back and to the right but, due to the rate the other HRS was climbing, it was impossible to avoid contact. I saw a piece fly loose as our
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In August 1952, the author’s father an early USMC Helicopter Pilot Captain Roy Thorson, USMCR, Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator #R-523, 7/20/1951 1LT USMCR HTU-1, stopped in Dallas while ferrying a Sikorsky HRS-2 from Bridgeport, Connecticut, to the Marine Corps base in Santa Ana, California. The article was originally published in the 2013 June/July issue of Air and Space and is reprinted with permission
In August 1952, the author’s father stopped in Dallas while ferrying a Sikorsky HRS-2 from Bridgeport, Connecticut, to the Marine Corps base in Santa Ana, California. Courtesy Craig Thorson
rotor made contact with the tail section of the other HRS.” The helicopter shuddered as Mitchener announced the collision over the radio and began to descend. The helicopter broke out of the clouds at 200 feet and landed on the cliffs above Capistrano Beach, with two more HRSs from the formation following them down. Pilots and passengers of all three piled out to assess the damage.
When the formation had first entered the clouds, Major Walter Simpson, Simpson’s copilot, Captain Delpheus Sedgwick, and their two passengers flying to Mitchener’s right, lost sight of Mitchener’s helicopter. Hearing Mitchener transmit that he was climbing, Simpson also began to climb. “I was in a slight bank to the left,” he stated. “I righted the helicopter and started to climb on a heading of 180 degrees.” Moments later, “I heard the Colonel transmit that someone had hit him. I broke out on top at around 1,300 to 1,400 feet, flew until I was clear of the clouds, let down visually to 50 feet above the ground, and proceeded (south) toward San Diego.”
Back at the site where the three crews had landed, Mitchener and Dad discovered the only damage to their HRS was a dent in the tip of one main rotor blade, enough to have caused the vibration. Of greater concern was the possibility that the thick fog would cause further collisions among helicopters. The men would later learn that seven aircraft returned to Santa Ana, while 18 others descended below the clouds and proceeded to San Diego.
Among those 18 was the one carrying Simpson and Sedgwick. At their altitude, 50 feet, they spotted the trio of helicopters on the bluff. “I landed to see if I could be of assistance,” stated Simpson. “Colonel Mitchener climbed up the side of my helicopter and asked if I knew what had happened to the helicopter that hit him. I replied that I didn’t know.”
Dad then noticed what the others had missed. Years later, he told me he shouted to Simpson, “Set your rotor brake!” and as the blades slowed to a halt, he had him look back at his tail rotor. “Simpson’s eyes got as big as saucers,” he recalled. Six inches from the tip of one of the two tail rotor blades, a 9.5by 4-inch piece had been gouged out. Simpson’s helicopter was the other collider in the mid-air strike.
A main rotor blade and a tail rotor blade were dispatched from Santa Ana by truck—mechanics replaced both on site—
and both aircraft continued to San Diego, landing aboard Valley Forge later that afternoon.
The eight Marines aboard the two helicopters knew just how close they had come to tragedy. Mere inches separated them from death or serious injury. In the accident report that followed, Mitchener accepted “full responsibility for leading the flight into the clouds. Had I elected to descend rather than climb, I feel sure the accident would not have occurred.” The accident board agreed, concluding that the primary cause of the accident was the flight leader’s deviation from his visual clearance. However, it added that when Mitchener announced his intention to climb on a heading of 200 degrees, had the wingman (Major Simpson) adjusted his course accordingly, this accident probably would have been avoided.
Eleven months later, in front of a Dayton, Ohio airshow crowd of 100,000 and under a clear sky, a formation of HRS helicopters had just made a simulated troop drop when the main rotor blade of one collided with the tail rotor blade of the HRS in front of it. Both plummeted to the ground. The two pilots survived; one helicopter was destroyed by fire, and the other was heavily damaged. The next morning, the Associated Press described the helicopter midair as “possibly the first in history.”
I think Dad beat them to the punch.
Craig Thorson has amassed some 17,000 hours in everything from Cessna 150s to Boeing 767s. He has flown in a helicopter but is sorry to say he has never piloted one.
The collision of two helicopters took a bite of one helo’s tail rotor. Marine Corps Photo
Rotary Wing Angels
The Rotary Wing Angels: January 22, 1953, New Orleans, LA. Formed in May of 1952, this team of four instructors from HTU-1 (now HT-8) at Ellyson Field first performed at the Fifth International Air Exposition at Detroit, Michigan in late August of 1952. According to the papers, they performed choreographed precision helicopter maneuvers in the form of square dancing and waltzing to live band music along with some other maneuvers. The team consisted of LT Mark Starr, LT John Mullen, LT Scotty Matthews, and LT W.G. Pledger and are seen here flying what I believe are Bell HTL-4 Trainers. As fast-paced and action-packed as it sounds, square dancing helicopters were apparently narrowly edged-out by the screaming jets of the Blue Angels that usually performed the same day. As far as I can tell, the Rotary Wing Angels only did two shows.
Editor's Note: This would have been the forerunner to the Blue Bubbas. Don't know about them? Click here https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=FReEnMheuaM
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Contributed by Brian Miller
In the news: CAPT Mark Starr, one of the founders of NHA, poses with Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe.
By Maj. Jean F. Rydstrom, 0-429182, August ‘45
As background information, find below from a Recommendation for Award of Air Medal letter dated August 1945 written by Col. R. W. Munson, Commander, India Wing – China India Division: When the Central-African Division of the Air Transport Command was being closed in the spring of 1945, information was received from the India-China Division that a small aircraft was needed for administrative purposes in that division. One AT-6C aircraft, a single-engine advanced trainer, was available. Movement by air shipment was impossible since, even partially disassembled, it was too large for a transport plane. Complete disassembly was deemed impracticable, and the matter was at a standstill until Major Rydstrom volunteered to fly the aircraft across Africa and the Middle East to India. Subsequently, in July/August of 1945, Major J.F. Rydstrom wrote the following story, “Marco Monoplane,” addressed and mailed specifically to his son, “Master J. Eric,” then a year and a half old and living in Cleveland, Ohio.
My name is Marco Monoplane. As you know, children, my last name is that of my family, and I inherit the monoplane characteristic of having but one wing. I am the smallest member of my family, for I’ve one engine and can carry two passengers. I usually travel only around Stateside training fields, teaching students how to fly. It’s not an exciting job, but it is important to teach young men how to get up in the air with a member of my family and back down again safely.
I had better luck than my brothers and sisters, however, and made a very interesting flight of which I want to tell you. From Accra, which is in British West Africa—on the Gold Coast where the slave traders used to come for their human merchandise—I flew to Karachi in India. That is a distance of 6,000 airline miles over desert and ocean, and desolate wasteland. That trip was a real adventure for I only hold enough gas for three hours of safe flying, and consequently
must stop for it frequently. I’ve a small radio used to contact towers for landing instructions—none of these fancy radios that point to places and listen to stations hundreds of miles away. I can carry three machine-guns for training purposes, but alas, it’s been long since I heard them chatter.
To proceed with my story, children, I was thoroughly inspected and taken for a ride one day in the spring of 1945. It was my first in a long time, and I enjoyed it—loops, immelmans, slow-and snap-rolls—I did almost everything up there in the sky over Accra. A few days later, my armament recess-covers were removed, and cans of emergency water and rations were put in. I was surprised, but the next day more emergency equipment like a Very pistol, ammunition, medical kits, and more water was added, and I became very perturbed. A carbine was strapped to my rear seat, a pistol in my front, shoes shoved into every nook in my frame, and a huge box of tools put on my rear floor. Then, when five huge pieces of
luggage were stuffed into my luggage compartment and rear cockpit with my two passengers and their parachutes, I was thoroughly disgusted and resolved that I would go nowhere loaded down in such an unseemly fashion—after all, I was a training airplane, not a transport like some of my uncles with two engines.
Next day, the 31st of May, my passengers came down expecting to leave with me at 1300. I knew I was going on a trip that would be fun, but I refused to be a workhorse. I fussed, and wouldn’t start. My starter was slipping, and that was a good excuse, though I knew there was no replacement part in Accra. Finally, since my passengers didn’t take out any of the load and were insistent that they would make the trip with me, I started up, and taxied out. My engine checked out fine, and away I went.
Taking off, I found that my load wasn’t nearly as heavy as I’d expected, and I knew I’d been wrong in acting stubborn on the ground. I wanted to behave, and show that I could make the trip. I kept fuel consumption of my nine-cylinder engine down to 25 gallons an hour. This gave me an emergency four hours of flight, but I knew I’d be so worried about running out of gas that I couldn’t fly worth a darn on the last 25 gallons.
I turned east up the beach toward Lagos, 250 miles away. It was a nice day and I had a light heart as I made the two hour flight along the African coast. Indicated airspeed was 145, which was excellent with that load, and my engine was running at only 1700 RPM and 27 inches in order to economize fuel. I passed over Lome which is in French West Africa, and arrived at Lagos in Nigeria, a British possession.
Early next morning, the first of June, I was eager to be on my way. The morning was cool but I had to wait because there was bad weather ahead, and I was too small to be plowing through a line of thunderstorms. Finally, I started in midmorning after most of the storms had rolled by. In and out of clouds, I crossed the jungles and forests of the lower Nigerian coast country. I was apprehensive, since I knew that if my engine quit my passengers would bail out and leave me, for there was no place to have made a forced landing. I reached the Niger River, one of the longest in Africa, and after that the country began to open up a little into small farms and clearings in the jungle. Gradually the forest gave way to brush country with the occasional trees, and I picked up and followed a railroad running from the coast up to Minna, my next gas stop.
Upon landing in Minna two hours later, I discovered that only 35 gallons of gasoline was available. I could make Kano, but it would use up all of my gas. However, I had to take off and go on. My load made me tail-heavy, and Minna’s runway was very short. When I started to take off, it was nip and tuck for a few moments whether I would be able to get over the
trees at the end of the runway. My engine roared its strongest, and when I was safely off the ground, I came back and really buzzed the field–I could see the wind-sock higher than my right wingtip.
Heading on toward Kano, Nigeria, the sandy brush country started in earnest. It would be fine in the event of a forced landing, but the heat of the afternoon gave off thermal currents which pitched me around. A thermal is caused by the sun’s heat which is reflected from the earth as a strong upward current of hot air. My engine began to run rough, but when my mixture was enrichened a little, it ran alright. I knew I had a long way to go on a little gas, but I couldn’t carry fuel economy too far in the hot air. Fortunately, there was a tailwind so I arrived at Kano in an hour and 40 minutes with a little gas to spare. I followed the railroad in, and saw the big mud wall surrounding the city, a vestige of the tribal war-fare days.
After landing, an Electrical Specialist looked over my bad starter and swore up and down that there was nothing wrong with it. That was irritating, for I knew that it wasn’t catching hold properly. I also heard definite instructions given that I was not to be pre-flighted by any of the mechanics, but that one of my passengers would take care of it. Next morning, about 30 minutes before I expected to leave, a mechanic came down, started me up, and taxied ‘round and ‘round, running my engine hard. I had to pretend it was alright because I didn’t want to be grounded. I couldn’t say anything, but one of my passengers later said it all for me.
After the mechanic had been ejected from my front cockpit, I left for Maiduguri, 2 hours away in the Northeastern corner of Nigeria. This leg of the journey was over semi-arid country which was criss-crossed with wadis or dry riverbeds. Once during the year, in the rainy season of early fall, these wadis fill up with water, and are raging torrents. In our own Southwest we call these rain ditches “arroyos,” as the Mexicans do. The check points on the ground did not look as they should have according to the map. It seemed as though I was north of course, which proved to be correct because I soon picked up a main road which ran parallel to course. When my ETA (estimated time of arrival) was exceeded, I was uneasy because I couldn’t see an airport anywhere. Patches of scrub, trees, and brush dotted the landscape, each looked like it might be Maiduguri, and none was. Then the airport appeared directly ahead and less than a mile away. Its buildings blended into the general color of the country, and the black tar of the runways seemed part of the dark strips of brush along the wadis.
I stayed there only an hour for gas and oil and then was away again for the one-hour flight to Ft. Lamy, a French airport in French Equatorial Africa. It was easy to find because it was just across the Shari River and I could see that 30 miles away. Incidentally, the Shari was the last “all year” river I crossed until I reached the Nile.
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Flying low around the airport, I buzzed the runway to determine the wind directions, and since there was a crosswind I used only half flaps. When my wheels touched the ground, I swerved off to the right, scaring the devil out of myself, for I had visions of wrinkling a wing out there in a strange land where there are no wings, nor even whole airplanes. Feeding throttle to my engine, I regained rudder control thus avoiding a ground-loop. I was glad I didn’t get hurt, for I was put up for the rest of the day in a big brick hangar out of the sun and was filled with blue gas which had a lot of kick.
Next morning, I was pushed out of the hangar by a couple of native guards before dawn. My starter acted up and refused to turn over the engine, and frankly, I wasn’t happy about the days flying for I knew I had one of the toughest hops ahead. I had no weather forecast, no wind directions, and no wire had been sent on ahead warning the next base of my departure (so that if I didn’t arrive there could be help sent).
Finally, just as the sun came up over the horizon I got away, heading out over the most desolate country I’d seen up to that time. Nothing but brush and rock outcroppings in the desert, stretching as far as I could see in every direction. If I had made a forced landing out there, it would be days before anyone would become curious and start to look for me. There were no checkpoints, and my only hope of finding the next stop, Ati, which was two and a half hours out, was a road which angled into it from the north-west. The map showed several trails, but I actually crossed over so many that I became confused.
A road angled in from the left rear which seemed better traveled than the others. However, I was 25 minutes ahead of scheduled arrival at that point, so I held my original heading until my ETA was up, and overflew it 10 minutes in case there was a headwind holding me back. But no more roads, no towns, nothing was to be seen except rock and desert and brush. By then I knew I had crossed my important road, but instead of turning back I went south to recross it further along and thus be somewhere nearer Ati than if I went back. Soon the road passed underneath again, but I held south for another 20 minutes to ensure that this was the only possible main road. But again, no more roads or towns. I let down on the tree-tops, returned to the road and in a few minutes more found a town on the road. As I flew low over it I saw a fort – and there was a French tricolor flying over the fort. What a welcome sight. I never before had appreciated the flag of another country as much as I did that particular French flag, for it was, at least, an indication of civilization.
To be continued in the Fall issue of Rotor Review
Wings of Gold by Beverly Weintraub
Reviewed by LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.)"
When I hit the wall, I am going to get under it, over it or around it. Put a wall in front of me and my reaction is to knock it down.” Those were the words of CDR Rosemary Mariner, a pioneer female Naval Aviator. Beverly Weintraub has given us an accounting of the struggle undertaken by women to become and be accepted as Naval Aviators. Her compact book is an in-depth compendium taking the reader on a highly detailed trip through the Twentieth Century and into the Twenty-First about women in aviation in general and more specifically women in naval aviation. Beverly is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist and delivers the story in that manner. Her meticulous investigation pulls no punches, dividing the journey into five parts subdivided by decades and including a glossary of terms, source notes and an index.
We start off with an early history of women in aviation from the Wright Brothers to the early 1970s. Her details include the Ninety-Nines, WASPs and WAVEs and the deep-seated male resistance that women had to deal with and overcome. As the story progresses into the 70s, the reader is introduced to the first women allowed into naval aviation training: Barbara Allen, Rosemary Conatser, Joellen Drag, Judy Neuffer, Ana Maria Scott and Jane Skiles. Into and through the decade, we are introduced to each woman individually
learning their motivation to enter naval aviation. We learn the rigors, training differences from men and the opposition and hostility they encountered to earning their wings. We see that Beverly’s primary voice to what she is investigating is Rosemary who notes the parallel between Blacks in the military and women in naval aviation: separate is not equal, gender integration means gender neutral. To achieve, this women need to network, band together and marshal forces to bring the Navy in sync with the times.
The first major action in this regard occurs in 1976. LTJG Joellen Drag, an H-46 HAC in HC-3 at NAS North Island, rocks the boat, sending a letter up the chain of command challenging the Navy policy restricting women from going aboard ships. The letter disappears in the administrative bureaucracy, so Joellen challenges the relevant U.S. Code with a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit was ruled in favor of women, so the Navy allows women aboard ships but imposes severe restrictions. Despite continued Congressional and Navy roadblocks to female career success and advancement, the 1980s sees women Naval Aviators going to TPS, Top Gun and the VTs where they are instructing male pilots. The roadblocks take their toll on career opportunity with women resignations increasing. LCDR Jane Skiles O’Dea notes that it’s very discouraging to know that the best you can play is junior varsity. The Navy is literally throwing away assets in the form of highly qualified women to satisfy outdated rules and regulations.
In the 1980s, Rosemary becomes LT Rosemary Conatser Mariner. Her husband, LT Tommy Mariner, notes that “Rosemary grew me up" and made him an advocate for women in the Navy. Tommy joins the officers wives club changing it to the spouses club making him a trend setter. Although the times appear to be changing, by 1985 only 33 of 527 navy ships have female billets accounting for about one percent of the 48,000 women in the navy. In 1986, the Navy redesignates the Mobile Logistic Support Force Ships as Combat Logistic Force Ships. Joellen notes that with the stroke of a pen and changing a word, the Navy has made most of the supply ships off limits to women. Rosemary follows that with it’s a blatant attempt to keep women off ships by redefining combat. In 1987, Secretary of the Navy James Webb, a prior opponent of women in the armed forces, reopens the support force billets to women ordering that vigorous corrective and preventative actions need to be taken to end harassment of women. Along with those actions, CDR Rosemary Mariner is selected to be the next Commanding Officer of VAQ-34 at NAS Point Mugu. She has become the first woman to fly a tactical combat jet aircraft and now the first to take command of a tactical fleet aircraft squadron.
In Congress, women in the armed forces are finding support. Senators John McCain, John Warner and John Glenn go to bat, stating that women should be integrated into crews on Navy combat ships and fly combat planes and helicopters. Warner states more specifically, “The face of war has changed significantly while policies for women have been resistant to change due to antiquated legal restrictions.” Rosemary enlists the Women Military Aviators (WMA) to help focus change to repeal combat exclusions, becoming their vice president. WMA members walked the halls of Congress educating everyone they met that women had the necessary skills to fly combat aircraft. However, in Congress, Rosemary met significant opposition from Phyllis Schlafly and Elaine Donnelly, ultra conservative activists who had fought the Equal Rights Amendment and were now focused on excluding women from the military entirely. Rosemary’s position was that women aviators have flown in combat from WWII through Desert Storm. She emphasized that it wasn’t a matter of gender, the airplane doesn’t care, ability, not gender should decide who fights our next war from the skies.
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The 90s roll in with a series of crucial sexual harassment and assault cases. A Navy Commander is harassed by her command mates before being assaulted by her commanding officer, a Naval Academy female midshipman is sexually harassed, the Top Gun assaults hit the news like a ton of bricks and to cap it all off the Tomcat Follies incident at Miramar throws sexual harassment at a U.S. Congresswomen. The events pummel the Navy with bad PR. A Presidential Commission is established which recommends allowing women to serve on combat ships to which the Navy reclassifies ships for more female billets and establishes mixed-gender bootcamps. Finally in 1993, the Secretary of Defense directs the services to open combat aviation to women, so the Navy, Air Force and Army begin training female combat airplane and helicopter pilots.
That’s the story to a point. What becomes of the first six as the Navy finishes the century and moves into the 2000s is for you to get the book and find out. My review only scratches the surface giving you the highlights as there is so much more to this in-depth accounting. I will say, however, that Wings of Gold begins and ends with the 4-plane F/A-18 missing aviator formation flown solely by 8 women combat veteran Naval Aviators over CAPT Rosemary Mariner’s memorial service. Afterwards, they comment that Rosemary made it possible for them to do the jobs that they were doing today. Said the flight leader, “We stand on the shoulders of giants and hers were the tallest.”
As I reflect on Wings of Gold, my thought is it’s too bad that these stories were not published a decade earlier as required reading for all commissioned, warrant, sergeant and petty officers. Is it still relative today when those in our chain feel compelled to brag about grabbing women and are accused of dozens of harassments and assaults with no accountability? My final thoughts are that I worked hard to get my wings and in my career afterwards, but as a contemporary with these women, what would I have done had I been confronted with opposition, harassment and hostility at every step of the way? I don’t know personally, but I commend the motivation, courage and perseverance of these women. I served with both Joellen and Rosemary but had no idea of what they had to deal with in their careers. This story puts new perspective on gender issues. It is a great read filled with a treasure trove of real people, historic issues and resultant actions. I give it five stars and two thumbs up. Get it, you won’t be disappointed.
The first three female student Naval Aviators, from left: Barbara Allen, Jane Skiles, and Judith Neuffer. U.S. Navy
Photo Courtesy Judith Neuffer Bruner
ENS Joellen Drag, the lone woman in a sea of men, receives her Wings of Gold from her father, retired Navy Commander Theodore F. Drag. image courtesy TWU Libraries Woman’s Collection, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas.
ENS Ana Maria Scott flies the H-3 out of Helicopter Combat (HC) Support Squadron 6, Naval Air Station Norfolk. Image courtesy TWU Librarie’s Women’s Collection, Texas Women’s University, Denton, Texax.
Get Started Telling Your Stories
By CAPT George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.)
A Deep Dive Into Characters
Writing these columns has been a blast, primarily because I have been getting a good amount of feedback from you as readers. That has been super-helpful in deciding what to put in future columns. One area that has generated the most feedback – and questions – has involved character development.
That is quite natural. When someone approaches me about writing a novel, they almost always talk about plot: this happens, then that happens, then this other thing happens, etc. When I ask about characters, well, they are not quite there yet. To scratch that itch, I wanted to take a bit of a deep-dive into how to develop characters and most importantly, how to come up with believable motivations for why they do what they do!
I want to take more of a deep-dive into building your characters, as well as focus more intently on character motivations, bolded for emphasis here: ‘What do these guys want, why do they want it, and what’s keeping them from getting it?”
Many of you have likely heard of Simon Sinek, one of the stars of the TED circuit. Sinek rose to instant fame when his 2009 book, Start with Why, became a runaway bestseller. While Sinek didn’t target writers with his advice, for all writers, what he prescribes is spot-on for our craft, and especially for creating believable character motivations. Why do your characters do what they do?
Many of you with experience in industry, academic, military and other avocations have been exposed to various ways to bin people’s traits as a method of trying to understand why people do the things they do and why they are a certain “way.” From the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the DISC Behavioral Assessment, to the Situational Awareness Judgment, and too many others far too numerous to mention here, these all have value in answering the "why" question.
That said, most of these analytical tools are focused on interactions in the workplace and on, frankly, getting people to work together harmoniously and think of each other as part of “we” and not as “them.” They have vastly less use in determining the motivations of your protagonist, antagonist, and others in your novel. If those don’t work, then what will?
Our intent is not to make this a science or history lesson, but understanding why people are the way they are and do
what they do can be traced as far back as twenty-three hundred years ago when the Greek Philosopher Aristotle first discussed ethos, logos and pathos.
To be fair, Aristotle’s concept didn’t apply to writing – few people in that day were literate enough to read the limited things that were available to be read. His trilogy referred to the three components needed for persuasive speaking. And since speaking in the forum was the primary means that thoughtful people shared ideas, these elements had staying power.
Simply put, ethos is about establishing your authority to speak on the subject, logos is your logical argument for your point and pathos is your attempt to sway an audience. This is how speakers “in the day” became convincing orators and how writers today begin the process of marshaling the why behind their characters’ motivations.
Fast forward to today, and a deep-dive into character motivations moves us inevitably into the area of neuroscience. No, this isn’t intended to be a scientific tome, but rather as a way to explain how to leverage neuroscience to flesh out your characters and their motivations. It is the primary means of understanding the human brain, and since it is the brain that governs our every activity, understanding this subject is key to understanding – and presenting – logical and believable character motivations.
Let’s start with perhaps the simplest – and possibly most well-known – example of people’s brains motivating them to do things in a certain way. For this, we can turn to one of the most popular movies and television series of all time, Star Trek.
While different fans have their own favorite characters, it is hard to argue the fact that Admiral James Kirk (played by William Shatner,) Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) and Scotty (played by James Dohan) in the original series were the three most well-remembered characters in the original Star Trek series.
You would be hard pressed to find three characters who brought their why from such dramatically different places. Admiral James Kirk possessed the “Instinctual Brain” and went with his gut to deal with his risks and fears. Spock had the “Logical Brain” and dealt with facts and figures in making recommendations. Scotty was the character with the “Emotional Brain” and went with his heart when dealing with his feelings and friends.
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Viewed from the vantage point of our sophisticated selves in the third decade of the 21st Century, the characterizations in the Star Trek television series (first aired in 1966) and subsequent movies seem simplistic, and almost quaint. That should not obscure the fact that using this basic example of three widely known fictional characters can add to our understanding of how to present the why behind our characters’ actions. This leads to the ability to describe immensely believable character motivations (whether instinctual, logical, or emotional) for our novels.
That said, if I left you with just this one example – and one that has often become overused to the point of being a cliché – I would be doing you an injustice and leaving you with an example that some would describe as far too basic and one that does not mirror the “real” world we live in today.
To go deeper and to fully leverage neuroscience to help you develop memorable and convincing characters, let’s turn to a more-nuanced look. Based on recent findings in neuroscience, the overwhelming number of humans fall into one of nine character types.
Yes, nine does sound like a big number, but perhaps not so much if you have a substantial number of characters in your novel and you don’t want any of them to be carbon copies of each other. I believe that these nine character types cover the gamut of the personalities that will inhabit your novels. My guess is that if you test-drive these types on just the primary protagonist and antagonist of the last novel you’ve read, you’ll find that one of the characterizations works for each of your characters.
Sure, there are other taxonomies that you can use, but I have found that this one suits most needs, so I offer it to you as a way to produce more well-nuanced characters in your novels. As I present these, I’ll offer book and/or movie characters to give you a concrete example of what I am talking about.
An Adventurer is a person who is often cast as the primary protagonist in novels, especially thrillers. This person is optimistic, versatile, and driven to seek fun and excitement. Character traits revolve around enthusiasm, adaptability, and the tendency not to dwell on one thing for too long. They may even be thrill-seekers and tend to take risks that others would never think of taking. Indiana Jones, the title character of the wildly successful movie franchise, is a classic example of an Adventurer.
A Controller is another type sometimes cast as a primary protagonist – or even an antagonist – in novels. As an antagonist, the Controller seeks to maintain the status quo that he or she created. This person is self-confident, assertive, focused and takes charge. He or she is self-reliant, and rarely – if ever – is willing to compromise. The Controller respects those who speak their mind. Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead is a great example of a Controller.
The Advocator is a person who feels that he or she is reasonable, objective and correct all of the time. This character works hard, follows the rules and strives for perfection. The Advocator views things in black and white, right or wrong, good or bad, and rarely gray. An Advocator is often cast as a primary protagonist. The character Jack Reacher, in the movie of the same name, is a classic example of an Advocator.
A Helper is caring, loving, helpful, and values relationships with others This person prefers to give rather than receive, and strives to be what others want or need. The Helper craves closeness and love more than anything and is sad or hurt when that isn’t forthcoming. The character of Elizabeth Bennet in the period romance Pride & Prejudice is a classic example of a Helper.
A Motivator is a person who is confident, driven, likeable but goal and success oriented. This person is optimistic, hardworking and competitive. A Motivator needs recognition for his or her achievements. The character of Sarah Connor in the film Terminator Genisys is a classic example of a Motivator. A Motivator can be a primary protagonist, but if this is the case, he or she likely has some of the qualities of an Adventurer or a Controller.
A Dreamer is romantic, sensitive, self-aware and creative. This person marches to a different beat than others and is artistic, influential, persuasive and inspiring. A Dreamer imagines future scenarios and is searching for the meaning of life. Julia Houston, the lead female character in Smash, is a classic example of a Dreamer.
An Inventor is a person who is insightful, innovative and curious about how things work. This person is intelligent, analytical, and gains knowledge from observation. The Inventor derives happiness through knowledge rather than through material possessions. The Sherlock Holmes character is the best example of an Inventor. Yes, an Inventor can also be a primary protagonist, but must go through a significant character arc to be ultimately successful.
A Cautioner is one who is committed, hard-working, responsible, and is frequently motivated by fear. Like the Inventor, this person is intelligent, analytical, and gains knowledge from observation or reading. The Cautioner is organized, always vigilant, and stays hyper-ready to respond to any emergency. Bilbo, the primary protagonist in The Hobbit, is a good example of a Cautioner.
A Peacekeeper is trusting, stable, diplomatic and understanding. This person is patient, pleasant, receptive, open-minded and empathetic. The Peacekeeper shies away from disagreements and abhors confrontations. Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, in the series Downton Abby is a classic Peacekeeper.
I think you can see how these nine character types cover a wide spectrum that you can use to populate your novel. Additionally, as I teed up on some of the descriptors, Adventurers and Controllers tend to dominate the ranks of protagonists and antagonists. Helpers tend to be the sidekicks of many protagonists. A Motivator can fall in either of these two camps, or can be a helper of sorts as well. Dreamers, Inventors and Cautioners are often people your protagonist is trying to save or assist.
None of these types are rigid, of course, but are merely suggestions for you to check your bundle of attributes for these nine character types to ensure that what you suggest motivates this character or that squares with what that person’s brain – based on solid neuroscience – is telling them to do.
Full disclosure, this science, while not brand new, has only recently gained purchase. I did not leverage it in writing my early novels, but now that I do, I look back on our early work, pick a character, and go: “Yep, that’s who he/she is.” I suggest that you try this out with the last novel you have read. The results may surprise you.
Now that you have this basic taxonomy down, I wanted to take you to another important character pairing beyond that of the protagonist and antagonist. That is the protagonist and his or her helper or sidekick. This is, in many ways, the most important relationship in your novel.
There is an old saying that, in love and marriage, opposites attract. That is true for this pairing in your novels. Your protagonist and his or her helper must bring different talents and attributes to the table or, frankly, one of them is unnecessary. Think of it this way: Would you ever pair General Douglas McArthur with General George Patton in a fictionalized story?
Sometimes, the writer has the fates throw these two together as we see Regan MacNeil and Father Karas team up in The Exorcist, or Marko Ramius and Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October, or Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu in The Da Vinci Code. These are opposites, and it works, but it is also serendipitous in each case.
More often, we create two characters where the protagonist seeks out the other purposefully because he or she knows that the person selected complements him or her and brings talents to the table that the protagonist does not possess.
To explain this in concrete terms, I turn to my own novels and how I constructed this pairing. In Tom Clancy’s OpCenter: Out of the Ashes, the primary protagonist is Admiral
Chase Williams. Williams recently retired as a four-star flag officer after serving in the U.S. Navy for thirty-six years. For Williams, going to sea and leading sailors on a Navy destroyer was the purest form of naval service, and he had managed to stay at sea for the overwhelming majority of his career, only coming to Washington for two brief tours.
As the incoming Op-Center Director, Williams knew that he brought little to the table as far as dealing with the bureaucratic infighting that was so ingrained in the Nation’s capital. Williams didn’t like it, but he understood that unless he had a way to find and pull those levers, his tenure in this post would be brief and unsuccessful. He recruited Anne Sullivan to be his Op-Center Deputy. Here is her dossier:
Anne Sullivan was a retired General Services Administration super grade who had made a career in Washington. She knew all about the government, including government contracting, hiring, firing, and funding, and how to sidestep the issues. These were things Williams never had to deal with, even during his tours in Washington.
Unlike Williams, Sullivan came from money. Her father had fashioned a successful and lucrative career in finance with Bain Capital Ventures. Between that family money and her GSA retirement, she was looking forward to a comfortable life. She enjoyed the D.C. social and cultural scene and traveled often, primarily to Europe and especially to Ireland. That plan was interrupted when Williams recruited her—charmed her, really, she readily admitted—to be his deputy.
I think that you can see how this works, and yes, just to emphasize the “oppositeness” I picked a woman as the helper here because it works, to say nothing of the fact that as opposed to the Clancy franchise tendency to go with primarily male characters, I wanted to create characters who might appeal to a wider audience.
I think that you can see how this deep-dive into characterization can make your characters – and especially their motivations – much more believable.
So, lots to chew on here. If your curiosity has kicked in and you don’t want to wait for the next issue of Rotor Review, try this link to my website: https://www.georgegaldorisi. com/. Other than writing thrillers, I like nothing more than connecting with readers. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and learn more about my books, blogs and other writing on my website. For those of you trying to up your game regarding any kind of writing, check out my “Writing Tips,” which offer useful advice for all writers, from established authors to future best-selling writers.
Rotor Review #157 Summer '22 82 Off Duty
Fair Winds and Following Seas to Tom Phillips — Writing for the Right Reasons
By CAPT George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.)
Earlier this year, we lost Tom Phillips as a valued shipmate, squadronmate, NHA member and awesome contributor to Rotor Review. Elsewhere in this issue of Rotor Review you’ll read a lovely tribute to Tom’s half-century of service to the Navy and the Nation. This captures the man vastly better than I can here.
So, what more is there left to say? Plenty. Many of you who never met Tom “know” him from his many columns in Rotor Review. And if math is your sport, you likely have calculated that Tom wrote more columns for Rotor Review than anyone else. Always containing not just facts – but awesome storytelling and great humor – those were the “must read” columns for many of us.
I want to tell you more about Tom Phillips as a writer that I learned when we collaborated on the book: Leave No Man Behind: The Saga of Combat Search and Rescue. I say “we” advisedly, because Tom was the major contributor to the book, and I was his wingman. If you know Tom, and have read the book, you will understand why.
A short time after we wrote the book, Tom said: “People are asking us why we wrote the book. We should tell them.” He did the heavy lifting, and here is what he came up with:
By way of background, here is why we wrote the book and why we are actively “getting the word out” on this book. Decades ago, the motto of Combat Search and Rescue Squadrons was “We prevent POWs.” It was an apt motto. But today, that is no longer the motto – and for good reason.
The new brand of warfare we face as a nation more often than not involves a fight against an ideologically fanatical enemy. Today, if one of our young warriors is caught behind enemy lines they won’t become a POW. Instead, this fanatical enemy will torture and maim them and then slit their throats on the Internet in front of billions of people.
Therefore, in our view, the urgency to rescue our men and women caught behind enemy lines has never been more compelling. Unfortunately, with a troubled economy and with many, many other competing military priorities, we are concerned that unless the absolute requirement to provide the best equipment and training for our CSAR forces becomes part of a National debate, the requisite emphasis and funding won’t be provided for our CSAR warriors.
Leave No Man Behind: The Saga of Combat Search and Rescue represents our four-year effort to chronicle the rich history of this specialized discipline as a venue for both telling incredibly exciting tales, as well as suggesting the future of U.S.
CSAR capability will not be bright unless Americans demand that it is so. Perhaps enough on why we wrote the book.
The reaction to Leave No Man Behind (Zenith Books, 2009) has been quite positive. It is widely recognized as the definitive work of combat search and rescue. It is enjoying brisk sales with major booksellers and is a featured book with the Military Book Club, and has recently been added to the Chief of Naval Operations reading list for military professionals.
Leave No Man Behind: The Saga of Combat Search and Rescue has received laudatory reviews in The New York Post (Ralph Peters), U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Naval War College Review, Wings of Gold, The Hook, Naval Aviation News, Rotor Review, and other publications and websites. Noted writers such as Norman Polmar, Dr. Norman Friedman, Dick Couch, Darrel Whitcomb and others have enthusiastically “blurbed” this book. And importantly, Dr. John Darrell Sherwood, Historian of the United States Navy has also positively endorsed this book.
That’s all good stuff, and it was important word to get out there, but the most important point that I want to make here is that Tom didn’t stop once the book was published, that merely got him started, and I think it is the perfect example of why people write books and articles –to communicate.
After Leave No Man Behind was published, Tom took the initiative to establish a website so we could communicate with readers. Wow, that was a great idea. We heard from various readers several times a week, and Tom used those interactions to raise so many people up in ways that stick with me today.
Most of the communications from readers ran something like this: “In Chapter 22, you talked about CSAR during the Korean War. My father was a mechanic in an Army unit that did CSAR north of Seoul.” The person would mention his relative’s name and a little bit about his background. Most people just wanted to share that and didn’t even expect a response.
You may find it hard to believe, but CSAR has such a rich history that even a 642-page book couldn’t cover it all – to do that, Leave No Man Behind would had to have been twice, or
even three times as long. But Tom still had all the information that we could have used had we wanted the book to be a doorstop.
For every communication from readers, Tom considered what was sent, and then sent back a detailed response, quite often telling them things about their relative’s military service that they had not previously known. Every missive he provided was filled with passion, humor, and quite often, required a bit of research on his part.
What gifts he gave, not just in his original writing, but in lifting readers up through his professionalism and, quite frankly, caring. Tom’s writing made an impact in multiple ways, just like when you throw a pebble into a pond. This, to me, and I suspect to many others, is Tom Phillip’s lasting legacy.
Links to a few of Tom Phillip's recent articles in the Rotor Review:
RR# 128 Spring 2015 "Reminiscences of a 2.75” Rocket Marksman" (Page 87) - https://issuu.com/rotorrev/docs/rr128digital/88
RR# 129 Summer 2015 "Shine Angel Shine" (Page 53) - https://issuu.com/rotorrev/docs/rr129_digital/54
RR# 133 Summer 2016 "Just Because the Army Had It" (Page 60) - https://issuu.com/rotorrev/docs/rr133_digital/62
RR# 134 Fall 2016 "High Drink Part I" (Page 56) - https://issuu.com/rotorrev/docs/rr134_completedigital_/58
RR# 135 Winter 2017 "High Drink Part II" (Page 66) - https://issuu.com/rotorrev/docs/rr135_digital
RR# 136 Spring 2017 "Lost Comms" (Page 44) - https://issuu.com/rotorrev/docs/rr-136.spring17
RR# 145 Coast Guard Helicopter Pilots in Vietnam - https://issuu.com/rotorrev/docs/rr145.summer.19.digital
RR#146 Fall 2019 . "SAR Insurance" (Page 74) - https://issuu.com/rotorrev/docs/rr146.fall.digital
RR# 147 Winter 2020 "We are All Going to Die Playing Football" (Page 78) - https://issuu.com/rotorrev/docs/rr_147_winter_2020
RR# 150 Fall 2020 "Awfully Slow Warfare" (Page 64) - https://issuu.com/rotorrev/docs/rr150.fall.2020
RR#153 Summer 2021 "Enforcing the Tet Cease Fire" (Page 78) - https://issuu.com/rotorrev/docs/rr_153_summer.2021
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Mentorship is a critical factor impacting the personal and professional growth of the members of our organization. The Navy has developed a variety of programs and tools to encourage formal mentorship (i.e. Naval Personnel Command's Mentor Certification Program and My Navy HR's "Reverse Mentoring Guide") amongst service members. Before the advent of these formal measures, however, leaders provided mentorship informally. Informal mentorship is, and will continue to be, an extremely important part of our culture.
In your life and career, how have mentors positively impacted you and your family? What are the hallmarks of a good mentor-mentee relationship? What are the characteristics of a great mentor? As always, if you feel inclined to share personal experiences and individual shout-outs, both are welcome!
From: CAPT Mont Smith,USCG (Ret.) and Lifetime Member of NHA and CGAA
I’m an old Coast Guard dude. The helicopters I flew are long gone. When I was a nugget, there was no formal mentoring program. I served at seven Coast Guard Air Stations - Mobile, AL; Cape Cod, MA; Kodiak, AK (twice); Clearwater, FL; Elizabeth City, NC; and Borinquen, PR. I amassed about 3,500 hours of rotary wing time and roughly the same in various multi-engine starch wing aircraft.
The mentoring I received largely involved sitting around the mess table after dinner with my duty section and “talking story.” At Cape Cod, we had both a “ready” HH-3F and a “ready” HH-52A helicopter available for immediate launch. I learned a lot about our mission from listening to the awesome experiences of other aviators. Some had recently transferred from Alaska. Others were from the “Grapefruit Circuit” - Miami, New Orleans, Corpus Christi and the like. Still others cut their teeth on the Washington and Oregon Coast, dotted with sea cliffs, rocky beaches and horrendous gales.
I soon learned that I would never have the opportunity to receive the exposure these aviators had gained. The best I could do would be to listen closely and mentally file away their lessons learned against the day when I might use them to my advantage. I called this store of knowledge my “bag of tricks” - techniques that might help me figure out how to complete an arduous hoist safely or how to rendezvous with a distressed vessel and let down safely in thick fog. I remember one seasoned aviator describing how he delivered a trail line to a sailboat in 70-knot winds by weighing it down with the Danforth anchor we carried (we were, after all, amphibians back then).
Doubtless today’s Naval Aviators are armed with a great deal more electronic wizardry, but sometimes it helps to think about the unthinkable. What do you do if the hoist cable gets wrapped around a wildly swinging sailboat mast after you have lifted the rescue device off the deck with a person in it? You can’t shear. Can the hoist operator conn you to unwrap the cable?
And, of course, there’s the whole complex topic of risk management that deserves elaborate discussion around the mess table. How do you assess the risk? Is the aircraft capability degraded? Is the crew capable? What are the alternatives? Much has been written in the way of guidance.
These are the recollections of someone who is still proud to have been Navy-trained and to have maintained the high standards of Naval and Coast Guard Aviation.
From: LCDR Reed Carr, USNR (Ret.)
It worked for me, as a former preflight instructor encouraged me to go to graduate school, where I got a Masters degree, allowing me to teach at Rice University.
NEXT RADIO CHECK QUESTION
The theme for Rotor Review #158 is “Past Informs the Present.” Those of us who currently have the privilege of spending our days with rotors turning overhead couldn’t operate as knowledgeably, safely, and efficiently as we do if not for the foundation set by those who came before us.
Naval Aviation as a whole has an incredible history which can be broken down further into squadron, aircraft, and even individual history. “There I was,” “lessons learned,” and “open kimono” conversations happen in wardrooms and messes across the world. From these we learn from our Shipmates and fellow Marines about how to be better in and out of the aircraft.
What are some historical events that have set the stage for what rotary wing aviation is today? What mission sets have you performed that you have seen grow and develop into modern day operations? Is there any particular historical event, big or small, that has made an impact on you and the decisions you have made? What is your “there I was” that impacted you and your career? Do you have advice for the next generation of rotary wing aviator to make them better based on your experiences?
We want to hear from you! Please send your responses to the Rotor Review Editor-in-Chief at the email address listed below. firstname.lastname@example.org
Rotor Review #157 Summer '22 86 CDR Aaron Berger, USN relieved CDR Timothy Drosinos,USN May 16, 2022 Change of Command RDML Brad Rosen, USN relieved RDML Stephen Barnett, USN May, 23, 2022 Navy Region Southwest HT-18 Vigilant Eagles LtCol Daniel W. Caroffino, USMC relieved CDR Justin M. Cobb ,USN June 3, 2022 HSCWINGLANT CAPT Edward Johnson, USN relieved CAPT Ryan Keys, USN June 14, 2022 HSC-22 Sea knights HSC-3 Merlins CAPT David W. Ayotte, USN relieved CDR Loren M. Jacobi, USN August 5, 2022 HSM-40 Airwolves CDR Dave Bizzarri, USN relieved CDR Justin Banz, USN August 4, 2022
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 87 CDR Kyle Johnson, USN relieved CDR Joel Voss, USN May 6, 2022 CDR Jimmy Dalo, USN relieved CDR Dan Thomas, USN May 19, 2022 CDR Nikolas Rongers, USN relieved CDR Brett Elko, USN June 16, 2022 CDR Thaddeus Rusinek, USN relieved CDR Anthony Polo, USN July 28, 2022 CDR Phillip Krites, USN relieved CDR Courtney Herdt, USN July 8, 2022 HSM-79 Griffins HSM-70 Spartans HSM-74 Swamp Foxes VT-10 Wildcats CDR John Gleasonn,USN relieved CDR Jason Agostinelli, USN May 12, 2022 HSC-8 Eightballers HSC-85 Firehawks
Rotor Review #157 Summer '22 88 CDR James R. Cordonnier relieved CDR Daniel J. Schlesinger March 17, 2022 CDR Joshua C. Starr relieved CDR Travis E. Wandell April 25, 2022 Change of Command CDR Nicklaus Smith relieved CDR Steven Hatch April 14, 2022 CNATRA HM-14 Vanguard HSC-26 Chargers CDR Matthew Mravlja relieved CDR Eric Severson May 19, 2022 RDML Richard Brophy, USN relieved RDML Robert Westendorff, USN July 19, 2022 HSM-35 Magicians HSM-71 Raptors
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 89 CDR Matthew E. Chang relieved CDR Timothy E. Rogers July 14, 2022 CDR David R. Vogelgesang relieved CDR Michael G. King June 16, 2022 CDR Michael Frisby relieved CDR Jared Ott May 6, 2022 HSCWSL Savages HSC-11 Dragonslayers HSM-49 Scorpions HSM-51 Warlords CDR Jeremiah W. Farwell relieved CDR William Guheen July 14, 2022 HSC-21 Blackjacks CDR Ian Adams, USN relieved CDR Michael Silver, USN June 2, 2022
Congratulations to the next generation of Naval Aviation warfighters who received their Wings of Gold at NAS Whiting Field. These aviators will move to the Fleet to learn their designated platforms. A special thanks to the Naval Helicopter Association for donating their first set of Gold Wings from Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) Training Air Wing 5. See you in the skies!
Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators June 10, 2022
Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators May 26, 2022
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Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators May 13, 2022
Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators April 29, 2022
Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators April 14, 2022
Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC June 24, 2022
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Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC June 3, 2022
Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC April 29, 2022
CAPT Dick Catone, USN (Ret.) following a memorial service for a fellow helicopter pilot, is credited with the following statement: “I guess we are all in the starboard delta waiting for Signal Charlie.” Starboard Delta is the holding pattern for the airborne Search and Rescue helicopters on the starboard (right) side of the aircraft carrier. They fly at a low altitude so as not to interfere with the fixed-wing aircraft recovery pattern, and only land when the last fixed-wing aircraft is safe on board. When tower calls the helicopter to pass “Charlie” to a landing spot, the crew knows the fixed-wing recovery is complete, all is well, and it is time to come back. Hence, the statement appears appropriate that someday we will receive our own “Signal Charlie” and will be called home for a final landing.
Signal Charlie has been created to inform our membership and honor the passing of fellow unrestricted aviators. It is only as good as the information we receive. If you have an obituary or other information that you would like to provide concerning the passing of a shipmate, co-worker, or friend of the community, please contact the NHA National Office at email@example.com and we will get the word out.
RDML William Terry, USN (Ret.)
Rear Admiral William Edwin Terry, USN (Ret.) was born 9 January 1940 in Borger, Texas. Bill lived in Texas until age 13, then moved with his family to Colorado where he played football in high school, was an avid hunter, camper and outdoorsman. He was accepted to college on a football scholarship, attending Adams State College and Colorado State University before being accepted to the Naval Aviation Cadet (NAVCAD) Program in 1961. Bill’s journey to his Wings of Gold began with enlistment in the U.S. Naval Reserve, pre-flight training at NAS Pensacola, followed by primary flying with VT-1 at NAS Saufley Field. He received his Wings of Gold and commission as an Ensign on 12 April 1963.
Bill received numerous personal decorations to include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legion of Merits, three Meritorious Service Medals, and the Air Medal. He rose through Navy ranks from a NAVCAD to become a Flag Officer, flew 5,753 flight hours, more than 5,000 in the H-3 alone, made 1,865 rotary wing shipboard landings, flew 32 combat missions on three Vietnam deployments, commanded two HS squadrons (winning the Thach and Isbell Awards), an LPH, an Amphibious Squadron, and a Logistics Group, made six non-combat rescues and received the Silver Star as a LTJG for a rescue in combat.
His first Flag Officer assignment was to the staff of the Commander Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH) for duty as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics for more than two years, followed by command once more, this time as the Commander, Combat Logistics Group 2. He retired from the Navy in October 1994 after more than 33 years of service.
He knew the H-3 like no other helo pilot and flew it like it was part of his body. Bill was honored and extremely proud to be a Golden Eagle. He will truly be missed.
After retirement, Bill worked for DBM and Wells Fargo Securities, wrote over a dozen books both non-fiction and fiction, including his autobiography. Most of his books star his grandchildren as the main characters.
Bill’s daughter Shannon said, “He loved his life and family. He would say, don’t be sad, I had a great life. I’m so proud of my family, my Navy and my country.”
RDML Terry is survived by his loving wife, Johanna, his sisters Ann Cochran and Kay Galeener, his brother Ralph Lee Terry, daughter Shannon Nembach, her husband Henry, their daughters Casey and Cameron, and his son, Michael, his wife Sandy, and their sons, Sam and Jake.
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Admiral, Fair Winds and Following Seas, We Have the Watch!
James“Jim” Frederick Ponzo was born on December 29, 1946 to John and Kathleen Ponzo in Evanston, Illinois. On June 16, 2022 in Twin Falls, Idaho, he unexpectedly passed away and is now with His Heavenly Father.
Jim attended grade school at St. Michaels and high school at St. Francis in Wheaton, Illinois. At St Francis, he enjoyed sports and participated in the glee club productions including Brigadoon. His role as MacGregor in Brigadoon helped him embrace his Scottish heritage. With the help of his mother, he set out to perfect his Scottish brogue to accompany his red hair. Jim attended Loras College and graduated in 1969 with a BS in History.
ENS Ponzo, USNR was designated a Naval Aviator on December 11, 1970 at HT-8, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, Florida. He was Navy Helicopter Designator Number R-11308. CAPT Ponzo is the former Commanding Officer of the HC-8 Dragonwhales. April 9, 1983, Jim married Lynn (with Krista right by Lynn’s side) in San Diego, California and in August 1984 they welcomed their son James “Collin” to the family.
The U.S. Navy was the direction he went after college. He proudly piloted H-46 helicopters, spent time on many ships when deployed, instructed at the U.S. Naval War College and was last stationed in Lisbon, Portugal at the U.S. Embassy as the Naval Attaché before his retirement. Over his 26 year distinguished military career, Jim received many awards and honors. After serving our great country, he retired to Twin Falls, Idaho in 1996 with his family. Retirement was not on Jim’s list of “thingsto-do-when-you-retire.” Retirement for Jim consisted of involvement with United Way, Twin Falls Rotary Club, St Edwards Knights of Columbus, Boy Scouts, and Magic Valley Youth Soccer Association to name a few. He worked as a travel agent and with SkyWest Airlines (recently retired after 16 years).
He loved to garden and take care of his flowers. His enthusiasm for travel and adventure to see the world was envied by many but that didn’t stop him from filling up his calendar with trips with Lynn and dear friends. He and his son, Collin, would go to Notre Dame football games, and they loved to watch basketball together. As a three time cancer survivor since 2014, Jim never stopped giving his time and support to his friends and family – especially his grandkids whom he absolutely adored.
His family and friends will remember him as a loving, generous and compassionate man who encouraged everyone to trust in God and to live life! And that infectious laugh of his will be missed too. Jim is survived by his lovely wife, Lynn Ponzo, his children, Krista Lynn Deacon (Brian Gordon) and James Collins Ponzo (Stefanie); grandchildren Kaitlyn Rose Deacon, Andrew Fraser Deacon, Sydney Lorraine Gordon, Kasey Jane Gordon and James “JJ” Allan Ponzo; his siblings John L Ponzo (Cheryl), Kathryn Schmid (Stephen), Anne Schrishuhn (Dick), MaryBeth Witt (Michael), Shawn Lambert and Timothy Lambert and many nieces and nephews. Jim is preceded in death by his father, John F Ponzo, his mother, Kathleen Ponzo O’Neil, and his grandparents.
Services were held at St. Edwards Catholic Church in Twin Falls, Idaho on June 22, 2022. Jim will be inurned at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to a charity of your choice in his honor.
Fair Winds and Following Seas!
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CAPT James Frederick Ponzo, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Melvin A. Runzo, USN (Ret.)
Runzo passed away on June 20, 2022. ENS Runzo was a graduate of the US Naval Academy Class of 1958. LTJG Runzo received his wings as a Naval Aviator on February 2,1960 at HTG-1, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, Florida. LTJG Runzo was Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator # R-5095. CAPT Runzo is the former CO of HM-12.
Mel Runzo went to be with his Lord on June 20th, 2022. He was 86 years old when he died unexpectedly from a fall and subsequent bout with COVID. Mel was born in 1935 in Zelienople, PA and later upon graduation from Mesa High School in Mesa, AZ accepted an appointment to attend the United States Naval Academy. He graduated from the USNA in 1958. He then attended flight school and became a helicopter pilot. Several years later while stationed in Norfolk, Va., Mel met his soul mate, best friend, and future wife, Tinker Barker. Stationed mainly on the east coast, in Norfolk and Washington DC, Mel served his country for 27 years, rising to the rank of Captain.
For all the accomplishments and accolades Mel received while in the Navy, if you asked him what he is most proud of, his answer would be his relationship with Jesus Christ. A close second would be that he was a good husband and father to Tinker and his son Chris, respectively. Always smiling, with never a bad word to say about anyone, Mel loved life and loved bringing joy to those around him. In addition to his family, he loved Eastern Shore Chapel and his Peanut friends. Mel found so much joy in the relationships made working at the Food Pantry and often spoke of the wonderful friendships he had formed while living at Atlantic Shores Retirement Community. He also loved his grandchildren with every fiber of his being.
Left to cherish memories of Mel are his son Chris (Beth); his three grandchildren Aaron (Nikki), Dustin, and Ethan (Brooke); his great grandchildren Elijah and Ruah; his sister Ann McCready; his sister-in-law Corolla Runzo; his sister-in-law Barbara Hull; and his two nieces Patty Bartneck and Peyton Von Hirsch. The family would like to extend an incredible thank you to all the nurses, doctors, and caregivers at Virginia Beach General Hospital who tended to Mel during his stay. You were compassionate throughout. Proverbs 3:5-6 states "Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
A funeral was held for Mel at Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church on July 23, 2022 at 11am. A live-stream link of Mel’s Celebration of Life service may be found at https://youtu.be/1q1OhipMcZI. In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made in Mel’s honor to the Eastern Shore Chapel Food Pantry. On line condolences may be offered to the family at hdoliver.com. Fair Winds and Following Seas!
CAPT John Scott Kistler, USN (Ret.)
John S. Kistler became a Naval Aviator on July 1,1969 at HT-8, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, Florida. ENS Kistler was Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator Number R-10615.
CAPT John Scott Kistler passed away at his home in Summit County. He was born and raised in Miami, Florida, and graduated from Principia College in 1967. In 1968. John was recruited by the U.S. Navy and became an Aviation Officer Candidate, graduating from flight school, Pensacola, Florida, in 1969. John’s thirty-year career in the Navy was for him, one of his greatest gifts. He had a deep love for his country, the military and flying. He flew H-3 helicopters in search and rescue as well as surveillance missions and flew off five Naval aircraft carriers during his career. He also served aboard the Persian Gulf flagship, USS LaSalle, as Officer-in-Charge of the helicopter squadron assigned to that ship during the Iranian Conflict that began in 1979.
John moved to Breckenridge nearly a decade ago and enjoyed the mountains, the sun, and his family here. John brought laughter and joy wherever he went and made the day happier for anyone who crossed his path. John is survived by his wife, Karen, and his children: Laura, John A., and Scott. He leaves behind his sister Laura, brother Robert and nine grandchildren, all whom he dearly loved. A celebration of John’s life was held June 28, at Arlington National Cemetery. Donations in John’s name may be made to Timberline Adult Day Care Program, PO Box 1357, Frisco, CO 80443.
Fair Winds and Following Seas!
Remembering LCDR Thomas L. Phillips, USN (Ret.)
By CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.) and LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.)
Tom Phillips, noted author and expert on Combat SAR, longtime contributor to NHA Rotor Review Magazine, a former HA(L)-3 Seawolf and HS-6 Indian passed away on Friday, April 29, 2022 in San Diego, CA. LCDR Phillips was a 1969 graduate of the Naval Academy. LTJG Phillips became a Naval Aviator on June 17, 1970 at HT-8, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, FL. Tom was Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator # R-11134.
Tom Phillips hailed from Martinsville, VA and was raised in Sylacauga, AL, Murfreesboro, TN and Atlanta, GA before returning to Martinsville for high school. As class salutatorian at the Augusta Military Academy in Virginia, he held the distinction of being the first student to have all ‘A’ grades for one semester in the school’s 100-year history. Following graduation from the Naval Academy with the Class of 1969, he entered flight school on 30 June 1969. Upon completion of flight training with VT-1 (T-34B), VT-3 (T-28B), and HT-8 (TH-57 and TH-1L), he received his Wings of Gold on 5 June 1970. Volunteering to serve with Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron 3 (HA(L)-3) led to training in the oldest Huey of the day, the UH-1B, the Army bird he would fly in Vietnam, in gunnery and tactics training at Fort Rucker, AL.
Tom flew 560 combat missions in his 365-day tour, qualifying as an Attack Helicopter Aircraft Commander and as a Fire Team Leader. He was recognized for his skill and bravery with a Distinguished Flying Cross, 19 Air Medals, three Navy Commendation Medals with “V”, and Presidential, Navy and Meritorious Unit Commendations. During his time with the all-volunteer “Seawolves,” Tom’s detachment was based aboard YRBM barges, LSTs, and isolated bases which dotted the Mekong Delta. From these outposts, surrounded by hostile territory, he and his fellow Naval Aviators and Aircrew Gunners recruited from maintenance ratings, operated in monsoonal weather on horizonless nights. When non-IMC rated Army and Air Force crews secured for the night, the Seawolves were in the air to patrol and scout for enemy forces using the rivers and mangrove trees to conceal their movements. They were able to scramble in a moment’s notice to support beleaguered friendly Navy riverine units, to insert, support and extract, often under fire, their SEAL brothers and to evacuate the wounded from riverine craft and fire fights ashore.
Following the completion of his assignment with HA(L)-3, Tom returned to the United States with a burning desire to excel in tactics. Ordered to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron SIX (HS-6) to fly the SH-3A at NAS Imperial Beach, CA, he deployed for ten months with Carrier Air Wing 9 (CVW 9) aboard USS Constellation (CV 64). During this tour, he supported Operation End Sweep, the Navy and Marine Corps operation to remove mines from Haiphong Harbor and other coastal and inland waterways in North Vietnam. This was a sensitive operation made more difficult by the lack of navigation aids, poor visibility and the risk of inadvertent overflight of North Vietnamese territory which could have affected the release of our POWs following the 1973 Paris Peace Accord.
Following graduation with the highest distinction and completion of a Master’s Degree Program in Anti-
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Tom's Memorial Fly-Over by HSC-3 and HSC-85
Submarine Warfare (ASW) at the Navy Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, CA, Tom reported to USS Ranger (CV 61) where he deployed for eleven months as a plank owner of Ranger’s newly installed Aircraft Carrier Tactical Support System (CV TSC) and earned his Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) Pin. He next served as a Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) Instructor Pilot with HS-10 at NAS North Island, CA, where he completely redesigned ASW tactical training as the Training Department Head. Recognized for his ASW expertise, he was assigned to be Commander Destroyer Squadron 31's (CDS 31) first Air Operations Officer aboard USS Coral Sea (CV 43) and then USS Carl Vinson (CVN 71) where he deployed twice to support the Pacific Fleet’s premier ASW development as the ASW Commander’s Tactical Action Officer (TAO). He participated in battle group operations and multi-carrier exercises against 32 submarines, including 16 USN submarines and 16 Japanese, Australian, British, and Soviet submarines during RIMPACs and FLEETEXs ’83 and ’85 as well as real world battle group ASW defense during the Cold War.
At the conclusion of Tom’s sea service, he helped to transform Commander, ASW Wing Pacific (COMASWWINGPAC) training programs by innovating and leading its Tactical Training Teams to teach coordinated ASW operations to VS, HSL and HS crews through classroom and live exercises on the Southern California Offshore Range (SCORE), an unprecedented training initiative at the time. His last active duty achievement was his most rewarding as Tom’s forceful efforts to establish the Sea-Based ASW Weapons and Tactics School (SWATS) in San Diego met with success after years of lobbying to establish an air ASW tactical center of excellence were realized. Not only was he named as the first Officer in Charge of SWATS, but to his great satisfaction the Navy recognized the importance of coordinated tactical ASW training so SWATS was provided an official Unit Identification Code (UIC) and the Officer in Charge billet was upgraded to a Commanding Officer position, resulting in Tom being formally relieved by a Captain before retiring from active duty. The care with which Tom selected the initial staff cadre paid off well, as SWATS eventually morphed into the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command (NMAWC now UWDC and SMWDC) with the air ASW elements forming into the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NSAWC now NAWDC) at NAS Fallon, NV as the combined HSC / HSM Fleet Weapons School, referred to as “SEAWOLF” in honor of the HA(L)-3 Seawolves.
Remarkably, Tom remained on “Continuous ASW Duty” for over 48 years as his post-military civilian career included ASW tactical development and evaluation work, selection as the first HSL contract simulator instructor (CSI) for tactics and selection as a dual-hatted flight and tactics CSI when the HS community established its contractor program. Tom was well known for late night tactical debriefs at the FRSs by generations of active duty ASW and ASuW helicopter warriors. His last assignment was to serve as an ASW
operations analyst at the SCORE Range in San Diego where he assessed and debriefed tactics with the current generation of MPRA (P-3C/P-8A), HSM (MH-60R), surface combatant and submarine crews.
Tom could also be found in his “off duty” time at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego where he served as a docent and gave detailed presentations on the Battle of Midway. He joined the Midway team in 2013, amassing more than 3,400 volunteer hours. He was a Midway Speakers Bureau Lecturer, noted for being historically accurate and always presenting himself as the consummate Naval Aviator. He was a popular tour guide because he was never selfish with his time and always had an infectious smile and sense of humor making visitors feel at ease. He constantly demonstrated his motivation and dedication as a docent. Even when he was recovering at home, he was preparing talks on Vietnam and Riverine Warfare, planning a tour for the USNA Class of ’68 and scheduling speaking engagements. He was a key member and leader of the Saturday Docent Team, originating a Weekend Docent Award for behavior above and beyond normal docent expectations.
Tom was the 2012 co-recipient of the Naval Helicopter Association’s (NHA) Pioneer Award named in honor of CAPT Mark Starr, one of the Association's founders. He published dozens of professional articles regarding CSAR and ASW history and current aviation issues. He was the co-author with George Galdorisi of the 2009 book, "Leave No Man Behind: The Saga of Combat Search and Rescue," a five-year effort to detail the history of the dedicated crews who risked all “so that others may live."
Tom’s continued support to the Navy and his community included working with the Boy Scouts, Sixth Grade Camp, Sierra hikes, Padres games and family cookouts. He served with the US Soccer Federation as a State Referee, Instructor and Assessor and he was a past Post Commander of American Legion Post 492 in San Diego. He was the President of the Society of Combat Search and Rescue and a member of the Board of Directors of the Naval Enlisted Combat Aircrew Roll of Honor (originally endowed by Tailhooker Admiral J.D. “Jig Dog” Ramage). The Tailhook Association recognized Tom’s half century of service to Naval Aviation and the country as an inspiration to Carrier Aviators of all ages and eras.
Tom’s memorial service was held on the flight deck of the USS Midway, a most appropriate place honoring almost a half century of service to Aircraft Carrier Naval Aviation. The service included a military honor guard, taps, nine gun salute and flag ceremony as well as a flyby of a four-helo MH-60S formation from HSC-3 and HSC-85 and a five-plane missing man formation flyover of T-34s from the San Diego Honor Flight. Speakers included his son, Tom Jr., his Naval Academy roommate and numerous docents and friends, turning a memorial service into a celebration of a life well lived and ended too soon. Fair Winds and Following Seas Tom!
Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-In and Naval Helicopter Association Join-Up November 1- 4, 2022 So Many Questions So Many Answers How Do You Decide? Get the real story from the professionals of life after Flight School at the Community Briefs Sign up for FAM Flights in the aircraft you one day might fly. A chance to network one-on-one during NHA events at the National Naval Aviation Museum and other social events Don’t be left in the dark! For more information visit the NHA Website www.navalhelicopterassn.org or download the NHA App from your App Store.
Membership Application (circle selection) Name ________________________________________ Rank / Grade _____________ Branch of Service: USN USMC USCG Active Duty Retired Profession: Pilot Aircrewman Maintainer Civilian Other Aircraft Flown:___________________________________________________________ Mailing Address: ___________________________________________________________________ City: ________________________________________________ State_____ Zip Code____________ Unit / Squadron ____________________ Current Assignment____________ Ship / Station_________ Warfare Community (i.e. HSC / HSM / HM / VMM / CG) _____________________________________ Primary Phone Number: ______________________________________ Secondary Phone Number (optional) : ____________________________ Email Address:______________________________________________________________________ Levels of Membership: 1 year - $40.00 3 years - $110.00 5 years - 175.00 1 year Enlisted Membership $15.00 2 year - JO Nugget (O-1 / O-2 on first tour) $40.00 2 Year - Enlisted Nugget $15 Lifetime membership - See the website for details YOUR MEMBERSHIP HELPS US BUILD ON EXCELLENCE! Join on line: https://www.navalhelicopterassn.org/index.php?option=com_mcform&view=ngforms&id=2105257#/ Now is an exciting time to become a NHA Member! Naval Helicopter Association P.O BOX 180578 CORONADO, CA 92178-0578