Bo's Memoir


"Diligence is the Mother of Good Luck"


Ben Franklin

(Updated March 26th, 2019)

I have been asked several times over the years to write about some of my experiences (war stories) from my carrier jet pilot days. Recently, I heard a presentation by a ninety eight year old World War II P-47 Thunderbolt pilot who flew ground attack missions in support of General George Patton's 3rd Army operations in 1945. It turned out that he wrote a book about his experiences. I read his book and met with him about how he went about writing it. He used a co-author to put his book together and have it published. Initially, I thought this was a great way to go about it so I communicated with his co-author about getting a paper back published to tell my story. However, it turned out to be too expensive. Besides, I really wasn't that interested in publishing a book for the general public anyway.

My objective in writing this memoir is to reflect upon my life and lessons learned in the process of living it and to provide a historical record for my children.
I am also enjoying the challenge of writing it, conducting research online and in my flight log book required to document the facts the best I can, and the increased communication  I am experiencing with my family and friends while trying to get the facts right. 

I decided to publish it online as part of my personal website. A good aspect of putting it online is that it is a living document and people who read it can correct any errors in content and make suggestions for any additions they might have.  I'm not asking you to point out misspellings, typos, or grammatical errors. I need to go back to the early chapters and do some editing . I am spell checking and doing some editing as I write now. I want your inputs such as events I have omitted or mistakes in fact that I have made.  I hope you will do so and let me know your recommendations by email at: bo_smith@bellsouth.net.

As I am writing this memoir in some cases fifty or sixty years after the events occurred, the dates and places my be the best I can remember. I am learning that memories that seem clear to me and my friends are not necessarily accurate concerning the place or time that they occurred. 

Also, I will be inserting lessons I have learned along the way and possibly ideas about why I did what I did even when at the time of the event, I had no idea why I was doing it. This is particularly true about how flying combat missions over North Vietnam in the summers of 1967 and 1972 and how events I experienced during that time significantly affected my life after that.

I have come to believe that those emotionally strenuous times resulted in my case (and likely in my squadron mates as well) a type of mild but significant variety of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) known as "emotional numbness".  All good carrier pilots have to have the ability to concentrate only on the business at hand in order to properly fly the aircraft. This is particularly critical when experiencing  inflight emergencies  as an incorrect action can cause  the loss of the aircraft and  possibly the life of the pilot. It also became necessary to put off grieving for someone who has just been lost in combat in order to continue to fly the mission in progress or the next mission after that. After awhile, you may be unable to outwardly display grief at all.   An advantage of this emotional numbness is that it is easier to focus on those things you can control and ignore those that you cannot.

I am dedicating my memoir to Vice Admiral Jerry O. Tuttle US Navy Retired. I worked for Jerry Tuttle in my first squadron, Attack Squadron Fifteen (VA-15 VALions). I flew with him in combat operations in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967, and observed his leadership style over the years. I did my best during my naval career to follow his lead on how to solve problems and run a squadron or ship as a Commanding Officer. Jerry passed away on October 30th, 2018.  VADM Tuttle was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, March 14th after a Catholic Mass is given at the Fort Myer Post Chapel.  A reception followed at the Fort Myer Officer's Club after the burial. Most of the VA-15 (circa 1966/67) pilots, wives, ex-wives, and widows were present. We conducted a squaron reunion at the Warriors Taphouse in Virginia Beach March 15th and 16th to celebrate VADM Tuttles life. Click on Dedication Images for more details.

There are a lot of people who contributed significantly to my life over the years. I plan to mention them during the writing of my story on how they positively affected my life. I am relying on my sister, Barbara, who recalls more details about our childhood together with our parents than I do.  Jeff Lapic was my best friend during junior high school and at Ridgewood High School, during our college years, and during our first few years in the Navy. In addition to VADM Tuttle, Captain Jerry L. "Possum" Terrell USN Ret. has been my shipmate and best friend for over fifty years (1965 to present). Possum has been with me at my best and worst times; always positive and supportive.  Most of my fellow pilots in VA-15 (circa 1966/67) were outstanding officers, exceptional combat aviators and loyal shipmates. I continue to stay close to them through squadron reunions. One of these pilots, Gene Atkinson, and his wife Kay are great friends and my wife Diana and I enjoy spending time with them fishing or just hanging out at their home in Harkers Island, NC.  Captain Pete Schoeffel who was shot down on October 4th, 1967 and spent almost six yeaars as a POW before being released in February 1973,  has become a close friend.  I enjoy monthly conversations with him enroute to Navy luncheons.  Marianne and Lehman Barnes were colleagues during my educator days and continue to be friends to this day. My wife Diana and I are members of the New Day JAX Church in Jacksonville. We enjoy the fellowship, music, and message we experience with this group.

I have had three wives over the course of my life. All of them have been a significant factor in my life. My first wife Mary (1963-1978), is the mother of my first three daughters; Heather, Laura, and Stacy. My second wife Cathy (1978-2000), is the mother of my fourth and fifth daughters; Jessica and Lindsay. I have been married to my third wife, Diana, for ten years now (August 2008 to present). Diana makes me happy and keeps me on the "straight and narrow".

Diana and I live in Jacksonville Florida with our three Shih Tzu dogs; King Tut, Panda, and Bella and our cats; Gemini (orange tabby) and Ruby (American  Curl).
You can find additonal information about me inaddition to this memoir on my website at:  http://bo-smith.net.

Chapters
I began writing on Ocober 1st, 2018.
I have just completed my first draft of the Chapter about VA-15 (1967) Second Vietnam Deployment.  I have asked my VALion fellow pilots to add specific comments about missions during our First and Second Vietnam deploymens they can remember and hopefully document such as the date, type of target, location of target, and any interesting aspects of the mission. I am currently working on the next chapter; Air Force Exchange
I will activate the link to each chapter when I begin writing it.

Childhood through High School
(1941-1959)
Cornell University
(1959-1963)
Navy Flight Training
(1963-1965)
Maintenance Officer's School
Memphis
VA-45 and VA-44
NAS Cecil Field, Jacksonville

(February 1965-October 1965)
VA-15 (1965-1966)
First  Vietnam Deployment
USS Intrepid CV-11
Dixie Station/Yankee Station
(109 combat missions)
(June 1966- October 1966)
VA-15 (1967)
Second  Vietnam Deployment
USS Intrepid CV-11
Yankee Station, Tonkin Gulf
(94 combat missions- total 203)
300 Total Intrepid Traps
(November 1966-November 1967)

US Air Force Exchange Tour


AT-33 Istructor/F4 Phantom
F105 Thunderchief Instructor Pilot
(March 1968-March 1970)
VA-82 A7 Corsair Tour
Maintenance Department Head
(April 1970-December 1972) Two deployments onboard USS America CV-66 including
Third Vietnam Combat Deployment
Yankee Station, Tonkin Gulf
  (June 1972-December 1972)
(102 combat missions)

Royal Air Force Staff College


Bracknell, Barkshire, England
(January 1973-February 1974)
COMNAVAIRLANT Staff Tour
Norfolk, Virginia
(March 1974- February 1976)
A7 Class Desk Officer
Aide and Flag Lieutenant
VA-15 Executive Officer  Commanding Officer
(1976-1979)
USS America CV-66 Med Deployment
(Dec 1977-April 1979)
COMNAVAIRLANT Battle "E"
COMTHIRDFLEET Staff Tour
Ford Island, Oahu, Hawaii
Air Training Officer
(May 1979-February 1981)
Commanding Officer VA-174
NAS Cecil Field
Jacksonville, Florida
(March 1981-July 1982)
Total USS America Traps-600
Idaho Falls Ship Material Course
(Feb 1983-June 1983)
Executive Officer USS Saratoga (CV-60)
Med Deployment
(1984-1986)
Commanding Officer USS Austin (LPD-4)
(May 1986-May 1988)
Med Deployment-May 86-Nov 86
Northern Wedding/Med Deployment
(1987-1988)

Chief of Staff
COMCRUDESGROUP 12

(1989)
USS Eisenhower CV-69 Deployment
COMFAIRWESTPAC
Operations Officer
COMORANGE- 7th Fleet
Atsugi, Japan
(1990-1991)
Desert Shield (Aug-Sep 1990)
Retired as Captain US Navy
July 31st, 1991

Total Tactical Jet Hours- 4060
Total CV Landings- 980
Total Combat Missions- 305
(Total 511 combat flight hours)
  Nine Deployments

Educator

Terry Parker High School
University of North Florida
Florida Space Research Institute
(September 1991-May 2007)


Blue Ridge Mountains
Bo's Mine Tours

December 2008-December 2016
Current Retirement Activities
Fishing
Golden Eagles, RETCAPTS, ANA
Cornell University
CAAAN Chairperson
(1995-present)
Cornell Club President (2018-present)
Bo's Jewelry/JGMS
(2017-present)


Website Created by Robert S. "Bo" Smith


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