Commander Naval Air Force Atlantic Fleet

March 1974-May 1976

Last Updated:  September 6th, 2021

Gas Shortage

When we arrived in Norfolk 1n 1974, there were also long gas lines at gas stations.

COMNAVAIRLANT (aka CNAL, aka Airlant) is located at Naval Air Station Norfolk in the left center of the map.

We found a house we rented in Kempsville which was located about half way betewen NAS Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

I don't remember who Bosco stayed with while we were in England; probably my parents, possibly Mary's parents)

5305 Fairfield Blvd.

2000 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a room over the garage

It was located on a very nice street with lots of trees.

Heather (almost 10) and Laura (then 9) went to a nice elementary school. Stacy (then 4) stayed at home with Mary and Bosco.

A7 Class Desk Officer    (March 1974-December 1974)

My first assignment at CNAL was as the A7 Class Desk Officer (Code 521B). Airlant consisted of various sections devoted to administration, aircraft training operations, supply (logistics), and engineering/maintenance.  The Code 50 section was headed by a Rear Admiral Faulders.  The Code 52 section was responsible for aircraft engineering and maintenance, airborne weapons, and electronic warfare systems and was headed by a Captain who was an Aeronautical Engineering Duty Officer (AEDO). When I was there, Captain Bill Finneran was in charge of Code 52. My boss, Code 521, CDR Jim Anderson also an NAEDO, was in charge of aircraft engineering and maintenance for the type aircraft assigned to Airlant.  My job as Code 521B was to oversee the engineering and maintenance aspects of the A7s assigned to squadrons assigned at NAS Cecil Field in Jacksonville. Other officers were responsible for the A6, F4, E2 etc aircraft assigned on the east coast.  There was a similar arrangement at COMVAVAIRPAC on the west coast.  Most of the officers assigned to Code 521 jobs were also NAEDOs. It was unusual for me as a pilot (Line Officer/1310) to be assigned to this job but I think my experience as an Aircraft Division Officer in VA-15 and as Maintenance Officer in VA-82 was most likely the reason I found myself in 521B.  The A6 Class Desk Officer was a Naval Flight Officer/A6 BN (Bombadier Navigator) with aircraft maintenance experience.

I was very fortunate to have a GS-13 civilian, Jim McConnel, assigned with me as part of 521B. Jim was a veteran of WW2 and was very experienced in the engineering and maintenance history of the A7. I could not have accomplished my job without the guidance and support of Jim McConnell.

The most important part of our job was to review the aircraft and engine change proposals that were produced by Commander Naval Air Systems Command (COMNAVAIRSYSCOM) that were intended to either accomplish upgrades or fix problems that were the result of accidents or incidents experienced by the operational A7 squadrons.  Jim usually reviewed the technical aspects of the changes. My job was to look at the changes and determine whether they were within the capability of the squadrons to accomplish onboard ship at sea or were going to be restricted to be done while based at Cecil Field.  My experience as a squadron maintenance officer was invaluable in this regard. Another factor that was a plus was that I was an experienced A7 pilot and was post maintenance flight test qualified.

Flight Time as the A7 Class Desk Officer

I did fly as much as possible while at Airlant. I was required to get my instrument card renewed which meant some TA-4 flights with VF-43 at Oceana or VA-45 at Cecil. I was also flew as much as I could with VA-174 and the fleet A7 squadrons. These flights were helpful in doing my job as the A7 Class Desk Officer. Flying with the A7 squadrons helped me the understand better their problems and how well they thought we at Airlant were doing our job; or not.

March 1974- I flew three flights (5.9 hours); two instrument flights in the TA4 with VF-43 at Oceana and a flight in the YA-7H (a pre-production model of the two seat A7). Trips to LTV in Texas was an important part of my job. First, I got the chance to see the A7 manufacturing process.  And second, I was able to establish relationships with the engineers and maintenance experts at the company.

April 1974- I flew 7 flights (15.5 hours); first an instrument flight in a TA4 with VF-43; followed by a five day trip to Cecil.  I flew in a VA-45 TA4 from Norfolk to Cecil (with Possum), a second flight with Possum in a VA-45 TA4, an A7 NATOPS check flight with VA-174 (Jim Yeager),
an A7 systems flight with VA-105, an A7 live weapons flight with VA-37, and an TA4 instrument flight with VA-45 back to Norfolk.  These five days were fun and valuable.  I got back to flying the A7, spent time with old friends, and spent valuable time with maintenance folks from VA-174 and the fleet squadrons.

June 1974- I flew 4 flights (8.0 flight hours); Two TA4 flights with VA-465 at Cecil and two A7E flights with VA-105 at Cecil

July 1974- I flew 4 Flights (8.6 flight hours); Two TA4 flights with VA-45, one A7E flight with VA-66 and one A7E flight with VA-174. That flight was a formation                         flight with my wingman from VA-82; Jim Yeager. It was great spending some time and flying with "Rock" again !

August 1974-
I flew three flights (5.7 flight hours); Tow TA4 flights with VA-45 and one A7E flight with VA-105
September 1974- I flew six flights (10.6 flight hours); Two TA4 flights with VA-45 and four A7B/E flights (VA-105, VA-46, and two with VA-37)

October 1974-  I flew two four flights (8.3 flight hours);  Two TA4 flights and two A7B/E flights (VA-174 and VA-46)

November 1974-  I flew four flights (9.3 flight hours);, Two TA4 flights (one with VF-43 and one with VA-43) and two A7C flights with VA-82

                                                   A7 Class Desk Significant Issues                                                                                                                                                                                                      

My day usually started at about 7:30 with a cup of coffee, read the daily message board, and discussing anything I needed to with Jim McConnel . I needed to identify an A7 related issues that mighty come up in the 0900 daily meeting with Vice Admiral Michaelis, COMNAVAIRLANT or the Chief of Staff.  I was required to brief Jim Anderson who would brief Captain Finneran who would brief Rear Admiral Faulders before the meeting.  Ocassionally, I would attend the meeting if there was a significant A7 related issue.

Once we were finished with preparing for the morning meeting, Jim McConnell and I were free to address whatever engineering change proposal or maintenance procedure changes we were working on at the time. Some of these issues were fixes for accidents or incidents experienced in the fleet for changing out the main landing gear trunion bolts with stronger steel;.  There had been a few failures on arrested landings. That one could be accomplished onboard the ship.
After several inadvertent extensions of the nose landing gear during 4 G pullouts after bomb runs, we had to change out the nose landing gear uplocks and the nose gear housing itself from steel to titanium.  This was a major affair that required teams to be organized, repair sets to be prioritized and could not be done onboard ship. Another major issue we addressed was the failure of the A7E TF-41 engine turbine. It was finally resolved when it was discovered that the turbine shield which was removed during depot level engine maintenence was not replaced properly.  It took some time to discover the source of the problem. In the meantime as, the Navy couldn't afford to down the A7 fleet, the pilots had to run up to full power and hold the brakes for one minute prior to a cat shot or starting the take off roll; not a very encouraging situation for new pilots undergoing training at VA-174. We even experimented with flying the aircraft without the turbine shield. Test pilots flew some of these to failure and then ejected safely.

Milestone Management. Another function of Code 521 was to provide an officer for the COMNAVAIRLANT Aircraft Carrier Overhaul Milestone Management Team.  This team monitored critical path milestones during an aircraft carrier overhaul and briefed the Admiral advised of any problem areas and worked to provide solutions to problems to ensure that the overhaul was completed on time.  This was a complex and challenging procedure.  I learned a great deal during my assignment to one of these teams.  Apparently, I did a good job because I was selected to take on a similar project.

USMC AV8B Harrier squadron workup and deployment on the USS Roosevelt CVA-42.  In June of 1974, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral James L. Holloway III, announced that the Roosevelt would work up and deploy with a 16 plane squadron of vertical lift-off and landing AV8B Harriers.
Commander Naval Sea Systems Command and Commander Naval Air Systems Command were tasked to make it happen.  COMNAVAIRLANT was tasked to monitor the critical path milestones involved. I was assigned to monitor the Roosevelt's modifications required to accommodate the AV-8B aircraft. Some of the more challenging problems were to determine what flight deck material requirements including the elevator at the end of the angle deck were required and how to solve radiation hazzards involved with the Harrier's Aden 30mm gun. Unfortunately, some bureaucratic types in the NAVAIR organizartions thought he idea foolish and made getting modifications completed on time difficult. Fortunately, CNO had issued a message at the start of the summer that he wanted to be informed imediately of anything or anyone who was getting in the way of completing the modifications by the goal date in September. NAVAIR engineers determined that the steel required be applied to protect Roosevelt's flight deck would be too heavy to move the elevator up and down. My position was that a heavy coating of "non skid" would be sufficient.  It turned out that my position was correct and the Roosevelt deployed with enough non skid to protect the deck open deployment.

The Aden 30 MM Gun Saga. The NAVAIR position was that it was too dangerous to deploy with the Aden 30mm guns as it was no HADHAZ safe (Radiation Hazzards from the ship's radars) on the flight deck.  I was present at a meeting at NAVAIR when this position was presented. It thought it was rediculous to tell the Marines that they couldn't use their 300mm gun (It's most effective armament)
.  I held a copy of CNO's message up and asked the names of the people who I should name as standing in the way of deploying the 30mm gun.  Noone stood up. IN the end, we came up with away to load the 330mm gun pods withing the hull f the hip and then bring them up to the flight deck as an all up round.  This solution worked although we had to cut a hole in the side of the ship to test fire the gun from below decks.

Athletic Activities

Tennis- I was in pretty good physical shape at the end of my RAF Bracknell tour. My grass court game was in fine form achieved with matches with the RAF Bracknell Tennis Team. My schedule at Airlant provided room for paddle ball or tennis during lunch time and jogging in the evening.  I routinely ran a two mile circuit from our house in Kempsville. Once a week, I ran a 11/2 mile course. My goal was to run the 11/2 miles in under 9 minutes (6 minute miles). I played racquet ball quite a lot with LCDR Chuck Boehmer one of the NAEDO officers in 521. He and his wife Judy were one of our best friends during this tour.

VADM Michaelis

One day, I received a note from Lcdr Kevin Delaney. Aide and Flag Lt for VADM Michaelis, that the Admiral wanted to know if I would be his doubles partner that afternoon.  Of course, I said yes.  VADM Michaelis was a very serious player and I worked hard to be a strong partner for him.  We played often, a once every couple of weeks. I got to know Admiral Michaelis quite well and had the opportunity to meet many of his Navy and civilian friends. One of these Navy friends, VADM Frank Kelso would become Commander Sixth Fleet when I was deployed onboard USS Austin LPD-4 in 1985 and CNO in 1990-1994. Knowing him from the tennis court was very helpful when I got into a bit of a jam when I was CO of the Austin 1in 1985. But, that is a story for another chapter.

The O'day Day Sailor

Following up on our positive experience in sailing during our tour in England, Laura, Heather and I went shopping for a sailboat similar to the one we sailed in off the coast of Cornwall. We found a great deal on a 17ft O'Day day sailor with a red hull similar to the one pictured bove.  It came with a mainsail and jib and a trailor to move it around. It had a small cuddy in the bow area for storage of sails and related gear. We named her Anglophile.

We were able to get a mooring for Anglophile at the marina in Willoughby Bay.  It was well protected from storms and gave us quick access to the area we intended to do most of our sailing; Hampton Roads inside of the bridge.

The tides and currents were tricky in Hampton Roads so we decided to stay inside the bridge so we wouldn't get caught in Chesapeake Bay if the wind died or the current and tide precluded us getting back.

I  did two things to prepare myself for sailing in Hampton Roads.

1. I began attending Power Squadron meetings to learn about boating in the local area.  I took and passed their small boat handling course.

2.  I got myself a copy of Chapman's Piloting & Seamanship and read and reread it thoroughly. Chapmans became an essential reference for me throughout the rest of my Navy career.

The Sylvester Chumly Affair-The girls and I thoroughly enjoyed our sailing ventures in Hampton Roads.  We even learned how to almost surf the Anglophile in waves in the vicinity of the carrier piers. However, I had one sailing experience that was a different matter. On that day, I went sailing with our across the street neighbor, Cdr. Sylevster Chumly.  Sylvester had never been sailing. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, Sylvester and I loaded up with some sandwiches and cold beer, found the Anglophile and headed out into Hampton Roads. We had lots of wind and  a favorable ebb tide so I decided that it would be nice to sail through the bridge and sail around a bit in the Chesapeake.  About mid afternoon though the winds died and the tide was slack which meant we wouldn't be able to cross back through the bridge to our mooring until we had more wind and a flood tide. So, prepared to stay out there awhile, we broke out the sandwiches and beer until the conditions improved. But they didn't improve. they got worse. By mid afternoon, nimbus clouds began to move into the area indicating stormy weather ahead. About 4:00, I glanced over to the Chesapeake side of Willoughby Spit and saw a"Dirt Devil" swirling vertically. We got our life jackets on and I told Sylvester to lower the main sail. He managed to get the sail about halfway down when we were hit by a strong gust of wind which blew us down; capsized. In the process, Sylvester was thrown clear of the boat about thirty feet away. We were able to gt Anglophile righted, the mainsail lowered and secured and a sea anchor deployed. Then we were in for a wild ride. The winds were about 40 kts. We were experiencing driving rain and near zero visibility. In about thirty minutes, it was all over. We had been blown well into the Chesapeake in the direction of Yorktown.  But the conditions were good, we had about ten kts of wind from the east and the tide was changing toward a flood tide.  We knew we were in for a long trip but were confident that we could make it before dark. Along the way, we were offered a tow from a returning fisherman. We declined. No self respecting sailor is going to be towed in unless absolutely necessary.
We entered Willoughby Bay about sunset.  Mary had called the Coast Guard to see if they had any news. Apparently, many boats were lost in the storm. The Coast Guard called Mary about 6:00 and reported that they had seen a red hulled small sailboat in the western Chesapeake on its way toward the bridge. Sylvester and I broke out the gin when we got back.

"Rough Seas Make Good Sailors"

This experience of weathering the storm by righting Anglophile and quickly deploying a sea anchor would benefit me later in my Navy career.

A story about a day sail with Laura in Duxbury

In the summer of 1974, we took the Anglophile to Duxbury, Massachusetts to visit Mary's family.  Duxbury is located south of Boston and north of Plymouth.

We were able to anchor the Anglophile just off the coast of Duxbury. We kept the sails and related gear in the cuddy without concern that anyone would steal anything. We felt confident that no one would steal boating gear in a maritime community. Duxbury Bay was a tidal basin. At low tide, the Anglophile would be aground resting on her side. At high tide, there would be four to five feet of water under the centerboard. So, we would either swim out to the boat or take a row boat out. We would have about six hours of sailing time before it was too shallow as the tide ebbed.

One day Laura and I went sailing. It was a breezy day so the sailing was great.
We were practicing coming about somewhere about where the X is indicated on the photo above. On one of the maneuvers, the boom grazed Laura's head knocking her glasses off her head and into the water. They were prescription glasses and rather expensive. I knew we would have to try to find the glasses. So, I took a bearing to a prominent point on the shoreline in the harbor and a second bearing to another prominent location about a ninety degree angle from the first point.

The next day, at low tide, we went to the first point on the shoreline and walked out on the sand in the reverse direction from the first bearing. Noone expected that we would find the glasses but we had to try.  I actually thought that we had chance if the bearings were accurate.  Sure enough, when we arrived at the point where the second bearing line matched up, the glasses were right there on the sand.  The arms of the glasses had remained out from the frame which acted as an anchor so the glasses didn't move much with the tidal changes.

Lessons Learned from sailing Anglophile which were helpful Later in my naval career when
I was the Executive Officer of USS Saratoga CV-60 and Commanding Officer of USS Austin LPD-4!

1. Safely handling a vessel in bad weather and rough seas

2. Kedging- I was able to save Anglophile from damaging the mast by being swept under the bridge between Hampton Roads and Chesapeake Bay during a strong ebb current.  I struck the sails and deployed my light aluminum Danforth anchor. By kedging against the anchor. I was able to align the day sailor with the current and hold my position safely clear of the bridge until the ebb tide slackened. This was a valuable lesson that had applications as XO of Saratoga and CO Austin which I will describe later in the relevant chapters.

3. The Austin had significant structure above a flight deck that acted like a sail in strong winds. Understanding the sail area relative the center of gravity (center of lift) was very helpful when handling the ship.

Code 521 Social Life

Our Code 521 group was a close group. We worked well together at the office and enjoyed each others company with our wives socially. RADM Faulders and Captain Bill Finneran  attended most parties with their wives. Our parties were very informal and sometimes surprisingly risque. Once at a costume party, Admiral Faulders wore a Roman type robe with a Gold stripe sash simulating his wide Admiral stripe. He asked Judy Boehmer if she knew what Admirals wore when streaking. He told her, "Whatever they wanted to". Our close social relationships helped keep things "cool" at work when we were under stress.

RADM Faulders

RADM Faulders was an exceptional individual. Sometimes staff officers are criticized as not being able to "See the Forrest for the Trees". RADM Faulers was not one of those officers. An example; I was in responsible at CNAL for monitoring the process of cutting up some of our A7Bs so that the manufacturer, LTV, could produce the two seat TA7 by installing a fuselage plug, a new canopy, and related wiring etc. I was also responsible for the configuration control of the two A7B squadrons which were going on their final deployment before transitioning to A7Es.  Their deployment to the eastern Mediterranean meant that they might get involved in a shooting war. As a result, they were scheduled to get a very effective but expensive electronic warfare (EW) upgrade. Their A7Bs were scheduled for the TA7 transition. I discussed the need for this upgrade with RADM Fauders. I mentioned that the EW upgrade was necessary but that I was concerned that it was not very cost effective. His response to me was "Bo, f you were one of those A7B pilots, would you want that upgrade when the SA6 missiles were engaging you?".  We did the EW upgrade and then cut up the A7Bs after deployment!

CNAL 521 Fitness Reports

This is the first fitness report I received as the A7 Class Desk Officer.
As you can see, it is a complete disaster. It was the first 5% fitness report I received in my naval career.

I really don't understand this fitness report. I thought I was doing an excellent job.
Certainly, I don't think I deserved a "pack minus" report.
Perhaps it was because I was a 1300 aviator working with a group primarily AEDOs (Aeronautical Engineering Duty Officers).

The B command grade is especially concerning. I am surprised that Captain Youngblade would sign this without discussing it with me. I should have made a statement (Blocks 80 and 81)

This is the second (last) first fitness report I received as the A7 Class Desk Officer.
I wonder if the command select and promotion boards thought that this one made up for the first one?

This report is certainly much better. But it is a one of one report and doesn't show if I made progress in the group I was compared to in the first report

An Interesting Flight

My flights during the month of December, 1974 changed the direction of my Navy career.  On December 5th, I flew a VA-86 A7C aircraft from NAS Cecil to the west coast for an interview Admiral Maurice F. Weisner, Commander of the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. Admiral Weisner had flown to San Diego to meet with me and LCDR Brent Bennett about working as his Aide and Flag Lieutenant.

Admiral Weisner was Commander of the Pacific Fleet at the time of our interview.

Brent Bennett was a west coast A7 pilot with combat experience similar to mine. But,he was nuclear qualified.

I was very flattered that I was considered for the job but was not expecting that I would get it.

I enjoyed the interview. How could you not enjoy meeting a WW2 veteran who had started the war as a surface warfare officer, experienced his ship being sunk, then went to flight school in time to return to the war to sink a Japanese destroyer. He had numerous squadron commands and command of several ships including the USS Coral Sea. He had been a Commander of two carrier divisions. My career goal was to be a Carrier Group Commander. To do that, I would have to make Admiral. But, I was in a fix. I didn't want to do the Washington DC thing. I wanted to stay operational. I needed to learn from Admirals who had been operators not politicians how to do that.

I returned o Norfolk to learn that Brent Bennett had won the job.  But I was shocked to learn that I was being interviewed for two jobs. VADM Howard E. Greer was on Admiral Weisner's staff and was due to rotate as VADM Michaelis relief at COMNAVAITLANT in January 1975. Apparently Admiral Weisner gave VADM Greer a thumbs up on me and I was slated to be VADM Greer's Aide and Flag Lieutenant.

Aide and Flag Lieutenant   
(January 1975-February 1976)

VADM Howard E. Greer
VADM Howard E. Greer was born in Tyler, Texas
November 21st, 1921, Graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1943, In WW2 (1943), VADM Greer served on the USS Princeton during the Battles of Tarawa and the Philippines
He was designated a Naval Aviator in 1945
He served in numerous fighter squadrons Commanded VF-64 from 1957-1958
Commanding Officer of USS Hancock  CVA-19
Commander Carrier Group 10 onboard
USS Shangri-La CVA-38

Commander Sixth Fleet
Commander Naval Air Reserve Force
Commander Carrier Division Three from 1972-1974 overseeing Operations Linebacker One including the mining of Haiphong Harbor in the fall of 1972
After COMNAVAIRLANT- Commander Seventh Fleet
Died November 23rd, 2015

Lcdr Robert S Smith
Aide and Flag Lt.

I relieved Kevin Delaney as the Admiral's Aide sometime in January, 1975. In addition to me, the office staff consisted of Cdr. John Pagonelli who was the Flag Secretary, a very sharp Third Class female Yeoman (The Admiral's Yeoman), an E3/E4 who was the Admiral's driver, and another enlistedman who was basically a"gofer". The Admiral's speechwriter, Cdr. John Barry was also a member of the staff but he worked out of another office.

When someone entered the office they faced the Admiral's Yeoman's desk. To the left was my desk next to the Admiral's office door.  John Paganelli's desk was off to the right. The driver and "gofer" hung out in another space next to the main office. There was a nice quest chair in front of my desk. There were several other guest chairs next to the wall in front of John Paganeli's desk. John's primary job was to research questions asked by the admiral and coordinate the admiral's schedule with the Admiral's Yeoman and John Barry, the speech writer. My job was to accompany the admiral when he left the building, attend to personal items he asked me to take care of including running interference with his wife Suzanne, and to accompany him on all of his trips to the various COMNAVAIRLANT activities.

Admiral Greer and his wife Suzanne lived in the Connecticut House which was one of the stately houses on Admirals Row on Dilingham Blvd on the Naval Station. In those days, the Navy authorized flag officers to have "stewards" assigned to help out at the official quarters. The stewards cleaned the house, cooked and served the meals, and worked on the grounds. VADM Greer was very interested in flowers, bushes, and trees so he kept the stewards busy with grounds upgrades and maintenance. Most of the stewards were from the Philippines.
I would regularly stop by and see if Suzane had any problems that I could help her with. I was also expected to be by the admiral's side during all official functions at the house. This was a challenging task as I had to get to know the regular guests well enough to know their "peculiarities".

Admiral Greer and Me

My relationship with Admiral Greer was outstanding. One of the first things he told me was that my role didn't involve stuff like handling bags. The driver or the "gofer" would take care of that sort of stuff. I would be carrying his briefcase so that he could be return salutes and handshakes etc.  In addition, he knew
that I had been selected to command an A7 squadron following this tour. He tried to make sure that I had time to fly the A7s at Cecil field as often as possible.

January 1975-     I flew 4 flights (8.4 flight hours)

January 27th- VC-2 in Norfolk flew me to Cecil in a a TA4
              January 27th- I flew a VA-82 A7C from Cecil to NBE
              January 30th- I flew that same VA-82 A7C back from NBE to Cecil (Probably a weekend cross country!
              January 30th- VA-45 flew me back to Norfolk in a TA4.

I didn't get any flight time in February, March or, April. I was very busy getting to know how to do my responsibilities as the Aide and Flag Lieutenant

May 1975- I flew four flights (12.1 flight hours) 
          May 15th- I flew a VA-105 A7E from Oceana to Cecil. 
          May 18th- I flew a VA-46 A7E from Cecil to Oceana
          May 22nd-  I logged 4 hours (2.0 first pilot time. 2.0 hours co-pilot time) in a VP-10 P3B from NAS Keflavik, Iceland to NAS Rota Spain (see below)
          May 29th- I flew a VA-174 A7C on a local flight at from NAS Oceana

My First Major Trip with Admiral Greer

Admiral Greer made two trips to visit the bases that supported Airlant P3 squadrons when on deployment. These bases were In; Keflavik, Iceland, Rota, Spain, and Sigonella, Sicily.  The Airlant P3 squadrons were home based in Brunswick, Maine, and Jacksonville, Florida. One of the home based P3 squadrons provided an aircraft and flight crew for these trips. The P3 for this first trip in May, 1975 was provided by VP-10 based in Brunswick. The aircraft picked up our party at NAS Norfolk for the trip.  I don't remember everyone who made up our party besides the Admiral and me; probably a aircraft maintenance officer, a supply and logistics expert, someone representing facilities maintenance, our driver or the "gofer", and possible Cdr. Barry, the speechwriter.  We also had a friend of the Admirals with us. His first name was Paul and he was from California and was an expert in landscape architecture.

Our first stop was Keflavic, Iceland

We left Norfolk early in the morning in order to land at NAS Keflavik at about noon. My normal role during the flight was to be near the admiral so that I could go get a member of the party that Admiral Greer wanted to talk to or be close enough to give him his second brief case of reading material if he asked for it.  Admiral Greer used the time airborne between stops to get acquainted with the briefing materials provided by the staff for the next stop and get caught up on other reading. I tried to sit opposite the admiral in an adjacent row so he could see me and I could watch him as he processed the reference material. Admiral Greer had the unique ability to get through his briefing materials very quickly but able to retain details from the material.  This was a skill set I wanted to learn from observing him.

Keflavik, Iceland is located on a peninsula in farthest part of southwestern Iceland.  The capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik, is located about 30 miles (48 km) by road northeast of Keflavik. It's about a 45 minute drive.

NAS Keflavik airfield and support facilities

In the 1970s and 1980s the Navy had a P3 squadron continuously deployed to Keflavik. I think that the squadrons rotated their deployments every four months or so. The primary mission for the The P3 Orion at that time was anti submarine warfare (ASW). Their primary area of operations when based at Keflavik was the area of the North Atlantic between Iceland and Northern Scotland known as the Iceland/UK Gap. The area was the primary route that Soviet Union's Yankee Class ballistic missile submarines  used to transit from their home waters In the Barents Sea through the Norwegian Sea to the North Atlantic Ocean.The P3s also had to cover the gap between Iceland and Greenland in case the Russian SSBNs tried to use that route. Keeping track of these nuclear powered and nuclear tipped ballistic missiles was one of our most critical Missions.

The purpose of Admiral Greer's visit was to meet with the Navy Flag Officer onboard NAS Keflavik, RADM Rich who had a background in the P3 Orion and Anti Submarine Warfare. While Admiral Greer was meeting with RADM Rich, the aircraft maintenance, supply, logistics, and facilities people in our party met with their counter parts on the base. It was a short visit taking only a little longer than it took to refuel our P3. The Admiral stopped to talk to the Commanding Officer and a group of pilots and enlisted personnel from the deployed P3 squadron on his way to the aircraft. I accompanied the admiral during his visit. After only about two hours on the ground in Keflavik, we were "wheels Up" and on our way to Rota.

Next stop was Rota, Spain

May 22nd-  I logged 4 hours (2.0 first pilot time. 2.0 hours co-pilot time) in a VP-10 P3B from NAS Keflavik, Iceland to NAS Rota Spain. Admiral Greer was very Interested in me being able to try my hand at flying whatever aircraft we were using on trips. This was my first opportunity to fly the P3 Orion. I spent most of the flight from after take off to approaching Rota in the cockpit. I had two hours of actually flying the aircraft (First pilot flight time) or at a second set of controls not flying the aircraft (Co-Pilot flight time). Normally the P is flown on auto pilot while enroute at altitude. But I wanted to try my hand at manually flying it which I did for about half of my first pilot time; much to the discomfort of the passengers.

Naval Station Rota Spain Ship Docks

VQ-2 EP3

The purpose of Admiral Greer's visit to Rota was to for the staff to meet with their counter parts at the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department and with the supply and logistics folks. There we no P3 squadrons deployed there but the Airlant aircraft carrier coming to relieve another carrier deployed to the Mediterranean normally conducted their turnover at anchor there. Also the VQ-2 squadron flying the EP3 operated out of Rota. Another reason for the trip was for Admiral Greer's fiend Paul to gather information about a fresh water source deficiency problem emerging on the base. After a full day we stayed at the BOQ (Bachelors Officers Quarters) overnight. Military parlance for staying over night is "Remain Over Night (RON)"  Admiral Greer and his friend Paul stayed in VIP (very Important Person) rooms.  The rest of us stayed in normal BOQ rooms and the enlisted stayed in the barracks. I don't remember anything special about dinner that night so I feel sure that most of the party had dinner in the Rota Officers Club.  I think we probably turned in early as we were scheduled to leave after breakfast for our flight to NAS Sigonella.

I remember that I sat with Admiral Greer's friend Paul on the flight from Rota to NAS Sigonella.  We discussed Rota's fresh water problem. I was interested because of my Geology background.  Paul and I enjoyed our relationship on this trip and the next one in December.

The on to NAS Sigonella, Sicily

NAS Sigonella is located on the eastern coast of Sicily just south of the active volcano, Mt Etna

Sigonella airfield is just south of Mt. Etna

Deployed P3C at NAS Sigonella

The purpose of Admiral Greer's visit to Sigonella was again for the staff to meet with their counter parts at the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department and with the supply and logistics folks while the Admiral spent some time with the NSAS Sigonella Commanding Officer. The Admiral also took some time to talk to the officers and men of the P3 squadron deployed there. Our next stop was to go to Naples where we would RON.

There were three reasons why it was important to include Naples in our itinerary even though there were no Airlant supported bases there.
As a result, we spent a couple of days there.

1. Napes was a major liberty port for aircrft carriers deployed to the Mediterranean Sea. Our group visited many commands in Naples which provided maintenance and logistics support to those carriers and the embarked air wing.
2. It was appropriate for Admiral Greer to pay a call on the US Navy Rear Admiral at the Headquarters of Allied Forces South which was located a the NATO Base outside of Naples.
3. It was appropriate for Admiral Greeer to pay a call on VADM Frederick Turner who was Commander of the Sixth Fleet located north of Naples in Gaeta

Naples Italy

The beautiful port of Naples with Mount Vesuvius in the background

Allied Forces Southern Command

AVSouth Headquarters

AVSouth is located at upper left

Special Missions

I was tasked with some interesting mission assignments in the course of my time as Admiral Greer's Aide and Flag Lieutenant. Just prior to leaving on our trip,
I received a phone call from a Flag Officer on Admiral Kid's staff (CINCLANT/CINCLANTFLT).  I had met this admiral on several occasions. He said, he had a very special mission for me.  He had a color 8 X 10 picture of "Humpty Dumpty" and he wanted me to get her to autograph it. He had the picture hand delivered (classified mail of course) and I had it with me in Naples.

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty was an famous prostitute who sat on a wall on the road to AFSouth.
(See white arrow on the image to the right above). She reportedly provided her services behind the wall.

Humpty Dumpty was famous not infamous. I don't know if all of her wealth came from her wall but she had lots of money.  She paid for her daughter's schooling at an exclusive private school in Switzerland.

She also gave generous donations to charities for Navy programs such as the USO. 

It was front page news on "Stars and Stripes" when she was killed as a pedestrian crossing the street by a car!

I had not met "Humpty Dumpty" before I found her on her wall. She was very happy to autograph her picture for the Admiral. 
The framed picture was added to the admiral's plaques and citations on his office wall at CINCLANT/CINCLANTFLT).
Admiral Greer gave me a "thumbs up" for a job well done when I reported the completion of my special mission.

Admiral Greer's  Mission Impossible

Delay Sunset!