Skip to comments.VAQ-129 unveils historic naval aircraft for CONA(Centennial of Naval Aviation)
Posted on 01/29/2011 10:31:49 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham
VAQ-129 unveils historic naval aircraft for CONA(Centennial of Naval Aviation)
By MC3 Bryan Ilyankoff
NAS Whidbey Public Affairs
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Honoring 100 years of naval aviation, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 unveiled an EA-6B Prowler and an EA-18G Growler painted in the World War II paint schemes of a Douglas TBD-1 Devastator and a Grumman TBF-1 Avenger, respectively, Jan. 20.
Cmdr. Tim Murphy, VAQ-129 commanding officer, was excited when learned about the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CONA) committees plan to paint a limited number of aircraft to represent significant periods in naval aviation history.
We sat down with the Corrosion Control Team, and we told them we would like to paint an EA-6B and an EA-18G. We did some research and found two paint schemes we thought captured the nuances of both airplanes, and represented WWII naval aviation, said Murphy.
The Devastator and Avenger paint schemes had an impact on VAQ-129 Sailors right from the beginning.
When we started with the prep work on the aircraft, the Sailors here knew something was up, because this was something unusual, said Murphy. They started to inquire about the time period the paint schemes came from, the logos that were on the planes and what kind of ships and squadrons where they were attached to.
Best of all, the squadron is proud that two of their aircraft will be flying at outreach events across the nation to pay tribute to the Centennial of Naval Aviation, said Murphy.
Highlight of the event was guest speaker retired Navy Cmdr. Harry H. Ferrier, one of two surviving servicemen from Torpedo Squadron (VT) 8, during the Battle of Midway.
Capt. Thomas Slais, Commander of Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, introduced Ferrier, highlighting facets of his military career and calling him a national treasure.
A survivor of the Battle of Midway, Ferrier brought the story to life for the assembled crowd. He enlisted in the Navy on Jan. 28, 1941 at 16 and was assigned to Torpedo Squadron (VT) 8 in September. The squadron joined the air group heading for the new aircraft carrier, USS Hornet (CV 8).
On June 4, 1942, VT-8 was divided into two groups with 15 Douglas TBD-1 Devastators on USS Hornet and six Grumman TBF-1 Avengers on Midway Atoll. All 15 of the Devastators and five of the Avengers were shot down during the attacks on the Japanese carrier force.
Ens. George Gay, Ens. Albert Earnest and Radioman 3rd Class Harry Ferrier, were the sole survivors of the 48 airmen who flew into battle that day.
Ferrier continued to serve throughout WWII, flying in torpedo planes and dive bombers from the carriers Enterprise and Yorktown. He received a commission in January 1945. His career continued trough the Vietnam War until he retired as a commander in 1970.
To preserve Ferriers legacy, he autographed the inside of a panel below the Prowler cockpit window under which his name had been scribed.
To see these aircraft painted up like this is very special to me to honor my shipmates that didnt come back, said Ferrier.
Ferrier pulled out an old blue ball cap to show the young Sailors standing in front of him. He explained that during the attack, a Japanese ammunition round went through his ball cap wounding him slightly.
This was a lucky hit, Ferrier said, putting his finger through the hole and on his forehead to show where he got hit. I am very thankful that I am alive today to show this cap to you.
He keeps the ball cap in a zip-lock bag and brings it out every once in a while.
Murphy worked closely with VAQ-129s civilian supervisor, Jim Ward and the United Research Services (URS) Corrosion Control team. CONA provided drawings, sketches and a brief history behind each aircraft paint scheme.
The paint job shows a lot of history. When you hear the story about someone like Ferrier, you got to be proud to do it, said Ward. We are kind of redoing history in the modern era to honor the heroes and what they did for us.
The way these are painted is awesome, said Murphy, reflecting on the proud work of his VAQ-129 team. Seeing them like this really resonates with the stories the older veterans talk about. It kind of takes you back in time.
Editors Note: If youre interested in reading more about Ferriers experiences, check out the April 1999 issue of the National Geographic.
© 2011 Sound Publishing, Inc.
Only photo I can find of the as yet unfinished Prowler.
That is awesome....
we should make a sequel to that movie “Final Countdown” with this idea.
Roger Ball! Three wire. In up and complete.
I recommend “A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron 8” by Robert J. Mrazek for a gret history of VT-8.
AA, Thanks for the article and photos. I met and got Ensign George Gays autograph on his book at the Confederate Air Sho at Harlingen, Tx in 1979. And got Papy Boyington’s autographed book too.
I can’t remember who does the Naval Aviation ping list...anyone?
Click on pic for past Navair pings.
Post or FReepmail me if you wish to be enlisted in or discharged from the Navair Pinglist.
The only requirement for inclusion in the Navair Pinglist is an interest in Naval Aviation.
This is a medium to low volume pinglist.
No excuse, sir!
You’re elected? :)
Right you are, I should have remembered!
(Post 8 wasn’t there, yet.)
Thanks for the ping.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.