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Thread: Aww, and I Knew Him When He Was A Mere Lieutenant

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Aww, and I Knew Him When He Was A Mere Lieutenant

    Wow, I'm pleased he did so well.

    I knew him when he was a pilot in my squadron, VF-211, back in the olden days. He was also a back up quarterback for the Detroit Lions before going Navy full time. I was going to tell some "inside" stories that would have been sort of embarrassing but had a "What The Heck Was I Thinking" moment. Making admiral is, well, admirable.

    But I will say...

    During air combat manuevers at Nellis Airforce Base he pulled a sustained 12+ g turn that bent the wings of the Tomcat so hard that they wouldn't fold back. The wing tips drooped to four feet off the deck and fuel was just gushing out of the wing roots. The airframes guys worked 'round the clock and fixed it too.

    Now Mr. Cain, his Radar Intercept Officer, (we enlisted called them "back seaters" but not to their faces) was a very colorful character. To put it mildly. Mr. Stufflebeem was callsign "Boomer" and Mr. Cain was "Darth". Both of them were very tall with Mr. Cain at the limit of aircrew height. Mr. Cain often wore an all black helmet with the full Vader mask while flying.

    Mr. Cain was a maverick, a former enlisted man who made officer. He was/is a decorated Marine Sargent before becoming an officer. He had two Purple Hearts. Says he deserved three, but as he was wounded twice in the same day he didn't want to get greedy. He got Purple Heart number two when he was shot with an AK during an attack that morning, and as the medics were evacuating the wounded from the firebase that afternoon in those weird flatbed things they used to use in 'Nam, the NVA attacked again, dropping mortars on the retreating column. He kept giving orders to the medics who ignored him and when a mortar landed close enough that he caught half a dozen fragments lenthwise he said enough was enough and commandeered the medics rifle. He told us he could see the *freakin'* mortar team that was attacking them the next hill over and engaged them at range. They give you medals for that kind of stuff.

    Once, my kid brother was on a late night ready room watch sitting next to Mr.Cain filling out a report, all quiet and peaceful, when Mr. Cain suddenly yelled, "Defib!" and nailed my brother in the sternum. All in jest mind you. He was that kind of a guy.

    Mr. Cain also didn't mind beating the holy crap out of you if you screwed up really badly.

    I like I did.

    I forget the aircraft number, but it had a problem with its Inertial Measuring Unit or IMU. Its how airplanes find their way home when you are under tight signal security. It tells you where you've been so you can go back there. We had two simular failures earlier that month on other aircraft so I had an an idea as to fixing it. I ran all the procedures I should have, replaced the IMU as that was what was indicated and ran the diagnostic again. Sweet, everything was honkydory.

    So, when their IMU failed when they were some 400 nm from home, at the end of their patrol, things got ugly. Using dead reckoning they got approximately back to where they thought they wanted to be, saw what they thought was the carrier and used up almost all their remaining fuel chasing down what turned out to be an mega-tanker. Which from the air looks like a carrier and vice versa.

    Now the major powers that be have to make a serious decision. Do they keep hiding from the bad guys and drop a fortyfive million dollar aircraft and two aircrew into the Indian Ocean or do they blow their position and launch a refueling bird? Well, you know they launched the bird. BUT the onus was on the aircrew.

    I had to hide for two days.

    It being my second cruise, I knew all the places to hide and I kept getting progress reports as to Mr. Cain's whereabouts as he hunted me down, from my friends. First he grabbed the paperwork on the repair job and saw it was me who signed off on it. As he stormed out, the maintenece control chief called my chief who turned to me and said, "Don, go hide! Mr. Cain is coming! And he's going to hurt you!" I was already standing by to get a dressing down and possible demotion but this was something different.

    Mr. Cain raided my shop, my berthing area and began hunting in all the chow halls looking for me. He scoured the other shops like the engine mech's and ordinace shops incase I was hiding in there. Guys from other shops would bump into me and say, "Don! Dude! Mr. Cain is looking for you and boy is he ****ed off!"

    As I had the help and approval of the senior enlisted, ie the chiefs, there was no way he was going to find me by himself. Besides hiding in void spaces he could never fit into, (I was only 170 pounds back then) and only coming out for food, water and bathroom breaks, I spent a rather romantic evening hiding under the angle of the flightdeck with my feet dangling 80 feet off the water and my belt fastened around a stanchion so I wouldn't fall into the ocean when I dozed off. The tropics being all nice and warm you know. I also had to get up before sunrise so as not to be seen by others who didn't know what was up.

    It took those two days to convince Mr. Cain it wasn't my fault. AT2 Gordon Graham solved the whole mess. I followed proper procedure but a bad wiring harness behind a bulkhead turned out to be the culprit. What can I say.

    He did forgive me, though he did scare the tar out of me twice. AND he was the only officer who witnessed the incident that squished my brain. Along with 50 other enlisted but its nice to have that officer's name on the report as an eyewitness.
    Time wasted having fun is not time wasted - Lennon
    (John, not the other one.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Great story, and high praise indeed.

    Glad to be reminded that you can take the Marine Sergeant out of the Corps and put him into a squidly fly-boy set of pj's, but you can't take the Marine Sergeant out of the man.


    (-btw, it also say's something about you that your Chief's looked out for you. If you hadn't've been worth at least the value of the coffee you drank, you'd have been ratted out before you got below the waterline...)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    All I can say is you know the guy must be fairly tough when the plane breaks first.

    'squished my brain'?

    Sounds like there is another story or two here.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Yeah, I hadn't realized, Don, that you were some sort of undead. Cool.
    "Words that make questions may not be questions at all."
    - Neil deGrasse Tyson, answering loaded question in ten words or less
    at a 2010 talk MCed by Stephen Colbert.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Thanks Dyer, I had "charisma" back then AND I was a good sailor.

    Korjik, Yeah, I had it out playing with it when I shouldn't have, dropped it and then stepped on it accidently.

    Moose, if I told you the half of it...
    Time wasted having fun is not time wasted - Lennon
    (John, not the other one.)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Funny stories, BigDon!

    I had a next door neighbor that either is or was recently the CENTCOM commander. My most memorable moment with him was when we ran his doorbell and hid behind a tree.

    Actually, that was my second most memorable moment.

    My most memorable moment was when he found us.

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