In Memory of CAPT Carroll “Lex” LeFon, and the Wonderful Community He Fostered

Welcome. The idea was floated that a ‘talk amongst yourselves’ blog would be a good addition to for the Non-Facebook Crowd. Here it is.

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Something I’d like to see…..

  Just got though paying some more bills, among them a new 6 month policy for my auto insurance.

I have had this company for probably 15 years. I switched from another company I had had for probably 25 years because this company had just as high a rating at almost half the price.

But like so much of American business, they underwent a lot of  changes. Instead of the small independent business they were bought by other insurance companies.

  They became a subsidiary, the latest – the 2nd or 3rd company that has owned them – let’s call them the The Monolithic Insurance Company.

You’ve seen their ads on the television, but to avoid making this personal, I will simply refer to them as the MIC.

Anyway I am simply trying to pay the bill and they gave me a bunch of papers stuffed in their envelope. 

Our Humble Scribe being of the nautical type, even causes this old soldier to think in nautical terms.

I believe flotsam would describe this…..stuff. It is difficult for me to simply simply find the paper with the amount owed to mail it in.

But among all of these treasures is a little form letter telling me that the MIC intends to sell my personal information to companies who want to send me more offers.

If this is OK with me I need do…nothing.

If I don’t want this change, I have to send in the form they provide. At my expense, of course, and a different address.

So I mail the form, in addition to my bill.

On the form, I suggested that they should reverse this – if their customers want their personal information sold, they should send in a form.

If they don’t want this….they don’t have to do anything.

I’m starting to think that it may be time for a change. After all the reasons that I selected this company in the first place may be null and void, now that they are a wholly-owned subsidiary to the MIC.

But in the meantime I think in about 3 months, halfway through the policy, I will send a letter to the CEO of the MIC.

I will ask for his assurance that my personal information is not being sold.

If it is being sold, he doesn’t have to do anything. If it isn’t, send me a letter stating that fact.

Maybe it’s time for a change again.

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Where Were You That Day?

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I was commuting to work on the west coast – having my own business at the time I could be late – and I heard on the news about the Twin Towers. I was thinking that this must be an anniversary of the 1993 bombing and wasn’t for 5 or 10 minutes did I realize that this was live.

Since that time, I visited Manhattan for the first time – in 2003. A friend of mine who lives outside Philadelphia had an invitation for a financial seminar to be held in one of the towers – near the top.

He decided at the last moment to skip it.

When I visited Manhattan I stayed at a little hotel in midtown run by some Catholic nuns. They all had their stories, but one mentioned being glued to the window and seeing the smoke off to the south.

Even 2 years later, some New Yorkers hated taking the subway.

During that visit, an acquaintance of mine, who lived in Manhattan, took me on a walking tour of the area. If you haven’t been to Manhattan, it is amazing how far you can go just walking. We stopped at the Fire House that was the first to respond. They were right by the famous Fulton Fish Market and I guess their firemen were first up in the Towers when they came down.

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I took a picture and then, with a fireman looking at me – not a hostile glare but silent – a glare tinged with sadness that told me without words that I couldn’t possible have known them by taking just a picture.

You could not possible imagine the hole where the WTC was – pictures never did it justice. But I’ll try & show you.

I’ll show you the church that gave the responders some rest.

That day showed me that we are not immune to evil reaching our shore. But Americans responded. I don’t know if I could be among those who stormed the cockpit of Flight 93 and saved the White House or Congress by their sacrifice.

I’d like to think so .

But unless faced with it saying you would seems to diminish the sacrifices of those who did.

Two books I have read of this day showed 2 completely different perspectives – one was from Air Traffic Control and the other profiled people trapped in those towers – those who survived and those who didn’t.

May we never forgot those who died that day…

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Book Review: Vietnam To Western Airlines

Vietnam

Imagine for a moment that you are an airline Captain or First Officer who is also a Vietnam aviation veteran. You’ve leveled off at cruising altitude, the autopilot is on, and it is a dark, quiet night.

You naturally start up a conversation with your left or right seater to while away the hours.

You learn that he also flew in Vietnam, and you hear his story. Sometimes the story you are hearing is the first time it’s been told, outside of his family.

There were stories told, from veteran to veteran.

After a few of these stories, you have the idea to put them in a book “someday”, and you ask your fellow crewmen if they would put their own stories to paper for you.

The years go by and a lot of these stories are sitting in a box in your garage.

There’s others that you get from your friends who know other Western Airlines Vietnam veterans with their own stories.

Thirty-seven stories and 25 or 30 years later, the book is finally published.

I’ve just described this wonderful book, Vietnam to Western Airlines.

It was loaned to me by a friend, who also happens to be a retired Western Airlines pilot.

He had been telling me about this book for some months and naturally, since Western merged with Delta in 1986, 28 years ago, I figured that this book must have been published years ago.

It came out just last year.

Virtually all of the writers will tell you how a typical mission went from takeoff to landing. You’ll hear from a B52 pilot who was involved in a midair collision with another B52, and another B52 pilot who will tell you how a typical Arc Light mission went.

There is a story involving 2 Navy A-1 pilots searching for a downed Air Force pilot. Night was coming; they were running low on fuel but didn’t want to abandon their fellow airman. The rescue involved the use of a cigarette lighter and a co-operative carrier captain, and couldn’t have been imagined by the best Hollywood screenwriter.

You’ll land at a remote Special Forces camp – so close to the Ho Chi Minh trail you could hear the convoys at night – and ferry Montagnard tribesmen in your C-7 Caribou. You’ll wonder how the Green Berets – in the middle of nowhere, always had clean, starched and creased uniforms.

Fly with a Marine in his UH-1 “Huey” on a typical mission to help besieged Khe Sanh. He brought supplies and took out the wounded and dead – for 77 days.

He learned quickly to time his ground time to 25 seconds – loading, unloading and refueling – because the North Vietnamese mortar men could reload in 32 seconds.

Learn from an Air Force FAC (Forward Air Control) pilot flying the little Cessna O2 about how he did his work – and did you know – once they arrived in-country they went to an orientation school informally named “FAC-U”?

Who says the military has no sense of humor?

Did you know that the Navy had a squadron of OV-10 pilots – called the “Black Ponies”?

You’ll read amazing stories from these pilots and others who flew F4s, F105s, F100s, A-4s, C-130s, AC-130s , even an EC-121.

I don’t want to reveal the entire book here but give you just a sample of things I learned. There are 37 fascinating stories, and the editor said that was just a sample of the Vietnam pilots who flew for Western Air Lines.

One other thing that intrigued me – even amused me.

More than one aviator quoted from a book entitled “Tactical Aerodrome Directory, South Vietnam”

Consider it like a Jeppensens for small airports and dirt strips throughout South Vietnam. You pilots who complain about certain difficult conditions in airports here just consider the warnings this book gave on various strips.

It was life and death seriousness during the war, but funny today. Just believe me, the warnings they gave for South Vietnamese airstrips don’t exist here.

If it weren’t for Bruce Cowee capturing and editing these stories, they would have been eventually lost forever. Equal thanks  go to his friends who gave us their stories.

This book is one of the few that having finished, will stay in my library and not passed on to a friend. This one was loaned but I am getting a copy.

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Anniversary of note……………………………

Originally posted on Among The Joshua Trees:

Scan five years ago today had the following results.

Good News: Diverticulits, manageable. Done.

Bad News: There is a “Large Mass” on your left kidney……………………………………Yeah.

The rest of this event will be posted on the relevant dates………………………………………

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Experience & Treachery Beat Youth & Skill Every Time

From my Air Force Friend …

The setting was the O’Club at Kadena AFB… circa late 60’s or early 70’s.

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Cutaway Thursday: Boeing E/A-18G Growler

Boeing’s E/A-18 Growler is the latest in a long line of electronic attack aircraft, with the previous aircraft being Grumman’s venerable EA-6B Prowler. The resemblance to the F/A-18F Super Hornet is obvious as that’s where the Growler is derived. Notable differeneces include the (ugraded to ICAP III, I beleive) ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System (TJS) that was inherited from the Prowler. In addition to TJS the Growler also lacks the gun no the nose. Unlike the Prowler however the Growler can carry the AIM-120 AMRAAM on the cheek pylons to add a measure of self defence.

Boeing EA-18G Growler cutaway small

Somewhere along the line, the Navy’s nomenclature for “electronic warfare” (EW) became “electronic attack.” My theory that is in the past 10 years we’ve seen a “blurring of the lines” between offensive EW and cyber warfare but that’s another discussion for another post.

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No Detail Is Too Small

For those of you on Netflix streaming….

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