A Carroll “Lex” LeFon Primer

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Who was Carroll LeFon?

The best description of Lex that I’ve heard is “Imagine Hemingway flew fighters…and liked people.

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Index – The Best of Neptunus Lex

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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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Congratulations are in order!

Posted by lex, on June 12, 2006

 

For himself. Alas, for her ladyship: Condolences.

Today marks twenty-four years of married bliss. Well, not minute for minute, but you know: Close enough.

Last night I took the girls out to the bookstore. Which was nothing but a convenient fiction – with the added benefit of being true – enabling me to sneak in my dozen roses, bottle of champagne and anniversary card. The lady at the check out counter smiled approvingly: “Well, you’re on the right track,” she said.

I know, I thought to myself. After nearly a quarter century, I was bound to eventually get it right.

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The Ones Who Didn’t Return

I have been doing more reading these last few years, and a book recommended by a fellow Lexican is almost finished. Chickenhawk, by Robert Mason, tells of the author’s journey from Army Helicopter training at Ft Wolters, TX to some of the biggest battles, such as Ia Drang, of the Vietnam War. All from the prospective of an Army UH-1 “Huey” pilot. His story begins with the start of the massive build up, in 1965.

He wrote about everything from the difficulty in training at Wolters, to the stupid stuff like not having any flak jackets – causing the deaths of friends – for months while a neighboring unit 100 miles away had more than they knew what to do with.

And no, the book title is not about what you may think it is.

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Another Loop of America

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.” — Anthony Bourdain

I have always loved to roam. Might be in my genes, as I had a grandmother who, in her 60s, took it upon herself to roam the world on her own.

The last “Loop Around America” I did was 15 years ago. Then, I could on the spur of the moment, decide that I wanted to see New Orleans post-Katrina and drive 800 miles from Oak Ridge, TN. I covered 7,500 miles in 14 days, and that included stopping in MN to see my niece get married, and visiting my cousin in Virginia.

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Rhythms

Now that it has been over 9 years since Lex was taken from us I have felt ready to read his multipart posting of “Rhythms”, a story of life on a carrier.

It is a very well written description of that life, and holds your attention. I could not put it down until I finished it. I wish that he had published it. You learn quite a bit about life aboard a carrier and the various ratings and their tasks. We are fortunate to have such people protecting this nation

I have come to firmly believe that parts of Rhythms are autobiographical. Lex never names the carrier in Rhythms, but he gives a strong hint at the end when he describes the carrier’s pennant. It is the Gadsden “don’t tread on me” snake against a background of red and white horizontal stripes. That pennant is the oldest of the US Navy and is allowed to be flown only on designated ships — those that have the longest record of duty. A limited number of carriers flew it, and one is the Kitty Hawk, a carrier that Lex had written posts about (using a nastier name, since the carrier was so old).

Lex also had been an XO and flown in the Iraq war. He had been a Top Gun instructor. There is a character that he describes (posting in Oct 2005) leading a two-ship that takes out a time-critical target with a JDAM. The target was identified by someone going by the code name “Assassin” who was in close proximity to the target. Later on he quotes a “Sgt B” letter of thanks to another two-ship that rescued his marine group from a serious ambush (that he had listened in on). The XO is Lex, body and soul.

I hope that those who log in are able to read Rhythms. It is well worth your time.

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La Bamba

Since the danger of getting COVID seems to be lifting, I decided to go to the theater yesterday. That, and the fact that for me anyway I’m not going to stay sequestered in my house for an indefinite time; life is short enough as it is. They recently allowed them to re-open. And one of my favorite programs is the one put on by TCM/Fathom Events. They generally present a classic movie once a month, to be shown only a few days, usually on a Sunday and Wednesday.

Although I question some of their definition of “classic”, vs old (Shrek is on next!), I have seen some fantastic movies, such as North by Northwest (Hitchcocks greatest, IMO), Casablanca and the Maltese Falcon.

Currently (this Wednesday and Thursday are the last days) they are showing the movie La Bamba, about the all-too-short life of 50s rocker Richie Valens.  

Valens (actual name, Ricardo Valenzuela), was one of those rock and roll pioneers in the 50s who rose from aspiring singer to national prominence in only 8 months. He and such other headliners as Dion and the Belmonts and Buddy Holly were touring the Midwest playing in small local venues. I was thinking today that rock stars play in stadiums making millions, but in those days it was frequently all night rides playing in front of hundreds.

Towards the end of his short 17 year old life, Richie would be traveling in an old bus with a broken heater in the freezing Midwest. It would be Buddy Holly who decided that day on February 3, 1959, to charter a Beechcraft Bonanza and with 3 available seats, well, 2 since Buddy would have one, they would beat the bus and avoid the freezing and uncomfortable night. The Beech took off in the snow and into immortality. It was the day the music died. And Richie would lose his life, like movie star Carole Lombard 17 years earlier, on a coin toss.

This 1987 movie is what made the career of a previously unknown Lou Diamond Phillips. And in the credits they thank the Valens family for their help, so I am assuming that it is not some screenwriter’s fictional embellishment.

It’s an inspirational story about a boy who rescued his widowed mother and sisters from a San Joaquin valley migrant camp and rose to stardom, all in 8 months.

It’s worth a look.

Lou Diamond Phillips as Ritchie Valens, and Danielle von Zerneck as Donna Ludwig




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The Nature of Our Reality

I know next to nothing about quantum physics. But for years I have often wondered what is the nature of our reality? Are we like goldfish in a bowl who may see blurry and undefined things outside but find comfort in their own world? Is Man so arrogant as to know that he is rapidly learning all there is to know about his world? I suppose that Man has always had a strain of arrogance about his world.

Well, some.

A few years ago, while going through the Wayback Machine , I came across an intriguing post by Lex on the subject.

The universe, many physicists agree, is “fine tuned” * for life. If any one of a number of different of fundamental, physical constants  * were altered only just a little, life – at least as we know it – would not be possible.

One of these fundamental constants is the so-called “fine structure”  * constant, so named because by multiplying a number of other fundamental constants together a pure, unitless number is attained. The fine structure constant, known to physicists as α is elegantly dimensionless, and utterly mysterious, as quantum mechanic Richard Feynman  * wrote:

Immediately you would like to know where this number for a coupling comes from: is it related to pi or perhaps to the base of natural logarithms? Nobody knows. It’s one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the “hand of God” wrote that number, and “we don’t know how He pushed his pencil.” 

…Or put another way, and in another context,  * “What we’re suggesting is that something that can’t interact with anything is changing something that can’t be changed.”

Today, I came across a recent article in the Scientific American giving the odds of our being in a simulation at 50-50.

Ever since the philosopher Nick Bostrom proposed in the Philosophical Quarterly that the universe and everything in it might be a simulation, there has been intense public speculation and debate about the nature of reality. Such public intellectuals as Tesla leader and prolific Twitter gadfly Elon Musk have opined about the statistical inevitability of our world being little more than cascading green code. Recent papers have built on the original hypothesis to further refine the statistical bounds of the hypothesis, arguing that the chance that we live in a simulation may be 50–50.

…This helps us arrive at an interesting observation about the nature of space in our universe. If we are in a simulation, as it appears, then space is an abstract property written in code. It is not real. It is analogous to the numbers seven million and one in our example, just different abstract representations on the same size memory block. Up, down, forward, backward, 10 miles, a million miles, these are just symbols. 

What is height? distance? If this is all a simulation, then what is the function of our consciousness?

Quite frankly, I have to reread this article a few times to get a full understanding. But to be absolutely certain that all we know in our environment here on earth is all there is to know…is either arrogance or ignorance. But that of course, is just my belief.

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Spycraft

I think it can be said that countries have at times won or lost wars based on efforts by their intelligence agencies. I remember reading one of Lex’s posts on the subject of the US nuclear submarine Scorpion. I doubt that we will never know what caused her sinking.

Reading up on John Walker awhile back, I shudder to think had we been at war with the Soviet Union, what would have been the outcome with our naval forces. He had given them the same kind information that we had on the Japanese in WW2 – cryptographic codes that let them know of not only naval unit movement, but intentions such as orders to launch missiles from our submarines.

I wrote on the Marburg Files, and how the efforts of Edward VIII may have helped the Germans in their invasion of France. One of the most amazing successful intelligence efforts was convincing the Germans that the D-Day invasion would occur at Calais, and not Normandy. It was so successful that even when Normandy was underway, Hitler believed that it was a feint and held his armor back waiting for the Calais invasion. Stalin refused to believe his spy telling him that the Germans had planned on invading the Soviet Union.

Aldrich Ames decided to betray his country – knowingly causing the deaths of 13 CIA assets in the Soviet Union, because he was going though a costly divorce and had a Columbian girlfriend with the tastes of Imelda Marcos.

Money was also the motivation of Robert Hanssen, who informed the Soviets of our counterintelligence efforts of the FBI. He cause the deaths of a number of Russians who were working with us. He was finally caught by the smallest of oversights.

I just finished a fascinating miniseries on Spycraft, which dealt with techniques, means of communication, and motivations of spies. It includes interviews with former CIA officers, and a colleague of Ames. It’s on Netflix.

I will also have to reread a book I read years ago, Secrets of D-Day. There were some surprising revelations. One of the biggest mysteries to me was the loyalties of the head of the German Abwehr, Wilhelm Canaris. How much he helped the Allies will probably never be known. He was executed by the Nazis in the closing days of the war.

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Some Rarely Seen WW2 Color Photos

I have on my bookshelf an interesting book of WW2 photos, taken by regular servicemen using what was then a tremendous luxury: color film. Some memorable photos: Immediate post war Germany, and a row of Mustangs in a field being cut up and burned by German civilians.

An American Spitfire squadron (didn’t even know that there was such a thing).

Anyway just got my Smithsonian Air and Space magazine today and as usual, there were plenty of good articles. They must be if not unique, nearly so, in that they post to the web most of their articles in their magazine.

Here’s an article on some more WW2 color photos – bet you haven’t seen them.

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Cliff Hanger

Posted By lex, on March 4th, 2012

Vlad Putin “wins” the “election” in Russia:

Vladimir Putin and his supporters are celebrating victory in Russian elections, that will give him a third presidential term after spending the last four years as the country’s PM.

With nearly all the ballots counted, he secured nearly 64% of the vote, election officials say.

Mr Putin told supporters in Moscow he had won in an open and honest battle.

But opposition groups claim widespread fraud, and plan a protest rally in Moscow later on Monday.

The independent election watchdog Golos says Mr Putin won just over 50% – far less than the official figure given by the election commission.

It says it received numerous reports of “carousel” voting – in which voters cast multiple ballots.

Credit where it’s due, Mr. Putin ran a great campaign. And the security services.

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Brinicle

Posted By lex, on March 5th, 2012

Kinda spooky. If you’re a starfish.

And self-aware.

Extended treatment here.

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