From: Ray Berger
Subject: Re: Enlisted pilots
Date: Thursday, January 14, 1999 11:49 AM
One time when I was in VRF 32 and taking a P2V cross country for delivery in Brunswick Maine had a passenger bumming a ride to Dallas. It was retired Adm. Bogan who was a very famous old time Naval Aviator (made the first crash landing on the old Langley) and was at one time CinC 7th Fleet.
As we approached Dallas the tower asked for highest rank aboard. I said Ret. 07. They asked what honors the Adm. would like. So I asked him what he would like. He said "Ray, a retired admiral is like a whore on monday--it's her day off! Thought I'd share this with everybody. Ray
BTW I was an AL1c(AP) at the time. I really didn't know how famous a
man Jerry Bogan was. I have flown many Admirals as their personal pilot and
otherwise, and I am here to tell you the higher they get the nicer they are.
Flew Vice-Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp once in our Christchurch C47 after he got off this big beautiful Pacific Fleet Commanders Jet. A real gentleman. Paul Panehal was aboard too.
I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to get into the enlisted pilot program. mine was one of the last classes to graduate from the program--1947. in 1955 there were 621 of us left. enlisted pilots in the navy goes way back to about 1921. after WW1 each country was allowed a certain number of naval, aviators. we came up with a program of naval "aviation pilots". at one time in the 30's we flew off carriers and a famous fighter squadron --Fighting two, the "top hat" squadron was all enlisted except for the CO and Xo, including seamen first class who did mess cooking between flights. they won every fleet award in gunnery and formation flying at that time. later, in WW2, we were relegated to transports, patrol squadrons, overhaul and repair test piloting, operations pilots, ferry squadrons, embassy pilots---you name it. we had many in PBY Blackcat Squadrons. one became famous for "sighted sub, sank same" I was originally a boat pilot--PBMs, landing a boat at night is just like landing a ski-plane in a whiteout at byrd. it was good training. There have been many APs and ex-APs in Antarctica. An early pilot in operation Highjump was chief Harvey Speed, and AP 1st class Raymond Skinner was a helo pilot in about 59 or 60 aboard one of the icebreakers. some of my predecessors were ex-APs Lcdrs Johnny Ogden, Don Miller, Bill Kurlak (Mr Deep Freeze we called him) made four trips to the ice. I'm sure there are many others. in 1955 they commissioned 321 of us. we were sort of a thorn in the officers side because all we had to do was fly airplanes and they had desk jobs as well. we drew all the shitty flying jobs and thereby became some of the best pilots in the navy (me excepted). The marines and army airforce had flying sergeants also. well nuff of that. hope I haven't bored you. Ray
( are you kidding ??, bring it on down Mr. Ray )
I just talked on the phone to an OOAE, Raymond W. Skinner AO1c(AP)
enlisted pilot that I mentioned in my dissertation concerning enlisted
pilots and ex-enlisted pilots that played a part in Antarctica. He was a
Hilo pilot that went to the ice on the USS East Wind ice breaker in 1955 and
returned on the USS Glacier in 1965. He flew out of Little America V. He
does not have a puter so does not know what is going on, and frankly I 'm
not sure he cares much, it was just something he was assigned to do. He did
immediately recognize Cdr. Waldrons name as the OinC of LAS V. Wish I could
get him more involved, but he is comfortably retired in Norman Oka.
OOPS, belay my last. Every thing was ok except the name, and my apologies to Rev Leischner. The name of the LAS V XO was Paul Streich that Ray Skinner wanted me to say hello to. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. His remarks in his registration with the reunion read like a book. I am trying to get Ray Skinner to put something down on paper for me to relay to the group. After I called him he called me back and we had a long talk. He told me he took Adm Byrd on a sightseeing trip by helo in 1955. The Adm was a very old man then, but can you imagine the thrill of flying Byrd around? Here is a short bio of Ray Skinner. We are old shipmates from the ferry squadron days ,VRF32, San Diego. In '54 3 of us 1st class APs (running mates, party animals) were ordered to take the chiefs exam by our skipper, a direct order. Bill Longley AD1(AP), Ray Skinner AO1(AP), and me AL1(AP). Bill and I made it Skinbean (as we called him) didn't. But that was OK, APs don't cry. Then in Jun/Jul '55 321 of were given commissions. Again, Ray Skinner didn't make the cut, because he had landed an F6F Hellcat wheels up early one morning in Dallas while on a ferry trip. Ray was a hard charging pilot and was up and away from El Paso while the rest of us were still nursing a hang over. He got to Dallas before the wheel watch was at the end of the runway. In any case, while I was having them crazy brass bars hung on me in 1955 at Sanely Point in the Philippines Ray was preparing to go to the ice having gotten orders to VX6 out of a clear blue sky. He tells me he was virtually the only helo pilot on the ice, and operated mostly out of McMurdo. They all lived in tents. Apparently there was a detachment from a helo squadron there but they were either afraid to fly or couldn't keep their aircraft in an up status. As I say I am trying to get something on paper from him. He told me how he was inadvertently left on the ice after the squadron had returned it Pax River.
His wife Katie was there to meet him as were all the wives, but no Ray Skinner. Even the skipper didn't know where he was. He bummed a ride on the USS Glacier to South America and caught a MATS flight to the states, arriving some time after the rest of the squadron was home, So much for being an enlisted pilot! But he has no sour grapes, he says he saw more of Antarctica than most up to that time. When his enlistment was up he retired and flew for the FAA in gooney birds as a route and navigation facility checker, from which he retired. Egads, didn't mean to ramble on so much.
----Original Message----- From: RadioCom
I was an AL when i graduated I was an aviation pilot first, gold wings in my crow, Several times I have run into older fellows who were with Dewey, Scott, Adm. Byrd and even Floyd Bennet.
>>To: Ray Berger
>>Date: Sunday, January 10, 1999 2:02 PM
>>Subject: Re: AT's
>> I started out as a "Ditty Dum Dum Ditty twigit" back seat radio/gunner in WW11 >>flight school. As a matter of fact until 1955 I was an ATC(AP) -(enlisted)
Sure would like to hear some more from Ray... What Say Troops???