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CAPT Frank Ault, USN

In the Someone We Should Remember category, many aviators out there (and if there are any fighter aviators out there who don't recognized this name, prepare for a thrashing) will recognize the name of CAPT Frank "Whip" Ault.

I received this email today from his son, Jon, a good friend of mine and retired F-14 Tomcat pilot:

 Golden Eagles,

It is with deep regret that I pass on the sad news the CAPT Frank W. Ault, USN, Retired made his final take off August 20, 2006 at his home in Arlington, VA.  Frank’s very diverse career combined with his forward thinking and intelligence made him an exceptional Naval Officer.   

CAPT Ault graduated with the Naval Academy class of 1943 (Graduation was accelerated to June of 1942) and spent his first two commissioned years in the surface Navy.   Assigned to the USS Astoria (CA-34), he participated in the Invasion of Guadalcanal. He survived the sinking of Astoria during the First Battle of Savo Island in August 1942.   Frank then joined the USS Tuscaloosa (CA-37) and participated in the Invasion of North Africa in November 1942.  He was in the Gunnery Department on both ships.
CAPT Ault entered flight training in 1944 and was designated a Naval Aviator on October 17, 1945.  Frank was assigned to the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project in 1947 and became a nuclear weapons specialist.   He was a plank owner and Bomb Commander VC-5, the Navy’s first atomic bomb delivery squadron.  CAPT Ault held important assignments in OPNAV and BUORD dealing with Nuclear weapons and weapons research.  While in BUORD, Frank was assigned as Director of Space Research and authored the first Navy Space Program Plan in 1957.  He then moved on to be OPNAV as Director of Navy Space Systems (OP-76) and DDR&E as Assistant for Navy Space Systems.
Frank never got too far away from the cockpit.  He served in five VA squadrons, was CO of VA-216, and Commander Air Group 10 on board USS Shangri La (CV-38).  CAPT Ault commanded the USS Renville (APA-227) and the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) during the Vietnam War.  His assignment as Chief of Staff to ComCarDivOne, deployed to Vietnam from 1967 to 1968, and his prior experience as a carrier CO and weapons specialist made him a perfect candidate to conduct an Air Weapons Study for OPNAV/NAVAIR.   The product was the famous “Ault Report” of 1968.   The report diagnosed fighter systems performance in Vietnam and is credited with raising the air combat kill ratio in Vietnam from 2.5 to 1 to over 12.5 to 1.  As a result of the report, the Navy realized the need for a Fighter Weapons School, and “Top Gun” was established.
CAPT Ault was indeed a pioneer in the Nuclear Weapons and Navy Space fields.   His skill and experience as a pilot, coupled with his intelligence made him a great Naval Aviator.   He will be missed. 
A memorial service will be held Friday, September 8 at the Fort Myers Memorial Chapel at 1300 with a reception at the Fort Myers Officers Cub following the service.
With sad regards,
Bill Knutson, Pilot

I had the pleasure of meeting and shaking the hand of CAPT Ault a few years ago here in the DC area where he lived and worked.  A truly remarkable man, a great account of his "Ault Report" experience can be found in the book "Scream of Eagles" by Robert Wilcox :

Thick-necked and bald-headed, Ault had earned his nickname, Whip, as an executive officer of VA-55 on the Essex during the Korean War.  "I told the pilots, 'I can out-drink you, out-fight you and out-fly you' and there's nothing more obnoxious than a guy who can back up what he says.

The phrase we live by in navy fighter aviation, "you fight like you train", is a direct testament to his watershed report.   Fighter aviators everywhere should hoist a cold one in his honor when they get a chance.