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August 2006

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.

I hate Wisconsin Nazis

How much better can it be? Not only did we get a couple dozen Nazis, but we got armored cars, cavalry, 300 police total and around a thousand protestors. Good craziness, but it gets better, we had anarchists, a big pack of around 50 and they went up against the police horses. It was a grand display of American freedom and excellent theater. The opening bit is to show just how small a threat the jack-booted thugs really were. Enjoy.

There is a lot more video of the fun here

Questing Cat Back in Iraq

I heard from the Cat this morning.  He's good and in an undisclosed location somewhere in Iraq for his second tour.

I may or may not pass on his notes from time to time (depending on how much trouble he wants to get into...).  Just thought you'd want to know.

Seven Samurai


As you have seen below, Bill Paisley ("Pinch" of Instapinch) has joined us here at Blackfive.

And, now, we'll also be getting some help from Captain B (soon to be Major) of One Marine's View, too.

So, why the additions?

A few reasons, mainly to counter the pseudo-hippiness of Uncle Jimbo...just kidding...mostly.

The real reason is that I'm getting uber-overwhelmed by events.  I've got a great job that I'd like to keep, I've got a book launch happening imminently, I'm starting an Exec MBA tomorrow, the radio show on Sunday nights, and my son starts karate next week and I want to be a part of that, too.

So.  For the next few months, I'll be posting less than usual.  Still be around, just not several times before and after work.  We needed some additional Samurai.

I think the mix is good - me and Seven Samurai (although it could argued that some of us not serving anymore are Ronin) - Enlisted, Officer, Mustang, Civilian, Navy, Marines, Army, Aviator, Submariner, Special Forces, Intel, etc.

Remembering SGT Mike Stokely

Received this email from Robert Stokely, father of Sergeant Michael Stokely who was killed in Iraq last year.  Many of you are probably familiar with Robert's emails as they've been posted on blogs like Mudville and Thunder Run:

August 27, 2006, our family has come full circle on a year of firsts, for on this day a year ago, SGT Mike Stokely,  our beloved husband, son, brother and friend was laid to rest in Corinth Memorial Gardens in Loganville Georgia.  His funeral and final burial was the "end" of an eleven day marathon of agony that had started with the notice of his death on August 16, 2005.  It is difficult to say what was hardest to bear during that eleven day period.  The harshness of pain was fluid, but never absent.  I came to understand why we bury our dead and how you can't begin a lifetime of healing until you have that closure that comes with laying your loved one to a final respectful rest.   

While there was tremendous grief and agony in this eleven day period, there was also great pride that swelled the heart, for how could it not be so as we saw untold support and honor for Mike and our family.  On August 22, 2005, before Mike's body was back from Iraq, over 900 people attended a Memorial Service in Sharpsburg GA where Mike lived the year before he left for Iraq with me, my wife / his "other mom"  and younger brother and sister.  The day after Mike's body came back to the Atlanta area, the town where he went to middle and high school and where he was to be buried - Loganville GA - threw a grand welcome home arrival as police and fire trucks blocked miles of four lane US 78 in both directions, as thousands lined the street.  Kids on ball fields stopped playing their little league games and stood still as he passed.  Resturants stopped serving food as the staff and customers ran to the highway, person after person saluting, standing with hands over hearts, waving flags, cheering, holding signs and best of all, parents holding their smaller children's hands and pointing and obviously explaining what was happening. Bouqets of flowers were thrown in front of the hearse and in front of our cars. At times when we stopped, people ran to touch the hearse, or even shake our hands.  All four Atlanta TV News Channels had helicopters overhead the entire time, doing live broadcasts for the evening news, and of course "film at eleven."   The ordinary kid next door who loved his country enough to give his life for her had come home to a hero's welcome...
More tears and a few laughs await you after the Jump.

Continue reading "Remembering SGT Mike Stokely" »

Fox News Reporter/Cameraman released

Fox News reporter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig were released this morning, alive and in good condition.

Apparently there was a "conversion" to Islam that was part of their release.  Centanni, talking to Shep Smith, said that was done at gunpoint.

Nice.  It'll be interesting to hear the story of *this* one.

Bong Bong…Bong Bong….Pinch, Arriving

In a service as rich in tradition as the Navy is, it is customary to “pipe aboard” new officers to the ship. So, without further ado, Bos’n, dust off your pipe, have Airman Schmuckatelli lay to the quarterdeck with his little hammer and let’s hear “piping the side”  and 4 bongs of the ship’s bell!

Of course, as a naval aviator, we usually eschew such formality and do the welcome aboard at the O’Club with copious amounts of beer and munchies while making our hands go “zoom zoom” and telling lies about flying.

My 30-second bio? F-14 Tomcat radar intercept officer from back when the Soviet Union was a big, bad bully (dating myself, I know, and as anyone who has dated me knows, that is not necessarily rainbows and lollipops). Currently wearing navy khaki again during the work week while on an extended recall to active duty in the Washington DC area. I hang my garrison cap (more…colorful…names for our head gear shall remain in O’Club conversation) at the Navy Annex at Anacostia , which is located on the south side of the Anacostia River, adjacent to Bolling Air Force Base. In the big scheme of things Anacostia is a quantum leap in the quality of life, both work and personal, from where I used to drag my usual-contractor backside, that being the multi-sided, large military-related office building on the banks of the Potomac.  

In my other blog life I run the Instapinch where you can generally find the occasional sea story about life as a ancient-aviator-mariner (of a Tomcat sort) and a few other things that the occasionally-on-strike Muse deems worth of posting.

Many thanks to Matt for offering this opportunity  – hopefully I’ll be able to add to the discussion, perhaps provoke a few of my own, and with any luck (and a full bag of gas) generally contribute to the excellence that Blackfive has come to be known for.

Fight’s on!