USS America... CVA-66...VA-82...
A blog page devoted to news about VA-82's 1968 USS America WestPac cruise in the Gulf of Tonkin....
USS AMERICA... "COURAGE"
VA-82 "Marauders" squadron patch....
VA-82 "Skipper", Cdr. Jack Jones
VA-82 officers aboard America, 1968
First Row: L-R, Lt. Hall (VA-174), Ens. Brown, Lt. Refo. Lcdr. Hewitt, Lt. Fields
Second Row: Lt. Eaton, unknown, Lt. Burd, unk, Lt. Van Eps, unk, Lt. Bryant
More photos at bottom....
VA-82: Lt. Kenny Wayne Fields (first row, far right), "Rocket 10"...call sign "Potato"... flew with the
VA-82 "Marauders", and now he has authored a book about his experience on the first day of combat
ever for USS America on 31 May 1968. The title is, "The Rescue of Streetcar 304"---A Navy Pilot's
Forty Hours on the Run in Laos, and it provides his narrative of his catapult launch in an A-7A "Corsair"
from the deck of America...the crew's excitement that day...his shoot-down by enemy gunfire in Laos...
and his forty hour harrowing, spine tingling evasion on the ground before he was rescued by USAF Jolly
Green helicopters on 2 June. If you want to know what it was like on USS America back then, buy the
book or read more about Kenny and his story on this website.... menu page is in the upper left corner.
Shipmates:The book was released in May '07, and, since then, Kenny has been doing book signing
events around the country. Thus far, he has met (at the events) the following squadron and shipmates
who served with him on the '68 cruise.
From VA-82: Lieutenant's Walt Moser, Joel Eaton, John Van Eps...ATN2 Dave Westington...
AO2 George Rebman
From VA-86: Lt. Robert Smith
From VF-33: Lt. Fred Lewis (now RADM Lewis)
From CarDiv2 Staff: QM2 B. Crawford, Capt. Knott, Lt. Collman. Radm Leroy Swanson was the "flag"
aboard America and I met his son at a CarDiv reunion. Since then, the son told me that he read the
"Streetcar 304" story to his dad just prior to his death and that the admiral really enjoyed my nice words
about him in the book .
From USS America: Randy Clark (CIC)...ABH3 Dave Seyse, ...Jim, the son of Glen Skinner (CIC)...
Anthony LaMorte, AO1(flight deck LPO)
Randy Clark listened in CIC on an open speaker to most of the relayed radio chatter between Streetcar 304
and the rescue forces and he relates that, to this day, the memory of those three days makes goose bumps
on his skin when he tells others about the story.
George Rebman, an AO2 on the bomb loading crew in VA-82, relates to Kenny: I was in the AO crew that
loaded the bombs on your plane for the fateful first mission and for the second one after you returned to
fly more missions. He vividly remembers the night that Kenny was shot down, and he doesn't know if
Kenny ever realized how much the ground pounders worried and prayed for him while he spent those forty
hours in the bush with 10,000 of his not so close friends. He also relates that he remembers when Kenny
returned to the ship and how brave he was for not only the way he conducted himself on the ground while
evading but also for climbing back into the cockpit to fly more sorties.
Bill Crawford, the QM2 on the Admiral's Bridge, listened to all of the radio chatter also in order to keep
Admiral Swanson up to date on the situation. Bill says that, to this day, it was such a motivating experience
that he uses Kenny's experience as one of two that he relates to church members when he gives his annual
Memorial Day church sermon.
Lt. Fred Lewis, a pilot in VF-102, says that he was airborne on "fighter cap" when Kenny was shot down, and
that, to this day, he can still recall the frantic radio chatter back and forth between Kenny and his rescuers.
He knew right then---on day one--- that "he was at war".
Lt. Collman, then "Flag Lieutenant" to Admiral Swanson, relates that he was in attendnance during the now
infamous meeting between the Admiral, Kenny, and the CAG when Kenny was questioned about his "second
bomb run". Lt. Collman relates that Admiral Swanson totally backed Kenny's decisions---without reservation.
ABH3 Dave Seyse was a "grape" attached to ship's company who fueled my plane, and he remembers my
shoot-down incident very well.
AOC Garvin called Kenny to say that he had heard about the book. He was the Ordnance Chief Petty Off icer
of the crew that loaded Kenny's A-7 for battle on the day of the story.
ADJ3 Rich Boden ordered a book from Kenny just prior to Christmas '08. He was Kenny's "Plane Captain"
and strapped him in the cockpit on the day of the story.
More comments as they come in....Submit yours to Kenny on the "contact page" of this site.
VA-82 Bomb Loading Crew
VA-82 "Marauders" at the Hickory, NC Aviation Museum: Lt.'s Joel Eaton,
Tom Brown, Walt Moser, and Kenny Fields
Lt. Robert Smith, (VA-86) & Lt. Kenny Fields, (VA-82) at a book signing in Charlotte, NC
Streetcar 304 with Lt. Fred Lewis (fighter pilot deluxe), VF-33, at Kenny's Notre
Dame U. book signing during the weekend that Navy beat Notre Dame. Fred was
flying "Mig-Cap" when Kenny was shot down and heard Iceman's "MayDay" call.
Fred later made admiral rank.
A reunion of VA-82 pilots and others from the '68 America and '69-'70 Coral Sea cruises
was held the weekend of October 3rd, 2010 at the Hickory, NC Aviation Museum. During
that time, the museum's A-7, Streetcar 313, was dedicated in the memory of Lcdr Scotty Greiling,
a VA-82 pilot who was lost during a combat mission in 1968. Scotty's name was painted on the fuselage....
l-r, Pilots who flew 313 in combat: Dave Page, Tom McCelland, Shedd Webster, Tom Brown, Joe Algermisson,
Doug Bradt, Gene Clemens,Walt Moser, Eric Jensen, Charlie Cook, Kenny Fields, Carter Refo, Joel Eaton, Fred Hueber
VA-82 Plane Captains during America cruise, l-r, John Bender, Fred Barber, Jerry Walker,
Jack Davidson, Ron Shirley
VA-82 "Ready Room" aboard America, 1968
VA-82 "Ready Room" aboard America, 1968
The photo below was taken at NAS Cubi Point in 1968. VA-82 pilots....