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Fates

An Interview with Ezlead

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+Fates    53

Continuing our series of interviews here at CA, USAFMTL received an opportunity to interview Ezlead. Another great read.

 

 

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was always interested in flying ever since I was about 7 years old. My uncle had an old J-3 cub and he took me up a few times. I just loved it.

I went to college at Northern Illinois Univ. for 2 years and then enlisted in the Marines.

After boot,ITR,OCS,Basic School and flight school I was stationed at MCAS Cherry Point,N.C..

I was trained in the A-6a and EA-6a.

I went overseas in Nov. 1971 to Iwakuni,Japan. In April 1972 I was transferred to 3rd Marine Division as a FAC. I was with 2nd Bn, 9th Marine Regt. We went to Vietnam in late May as BLT2/9. We were off the coast of Danang in case we had to be landed. I asked my Bn C.O. if I could go TAD to my old outfit(VMCJ-1) and he approved it. For the next 4 months,I flew about 40 combat missions over the North and a few over South Vietnam.

I got out of the Marines in Jun 1973 with about 1000 hrs flt time.

For the next 9 years I flew as a charter pilot and flight instructor.

I then went to work in the construction business for a friend of mine for the next 20 years (the money was a lot better).

 

2. What all aircraft did you fly and how many hours have you accumulated?

I have about 4500 hours total flt time in many different aircraft.

I have flown the A-6a,EA-6a,RF-4b,TA-4J and C-117(Super DC-3) in the Marines.

I have flown almost everything from a J-3 Cub to an Aerostar as a civilian. I looked in my old logbooks and counted 23 different aircraft,military and civilian.

 

3. What was one of your hairest moments?

I was on station just off of Haiphong Harbor. The strike was just about completed when all of a sudden an F-8 Crusader went screaming by,straight up,about 200 ft away on the right side.

I instinctively hollared "Sh--" and banked left. About a second later another F-8 went by on the left side,straight up,about 200 ft away. I hollared "Sh--" again and leveled the wings. My ECM officer(a CWO4) sat back from the scope and said"What the he-- was that all about". I told him what had happened and he said "It's a good thing I have this oxygen mask on,cause you probably did Sh--!!" After that about every 5 minutes he would ask if anything was coming and"Don't forget to look down." We got to giggling about it and laughed our butts off the whole rest of the flight.

 

4. What was your favorite aircraft and why?

I really enjoyed every aircraft I ever flew. They were all special in their own way.

My favorite would have to be the F-4 Phantom. I called it my Hot Rod.

Our McDonnell Tech Rep said that it proved a basic theory of Aerodynamics. "A brick will fly if you put big enough engines on it." The F-4 had big enough engines on it to get you out of most problems. It was big,heavy and fast,yet it had an unbelievable light touch to the controls.

I believe that it was the first true fighter/bomber.

 

In the A-6a coming out of Danang on a hot day,fully loaded,you would roll at full power about 5000-6000 ft and then rotate. Once airborne you would accelerate to 300 kts and then climb out.

In July 1972 there were NVA all over down south,so we would switch to strike freq. and a FAC would give us an assignment. When we had a target we would go in low and fast(500 ft AGL and about 420 kts). We carried 14 500 lb Mk82s and 14 500 lb napalms. We would drop at least 1/2 the load the first time over and save the rest in case we had to go in again(usually we did). 2 passes max,cause the NVA were pretty good shots.

 

In the EA-6a we would take off from Danang in time to get on station for the Navy Alpha Strike(usually a full carrier air group,sometimes more)

We would fly a 20 mile leg holding pattern at about 28000 ft. The right seaters(ECMO's) would be on the scopes jamming all types of enemy radars and enemy communications.

The Marines have perfected pinpoint jamming all the way back to the Korean War.

Our coverage was so good in Vietnam, the Strike Commanders(CAGS) would not go "Feet Dry" until we were on station and operating.

 

5. What was one of your most humorous moments?

I can't remember if it was August or September 1972. We were briefed that intel thought that the Soviets had given the North Vietnamese the home on jam capability for the Fansong radar(the SA-2 SAM radar).

We(my ECMO and I) were on station off of Haiphong. We were about half way through the mission when my ECMO sat back in his seat and said "It's home-on-jam!" He hit all 5 kill switches for the jammers. I rolled the airplane over on its back and we picked up the SAM visually. I pulled back on the stick into a split-s manuever. We went right at the missile until we were about 1000 ft away from it. We then did a high "G" barrel roll around the missile and it went on past us. IT zig-zagged looking for a new target for about 3 seconds and then exploded. In the meantime I continued barrel rolling. When I looked out the front window all I could see was the Gulf of Tonkin. I leveled the wings and did a 6 "G" pull-out. We leveled off at about 3000 feet(we started at 25000 ft) heading south. Mike(my CWO-4 ECMO) said "Well, let's get back up there". I said "To hell with this,we're going home!" Mike said "You know ,we have to finish the mission." After I thought about it I said "Yeah,you're right". I turned back north and climbed back up to 25000.

We got shot at 2 more times that same mission. I got pretty good at barrel rolling that heavily loaded EA-6 that day!

The next day the Squadron CO called us both into his office. We were wondering what we had done wrong now. He told us that he had gotten a message from the CAG(the strike leader) from the previous days mission. The CAG said that he had watched the whole thing from his BARCAP position. He said that when we climbed back up the first time,he thought we were pretty gutsy.

When we climbed back up the second time,we were nuts. When we climbed back up the third time,he thought our CO should have us committed to the looney bin.

Anyway,he put us in for a DFC. Our CO said he highly concurred and forwarded the recommendation with his approval.

Long story short we got the DFC.

The ECMO's got together and came up with a procedure on the ECM gear so that you didn't have to split-s to get away from a SAM again. Something about sliding ---------- and --------- while still maintaining the jam. (It still might be secret.)

Looking back,I totally enjoyed my 6 years in the Corps. I served with some of the finest people that one could ever meet.

The civilian aviation business back in the 70's was very hectic but not very profitable. I truly loved flying all sorts of aircraft and missions.

 

 

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Viper6    3

This is just one great reason that this site is truly worth its weight in Gold! What a great interview! Thanks EzLead keep it comming!

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+Dave    2,095

All these interviews have been fun to do and talk about the knowledge they all posses. Truly great men in my book.

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+Typhoid    205

Wow!!

 

Slit S-ing out of 3 SAM shots!!!!!

 

Outstanding article and great story!

 

:salute:

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super61    0

"Our McDonnell Tech Rep said that it proved a basic theory of Aerodynamics. "A brick will fly if you put big enough engines on it." - LOL!

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exhausted    55

My my my, what one could do with six years in the Corps.

 

I did five, but I didn't go in with a degree so I only got to pet the animals... not fly.

 

EZLead you're a badass MF. Thanks for your service.

 

Semper Fi, winged devil 

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