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  #1  
Unread December 3rd, 2012, 01:01 PM
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Default Marine Corps Pilot Recalls Operation Eagle Claw & Misc. Photos

With the Acad F-4B release, and the presence of all the bits in the box to do an N, I'm really considering doing that Eagle Claw VMFA-531 F-4N option. That or something off Impact's 531 sheet.

Been searching the net for info (load-outs). Found this recollection on the National Museum of the Marine Corps Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=403207619184

Quote:
A crew member of VMFA-531 "Grey Ghosts", James Ardaiolo, shares his memories of Operation Eagle Claw and the aborted Iranian hostage rescue mission after the accident at Desert One. Ardaiolo is a volunteer docent at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

USS Coral Sea on Feb. 3, 1980 arrived on Gonzo Station (off the coast of Iran) in the Indian Ocean with VMFA-531 and VMFA-323 embarked aboard as part of Carrier Air Wing-14. It is believed that this was the first time since WWII Marine fighter squadrons provided both fighter squadrons within a carrier air wing. The Coral Sea was too small for F-14's and the Navy did not have enough F-4 squadrons to go around.

We commenced combat air patrols (CAP) immediately fully armed with Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles to intercept any aircraft getting near the task force. We soon learned, however, that the trusty Phantom was not going to make it up from the deck to the Concorde flying supersonic high altitude transoceanic flights. We did intercept every other kind of aircraft to include commercial aircraft, private aircraft, Russian patrol aircraft, and one lone Iranian C-130 that got a little close to the battle fleet. As far as I know no other Iranian a/c came close to us. We would have been happy to accommodate them anyway they wanted to fight!

Around the first of April we were warned that if we saw CH-53 helos flying around, do not say anything on the radios. We soon learned they were secreted aboard the USS Nimitz, the other carrier in the battle group.

About a week prior to the aborted hostage rescue, the CO's of the squadrons aboard Coral Sea were sent to the Nimitz. They came back with specific mission briefs for each unit. We were to provide CAP for the fleet and escort A-7 aircraft from Coral Sea to Iran and provide fighter cover as necessary if they were ordered to bomb nearby Iranian ports.

An interesting aside, the A-6 squadron aboard was given what some thought as a one way mission. We did not know what that was but later learned it was to hit Tehran or Desert One if necessary. I as the squadron S-4 was ordered to hand over our spare .38 pistols to the A-6 crews because they did not bring any on the cruise. We also had to ration ammo to only 5 rounds per our .38's as the Navy did not have enough ammo aboard!

We as aircrew did not know what was to transpire except to be prepared to go to war; retty open ended orders. I believe our skipper, Lt. Col. Gary (Jinx) Braun, had been briefed on the operation but was not allowed to tell us.

On the early morning of the rescue attempt, I and my pilot, Capt. Vic (Clam) Simpson were on the ready room 15 minute alert. This means that we had preflighted our aircraft, and sat in the ready room with our flight gear on ready to be sent aloft as necessary. Prior to assuming this duty around 0200, we went down to the wardroom mess via the hanger bay for midrats. At that point we discovered that all aircraft had wing flashes painted on them to distinguish between friend or foe. We also found virtually all aircraft armed to the teeth. We knew something was up but not what.

Around 0500 or so, while sitting in the squadron ready room still on the 15 minute alert the general quarters (GQ) klaxon went off. I noted immediately that they were not saying, "This is a drill". It was the real thing. Clam and I ran to our aircraft topside but along the way I banged on several aircrew staterooms to include the CO, XO, and Ops O, as most of us routinely slept through GQ as there was nothing for us to do when condition Z was set (closing all water tight doors and compartments).

We got into our aircraft, started up, and set up on the catapult. Clam and I would be the first to launch into the unknown. And then we waited, and waited, and waited. At daybreak, the flight deck swarmed with personnel with cameras taking pictures. We all new something was going on, but not what.

An aircrew came up to relieve us around 0700. We tried to stay in the cockpit as we wanted in on any action, but the Ops O ordered us out!

Later that day we were told that the mission had gone wrong. And then depression set in like I have seldom felt. We were honed fighting crews and wanted to show the Iranians they were messing with the wrong people. Apparently, they still have not been given or gotten the "word".

On April 29, 1980, we left Gonzo Station headed to Perth, Australia, for much needed R & R. On May 6 land was sighted for the first time in 99 days by the ship though we saw Iran everyday via our CAP's.

One last disappointment was that our port call was cancelled at Perth because the North Koreans were acting up and Coral Sea was ordered to that vicinity after 12 days of much needed refurbishment of supplies and repair at Subic Bay, PI.

VMFA-531 for this cruise was awarded the Commandant's Aviation Efficiency award, and Meritorious Unit Citation, and all personnel were authorized to wear the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal.
Found this wiki page with photos:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Ca...ea_%28CV-43%29



If you have any additional info to share, please do!
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  #2  
Unread November 28th, 2013, 08:57 PM
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These images were also posted on the Coral Sea site and elsewhere on Z-5. I figured I'd re-post them here since they would be on-topic -

VMFA-323










VMFA-531




Both


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Last edited by John B; November 28th, 2013 at 09:00 PM.
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Unread November 30th, 2013, 02:18 AM
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Found more pics in the NMNA on-line collection.

This one photographed before the 79-80 cruise -


This one showing the ID stripes from the aborted hostage rescue attempt
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I understand that political opinions are like an anus and we each have one.
My point is "Why don't you keep both of YOURS to YOURSELF on a modelling site?"
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Unread November 30th, 2013, 03:09 AM
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Love them!
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http://s587.photobucket.com/albums/s...Boman/?start=0
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Unread December 1st, 2013, 07:30 PM
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great pics thanks for sharing
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Unread March 2nd, 2014, 01:12 PM
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I found additional on-line photos this week of VMFA-323 F-4s on that Coral Sea Cruise with ID stripes.

In this shot, the lower star&bar marking doesn't appear to be covered by the ID stripes.


On this jet, you can see the extra "104" modex painted on the lower surface of the starboard flap.


Of interest in this image is the mixed load of AIM-9L outboard and earlier AIM-9 version inboard.
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I understand that political opinions are like an anus and we each have one.
My point is "Why don't you keep both of YOURS to YOURSELF on a modelling site?"
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Unread March 2nd, 2014, 01:40 PM
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On the -531 side, I found these images with ID stripes.



I've only found images of one jet on that cruise with a name painted on the tail -> #206




Another image with the mixed load of AIM-9L outboard and earlier AIM-9 version inboard.


Crusader fans will find this image interesting. It's an RF-8 from CVW-8 on the Nimitz launching from Coral Sea.
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I understand that political opinions are like an anus and we each have one.
My point is "Why don't you keep both of YOURS to YOURSELF on a modelling site?"

Last edited by John B; March 2nd, 2014 at 01:50 PM.
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Unread March 4th, 2014, 11:55 AM
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It's a cool scheme with an interesting history. I found the jourrney as much fun as building the model. Good luck with it!

(WARNING: shamless plug)
http://www.zone-five.net/showthread.php?t=25900
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