My Tour with VA-126
1960 - 1962

My tour with VA-126 began after I graduated from AT-A school, NATTC, Millington, TN in July of 1960. When I arrived at NAS Miramar in August of 1960, Cdr. C. J. Lee was CO and the squadron had three types of aircraft. - FJ-4B, A4D-1 and F9F-8T. The FJ's and A4's were used for training loft bombing and close air support techniques and the F9's for instrument flight training. Our call sign was Cherry Coke.

I don't remember exactly when Cdr. Chapman became CO, but it was sometime in early to mid-1961. We made a trip to MCAAS, Yuma for bombing exercises in late 61 or early 62 with the last group of pilots to qualify with the FJ's. The FJ's were replaced with A4D-2's.

Shortly thereafter the squadron was split into two groups. The A4's went to then new NAS Lemoore and the F9's stayed at NAS Miramar. I stayed with the F9's. During this transition period the squadron adopted a radically different maintenance program designed to increase aircraft availability. The program was very successful. We had 100% availability at least twice in April and May of 62. The skipper wanted to show the world we really did have 100% availability so, on a clear day in May, 1962, he arranged for a flyby of all 22 aircraft in the squadron. We had one more F9 designated 00, it was being used by CAG and was on a different flight that same day. After take off the squadron formed up in a 4 x 4 diamond with two groups of three behind the rear diamond and flew over the station. An F8-U PP plane flew alongside taking official photos. I had an OMIAS card and was privileged to ride in the back seat of the lead plane in the left group of three.

My tour with VA-126 ended in August 1962 with a transfer to VAH-8, NAS Whidbey Island / USS Midway. I was released from active duty in Sept 1963 and went on to college at Cal Poly Pomona.

VA-126 fly by formation

Lined up for take off - Photos by L.S. Garner

Forming up off La Jolla
In formation
Over Ramona lining up for fly-by