VA-37 Reunionby Kyle Kirby
The VA-37 guys that made the journey on their "hawgs" to come see us and Falcon 307! John Gurley, Chris Stoner, Bart Auer, Norm Green, and John Johnson. They rode their bikes from the following locations and in the order of the photo. Houston, TX.. Park City, UT..Virginia Beach, VA...Pensacola, FL...and Minnesota!!!!!!!!!!! John "Hondo" Johnson was the man mainly responsible for bringing this together and I have to say we had a remarkable time!! They are incredible ambassadors for Naval Aviation and I am proud of our staff for making them feel welcome and making this a life long memory for each of them!
John "Goose" Gurley in the cockpit of our A-7 in 1972. He flew a total of 30 flights in our A-7!!! Twenty-five of those were with VA-37 and five more came later while flying her in the reserves!! Here is the man that provided these wonderful photos!! After the release of the movie Top Gun, he changed his call sign to "Gurleyman" after Goose was lost in the flick!! These guys are great!!
This shot is of Falcon 302. Although a "yellow shirt" is in the way, it offers a great look at the scheme that VA-37 took to war. Due to frequent excursions deep into North Vietnam, the bombs are carried singly on the pylons. They did away with multiple ejector racks (MERS) and triple ejector racks (TERS) early on. They created considerably more drag and the speed is life adage was never more true up North!
This is our aircraft on the Saratoga's flight deck!! VA-37s call sign was Red Falcon. They shortened it to Falcon when on deployment. Hence, our awesome little aircraft was Falcon 307 during the cruise. The A-7s never carried tanks while in theater and Norm Green told me they could fly across the US on a flight without refueling!! A remarkable achievement for the turbofan TF-30!
Another incredible shot of our aircraft with John Gurley once again! He is loaded up with Mk. 82 500lb slicks and Aim-9s on both fuselage stations!! The A-7 suffered the lowest loss rate of any fixed-wing types in the war. It was a great aircraft and was crewed by exceptional men! To know that our aircraft was involved in Linebacker operations is just incredible!! One VA-37 alum that flew her was Dale Raebel. He was shot down in August 72 and spent 7 months as a POW. He flew our bird the day prior to his shootdown!!! VA-37 lost 4 A7s, 2 KIA and 1 POW. VA 105 lost 4 A7s, 2 KIA. We are going to paint the right side of the aircraft in this warpaint to honor the cast at the request of all we have befriended that operated this awesome jet!!
A remarkable shot of our aircraft trapping aboard Saratoga. Regardless of the mission, these awesome guys always had to bring the beast back aboard ship. Studies were undertaken during the Vietnam War with naval aviators. It was found that their pulse rates were higher around the ship than when in combat!!
The Vietnam War is something of an enigma. Most folks just write it off as a political event that just transpired for ten years. An event that took up a large portion of their evening news. I am here to say that these gentlemen are giants in the history of our aviation and military culture!! I don't care what era you talk about, they stand up against them all!! Our nation experienced a crux during this time! We were coming of age and there was a plethora of new technologies, the likes of which the world had never seen! Remember that we set foot on the moon in July 1969! This was also the case with our Vietnam warriors!! They successfully ushered in a new era for our military. The real war was against the Superpowers and we sent a HUGE message to all!! Although our politics dictated a less than successful outcome in theatre, these guys won EVERY battle, EVERY campaign and the North new it!! The great display of might during Desert Storm was pioneered by this fraternity almost two decades before!! Their efforts cannot be underestimated and our current war fighting doctrine was literally carved out through their hard work! It always seems to me that these valiant veterans never get any credit for their extreme sacrifice. I am here to say that we stand on their very broad shoulders to this day and the effort they employed can never be underestimated!! It is time that the real truth of the war in Southeast Asia comes to light!! Sierra Hotel to all of you that gave so much and left so much back there in a place hardly anyone had even heard of prior to the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu! You are not forgotten at HAM!!