UNITED STATES NAVAL AVIATION 1910-1995
31 January Midway was recommissioned following
a four-year conversion-modernization at the San
Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard, Calif. Other ship devel-
opments that followed were the commissioning of
Inchon on 20 June, completing Ticonderoga's conver-
sion from CVA to CVS in May, and laying the keel of
Dwight D. Eisenhower on 15 August.
10 February As part of the U.S. withdrawal from
Vietnam, two Marine squadrons, VMFA-542 and
VMA-223, returned to Marine Corps Air Station El
Toro, Calif. The same month, VMA-211 and MAG-12
were reassigned to Japan. In September, VMFA-122,
VMFA-314 and VMA(AW)-242, as well as two avia-
tion support units, H&MS-13 and MABS-13, returned
to the U.S. On 13 October, the last Marines left Chu
Lai, a base from which they had been operating
16 March The crash of an EC-121 reconnaissance
plane took the lives of 23 Navy passengers at Da Nang
Air Base, South Vietnam.
28 March The first North Vietnamese MiG kill since
the 1 November 1968 bombing halt occurred when
Lieutenant Jerome E. Beaulier and Lieutenant (jg)
Stephen 1. Barkley in an F-4 Phantom II of VF-142 off
Constellation shot down a MiG-21 while escorting an
unarmed Navy reconnaissance plane on a mission
near Thanh Hoa, North Vietnam.
1 April CVWR-20 and CVWR-30 were established
followed by CVSGR-70 and CVSGR-80 on 1 May. This
was a continuation of a program initiated in July 1968
to give Naval Air Reserve an improved combat readi-
ness. The reorganization placed all carrier-type
squadrons in two reserve carrier air wings and two
carrier ASW groups. Twelve VP and three VR
squadrons joined the carrier squadrons under the con-
trol of Commander Naval Air Reserve Force.
10 April The A-4M Skyhawk made its first flight at the
McDonnell Douglas plant at Palmdale, Calif. This air-
craft was equipped with a high power engine (nearly
50 percent more thrust than that of the Skyhawk from
1954) and brake parachute; these features made it par-
ticularly adaptable for operations from short airfields
in forward areas.
17 April Apollo 13 astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr.,
USN; John 1. Swigert, Jr., ex-USAF; and Fred W. Haise,
Jr., ex-USMCR, were recovered by HS-4 off Iwo jima
after their abortive moon flight.
2 May A VC-8 helicopter rescued twenty-six persons
from a Dutch Antillean Airlines DC-9 ditched in the
Caribbean. The helicopter was piloted by Lieutenant
Commander James E. Rylee and Lieutenant (jg)
Donald Hartman; crewmen were ADC William Brazzell
and AD Calvin Lindley.
9 May Approximately 30 U.S. Navy craft, helicopters
and OV-I0 Bronco aircraft participated with the com-
bined South Vietnamese/U.S. Riverine Force in opera-
tions into the Mekong River Corridor to neutralize
sanctuary bases in that area. This followed the initial
series of strikes by combined U.S.-RVN ground forces
against enemy sanctuaries in Cambodia during the first
week of May.
31 May Following Peru's earthquake which took
50,000 lives, injured 100,000 and made 800,000 home-
less, Guam and HMM-365 provided victims with over
200 tons of relief supplies and transported over 1,000
evacuees and medical patients on 800 mercy flights.
Before Guam left the Peruvian coast on 21 June, her
crewmen spent two days in Lima at the invitation of a
grateful Peruvian government.
1 June CVW-4 and -12 were disestablished, followed
by the disestablishment of CVSG-51 on 30 June.
9 June Sikorsky pilot James R. Wright and copilot
Colonel Henry Hart, USMC, flying a Marine Corps CH-
53D, established a New York, N.Y., to Washington,
D.C., record for helicopters of 156.43 mph with an
elapsed time of 1 hour, 18 minutes and 41.4 seconds
from downtown to downtown. The following day they
established a New York, N.Y., to Boston, Mass., record
for helicopters of 162.72 mph with a city to city time
of 1 hour, 9 minutes, 23.9 seconds.
30 June As a result of reductions in force levels,
personnel on duty in the naval aeronautical organiza-
tion at the end of the fiscal year, in round numbers,
included a grand total of 162,600 with 25,900 officers
of whom 14,500 were pilots. Enlisted men numbered
135,900 of whom 22 were pilots. Respective figures for
Marine Aviation were: 72,000 total; 9,900 officers of
whom 5,700 were pilots; 62,000 enlisted men and 4
1 July Naval Air Systems Command Liaison Office,
Dayton, Ohio, was disestablished. This marked the end
of an office that had its beginning in October 1920,
when the Navy detailed an aviation officer to McCook
Field to observe and report on experimental work.