HISTORY - ACCOUNTS - Harry Black|
MCAS El Toro
In April 1958, myself and three other 2nd Lts. were transferred to VMF-251 from
VMA-311 at MCAS El Toro. I don't remember all the names.
One was John Kretsinger who subsequently became a Blue Angel. We were only fresh
out of the training command and there was some discussion as to whether or not
very young pilots should be allowed to fly the Marine Corps prize supersonic
aircraft, the Crusader.
Early in May 1958, for no particular reason, I was the first young 2 lt. to fam
in the A/C. I took off chased by a pilot from VMF-334 who had received their
aircraft earlier then we had.
Climbing through about twenty thousand feet at .94 mach there was a huge noise
and the next thing you know, I was coming down in a parachute that had large
holes ripped in it because the high speed had blown the chute out before it was
The A/C, still in afterburner went down in the Elliot National Forest, just east
of Camp Pendelton. I landed on the slope of hill among some cactus and soon
there was a helicopter from Santa Ana Lighter that Air overhead.
The instructor pilot climbed down off the landing gear and he came over and cut
me out the remains of my chute. The next thing you know, the helicopter stalled
and came down practically on our heads. Ultimately the three of us rode back to
El Toro in a state trooper's car.
The squadron trained in El Toro and then we took it to Atsugi, Japan. We had a
wonderful group of guys and enjoyed our time together very much.