HISTORY - ACCOUNTS - Craig Player|
In my two years at 251, the most memorable events were
the loss of two F4J on a deployment to Turkey. Dick Lamers (RIO) and 1/lt Ayers
(pilot) jumped out of one either in Spain or the Azores (I saw Lamers name in
the lists). The other occurred in Sigonella, Sicily, where an F4J piloted by 1/lt
Bill (?) Woods stalled in the pattern. Woods was killed as was his RIO and one
of my best friends in the Marines, Capt Robert W.(Jake) Jacobs. Jet Jacobs was
one of the most outstanding men and Marine I have ever met. His best friends
were Lt Scott D Ketchie, USMC, an A6 BN, shot down in Laos and still MIA to my
knowledge, and Capt Ron Gilbert USMC, an RF4C backseater. The three were all
from Birmingham, AL.
I was a RIO and usually flew with an Air Force exchange pilot from Buffalo, NY,
Capt Terry Glavin, USAF. Terry was an exceptional pilot but had a hard time
getting used to our "kick the tire light the fire" attitude. He had won a DFC in
RVN when he found an NVA battalion in the open in Laos while in an F4G. He
pretty much decimated them as the citation reads. He perished in an F101 Voodoo
fire at Whiting AFB while with the NYANG in the 70's.
251 did deploy several times to Key West and had hot pad duty, but it was 451
that flew the first mission there when the Cubans sank the 2 fishing boats in
the Straits of Florida in 72-73 (not sure of the times). Oddly enough, when 451
scrambled 4 F4J's to Key West, it is my recollection that of the 4 planes, only
one Aim-9 Sidewinder would tune. I was in one of the 4 planes. Not a good
feeling knowing you couldn't shoot.
I served under CO's Major Joe Byram and later Lt/Col W.C. Service. Col Service
was a good and honorable man, but 72 and 73 were not good years for 251.
I left the Marines while with 251 in November of 1973.