Larry C. Wahl
3rd Year Trustee - Navy
I joined the Navy in 1960, went to flight school in 1965 and earned my wings in 1967. I deployed, to the Tonkin Gulf in Helicopter Squadron-8 aboard the USS Bennington, in 1968 flying H-3 helicopters. I then transitioned to the A-7E with VA-25 for another combat cruise flying missions into North and south Vietnam and Laos during 1970 and 1971, This was the 1st of 1 A-7E tours. My next assignment was to VMA-513 to fly AV-8A Harriers as an exchange pilot with the USMC. We frequently flew from the USS Guam testing shipboard procedures and operations. I later joined the 8th Escuadrilla of the Spanish Navy to train them in Harrier and shipboard operations while stationed in Rota, Spain. I later became Operations Officer for NAS Point Magu where I worked for the White House Military Office and had responsibility for ensuring the safe arrival and uneventful departures of Air Force One and Marine One for President Reagan's trips to the Western White House. I was fortunate to fly for 21 of my 23 year career in a variety of aircraft. This is very rare. I accumulated some 800 hours arrested and shipboard landing in several different aircraft on ships such as the USS Lexington, Bennington, Ranger, FDR, Kitty Hawk, America, Enterprise, Guam, Coronado, New Hersey, Long Beach, Oklahoma City, Chicago and the SNS Dedalo and HMS Bulwark among others.
Perhaps, and in hindsight, the most rewarding elements of my Navy career were the gorgeous and beautiful sunrises and sunsets I witnessed all over the U.S. and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The sheer beauty of an Aurora Borealis as seen from north of the artic Circle is unequaled. Although becoming a Blue Nose does not compare to the hilarious and hideous experience of becoming a shellback. Hovering next to a huge iceberg has no equal nor does AAA in the night or facing mortality as a passenger trapped in a submerged helicopter. Some things stay with us for ever. A career in naval aviation produces the most vivid memories; of catapult shots into the black and foggy night, the trap back aboard using only lights of the meatball, line-up and Angle of Attack and the beautiful sunlit daytime cats and traps. It doesn't get any better and I have been very fortunate.