Wonder what flight pay was back then???
Point of interest...about 3 minutes 20 seconds into the clip, you will see
an F6F Hellcat, it's hydraulics shot away during a strafing run, pancake on
the carrier deck and slew into the island. A deckhand was crushed between
the aircraft and the superstructure and killed. The number on the plane is
The lanky pilot sitting dazed in the cockpit is a gentleman named Andy
Cowan. He is hale and hearty at 87 and lives just north of Salinas, Ca. To
this day he cannot recall this accident without a tear coming to his eye.
The swabby who was killed was his crew chief.
Andy is a marvel. He has absolute total recall of those bygone days. He is
regularly invited back to the Naval War College to give a power point
demonstration to the young fighter jocks of today's Navy. They hang on his
every word. A living link to the past... to the days when you got up close and
personal to kill the enemy. No over-the-horizon missile kills...
Andy was the longest serving Navy fighter pilot in WWII. He was on his
shakedown cruise off Gitmo on December 7th, 1941. The carrier Ranger made
flank speed to Norfolk and the pilots were transhipped to San Francisco by
train, then sped to Hawaii by ship. He saw Pearl not long after the sneak
attack, and again is unable to speak of it... a horrible disaster. He
immediately went aboard the Lexington and in the course of the war had 4
carriers shot out from under hi m as he fought in every major Pacific battle.
Coral Sea, Midway, Battle of Santa Cruz, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima... you name
it. Credited with 4.5 kills. Flew with Butch O'Hare, Cmdr Thatch (inventor
of the 'Thatch Weave'), flew with high scoring ace David McCampbell... served under Admirals Nimitiz, Bull Halsey...
He has studied the Japanese side of the Pacific War and is a recognized
expert on their side of it. He can reel off the names of all their capital
ships and admirals and battles from memory. Remarkable man... and still alive
to tell the tale...