Logo by LT Charles “Wingnut” Wickware

Gulf of Tonkin Incident Reunion

Fist of the Fleet Association was proud to sponsor the reunion of three former VA-144 naval aviators who last flew together on August 4 & 5, 1964 from USS Constellation, CV-64 in the Gulf of Tonkin. The event took place at NAS Lemoore, CA on September 16 & 17, 2019 and was hosted by the Commanding Officer, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific and NAS Lemoore. The reunion was very memorable for all who attended and especially for the three honorees Capt John “Nick” Nicholson, CDR Everett Alvarez, Jr. and CDR Ron Boch.

LT Ron Boch, LTJG Everett Alvarez, Jr. and LCDR John “Nick” Nicholson 8/4/1964

Everett, “Nick” and Ron 9/16/2019 NASL

Latest Edition: Spring 2020

At the NTC/RTC in San Diego in the summer of 1974 we were given a training session on NBC Warfare: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical. The training was in fact almost completely useless. There was nothing on prevention or recovery, and precious little on mitigation of effects. For the nuclear portion we were shown a film on a ships’ water wash down system and told to get rid of our clothes and take a shower. This was about as useful as the “duck and cover” drills I went through in school in the 60’s. “A nuclear engagement is survivable” Really? In 1978 during Refresher Training on Ranger someone came on the 1MC and said “Nuclear Explosion 500 yards to starboard. Take a brace!” Let’s assume a 10 kiloton* warhead detonated at 1500 ft.: At 500 yards in the first few milliseconds everyone exposed on deck would have been vaporized, the pressure wave would have swept the flight- and exposed weather decks clear, destroyed the island and probably compromised the starboard side of the hull. The fireball would have engulfed the ship and anyone deep in the hull would have either drowned or died of radiation poisoning within 36 hours. There would have been no time for commands of any sort. The Chemical training only discussed the differences in the various agents: irritants, nerve agents, blister-inducing and so on, and again we were told to wash off exposed skin with fresh water. At the end of the training session we were put in a room in small groups wearing gas masks and they released a 10% concentration of CS (tear) gas into the room and after a few moments we had to pull off our masks. My eyes watered, my nose ran, my face was irritated and my chest felt constricted. After a few moments of this we left the room and the next batch of dumb-ass recruits was led inside. I don’t remember if anyone puked but I would not be surprised if they had. As far as Biological agents not a whole lot of time was spent on the subject. I don’t recall any specific mention of the various pathogens such as Anthrax or plagues. *The Hiroshima bomb was estimated to be 12-14 kt.


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