The Naval Aviator
Article and illustration donated to the NASFL by member Gary Kilbride.
He has been called by many names: The boy who never grew up;
A size nine head in a size seven cap; A dirty shirt, a fifth of whiskey,
And an uncontrollable sex urge; One of those idiots who fly off a postage stamp;
And on rare occasions, the nation's first line of defense.
He has been found on exchange duty with the French and Royal Flying Service,
On anti-submarine patrols and convoy escorts during World War I
Supporting Army and Marine operations during the "Banana Wars"
In Marine Green flying, fighting, winning and dying
At Wake Island and Henderson Field on Guadalcanal,
Turning the tide of war from Navy carriers at Midway,
The Coral, Philippine and Japanese seas;
Risking his life from "Jeep" carriers in the North Atlantic,
To the invasions of North Africa, Italy, Sicily and France.
Being the first to carry the war to the aggressors in Korea
And involved in every major operation in that action; Then carrying the fight
To the would be conquerors in Vietnam and all of Southeast Asia.
Making the Tonkin Bay Yacht Club one of the most exclusive
and honored groups in the world.
The first American into space
The first American into orbit
And the first man on the moon.
You will find him where the action is— from the South China sea
To the wilds of South America, to the storm tossed Atlantic,
To the blue of the Mediterranean, to the empty wastes of the moon.
The names with which he associated are watchwords
Of American's proud history-- Langley, Yorktown, Enterprise,
Midway, Forrestal, Freedom VII, Intrepid, Yankee Clipper,
Warrior— Yes. Warlike— No.
Scratch that hard, dedicated exterior and you'll find the biggest softy in the world. He always has time to help. His capacity for lending a hand to the less fortunate is probably the only thing that exceeds his bent for a good time. Check him closely and you'll more than likely find a tear in his eye at a Little League baseball game. He is tough, but he cares. No rocket will replace him. No American can do without him. You may not appreciate him but you can't ignore him. You may heap abuse on him and call him names, but the next time you need him, he'll be there. And though he may not understand why, he will keep his dedication, his courage, his desire to serve.
After all, he is a Naval Aviator.
Presented to Harold W. King
upon his retirement.