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Diary Entry: October 14, 1945

First Entry

The scheduled flight time was 0800 hours. A thick cloud cover had rolled in from the east, bringing with it a slight drizzle and high seas. I never liked flying when choppy. It's hard enough landing on a speck in the ocean to begin with, but landing on a seesawing speck is especially challenging.


I'm not certain, but fairly sure the cliché Murphy's Law was probably coined because of my CO, (commander) addressed as, according to protocol, LT Commander Paul Ulysses Murphy, but behind bulkheads commonly referred to as CMDR "P.U." which I'm sure he pretty much detested. Most superiors in my command chain are great to work for and easy to respect, but “by the book” P.U. wasn't one of them. His style of over-the-shoulder micromanagement was a pain. Always looking for your fault and never giving praise. Takes its toll after a while. I'm pretty sure he knows most of us wish he'd get reassigned.


Anyhow, it seemed like Murphy's Law was behind schedule. Things have been running too smoothly of late, so I can only assume today was one of those overdue days. And I can testify the Murphy law works hand in hand with the "bad things happen in 3's" cliché too. I was on a textbook approach: flaps down, airspeed perfect, a slight but manageable crosswind and my gut in knots as I watched the deck wildly pitch up and down in front of me. My timing was slightly off, and the deck slammed up into my wheels, causing me to lurch forward on the stick in unison with my tail-hook grabbing and stopping me on a dime. This caused my nose to plunge down into the deck, bending the props and leaving my tail stuck in the air―the perfect position for by-the-book, P.U. to chew it off.

Ten minutes later I was on my way to face the music waiting for me in the Ready Room. Over the years I've seen some interesting cigar smoke tricks but never once have I seen this one; LT Commander Murphy stood there, his face was fire red with an unlit stogie pinched between his clenched teeth and smoke pouring out of his ears... well, not really, but it makes my diary entry more interesting to read.


For the next ten minutes I heard lots of choice words, but for the life of me I only remember three of them; “You're grounded, Lt.” Dismissed on those words, I did not leave the room with my tail between my legs, as I did not have one left. Stepping through the hatch, I saw my buddy, Lt Mark “Moose” Conroy, leaning against the outside bulkhead grinning at me with the thumbs up signal. I flashed him back a different signal and went to my quarters to, (not really), write on the chalkboard a hundred times the other words I seemed to recall CMDR P.U. shouting; "We do not bend over and lift our skirts in the air and smash our noses onto Uncle Sam's deck."

Diary Entry: October 14, 1945

Second Entry.

As I write this, I do so with the second grin of the day, as white as my Naval dress uniform and as wide as my F4U Corsair wingspan. Not two hours have passed since my nose date with the deck when I found myself standing outside the bridge holding on to the railing and watching Moose make the same textbook approach I had made earlier. Yes, fortune does shine on those deserving. Murphy struck again. Moose managed to mangle his nose into the deck too, but wait, it gets even better. Right behind him on approach was none other than my very own CO, LT CMDR Murphy himself. I have to say, up until this point in my career, I'd never hoped for a fellow pilot to crash his plane. Okay, I still would not ever want that but come on... a little fender bender would be okay. Wouldn't it?


As Lady Luck would have it, she shined on me again through the drizzle as Commander Murphy's tail-hook grabbed at the same time the deck smashed upwards into his landing gear and his nose met the deck too―or should I say three? Ha Ha.


I raced down to the ready room and stood outside leaning against the bulkhead. I had to wait less than 5 minutes before Moose and P.U. came around the corner. As they both approached, I stiffened to attention, lifting my chin high, sucking in my gut, and throwing back my shoulders. I just stared straight ahead with the first of two smiles for the day. Somehow, I just knew it wouldn't be the last...




DeForest Shields

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