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VA-164 Ghost Riders

VA-164 Ghost Riders

Point of Contact - Squadron Duty Officer (SDO)

Refer to the CONTACT LIST under "THE ASSOCIATION" drop down menu.


Patch courtesy of Richard W. Hamon


The VA-164 pages are dedicated to
Lieutenant Commander Dick Perry, USN
and
Mrs. Jessie Beck


Patch
  • May 24, 1961, the VA-164 patch was selected.

Handle
  • 1961 to 1975, Ghostriders.

Heritage
  • September 1, 1960, Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-FOUR (VA-164) established.
  • December 12, 1975, Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-FOUR (VA-164) disestablished.

Home Ports
  • September 1, 1960 - - - - Naval Air Station Cecil Field
  • September 26, 1961- - - - Naval Air Station Lemoore

Air Wings
    Date - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Tail code - - - - - - - - Air Wing
  • September 1, 1960 - - - - - - AH - - - - - - CVG-16 / CVW-16*
  • March 1, 1968 - - - - - - - - NP - - - - - - CVW-21
  • *CVG-16 was redesignated CVW-16 when Carrier Air Groups (CVG) were redesignated Carrier Air Wings (CVW) on December 20, 1963

Deployments
    Date Departure & Return - - - - - Air Wing - Carrier - Aircraft - Area of Operation:
  • 06-07-62 to 12-17-62 - CVG-16 - CVA 34 - A4D-2 - Western Pacific
  • 08-01-63 to 03-10-64 - CVW-16 - CVA 34 - A-4B - Western Pacific
  • 04-05-65 to 12-16-65 - CVW-16 - CVA 34 - A-4E - Western Pacific/Vietnam
  • 05-26-66 to 11-16-66 - CVW-16 - CVA 34 - A-4E - Western Pacific/Vietnam
  • 06-16-67 to 01-31-68 - CVW-16 - CVA 34 - A-4E - Western Pacific/Vietnam
  • 07-18-68 to 03-03-69 - CVW-21 - CVA 19 - A-4E - Western Pacific/Vietnam
  • 08-02-69 to 04-15-70 - CVW-21 - CVA 19 - A-4F - Western Pacific/Vietnam
  • 10-22-70 to 06-03-71 - CVW-21 - CVA 19 - A-4F - Western Pacific/Vietnam
  • 01-07-72 to 10-03-72 - CVW-21 - CVA 19 - A-4F & TA-4F - Western Pacific/Vietnam
  • 05-08-73 to 01-08-74 - CVW-21 - CVA 19 - A-4F & TA-4F - Western Pacific/IO
  • 03-18-75 to 10-20-75 - CVW-21 - CV 19 - A-4F & TA-4F - Western Pacific

Aircraft
Commanding Officers
  • August 20, 1945 - - - - - LT Benjamin T. Pugh (acting)
  • September 1, 1960 - - - - CDR Harlan D. Williams
  • September 5, 1961 - - - - CDR Lloyd W. Moffit
  • October 1962- - - - - - - CDR C. A. Banks, Jr.
  • September 21, 1963- - - - CDR R. M. Netherland
  • August 28, 1964 - - - - - CDR J. W. Roberts
  • July 24, 1965 - - - - - - CDR John D. Shaw
  • June 26, 1966 - - - - - - CDR Paul H. Engel
  • May 31, 1967- - - - - - - CDR Douglas F. Mow
  • July 4, 1968- - - - - - - CDR William F. Span
  • July 18, 1969 - - - - - - CDR Roy V. Hagberg
  • July 24, 1970 - - - - - - CDR George L. Boaz
  • July 8, 1971- - - - - - - CDR Ramsay (N) Lawson
  • July 1, 1972- - - - - - - CDR Stanley R. Arthur
  • June 15, 1973 - - - - - - CDR Fred J. Gosebrink
  • May 30, 1974- - - - - - - CDR Frederick P. Meyers

Events
  • September 1, 1960:
    Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-FOUR (VA-164) established at Naval Air Station Cecil Field, Florida. The Ghost Riders were assigned the Douglas A4D-2 / A-4B Skyhawk.

  • November 14, 1961
    Lt. (jg) Richard S. Linn ejected safely when his A4D-2 BuNo 144887 flamed out on a routine practice bombing run at the special weapons instrumental range at MCAS Yuma.
    Yuma, AZ The Yuma Daily Sun article

  • June 7, 1962 through December 17, 1962:
    The Ghost Riders flying the A-4B Skyhawk first deployment on United States Ship Oriskany CVA 34. This cruise was to Western Pacific.

  • August 1, 1963 through March 10, 1964:
    The Ghost Riders flying the A-4B Skyhawk second deployment on United States Ship Oriskany CVA 34. This cruise was to Western Pacific.

  • March 13, 1964:
    The Ghost Riders were assigned the Douglas A-4E Skyhawk.

  • June 10, 1964
    Ens. Fredrick X. Bir perished when A-4E BuNo 151053 crashed on a training flight at China Lake.
    Corpus Christi, TX Corpus Christi Times article
    Reno, NV Reno Evening Gazette article

  • February 27, 1965
    Lt. J.L. Burton ejected from A-4E BuNo 151171 following a mid-air collision with a F-8E off USS Oriskany during exercise Silver Lance, 230 southwest of San Diego. Burton was rescued uninjured .
    Pasadena, CA Independent article

  • April 4, 1965 through December 16, 1965:
    The Ghost Riders flying the A-4E Skyhawk third deployment on United States Ship Oriskany CVA 34. This was the Ghost Rider's first combat cruise to Western Pacific/Vietnam.

  • May 5, 1965 through July 1965:
    The Ghost Riders of VA-164 it flew close air support missions in South Vietnam.

  • September 6, 1965:
    Lieutenant J. L. Burton in A-4E BuNo. 152042 side number AH 475 was shot down by triple A, over North Vietnam. Lieutenant Burton was rescued.

  • 24 OCT 1965:
    LCDR Weichman of VA-164 participated in several strikes in the Hanoi-Haiphong area, including the MiG base at Phuc Yen. He received the Silver Star for a mission on 24 OCT when he led eight planes tasked with missile suppression ahead of the major strike against Phuc Yen. He began a low-level run for a loft delivery of one of his Shrike anti-radar missiles. His target was an occupied missile battery. During his successful attack, which took out he site, his A-4 (151194) sustained many hits from flak as well as from several SAM launches. The determined aviator headed for one of the missile launch areas, this time dealing with heavy 85mm flak. SAMs wer also passing him from nearly every direction, their explosions occasionally sending shrapnel into his jet, knocking out the radio and navigational equipment. Finally, with A-4 threatening to shake itself apart, he headed bck toward the water, all the while threading his way through the flak. He recovered aboard the Oriskany, his Skyhawk showing more than 140 holes.

  • October 31, 1965:
    Lieutenant Commander T. R. Powers in A-4E BuNo. 151173 side number AH 466 was shot down by triple A, over North Vietnam. Lieutenant Commander Powers survived the ejection and was captured by the North Vietnamese and was murdered by the North Vietnamese while in captivity. He was awarded the Navy Cross.

  • November 7, 1965:
    Commander J. D. Shaw, VA-164, Commanding Officer, was awarded the Silver Star for successfully leading a strike against a North Vietnamese SAM site.

  • February 2, 1966:
    Lt(jg) Larry S. Mettler perished in A-4E BuNo 151157 in a night launch from USS Constellation 45 miles northwest of San Diego, CA.
    Albuquerque, NM, Albuquerque Journal, Friday, February 4, 1966.

  • May 26, 1966 through November 16, 1966:
    The Ghost Riders flying the A-4E Skyhawk fourth deployment on United States Ship Oriskany CVA 34. This was the Ghost Rider's second combat cruise to Western Pacific/Vietnam.

  • July 28, 1966:
    Ensign G. P. McSwain in A-4E BuNo. 152077 side number AH 407 was shot down by a SAM, over North Vietnam. Ensign McSwain survived the ejection and was captured by the North Vietnamese.

  • August 25, 1966:
    A-4E BuNo. 152084 was lost in non-combat. The pilot was killed.

  • August 26, 1966:
    A-4E BuNo. 152093 was lost in non-combat. The pilot was rescued.

  • October 12, 1966:
    Lieutenant F. C. Elkins in A-4E BuNo. 152075 side number AH 411 was shot down by a SAM, over North Vietnam. Lieutenant Elkins remains were never recovered and he is listed among those missing in Vietnam.

  • October 26, 1966:
    A major fire broke out in United States Ship Oriskany on Yankee Station. VA-164 lost four officers in the fire.

  • June 16, 1967 through January 31, 1968:
    Flying the A-4E Skyhawk, The Ghost Riders' fifth deployment on USS Oriskany CVA 34. This was the Ghost Rider's third combat cruise to Western Pacific/Vietnam.
    Thesis by LCDR Peter Fey U.S.N. on events JUN 1967 to JAN 1968.

  • July 14, 1967:
    Lieutenant Junior Grade L. J. Cunningham in A-4E BuNo. 152049 side number AH 407 was shot down by triple A, over North Vietnam. Ltjg. Cunningham was rescued.

  • July 18, 1967:
    Lieutenant Commander R. D. Hartman in A-4E BuNo. 151986 side number AH 404 was shot down by triple A, over North Vietnam. Lieutenant Commander Hartman survived the ejection and was captured by the North Vietnamese and died (killed) while in captivity.
    An HS-2 rescue chopper and her aircrew, LT Dennis Peterson, ENS Donald Frye, AX2 William Jackson and AX2 Donald McGrane, were lost attempting to rescue Cmdr. Hartman. Their remains were laid to rest in Arlington National Cematary May 2, 2013.
    CDR Wayne W. Andrews, USN - Executive Officer, HSC-22 Sea Knights

  • July 18, 1967:
    Lieutenant Junior Grade L. J. Duthie in A-4E BuNo. 151175 side number AH 415 was shot down by triple A, over North Vietnam. Ltjg. Duthie was rescued.

  • July 18, 1967:
    Lieutenant Junior Grade B. T. Wood in A-4E BuNo. 152034 side number AH 401 was shot down by triple A, over North Vietnam. Ltjg. Wood was rescued.

  • August 31, 1967:
    Lieutenant Commander R. C. Perry in A-4E BuNo. 151991 side number AH 402 was shot down by a SAM, over North Vietnam. Lieutenant Commander Perry was Killed In Action.

  • October 7, 1967:
    Lieutenant David L. Hodges in A-4E BuNo. 152086 side number AH 413 was shot down by a SAM about twelve miles southwest of Hanoi., Lieutenant Hodges was Killed In Action. VA 164 pilot Lieutenant David L. Hodges remains were never recovered and he is listed among those missing in Vietnam.

  • October 9, 1967:
    Lieutenant Junior Grade L. J. Cunningham in A-4E BuNo. 152085 side number AH 416 was shot down by triple A, over North Vietnam. Ltjg. Cunningham was rescued.

  • October 18, 1967:
    Lieutenant Commander J. F. Barr in A-4E BuNo. 152048 side number AH 402 was shot down by triple A, over North Vietnam. Lieutenant Commander Barr was Killed In Action.

  • October 1967:
    Commander D. F. Mow, VA-164's commanding officer, was awarded the Silver Star for combat over North Vietnam.

  • November 2, 1967:
    Lieutenant Junior Grade F. W. Knapp in A-4E BuNo. 151985 side number AH 414 was shot down by triple A, over North Vietnam. Ltjg. Knapp was Killed In Action.

  • January 1, 1968:
    A-4E BuNo. 151133 was lost in non-combat. The pilot was rescued.

  • January 11, 1968:
    Lieutenant Commander D. R. Weichman in A-4E BuNo. 151152 side number AH 404 was shot down by triple A, over Laos. Lieutenant Commander Weichman was rescued.
    Thesis by LCDR Peter Fey U.S.N. on events JUN 1967 to JAN 1968.
    The "Military Channel" has aired a program that covers the actions of the USS Oriskany during the above time frame. It is titled "Hugging the Deck".

  • July 18, 1968 through February 3, 1969:
    The Ghost Riders flying the A-4E Skyhawk sixth deployment on United States Ship Hancock CVA 19. This was the Ghost Rider's fourth combat cruise to Western Pacific/Vietnam.

  • October 2, 1968:
    Cdr. Donald Edward Erwin KIA in A-4E BuNo. 151126 side number NP 411, shot down by triple A, over North Vietnam and hung bombs exploded when he ejected. Rescue attempted by USS Turner HC-7 Seadevils Det. 110 SH-3A Sea King 18.5 miles, 354⁰ from Vinh, 200 yards off shore, among a fleet of fishing boats.

  • February 8, 1969:
    A-4E BuNo.151103 was lost during a launch aboard CVA-19. LCDR Roger A. Meyers went immediately into the water without a chance to eject. It was his last flight of the cruise. His plane was carrying phosphorus flairs which created a dome of light off the stern of the Hancock.

  • April 6, 1969:
    The Ghost Riders were assigned the A-4F Douglas Skyhawk.

  • August 2, 1969 through April 15, 1970:
    The Ghost Riders flying the A-4F Skyhawk seventh deployment on United States Ship Hancock CVA 19. This was the Ghost Rider's fifth combat cruise to Western Pacific/Vietnam.

  • February 10, 1970:
    An unidentified pilot perished in A-4F BuNo. 155023 which was lost landing at Da Nang, South Vietnam. The aircraft over-ran the runway and flipped inverted.
    Gastonia, NC The Gastonia Gazette, Tuesday, February 10, 1970

  • October 22, 1970 through April 15, 1971:
    The Ghost Riders flying the A-4F Skyhawk eighth deployment on United States Ship Hancock CVA 19. This was the Ghost Rider's sixth combat cruise to Western Pacific/Vietnam.

  • January 26, 1971:
    Commanding Officer, Commander George Boaz, United States Navy, was on the angle deck elevator 2 firing up his A-4F Skyhawk. After applying external power, attaching the "huffer" hose, and completing all the necessary control surface checks the Skipper's Skyhawk went "down" for a secure communication failure. The Ghost Rider spare was Lieutenant Junior Grade Gerald Carter, United States Navy Reserve.

    Thus Lieutenant Carter taxied A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 154980 forward to the port catapult, hooked up and went to tension. With 100% thrust Carter saluted for the catapult shot. Half way down the cat-track, one of the bridle hooks catastrophically failed. Lieutenant Carter had the immediate foresight to pull his emergency jettison handle; there were six olive drab streaks on the flight deck where his MK-82 bomb load slid across the cat-track non-skid paint and over the side. The Ghost Rider Skyhawk dribbled over the side and down into the sea where the carrier ran over the sinking Skyhawk.

    Lieutenant Junior Grade Gerald Carter, United States Navy Reserve did not survive the accident. Though this crash was technically classified an "operational accident," it still hit home to the plane captains, ordnance men and other flight deck crew as Lieutenant Carter had be-friended the men in the line division. Although shy and quiet, Lieutenant Carter exemplified many of the positive values described by the Admiral at the end of "The Bridges at Toko-Ri" when describing the character, Lieutenant Brubacker. We will not forget Lieutenant Junior Grade Gerald Carter, United States Navy Reserve.
    John R. Nelson (former) VA-164 AT-AN

  • August 8, 1972:
    The Ghost Riders were assigned two TA-4F Skyhawk. BuNos 154325 and 153491 were transferred from the Marines, having previously been used for the "Playboy" FAC misson in SEPT 1970. These two "T Birds" were used to "paint" the target with a hand-held laser for A-4Fs that were equipped with the"Laser Spot Tracker" in their noses. This provided the capability to launch and guide laser-guided bombs to a target. The Navy's hand-held laser designator was put in the hands of the person occupying the 2nd seat of the TA-4F.

  • January 7, 1972 through October 3, 1972:
    The Ghost Riders flying the A-4F and TA-4F Skyhawk ninth deployment on United States Ship Hancock CVA 19. This was the Ghost Rider's seventh combat cruise to Western Pacific/Vietnam.

  • May 8, 1973 through January 8, 1974:
    The Ghost Riders flying the A-4F and TA-4F Skyhawk tenth deployment on United States Ship Hancock CVA 19. This Ghost Rider cruise was to Western Pacific/Vietnam.

  • June 1973:
    VA-164 flew in Operation End Sweep, the clearing of mines in the territorial waters of North Vietnam.

  • March 18, 1975 through October 20, 1975:
    The Ghost Riders flying the A-4F and TA-4F Skyhawk eleventh deployment on United States Ship Hancock CVA 19. This Ghost Rider cruise was to Western Pacific/Vietnam.

  • December 12, 1975:
    Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-FOUR (VA-164) was disestablished at Naval Air Station Lemoore.

Awards
    Award - - - - - - - - - Inclusive Dates:
  • Navy Unit Commendation
    • 10 May 1965 to 06 Dec 1965
    • 12Jun 1966 to 01 Nov 1966
    • 14 Jul 1967 to 12 Jan 1968
    • 01 Aug 1968 to 22 Feb 1969
    • 08 Feb 1972 to 14 Sep 1972
  • NAVE
    • 01 Jul 1971 to 31 Dec 1972
  • AFEM
    • 05 Sep 1963 to 13 Sep 1963
    • 03 Nov 1963 to 08 Nov 1963
    • 07 May 1965 to 02 Jun 1965
    • 10 Jun 1965 to 03 Jul 1965
    • 17 Sep 1965 to 18 Sep 1965
    • 02 Dec 1968 to 04 Dec 1968
    • 30 Oct 1969
    • 03 Jan 1970 to 08 Jan 1970
    • 22 Feb 1970 to 25 Feb 1970
  • MUC
    • 21 Aug 1969 to 31 Mar 1970
    • 20 Nov 1970 to 07 May 1971
  • RVNGC
    • 02 Oct 1965
    • 30 Oct 1965
    • 01 Nov 1965
    • 03 Nov 1965
    • 07 Nov 1965
    • 11 Nov 1965 to 12 Nov 1965
    • 06 Jul 1966 to 07 Jul 1966
    • 26 Sep 1968
    • 29 Sep 1968
    • 09 Oct 1968 to 11 Oct 1968
    • 13 Oct 1968
    • 02 Nov 1968
    • 07 Nov 1968 to 08 Nov 1968
    • 10 Nov 1968 to 11 Nov 1968
    • 13 Nov 1968 to 19 Nov 1968
    • 21 Nov 1968 to 26 Nov 1968
    • 21 Dec 1968 to 24 Dec 1968
    • 26 Dec 1968 to 28 Dec 1968
    • 30 Dec 1968
    • 01 Jan 1969 to 03 Jan 1969
    • 07 Jan 1969 to 14 Jan 1969
    • 31 Jan 1969 to 08 Feb 1969
    • 01 Aug 1969 to 01 Sep 1969
    • 30 Mar 1972 to 15 Jul 1972
  • VNSM
    • 04 Jul 1965 to 18 Jul 1965
    • 09 Aug 1965 to 11 Sep 1965
    • 30 Sep 1965 to 19 Oct 1965
    • 28 Oct 1965 to 27 Nov 1965
    • 29 Jun 1966 to 29 Jul 1966
    • 06 Aug 1966 to 08 Sep 1966
    • 23 Sep 1966 to 26 Oct 1966
    • 13 Jul 1967 to 08 Aug 1967
    • 17 Aug 1967 to 30 Sep 1967
    • 04 Oct 1967 to 03 Nov 1967
    • 19 Nov 1967 to 17 Dec 1967
    • 30 Dec 1967 to 13 Jan 1968
    • 21 Aug 1968 to 04 Sep 1968
    • 13 Sep 1968 to 15 Oct 1968
    • 23 Oct 1968 to 28 Nov 1968
    • 20 Dec 1968 to 15 Jan 1969
    • 29 Jan 1969 to 10 Feb 1969
    • 31 Aug 1969 to 24 Sep 1969
    • 03 Oct 1969 to 27 Oct 1969
    • 24 Nov 1969 to 17 Dec 1969
    • 18 Jan 1970 to 11 Feb 1970
    • 09 Mar 1970 to 26 Mar 1970
    • 19 Nov 1970 to 08 Dec 1970
    • 29 Dec 1970 to 15 Jan 1971
    • 23 Jan 1971 to 20 Feb 1971
    • 09 Mar 1971 to 10 Apr 1971
    • 17 Apr 1971 to 04 May 1971
    • 07 Feb 1972 to 09 Mar 1972
    • 25 Mar 1972 to 02 May 1972
    • 11 May 1972 to 01 Jun 1972
    • 12 Jun 1972 to 14 Jul 1972
    • 24 Jul 1972 to 17 Aug 1972
    • 27 Aug 1972 to 14 Sep 1972

    Photographs


    Circa 1962:
    Ghost Rider AH-411, BuNo 142865.
    From Lt.Col. Mitchell Bell.

    Circa 1962:
    VA-163 BuNo 142827, AH-305; VA-163 AH-304; VA-163 BuNo 142139 and VA-164 BuNo 144904. Aboard the U.S.S. Oriskany during a WestPac Cruise.
    From Lt.Col. Mitchell Bell.

    1962-63 BuNo 142123, AH-407, BuNo 142895, AH-404, BuNo 142127, AH-405 and BuNo 142710, AH-40x.

    A-4B BuNo 142724 with un-retarded Mk-81's.
    Taken at China Lake and is official U.S. Navy dated 7 June 1963.
    Gary Verver Collection.

    07 JUN 1963: Ghost Riders Skyhawks dropping conventional ordnance during the demonstration for JFK at NOTS China Lake. Looks like 18 Mk-81's per Skyhawk.
    U.S. Navy photo

      07 JUN 1963: closer view of Ghost Riders Skyhawks dropping conventional ordnance.
    U.S. Navy photo

    07 JUN 1963: following the ordnance demonstration, JFK thanks the Bluejackets & pilots lined up in front of Ghost Riders Skyhawk AH-407 & China Lake DF-1D Fury BuNo 136064.
    Naval Aviation News Photo

    BuNo 155026, NP-412, parked on the flightline.
    Jim Brady

    Feb 1965 BuNo 151139, AH-410, and AH-486 (above) as they fly over one of the NOTS China Lake ranges.
    Gary Verver Collection

    01 FEB 1965: Ghost Riders Skyhawk BuNo 151139, AH-410, in formation with Ghost Riders BuNo 151180, AH-466.
    U.S. Navy Photo

    01 FEB 1965: Ghost Riders Skyhawk AH-409 over one of the China Lake ranges.
    U.S. Navy Photo

    1965: catapult crew lines up Ghost Riders Skyhawk AH-460 for launch from the Oriskany's flight deck.
    Naval Aviation News Photo.

    Circa 1965:
    VA-164 Skyhawk coming aboard what we believe to be CVA-34 during the 1965 WestPac Cruise.
    Bill Abbitt

    Believed to be 1965 WestPac Cruise, with VA-163 and VA-164 on board. Weather looks fine, but must be some bigger "rollers" out there!
    Bill Abbitt

    15 SEP 1965: Ghost Riders Skyhawk AH-464 as she crosses the Vietnam coastline.
    U.S. Navy Photo

    10 NOV 1965: Ghost Riders Skyhawk BuNo 151180, AH-466, and Skyhawk, AH-462, in formation over the Vietnam countryside.
    U.S. Navy Photo

    1966: Ghost Riders Skyhawk BuNo 151180, AH-466, assigned to LT Dave Hodges taxies forward on the Oriskany. VF-111, AH-101, and VF-162, AH-222, F-8E Crusaders in the background.
    Gary Gottschalk

    1966: A VA-164 A-4E over the ramp of CVA-34.
    Pictures from Wayne Cypress, also see VA-163.

    1966 BuNo 152092, AH-402, and Snakeyes ready for launch from the USS Oriskany port catapult.
    U.S. Navy via Tom Herold.

    VA 164 Skyhawks AH 406, AH 412 & AH 413
    USS Oriskany (CVA-34)
    M-117, 500-pound and 1000-pound bombs line the carrier's flight deck during Vietnam War combat operations in the South China Sea, 21 August 1966. Photographed by PHAA C.B. Vesper. Planes parked nearby include A-4, F-8 and A-1 types.
    Official U.S. Navy Photograph - Photo #: USN 1118303.
    From Gary Verver

    Photo of four VA-164 Skyhawks in formation. Top to bottom they are AH-406 BuNo.152048, AH-104 BuNo.151986, AH-416 BuNo.152085 and AH-411 BuNo.151186. Caption on reverse is:" Air-to-Air of VA-164, A-4E over Sierra Mountains, 3 Feb 1967.
    Official U.S. Navy photo by PHC H. Estes, NAS Lemoore.
    Photo from Don Scott, now in Gary Verver collection.

    BuNo.151194, air-to-air left side view of Ghost Riders Skyhawk, AH-406, en route to a target in North Vietnam. The aircraft is piloted by Cmdr. William F. Span, XO of VA-164.
    U.S. Navy photo by LTJG Nelson.

    21 NOV 1967: An air-to-air left side view of Ghost Riders Skyhawk, BuNo 151194, AH-406, en route to a target in North Vietnam. The aircraft is piloted by Cmdr. William F. Span, XO of VA-164.
    U.S. Navy photo by LTJG Nelson

    "Lady Jessie" A-4E BuNo. 151180 - December 17, 1967.
    A-4E Skyhawk BuNo. 151180 - before 1968
    Ghost Rider AH 466 from the United States Ship Oriskany, rolling in on a target. At this point BuNo. 151180 is no longer in "Lady Jessie" paint.
    Black and white USN photograph courtesy of Rear Admiral Thomas Brown.

    VA-164 Ghost Rider Lady Jessie A-4E BuNo. 151180, side number AH-407 is photographed landing at Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan.
    Photograph by Takahashi.

    Dec 1967 USS Oriskany, CV-34, in port with Carrier Air Wing 16 aboard. VA-164 Ghostriders A-4E Skyhawk on deck at left.
    Photo by Dan Verver.

    "Lady Jessie" A-4E BuNo. 151180 - Early 1968
    Ghost Rider AH 407 in flight, all five stations loaded with bombs. This photograph was probably taken as the Ghost Riders were working up for their last United States Ship Oriskany cruise which ended January 31, 1968.
    Black and white USN photograph courtesy of Harry S. Gann.

    1968: VA-164s (red boomerang) birds are on the port and you’ll note that they all have the electronics hump behind the cockpit. Webmasters note: These A-4Echos have been upgraded with electronics hump. The picture of the Hancock shows me with my arms stretched out over my head between the 2nd and 3rd A4 on the starboard bow.
    Donald Franklin Bedgood VA-163

    1968-69:
    VA-164 Echo about to trap aboard the "Hanna".
    Matthew Figual

    JUL 1968: Ghost Riders Skyhawk, BuNo 151194, NP-405 assigned to LCDR L.B. Massey parked on the ramp.
    Roy Lock

    A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 155022 - 1969
    April 5, 1969, United States Ship Coral Sea CVA 43 stopped at Yokosuka, Japan after completing Southeast Asia operations. The next day Coral Sea off loaded aircraft and VA-153 Blue Tail Flies A-4F BuNo.155022 was transferred to the VA-164 Ghost Riders --- to become the new "LADY JESSIE." The replaced Ghost Rider Skyhawk appears to have been lost October 2, 1968 to triple A, over North Vietnam, killing Commander D. E. Erwin in A-4E BuNo. 151126 side number NP 411.
    Photograph by Masaaki Hayakawa, Webmaster of the Jet Intake Website.

    "Lady Jessie" A-4F BuNo. 155022 - 1969
    Ghost Rider A-4F BuNo. 155022 NP 401, assigned to the United States Ship Hancock CVA 19 pictured on the ramp.
    Color left rear 1/4 photograph by Harry S. Gann.

    1969 - 1970:
    right side view of VA-164 Ghost Riders A-4F Skyhawk BuNo 155033
    , NP-414, on the ramp.
    Photographer unknown.

    "Lady Jessie" A-4F BuNo. 155022- Hawaii - 1969
    "Lady Jessie" is photographed in 1969 as A-4F Skyhawks BuNo. 155029 NP-401 onboard the United States Ship Hancock CVA19. Probable location is Pearl Harbor. This "Scooter" BuNo. 155029 went on to fly with the "Blue Angels" in 1973.
    Photograph provided by Rob Lee.

    Warhorses & Ghost Riders Skyhawks line the Hanna's deck edge. L-r: VA-55 NP-514, VA-164 NP-412, NP-402, NP-411 and Lady Jessie NP-401 which was either BuNo 155018 or 155022.
    Photo from Art Tarver, AQF2, Vf-24 via JR Nelson, 164 SDO.

    A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 155022 - 1970
    Ghost Rider NP 402 from the United States Ship Hancock CVA 19, taking off from Naval Air Station Atsugi, December 18, 1970. 155022 is no longer "Lady Jessie."
    Photograph by Masaaki Hayakawa, Webmaster of the Jet Intake Website.

    A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 155022 - 1970
    Ghost Rider NP 402 from the United States Ship Hancock CVA 19, dirty in the landing attitude for recovery at Naval Air Station Atsugi, December 21, 1970. 155022 is no longer in the "Lady Jessie" paint.
    Color photograph by and courtesy of Takafumi Hiroe of Yokohama, Japan.
    Takafumi Hiroe's website index to his USN aircraft pictures.

    Ghost Riders Skyhawk BuNo 155022, NP-401, "Lady Jessie", parked on the ramp.
    Gary Verver Collection

    A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 155024 - 1970
    Ghost Rider NP 415 from the United States Ship Hancock CVA 19, dirty in the landing attitude for recovery at Naval Air Station Atsugi, December 18, 1970.
    Photograph by Masaaki Hayakawa, Webmaster of the Jet Intake Website.

    1970-71 USS Hancock at Hong Kong.
    VA-164 Ghost Riders Skyhawk NP-414 on deck (left), VA-212 Rampant Raiders Skyhawk (middle) & VA-55 Warhorses Skyhawk (right) on deck while docked in Hong Kong.
    Photo by Jim Polen.

    A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 154210 - 1972
    March 20, 1972 while United States Ship Hancock CVA 19 lay anchored at Yokosuka, Japan A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 154210 side number NP 402 was chained to the Hancock flight deck. An elephant painted on 402's nose indicated missions in Laos. The red box identified Skyhawk BuNo. 154210, NP 402 was assigned to VA-164 Executive Officer Cdr. Stan Arthur (later Admiral Stan Arthur) and this plane was known as the "Bingo King" -- as it liked to Bingo to Da Nang or points south (such as Saigon).
    Photograph by Kazuo Nagata

    A-4F Skyhawk "Lady Jessie" BuNo. 155018 - 1972
    March 20, 1972, VA-164 A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 155018 side number NP 401 "Lady Jessie" pictured in the United States Ship Hancock CVA 19 hangar bay. Hancock was making a port call at Yokosuka, Japan.
    Photograph by Kazuo Nagata

    Date unknown:
    BuNo 154976, in-flight for VA-164.
    Photo from "Boom" Powell.

    A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 154998 - 1972
    March 20, 1972 while United States Ship Hancock CVA 19 lay anchored at Yokosuka, Japan A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 154998 side number NP 403 was chained to the Hancock flight deck. VA-164 A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 155018 side number NP 401 "Lady Jessie" was below in the hangar out of camera range.
    Photograph by Masaaki Hayakawa, Webmaster of the Jet Intake Website.

    A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 155027 - 1972
    March 20, 1972 while United States Ship Hancock CVA 19 lay anchored at Yokosuka, Japan A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 155027 side number NP 414 was chained to the Hancock flight deck. VA-164 A-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 155027 now resides at the Quonset Air Museum at North Kingston, Rhode Island.
    Photograph by Masaaki Hayakawa of the Jet Intake Website.

    1972 USS Hancock Hangar Bay 2 looking forward, Ghost Riders Skyhawk NP-405 in foreground and Rampant Raiders Skyhawk in the background.
    Photo by Jim Polen.

    1972 USS Hancock hangar bay 1 looking aft, VA-164 Ghost Riders Skyhawk NP-414 at right.
    Photo by Jim Polen.

    1972 VA-164 Ghost Riders AE3 Kem "Moe" Muller, AE flight deck troubleshooter in front of Rampant Raiders Skyhawk NP-302.
    Photo by Jim Polen.

    1972 Ghost Riders Skyhawk NP-413 & crew catching some rays on the port wing.
    Photo by Jim Polen.

    1972: VA-164 A-4F aboard USS Hancock in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1972.
    Photo from D. Carroll.

    THE GHOST RIDER SKYHAWK DIAMOND
    Black and white USN photograph courtesy of Rear Admiral Thomas Brown.

    02 Nov 1972 BuNo 155066, NP-404, on final for an arrested landing. Note the laser designator in the nose.
    U.S. Navy Photo.

    FOUR GHOST RIDER SKYHAWKS BREAKING
    Black and white USN photograph courtesy of Rear Admiral Thomas Brown.

    20 July 1974 Ghost Riders Syhawk BuNo 155018, NP-402, parked on the ramp next to a USAF F-104 Starfighter.
    Photo by D. Spering, Gary Verver Collection

    OCT 1974: BuNo 155022, NP-401, "Lady Jessie" parked on the Lemoore flightline.
    Dave Steinbacker

    TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo. 154622 - 1975
    Ghost Rider NP 416 from the USS Hancock, taxiing at NAS Atsugi, August 19, 1975.
    Color photograph by and courtesy of Takafumi Hiroe of Yokohama, Japan.
    From Takafumi Hiroe.

    VA-164 A-4F BuNo. 154991 - 1975
    Ghost Rider BuNo. 154991, side number NP 414 and flight leader in NP 406 take the Atsugi runway for takeoff. The Ghost Riders were then assigned to United States Ship Hancock.
    Photograph by Masaaki Hayakawa, Webmaster of the Jet Intake Website.

    VA-164 A-4F BuNo. 155017
    During the Vietnam War Skyhawks flew more defence suppression missons than any other types of Navy aircraft. This A-4F of Va-164 at NAS Lemoore on 17 November 1972 carries a practice AGM-45A Shrike anti-radiation missile beneath its starboard wing. The "Ghost Riders" had just returned From their seventh war cruise during which, operating from the USS Hancock (CVA-19), they had lost six A-4Fs in combat and one in an operational accident. Two pilots were missing and two were taken prisoner of war; the three other pilots were recovered.

    BuNo 155028, NP-415, and BuNo 155066, NP-404.
    Photo by Arnie Soderman, Gary Verver Collection

    BuNo 155028, NP-415, and BuNo 155066, NP-404, over the Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge.
    Photo by Arnie Soderman, Gary Verver Collection

    JUN 1975: BuNo 154991, NP-414, parked on the ramp.
    Bruce Trombecky


    Off-Duty Info


    VA-163/164 2007 Reunion

    Here is another VA-146 site.


    Sources:
    • Admiral Thomas Brown, USN (Ret)
    • Cdr. John C. Davis, USN (Ret)
    • Harry S. Gann
    • Richard W. Hamon
    • Masaaki Hayakawa
    • Takafumi Hiroe
    • Cdr. Lance B. Massey, USN (Ret)
    • Mike W. Mullane
    • John R. Nelson
    • Capt. Donald "Super" Snyder, USN (Ret)
    • Tailhook Association

    The VA-164 Ghost Rider Web Pages are dedicated to:
    Lieutenant Commander Dick Perry, USN
    and
    Mrs. Jessie Beck


    Lieutenant Commander Richard C. Perry, USN
    a VA-164 Ghost Rider


    A beloved shipmate, a victim of war.
    Photo courtesy of Mike W. Mullane




    "Stopping by Carlin, Nevada" first appeared on page 15 of "The Hook: Journal of Carrier Aviation" Spring 1988. It is offered here in it's latest form (May 15, 2002) with permission of author CDR John C. Davis, USN (Ret).

    STOPPING BY CARLIN

    Cruising along the desert interstate I almost passed it by. The town was some distance away, towards the middle of the valley where its lifeblood, the railroad, lay abreast the Humboldt. The river, of course, had been a gentle grade and source of water for the emigrants and steam giants of eras past. The town was not as prosperous now as it must have been in those days. The houses were mostly workmen's bungalows with asphalt siding; there were a few small stores, and a small school. The streets were plain, the cottonwoods sparse, except along the river itself. Wind, as always in the desert, was constant. There was a park with a sandlot baseball diamond - and a small memorial monument with bronze plaque. I had come to view it.
    After touching the name and inscription on the plaque, and pausing for sometime to just look at this town and to grasp all it now meant, I went to find his parents. Their house was simple, just as any in town. They were not home, and my journey had yet a thousand miles, so I had to leave without meeting them. Just as well, their memories may have been too painfully fresh then.
    Lieutenant Commander Dick Perry had come from Carlin, Nevada. To hear him talk of his hometown in the ready room or over a happy hour bar, Carlin was the center of God's country. From his glowing tales one envisioned a prosperous, thriving oasis in the desert, full of bustling life. His home you would have certainly thought to be the biggest and finest in town. Surely his high school had big teams and lots of pretty cheerleaders. A boomtown growing fast on cattle ranching, mining, and interstate commerce - to hear him tell it. A great place to go when you were through serving your country, he said. When his enthusiasm for the place took hold of you a bit, you were not even sure why Dick had ever left.
    Back on the highway, I remembered the day Dick and I flew a low-level mission together in that part of the desert, a "sandblower" as we called it. On landing at our home base he said we had flown right over the great town. I said I never saw a big town. Now, I knew what each of us had seen that day.
    Dick Perry was one of those few, very special people who stay in the most vivid part of your memory for a lifetime. He was full of the "V's" of humankind - verve, vigor, vitality - and just an uncommonly huge bunch of love for just about everything. Family, friends, flying, life itself - you name it, what Dick touched he loved with a passion found in but a very few. He also had a gentleness and innocence, which was at once lovable and fun, but in a Navy carrier squadron, fun to take advantage of, as only the manly camaraderie of Navy flyers knows how to do.
    I'll never forget the afternoon Dick checked into our squadron, the Ghostriders. As any new pilot, he wanted to make his best impression, and so was particularly vulnerable to Denny's favorite practical (and unmentionable) joke, which was promptly administered in front of the entire squadron. Dick laughed, red-faced, with us all - his sense of humor was just as big as the rest of him. That same night was the squadron's Hail and Farewell between cruises. As Dick was glowingly introducing his wife Margot to everyone, Denny again approached begging forgiveness for the embarrassment meted out that afternoon. Dick was a bit guarded this time, but hearing Denny's smooth assurances, innocence prevailed. He shook the offered hand of reconciliation. Only to yell and writhe as a gag buzzer dug into his hand. Humiliated again, and this time in front of Margot. Dick laughed - as always. (I don't think he ever quite trusted Denny again).
    Dick became the spirit of the Ghostriders in those years. Oh, yes, he was the finest of Naval Officers, a born leader. He had a passion to serve his land. He had high ambition, and the stuff to realize it. He was unquestionably destined to be an Admiral, maybe even Chief of Naval Operations. Possibly more. Foremost in my memory, though, is the spirit Dick injected into our squadron life in the most trying of times. Every combat squadron must have it. Dick was ours. He could listen. He knew how to bolster the underdog officer who had fallen out of the skipper's favor. He knew how to rally the troops. He became a big brother to his wingman, Mike. He knew what to do when things were not going well - that was the time for real leadership.
    His first cruise with us was rough enough. He was a steel-nerved combat pilot among a lot of steel nerves. He was hit hard by flak, just at dusk, on one trip to the Than Hoa Bridge. We thought then he was gone. Only to find within the hour that Dick had miraculously recovered his crippled craft, at night, aboard another carrier. We lost half our pilots that cruise, many in a fire aboard our carrier, Oriskany. It was Dick who went to view Dan's remains that day. It must have been especially painful for Dick, Dan was longtime friend and neighbor. But Dick took the hard tasks with the fun. When it came time to lead a strike or a rescue, Dick did it right. Never a shortcut, and more importantly, never a thought of the potential reward. Just a duty to be done, a country to be served.
    Now it was his second cruise, summer of 67. Dick was our division lead, a strike into Haiphong. To this day, that millisecond, the unseen missile appearing under his plane and exploding, is frozen in my consciousness. The explosion buffeted us. When we recovered, Dick was already turning for the Tonkin, fuel streaming from large gashes in his plane's belly. I checked him over, no holes around his cockpit, he was talking calmly. As we reached the coastline, he became silent, his plane caught fire and rolled out of control. But just as it rolled through wings level, Dick ejected. "Fine, he's in a good chute, the helo is on the way", I reported. Soon my wingman George alerted me. "He should be talking to us from the chute by now." I took a slow flyby. Dick was lifeless in the parachute. Why, we will never know. The helo came after he had been in the water some time, the rescue swimmer went down and confirmed him KIA. Then shore batteries opened fire. Too risky to continue, we had to leave Dick to the sea.
    We buried Dick in the spring of 87. Surprisingly, his remains were returned, I suppose he was recovered by native fisherman or washed ashore from the Tonkin. Twenty years had passed - nearly that long since stopping by Carlin. A building had since been dedicated to Dick at the Fallon, Nevada, Naval Air Station. By then I had again touched his name on the wall of another memorial, in the shadow of another great American. Fittingly, we buried this loving warrior across the Potomac with our country's heroes. Family, Ghostriders, and other fellow officers, many by then of flag rank as Dick surely would have been, gathered from far and near. Finally, I met his Mother, his Father had since passed on. Yet, standing beside his grave in Arlington, hearing the strains of America the Beautiful, and remembering my stopping by, it seemed to me that Dick would nonetheless be always a part of Carlin. And that the real tribute - to Dick, to his family, and to Carlin - was that so many of America's very uncommon heroes and leaders have sprung unashamedly from the good and common people of the very simple Springfields and Abilenes - and Carlins - spread across its heartland.
    Dick Perry was an uncommonly great human being. The heights to which he, and thousands other youth from our heartland, might have risen we shall not know. All we can know now is that not knowing is the greatest tragedy of war.
    April 1987
    © 1987, 1999, 2001 J. Carlyle Davis, II


    BuNO 151180
    Lieutenant Commander Dick Perry in the original VA-164, A-4E, "Lady Jessie" AH 406, BuNo. 151180 over the Sierras c. 1966. LCDR Richard C. Perry was Killed In Action on August 31, 1967, while flying VA-164 Ghost Rider A-4E Skyhawk BuNo. 151191, AH-402, by a SAM over Haiphong, North Vietnam.
    USN photo courtesy of Harry S. Gann


    The VA-146 pages are also dedicated posthumously to
    Mrs. Jessie Beck

    Saints, Ghost Riders and "Lady Jessie"
    The VA-164 Ghostriders and VA-163 Saints were feted by Jessie Beck in Reno May 4, 1968. At Lady Jessie's right is CDR Doug Mow, CO VA-164, on her left are CDRs Ed Lighter XO VA-163; Brian Compton, CO VA-163; Bill Span, XO VA-164; and Bob Arnold, Ops Officer, VA-164.
    Photo courtesy of CDR Lance B. Massey, USN (Ret).

    Farewell "Lady Jessie"
    "Naval Aviation lost a devoted friend when Jessie Beck, 83, died in Reno, Nevada, in July 1987. As the first woman to own a major Nevada casino - the Riverside Hotel and Casino, she was called "the gambling grandmother," but to Air Wing 16 she was "Lady Jessie."

    During the Vietnam War Jessie wrote to some 500 servicemen, but Naval Aviators were among her favorites. During the 1950s Jessie and her husband Fred became acquainted with a future Navy pilot when they ran the Keno game at Harold's Club in Reno. Dick Perry was a student at the University of Nevada, Reno, who worked part-time at Harold's as a dealer. Thus began a lengthy relationship in which young Perry became almost an adopted son of Jessie and Fred.

    Following graduation, Dick entered Navy flight training and eventually reported to VA-164 in January 1966, where Jessie kept him well supplied with pastries and such. The size of her "care packages" spilled over to the rest of the Ghostriders, and Dick's pride in Jessie's affection was evident to all hands. Eventually he arranged for a squadron party in Reno - the first of several hosted by Lady Jessie, who by then owned the Riverside Hotel and Casino. Other CVW-16 pilots also sampled the famous Beck hospitality as word spread through the air wing.

    The close ties between Jessie and VA-164 were further strengthened when Dick named his A-4E "Lady Jessie." Eventually a squadron tradition evolved, with the CO's aircraft bearing the name of the Ghostriders' favorite friend.

    However, tragedy struck during USS Oriskany's (CVA-34) 1967 Western Pacific cruise. On 31 August 1967 LCDR Dick Perry's Skyhawk was hit by a SAM and he ejected less than two miles offshore. Though he had a good chute, there was no sign of life. The SAR crew reached the body, determined Perry was dead, and departed the area under orders of the on-scene commander, since the helo was taking fire from nearby shore batteries.

    Despite the loss of the man who brought Jessie Beck in contact with VA-164, the close relationship continued. On an especially grand occasion, Jessie hosted a party for both VA-163 and VA-164 during May 1968. The aviators admired their lady not only for her generosity and kindness, but for her devotion to her Naval Aviator "sons."

    In July 1971, the Naval Air Station Fallon Administrative Building was named for and dedicated to Dick Perry by Base Commander Cdr. Ramsay Lawson. The dedication ceremony included a Blue Angel performance dedicated to Lady Jessie and a personal appearance by Mrs. Jessie Beck."

    "FAREWELL LADY JESSIE" first appeared on page 14 of "The Hook: Journal of Carrier Aviation" Spring 1988 and is presented here with permission.


    Lady Jessie BuNo. 155018 NP 401, Cdr. Don Snyder VA-164 Ops and Mrs. Jessie Beck July 1971.
    USN photograph from Captain Donald Snyder, USN ret.

    Ironically, Dick Perry's remains - thought lost at sea - were returned to the U.S. in 1987, the same year of Jessie Beck's death. Servicemen everywhere will be saddened to learn of her death, but none more so than the Skyhawk pilots of CVW-16, who flew Lady Jessie's name into combat over Vietnam.

    The Ghostriders continued to honor the gracious lady from Reno after Dick's death by displaying her name on each CO's aircraft until the squadron was disestablished Dec 12, 1975.
    USN photo from Harry S. Gann
    BuNo 155022





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