Friday, April 15, 2011

U-2 Spy Planes
USS Ranger (CVA-61)

During the early days of May 1964 the originator of this Blog and the Sailor shown below with the red stripes were serving in this great War Ship, the USS Ranger (CVA-61) which was homeported in Alameda, California.  For those who may not know, Alameda is across the Bay from San Francisco.

We departed our Home Port with a few planes on our Flight Deck so that no one would wonder why an Aircraft Carrier was going to Sea without Airplanes onboard.  Several days later we were all informed that we were going to be engaged in "Special Operations" which would involve some special Airplanes.

 I, shown above, was a Yeoman Striker assigned to the Operations office Staff in Ranger.  As such I was usually quite informed about what was going on.  However in this case only the Captain and the Quartermasters engaged in charting the course on the Bridge were knowledgable as to our location.

 This Young Fireman, also from the great state of Iowa, although we did not know each other at the time was also in Ranger.  He worked in the machinery spaces.  He was a Machinest Mate Fireman (E-3) in this picture.  After a period of some steaming South most of us figured that we had surely crossed the Equator.   This was confirmed when it was announced to the whole crew that we would conduct a "Shellback" Ceremony which is done when one crosses the Equator.

We were engaged in Special Operations as stated above.  The USS Ranger (CVA-61) was recovering the famed U-2 Spy Plane.  I suspect that very few knew what the mission of these Spy Planes was, but we were all aware that we had U-2s onboard.  The embarked Marine Detachment was given the task of guarding these special planes when they were on the Hangar Deck between missions.

If you have been reading my other post of this date you will know that my fellowshipmate  from Iowa recently visited me in Middle Georgia. 

After we toured Andersonville National Cemetery on Thursday, April 14th we traveled to the Aviation Museum at Warner Robins Air Force Base.  In addition to viewing the famed F-4 Phantom Fighter Jet on display there we walked around the B1 Bomber Display and the B52 Bomber Display.  I then informed my Guest that we would proceed to the "Century of Flight" Hangar and visit the U-2 and the SR-71 Display.

As we viewed the U-2 on Display my fellowshipmate pointed out the information display that indicated that this U-2 had operated off of the USS Ranger in May of 1964.  This of course was of great interest to me.  Although I had viewed this U-2 many times in recent years I had never noted this fact.

After we left the Century of Flight Hangar we walked to the Gift Shop in the main Museum Building.

My guest obtained the patch that is displayed below, one for himself and one for me.

I then learned that the U-2 Aircraft was  nicknamed "The Dragonlady."  I was impressed with the motto of the U-2 Crew Personnel.  "In God We Trust, All Others We Monitor." 

Most certainly a mantra that our forces in every branch of the military subscribe to even to this day. 

As we relived our visit to the Museum at Andersonville and the Aviation Museum last evening we continued to realize that I had learned new information about the USS Ranger (CVA-61).

A day of real blessing and learning.  USS Ranger (CVA-61) Top Gun and the first Carrier to operate with the famed U-2 Aircraft that had a crew with this great motto:  "In God We Trust, All Others We Monitor."

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