Author Archives: jenorv

About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.

60th Reunion

Saturday, July 30, 2022 – I sit with a small group of aging friends at our 60th high school reunion. Let that sink in for a moment – I graduated from high school sixty years ago.  On a nearby table … Continue reading

Posted in American History, New York, New York State History | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Silver Wings

Mather Air Force Base—UNT graduation 25 July 1972 It’s hard to believe that it has been 50– 50 years; I repeat this almost in unbelief. Why? Because I only became a navigator through an odd series of circumstances. I received … Continue reading

Posted in 1960s Turmoil, Air Force, Air Force Academy, Air Force lingo, American History, Cambodia bombing 1973, F-4 Phantom II, Mather AFB, Navigator, Navigator Training, NY History, Udorn RTAFB, USAFA, Washington DC | 1 Comment

Checkride!

As flyers one thing we always had to deal with was a checkride. My first checks were in Nav School on the T-29. If all went well, it was straightforward. That was the operative phrase—all went well.   Sadly, for me … Continue reading

Posted in Air Force, Air Force lingo, American History, F-4 Phantom II, Mather AFB, Navigator, Navigator Training | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

On Being a Fighter Jock

In his excellent biography, Robin Olds ponders what it means to have the Right Stuff. He looks back at his time in World War II and the men he flew with. Olds understands that flying a fighter is more than … Continue reading

Posted in American History | 3 Comments

Fighters and Targets

In the fall of 1972, I arrived at Luke AFB outside Phoenix, Arizona. I joined several others from my nav class, assigned to the 310th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, to transition to the back seat of the F-4. The F-4 … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, 43 TFS, Air Force, Air Force lingo, American History, Arizona, Cambodia bombing 1973, F-4 Phantom II, F4 emergency, Fighter Aircraft, Fighter pilot lingo, Fighter pilot slang, Navigator, Veterans, Vietnam War | Leave a comment

Two types of flyers…

There was an old saying in the F-4 world: “There are two types of flyers, those who have been sick and those who will be.” As our training continued, we moved into a lot of turning and violent maneuvering in … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, 43 TFS, Air Force, Air Force lingo, American History, F-4 Phantom II, F4 emergency, F4 Phantom II, F4 PhantomII, Luke AFB, Thailand, U Dorn RTAFB, Udorn RTAFB, Veterans, Vietnam War | Tagged , | 1 Comment

More Random thoughts from The Pit – Phantom II

Some sayings from the past: First to the runway is leadF-4, the greatest distributor of MiG parts!First in – Last OutBrief on GuardGo cold mikeMartin-Baker backbreakerBalls to the wallAll I want to hear from you “2” is bingo (fuel expended … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, Air Force, Air Force lingo, Alaska, Alaskan Air Command, American History, Cambodia bombing 1973, F4 Phantom II, Fighter Aircraft, Fighter pilot lingo, Fighter pilot slang, Mather AFB, U Dorn RTAFB, Udorn RTAFB, Veterans, Vietnam War | 3 Comments

The Real Air Force

Way back in 1968, I was a very green second lieutenant with no real job assigned to a base in Washington, D.C. One day a crusty old chief warrant officer. who had served in WWII, said to me: “This is … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, Air Force, American History, F-4 Phantom II, Fighter Aircraft, Luke AFB, Mather AFB, Thailand, Veterans, Vietnam War | Tagged | 2 Comments

Thoughts from the Pit Part Deux

More Thoughts from the Pit Flight Surgeons: The Docs were great, never met one that didn’t look out for the best interest of the jocks. Two things to remember though: you never told a Doc that you passed out. That … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, Air Force, Air Force lingo, Alaska, Alaskan Air Command, American History, Anchorage, Anchorage Alaska, Arizona, Combat, F-4 Phantom II, Fighter Aircraft, Fighter pilot lingo, Fighter pilot slang, Navigator, Navigator Training, Thailand, U Dorn RTAFB, Udorn RTAFB, Veterans, Vietnam War | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What the…

[The following blog post is rated M for mature audiences, it contains some language that may offend, but then again What the …] As June 1973 began, I attended my first fighter jock party in a combat zone. I wrote … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, Air Force lingo, American History, Combat, F-4 Phantom II, F4 emergency, F4 Phantom II, F4 PhantomII, Fighter Aircraft, Fighter pilot lingo, Fighter pilot slang, Thailand, U Dorn RTAFB, Udorn RTAFB, Vietnam War | Tagged | 1 Comment