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.

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

Hail to the Chiefs — Crew that is

Some thoughts on a most important member of the Phantom II Team: The ground crews. When I was a non-rated officer, that is non-flying, I knew nothing about crew chiefs.  Even when I was in navigator training, they did not … Continue reading

Posted in Air Force, Air Force lingo, American History, F-4 Phantom II, F4 emergency, F4 Phantom II, F4 PhantomII, Fighter Aircraft, Fighter pilot slang, Luke AFB, Navigator, Navigator Training, Thailand, U Dorn RTAFB, Udorn RTAFB | Leave a comment

Fighter ‘Gator Book Now Available

This year marks 50 years since I arrived at Mather Air Force Base for undergraduate navigator training. To be honest, I had no idea what a navigator did. The dictionary definition wasn’t much help: Navigator — Definition — a person … Continue reading

Posted in American History | Leave a comment

Bridge and the Art of War

June 1973 turned to July. Most days, everything went as planned: TO-Take Off, rendezvous with the tank, take on gas—we loved the big gas station in the sky—get the target information. Contact the FAC; drop some surprises on the commies, … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, American History, Combat, F-4 Phantom II, Thailand, U Dorn RTAFB, Udorn RTAFB, Veterans | Tagged , | 2 Comments