Saturday, November 3, 2012

3 November 2012 - Happy 100th Birthday

Gentleman Jack

Today we celebrate the One Hundredth Birthday of Jack Arnold.  Sadly, Uncle Jack passed away on 8 December 2007, a little over a month after his 95th birthday and the day after Pearl Harbor Day.

Jack Arnold was born on November 3, 1912, in Gainesville, Florida.

He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1930, and graduated with a commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on May 31, 1934.

His first assignment was aboard the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) from June 1934 to December 1936, followed by flight training at NAS Pensacola, Florida, where he received his designation as a Naval Aviator on December 10, 1937.

Lt Arnold then served as a TBD Devastator pilot with Torpedo Squadron SIX (VT-6) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) from January 1938 to June 1939, followed by service as an SOC-1 Seagull floatplane pilot aboard the light cruiser USS Savannah (CL-42) from June 1939 to May 1941.

His next assignment was at NAS Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where he served as an Engineering Test Pilot from May 1941 to March 1943. During this time, Lt Arnold was at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, and managed to shoot down a Japanese torpedo plane with a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) from the ground.  The high point of that tour was meeting and marrying Muriel Katherine McChesney, who he made Mrs. Muriel K. Arnold on 19 January 1942.

After completing additional training at NAS Jacksonville, and NAS Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he served as Commanding Officer of Torpedo Squadron TWO (VT-2) from June 1943 to May 1944, flying off the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-12) from March to May 1944, where he was credited with the destruction of 2 enemy aircraft in aerial combat.

CDR Arnold next served as Commander of Carrier Air Group TWO (CVG-2) aboard the USS Hornet from May to September 1944, where he destroyed another 2 enemy aircraft while flying an F6F Hellcat fighter. These last 2 air victories, gave him a total of 5 enemy aircraft destroyed, but ace status was denied him because the first aircraft was shot down from the ground.

He then served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations for Air from September 1944 to December 1947, followed by service as Air Officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Boxer (CV-21) from December 1947 to August 1948.

His next assignment was as Executive Assistant to the Overhaul and Repair Officer at NAS San Diego, California, from August 1948 to August 1950, and then completed his Master's degree at Harvard University from August 1950 to June 1952.

Capt Arnold served as the Bureau of Aeronautics General Representative for the Western District in Los Angeles, California, from June 1952 to June 1953, and then as the Bureau of Aeronautics Representative in Burbank, California, from June 1953 to February 1955.

His next assignment was as Director of the Contracts Division with the Bureau of Aeronautics at the Pentagon from February 1955 to June 1958, followed by service as Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Material Center at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from June 1958 to September 1961.

Adm Arnold served as Assistant Chief of Production and Quality Control with the Bureau of Weapons at the Pentagon from September 1961 to November 1963, and then as Force Material Officer on the staff of the Commander of Naval Air Force, Pacific Fleet, from November 1963 to August 1966.

His next assignment was as Deputy Chief of Naval Material for Logistics Support at the Pentagon from August 1966 to August 1967, followed by service as Vice Chief of Naval Material at the Pentagon from August 1967 to June 1970.

Adm Arnold's final assignment was as Chief of Naval Material in the Pentagon from June 1970 until his retirement from the Navy on December 1, 1971.

Jack and Muriel were married for more than 63 years.  They had no children, but were extremely close to their 28 nieces and nephews.  Jack Arnold died on December 8, 2007, and his and Muriel's bodies are in-urned at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California.

Jack's Navy Cross Citation reads:

For extraordinary heroism as Group Commander and Flight Leader in Fighter-Bombing Squadron TWO, attached to the U.S.S. HORNET, during action against enemy Japanese forces in the First Battle of the Philippine Sea on June 20, 1944. Participating in a strike against hostile surface units, Commander Arnold scored a damaging near miss on a carrier and directed his flight in damaging and probably destroying the enemy vessel and in obtaining a torpedo hit on a cruiser. After leading his flight back to base, he assisted several of his group in landing under extremely difficult conditions and in darkness before boarding his carrier. By his skill as an airman and leadership, Commander Arnold upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

70 Years Ago - Pearl Harbor

Seventy years ago tonight, as this is written, twenty-nine year old LTjg Jackson D. Arnold, USN, USNA Class of 1934, an Engineering Test Pilot assigned to Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor was at one of the usual Saturday night parties very common at the time.  He and his new girlfriend Muriel McChesney would not get home until early the next morning.  No problems, it was going to be a lazy Sunday.  He could sleep in.  Jack was, in today’s terms, a Party Animal.  He dropped off Muriel at her home a mile or so away near the foot of Diamond Head and went home to what might be generously called sleep.  Things were good, things were stable.  All was well.

Things would change.  Change faster than Jack could imagine.

Just before 0800, Jack awoke to the biggest bang he had heard since he was the Officer in Charge of ARIZONA’s Number Four Turret.  He rolled out of bed, ran out side and looked up.  Divebombers, rolling in on Pearl Harbor, meatballs on their sides.  The bang had been a Jap mistaking his pickle button for a radio key.  A 500 pounder fell a few hundred feet from his front lanai.  He ran back inside, put on his khaki uniform, grabbed his desktop radio and headed towards Pearl, with a quick stop to give Muriel the radio and tell her to keep her wits about her and listen to the radio.

Into his car and towards Pearl.  As he raced along what is now Nimitz Highway, through the cane fields, a military staff car pulled in front of him, shortly thereafter a truck pulled in behind him.  A convoy of three.  Soon a Zero found them, rolling in, he strafed the staff car, which ran off into the cane fields.  The Jap came back around and rolled in on the truck, riddled with bullets, it went off burning into the cane fields.  Jack had had enough of that, he pulled off the road and dove under the car.   After about two minutes, it came to him; there he was under the only potential target.  He decided he would more likely survive if he were a moving target and not hiding under the gas tank.  Back on the road!  In a few minutes he came to the Pearl Boat Facility where he looked for a launch to Ford Island.  No launches!  Then, he looked in the boat shed.  It was full of launches and cowering coxswains. 

Jack jumped into the launch closest to the open boat house door.  A coxswain came out, “You can’t take that, she’s mine.”  Jack said, “Well, she’s going to Ford Island.”  “Not without me driving,” as the coxswain hopped aboard and started her.

Arriving at Ford Island in the middle of the first wave, Jack sprinted across the field, scrambled into the only flyable F-4F Wildat and got her running.  A plane captain clambered up the side of the running aircraft to tell him that not only was the aircraft very low on fuel, but it was totally devoid of ammunition.  So much for his first air to air victory.  With no other flyable aircraft remaining, he looked about for a way to “contribute to the war effort.”

Just before the second wave hit, Jack came across a young Marine who had lost his life in the first wave attack, but kept his BAR from hitting the ground.  Jack, having been on the All Navy Rifle and Pistol Teams and an avid bird hunter felt at home with the Browning.  As he stood there near the base of the new tower, a lone torpedo bomber rolled in to strafe the tower and thus him.  Judging his lead carefully, he emptied two magazines into the Jap, killing the pilot and severing a line or two.  Smoke and flame poured from the plane as it crashed on the field.  The second wave was gone.  Jack went over to the wreck, it was the Torpedo Squadron Commander.  Jack took a bottle of sake from the plane, they would not need it now.  He took a big gulp, passed it to sailors gathering to see what he had found, and ran back to the whaleboat he had taken to Ford Island.

Grabbing the launch, he put out for ARIZONA to pick up survivors.  The first person he pulled from the water exclaimed, “Mr. Arnold! Mr. Arnold! Mr. Arnold!”  Looking at the man, covered head to toe in bunkers, black as a seal, Jack responded, “Sir, you have the advantage of me.  Who the blazes are you?”  The slippery dark form responded, “Sir, it is me, Johnson.”  The Number Four Turret Captain, the Petty Officer with whom Jack had worked on his first assignment out of the Naval Academy. 

Things would change for Jack.  In five weeks, he would marry his new girl friend Muriel, a marriage that would last over 60 years.  In less than a year, he would be a full Commander, form a new Air Group, Air Group Two, be the Torpedo Squadron Commander, with a very short but more successful career than the Jap Commander he shot down.  He would be Air Group Two’s first Commander or CAG for her first War Cruise on HORNET, the second carrier of that name.  Shooting down four more Japs, he would command the most successful Air Group of the war.  After the war, Jack would be Air Officer on BOXER, one of the first jet pilots in the Navy, then go into the Bureau of Naval Materiel.  He would design space suits, pioneer new techniques in aircraft and ship procurement.  Then finally he would be the first Commander of the newly formed Naval Materiel Command, the biggest command in the Navy.  He would retire as a Four Star Admiral.  But, he would always be known as Gentleman Jack whose men would follow him anywhere.

More later!

Friday, November 18, 2011

More than saving a life

We are coming up on the fourth anniversary of the passing of Jackson D. Arnold, Admiral, United States Navy.  The year before Jack died I was going through Christmas cards with him asking who was who and he told me this story when we got to one from Joe Wilson.

Known to almost all who knew him as Gentleman Jack.  Uniquely positioned in history, born a year after the first aircraft touched down on a ship, he started flying biplane seaplanes, flew the very first jets off carriers, designed the first space suits and ended up his career as the first commander of Naval Materiel Command.

Much of what he did in his naval career made huge impacts on the course of Naval Aviation and the course of several wars.  But nothing he did had more impact on a life than a single strafing run on HIRYU while he was Commander of the Air Group (CAG) on the second HORNET.

Near the end of her first war cruise, HORNET was Flagship of RADM Jocko Clark’s Task Force 58.1 for the Battle of the Philippine Sea.   Six Grumman TBF Avenger Torpedo Bombers from Belleau Wood, one of the Task Force’s four carriers, hit the Japanese carrier HIRYU.  She was burning strongly.  HORNET’s fighter squadron attempted a low angle dive bomb attack on her.  After dropping his bombs, Jack dropped down to strafe the deck with his F6F Hellcat’s six .50 caliber machine guns.  While the bombs had done little apparent damage, between the bombs and the torpedoes, HIRYU’s aviation gasoline tanks had been breeched.  Jack’s strafing run set the vapors off and the vessel sustained mortal damage.

At the time of time of the attack on HIRYU, a young Japanese pilot was bolted in the cockpit waiting to take off on a Kamikaze mission.   Imprisoned in his cockpit, he waited with terror, then resignation as HIRYU was torpedoed, then bombed.  Just as it looked like he might survive, he looked up to see a dark blue Hellcat with 99 on the nose and a white meatball on the tail strafe the deck.  He was sure he would be hit.  When he was not, he relaxed.  Then the gasoline vapor explosion came.  Surely he would burn to death, but then a ground crewman let him out of what would have been a high explosive coffin.  The ship sank from under him, he survived, was picked up and somehow managed to live through the remaining 14 months of the war.  Had HIRYU not sunk, he would have launched on a one way mission, perhaps taking an American ship with him, perhaps not. 

Because of the attack which sank his ship, the young pilot survived the war.  After the war, disillusioned with the Japanese War Party, tired of killing, he wanted to know more about the people who beat the invincible Japanese.  What he found was a Christian country.  As he learned about the country, he learned about Christianity.  In it he found the meaning and peace missing from his life.

The young pilot became a Christian, perhaps at first because of the peace our Lord offers, but soon because there was no other way.  He eventually immigrated to the United States, adopting the anglicized name of Joe Wilson.  He sought out the identity of the pilot of the Hellcat with 99 on the nose and the white meatball on the tail.  Joe lived in San Diego, he found the pilot only a few miles from him in Rancho Santa Fe.  A call and he made arrangements to meet Jack almost 30 years after the sinking.  They talked about the war, they talked about the attack.  But, they also talked a lot about what happened afterwards.  Each year thereafter, Joe sent Jack a Christmas card thanking him for saving not only his life, but most importantly giving him time to find Christ, thus saving his soul.



Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jack Arnold and the first Space Suit

While I was the Air Materiel Officer at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, I had many interesting experiences. Our facility was in charge of ejection seat development and what are now called egress systems. We also ended up being the office of primary responsibility for all personal equipment for aviators.

When it was clear the country was going to go into space, either by way of the Air Force’s DynaSoar program or NASA’s Mercury Program, the Navy was given the task of developing a suit that would allow the astronauts to live in the vacuum of space. Blood boils at around 62,000 feet, so just breathing oxygen would not help. Somehow we had to be able to replicate the pressure to that of at least 33,000 feet while maintaining flexibility. The Navy was picked because we had a lot of experience going the other way, down deep, where we needed to replicate a higher altitude and still move. We thought we could use some of the same methods, perhaps altered.

That is when I first got to be good friends with Wally Schirra, a young Navy pilot I would stay close to until his death (just a few months before Jack’s – ed). Wally, one of the original Mercury Seven Astronauts was detailed to my operation to help develop the spacesuit. We worked with the Navy dive equipment people and the aviator equipment people and came up with the first spacesuit.

Looking back, it amazes me how much we did with so little. Shows what happens when you don’t know you can’t do something.

ADM Jackson D. Arnold, Oral History November 2005

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Arroz con Gansos o Patos (Rice with Geese or Ducks)

Jack Arnold was more than a Warrior - Artist - Scholar - Businessman, turns out that he was also a great COOK! from SUNSET magazine, we find this entry in a later issue:

Our "Chefs of the West" column (January 1954) featured recipes "by men ... for men." The note accompanying the recipe read: "Jackson D. Arnold--now a two-time Chef--can trace the following recipe back to an Italian cook in Nicaragua. Chef Arnold served it first after a hunting trip into Mexico where he got his limit of wild geese and ducks. Hence the name 'Arroz con Gansos o Patos' (Rice with Geese or Ducks)." Prep and Cook Time: about 2 hours.

Want to know more, for here:

Notice, this is Jack's second gastronomical entry for SUNSET!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

ATTACK INTO THE SETTING SUN - “First Battle of the Philippine Sea”

As the sun sat on June 19, Admiral Mitscher in LEXINGTON sent a message to all TG-58. “Desire to attack enemy tomorrow if we know his position with sufficient accuracy. POINT OPTION should be advanced westward.” At 1330 on June 20 the


ENTERPRISE and WASP launched search planes – eight Avengers and four Hellcats to search northwest for the Japanese fleet. About the same time Airgroup TWO was told to man our aircraft. On deck 14 F6F-‘s were loaded with two 500 lb. bombs and belly tank; 18 SB2-C Dive Bombers were loaded with 1000 lb bombs and 4 TBF-s Torpedo planes were hanging torpedoes and 2 TBS-s had 4 500 lb bombs. About 1430 we received word we could return to ready rooms to grab a sandwich and coffee or cold drink. At 1515 we received word to man planes again. We still had no word as to where the Japanese fleet was located. After about 45 minutes in the cockpit the word was passed to start engines. As I looked at the blackboard on the side of Primary Fly the Air Officer had printed in large letters the latitude and longitude of the Japanese fleet. As we put the information in our cockpit chart boards it became readily evident that it was well beyond the range of any aircraft to attack and return to our carriers (about 335 miles). We were under RADIO SILENCE (no radio transmissions) thus it meant no questioning the information as we sat prepared to take off with engines turning over. As Admira1 Jocko Clark leaned over the bridge I pointed to the blackboard and held my nose, indicating “We can’t make it!!” He gave a thumbs up signal with both hands meaning "Good Luck". At that moment dozens of microphones clicked, inicating many others wanted to say something, but not one transmission went on the air. I was never more proud of those pilots than at that instant.

Instead of circling our 38 plane deckload for the usual rendezvous of all aircraft units, we started a slow climb towards the northwest in order to conserve fuel. About 30 minutes after takeoff a message was received telling us that the Japanese were 60 miles further west. At this point I decided that we would pursue and attack then retire as far as possible before darkness set in, notify HORNET by key then have all the planes land in the water in the same vicinity so that rafts might be lashed together to make rescue more easily effected.
About 1830 with the sun low on the horizon like a blood red ball, clouds

from 3000 to 10,000 feet and a large cumulus buildup over 15,000 feet, we saw a mass of flashes from anti-aircraft guns such as we had never seen before. Immediately the sky was filled with deadly colored puffs – red, yellow, blue, black, purple and lavender as the marker bursts enveloped our formation. We came out from the large could buildup, I could see four major elements of their fleet. To the northwest was a large carrier, a smaller carrier, a battleship, two cruisers and eight destroyers. To the sourh was another group with a carrier, several battleships, several cruisers and seven or eight destroyers. Far to the south was a supply group and a number of oilers.

Immediately I called for Lt. Hal Buell’s division of 6 VB gto take the big carrier which I thought was SHOKAXU but I believe turned out to be ZUKAKU. The VB squadron commander, Lt.Cdr. “Soup” Cambell dived his group of 8 planes from the north. Several hits on the carrier were observed with fire coming out of the flight deck.

After directing the bomber aircraft towards the large carrier, I took our fourteen fighters down on a group of three carriers to the south which were HIYO, JUNYO and RYHO. After bomb release we strafed the decks and gun positions of the carriers attacked. (Later as observed by Lt(jg) George P.Brown and his crewmen ARM Babcock and AMM Platy from BELLEAU WOOD VT squadron who had been shot down and were in a life raft in the midst of the Japanese fleet, they witnessed he HIYO roll over and go down).

It became evident after the attack and the continuing dog fights that we would be unable to carry out my plan to all land together in the water. I called for all planes in Air Group TWO to retire towards out TG-58 which was closing the distance towards us. As the sun set and planes started landing in the water, I plotted the postion on my chart board to facilitate rescue, then lead as many planes as I could get to join up back towards our forces. As darkness came I was surprised to hear a signal sent for the destroyers “to make smoke”. (This would have been a good signal in the daylight, but hardly any help for making night landings).

With all carriers trying to land aircraft simultaneously there was considerable confusion in the area. In an attempt to assist pilots in landing and finding their ships, Admiral Mitscher ordered all ships to ”light pp", after a HORNET Avenger landed on LEXINGTON. He then sent a message for "pilots to land on any carrier”. Four HORNET fighters and torpedo planes landed on YORKTOWN, and one fighter landed on BELLEAU WOOD.

After finding HORNET and observing that all planes had not landed I headed up through the smoke where some of our planes had been circling, gave the “join up” signal, led them down to the ship and put them in the landing circle. When the last plane had landed, I commenced my approach, noting that the #1 and #2 wires had been pulled out by previous aircraft in their landings. I was at 50 feet over the ramp and was about to take a wave-off when the engine quit and I decided to dive for the deck rather than land in the water astern. Without the first two wires I stepped hard on the left brake to ground loop the plane, but it headed for the 40 mm gun mounts where I ended up in the catwalk. The flight deck crew chief said, “Skipper, you had better get out - - we can’t hold this plane much longer”. I grabbed my chart board and jumped to the deck saying, “Hold the plane until I can get the photo-film out”. They let go and all the film from the battle went overboard. I went ot the bridge and gave Admiral Jocko Clark my chartboard with the plot of where out pilos had gone down.

(On June 21, 51 pilos and 50 sircrewmen were rescuedand on June 22 and 23 33 more pilots and 26 aircrewmen were pulled out of the water. This was the total for from all carriers with a launch total of 226 planes from TF-58).

This memo was hand typed by Admiral Arnold and OCR’d for this posting.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Altitude Chamber

Pilots who fly above 10,000 feet above sea level need to be intimately familiar with what is now called Aerospace Physiology, the effects of the thinning of air on the body as you climb to altitude.

When I attended flight school at Pensacola in 1936-37, almost all our training was done below 2,500’msl, much less 10,000’msl. We had a class on high altitude flight, but there was no such thing as an “altitude chamber” where one could experience the physiological changes as one climbs to altitude. It had not been invented yet and most Navy pilots never would fly that high. But, when you left flight school, if you were headed to a fighter, you had to get the training.

There was no “altitude chamber”, so what to do? Once you got your wings and your assignment, you got one last ride. I don’t remember his name, but he was a Marine pilot instructor. He briefed me on my “altitude familiarization” flight. The aircraft was one of two, or maybe three, single seat Boeing F4B biplane aircraft fitted out for this specialized training. It was supercharged, had a recording barometric altimeter to make sure you really climbed up and had a large oxygen tank fitted. You were to breathe from a wooden mouthpiece, which as I recall, you started using about 10,000’msl, or so. The Marine told me that I should look for symptoms of oxygen starvation, check my nails for bluing, tingling in the fingers and the like. As soon as I felt light headed, I should take off my gloves, look at my nails and if they were blue, start down.

So off I went. Passing about 27,000’msl, I began to feel a bit tingly, I looked at my nails, still pink, or maybe some other color. Passing about 29,000’msl, I felt a bit light headed, I, well I don’t really know what I did next. According to the recording barometric altimeter, I climbed to a little over 33,000’msl. All I can tell you is that I woke up in a spin at around 7,000’msl.

When I got down, the Marine seemed satisfied. I was not so happy. I said, “What if I hadn’t awaken at 7,000’msl?” “We’d of had to get a new plane,” he answered.

I was never tempted to set any altitude records after that.

Oral History by Admiral Jackson D. Arnold 2004