USS Kitty Hawk CVA-63 (later CV-63)
Named for: Kitty Hawk, N.C., and for Kill Devil Hill, the site approximately four miles south of the village of Kitty Hawk, where Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful sustained powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine on 17 December 1903.
Ship name number: II. The second ship to be named Kitty Hawk. The first Kitty Hawk (ex-Seatrain New York), an aircraft transport (APV-1) (later aircraft supply ship AKV-1) (1941-1946), operated in the Pacific theater during World War II, playing a key logistics role in the timely buildup of defenses at Midway and Guadalcanal in 1942.
Specifications: Displacement 80,000 (full load); length 1,047'; beam 129.4'; extreme width at flight deck 252'; draft 35'; speed 30 + knots; complement 4,582; armament: two twin Terrier surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems aft (MK 10 Mod 3 starboard side for RIM-2F; MK 10 Mod 4 port side for RIM-2D), two 40 mm saluting guns, 80–90 aircraft, four C-13 Mod 0 steam catapults, AN/SPS-8B, AN/SPS-12, AN/SPS-39 “3-D,” and AN/SPS-43 radars, four AN/SPG-55 fire control, TACAN (Tactical Air Navigation System).
Built by: New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.
Keel Date: 27 Dec 1956.
Launched: 21 May 1960.
Sponsor (Christened): Mrs. Camilla F. McElroy, wife of Secretary of Defense Neil H. McElroy (9 Oct 1957–1 Dec 1959).
Commissioned: 29 Apr 1961 [Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Penn. ADM Arleigh A. Burke, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), delivered the principal address].
Redesignated: CV 63, 29 Apr 1973.
Chronology and Significant Events 1961-1966:
29 Apr 1961: During her commissioning, ADM Arleigh A. Burke, CNO, hailed Kitty Hawk as the “forerunner of a new and greatly improved line of carriers.”
15 Jun 1961: Responding to ongoing media allegations of construction problems associated with purportedly inferior workmanship performed by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally, Jr., admitted: “A large number of discrepancies and deficiencies have shown up in the Kitty Hawk.” Adding that all new ships can expect defects, Connally nonetheless indicated that further investigation was required.
15 Jul–Aug 1961: Completing her fitting out availability, Kitty Hawk sailed, with CVW-11 embarked, from Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for training off the east coast, completing her shakedown cruise off Naval Station (NS) Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
17 Jul 1961: A Grumman C-1A Trader (designated a TF-1, however, on 18 September 1962, when the Department of Defense issued a joint regulation establishing a uniform system of designating military aircraft. For simplicity, all aircraft references hereinafter employ that system), CDR J.M. Thomas and LCDR P.A. Peck, completed the first [at sea aircraft] launch and recovery at 1144.
22 Jul 1961: Robert K. Huntington (DD-781) became the first destroyer to come alongside Kitty Hawk, completing a highline transfer.
23 Jul 1961: Kitty Hawk conducted her initial underway replenishment, with oiler Neosho (AO-143).
11 Aug–1 Nov 1961: Kitty Hawk sailed around Cape Horn to Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, Calif., calling en route at Port of Spain, Trinidad, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Valparaiso, Chile, and Callao, Peru. LT Clayton R. Wylie, VA-115, accomplished the 1,000th arrested landing on board in Aircraft No. 507, a Douglas A-1H Skyraider (BuNo 139769, 11 September). Kitty Hawk crossed the equator for the first time (22 September). The ship “rounded the Horn,” being assigned to the Pacific Fleet (8 October). As the carrier entered a 42-foot deep channel in San Diego harbor newly dredged to accommodate her, a swing band on board a nearby ship broke into its rendition of “California Here I Come.”
18 Nov 1961: Admiral George W. Anderson, CNO, and an entourage of senior officials viewed anti-submarine warfare demonstrations by a task force comprising guided missile light cruiser Topeka (CLG-8), guided missile destroyer Henry B. Wilson (DDG-7), guided missile frigate Preble (DLG-15), and submarine Blueback (SS-581), in the Southern California Operations Area.
23 Nov 1961–May 1962: The ship entered San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard, Hunters Point, Calif., for post shakedown cruise repairs.
21 Dec 1961: The Navy and New York Shipbuilding Corp. reached a final contract price for the ship of approximately $178 million. This figure reflected the “final settlement of all claims and counterclaims pertaining to Kitty Hawk,” including allegations of cost overruns, delays, and purportedly inferior workmanship performed by that company.
7 Oct 1962: Kitty Hawk relieved carrier Midway (CVA-41) in the Seventh Fleet’s area of responsibility (AOR). During this WestPac deployment the ship made her first visit to Fleet Activities (FA), Yokosuka, Japan.
13 Oct 1962: Kitty Hawk became Seventh Fleet flagship for the day while hosting the change of command as VADM Thomas H. Moorer relieved ADM William A. Schoech as Commander, Seventh Fleet.
3–6 Dec 1962: High-ranking guests from nine Asian nations plus the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and New Zealand observed a Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC) weapons demonstration from the ship.
7 Dec 1962: LT(JG) Ray Barnes, VA-113, became the ship’s first jet centurion by completing his 100th arrested landing, in a Douglas A-4C Skyhawk.
19 Dec 1962: The ship participated in Blue Sky, a major strike exercise with the Taiwanese.
7 Jan 1963: LT William C. Gideon, VF-114, accomplished the 10,000th arrested landing on board in Aircraft No. 408, an F-4B.
27 Jan–2 Feb 1963: During Picture Window III, a multi threat exercise off northern Japan, the ship experienced her first overflights by Soviet bombers.
6–7 June 1963: President John F. Kennedy and an entourage that included the CNO and other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, together with Secretary of the Navy Fred Korth, visited Kitty Hawk overnight, viewing a First Fleet weapons demonstration. The crew commemorated the occasion by referring to the ship as the “Floating White House.” Operating with the carrier were 31 other vessels; including anti-submarine warfare support aircraft carrier Bennington (CVS-20), amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima (LPH-2), heavy cruiser Helena (CA-75), Topeka, and amphibious force flagship Eldorado (AGC-11). Referring to the Cuban Missile Crisis the previous autumn, the President used the occasion to note: “Events of October 1962 indicated, as they had all through history, that control of the sea means security. Control of the seas can mean peace. Control of the seas can mean victory. The United States must control the seas if it is to protect your security…” Writing to Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek of Taiwan, the President remarked that seeing Kitty Hawk and her crew at sea “…gives real meaning to the phrase, ‘Our first Line of Defense...” An engraved steel plaque, laid in her flight deck, commemorated the Chief Executive’s visit.
4–5 Aug 1963: During Project Whale Tale, Article 352, a Lockheed U-2A Dragon Lady high-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft, was evaluated for “carrier suitability” on board Kitty Hawk. Pilot Bob Schumacher accomplished four practice launches and approaches in N315X, the code number used for the U-2A from the Office of Naval Research, a cover for its actual CIA assignment.
2–4 Dec 1963: Kitty Hawk participated in Big Dipper, an amphibious exercise with the Taiwanese demonstrating how “American forces can answer the call from a besieged ally.” Her aircraft provided close air support and reconnaissance for assault troops.
6 Dec 1963: LT George C. Creighton, III, VA-113, became Kitty Hawk’s first jet double-centurion by completing his 200th arrested landing on board. LTs Marvin I. Clark and Thomas C. Kennedy of the same flight landed within seconds of LT Creighton, also qualifying as double-centurions.
1–5 Mar 1964: Kitty Hawk participated in Backpack, an amphibious exercise with Taiwanese forces.
4 Mar 1964: LCDR William B. Davis, VA-113, made the ship’s 25,000th trap, in Aircraft No. 301, an A-4C.
3–7 Apr 1964: Kitty Hawk participated in two exercises, Crazy Horse (3–5 April) off Okinawa/Japan, and Newboy, an air defense exercise on the 7th off the Philippines.
21 Apr 1964: Following an abortive rightist coup against the Laotian government on 19 April, communist Pathet Lao guerillas threatened that regime. Kitty Hawk steamed to the South China Sea to provide a stabilizing presence in the region. On 18 May, her aircraft began flying low-level aerial reconnaissance missions over Laos, determining that the communists were infiltrating into the area from North Vietnam, part of the system eventually known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Three days later, the Seventh Fleet initiated a standing carrier presence at Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin (established as the primary operations area from which carriers would launch strikes against North Vietnam).
6 Jun 1964: Machine gun (MG) and 37 mm anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire downed Cork Tip, a Ling-Temco-Vought RF-8A Crusader (BuNo 146823), LT Charles F. Klusmann, Light Photographic Squadron (VFP)-63 Det C, while he was flying a Yankee Team [reconnaissance] mission, about 10 miles south of Ban Ban on Route 7, east of the Plaines des Jarres, Laos. Injured during his ejection, Klusmann became the first Naval Aviator taken by the enemy in Southeast Asia when he fell into the hands of the Pathet Lao. However, after enduring 86 brutal days of captivity (including being caged on display), he escaped. Evading his captors, the intrepid pilot miraculously reached Site 32, the village of Baum Long, on 1 September, where an Air America–an “air proprietary” owned and operated by the CIA–combat search and rescue (CSAR) Pilatus PC-6A Turbo Porter, staging from Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, rescued Klusmann, who was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his exploit.
10–11 May 1964: The ship conducted joint operations with British carrier HMS Victorious (R-38) off Japan.
7–8 Jun 1964: Old Nick, an F-8D (BuNo 147064), CDR Lynn W. Doyle, VF-111, was shot down while escorting a photo reconnaissance mission over Laos. CVW-11 aircrew joined with those from CVW-14, embarked in attack aircraft carrier Constellation (CVA-64), to blast Pathet Lao AAA positions, enabling Doyle to evade communist troops for almost 17 hours and escape via an Air America CSAR helo.
15 Jun 1964: VADM Roy L. Johnson relieved VADM Moorer as Com7thFlt, on board.
15 Aug 1964–28 Apr 1965: The ship received a $14 million overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS), Bremerton, Wash. En route, icebreaker Staten Island (AGB-5) took her under tow while off Newport, Ore., a unique three-hour experiment designed to establish if a super-carrier in distress could be aided by a smaller vessel.
4 Sep 1964–10 Jan 1965: Kitty Hawk lay in Dry Dock No. 6, PSNS.
3–8 Mar 1965: Kitty Hawk completed post overhaul sea trials.
21–22 Jun 1965: A Grumman E-2A Hawkeye, LT George G. Koppmann, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW)-11 Det C, made the first operational landing of that aircraft on board Kitty Hawk, completing the ship’s initial E-2 catapult launch the next day.
Jul 1965: A sequence from the Walt Disney motion picture Lt. Robin Crusoe, USN was filmed on board over a five-day period. Two chimpanzees were the highlight to the crew among the embarked guests. On 25 June 1966, Kitty Hawk hosted the world premier of the movie within Hanger Bay No. 1, converted into a “gala” 1,804-seat theater, as the ship lay moored to Pier Mike-November, NAS North Island. Simultaneously, the motion picture was shown on board Constellation, operating off Vietnam, allowing the film to honor those serving by being released concurrently on ships moored and underway.
23 Nov 1965: While en route to Vietnamese waters, RADM James R. Reedy, Commander, Attack Carrier Striking Forces, Seventh Fleet, broke his flag in Kitty Hawk. During part of this deployment, CVWs-11 and -15 (the latter embarked in Constellation) took part in an experimental aircraft camouflage evaluation; half of its aircraft operated with their upper fuselages painted in the new scheme.
26 Nov–1 Dec 1965: Aircrew began flying against the Viet Cong (VC) in South Vietnam. On the inaugural effort, they completed 90 attack sorties, dropping more than 140 tons of ordnance.
2–24 Dec 1965: Kitty Hawk conducted her initial operations against the North Vietnamese from Yankee Station. On the 2nd, aircraft hit communist trans-shipment points (used to ship military supplies) and storage facilities. Linfield 412, however, an F-4B (BuNo 152220), CDR Carl B. Austin, and LT(JG) Jacob D. Logan, VF-114, did not return, probably “due to collision with ground during penetration of undercast,” while on a flak suppression run over North Vietnam, 17º57’N, 106º31’E.
6 Dec 1965: During the morning a flash fire erupted in No. 3 Main Machinery Room, during air operations on Yankee Station. Two sailors, FA William D. “Billy” Heeper and FN Charles A. Philhewer, died, and 29 suffered injuries, with two men, FA Henry H. Powell and Grumman Aircraft Co. representative Edward B. Scherer, being injured seriously in the “smoke-clogged fire below decks.” The crew regained control of the space, however, and flight operations continued without interruption.
8–10 Dec 1965: Under Secretary of the Navy Robert H.B. Baldwin and his entourage visited the ship.
20 Dec 1965: Flint River 605, a North American RA-5C Vigilante (BuNo 151624), LCDR Guy D. Johnson, and LT(JG) Lee E. Nordahl, Reconnaissance Attack Squadron (RVAH)-13, was lost while on a photographic reconnaissance mission over Uong Bi Thermal Power Plant (the first North Vietnamese industrial target authorized to be struck by naval aircraft), 15 miles northeast of Haiphong, North Vietnam, 20º51’N, 107º4’E.
22 Dec 1965: A “massive coordinated strike” by 110 aircraft from attack aircraft carriers Enterprise, Kitty Hawk and Ticonderoga (CVA-14) against the Uong Bi plant “virtually” destroyed the facility, temporarily disrupting approximately two-thirds of the power to Hanoi and Haiphong. A salvo of three SAMs bracketed Flint River 603, however, an RA-5C (BuNo 151632), LCDR Max D. Lukenbach, and LT(JG) Glenn H. Daigle, RVAH-13. One detonated below the Vigilante and shot it down, while it was making a photo reconnaissance pass over Hai Duong Railroad Bridge, North Vietnam, 20º59’N, 106º24’E. Daigle survived but was captured, and did not return to the U.S. until 12 Feb 1973. A SAM most likely downed Buckeye 801, an A-6A (BuNo 151781), CDR Billie J. Cartwright, and LT Edward F. Gold, Attack Squadron (VA)-85, during a radar systems attack on the Haiphong Highway Bridge, 21º13’N, 106º57’E.
Jan–Mar 1966: “Frequent periods of low ceiling in the I Corps area” and “non-availability of Forward Air Controllers” handicapped operations following the stand down observed due to the Tet (Vietnamese lunar holiday) truce.
31 Jan 1966: Linfield 402, an F-4B (BuNo 152233), LT William F. Klumpp, II, and LT(JG) Joseph N. Stineman, VF-114, was hit by North Vietnamese automatic weapons fire while on an armed reconnaissance mission, 17º23’N, 105º43’E. Klumpp attempted to maintain control but when still four miles out, Linfield 402 suffered a “complete hydraulic failure” and crashed at sea. A Kaman UH-2 Seasprite planeguard, HC-1 Det 1, Unit C, Kitty Hawk and a Sikorsky SH-3A Sea King, Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (HS)-2, embarked in antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier Hornet (CVS-12), rescued the men at about 1500.
1 Feb 1966: Arab 513, a Douglas A-1H Skyraider (BuNo 142038), LT(JG) Brian S. Eakin, VA-115, was shot down by 12.7 mm fire while strafing Pathet Lao automatic weapons emplacements in Laos, 17º29’N, 105º38’E. Following a “compulsory egress,” Eakin escaped from his pursuers on the ground for about 35 minutes, long enough to enable a USAF Sikorsky HH-3C Jolly Green Giant CSAR helo to recover and transport him to Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai AFB, Thailand.
3 Feb 1966: “Bad weather” reduced aerial operations until this date, when the elements “opened for a few hours.” Aircrew took advantage of that window of opportunity and flew 170 sorties, 49 of them attack.
3 Feb 1966: Flint River 605, an RA-5C (BuNo 151625), LT Gerald L. Coffee, and LT(JG) Robert T. Hanson, Jr., RVAH-13, was shot down by AAA while making a photo reconnaissance flight near Cap Bouton, North Vietnam, 19º12’N, 105º45’E. The SAR resulted in a vicious mêlée as destroyer Brinkley Bass (DD-887) and guided missile destroyer Waddell (DDG-24), the latter “straddled” by enemy salvoes, “slugged it out” with communist batteries. A total of 33 Navy and USAF aircraft were “diverted to suppress enemy fire” while a USAF Grumman HU-16 Albatross attempted to locate the downed crew. Coffee survived but was captured, not returning home until 12 February 1973.
18 Feb 1966: Buckeye 812, an A-6A (BuNo 151797), LT(JG) Joseph V. Murray, and LT(JG) Thomas A. Schroeffel, VA-85, was lost during a low level run on the Xom Lom Barracks, North Vietnam, 20º54’N, 104º32’E. Pulling out of its dive too late, Buckeye 812 struck the ground in a “nose high attitude” approximately 500 yards beyond its initial two 1,000-pound bomb blasts, triggering the explosion of its remaining four 1,000 pounders.
22 Feb–5 Mar 1966: Aircrew “averaged 100 direct air support sorties per day.”
Mar 1966: Flying “just off the deck” through heavy rain while encountering poor visibility, A-1Hs from VA-115 “tore into” Cap Chao radar site, eight miles southwest of Than Hoa, with air-to-ground rockets.
5 Mar 1966: Linfield 413, an F-4B (BuNo 152224), LCDR Malcolm N. Guess, and LT Ross E. Pile, VF-114, crashed due to probable communist AW fire that caused a “loss of hydraulic pressure and control effectiveness,” South Vietnam, 10º24’N, 106º06’E. Both men were rescued by USAF CSAR helos and flown to Vinh Long Airfield, and thence on to the 3rd Field Hospital.
10 Mar 1966: Aircrew flew close air support in support of the “beleaguered” Special Forces camp, A Shau, South Vietnam, which was under attack by the communists.
14 Mar 1966: SAR helo crews conducted the “daring rescue” of two USAF aircrewmen after their aircraft was shot down, both being extricated from their predicament within range of enemy shore batteries.
Apr 1966: During JunkEx, daily strikes against North Vietnamese waterborne traffic in the Vinh area supplying communist forces in South Vietnam hit over 200 craft.
3 Apr 1966: LT Felix E. Templeton, VF-114, flying an F-4B, became Kitty Hawk’s first triple centurion by making his 300th arrested landing on board. LT Templeton had also made the ship’s 16,000th trap, in Aircraft No. 401, an F-4B, on 17 Aug 1963.
12 Apr 1966: Holly Green 3, a Douglas KA-3B Skywarrior (BuNo 142653), LCDR William A. Glasson, Jr., LT(JG) Larry M. Jordan, ATR2 Reuben B. Harris, and PR2 Kenneth W. Pugh, Heavy Attack Squadron (VAH)-4 Det C, failed to reach the ship en route from NAS Cubi Point, due to undetermined causes, near Hainan Island, China, approximately 21º8’N, 111º17’E. Enterprise assisted in the SAR.
15 Apr 1966: Aircrew responded to a SAR for a downed USAF F-4C Phantom II, silencing one 57 mm and two 37 mm AAA sites nearby.
15 Apr 1966: The crew endured one of the ship’s deadliest accidents. Angel 38, a UH-2B, (BuNo 150162), LT(JG) Michael R. Zerbe, LT Richard C. Cline, and ADJ1 Hugh E. Coleman, HC-1 Det C, launched at 1017 to test their Seasprite following an “engine and azmiuth assembly change.” While lifting off from the flight deck, Angel 38 apparently experienced its “left wing down with a slight yaw rotation counter clockwise and slight at drift.” Suddenly pitching forward and “violently” rolling left, the helo struck the deck, disintegrating the rotor blades, with fragments flying across the deck and felling sailors. Going over the port side, the helo rolled over and turned “about” 150º, settling “rapidly” into the water, the survivors swimming to the surface. LT(JG) Zerbe, and AN David J. Underhill, VF-213, died in the tragic mishap, while LT Cline, ADJ1 Coleman, AN R.H. Boone, VF-114, AN T.S. Jones, ship’s company, and AN Walter D. Needham, VF-213, suffered injuries.
17 Apr 1966: Aircraft dropped the second and third spans of the five span steel Hai Duong Railroad and Highway Bridge, about 30 nautical miles east of Hanoi, into the channel of the Song Thai Binh, also “cratering” the eastern bridge abutment and approaches. Flak suppressing aircraft “silenced” one 37 mm and six automatic weapons sites with multiple rocket hits. This was considered a major success in the war on North Vietnamese lines of communication.
17 Apr 1966: Arab 511, an A-1H (BuNo 135398), LT(JG) William L. Tromp, VA-115, went down following a night attack on coastal targets, near approximately 18º18’N, 106º10’E. Arab 506, his wingman, overheard LT(JG) Tromp shout “cockpit emergency” on his radio, a SAM alert causing the remaining pilots to disengage and “head out to sea,” however, the cause of LT(JG) Tromp’s loss was undetermined, though “combat associated.” Anti-submarine warfare support aircraft carrier Yorktown (CVS-10) assisted with the SAR.
17 Apr 1966: Buckeye 814, a Grumman A-6A Intruder (BuNo 151794), LCDR Samuel L. Sayers, and LCDR Charles D. Hawkins, Jr., VA-85, was shot down by 37 mm AAA while en route to hit a North Vietnamese SAM site. LCDR Sayers attempted to fly to Da Nang Air Base (AB), South Vietnam, but hydraulic failure forced the crew to eject at sea, both men being recovered after 20 minutes in the water by a USAF HU-16.
18 Apr 1966: Intelligence revealed that the North Vietnamese were repairing the damage at Uong Bi Thermal Power Plant, and a pair of A-6As, VA-85, executed a surprise midnight attack against the factory. Making radar system deliveries, the Intruder crews placed 26,000 pounds of ordnance on target, “sending showers of sparks and raging fires leaping into the air.”
19 Apr 1966: Aircraft hit the Cam Pha Port Facility, North Vietnam. The “precipitous” departure of a Polish merchantman, and subsequent protests from the Polish government, indicated the strike’s “inhibiting effect” on East Bloc logistical support for the North Vietnamese. That same day, an RA-5C, LCDR Raymond C. Vehorn and LT(JG) John H. Hurlburt, RVAH-13, accomplished the 50,000th arrested landing on board.
20 Apr 1966: Battle Cry 314, an A-4C (BuNo 148512), CDR John N. Abbott, VA-113, the division lead of an attack element of an eight plane strike, was shot down by AAA while making an armed reconnaissance over the Vinh Son Highway Bridge, North Vietnam, 18º53’N, 105º37’E. Abbott was captured by the enemy but died in captivity. While orbiting Battle Cry 314 to protect Abbott after his crash, Battle Cry 303, another A-4C (BuNo 149495), LT(JG) Harry G. Welch, VA-113, was hit by probable 37 mm AAA. Welch was able to return to the vicinity of Kitty Hawk after his initial fire went out, subsequently losing throttle control as the flames burst forth afresh, forcing him to eject at 1500, 18º22’N, 107ºE, being recovered by the ship’s planeguard helo.
21 Apr 1966: Buckeye 806, an A-6A (BuNo 151798), CDR Jack E. Keller, and LCDR Ellis E. Austin, VA-85, was shot down by possible AW fire during a night systems attack in the vicinity of Tan Loc Barracks and Supply Area, North Vietnam, 18º49’N, 105º4’E. Buckeye 813, his wingman, observed a “bright flash near target.”
22 Apr 1966: Buckeye 805, an A-6A (BuNo 151785), LCDR Robert F. Weimorts, and LT(JG) William B. Nickerson, VA-85, was leading a two-Intruder strike mission against the Vinh Complex, North Vietnam, when it was shot down by possible AAA, crashing into the water near 18º33’N, 106ºE. Linfield 414, an F-4B (BuNo 152241), LT Norman W. Smith, and LT(JG) Roger Blake, VF-114, was hit by AAA (possibly target debris) during its “run-in to target” over North Vietnam. Returning to the ship streaming fuel and with “hung” [unexpended] ordnance, both men ejected near Kitty Hawk and were recovered by her planeguard UH-2A.
27 Apr 1966: Buckeye 811, an A-6A (BuNo 151788), LT William R. Westerman, Jr., and LT(JG) Brian E. Westin, VA-85, was shot down by AAA “during retirement from target” on an armed reconnaissance mission. Both men ejected over water near 18º40’N, 106º5’E, LT Westerman being “seriously wounded,” recovered by an SH-3 and flown to Topeka. On 21 June 1966, LT(JG)Westin was later awarded the Navy Cross for his intrepidity and courage during the battle.
28 Apr 1966: Black Lion 111, an F-4B (BuNo 150645), LT Raymond A. Schiltz, and LT(JG) Douglas C. Lewis, VF-213, was shot down by AAA while on an armed reconnaissance against cargo junks, making a rocket attack against nearby AW emplacements. The crew ejected about five minutes after being hit, while returning to the ship, at approximately 19º21’N, 106º45’E Fetch 68, a Navy SAR helo, recovered both men and flew them to Topeka.
18 May 1966: Black Lion 113, an F-4B (BuNo 152257), LCDR Carl W. Sommers, II, and LCDR William K. Sullivan, VF-213, was shot down by Pathet Lao automatic weapons fire while searching for Gomby 19, a downed aircraft, near Mugia Pass, Laos, 17º11’N, 106º6’E. Ejecting, both men were recovered by a USAF Jolly Green Giant and taken to Da Nang.
2 Jun 1966: CTF 77 and ComCarDiv-5 staff transferred to Constellation, Kitty Hawk’s “relieving carrier” in WestPac. During the recently completed deployment, aircrew flew 9,223 combat and 1,485 support sorties (over 2,000 during the initial line period) in Rolling Thunder, Blue Tree, Barrel Roll, Steel Tiger, Yankee Team, and “in-country support” missions. Major communist targets included Cam Pha Port Facility, Vinh Son Highway Bridge, Uong Bi Thermal Power Plant, and Hai Duong Railroad-Highway Bridge. Lesser targets included Nam Dinh Boat Repair Facility, Thanh Hoa Petroleum-Oil-Lubricants (POL) Storage Area, Thanh Hoa Railroad-Highway Bridge, Hon Gay Army Barracks, “Multiple Waterborne Craft in the Vinh area,” and lines of communication in the Mugia and Nape Passes, inland waterways, and Routes 1, 1A, and 15. Kitty Hawk faced continual “harassment,” however, by Soviet intelligence gathering trawlers (Auxiliaries, General, Intelligence, or AGIs). In most instances, the trawlers “deliberately” interposed themselves in “burdened” positions, disregarding International Rules of the Road.
29 Jul 1966: VADM Bernard F. Roeder relieved VADM Lawson P. Ramage, Commander, First Fleet, in a ceremony on board Kitty Hawk.
29 Aug–2 Sep 1966: The Grumman C-2A Greyhound underwent extensive carrier suitability tests, two Greyhounds operating on board Kitty Hawk in the Southern California Operations Area.
13–20 Oct 1966: Kitty Hawk participated in Baseline II, a “major” First Fleet exercise.
5 Nov 1966–19 Jun 1967: During Kitty Hawk’s second WestPac tour of the Vietnam War, the ship spent 117 days on Yankee Station. CVW-11 aircraft flew 5,466 combat and 4,887 support sorties, dropping 11,780.64 tons of ordnance on a “resourceful and determined enemy.” “On the line” for 117 days, Kitty Hawk conducted key strikes–a total of 38–against North Vietnamese targets near Haiphong, Kep, Bac Giang, Hon Gai, Van Dien, Thai Nguyen, Thanh Hoa, and Ninh Binh, together with 15 mining missions.
16–17 Nov 1966: Soviet Tupolev Tu-95 Bear and Myasishchev Mi-4 Bison bombers overflew the ship. Normal occurrences when carriers deployed near foreign shores, such overflights heightened Cold War tensions.
18 Nov 1966: Kitty Hawk crossed the International Date Line, entering the Seventh Fleet’s AOR, arriving the next day at Yokosuka, to relieve Constellation as flagship of RADM David C. Richardson, Commander, Attack Carrier Striking Force, Seventh Fleet.
Dec 1966: Despite “poor weather,” Intruders “maintained steady pressure on NVN targets…both day and night.”
9 Dec 1966: A C-2A, LCDR Jack M. Wilbern, Fleet Tactical Support Squadron (VR)-50, made the first Greyhound carrier onboard delivery (COD) in the combat zone on board Kitty Hawk, from NAS Cubi Point, Philippines, in the Gulf of Tonkin.
17 Dec 1966: An A-6A, VA-85, participated in an Alpha [maximum effort] strike against the Haiphong SAM Assembly Area.
20 Dec 1966: Two F-4Bs, LT Hugh D. Wisely and LT(JG) David L. Jordon, VF-114, and LT David A. McRae, and ENS David N. Nichols, VF-213, intercepted and shot down a pair of North Vietnamese Antonov An-2 Colts with AIM-7E Sparrow air-to-air missiles. Both Phantom IIs scrambled during the early morning hours in response to unidentified aircraft on radar screens, tracking the Colts to a position 25 miles east-northeast of Thanh Hoa, North Vietnam, where the F-4Bs downed them. “I saw the missile explode,” Wisely later recalled, “and saw an explosion as the plane erupted.”
21 Dec 1966: War Paint 303, an A-4C (BuNo 148507), LT(JG) Danny E. Glenn, VA-144, was shot down by AAA during an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam, 18º9’N, 106º9’E. Glenn shouted “I’m hit!” over his radio, War Paint 316, another Skyhawk, transmitting “Eject, you’re on fire.” Glenn was captured and did not return home until 4 April 1973.
23 Dec 1966: Destroyer O’Brien (DD-725) on patrol about 21 miles north of Dong Hai, North Vietnam, came under heavy fire by enemy 57 mm shore batteries at 1046, receiving three direct hits that killed DC3 Antone Perry, Jr., and FA Thomas L. Tiglas; and wounded BT1 Clayton C. Olsen, BT3 Robert H. Scudder, FN William C. Wehunt and FA Ronald D. Henson. Aircraft from Kitty Hawk and Enterprise diverted from their primary targets to aid O’Brien, and, along with the destroyer’s guns, silenced the batteries.
- USS Kitty Hawk CVA-63 (later CV-63) Chronology and Significant Events 1956-1966
- USS Kitty Hawk CVA-63 (later CV-63) Chronology and Significant Events 1967-1969
- USS Kitty Hawk CVA-63 (later CV-63) Chronology and Significant Events 1970s
- USS Kitty Hawk CVA-63 (later CV-63) Chronology and Significant Events 1980s
- USS Kitty Hawk CVA-63 (later CV-63) Chronology and Significant Events 1990-2005