A7E Corsair II
Tail Number 159268
I would like to thank the Veteran’s committee and Ms. Kinney for allowing us to be a part of this wonderful event.
For you to understand why we are going to dedicate this aircraft today, I think it is important to tell you a story. At one point, my family lived just 10 houses down the road, I played baseball in a field right where we are standing, and graduated from Canton South in 1971.
I went into the Navy in July and finished aviation electronics training in April of 1972. I got orders to report to a 12 week school on an airplane called an A7 in Jacksonville, Florida.
The day last day of my leave, I remember seeing a notice on television that said, “Emergency recall for all ships company attached to the USS Saratoga and Carrier Air Wing 3.”
I didn’t think much about it because my orders were to check into the training command at Cecil Field. The next day I flew to Jacksonville and checked in with the Duty Officer. He looked at the orders, smiled and said, “Son, you’re going to the boat.”
I asked, what boat and where am I going? The Lt. said, The Sara and we don’t know, but you will sleep on the ship tonight and leave at 0600 tomorrow morning. This was April 11, 1972.
It took a month to get to Cubic Bay, Philippians and I turned 19 on the way over. We were gone for 10 months and were operating in the Gulf of Tonkin for the last 8 months of the war.
The pilots of the Saratoga; flew 708 missions, mined the Hyphong harbor, shot down Mig’s, flew close support for ground troops, attacked the Ho-Chi-Minh Trail, went to downtown Hanoi, protected the B-52’s, flew countless missions in both North and South Vietnam during some of the most intense fighting of the war.
On January 8, 1973, our pilots flew the last mission of the war. When we recovered the last plane, we buttoned up the ship and came home arriving in Mayport, Florida on February 13, 1973.
VA-105 lost two pilots while on-station in the Gulf of Tonkin.
On June 16, 1972 Lt. John Cabral was lost in 401 during a launch.
Two days later, on June 18, 1972, Lt. Larry Kilpatrick was shot down in 406 in a night mission in North Vietnam, he is still listed as MIA.
I remained in VA-105 for two more years. We transitioned from the A7A to the A7E, and made a “Med” Cruise in ‘74.
A bit more background.
My father-in-law was a Navy Pilot in WWII, flew TBM’s off the USS Langley, and was highly decorated including; The Navy Cross, The Distinguished Flying Cross, two Gold Stars and The Air Medal.
My oldest son inherited the desire to serve in Naval Aviation and became the third generation to do so. Benjamin is a Naval Flight Officer, flies in F-18 Super Hornets, and is in VF 154 attached to the USS Ronald Reagan.
About 3 years ago, I received a call from Ben and this is how the conversation went. “Dad, remember the place you used to take us to eat pancakes and show us the planes?” I said, “Yea, MAPS.” “They have one of your airplanes.” “They have an A7?” “No, they have one of yours, from VA-105.” I said, “you’re kidding me? He said “no, go see it.”
I went over to MAPS to see the A7. It was in really bad shape, the paint was flaking off, it was in pieces on the floor and on skids outside. The plane had been on the Intrepid in NY City for 10 years and was brought to MAPS two years earlier but never reassembled.
When I saw that plane on the floor, I remember the thoughts that went through my mind. “This is disrespectful to our pilots and I have to do something about it.” I asked the MAPS member if I could put it back together, he said sure, all you have to do is join.
That began the process.
After awhile helpers would come and go except for Dave Bachman and John Disco, they helped the longest. We enlisted the help of Ellen Wilson to paint the Horse Head on the tail, and a few other guys to help create some stencils.
I would like to take a couple of minutes to show you some of the story.
Film Strip goes HERE
When we decided to formally dedicate the A7 to the VA-105 pilots, I tried to contact the families to let them know what we planned to do. Unfortunately, I could not make contact with anyone from Mr. Kilpatrick’s family.
Mrs. Cabral did contact me and we are honored to have four members of Mr. Cabral’s family come here from Boston to attend this ceremony.
In our first conversation, Mrs. Cabral said that the family was really surprised I would remember after nearly 38 years. I think I can speak for everyone in this room who was in a similar situation.
A squadron is like a family. Those were our planes and our pilots. When we lost a pilot, we lost a family member and we will remember the way that we felt on that day for the rest of our lives. In our memory, it is as though it happened yesterday.
The last slide in the film was a picture of Lt. Cabral being “Winged” by his father. I know from personal experience how proud he must have been when he “Winged” his son. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.
I now have the privilege of introducing our guests Mrs. Maureen Cabral, Mr. John Cabral Jr, Ms. Linda Cabral and Mrs. Delores Nangle and I would like them to come forward for the ceremony.
Also, I would like to have three members the restoration crew; Dave Bachman, John Disco and Ellen Wilson. In total, we have documented over 2,000 volunteer hours over a 3 year period.
On behalf of
The United States Navy
The USS Saratoga
Carrier Air Group 3
The Naval Air Museum Pensacola Florida
MAPS Air Museum
and the restoration Crew
We present you with this picture and dedicate the restoration of A7E Corsair II, tail number 159268
to the memory of
Lt. John J. Cabral, Boston Mass.
Lt. Larry R. Kilpatrick, Stone Mountain, Georgia
May they rest in peace
may God Bless their families.
Presented by: Kim David Kovesci
A7E restoration crew chief
Director MAPS Air Museum