MCARA Sea Stories
A True Story: Per Joe Stone
Joe Stone, a former ECMO submitted a story, or rather a verification of a story that had been making the rounds of the EMC community for years. Jerry O'Brien published the story in the July 1999 issue of the Log Book. Subsequently, Jerry received a note from Reece Woodard, who supplied a bit more of the detail which he has incorporated into Joe's version.
A Bunny Tale
During the decades of the nineteen sixties, the maintenance crew men of VMCJ-2 had a habit of adorning their aircraft with the infamous silhouette of the Play Boy Bunny. Being of generous spirit, they would also adorn anything they were close to with the same markings.
During the Cuba Flap, J-2 was deployed to Key West. The Navy units had been moved out and an Air Force F-104 unit and a couple of Marine Squadrons had moved onto the base.
As usual, the Air Force brought their own security people with them. One night about one a.m. Joe Stone was standing watch as duty officer when the Air Police Commander and his troops brought in two of our maintenance crew in handcuffs. The two midnight painters had blackened their faces and were dressed in black Air Force suits. Joe was inclined to laugh, but he stifled the impulse.
The irate Commander was shaking a can of spray paint in Joe's face and waving around a bunny stencil. He was screaming that our men had been apprehended painting bunnies on the 104's. He demanded that the two men be court marshaled. Joe agreed to take the pair into custody until this could be brought to the C.O.'s attention.
Joe contacted the Sergeant Major in order to have the midnight skulkers locked up. When Joe explained what happened, the Sergeant Major broke up into laughter.
The C.O. at the time was LtCol. Walt Domina, and Walt was understandably embarrassed when he had to apologize to the Air Force Wing C.O. and as a result, he was very unhappy with the two culprits, as this late date, we can only assume that justice was ultimately served.
A few days after the incident, President Kennedy arrived in Air Force One to review the troops and award DFC's to our RF-8A pilots for the photos of the Cuban missile emplacements. Someone in the photo lab took a picture of Air Force One and superimposed a bunny on the tail. The the blew up the picture and circulated it around the base. When Col. Domina first caught sight of this picture, he had just left the office of the Air Force General, who had spent a half hours or so rearranging the skippers tail feathers. Naturally, the Colonel, who was normally a very layed back guy, was suffering extreme chagrin. Catching sight of the subject photograph, the skipper first experienced something approaching cardiac arrest and then exploded in anger. Allegedly he threatened to kill the SOB's that had painted that bunny, on the President's airplane. It took some time for Mighty Fine, who was the Exec and who was in on the joke, to calm the old man down.
In future years at Happy Hours and at various cocktail parties it was Walt Domina's habit to repeat the then humorous tale. Many Marine Generals, hearing the story, asked for the name and horsepower of the Air Force General that had such a lousy sense of humor. Evidently, what goes around comes around.
An Appendage To The Tale
In the last issue of the Log Book, I (Jerry) related Joe Stone's version of the bunny painted on Air Force One. This allegedly occurred down in Key West and of course was a hoax. This story is somewhat related to the first.
The last time I was in Key West was in 1962. At the time they had but one facility serving adult beverages and that was the Chief's Club. Few of us were in there one afternoon enjoying liberal quantities of lemonade, or whatever else they were serving, when a Navy Chief had the temerity to ask us what we were doing there.
Always the fount of information, I believe it was Hymie Heskin, one of the RO's that told him that we were there as the advanced echelon of the 2nd Marine Air Wing. This gentleman's jaw fell in disbelief. "But we just got new housing," he explained in awe.
The irony of it was that we were down there on one of our frequent deployments, but it wasn't much later that units of the Wing did in fact move into Key West. I can imagine this guy telling his friends that he knew about this move months beforehand.
Due to the proximity of Havana and their electronic ears, we maintained strict radio silence in our flights in and out of Key West. It was probably useless, because every thinking person, with the possible exception of a couple of Navy Chiefs, had a hunch that they knew why we were here.
The tower had been alerted of course, and this lead to some interesting radio transmissions when we were in the area. I recalled one day that a Navy Stoof (S2F) was making touch and goes, when two EF10-B's showed up in the pattern. We broke smartly over the field and headed for the down wind.
The Navy driver called the tower and inquired as to our intentions. "Christ, I don't know." The tower operator replied in exasperation, "The never tell us anything."