Neil O. Nelson

Naval aviators. 

Tough cats, those boys. 

The Navy pilots who flew with the VA-22 Naval Air Squadron out of Lemoore, Calif., 55 years ago were tough cats, I know that. 

They might not have had the notoriety of a Tom Cruise, of “Top Gun: Maverick” fame, but they were no less accomplished in the air over Vietnam. 

The Navy’s VA-22 Argonaut pilots were the first to fly the A-7 Corsair jets in bombing missions over Vietnam in 1967. 

The new Corsair jet at the time could carry the most ordinance of any Navy jet launched from an aircraft carrier. 

The seven-month deployment on the USS Ranger involved jets, pilots, crew and auxiliary personnel and a boatload of bombs. An Air Force contingent of pilots and crew accompanied our squadron on the deployment, in fact.  

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