V-1 Yellowshirts

Recollections of a Flight Deck Yellowshirt

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Henry Mendoza wrote me (Jake) a couple years back regarding the Vietnam Gallantry Cross - I had forgotten about that exchange, and have no record of it, but this time, I decided I needed to include his story in our Oral History Section as it is rich in facts that many who didn't work on Hancock's "Roof" don't realize or have forgotten... This exchange took place June 30, 2010 at 2:13 AM. Henry had written me asking where he could find Cruise Books from 1962 through 1966, as he had either lose his or didn't buy any...

From: Henry Mendoza
To: Jake
Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 2:13 AM
Subject: Re: Cruise books

Jake, thanks for the quick response! The one and only time I wrote to you was to confirm the Awarding of the VietNam Gallantry Cross. That was some time back.

Also way back then I did join the Association but did not renew the membership. I must say this time I attempted to sign in the Muster part. I have webtv and it does have limitations. I can't navigate on the links.Need some help here.

While I was looking over the MIAS' listing as well as the fatal accidents you mentioned with Ltjg Cook being one of them; I wanted to mention a couple of other incidents regarding VF 211 and VF 24. For the most part they make for good reading, well for me anyway.

As I mentioned already I was a YellowShirt and we were very familiar with most of the pilots. In June of 1966 the C.O. of VF 211 Cmdr. Marr and his wingman Ltjg Vampatella got into a knockdown shootout with some MIG 17s'. Vampetella was one the regular ones we always joked with. Anyway that day we could hear the 'radio talk' in Flight Deck Control while it was going on. Vampetellas' F8 was hit by 20mm and he started losing fuel so he started back to Hancock, but just then, he looks back and sees Marrs' F8 circled by 3 Migs so he gets back into the fight and Marr shoots one of them down. The MIGS left and both F8s' headed toward Hancock.

They both went by the port side and Marr did his victory roll. When they landed we taxied them right next to the Island. I think all the ship and airwing personnel were there cheering. We YellowShirts were right in front, waiting for both of them but we were very anxious to see Vampetella. (After all, he had been hit and losing fuel and still went back in for his Commander.) He climbs out, walks toward us but all of us stopped cheering right then. Jake, he was pale white, soaked with sweat, as if he had been dipped into the ocean, and stared right through us - that famous '1000 yard stare.' He just walked past us, not saying a word.

One week later he shot down a 17 but when he returned it was different than the first one. Yet every once in a while he would have that look. He went on to become TopGun Instructor at Pensacola.

I tend to get 'long winded' at times so I think I'll sign off for now. I'll share the V-24 incident involving the X.O. (Speer) and his crash on the flight deck next time ok?

Wow! Just like it was yesterday (in my mind, anyway).

A.K.C. Henry Mendoza, USN (retired)

Reply from Jake, Yeoman of the Hancock Memorial... such a letter demands an instant response - you know me, I tend to also be long-winded...

Henry, I will send you a document you can fill out for me, to add your entry to the Muster. It is attached. Fill it in as best you can and then return to me.

I can say this with great confidence, that you and those like you, Henry, are what has become the 'backbone' of my History Website of the Historic Hancock. Without guys writing these kind of stories, it would just be a tribute site, but the Hannah was more than just a ship; she was made up of a crew that had no substitute. She still is a Crew today, though the ship is now gone. It is the Crew that made up Hancock, not the metal. Keep that in mind, as you write more of your stories of life aboard the Hancock on the "Roof" - I would like to post your remarks to our Oral History on a Page(s) in your name and honor. Go to the Oral History Site and read what the others have left us; you can do likewise, in fact, I incist you do for all of us need to read your story - Most of those stories came my way via Email, where the guys would just pour out their souls about experiences they had. there is no better History on the planet than those that were lived by the men and lived long enough to tell about it.

So you go ahead and share your feelings and thoughts. It is what good books are made of. The Hancock Memorial is a Huge "History Book" - and if you printed out each page on this site, it would fill volumns.

Thanks, Henry for sharing!!!
It's good stuff, Maynard!
My Best to you, Shipmate,
Jake Jaccard, YN3, USNR-R
Web Yeoman, Hancock Memorial

Submitted 06/30/2010
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