The Skyhawk Association is proud to dedicate our Internet Website to Ed Heinemann! This remarkable individual is truly one of the legendary stalwarts in the golden age of aviation. We are truly grateful for what he has done for aviation and for our country!
The Skyhawk Association asks the public to help fill in the gaps of missing data on a-4 losses. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any information you may have about the loss of an A-4 Skyhawk aircraft.
Skyhawk Association Individual Page Dedications
Associaton History Page. = Morris David "Whizzer" White, Skyhawk Association Founder.
VA-164 = "Lady Jessie" Beck and LCDR Dick Perry.
Marine Skyhawk Unit Page = First Lieutenant Augusto Xavier and First Lieutenant Ronald D. Layton, USMC.
VA-55 = LCDR James Joesph Connell.
VA-94 = LT Frank Compton and LCDR Mark Tederman.
Skyhawks on Display Page = LT Ed Dickson.
Navy Skyhawk Unit Page = LCDR Mike Estocin.
VSF-3 = LT Fred Kasch.
VA-144 = LTJG John V. "Mac" McCormick.
NAF China Lake LT Douglas Mayfield.
VX-5 LT Bennett W. Hooks.
Skyhawk Technical Data Page = Bob Rahn, Test Pilot.
Skyhawk Sources Page = Art Scholl, Naval Aviator and Stunt Pilot.
Blue A-4 Angels Page = LTJG Jim Shea.
VA-212 = CDR Homer L. Smith.
Combat Mission Page. = Captain Jim Stockdale.
NWEF Albuquerque, NM. = CDR Henry Hooker Strong, Jr.
Join the Skyhawks Page = LCDR Ted Swartz.
VA-45 = CDR Michael D. Trout.
Group Four and Five Argentine Air Force = A-4 Flight Officers Combat Losses.
Third Navy Sqn Argentine Navy = A-4 Flight Officers Combat Losses.
VC-724 RAN VC-724 = KWF.
VF-805 RAN VF-805 = KWF.
No. 2 Sqn RNZAF No. 2 Sqn. = KWF.
No. 75 Sqn RNZAF No. 75 Sqn = KWF.
"There is no such thing as a bad day when there is a door knob on the inside."
Former Vietnam Prisoner-Of-War A-4 Skyhawk Pilot, Paul E. Galanti.
|Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky.
Be with them always in the air,
In darkening storms or sunlight fair;
Oh, hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air!
|Eternal Father, Strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid'st the mighty Ocean deep
It's own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,
for those in peril on the sea
Greek mythology states that the ferryman of Hades, Charon,, requires payment of one coin to ferry a soul across the River Styx that separates the worlds of the living and the dead. Coins were typically placed in the mouths of loved ones before burial to ensure safe passage to the underworld. Over time this has been adopted in various forms across societies. Today, a coin left on a headstone signifies that somebody stopped by to pay their respects.
While there are various informal military coin denomination hierarchies circulating today (a penny if you knew the person, quarter if you were present when they passed, etc.), to the Airman it is a moot point. There is only one coin that matters: the nickel. Of all the fighter pilot traditions and accompanying heritage, the phrase “nickel on the grass” is easily held in the highest regard of all. The phrase, a chorus from an old fighter pilot song, has evolved to become synonymous with remembering a fallen aviator.
In early twentieth century London, the Salvation Army worked their way through the streets collecting donations and were sometimes confronted with unruly crowds. A family of musicians found a creative solution and began working with the local Salvation Army and played music to distract the crowds. By 1915, the Salvation Army bands migrated to the United States and had grown in popularity in outside the bars on college campuses. After playing songs, the band would come though the bars and pass around an upside-down tambourine while repeating,
“Throw a nickel on the drum and you’ll be saved.”
Eventually and inevitably, the drunken students caught onto this and the parody, “Throw a nickel on the drum, save another drunken bum” became popular … more popular than the Salvation Army band’s original version. This itself inspired several colorful limerick spin-offs in the 1920’s.
Years later, a talented F-86 pilot named William Starr conceived, wrote, and sung similar limericks while assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron. During his time in Korea at K-14 air base in 1954 he continued to write and his compositions grew in popularity. While he was surely not the first to pen limericks about flying, he was by far the most popular; his notebook was appropriately titled “The Fighter Pilot’s Hymn Book.” One day he came across an article from a military folk song singer named Oscar Brand who purported that while the other services had traditions and songs, the Air Force was much too young to have equal representation. Starr got into contact with Brand and unloaded his now-popular songs…all 238 of them! In 1959, this effort produced the album “The Wild Blue Yonder” by Oscar Brand with the Roger Wilco Four. The first, and most popular, song on the album: "Save a Fighter Pilot’s A**."
The title of the song serves as the chorus to verses that tell varying tales of precarious flying situations that all inevitably end with the ultimate sacrifice. The verses remind us of the daily risk aviators take. The chorus embodies a mark of mutual respect and remembrance for a downed flyer. This message, combined with the melody of the Salvation Army band tune, made it an instant classic.
Oh, Halleliua, Halleliua
Throw a nickel on the grass–Save a fighter pilot’s a**.
Oh, Halleliua, Oh, Halleliua
Throw a nickel on the grass and you’ll be saved.
I was cruising down the Mekong, doing six and twenty per
When a call came from my wingman, Oh won ‘t you save me sir?
Got three flak holes in my wing tips,
and my tanks ain’t got no gas
Mayday, mayday, mayday, I got six MIGS on my a**.
I shot my traffic pattern, and to me it looked all right,
The airspeed read one-thirty, I really racked it tight!
Then the airframe gave a shudder, the engine gave a wheeze,
Mayday, mayday, mayday, spin instructions please.
It was split S on my Bomb run, and I got too Go* Da** low
But I pressed that bloody button, and I let those babies go
Sucked the stick back fast as blazes, when I hit a high speed stall
I won’t see my mother when the work is done next fall.
They sent me up to Hanoi, the pre-brief said “no ack”
by the time that I arrived there, all I saw was flak.
Then my engine coughed and sputtered, it was too cut up to fly
Mayday, mayday, mayday, I’m too young to die.
During the Vietnam War, these popular lyrics were changed by units to reflect their aircraft and mission of the time. In an F-4 squadron: “The Yalu” was modified to “The Mekong”, “Major” was replaced by “My Wingman”, “Pyongyang” was replaced with “Saigon”, and “Sabre” replaced by “Phantom.”
Sometime after the war, this chorus phrase made the leap from song to toast, immortalized by an unknown author’s closing words in his tribute to the fighter pilot:
“So here’s a nickel on the grass to you, my friend,
and your spirit, enthusiasm, sacrifice and courage –
but most of all to your friendship.
Yours is a dying breed and when you are gone,
the world will be a lesser place.
Fair Winds & Following Seas to all,
and Semper Fi!