Forty-one years ago today, an Navy F-4B Phantom II from the “Chargers” of Fighter Squadron ONE SIX ONE (VF-161) scored the 197th and final US air-to-air victory of the Vietnam War. While operating from the USS Midway (CVA-41), “Rock River 102” crewed by Lieutenant Victor Kovaleski and Lieutenant (junior grade) James Wise downed an MiG-17 with an AIM-9 Sidewinder. The “Chargers” of VF-161 recorded five MiG kills while deployed aboard the USS Midway during the Vietnam War. The Phantom entered service with the U.S Navy on 30 December 1960 with the VF-121 Pacemakers at NAS Miramar. The VF-74 Be-devilers at NAS Oceana became the first deployable Phantom squadron when it received its F4H-1s (F-4Bs) on 8 July 1961 . In 1984, the F-4Ns had been retired, and by 1987 the last F-4Ss were retired in the US Navy deployable squadrons. On 25 March 1986, an F-4S belonging to the VF-151 “Vigilantes,” became the last active duty U.S. Navy Phantom to launch from an aircraft carrier, in this case, the USS Midway. On 18 October 1986, an F-4S from the VF-202 “Superheats”, a Naval Reserve fighter squadron, made the last-ever Phantom carrier landing while operating aboard USS America. In 1987, the last of the Naval Reserve-operated F-4S aircraft were replaced by F-14As (Source Naval Aviation News, September–October 2004)
Below is one of Aviation Enthusiasts photos of an F-4 Phantom II aboard the USS Midway Museum. The Phantom wears the livery of Rock River 102 from VF-161 on the right side of the aircraft.
I was on the USS Saratoga with F-4Js on two deployments from 1972-1975. After seperation from the Navy, I eventually went to work for the Naval Aviation Rework Facility at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. I worked on at least 6 different versions of the F-4s. Including the F-4J to F-4S concersions. Worked RF-4B and Cs, QF-4N and QF-4S conversions, and F-4s from 3 other countries. Even Air Force F-4s. I worked these fine aircraft for almost 20 years and I still miss them. Nothing like standing 100 feet from the runway and have one of these come screaming by at 250 knots, 20 feet off the deck, gear in the well, burners at max, and then going vertical. One hell of an aircraft. Damn I miss that bird.
It Just came out, 1968, WO4 John Walker,USN started spying for the KGB, he provided the codes, The North Korea takes the USS Pueblo, now they have the machine and can in real time read our messages. The North Vietnamese knew when,where, and how many american aircraft were coming. How many fine American Pilots lost thier lives due to John Walker. Side Note it has been reported that the Soviet rewarded North Korea with a squadron of migs.
And Yes I miss the F-4J, the sight and sounds. Nothing better than full afterburner and reaching for the sky. VMFA-212 Lancers.