Phantom Pharefell, Hikotai 301 edition

Japan Air Self Defense Force is one of the last top-tier air force flying the Vietnam-era F-4 Phantom II with the Samurais of Tactical Fighter Squadron Hitokai 301 retiring their birds over the weekend, as the force transitions to the F-35A.

The squadron was the first JASDF unit to field the Phantom, on 1 August 1972, making it fitting that they are the last to operate them– although it should be stressed that the Japanese still have a few F-4s put back for testing and training missions.

Notably, the JASDF has given several of these F-4EJ “Phinal Phantoms” special paint schemes to commemorate the type’s impressive 48 years of service.

Of note, the Iranians, Greeks, South Koreans, and Turks still fly a total of about 150~ F-4s while the U.S. withdrew their last operational unit, the Marine Reservists of VMFA-321, in 1992 and expended their last QF-4 drone in 2016.


  • I hope you will be able to assist me. I served aboard the USSCatfish during the 67& 68 WestPac cruises. I served under Captain James Varley in 67 and Captain Charles Coleman both of who are not deceased. Captain Varley passed away as a result of Parkinsons Disease. I have been unable to determine the cause of death for Captain Coleman. Two other crewman from both those timeframes have died, one of complications from Diabetes and one from Ischemic Heart Disease. Two others have prostate cancer, both these persons have been denied benefits by the VA. I to have multiple Agent Orange conditions. In all our cases the VA states the Catfish was never within the 12 mile limit of the Vietnam Coast thereby not recognizing us as ”Brown Water Sailors” which are entitled to benefits.

    In your history of the boat you cite us being within the twelve mile limit to rescue downed pilots and within the range of shore batteries.

    The VA has taken the position the Catfish was never within the 12 mile limit. In fact, according to them the records remain classified and unavailable thereby not supporting our claims. Which happen very much as you described in your article.

    Any help you might provide as to how we could acquire the information you obtained would be helpful. We have been at a dead end for several years. Only recently have I found your history of the Catfish.

    FYI: Captain James Varley was awarded the Legion of Merit for service in a classified action while Captain of the Catfish. Crew members were awarded the American Expeditionary Forces Medal (Korea) which further supports something if great importance happened. His award remains Classified, the Citation was on the wall of his home but does not expound on the reason. I have a copy of the actual Citation. I spoke with a member of his family who related what the Captain told his children. It was almost like reliving the incidents while under his command.

    Any help you could provide would be helpful. Thank you in advance, I hope have not taken to much of your time.

    559 901 8554

  • Pingback: Phantom Pharefell, Hikotai 301 edition – JC's Aviation

  • Pingback: Japanese Phantom Pharewell | laststandonzombieisland

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