FDR’s Ace of Spades

45 Years Ago Today:

Official caption: “Mediterranean Sea. U.S. Marine Corporal J.E. Goldsburg cleans the windshield of an AV-8A Harrier Advanced Vertical Take-Off and Landing Close Support Aircraft on the flight deck of USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV 42).”

Photographed by PH3 Greg Haas, November 9, 1976. U.S. Navy Photograph, 428-GX-USN 116818, now in the collections of the National Archives

The shot was taken during VMA-231’s Bicentennial Med cruise which saw the Ace of Spade’s squadron integrate their brand-new Hawker Siddeley-made early model Harriers with Carrier Air Wing 19 in regular operations.

After stops in Spain, Italy, Sicily, Kenya, and Egypt, the Aces cross-decked to the amphibious assault ship USS Guam (LPH-9), which at the time was the testbed for the ADM Zumwalt’s Sea Control Ship concept. Guam, acting as one of the world’s first “Harrier Carriers,” would pass through the Red Sea and participate in Kenya’s Jamhuri Day Independence celebration.

USS Guam (LPH-9) with AV-8A Harriers, 12.9.76. Note the four airborne Harriers in a diamond formation, flown by VMA-231 “Ace of Spades” squadron Marines, and at least five more on deck. Catalog #: USN 1169189

As for the Aces of VMA-231, they are one of the last Harrier operators in the world.

The more things change…

U.S. Marine Cpl. Blake R. Phillips, a power line mechanic with Marine Attack Squadron 231, maintains an AV-8B Harrier II, Camp Leatherneck, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, March 5, 2013. Phillips maintains aircraft as part of his daily inspections. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Gabriela Garcia/Released)

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