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Now… at an ebook seller near you… Youthly Puresome in Kindle or ebook format!

The e-book cover of "The Breaks of Naval Air -- The Further Adventures of Youthly Puresome" by CDR Jack D. Woodul, USNR(Ret)
The e-book cover of “The Breaks of Naval Air — The Further Adventures of Youthly Puresome” by CDR Jack D. Woodul, USNR(Ret)

Those of you who have been here before are probably wondering where the sea stories went. Well, some are still here, but the rest are now available in ebook form (see above) from and soon from Barnes & Noble and Apple’s iBook store.

Youthly takes his AirCam up for a ride over rural New Mexico

Here’s Youthly doing some flathatting over New Mexico in his AirCam
If you’ve got a slow internet connection, you might stop the video early on (click on the video window) and wait for the video to load in a bit before starting it up again.

Frozen in Time

I very clearly remember (as FROZEN IN TIME) my first Alpha Strike against Nam Dinh POL storage (4xA-6, 8xA-4, 2xA-4 Bullpup shooters, 4xF-4 flak supressors, Jarboon CottonPicker anti-Firecan, etc, jamming, tankers, Tarcap, etc) this sequence:
Eased down from feet wet 20k or so to 12-14,000′, going like relative stink, beautiful day, loop in river where target is located visible forever.
1.  Bullpup shooters detach for shots from either side of target.
2.  CAG:  All right, here comes the flak.  Start moving it around.
3.  Bullpup one, away!  Bullput one, ballistic!  Bullpup Two away!  Bullpup Two, ballistic!  Both missiles blew up in the countryside.  Woke up all the gunners in multiple clear ant mounds around the target.
4.  Strike airplanes start wagon-wheeling dives.  Moving my airplane around, looking down, said “Sparklers!  Flak guns rapid fire shooting look like Sparklers.”  Puffballs all round, trying to avoid them, a mid air, and keep the target in sight.
5.  Rolling in, too shallow, pulled up and around and over, inverted, got the Stuka angle I wanted, rolled out, pickle pickle pickle! 7 G pull to nose just above horizon, max rate turn; Alpha calling, “Snake 2, the’re tracking!”  Firecan directed 57mm puffs in rapid succession behind me; Max G roll under, rudder reversal to other direction, nose up,
6.  Magically free!  Head for feet wet, pick up Lead and we head for water in combat spread.
7.  Look back, and there is petro smoke climbing thru 10k!

There is nothing as exhilerating than being shot at without result.  And giving gomer a good whack.

Heart still starts pumping running this interior tape.  Every combat vet has his own series of such tapes, where time slows down and gets graven in interior stone.

Worm’s Obit

For those of you who may not be members of the Skyhawk Association — Boom and I are doing an obit for Worm for the next A4Ever Magazine. Here is my offering.

The Early Worm—A Personal Recollection

Hardly anyone actually knew who Lawrence Leroy Elmore might be, but at least a couple of generations of tactical Naval Aviators and insane formation Skydivers include “Worm” Elmore in their oral tradition of legends. Worm flew west in May of 2013 while doing one of the things he loved doing, which was leaping out of perfectly good airplanes for fun.

Why, Worm? He earned this enduring call sign early on with the Snakes of VA-86, when he availed himself of Thanksgiving Dinner at both Napkin Ring Wardroom One with the Big Dogs and Dirty Shirt Wardroom Two with we great unwashed. This might have gone unnoticed but for the fact that he was astounded not to have any fellow takers. So Worm, short for “Tapeworm” it was.

As a powerless FNG LT(JG) in my first fleet squadron, I watched and learned from slightly senior Worm as he consistently managed to bag good deal flights. Since I occupied numerous SLDO positions, the first thing I learned from him was to get into the Maintenance Department and the test hop business. I couldn’t do anything about not being a fellow hyperthyroid, but I did learn to camp around the Squadron Duty Officer as much as possible for pop up bagging possibilities. Still, I always seemed to camp at Worm’s six in the flight time and trap races, which were the only times he would admit to seeing me there. Since he ended up in the Grand Club of thousand trap aviators, I concede defeat.

But just being around Worm was good for bagging. When I insulted a VF-41 LCDR Double Demon fighter pilot at a cocktail party, Worm arranged a special two versus two ACM hop off the ship that included the insulter and himself. And when VA-86 turned in our perfectly good A-4E’s and went across the hall to attend A-7A NAMO, I stayed in VA-44 as an instructor. Since the Snakes were without airplanes and void for this period, I transported Worm and fellow Snakes around in the TA-4. When their new A-7A’s showed up, I bounced them unmercifully. When I was offered the chance to fly with them, it was Worm, naturally, that I flew with.

Worm was a legendary Landing Signal Officer. Besides flying two full cruises with Worm, I spent many hours back on the platform with he and fellow squadron LSO, Weed, watching them wave. Later on, when I would pop into NAS Cecil on cross countries in my Reserve Crusader, I got to bag time in VA-145’s TA-4’s with Worm. On one occasion, we popped into the pattern at Whitehouse, Cecil’s outlying bounce field. After four passes, I was on final when Worm shook the stick and took the airplane. Down the glide path we came until we were in close. Then, Worm dropped the left wing and headed directly at the LSO cart. At the last moment, he cobbed the power and we proceeded to clean up and leave the pattern. After a very long minute, the LSO’s squeaky voice came up and axed it we knew what heart tasted like…

No matter what Worm seemed to do, he managed to bounce into cockpits. He left the Navy for a stint with TWA, where he managed to get furloughed. Somehow, he found a job as OINC of a VSF detachment back in the Navy, where he stayed until TWA had the good graces to call him back to driving many motors.

And so it went. Others can better tell about flying Marchetti two seaters for fighter pilot wannabees at Air Combat USA. And Worm naturally ended up being the main pilot for the A-4C immaculately restored by a fellow Snake’s company.

Worm did everything with a maximum of joy and enthusiasm. At airshows with the A-4C, he was known as the Eternal Teenager. I am quite sure that his fellow insane Skydiving pals remain in awe at his some 7000 parachute jumps, which included 72 jumps on his 70th birthday.

Worm was also the glue that held we VA-86 squadron mates together through the years. He was always in the middle of organizing our frequent reunions. He did special things like bringing us all together for a surprise birthday party for a squadron wife who was dying of cancer. He made sure that the squadron widows and many of their children were included in the squadron. Worm was always just a phone call away from anyone he felt needed it. We Snake vets will miss him.

Worm’s memorial service would have suited him. His friends from every venue got to tell Worm stories. There was a spot parachutist and a missing man flyover by the Dreamland Squadron. Near teetotaler Worm wouldn’t have minded the bottle that got passed around the circle. And, for the record, Tunita and I tossed our nickels on the grass.

Worm will always be around as long as people tell Worm stories. I think that will be a long time. Certainly as long as we have Blue Skies.


Letters… We get letters… (okay, they’re e-mails… same thing)

On Nov 3, 2013, at 12:39 PM, WADE J. FINGER wrote:

It was with much happiness that I discovered, while browsing through From the Catwalk in the Fall 2013 issue of The Hook, that Youthly has surfaced with his very own website for all of us old timer Tailhookers to enjoy. I served a tour (two Med cruises) flying A-6s plus a “plowback” tour at Meridian before getting out of the Navy and selling insurance in San Diego for nearly forty years. Lucky enuff to now serve as a docent aboard USS Midway Museum. I once wrote a letter to the editor of The Hook pleading for continuation of your quarterly essays, saying that I did not personally know Weed or Worm, but their clones surely served in VA-176 back in the early 70’s! Anyway, great to see your old articles back in print via the web. Thanx a mil for the great work and for bringing back wonderful memories.
Jay Finger
San Diego

YP’s Reply:

Bless you, sir!
Jan Jacobs and I have had lots of fun putting everything in one basket.
Hopefully, we all keep telling our (non) PC stories.
Pass the website on, please.

On Nov 6, 2013, at 8:37 AM, George Wright wrote:


Doubtless like many of your recent correspondents, I came across your site via the link in the latest issue of The Hook.  Spent the rest of the day reading.

Your F-8 stories moved me to Google-image-search for F-8 ramp strikes.  Doh!  I found my own (45-year-old) picture.  Going to the site (, I found that I had been killed in April/May 1968.  I contacted the site admin, claiming to be Not Dead Yet.  He fixed the listing almost immediately, but here’s a screen grab of my obit:

So thanks, not only for the memories, but also for the opportunity to share my obit among family and friends.  Expect vastly increased traffic on

George Wright

Attack Suite Stories From Hook ’13

Overheard in the Attack Squadron Suite at HOOK ’13, Reno/Sparks, Nevada, September 5-7, 2013

From the Hanoi Hilton Cons:

Toward the end, it became apparent that the gomers knew that it would all be over. There was quite a crowd of Yankee Air Pirates gathered, and, unlike the old tap code days, lots of open visiting and talking going on. It was noticed that one little gomer was hanging around the edge of groups, obviously trying to listen. Finally, he tentatively approached a group, took his right index finger and pointed to his lips. Speak Engrish? (well, that’s Jap, but the best I can do). Ah, he is hedging his bets, wants to learn English. Sure! One of closer Americans bent down to gomer face level, took HIS right index finger, and up close pointed at his own nose. Ass… Hole. Ass…Hole. Gomer tried saying that. Then, the Merkin pointed to his own ear in the same manner. Pee…nis. Pee..nis.
The teacher did not explain that it wasn’t Oxford English.

Two Marine Grunt stories, circa 1966.

Grunt came back to the World that was 1966. One of his high school friends from his previous life came to see him. Friend was known as “Skinny Jim” for very objective reasons, and he was scared to death of the draft. Figgering Grunt, here, had gone thru and understood the Process some, he axed him wot he could do to get rejected. Well, sez grunt, you need to borrow your sister’s bra and get a sun tan. Now, don’t wear it to the induction physical or anything like that, but it should do the trick. OK, I’ll try it. Time came, Skinny Jim got to endure the humiliation of standing in line with a bunch of other inductees and some pointed commentary. Then, he got rejected for being too skinny.
Grunt figgered this was a free humiliation, and the little shit never saw it coming,

Brand new 17 year old grunt, just outta boot camp with his first outfit, had his grizzled squad leader come up to him one Saturday morning. Get yourself squared away, put on your Class A’s, get a dopp kid, and meet me in 15 minutes. Hell, kid didn’t know anything but to click heels and go do it. Ol’ squad leader, something like 38 years old Salty, got them on a bus, and they jumped on the train and rocketed up to San Francisco. Click heels and go along. Get out of the train station and ax first hippie they see, how do you get to Height and Ashbury? Suspicious answer was why do you wanna know? Just tell us how to get there. Hippie did, and they went. In the middle of Flowers In Your Hair district, Old Salty axed corralled another hippie. We are tired of doing what we’vbe been doing and wanna go to Canada and need help. Hippie says, wait one. He goes off and brings back a couple of older dudes, who clap them on the back, say we can help you, but it will take a couple of days to set this up. We better hide you til then. So they lead the two up to the third story of a flop house across from the Hungry I. Word gets around, and they get lots of love and attention. This little blonde hippy chick comes to the young Jarboon and wraps herself around him. I know you are hurting from what you’ve been doing…. And so. The next morning, he wakes up with two nekkid hippie chicks draped across him. Old Salt is kicking him in the foot, already dressed in best AJ Squared Away fashion. Git up. Get cleaned up and squared away, We’re leaving in 15 minutes. Kid clicks heels and does so. In the meantime, a crowd of hippies gather. What’s wrong, what are you doing. Old Salt growls Git outt our way. We got things to do and people to kill.
Jarboons yet another ONE. Hippies yet another ZERO.

There were a thousand stories in the Big City. Chaps, if you weren’t there, it was a great one.

Musings on Jet Dive Bombing circa 1960s

By Jack Woodul

As Veteran Viet Nam Attack Pilots, our dive bombing dive angle and release heights varied with the threat environment. Napalm and Snakeye retarded bombs were limited to permissive environments, with delivery altitudes of 100-300-ft AGL (above ground level). Initially, our air wing attacks against major targets in North Viet Nam, which were heavily defended with both optically aimed and radar controlled flak, used a 60 degree high-dive delivery from some 12,000-15,000-ft, with a release altitude of around 6,500-ft. Anti aircraft hits were common, so dive bombing runs were not the canned, predictable, stable flight paths of peacetime, predicated on an accurate dive angle and release altitude. Getting shot at accurately tended to disrupt stability, so my bomb run often involved getting as steep as I could and pressing the attack to as low an altitude as I could; then, pulling as many g’s as I could (7 g’s was standard) until the nose was above the horizon, maintaining enough energy to maneuver vertically and horizontally to escape tracking fire. This tactic evolved with the advent of surface-to-air missiles (SAM) to ingress at 3,500-ft AGL, which was supposed to be above the light weapon envelope and below the SAM envelope. The bomb run involved popping up to some 12,000-ft, then diving at 45 degrees and releasing at an altitude of some 4,500-ft. I can tell you that a heavily-laden A-4 Skyhawk was uncomfortably slow and sluggish at roll-in, vulnerable to both flak and SAM. Later tactics reverted to steep dive angle and higher release, the better see and avoid SAMs. The same Stuka technique of steep dive angle and low release got good results. But the lower the release, the better chance Uncle Gomer had to perforate you some.

Peace-time bomb patterns were mostly canned, 450-knot, 30-degree dive angle, 2500-ft release altitude, practiced over and over again until the groove was automatic. Errors of dive angle, airspeed could be recognized and compensated for in other ways. In combat, maneuvering in the dive made this skill very necessary to compensate to get hits. Air Force Thud (F-105 Thunderchief) pilot friends agree with me that, when in a tight, get as steep as you can and press the target as long as you can; then, pickle and pull like crazy.

There was a peace time bomb delivery tactic called “Low and Slow.” The A-4 was flown at 180 knots and half flaps to deliver both bombs and rockets. It was fun and accurate, but the Bad Guys would have blown us out of the sky in North Viet Nam. Some staff puke Navy captain visited our air wing and advocated the use of Low and Slow to win the war. We didn’t have to be told not to talk to him.

I found an intriguing 1951 article by Major Jack Bolt, then of VMF-311 but later and F-86 exchange pilot and the only USMC ace of the Korean War. He noted that Douglas SBD dive bombers from World War II typically dived at 70 degrees and 240 knots and seldom took anti-aircraft hits (AA). But F9F Panthers and other jets usually bombed at 30 degrees and more than 400 knots, but frequently took AA hits. In order to be nose-level at 2,000-ft the SBD dropped at 2,400-ft; the Panthers at 3,200-ft with attendant diminished accuracy. However, “own blast” concerns had many jets recovering at 3,000-ft to avoid the fragmentation pattern. What to do?

Bolt recommended delayed-action bombs (up to five minutes) in order to concentrate a flight onto and off the target as fast as possible. Recommended procedure was a 35-40-degree dive, drop 1,800-ft above target elevation, with simultaneous 100-percent power, retract speed brake, and a 5 g pull.

Apparently, it wasn’t widely adopted owing to increasing AA, but I thought it interesting that the “Slow But Deadly” of Battle of Midway fame influenced jet tactics, however briefly.

YP’s Son Gets Into the Act

From Facebook, a post from YP’s son, Chris Woodul

If you grew up at my house in the 70s and 80s you were always able to hear the stories that my father Jack Woodul, AKA, Youthly Puresome would later share in written form in the HOOK Magazine.These stories were the often times humorous, sometimes somber reflections of what it was like to be a young adventureous warrior that wore Wings of Gold. To me its natural to look at my father and his experiences out on the pointy edge of the spear with wonder and respect, but it has always been a delight to meet new people out there in the real world who would say, “The first thing in Hook I read when it came in was the Youthly Stories”, and often they quoted specific lines or “Youthly-isms” which are a distinctive Lexicon that folks outside of that small microcosm of the warriors have a difficult time understanding. These experiences that my older brother and I grew up listening to allowed us to “see, hear, smell and understand” some of what it was like to be a 22 year old kid sitting on a Navy Aircraft Carrier in a single engine A-4 Skyhawk loaded up with the same firepower of a 10 crewmember B-17 Flying Fortress wielded only 20 some odd years before in WWII. The kind of man who could take this tiny attack plane to the dark green jungles of North Viet Nam and then back to the pitching deck of that same carrier still amazes me. At 22, much less now, I could barely tie my shoes, and yet Jack, and the rest of his brethren were born fighting, and fought not only the enemy with SAMs, AAA and the odd Mig, but Fear, idiodic political and military leadership and the ever present spectre of fate. A look at the loss rate of the F-8 crusader Jet fighter from operational accidents alone is enough to scare off anyone with a brain.

What is harder to translate is how these men, these young educated warriors brought about in regular day to day life as agents of skill and competence. The confidence my father demonstrates every day in all that he does is my touchstone for feeling some sense of order in this very messed up world we live in. He and his kind didnt just do what they did for the Navy (or AF, etc.) But they brought that to thier lives beyond the third wire. His competence as a Captain of an Airliner full of trusting souls for thirty years left its mark over the skies above. Even today, flying with my father is one of my greatest joys, as I can watch his skills learned through 30 plus thousand hours of flight executed with ALL the Right Stuff.

We as a country are lucky to have had men like Jack and his kind doing what they do and did, and god help us when the last real warrior stands down or goes west.

It is difficult to be a true warrior today, but we still breed and field them here. It gave me great satisfaction to tell my dad a report from a young friend of mine who is in an F/A-18 Superhornet Squadron from NAS Lemoore, that a copy of dads reflective and profound story, Keeper of the Flame, hangs in the ready room there, and is well known.

To Jan Jan Jacobs a special thanks for helping with this new website which will help preserve these stories so that others will know and remember.

And to Chris Reilly, please know that you and your kind are the new “Keepers of the Flame” and that the honor and traditions of our fathers are yours to carry on. Pass it on, and also remember and record your history, its in the making right now!