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"Loose Gear"

This is Air Group 20's tongue-in-cheek letter of introduction from Enterprise's Air Department to that of Lexington CV-16. After deploying with Enterprise between August and November 1944, AG-20 flew from the "Blue Ghost" until February 1945.

  November 22, 1944.
To:Air Officer, U.S.S. LEXINGTON.
Subject:Loose Gear Known as Air Group TWENTY.
Reference:(a) CFT-58 ltr. A16-3 Serial 105 of 22 March 1944.
(b) CTG-58.3 Operations Order No. 3-44 of 1 June 1944.
Enclosure:(A) Includes full load of knuckleheads.

Inasmuch as the LEXINGTON has not been overly busy in the expediting of the war, while the ENTERPRISE has continued her relentless attacks on the enemy, it is felt that the Big "E" cannot have loose gear adrift about the ship. Therefore, we present to you Air Group TWENTY, for what they may be worth.

It is requested that first appearances should not be taken too seriously, as this gear is not as bad as it might appear on the surface. This of course is due to the excellent training that they have received aboard the ENTERPRISE, altho it should be noted that the Big "E" is only human and cannot effect the impossible. The reason for the shift at this time is that we must go back to Pearl Harbor and get a new flight deck, which said knuckleheads have punctured badly, and for the past two weeks we have been forced to land them on the hangar deck, which we now understand is in direct violation of Pac Ten. Also, it is felt that if we are to save the few remaining hairs on Larry Steven's head, this change must be made at once, since it now looks like a losing battle.

We feel that it is only fair to inform you of some facts which may make this situation more practicable as far as you are concerned. These suggestions should help keep your ship intact, despite Air Group TWENTY.

One matter to which you should give immediate attention is Lt. Commander Joe Lawler. While said pilot is a fine fellow, he has utter disregard for other planes and taxies his plane like a woman in a traffic jam at Times Square. It is suggested that a plane captain stand by and take over the plane. This may seem foolish, but it will be surprising how many tail surfaces it will save on other aircraft.

Also, it would be well to make some sort of agreement with Lt(jg) Swint who flies a torpedo plane. This pilot has a very unorthodox way of coming aboard. He does it via a destroyer, after he crashes into your best crane, slowing the plane down and then dumps it into the water, at which point he and his crew climb out and get aboard a can. We would suggest that you follow the same policy you did at Saipan, namely, shoot at your own TBF's.

In addition, close observance should be made on Commander Jim Gray, as he has trouble distinguishing between the wire and the barrier and is just as liable to catch the barrier with his hook as not. This naturally does not contribute to the upkeep of your deck, in addition to which it takes up a bunk in sick bay, which might otherwise be used for some suffering sailor who has the galloping crud.

Then Comdr. Dan Smith should not be forgotten as he is the real problem of all others. Here is an incorrigible that we defy you to reform. In the first place, he does not particularly like to fly, but has aspirations about being an air officer. This ship allowed him to try out as air officer but after he ordered a launch with the number one elevator down, it was found necessary to put him back at plane pushing until the spell wore off. He keeps insisting that we are all wrong about the Japanese and that they are not bad people at all. He is evidently a very clumsy flier, since his plane is always coming back with holes in it, presumably from his getting in the way of our other fliers who are trying to strafe. He spends most of his time combing his hair, and we have reason to believe that he is agent for the Thomas treatment in disguise.

It would take too long to point out the eccentricities of the rest of the group, and frankly we must admit that they boggle us daily. You will have a clearer picture of this after they land a couple of times. Aside from their flying, they have only thirty or forty other faults, the principal one being an unlimited capacity to eat. Our usual snack which is served at nine P.M. resembles a meeting of the Reds at Columbus Circle, and our wardroom steward, Boone, has been unable to stop the stampede despite his threats to put them on report. You will also find them up late at night, after the first lieutenant has retired, sneaking into the shower and using their second fifteen gallons of the day.

But the queerest habit of all others is something that we over here are unable to understand. They keep gathering in small groups nightly, and as far as we can gather, they keep talking about wanting to go home. This is the final straw with us and we are eager that they be transferred at once, lest they try to get some of our men thinking along those lines.

This is about all the help that we can give you in regard to this group, but believe us when we say that we send our best wishes to you in your new venture. Our grief at not being with you in the next operation will probably drive us all over to the officer's club at Pearl to drown our sorrows, we hope. Incidentally, if you have a good second hand belly tank, we would be happy to trade you a slightly used staff, which was passed off on us by the FRANKLIN.

Sincerely yours,
The Big "E".

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