Last night we had our usual Sunday dinner. We raised our glasses in honor and remembrance of CTI2 Craig Rudolph and CTI3 Patrick Price. They were the last CT's lost during the Cold War. As told in VP Navy
EA-3B was attempting to land on the USS Nimitz CVN-68 at night during blue water operations off of Lebanon. Aircraft attempted to catch the arresting gear wire 5 times to no avail. During one of the bolters the EA-3B drop out of view below the flight deck almost impacting the water. After regaining altitude the aircraft was running low on fuel with less than 800lbs left, the aircraft then meet up with the A-7 tanker which would not work because the buddy store was spewing fuel every where (No Joy). Due to the low fuel state the EA-3B was unable to make it to a shore base and it was decided to launch the KA-6B tanker. It was then determined that the A-6 couldn't be launched due to it was blocked in on the bow by other aircraft from the last recovery. After a discussion between the aircraft, CAG and VQ-2 CO, It was ruled out for the crew to bail out or ditch into the cold Mediterranean water. The barricade was rigged, then it was discovered that a big wrench used to tighten up the barricade was missing, so the barricade was sagging 8 foot. The EA-3B made a really nice approach to the carrier descending toward the barricade at a high angle, once near the barricade the LSO told the pilot to "Cut, Cut" meaning kill the engines, the pilot failed to do so flying into the barricade really high hitting the nose landing gear on the sagging barricade ripping it back and slamming the A-3 into the deck then skidding down the flight deck and off the angle into the sea. The rescue Helo hovered above the A-3 not noting any movement inside; the helo SAR swimmers did not enter the A-3. After 13 minutes of floating the EA-3B sank with its 7 men crew to the bottom of the sea.Seven men were killed: LT Alan A. Levine, Pilot; LCDR. Ronald R. Callander, Navigattor; LT Stephen H. Batchelder, Evaluator; LT James D. Richards, Evaluator; AT2 Richard A. Herzing, ESM Operator; CTI3 Craig R. Rudolf, Cryptologic Direct Support Operator; CTI3 Patrick R. Price, Cryptologic Direct Support Operator.
For a full list of Naval Cryptologists lost in action since the end of World War II, see my Memorial Day post from 2009.
We didn't think too much about it at the time, it was the job. In retrospect it was a dangerous business.