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Black Lion One: TOPGUN Trailblazer Capt. John Monroe

Black Lion One: TOPGUN Trailblazer Capt. John Monroe "Hawk" Smith in Command of VF-213

by Donald E. Auten
Black Lion One: TOPGUN Trailblazer Capt. John Monroe

Black Lion One: TOPGUN Trailblazer Capt. John Monroe "Hawk" Smith in Command of VF-213

by Donald E. Auten


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An exciting look at what it takes to command a US Navy Fighter Squadron.

This historical biography of John Monroe “Hawk” Smith, Navy fighter pilot, is a gripping account of valor, sacrifice, and adventure during one of the most tumultuous periods in carrier aviation.

  • Hawk, having completed a stunning tour as commanding officer of TOPGUN, received orders to a frontline F-14 Tomcat squadron—VF-213, the “Black Lions.”
  • Hawk joined the Black Lions prior to their March 1979 deployment. Several critical factors portended to a most arduous workup period and deployment—there were issues lurking. But Hawk was a man who did not shy away from a challenge.
  • Soon, the Lions would have opportunities to show their colors.
  • These included the first-ever Fighter Derby at NAS Miramar, California—the “World Cup” for naval fighter squadrons, and Constant Peg, a highly classified “Black Program” that exposed aircrews to the capabilities of Soviet fighters.

Aviation enthusiasts and historians will be captivated by the historical fidelity and descriptive air combat engagements, amused by the perpetual mirth of TACAIR aviators, and inspired by lessons of leadership that apply to all walks of life.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780764363443
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
Publication date: 11/22/2022
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 346,125
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Donald Auten, a light-attack pilot and TOPGUN graduate, logged nearly 5,000 flying hours and completed two commanding-officer tours. He is also the author of Roger Ball! and Alika: Odyssey of a Navy Dolphin.

Table of Contents

Dedication 3

Epigraph 4

Foreword 8

Preface 9

Prologue 12

Chapter 1 Behind the Wing Line 16

The "Gunfighters" 16

The Man 16

The Machine: The First "Third-Generation" Fighter 28

The Reunion 28

The Butcher, the Baker, and Everything Else 31

Chapter 2 The Black Lions 32

Lineage of the Black Lions 32

The Fly-In 33

Assault on a Windmill 38

Gator Takes the Conn 39

Leadership 101 40

Friday the Thirteenth: Nightmare on Enterprise 42

The Supply Totem Pole 44

Call Sign "Thunder" 45

Weapons Detachment in the High Desert 48

USS America: First Impressions 50

Workups 51

Chapter 3 America Sails 53

Casting Lines 53

Between a Badger and the Deep Blue Sea 54

Bad Karma 57

Entropy in the Supply Department 58

Ship's Habitability Improvement Team 59

Port Visits 61

Bombing under the Flares 62

Land of Came! Herders and Fighter Pilots 62

Independence Day in the Med 66

Chapter 4 I Relieve You, Sir! 68

Command 68

Harpoon Shoot 71

MAYDAY from Bad Bob 74

The Far Turn 75

Convertible Tomcat 77

America Turnover with Nimitz 79

Chapter 5 Homeward Bound 80

Animal House 80

Chaos at Cannon 82

Budley to the Rescue 84

Home Is the Sailor 85

Chapter 6 "On the Beach" 87

Forging Alliances 87

Stand-Down 89

ADMAT Inspection 89

Hitting the Wall 91

Miss Jenny's Fire 92

Epiphany 93

TARPS Mission 93

Call to Action 94

Gator's Big Push 96

Hawk's Junkyard Dream 97

Renaissance 99

Chapter 7 Hardening of the "Lions" 101

The Young "Lions" 101

The Science of Maneuvering Flaps 102

Scopes for the Fleet 104

Have Drill 105

Mugs McKeown: To Kill a MiG 106

Constant Peg 109

Pride Runs Deep 110

Fastest Gun in the West 112

The Training Carousel 113

Chapter 8 A Clattering of Sabers 114

Fighter Super Bowl 114

Hawk vs. Toado: Gunfight at the OK Corral 114

Lessons Learned … Again 121

Chapter 9 Counting Coup 122

The Debrief 122

All Things in Competition 122

Happy-Hour Banter 123

Pipper's On! 124

On the Podium 126

Chapter 10 Here There Are Lions 128

Ascent to Mount Olympus 128

Change of Command 129

Chapter 11 Blue Skies, White Water 131

Last Romp in the Big Blue 131

Follow-On Orders 131

Full Circle 133

Fly Navy! 134

Epilogue 135

Endnotes 139

Bibliography 147

Glossary 151

Index 164

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