Phil Morrison AE-3 VF 51 1963-67


Phil by the Grace of God dodged an early death several times in his life. At the age of 4 he was stricken with a severe dose of Rheumatic fever causing the Dr's to tell his mother that,"he may not last the night." Three days shy of his 15th birthday just a mere second or two of hesitation may have saved him from a horrible car crash that did kill a good friend. At age 16 he narrowly escaped drowning along with two friends in a river, and a month later a brother of a friend of his did drown. Throughout his young life Phil had "Pivotal Moments" that would serve to help mold the man he would become.

I  joined the Navy at age 17 in August 1963. and joined my 24 year old brother T.J. straight out of boot camp December, 1963, and was assigned and checked into Fighter Squadron 51, (Screaming Eagles).

I was personally welcomed aboard by Commander James B. Stockdale the skipper of VF-51 on December 7, 1963.   I still have the Welcome Aboard booklet he gave me. Skip and I had a lot in common as we both had our fathers pass away while on the Tico 64 West Pac Cruise. Skip’s father in the summer and mine in October.

Skip and I were a part of Tonkin Gulf history on the night of August 4, 1964. He flew lead plane attacking the PT boats whowere supposedly attacking the Turner Joy and Maddox. I was on cap watch for the Electric Shop that night when he came in from the sortie. As Skip got down from the plane I asked him if his lights, instruments etc. were OK? He said yes. It was very early morning the storm had quieted down and as we walked away I could tell Skip was upset as he slapped his helmet and said something to the effect of "I shot at every coordinate they gave me, no wakes, no boats, nothing, I didn't see a damn thing!”  I had no idea that I was now witnessing Viet Nam War history and it would be of the wrong kind.

I was on 3 WestPac Cruises, on 3 different carriers, (mainly the Tico) and all of this happened before I turned 21.

I am now 65 years old and have written a book about my life.
It started out as a tribute to my Skipper James Bond Stockdale,
and turned into a years labor of love with stories of Skip that are unique from any other written about him.

 
Phil Morrison