Remembering Roy Hodge

On July 30, 1982, Roy Hodge piloted his VAQ-131 EA6B prowler into a landing on the USS Independence. The tailhook on the prowler snagged the four wire and began to decelerate. Only the tailhook didn’t really catch the wire. The hook speared the cable. As the 40 ton aircraft traveling at approximately 125 knots was screeching to a stop, the stress and force snapped the wire rope and the Prowler rolled unrestrained toward the bow. Problem was that the partial arrested landing slowed down the Prowler so much that it was impossible to takeoff again. There was only one choice as the prowler rolled toward the edge and the ocean below. EJECT.

In the Prowler ejection system, when the pilot pulls the ejection seat handle, the the Naval Flight Officers eject first, one every .4 seconds. The pilot goes last, 1.2 seconds after he pulls the handle.

Everyone in the VAQ-131 Prowler successfully ejected and Roy Hodge and the two NFOs landed in the ocean near the ship. Lieutenant Hodge even gave a thumbs up to signal that he was ok. But . . . he was not ok. Here’s a first hand account from someone on the flight deck that day:

I remember that day well . . . . I was in VF-32, on the flight deck waiting for my plane to land to retrieve film from it. It was surreal to see the ejections (3 as I recall)…I ran over to the angle deck to see Lt. Hodge give a thumbs up and then get taken down when the plane sank. it’s one of those seminal moments in a life that you will NEVER forget.

I met Roy Hodge once at the Whidbey Island O-club. We had a drink. He was from Danville, Virginia. Roy Hodge struck me as a happy go lucky person. I wish I had a chance to know him better.

When an aircraft accident happens in TACAIR, the Navy conducts a JAG investigation and issues a report on the accident. I remember reading the message about Roy Hodge’s death and the aircraft accident. Tragedy times two.

We were all trained that upon ejecting, one should not release our Koch fittings. The Koch fittings held our bodies to the parachute. There is a legitimate concern about landing in the ocean still attached to your parachute. Your chute can drag you in the wind, or it may become water logged and sink. So, release your Koch fitting as soon as possible to avoid being entangled with the parachute. We were even provided a knife in our survival gear to cut the parachute cords. But who wants to try and fish around for a knife while being drowned? The Navy figured that we aviators would just release our Koch fittings before we hit the water to avoid the problem altogether. However, that is also a bad idea. Distances can deceive when there is no point of reference to determine your distance above the surface. You might think your only a few feet above the water, but you could be hundreds. Therefore, it was standard protocol not release the Koch fittings until your feet hit the ocean. It all changed after what happened to Roy Hodge.

After Roy Hodge’s death, we changed our pre-flight briefs on every aircraft carrier flight. When I briefed the flight, I must have said dozens of times something like:

If you have to punch out around the boat, pick a point of reference like the flight deck or the hanger deck, and then release your Koch fittings there. I’m going with the hangar deck.

Roy Hodge’s parachute was entangled in the wreckage of the Prowler. The aircraft floated a few minutes, long enough for Roy Hodge to land nearby. Eventually, the airplane sank, pulling Roy Hodge to the bottom of the Eastern Med with it.

Remember the fallen.

Tincture of St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

We planted the hypericum perforatum about four years ago. It began blooming in the late spring around this time two years ago. 

The plant is named after St. John the Baptist of the Bible. However, it predates him by centuries and was used by the ancient Greeks for treating a variety of maladies, including insanity and venomous bites.

Folklore attributes mystical qualities to the hypericum perforatum plant. It is a positive spiritual force, connected to the sun and light. Christians say the flowers resemble a halo. Pagans say it has the power to ward off evil spirits. Indeed, the Latin name from ancient Greece is derived from something like “away apparition.” Way way back, thousands of years ago, the Romans and Greeks used the plant in spiritual ceremonies.

Modern scientific man questions and is skeptical of the old beliefs of our ancestors, particularly as they relate to the woo woo. But I am not a person who easily discards the wisdom of many generations. Who is to say that we modern people are wiser than our ancestors? In my opinion, we moderns don’t behave much like we have an overly generous quantity of wisdom.

Nevertheless, recent scientific studies have shown that the hypericum perforatum plant is efficacious in treatment of mild depression. Herbalists still use it for treatment of traumatic injury and other health problems. 

With all these things going for the plant, we have been harvesting the yellow flowers this spring and producing a tincture. The process of making a tincture is simple. Just harvest and macerate the flowers and place them into a jar with alcohol for about a month. The alcohol draws out the medicinal qualities of the plant, and stores them in the alcohol until the medicine is needed. 

I love my St. Johns Wort bush. I would like more of these in my garden. I cannot confirm the woo woo qualities of my hypericum perforatum plant. But when I sit down near my St. John’s plant, and look at the pretty yellow flowers growing across the bush, I am happy to be near it. 

Bosch Season 3 — @BoschAmazon — is Worth Watching

Season 3 starts off a bit slow. But the drama continues to build and build until the tenth episode climax.

Los Angeles murder detective Harry Bosch, played by @welliver_titus, faces scrutiny over an aggressive police investigation style. Bosch is relentless when a murderer is in his sights. Sometimes Bosch even pushes boundaries of the LAPD policies to gather evidence.

Bosch grew up as an orphan and knows the hard knocks associated with surviving in LA orphanages. In this season, he befriends a troubled 13 year old boy who witnessed a murder. Turns out the boy didn’t see much, but a security firm, staffed with former Iraq special forces operatives, don’t know that. The poor kid pays the price.

Bosch follows obscure clues and tracks down the killers. If you like police murder mystery shows, Season 3 is can’t miss TV.