Viking Lore and Stories

The Sea Control Wing, US Atlantic Fleet closed its doors on January 30, 2009, concluding the era of Sea Control as it has been defined for nearly 60 years.

Just before Christmas, 2008, the last four S-3B Vikings returned from service in the Global War on Terror. These jets, and the men and women of VS-22 who employed them, embodied the heart and soul of the Sea Control community. They carried a weapons system that had not yet been developed at the time that the first VS squadrons began to stand down and they served in combat overseas, even as the lights were being turned off at their hangars at home. Their actions were representative of the community at large, and cemented the Sea Control legacy as a community that readily adapted to the mission at hand, and faithfully served until that mission was accomplished.

The VS community is one of disparate roots and constant evolution. Its squadrons were born in the trials of World War II and have served in every major conflict since. Over 60 years ago, the ancestors of modern day Vikings flew a myriad of aircraft: everything from the Grumman TBM-3 Avenger, to the Douglas SDB-5 Dauntless, to the Curtis SB2C Helldiver; and comprised a motley of squadrons, which named themselves after their missions, including: Scout, Composite, and Torpedo Bomber.

In 1949, VS-31 was commissioned as the first Air Anti-Submarine squadron. Five years later, Grumman delivered the first S-2 Trackers to the Topcats and the Anti-Submarine mission began to take root. The rise of the Soviet Union and the threat of ballistic missile submarines emphasized the importance of this mission, and in 1973 the Navy consolidated its Atlantic Fleet Anti-Submarine squadrons under a brand new major command, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. Under this command, the Anti-Submarine mission expanded and evolved, first becoming one of Sea Strike, and ultimately, Sea Control. The S-2 Tracker gave way to first the S-3A and then the S-3B, and sonobouys and magnetic anomaly detectors were replaced by aerial refueling pods and stand-off attack weapons systems. By 2002, the Vikings no longer conducted anti-submarine warfare. Ironically, the Vikings’ final mission was simply a hi-tech version of its origins, using advanced surveillance equipment to support the Global War on Terror.

Today the Sea Control mission has been officially turned over to a combination of fighter jets and helicopters. Whether you are visiting this website as a Torpedo Bomber, a Scout, a Tracker, or a Viking, we salute you. If you find that this website has reminded you of sea stories from your time in the Sea Control service (or one of its ancestors), please share your story. It is our hope to fill this portion of the website with the stories that have made our community great. We will update periodically with submissions received at

Viking Lore Posts

The Associated Press, January 28, 1988
By Lee Byrd

A Navy flier described to a federal judge Thursday how he and some Air Force colleagues made aviation history while spiriting an alleged Lebanese terrorist from the Mediterranean Sea to the United States.

According to Navy Cmdr. Philip Voss, 40, his 4,002-mile flight last September from the deck of the USS Saratoga to Andrews Air Force Base near Washington was "a thousand miles farther than anybody had ever flown in a carrier-based airplane."

And it was accomplished with the help of an Air Force KC-10 tanker which took off from the United States, joined up with Voss over the Mediterranean, and accompanied him back across the Atlantic.

Aboard Voss' small S-3 submarine hunter, powered by twin fanjets, was a team of FBI agents and their prize captive, Amal militiaman Fawaz Younis, who was subsequently charged with the 1985 hijacking of a Royal Jordanian airliner.

Voss related his account during a pretrial hearing in U.S. District Court on various defense motions to suppress evidence in the case.

Younis' defense attorney, Francis D. Carter, has claimed that his client was mistreated and was so ill during the four-day searide and the grueling flight, during which he was sedated, that any statements he made to government agents in that period should be disallowed.

According to the government, two victims of the TWA Flight 847 hijacking that same year have identified Younis as one of the men who guarded them during their captivity in Lebanon.

Younis was captured when he was lured aboard an FBI-chartered yacht off the coast of Lebanon. He was transferred to a U.S. warship for a four-day ride to the western Mediterranean, then moved aboard the Saratoga for the flight to the United States.

From start to finish, the entire operation, including the travel of support craft, was accomplished without entering the territorial waters or airspace of another nation, thereby avoiding complications that have thwarted other U.S. attempts to bring suspected terrorists to justice.

Voss, then ending a tour as an S-3 squadron commander, said he didn't know the identity of his passenger until he was airborne. He had been ordered to prepare his eight-plane squadron for an extraordinarily long flight, he said, but other details of the mission had also been withheld until the final moments.

After his entire squadron practiced refueling from Air Force tankers for days, he nominated several of his senior aviators for the yet-secret mission, only to be ordered to make the flight himself because of his overriding experience, he said. He added that he had to fly the plane without a co-pilot or navigator, over his objections, to make room for a doctor and the government agents.

Voss, who has logged more than 3,000 hours in the S-3, said the flight took 13 hours, 10 minutes, during which he was refueled three times by a KC-10 from Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., which led him all the way across, including a three-hour period of bad weather.

"Those guys were great," said Voss. "They told me they set a record, too." The tanker, which was airborne 23 hours, was itself refueled by a sister ship from Seymour-Johnson on the way home, he said.

FBI Special Agent Thomas P. Hansen told the court, in response to Carter's claims, that Younis "never indicated that he was in any kind of distress" during his first few days of captivity. Hansen acknowledged, however, that Younis suffered from seasickness and occasionally "winced" from wrist injuries.

The defense claims that agents broke Younis' wrists by throwing him to the deck of the yacht at the moment of his arrest.

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Submitted by: JRJarrell

Am sure you're aware, or its been pointed out, but the list of "fallen comrades" on the website in the History section is missing several who were lost in Vikings before 1980.

Very quickly, as I recall, the first casualty was an enlisted non-aircrew (and non-seat qualed) plane captain who was riding in the back on a VS-41 ferry flight from NORIS to Burbank. The jet was scheduled to go to 22 and MCPO Harry Maddox of 22 was there waiting for it. And Harry climbed into the cockpit and shut down the jet after the mishap! Jim "Marv" Roy, as MO in 22 then, knows the story better.

My recollection is acft touched down fast and pilots ejected (LCDR Wally Ables and Lt Buck Johnson as I recall) thinking they had brake failure. They weren't injured, but, as only pax in the back, the other seat burned the p/c, seat, chute, et al.

Thus the soon to follow NATOPS change prohibiting only one backseater.

Next mishap was day after Easter in either '77 or 78 (?). IP was LT Clark Ables (41 LSO and no relation to Wally). FRP was (I think) LCDR Ron Clark (believe that's right). He was a first tour Hoover, ex S-2 guy, going back for Dept Hd tour.

Sortie was a night formation flight. This was before we got the nite form strip lights, ergo nite form back then was truly an accident looking for a place to happen.

Two plane with Lt John Richman, IP, as flight lead. They launched on R/W 29 at NORIS under that typical maritime layer that sits off the coast.

Recall overcast was about 1500 or less and wingman flew into the water trying to join up. Assumption being they were fixated on the lead and lost track of their stepdown. Happened just off Pt Loma so they probably had straightened out from the tight port turn off 29 and were doing a running rendezvous.

It was on a Monday night the day after Easter Sunday.
I know because Ables and family had spent Easter at my house the day before. Myself, Skipper Zeke Zaludek, Jim "Arch" Lingan and a Chaplin made the housecall to inform Clark Able's wife Pat.

Next mishap was on a VS-41 CQ det to Oceana on USS America. Interesting to note, and to my knowledge, this was/is to date the only fatal carrier *landing* related Viking mishap. A few off the cat, but not on landing.

From my logbook, date of mishap was Oct 18, 1978 as I was at the ship that nite. IP was LCDR Ron Zilkowski, VS41 Ops Off. FRP was Ltjg (or Ens?) Doane (sic) Renshaw.

Atypical that 41 had first nite overhead, so it was early in the evening about 1900L. Renshaw touched down left, rolled out left and the jet slid up on the scupper and hung there by the wire for about 30 secs, then slowly rolled left into the water, still hanging by the wire. Either IP or FRP however initiated ejection but acft was at about 120deg roll and they went direct into the water.

Deck crew had to cut the jet loose. Had they not ejected, they likely would have survived.

I was on three mile final and saw flash of ejection (was on opposite approach freq).
FRP with me was LTjg Connolly (from logbook and forget first name). Recall he was Renshaw's roomate in S. Diego. We were switched to Marshall, sent overhead, and told to go max conserve. LCDR or CDR Jack Brackx (sic) was Det OiC on the ship and, now as flight lead with Zilkowski down, he briefed me on incident.

We had 4 jets left in flight. Seem to recall LTs Tom "TC" Young and Dean Merrill being two of the other IPs.

After about 1hr, Marshall said our signal was to divert, hot pump and return (!).
My FRP was now a basket case having heard discussion on tactical btwn me and Brackx on fate of Zilkowski and Renshaw. Regardless of call to "hot pump and buster back", I advised the ship that perhaps we should "call it a night", regroup and come back tomorrow. Skipper of the ship came up on freq and agreed and we went home (to several beers in the Oceana BOQ). We continued the next day and the rest of the det was a somber affair.

Sorry for long email, and perhaps more detail than required/desired, but I suspect long term that a documentation of the "History of the Hoover" and related incidents would be warranted. Note the great rendition of Jugheads translant. Make sure you get JB Rennniger to detail his remarkable "non- command eject" when CO of 24. Air medal well deserved on that event but JB was perhaps the best Hoover stick ever. He'd get my vote.

But for sure, I know you wouldn't want to leave out any who may have fallen in a Viking mishap and understand it will take time to get all aspects of the Viking community fully documented. Great job and thanks.

V/R Jet

Lockheed Martin

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