NOTAM 06-2015 (CAPT Swanson)

Golden Eagle NOTAM
NOTAM 06-2015 (CAPT Swanson)
Golden Eagle

Dear Golden Eagles,

It is my sad duty to inform you that Emeritus Member CAPT Charles Albert Lindberg Swanson, USN (Ret),
made his Last Take-Off on 7 May 2015 in Poway, CA. The cause of death was Alzheimer’s.

Born in Colorado on October 27, 1927, he was active in high school sports and was an avid 4-H member.  He attended Swathmore College in PA and Colorado A and M in Fort Collins, CO, before entering the Navy  V-5 Program.  With his name, there was no doubt that he would take up aviation. He was designated a Naval Aviator on 27 July 1949. “Cal” became a fighter pilot, flying both props and jets from carriers in four consecutive sea tours. His next assignment was to the US Navy Test Pilot School where he graduated and then fell in love with LTJG Nell Grieve, the NAS Patuxent River Personnel Officer, and married her on July 4, 1954 in the base Chapel.  Cal later said, “Marrying Nell was the smartest decision I ever made." Nell Swanson passed away on February 8, 2015, after 60 years of marriage.

Cal flew 29 different models of aircraft at Armament Test at the Naval Air Test Center. His next assignment was to Pre-Com aboard USS Midway in Bremerton, WA, as Catapult Officer then to VF-121 where he flew the F-3H.  His education increased when he attended the  University of Washington for a five term BA in Chemistry followed up by a tour at USNPG School where he earned a BS in Radiological/Nuclear Chemistry in 1963. In July of 1963, he went through VF-124 RAG for F-8 aircraft; then he became Operations Officer for VU-5 in Atsugi, Japan, flying the Crusader. He was then sent TAD to MACV Saigon for 8 months of staff duty, during the early part of the war and returned to Atsugi as XO of VU-5 for 4 months. He returned to NAS Miramar  and was assigned as XO then CO of  VF-162 deployed aboard USS Oriskany. He led the F-8 Hunters from Oriskany and his greatest challenge while he was XO was not combat but the October 66 fire aboard “Big O Boat."  He led search parties through smoke infested comparments repeatedly to save men.  If not for Cal, the number of men killed in the fire, 44, would have been much higher. He completed two deployments and had 212 combat missions. 

His awards include a Legion of Merit, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star with combat "V", 2 individual Air Medals and 13 Strike/Flight Air Medals.
He spent 7 months at Naval Air Test Center in Service Test as Chief Project Officer then he took command of COMCVW-17 at NAS Oceana and aboard USS Forrestal flying F-4 and A-4 aircraft  until March 1970. He then served two years as OP-501 Aviation Plans and Programs on OPNAV Staff in the Pentagon. In July 1972, Cal was assigned CO of NAS Norfolk, VA, for two years. In August 1974 he was Director Air Warfare for COMOPDEVFOR and his last assignment was Chief of Staff for COMDESGRU 12 at Naval Station Mayport, FL.  In 1976, Cal was selected as one of twelve National 4-H alumni to speak at the National 4-H convention in Chicago. In 1977, he was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Tailhook Association.  Cal retired on June 1, 1979. Cal was one of the very few naval aviators who were members of the 4-C Club, those pilots who have flown the Corsair I, Corsair II, Cutlass and Crusader.

Cal retired in San Diego, CA, where he became an Enrolled Agent and income tax advisor. Cal and Nell had two sons Cal JR, and Lynn and a daughter Rhoda. I first met Cal in 1968 when he was Chief Projects Officer at Service Test at NATC. He was one of the most professional and finest naval officers I have ever met and our friendship continued when he became a Golden Eagle in 2000. He will be missed!

A memorial service will be held at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, 7715 Draper Avenue, La Jolla, CA, on Thursday June 4, 2015 at 2:00 PM followed by a reception. A burial service will be held at Miramar National Cemetary in San Diego, CA, at 10:00 AM on Friday June 5, 2015.

In Sadness,
Don Boecker-Pilot