Goat Locker Plank Owner

AFCM/LCDR George A Everding

Lifetime Plank Owner
Accepted his final transfer orders Dec. 14, 2006
St. Louis Post Dispatch Obituary

I joined the Naval Aviation Reserve at the St. Louis, MO Airport on Mar. 3rd, 1939. I was attending an Aviation Vocational High School and one of my instructors was a WW1 Naval Aviator and an officer in the Naval Reserve. I had planned to join the Regular Navy after high school but my father refused to sign the papers. I had always wanted to "Fly Navy". In Dec 1939 I was offered a years active duty at Pensacola. When I returned to St. Louis in late 1940 all reserves were called to active duty. I transferred to the Regular Navy and in 1943, I finally was accepted for flight training as an Aviation Cadet. The Navy must have been desperate for aviators! Received my wings and a Reserve Commission as an Ensign., but was held over as a flight instructor at Barin Field near Pensacola. I never did figure out why the Navy thought I could teach carrier flying, gunnery, dive bombing, air to air combat etc. when I had never done the real thing except during training. I was really ticked off at the Navy because like almost every other Naval Aviator, I wanted to fly fighters against the "Japs"!!! But I found out that you really learn to fly when you try to teach it. At the end of WW2 I wanted to go Regular but because I did not have any college, all they offered me was six months active duty as a reserve officer or re-enlistment at the rating I held when I entered flight training. I re-enlisted as an AMM2C. I served at NAS St. Louis, NAS Niagara Falls and NARTU Memphis. Made CPO in 1952, one of the happiest and proudest days of my life. From Memphis went to VA 126, NAS Miramar and VA 144. Deployed aboard USS Oriskany, Lexington, Ranger and while in VA 144 made E-8. I was the Leading Chief of Va 144 in 1959. We returned from a deployment and waiting for us at Miramar were replacements. Among them was a PN1 by the name of Mike Boorda. He was a very sharp sailor. As it is in aviation squadrons, the PN is the right hand man to the LCPO. Whenever I or the skipper had a question involving discipline or other personnel matters, he knew the answer or he knew where to find it. He had about a year to go on his enlistment and was contemplating getting out of the Navy. I felt that he was a "keeper" and the Navy would suffer a great loss if he left. Our families had become close friends. My wife and Bettie, Mike's wife, became very good friends. I convinced him to stay in the Navy and later talked him into applying for a commission through what is now known as the "Sailor to Admiral" program even though he had only a GED, was married and had 4 kids. We made up the required papers but the first time he was not selected. The second year we tried again. Mike was transferred to another squadron, we left on deployment again and we lost track of each other. After he was transferred he was selected for the program and made Ensign. At the time I did not know that he had been selected and had been commissioned. In 1987 while listening to Johnny Carson we heard about an Admiral who was Commander of the Saratoga Battle Group in the Med. He was young, had come up through the ranks and his name is Mike Boorda. What a pleasant surprise it was to learn that one of my "boys" had made it to Admiral. I wrote him a letter and he responded immediately. He not only remembered me and my family but he gave me a great amount of credit for his success, probably a lot more than I deserved. We started a correspondence and in 1994 when he was selected for CNO he invited me to the swearing ceremony. He loved to tell the story of our conversation after the ceremony. This is the way he tells it. "Halfway through the receiving line I see my Chief. I can't call him Lt. Cdr. because he will always be my Chief. We hugged each other and tears rolled down both our cheeks. My Chief said, 'I just wanted to see how my little sailor was doing.' Then my Chief whispered in my ear, 'Now Boorda, don't screw up.' I knew then that this was my Chief." During his tour as CNO I was invited to and attended many Naval activities that he was involved in and was able to spend some private time with him and Bettie. I know that every CPO has, at one time or another, inspired some sailor in their charge to go on to great things. I wish every CPO would have the satisfaction and great thrill that I had of receiving credit for doing what most CPO's ordinarily do. While deployed again to Wespac in 1962, I was selected for the LDO program and was commissioned as a Ltjg (Regular Navy Thank Goodness) in May of 1962. My first duty was as the Aviation Fuels Officer aboard the ship I had been deployed on when selected for the program, the USS Lexington. After attending LDO School at Pensacola and attending Aviation Fuels School at Philadelphia and Bayonne I reported aboard the Lex in Norfolk. We went into the NY Naval Shipyards for an overhaul but were called out to get back in harness and make a speed run to Mayport where we picked up an Air Group ammo , etc., and headed for Cuba where we participated in the blockade. When that cooled down we lost our Air Group and relieved the Antietam at Pensacola as the training carrier. We also lost some of our experienced and qualified ship's company officers and men. After we were at Pensacola for a short time I was assigned as the Flight Deck Officer as well as Fuels Officer and spent the rest of my tour covering both jobs. Fortunately I had terrific CPO's on the flight deck and in the fuels crew. They made me look good. From the Lex I went to ComFairMed Staff in Naples Italy. After three challenging and enjoyable years there, I was ordered to ComNavAirLant Staff in Norfolk as OinC of the Aircraft Maintenance Advisory Team. What a great job. The team consisted of six very senior and very experienced CPO's . We visited every carrier and aviation activity in the Atlantic Fleet. Much of our time was spent at sea. We implemented the Aviation 3M System and made follow up advisory visits. We also acted as trouble shooters for our boss, Adm. Booth, when aviation readiness problems arose on carriers or aviation bases. Whenever Adm. Booth visited any CNAL activities he would ask for one of the team CPO's to accompany him. He knew how valuable a CPO could be on these trips. When that tour was up I wanted orders to a carrier or Air Wing deploying to Wespac (my wife wanted me to make another shopping trip before I retired) but I was ordered to Commander Naval Air Technical Training Center in Memphis as Mechanical, Operational and Clerical Officer. I retired from there on May 1st, 1971. I miss the Navy very much, especially the time at sea. In a speech to the Surface Warfare Association on 25 October, 1994, Adm. Mike Boorda said it best. "In plain simple language, I love going to sea and I have a special respect and affinity for those who love it as well as I do. We share a bond that is stronger than those who are bound to the shore can understand. It is the feeling of the ship gently rolling as you pass the sea buoy. It is the special fellowship you feel for those in your watch section as you enter a darkened bridge to begin the mid watch on a stormy night. It is the second wind and the feeling of rebirth (yes that is exactly the right word. . . .rebirth) when the sun comes up on the four to eight and everything seems to be new and fresh." I spend most of my time now doing volunteer work at our airport USO, a food pantry & help center and helping the homeless.