F-4B 151419 made its first flight at St. Louis on October 3, 1963. It was accepted into the USN inventory on October 29 and then spent the next year and a bit in service at MCAS El Toro with VMFA-513, VMFA-542 and finally VMFA-314. After completing major depot maintenance during May/June 1965, she rejoined VMFA-314 as VW-8. Just a couple of months later, the squadron was on its way to the Far East but, unusually, not by the usual transpac flight. In late August 1965, aircraft ‘419’ was ferried with the rest of the squadron to NAS North Island for on-loading aboard USS Valley
Forge (LPH-8), which would transport them to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. Valley Forge departed Long Beach on September 1, and on arrival at Iwakuni, unloaded the unit’s 17 F-4Bs from September 15 to September 18, while the squadron was officially assigned to MAG-15 at Iwakuni on Sep. 15, 1965). After a couple of months in Japan, the Phantom deployed to MAG-11 at Da Nang together with the squadron on January 14, 1966, for the start of her first combat tour. Most of her missions would be flown ‘in country’ but these were not without hazards and ‘419’ picked up damage at least twice. The first of these was engine FOD from her own rocket fragments but the second effectively ended her first tour: On March 12, 1966, during a direct air support mission on trench lines, she received heavy ground-fire which caused the centre line tank to explode. The aircraft made it back to Da Nang, but did not fly again, ultimately being shipped home shortly afterwards for depot repairs and overhaul. Emerging from its overhaul in October 1966, ’419’ was assigned to VF-142 at NAS Miramar taking up the NK-205 code/modex slot. The squadron was then in a training cycle between combat cruises and during this period at Miramar their aircraft were updated with the Applied Technology Inc. AN/APR-25 Radar Homing And Warning kit. The second combat tour for ‘419’ began on April 1967 with a deployment on USS CONSTELLATION for a Westpac tour with CVW-14 / VF-142 as NK-205. She sadly never made it into action as on May 24, 1967, just four days before the start of the first line period on ‘Yankee Station’, she was lost in a training accident. Call-signed 'DAKOTA 205', the aircraft crashed into sea off Phillipines after entering a stall condition at the end of Air Combat Manoeuvering practice. Happily, both crew (LTJG John Alfred Hawley and ENS Chauncey Robert Golden) were recovered by a plane-guard helicopter.
(Via Richard Davies Collection)