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Final Operational Launch of an A-6E Intruder from the deck of a carrier

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Last Launch Of The Intruder

by John Clark ©1996

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Thursday, December 19th 1996, marked the end of an era for US Naval Aviation as the last A-6E Intruder launched from the USS Enterprise off the coast of South Carolina. The day was dark and gray when the last Intruder roared off of the rain swept deck, matching the emotions that many felt as it flew off into the history books. The last operational Intruder catapult launch was performed by VA-75 Sunday Punchers in # 501 (Bu 162179) which sported nose art of a cartoon boxer on the port side of the radome. The aircraft's tail featured all of the squadron badges from the units that operated the Intruder throughout itís career with the US Navy. This historic A-6E was flown by Captain Bud Jewett along with B/N (bombardier/navigator) Commander Jim Gigliotti, VA-75 Squadron Commander, in the right seat. Retired Vice Admiral Richard Allen, who flew the A-6A with VA-75 during the Vietnam war, gave the wind up signal and finally the launch signal as honorary launch officer. After the launch, this aircraft returned to NAS Oceana along with the rest of the squadron for the holiday homecoming ceremonies.  This launch marked the end of a successful six month deployment aboard the USS Enterprise and the end of a long operational career with the U.S. Navy.

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