Sunday, July 03, 2005

 

In Memory of Lt. Roy Hubert Hodge

In Memory of Lt. Roy Hubert Hodge

The Drowning accident of Lt. Hodge on the 30th of July 1982, from the deck of the Carrier USS Independence CV-62 has been relived in my mind thousands of times. It is one reason why I suffer from PTSD. This may not have been a case of Pilot error as so many of us were told.
The EA6-B this crew was flying in parted an arresting gear wire. The Planes arresting gear hook did not fully engage the wire. I've been told it was embedded in the cable about one quarter of the way. Actually cutting the cable itself, in a normal trap the hook captures the wire. (Picture your hand around an ice cream cone.) The plane was not at full power after the trap and may have come to a complete stop, when this small section of cable parted.
The Bird slowly rolled off the angle deck and into the water. The flight crew ejected before the bird rolled off the deck and hit the sea. There was a panicked concern that only three chutes were seen, word was quickly received and put out that one of the back seats had been flown empty. Two of the aviators in fully deployed chutes drifted clear of the slowly sinking plane. They were watched from the point of their ejection until they were picked up by rescue helo's from the Independence. Lt. Hodge was not to be that fortunate. His chute did not appear to have fully opened and if it did it was to close to the sea to make a difference. Lt. Hodge landed untop of the now crippled and sinking plane his chute enveloping both himself and the slowly sinking aircraft. From both the Flight Deck and the Hanger Bay, helpless crew members watched in shocked horror. I remember throwing my P.F.D. along with many other crew members into the water. The water around the stricken aircraft was littered with any items that would float. Both the 5 and 3 MC's blasted orders that no one was to jump into the water. I don't recall the crash alarm being sounded, I'm told it was. I remember no noise other than the 5mc. The ship had commenced a slow turn returning to the site of the accident and went D. I. W. Myself and others watched as Lt. Hodge tried in vain to free himself from the chute that may have saved him otherwise. After what seemed like hours, the chute entangled with the Prowler slowly sunk and took with it LT. Roy Hubert Hodge III.
This year (July 2001) while talking to some coworkers, my conversation about this accident was over heard by a third party. This person angrily asked me where I heard this story. I told him in no uncertain terms that I didn't hear the story, I lived it! He recounted that he had been a bar tender and heard a story very much like the one I've told above. There's only one shipmate I've run into from the area I use to call home. I told this man that I had run into a shipmate about 1987-88, tall skinny, dirty blond haired guy. The third party said this was the guy. He was visibly shaken, seems for all these years he never knew if this story was true or not. I have confirmed it for him. He told me the next day he couldn't sleep now knowing that this was a true story, I told him he only lost one nights sleep, I've got him well beat!
Please also remember that this is how I relive the story in my own mind. It does not match the official version I'm sure.Others I've talked to recall the accident almost the same way.One shipmate was watching the event directly below were I was standing on the flight deck, he was in the hanger bay. I nevermet Lt. Hodge, I am sure like the rest of the Men of VAQ-131 he was great guy. I know I'll never forget this man, I only hope to see him while I'm on my final cruise.

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