PACIFIC OCEAN - As USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) steams west from San Diego to Pearl Harbor en route to a scheduled hull-swap with USS Essex (LHD 2), Sailors onboard may notice a couple of unique passengers.
One of them is a 1960's A3 aircraft from the Vietnam War era; the other is a retired master chief, whose journey puts him back on a ship with a familiar name after more than 50 years.
Master Chief Air Framer (NAC) Mike Glenn (Ret.), formerly a crewmember of Bon Homme Richard (CV 31) is aboard LHD 6 to deliver an A-3 aircraft, nicknamed "The Whale", to the Pacific Aviation Museum in Pearl Harbor. Originally from Salt Lake City, Glenn was assigned to the aircraft carrier CVA 31 in 1961 traveling on a Western Pacific Tour during the early stages of the Vietnam War.
"I was in a fighter squadron and we worked on airplanes. We were up and down the South China Sea and Laos taking part in lots of different operations. The ship and the squadron received Navy expeditionary medals for our actions," said Glenn.
When asked about the differences between the 1960's attack carrier versus the newer Bonhomme Richard, Glenn said, "Well the ships are similar in many ways but of course this ship is more modern.
"Take the boiler rooms from CVA 31 for example; they were like something right out of a dungeon. Also, this ship is air conditioned and the old ship was not. Back then if it was 105 outside, it was 109 down in the compartments," said Glenn.
In his few days aboard LHD 6, Glenn has had the chance to speak with some of the current active duty Sailors. "It's been pretty cool to meet these nice young kids. They are dedicated and interesting. Most of them are pretty pleasant and I've been able to share aviation stories with some of them," said Glenn.
Joining the United States Navy in 1958 at the age of 17, Glen was part of an entry program no longer used by today's Navy.
"In those days you can get in on a 'kiddie cruise' and get out on your 21st birthday. However, on my 21st birthday I was involuntarily extended for 6 months because of the Cuban missile crisis," said Glenn.
After the Navy, Glenn worked at Hughes Aircraft Company working on A-3's and later, in 1974, he decided to join the Reserves and did so for the next 22 years.
"I encourage all young Sailors to pay attention to their heritage and keep it. After all, that's what the Navy is all about," said Glenn.