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Posted by Jolly on November 12, 2012

 

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There are fighter bars, and then there are fighter bars.  What remains of what might be the greatest fighter bar on the planet is now on display in the Naval Air Museum at Pensacola NAS.  It is a “Café” in the museum with much of the memorabilia from the Cubi Point O-Club, Subic Bay, Philippines.  Back in the days before Pat Schroeder and the all the do gooders on the planet attempted to destroy the fighter pilot culture, this was a place where warriors could act like warriors.  Long gone arecubi1.jpg the days where CAT Shots and Traps could be done in a bar after a few libations.  It unlikely that we will ever return those days where fighter pilots were looked upon with awe, and those who looked on in disgust at our “bad behavior” were secretly wishing they were one of us.

I was fortunate enough to see the Cubi Club in it’s day back in the 80s when we would spend weekends sharing stories and making new ones with our Navy and Marine brothers.  We would deploy to Clark AB for Cope Thunder and fly with Navy and Marine Squadrons from Subic Bay during the week, and party with them on weekends.  On weekends we would be invited to Cubi in order to partake in a proper debrief over adult beverages with our bros from squadrons like "Trip Trey" and "The World Famous Golden Dragons."  It was good, and we liked it, and there was much rejoicing. I was forwarded some history of the famous Cubi O-Club, which I’m sure many of our Alumni are intimately familiar with.   Feel free to add any of your own Cubi Club stories or send some pictures and we will get them posted.   

                                                                                                                                                  

The Legend of the Cubi Cat  

 By Art Giberson

 

cubibar.jpgIf you're old enough to have served in the Navy or Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and particularly if you were an aviator, chances are you've heard of the infamous Cubi Point Catapult.

Cubi Point Naval Air Station and the adjoining Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippines was a place where war-weary Navy and Marine Corps aviators, Marines and Sailors, could let off a little steam after flying combat missions over Vietnam or spending weeks on the gunline aboard ships on Yankee Station.

The managers of the Cubi Point Officers' Club, as well as their counterparts at the other officer and enlisted clubs, were forever tasked with devising new and challenging ways of keeping the warriors entertained.

Enter Cmdr. John L. Sullivan and the now famous Cubi Point Officers' Club catapult.

The catapult at the Cubi Point Officers' Club came into existence in 1969 andcubirwy.jpg immediately created a division within naval air among those who had ridden the cat and caught the wire, and those who had ridden the cat and missed the wire and gotten soaked.

The escapades of Navy and Marine pilots at the Cubi Point Officers' Club, according to Sullivan, is the stuff of legend.

"These tales will be handed down and embellished as long as we have aircraft carriers in that part of the world," Sullivan said in an article he wrote for Wings of Gold magazine.

One of these escapades, according to the retired commander who now lives in St. Mary's County, involved catapulting a squadron mate down a half dozen stairs in a chair from the bar upstairs onto the dance floor below. "The fact the chair had casters helped little on the stairs. Rarely did a pilot make it down the stairs and onto the dance floor in an upright posture. Most arrived on the dance floor in a crumpled mess. The practice often ended with disastrous results," Sullivan said.

 "There were broken bones, severe strains, small concussions and numerous other injuries that grounded crack combat pilots," former Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, Adm. Maurice 'Mickey' Weisner, said in a recent phone interview.

Weisner said that he and Vice Adm. Ralph Cousins, commander, Task Force-77, suggested to Capt. 'Red Horse' Meyers, NAS Cubi Point, that the chair catapulting be eliminated because of the injuries.

At the time, Sullivan was the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) officer.

"I was called to the skipper's office and asked to come up with a solution," Sullivan recalls. "After a great deal of consultation with my maintenance officers we realized we had an excellent window of opportunity. A new lower club extension to replace an old bamboo bar was in progress. From that point on we let our imaginations run wild."

Heading off to the surplus yard, Sullivan and his band of AIMD scavengerscat.jpg liberated a banged up refueling tank which was quickly converted by the metal smiths into something resembling an A-7 Corsair II.

The 'aircraft,' Sullivan recalls, was 6-feet long had shoulder straps and a safety belt and was equipped with a stick that, when pulled back sharply, released a hook in the rear of the vehicle to allow arrestment. Propulsion was provided by pressurized nitrogen tanks hooked up to a manifold.

"This arrangement provided enough power to propel the vehicle to 15 mph in the first two feet," said Sullivan. "Acceleration of zero to 15 mph in two feet is the equivalent of the G force of World War II hydraulic catapults.

Beyond the exit from the club was a pool of water 31/2 feet deep. Each pilot had 6 inches to play with if he was to make a successful arrestment.

We named the vehicle 'Red Horse One' in honor of our skipper, Capt. Meyers.

Successful pilots, according to the commander, were held in high esteem by their peers and their names were inscribed in gold letters on the club's Wall of Fame.

Reaction time was short because the wire was some 14 feet from the nose of the vehicle. The downward curvature of the track had to be precise. The rollers would bind if the curvature were too sharp.

Since the pool water was the force that stopped the vehicle, we had to get the vehicle as deeply and as quickly into the pool as possible. Engineers from the Strategic Aircraft Repair Team used their 'slip sticks' to solve the problem.

The vehicle was retrieved from the water by a mechanical winch and cable connected to an eye welded to the back of the A- 7.

Sullivan said that Rear Adm. Roy Isaman, (Naval Air Test Center commander, 1971-74), had a bronze plaque made in Hong Kong which was bolted to the wall next to the catapult with the inscription, 'Red Horse Cat-House.

"The first night the catapult was in operation it attracted a huge crowd. Rear Adm. Isaman was the first to ride the vehicle after it was declared safe by the BIS (Board of Inspection and Survey). No problem since I had recently arrived from the test center at Patuxent River and was declared the BIS representative," Sullivan recalls.

Rear Adm. Isaman manned the cockpit, saluted and was launched. He dropped the hook early and we awaited the hook skip but it didn't happen. Instead the hook caught the rubber we had attached to the steel bumper short of the wire. The hook tore the rubber from the bumper and caught the wire. To the howl of the disappointed junior officers, there was no wet admiral this time. Isaman became the first pilot to trap in the vehicle.

 "After being presented with a bottle of champagne, Isaman's name was enshrined on the 'Wall of Fame.' Some 40 pilots rode the Cat that night before another successfully trapped," Sullivan laughed.

F-4_Mig_Killer_over_Australia.jpgWord of the Cat quickly spread throughout Southeast Asia and even attracted Air Force F-4 pilots from Clarke AFB.

They would come swaggering in loudly claiming they were equal to the task. Each and every one of them failed to catch the wire, much to the delight of the Navy onlookers.

"Enlisted men from AIMD operated and maintained the catapult during their off time. They were compensated for their work from funds we took in for the operation of the Cat. It cost nothing to ride the Cat," Sullivan emphasized, "providing they caught the wire. However, it cost $5 if the rider required rescue from the pool."

Sullivan said that of the many dignitaries, who attempted to ride the cat, his favorite was Under Secretary of the Navy John Warner (now a U.S. Senator from Virginia).

After flying in from Japan the secretary was taken to the club for lunch by Rear Adm. Isaman and Capt. Meyers. The secretary had heard of the Cubi CAT and unhesitatingly requested to ride it. Capt. Meyers looked at me; I nodded and immediately took steps to get a crew ready. Word spread rapidly that Under Secretary of the Navy John Warner would try his luck. The club was soon packed with onlookers.

Before launch we outfitted the secretary in a set of white linen coveralls with 'Red Horse Cat House' embossed in bright red letters on the back. Amid the cheers of the onlookers, the secretary bravely launched and promptly landed in the pool. We catapulted him five times after that and each time he got wet. The skipper kicked the bumper plate back about an inch each time hoping he would catch the wire. While the official never noticed this, we all did. He told the skipper after his fifth trip into the pool, 'it can't be done.'

By this time the bumper was back some 12 inches from the wire and was an easy arrest for a pilot who had a launch or two on the CAT under his belt. So 'Red Horse,' in his tropical whites, strapped in. Before launch one of the junior officers kicked the bumper forward to its original 6-inch position.

Meyers launched and to the delight of the visiting official, settled ignominiously into the pool. Secretary Warner wouldn't take off the coveralls. He and the skipper, both wringing wet, sat down to lunch with dry colleagues.

Several hours later, still wearing the coveralls, the secretary boarded his aircraft.

The tale of his Cat adventures would be told at the Pentagon, he informed us and the coveralls would be testimony to the validity of his tale.cat_1.jpg

Sullivan completed his tour at Cubi Point in 1971 and returned to Patuxent River. "I am happy to say there were no injuries from riding the Cat during that period, only wounded pride," Sullivan says.

 Sullivan returned to Cubi Point in 1979, then employed by Grumman Aerospace Corporation as the Project Manager for the C- 2 COD. Much to his dismay the Cat was gone.

The tracks were covered and the pool was filled with cement. Introduced to the new club manager, he asked if I could assist him in putting in a new Cat. I felt like a dinosaur whose time had passed. I believed that as long as there was a Cubi Point there would be a fun place for naval aviators to unwind. In the midst of it all would be the "Cat" and the 'Wall of Fame.' Now both are gone. What remains is my fond memories of the officers and men of AIMD whose ingenuity and hard work made the "Cat" a reality in 1969.

 "Today it remains a 7th Fleet legend."

We Got this in from Jack with more Cubi Bar Stories:

 

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It does bring back memories, but mine don’t match the author or the web site writer.  I’ve told the story before and it’s included in our class book “There I Was” but neither Cmdr. John L. Sullivan, the original author, nor Art Giberson the web site writer have it right.  Somehow, the part of the story that includes the VF-114 F-4 pilot and I was completely left out.  I relate it again with the hope that the story will be told with ALL the parts.

In 1969 I was on my second cruise flying F-8's in VF-51 on the Bon Homme Richard and ready to do my duty bagging a few Migs.  But, alas, Washington had called a bombing halt of the North and the fighters were relegated to BARCAPs and photo escorts.  It got so bad that someone changed the sign at NAS Miramar to read "Photo Town, home of the Pacific Fleet's Photo Escorts".  We all looked forward to our breaks between line periods and Cubi was always fun.  One day we got a message saying that there was a new room at the Cubi Point Officers' Club that needed a name.  All were encouraged to enter the contest and the winner(s) would get to attend the opening ceremonies at the club.  To my total amazement, a VF-114 F-4 pilot on the Kitty Hawk and I "won" with the name "Tailhook Room".  At the appointed time, I helo'ed over to the Kitty Hawk from Bonnie Dick and rode it to Cubi for the festivities.

As I remember, the opening ceremonies were conducted during the day with all the decorum of an afternoon tea at the Admiral’s residence.  A Navy photographer was on hand to record the event and everyone looked spiffy in his or her summer whites.  CTF-77 Admiral Isaman, the F-4 pilot and I had on our Sh_t Hot flight suits.  After some appropriate words dedicating the new Tailhook Room, Admiral Isaman was invited to take the first cat shot.  The description of the setup is mostly correct.  The cockpit was equipped with a control stick that lowered the hook to hopefully catch the single arresting wire.  The hook had a snubber so it took some time to drop.  If you dropped the hook too early, it would come down but be reset by a ramp (or rubber bumper) with no time to drop again before riding over the wire.  If you dropped it too late, the hook didn't have enough time to come down and again you would miss the wire.  The consequences were that the cockpit would continue out the door and into the "drink".  As I remember, the ramp was removed for the admiral, thus assuring that he would catch the wire and be the first enshrined on the Wall of Fame.  The F-4 jock was next.  They replaced the ramp to up the ante, but he (luckily) also caught the wire.  The PAO photographer was frustrated at this point because he had been in position by the pool waiting for the shot of the guy who missed.  So, you guessed it.  One of the senior officers came up to me and whispered "you're going to get wet for the pictures".  (See attached).  After the dunking, the ceremonies were declared over and I went back to the BOQ for some dry clothes.  That night, the club was filled with Kitty Hawk folks and the cat shot was a popular attraction.  I came back to Cubi during my 3rd cruise in 1972-73.  By that time the walls were covered with names of those who had ridden the shot to a successful trap.  Within a year, the attraction faded and the Tailhook Room turned into a storage area.  C'est la vie.

Jack Musitano

Tailhook Gunfigher (Ret)

 

 

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Comments:

Posted by butch71 on
It was a fine Naval tale.
Posted by Jolly on
From Uncle Milty:

Hey Jolly,

Reading the story about the Cubi bar brought back fond memories of when it was still fashionable to be a warrior hell bent for leather in the 18th TFW. I miss those days a lot. They were the best years & worst days of my and I wouldn't trade them for anything. Take a close look at the nose gunner in Double "Butt" Ugly. I figure this 'happy snap' will come in handy as a visual aid for some future lecture at FU.

God's Blessings,

Uncle Milty
Posted by Dibbs on
Jolly, flew F-4Es at Clark in the late 80s. Used to go to All Hands and water ski all day then on to the O'Club. Amazing bar.
Dibbs
Posted by StuM on
as the 6200TFTS/CC (Cope Thunder)1982-1985, it is an absolute wonder I did not get Court-Martialed for my encouragement of support for the antics at the Cubi Bar!FYI, the Cubi Bar at NAS Pensacola now has San Miguil Beer available.

Bulldog
Posted by Jolly on
From Rodney:


Oh my goodness what great memories.
I was the flt doc for several 15-16 Sqdns at Luke during '87-'96 when I was promoted out of the backseat to a desk at a Med Cen
Rescued the above the bar signage from the 426th TFTS from an inglorious end. Have the BEAK BAR sign on my patio.

Have great memories of the 'old tyme' days at the various bars and clubs. Kids today haven't a clue as to what it was like...Jolly my call sign was Rodney and my 'hair was on fire'
Fond memories of the trips from Luke to Miramar to spank the guys coming off the big grey boat, getting jumped over the Ca desert, going against Top Gun instructors and that dang A-4 with the big engine, sub sonic but could turn like crazy. Oh and the original Hornet before it became the Super Hornet, "2nd turn easy pickens"
The flights over the various Pacific fighting blocks off CA
Oh the stories...Wed at the O'Club. Up all night with sick pilots, the informal no fly Thursday schedule briefed to the XO. I loved it sober flt doc got to do a morning and afternoon go in the F-15D,,,lots of stick time to and from.
Have crazy stories from those days I was an old (late 40s early to mid 50s) LtCOL flying with 1st Lts and young Captains. Talked them through tough decisions and we stayed dry!!!
Love site
Rodney
Posted by SierraGulf on
Where has the time gone? What a place and what great memories, immediately two come to mind.
First, on my first cruise which was at the tail end of Nam, I was married and a lowly Ensign. I certainly didn’t want to hit the beach, which we all remember was “Sodom and Gomorra”, thus I spent most of our 2 day monthly in-port periods at the O Club. Ah, what a change nice change, a great dinner, lots of drinks and a good long game of Klondike as after dinner entertainment. Of course the “usual group” was made up of the air wing J.O.’s and the money came and went like the air we all shared.
Well one night was unique though, we were well into the game and already feeling good, when the Capt. Monger, skipper of the USS Hancock, CVA19, came over to the table and politely asked if he could join the game. Of course no one said NO and it appeared no one resented his presents but, none the less I was shocked and awed. Maybe it was because I was just an Ensign and still awed by rank but more so because Captain Jack, just seemed so soft spoken, sincerely laidback and although he could of just sat down with us J.O.’s at the table, he asked. What a cool guy and non-pretentious manner.
The evening went fast and since money had changed hands, as the custom was, winners always bought a round. There must have been a lot of winners cause long after the game ended most of us were still drinking and in no condition to transit back to the ship. God bless’em, like a dear ole dad, Capt. Jack had his driver with the duty truck, ferry the drunken lot of us back to the ship. What a guy. Years later in Charleston, I had the opportunity to thank Admiral Monger, than, I believe, head of the ASW School there. That as I remember I termed true leadership, those stars could not have gone to a better man.
The second incident was a bit router, again as Nam had wound-down, the Navy was attempting to calm the fleet while visiting NAS Cubi and especially the O’ Club. The club hours were cut back to 11:00 or 11:30, either time much earlier than the Hell raising prior cruise days. Anyway as the time came and went, no one left the bar and for some odd reason, drinks continued to be available. I can only assume the club manager call the Duty Officer to come and close the place down. To his misfortunate the Duty Officer happened to be not only be junior but female (yes, I know it’s common place now but it wasn’t than). That poor gal got absolutely nowhere and did endure a lot of no-so-nice harassing. In the end, I believe the base C.O. came and ended the party. What a situation; now those were the Good Ole Navy Days!
Posted by Plug on
Recall deploying to Cubi from Iwakuni in the 70's in our Phantoms. Its kind of funny, we had the BOQ next to the Cubi OClub but we wanted to go over to Clarke. Grass is always greener I guess. Anyone recall the Fire Empire? I think it was in Angeles City??? You can build a fire and you can build an empire, but you can never build a fire empire? Great memories.
Posted by Plug on
Just read Stu's comments above. First trip to Olongopo we went out in town and I bought a round of San Mig's for 4 of us. I got change back from a dollar. I told myself, just died and went to heaven.
Posted by Oldnick on
The Cubi Club was an institution unto it'self. The old club was a stick built structure, like something out of South Pacific, complete with a rattan ceiling. I recall one particular evening, there was a remarkably bad USO entertainer on the small stage opposite the bar which ran the whole length of the building. It seems that during her performance a volunteer was hidden above the stage, in full flight gear and his parachute risers fixed to the roof rafters. The crowd became quite critical of her performance and began to voice their opinion. To which, she stopped her act and proceeded to chastise everyone for being ungentlemanly in the extreme and how this conduct would never occur in the O-club used by the Surface Navy (Black Shoes) across the bay. It was about this time the pilot above stepped off the ceiling rafter and came crashing through the rattan ceiling to end up suspended about 3 feet above the floor, In complete gear as if he had just ejected, O2 mask, seat pan, floatation gear inflated, the whole works.

The place when ballistic.
When last seen she was running through the parking lot screaming "Animals,Animals."
This was 1996-97.


Came back in 71 - old club gone, New building all fitted out. Same crowd. One particularly active night this nurse, a bit in her cups, strands on her chair and proclaims in a voice reminiscent of a Marine Drill Sargent, that she is particularly tired of Naval Aviators and to prove they are all noise and no substance, there isn't a man in the club who can piss higher on a wall than she can. There was dead silence. Then this individual, who looked like a recruiting poster, stands up and calmly states - "I'll have some of that".

The place emptied to regroup at a blank section of the exterior wall. A line was drawn at a suitable distance from the wall and she proceeded to make her mark - I was impressed, however it didn't come up to his knees. There was general agreement that it was a done deal and in the bag. Then as he prepared to establish his victory, she delivered the death blow - "No one said anything about hands." The only thing that got wet were his shoes.

Then there was a time when one of my squadron mates go a bit rambunctious and threw a chair through the bay window behind the bar. The club manager said the bill was $600 to replace it. We collected the money, paid the manager, and returned to the ship, which sailed the next morning. About two weeks later the manager sent a letter stating he had been wrong and the bill was only $300 and that the money would be returned when we got back to Cubi.
After a lot of brainstorming, the CO replied that the club should keep the money and that it owed us -1 bay window. When we returned there was a drawing and the winner got to throw a chair through the window.


And then there was the continuous marathon 24-hour, crap game in the lower bar area. A squadron CO, with a lady friend in tow, dropped a couple hundred dollars in the pot, had her blow on the dice for luck. He craped out. He repeated this two more times, on his final attempt to recover she reached for the dice to bless them, he was extremely adamant and force full in stating she should keep her claws away from his dice. He lost again and they both left in a black humor. One of the players was in my squadron, he never left for the 6 says we were in port. He had someone hold his spot when he had to leave, but he was back every day and most nights. No one knows how much he won but it was rumored he made 3 or 4 times his annual Navy pay.


Different Navy today, Hell - most O-clubs are going broke because no one goes to them. Can't help feel something very important has been lost.
Posted by Oldnick on
Correction - dates were 1966 & 1967
My Bad.
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