For those outside the Navy airdale community, “Balls” is the nickname given to each squadron’s aircraft whose number ends in “00”. This plane is reserved for the “CAG”, or air wing commander. The aircraft whose number ends in “01” is the squadron commanding officer’s aircraft. This A7-E is from my old squadron (Attack Squadron 22, now Strike Fighter Squadron 22, “Fighting Redcocks”) and is now on display at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.
To see one of “my” birds on display as a museum piece breaks my heart because I know it intimately. I have walked on top of it, scurried beneath it, fueled it, crawled inside of it, and sat in its cockpit. It no longer serves the purpose for which it was built – to rain ordnance onto the heads of our nation’s enemies and keep our country safe. That torch has now been handed to the F/A-18 and its successors. I hope that the A-7E and other aircraft of its era that have been retired can serve an educational purpose, especially for our country’s young, to teach them to maintain a strong Armed Forces but strive always for a peaceful solution to disputes between nations. Those of us who have stood watch over this country, and those who do so now (including my two stepbrothers, one of whom survived being shot in the chest when his Kiowa Warrior helo was shot down in Iraq) and in the future, offer our blood and our lives to keep OUR nation safe, not to be spent cheaply on foreign soil. Let the politicians take up arms and fight their own wars of foreign aggression.