View Full Version : Raiders fly history to Ohio, award former crewmember

07-31-04, 11:01 AM
Raiders fly history to Ohio, award former crewmember
Submitted by: MCAS Miramar
Story Identification #: 2004729162614
Story by Cpl. Cecilia Sequeira

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. (Jul. 29, 2004) -- A six-man crew from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, The Raiders, flew to Cincinnati July 19, for an award presentation at Lunken Airport. Retired Chief Petty Officer Albert B. Sieve arrived with his family ready to receive the Air Medal he earned over forty years ago.

In 1963 Sieve made history assisting in the landing of a C-130 onto an aircraft carrier. The historical C-130 Hercules is the same aircraft the Raiders flew down for the ceremony.

The 21 successful carrier landings were made to see whether a Hercules could be used for supply delivery on board a carrier.

With Sieve's help, the crew proved it was possible. Although successful, it was later determined impractical and the Cincinnati native's flights were recorded in history as the only C-130 carrier landings.

The rest of the crew received the Air Medal a year after the landings, but Sieve was transferred from Flight Test Division that year, and was not awarded the medal at the time.

His sister, Marilyn K. Knollman, said Sieve told her it did not bother him to be the only crewmember to not receive the medal.

"I think deep down inside he is elated to finally receive it," said Knollman.

Sieve's comments confirmed his gratification, "It's outstanding."

Looking over at aircraft "798," as it's referred to, memories flooded back to him, "We did a lot of work on the ground. We lifted this bird off at 57 knots."

During the landing he said the flight was a little unorthodox, "As soon as we hit (the pilot) forced it into full reverse. It felt like a normal carrier landing only without the effect of the tail hook."

It is thanks to the aircraft's pilot that Sieve finally received his medal. The pilot, retired Rear Adm. James H. Flatley III, stayed in contact with Sieve over the years.

He recently helped support a TV episode of "JAG" featuring the historical landings, and credited Sieve for his part in the mission's success.

Flatley admitted providing support for the show may have helped prompt his start on the paperwork that led to Sieve's Air Medal ceremony last week.

The reminder was not the force driving the recognition according to Flatley.

"It is a fulfillment of an obligation long since overdue. This is my way of making up for something he should have received long ago."

In addition to the medal, Flatley tracked down the original aircraft and to his amazement found it was still operable. "I just couldn't believe it was still flying," said Flatley. The Raiders have taken good care of the aircraft and have preserved its mission readiness. Sieve was glad to see it again and said, "It's nice. It shows you the good care its gotten. Taxpayers are getting their money's worth."

Capt. Rick B. Fee, the Raiders aircraft commander for the Air Medal presentation mission, said VMGR-352 Marines work on the planes extraordinarily hard.

"The manning of a Hercules squadron is half of what it used to be and these aircraft are twice as old. We're really proud that we can keep them flying. Some of the parts aren't even made anymore," he said. "But the Marines make it happen. When engineers first designed these airplanes I don't think they expected them to be flying for over forty years. But they are, so hats off to the engineers and the Marines in our squadron who work so hard on them."

Fee says he trusts the old Hercules but still believes Sieve's mission to land aircraft 798 on a carrier took bravery. "You have to be pretty special to have confidence to try something like that, much less have the skill set to do it."

Fee also said the 352 crew rarely get a chance to support such a mission. "I'm glad we were able to do it. We had the right plane, at the right time, and we got training out of the mission, you couldn't ask for a better set up."

In addition to supporting the ceremony, the crew got training on the flight there and back, allowing Raiders' Capt. Matthew W. Crocker to be upgraded from copilot to flight commander. Fee said, "It was a great opportunity to fly at a high altitude. We also got to fly into new airfields, which forced us to get out the books and make sure we could get in and out of them without damaging the airfields."

Aircraft 798 isn't the only old Hercules the Raide


Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, reads retired Chief Petty Officer Albert B. Sieve his award citation for the Navy Air Medal, July 20 in front of the aircraft he flew in 1963. Photo by: Cpl. Cecilia Sequeira