By Tommy H. Thomason

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Well, That Sucks

One of the blogs that I read every day,  one of the few that I provide a link to, and the one I invariably enjoy the most is written by retired Navy Captain, Carroll LeFon, familiarly known as Lex. He had been among other things, the executive officer of TOPGUN, a fighter pilot's fighter pilot who could also write entertainingly and informatively. In the process of creating Strike from the Sea, I had emailed him with a question about dumb-bomb delivery since he had written an illustrated anecdote about the process. He responded promptly and was very helpful in correcting and improving my draft.

After retiring from the Navy, Lex had gotten a desk job but also flew light aircraft on weekends at one of those air-combat flight experience companies. However, it was clear that he missed flying jets. He recently left his cubicle and returned to the cockpit, going to work for ATAC, a company providing adversary fighter services to the U.S. military, among other things. See

He flew the Kfir, an Israeli modification of the Dassault Mirage powered by a J79. The Navy had leased several of these as F-21s to be used to provide dissimilar aircraft air-to-air combat training. These were subsequently turned back to Israel.

ATAC was operating the very similar Kfir C2s that had been retired by the Israeli Air Force. In the past few months in his blog, Lex took us through his experience with checking out in the idiosyncratic little beast and flying it as an adversary: self-effacing, lighthearted, and witty as usual. His joy in being back in the air in a single-seat jet fighter providing realistic training for the crews of Navy ships and tactical airplanes was readily apparent. But reading between the lines, I couldn't help but wonder if this would end badly.

Yesterday, 6 March, it did. He "stepped into the clearing at the end of the path", as he was wont to say about other departed friends and acquaintances, while landing at NAS Fallon, Nevada. He will be missed.


Quartermaster said...

Many of us wondered if it would end badly. Like many of the AC of the Kfir era, the margins were tight, and the Kfirs a bit squirrelly. Several of us told Lex of our concerns. I'm sure he didn't just brush them off, but we didn't here much back about it.

OTOH, knowing life as a cubical slave as I do, I couldn't blame him for chasing the dream as he did. He left this life with his boots on, and I bet he went down swinging.

I was shocked when I saw the headlines over at Castle Argghhh and also got an email from BillT who heard about it last night while I was in bed.

This has left a hole in the hearts of many, but nothing like that in his family. He loved his wife dearly and was quite proud of his son. I'm sure SNO is over the Pacific on his way home. His mother will need him badly.

A man has left the scene. If a man is judged by the quality of his enemies, he is also judged by the quality, and number, of his friends. The former were low quality, and the latter many and of very high quality.

Blessings like "fair winds and following seas," and ejaculations such as "that sucks" are such understatements at a time like this.

Steeljaw Scribe said...

Nicely put Tommy. Always had some misgivings about the beast and the previous day's post ("Streamer") didn't quiet them. Lex was one of a kind and will be sorely missed. Looking into some ways we can preserve that legacy - more to follow.
w/r, SJS

John Carmichael said...

Well said Tommy... He is missed...

Anonymous said...

I'm just a putz who read Lex every day. Dunno for how long. I'm sitting at my work desk weeping and I can't stop.

This sucks, indeed.