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Eternal Father, Strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid'st the mighty Ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,
for those in peril on the sea.

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Charles W. D. Ward Jr.
Naval Aviator
VA-113 Det Q and VSF-1

Commander Charles William Darcey Ward, Jr. (USN Retired)
December 16, 1932 – September 23, 2010

Commander Charles William Darcey Ward, Jr. (USN – Retired) passed away on September 23, 2010 after a long and courageous fight with cancer.  Charles (Charlie) spent his 23 years in the Navy as an aviator.  He loved to fly. 
He joined the Navy under the NAV CAD program in 1953. He joined his first squadron, VA-176 out of Pensacola, FL, in 1955.  His other squadrons were VA-125, VA-112, VA-113 DET Q, VSF-1, VA-153, VA-125 and was a flight instructor in Meridian, MI.   While he was Officer in Charge of VA-113 DET-Q, he had the opportunity to land the first A4 Skyhawk on an Australian aircraft carrier, the HMAS Melbourne.  They were able to accommodate the plane and subsequently purchased planes from the US.  He retired from the Navy in May 1976. 

After retiring from the military he began a career in banking, beginning as a Vice President at Imperial Savings and finally retiring from Glendale Federal Savings as the Manager of the Chula Vista Branch.  Charlie was great with numbers, so it was a perfect fit for him in civilian life – though, the Navy was his first love. Charlie was active in Kiwanis and enjoyed working in his community. 

Once retired from the bank, Charlie was able to leisurely travel around the world with his wife, family and friends.  He loved to go on cruises.  Charlie and Kayce were always a hit on the dance floor. 

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Kayce.  His daughter Christine and her husband, two grand-dogs and two grand-kitties, a son, his sister Marilyn and brother Richard and many nieces, nephews and their children.

Towards the end of his life Charlie adopted the phrase “living life” and applied that to everything he did.  He was an amazing man with a kind, loving heart who was loved and enjoyed by all who knew him.  He had a great sense of humor and was a whiz at board games. He was a great listener and was someone you could count on to give you sound advice.  He was a wonderful husband, father and friend.  Charlie lived everyday to its fullest – he taught us that life is to be lived with zest and joy.  He will be missed very very much.

Biography prepared by Christine Ward, Commander Ward's Daughter

Charles Ward on the left with VA-176 pilots at Naval Air Weapons Meet at NAAF El Centro.  EST 14099 Douglas 18 April 1958. Attack Squadron VA-176 Reunion Association Inc.

.Charles William Darcey Ward, Jr.

VA-113 Det Q
First USN A4B landing on HMAS Melbourne R21. On 20 May 1965 a
USN Skyhawk, BuNo.144874,  demonstrated deck landing qualities by carrying out landings and catapulting from HMAS Melbourne.

Landing clip provided by: Leut Phillip James Thompson (RAN)


RAN Commander Ken Barnett Welcomes LCDR Ward
Aboard the HMAS Melbourne

It is an historic moment for our Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm, which only a few months earlier was going to become a 'helicopter carrier for ASW only', until circumstances around the time of the first A-4 land on, changed to the plan to 'back to the future' with fixed wing A4Gs and S2s. Some great sales work was demonstrated in that video.

The catapult sensation is extraordinary. For our first catapult shot (only at light aircraft weight because we have just arrested) extra steam was added to ensure a good result for the first timer. There is nothing like it. :-) -- Leut Phil Thompson (RAN)



Charles William Darcey Ward, Jr.
The First USN A4B Catapult launch from the HMAS Melbourne.
20 May 1965

Royal Australian Navy (RAN)
Douglas A-4 Skyhawk: Attack and Close-support Fighter Bomber
by Jim Winchester, pg-130

"In May 1965 'somewhere in South-East Asian waters', an A4-B of VA-113 (BuNo. 144874, later destined for Singapore) came aboard from the USS Bennington. This evolution proved beyond the doubts of some that Skyhawks could be operated safely from the Australian carrier and its rather short (93ft/28m) catapult. A bit of extra steam pressure was applied for the launch to ensure adequate 'end speed' for the launch and prevent any suggestion of a marginal operation.

The unknown US pilot's exclamation of "Holy sh?t" as he climbed away entered RAN folklore."

LCDR Charles W. D. Ward, Jr.
The Unknown US pilot of RAN Folklore 
has been found.

December 16, 1932 – September 23, 2010

LEUT Phil Thompson 
Royal Australian Navy 

Writes to CDR Ward's Daughter Christine
Usually our FAA pilots are trained by the RAAF [Royal Australian Air Force] to Wings standard then the RAN pilots go to NAS Nowra to relearn how to fly the NAVY way. This meant that my first deck landings were aboard HMS Eagle in 1971 followed by arrest and cats aboard HMAS Melbourne. That first arrest frazzled my brain so much that I could not remember what the flap setting was for catapulting which I did straight away.

That first catapult down what was then a slightly longer track (at 110 feet rather than the initial 100 feet that CMDR Ward went down) was truly astonishing. It hurt physically in so many ways. Like being punched in the chest with a closed fist - really hard. Momentarily the force is between 4 to 6G in fore and aft direction. Thankfully being unable to breath lasts less than two seconds and by then the A4G was flying quite nicely - PHEW!. :-)  Usually after the first arrest and catapult (meaning I have finally earned my Navy Wings) the pilot is sent back to Nowra - because that is too much excitement for one day.

Regards from Phil Thompson

A Story and Huge RAN Archive LEUT Phil Thompson


Photos of LCDR Ward's Landing and
Catapult Shot aboard HMAS Melbourne

This historic landing happened during the SEATO maritime exercise Sea Horse in the South China Sea. Thirty ships, from Australia, Great Britain, Thailand and the U.S. took part in the the exercise which began at Manila on May 12 and ended at Bangkok on May 22.




R45359 Petty Officer Ronald M Forbes paints a kangaroo motif on to the fuselage of a USN McDonell Douglas Skyhawk A-4B fighter-bomber on the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne while Naval Airman Joe Galea assists. 'Branding' of visiting aircraft was a regular practice. This aircraft, from VA113 Squadron, was conducting cross-deck operations trials from USS Bennington during SEATO exercise Sea Horse.

A USN McDonell Douglas Skyhawk A-4B fighter-bomber being positioned on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne. This aircraft, from VA113 Squadron, was conducting cross-deck operations trials from USS Bennington. Both ships were participating in SEATO exercise Sea Horse. The RAN would later acquire A-4G models for the Fleet Air Arm.




LCDR Ward's A4B on the catapult of the HMAS Melbourne and RAN Gannet Aircraft


Lieutenant Commander CWD Ward
Officer-in-Charge, VA-113 DET Q 
Landed the 1st A4 Skyhawk on the HMAS Melbourne
Flying an A4B Skyhawk Roman Numeral I, BuNo.144874

History of A4B BuNo.144874

144874 C/N 12120
13 Jan 1959 - VA-94 - NAS Alameda, CA 
26 Oct 1960 - VA-55 - NAS Miramar, CA

144874 C/N 12120 
26 Oct 1960 - ?
01 Sep 1962 - ?

144874 C/N 12120 
01 Sep 1962 - VA-163 ---- USS Oriskany 
31 May 1964 - VA-125 ---- NAS Lemoore, CA

144874 C/N 12120
31 May 1964 - VA-125 - NAS Lemoore, CA 
03 Nov 1964 - NAS - NAS Lemoore, CA

144874 C/N 12120 
12 Nov 1964 - VA-113 Det Q - NAS Lemoore, CA
23 Sep 1965 - VC-5 - NAS Atsugi, Japan

144874 C/N 12120 
23 Sep 1965 - VC-5 - NAS Atsugi, Japan 
22 Apr 1969 - NAS A&T - NAS Alameda, CA

144874 C/N 12120 
02 Sep 1969 - NAS - NAS Olathe, KS 
07 Jan 1970 - MASDC - Davis-Mothan AFB, Tucson, AZ

144874 C/N 12120
Stricken Date 22 May 1970 - to Singapore for conversion to A-4S with serial 605

1973: Singapore buys 50 former US Navy A-4Bs and TA-4Bs stored at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in the Arizona desert. Lockheed Aircraft Services rebuilds these as A-4S Skyhawks.

March 31, 2005: 142 Squadron Skiper's Skyhawks retired. Twelve Super Skyhawks make last flight over Singapore. Training squadron in France will continue flying Super Skyhawks for another two to three years.

 Australian Aircraft Carrier HMAS Melbourne (II) R21

 Australia - from Wikipedia

Royal Australian Navy
Australia ordered ten A-4G Skyhawks in October 1965 to replace all of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm's de Havilland Venom fighters which operated from HMAS Melbourne, the Royal Australian Navy's only active carrier. The Australian incorporated modifications such as being fitted to carry four AIM-9 Sidewinder heat seeking air-to-air missiles, the Skyhawk was purchased primarily for fleet air defence duties when embarked aboard the small World War II -surplus light carrier Melbourne which could not operate other larger fighters of the era. These aircraft retained the strike capabilities of its US counterparts and could carry 250lb or 500lb bombs, 2.75in or 5in rocket pods and other stores for use in the maritime strike, close air support, or fleet defense roles. Changes were also made to the avionics fit and the aircraft did not have the A-4F's dorsal "hump."

The first two Australian A-4Gs were handed over to the Royal Australian Navy on 26 July 1967 with all ten aircraft transported to Australia from the United States onboard HMAS Melbourne in November 1967. An order for a further eight A4-Gs and two TA-4Gs was placed in March 1970. These aircraft were former USN A-4Fs and TA-4Fs and were modified to A/TA-4G standard and arrived in Australia in August 1971 onboard the troop transport HMAS Sydney. All of the A-4Gs operated from HMAS Melbourne and were based at the naval air station HMAS Albatross. The TA-4Gs could not be operated from Melbourne as the carrier was too small to enable them to be safely operated.[1] The Australian Skyhawks were gradually withdrawn from service from 1982 after HMAS Melbourne was decommissioned without being replaced in June 1982; the last flight took place on 30 June 1984.

Video: HMAS Melbourne CV-21 Ceremonial Exit Sydney Harbour 1972
RAN HMAS Melbourne (II)

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