I met Don Turner went i was assigned to VP-23, CAC 2. He was the second Mech under Tom Poplin, who was the Plane Captain. Don was a great guy and easy to get along with and we made my first deployment in Oct, 1966 to Sigonella, Sicily. I remember one patrol we had been on station all night and we were heading back to Sigonella. we had been out all night and we were all tired so we were in our transit mode, which was i was asleep in radio compartment and tom Poplin was asleep in after station. Don was in the Plane captain’s seat with the Pilot and Co-Pilot, or suppose to be. (Their was always a Plane captain or 2nd Mech in the jump seat between the 2 pilots). Things were going along good with the hum of the R3350’s engines and the crew resting in normal transit mode.
Once an hour the we did what was called a burn out. where we took the engines from cruise RPM to to a higher RPM. for about 15 minutes. to keep the Spark plugs from fouling and it was time. What no one knew except Don and the 2 Pilots was that the Tacco was sitting in the Jump seat. No problem Don decided to talk the Tacco through the procedure. Wasn’t much to it as you moved the overhead throttles forward, and after fifteen minutes you pull them back SLOWLY. As Don instructed the Tacco the procedure it was time to bring the throttles back and before don could tell him Slowly, the Tacco reached up and pulled them all the way back. The plane became Instantly Quiet. No Hum of the engines, only air rushing past the aircraft. The pilot and co-pilot both reached for the Throttles and pushed them forward. Both engines Backfired and the Hum was back. The silence only lasted a second or two but enough to wake everyone up. The next thing you hear in Tom Poplin on the ICS asking “pilot Aft,” “Go ahead Aft” ” Sir What the **** is going on up there?” Pilot replied ” Tacco got a little carried away on the burn out”. ” where’s turner?” asked Poplin. ” “he’s in the Bow”. Now you had to know Tom Poplin. he was a small man but when he was pissed everyone knew it and that plane was his baby. It was LJ-2, 141250. ( the plane now sits in the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fl.). The rest of the flight went without incident , but after we landed we saw poplin over talking to Turner and it was a one sided conservation. That was a great crew and we had a great deployment. I am sure that everyone has stories from their crew days but every time i think of Don Turner i think of this one. RIP my brother.
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