Navy Unit Citation | National Defense Medal | Vietnam Service Medal  


Bear in the Air
Ron Thomas donated this series of shots taken when 2 Russian Tupolev Tu-95  "Bear" overflew the USS Oriskany. Here's Rons description of that day.

        "On May 28th, 1971, Oriskany was Trans packing across the Pacific Ocean on our way to WEST PAC 71.  I was sitting in the Legal Office where I worked, although we weren't busy at all, just being present during office Hours.  Just another day, until all of sudden over the IMC, came the words:  "Launch the Alert Cat."   Another Yeoman who was in the office said, Ron,  come on lets go to the 07 level, something is coming in. Usually I kept my Camera in the office next to my desk, just in case I had a few minutes, and wanted to take some pictures.  On this day it paid off big time. I made it up to the 07 level starboard side and got a great spot to view what was coming in. We had just launched 2- F-8's that were on alert, on the port and starboard cats, and the flight deck crews were getting 2 A-7 Corsairs ready to go as well.

      Off in the distance- from the starboard side aft was this huge shape, with 2 little shapes next to them, all trailing exhaust smoke. As it got closer it got bigger and bigger, and then I saw it, that Big Red Star on the tail.  I couldn't take pictures fast enough and luckily got a few pictures of  2 Russian Bear Bombers paying us a visit that day.  It was scary at first, but after that is was a thrilling 45 minutes, one I will never forget. Both Bombers made several passes from different directions, with escort of  2 F-8's on one plane and 2 A-7 Corsair's on the other.  A truly unique day! "