Name: GEORGE SUTTON
Entry Date: 52
Exit Date: 53
“I came to VP-21 after recall in error on September 1, 1952. Lcdrs. were not supposed to be called, but my promotion hadn’t made the fifty feet between the offices involved, so my orders read Lt.
I was born in WV, made it through two years at Marshall College (now Marshall State University) before deciding that we were going to war, so enlisted in the RCAF and served until January 1943, when I transferred to the U.S. Navy as an Ensign AV(T), and was sent back to Corpus Christi, to basic training. What a transition! From the Bristol Beaufighter to the Vultee ”Vibrator”, SNV, was a bit painful.
Then to Instrument training in SNJ’s followed by Advanced Training in PBY’s.
I had no idea that AV(T) was the code for the civilian pilots commissioned into the Naval Reserve, so was surprised when I was sent to VRF-I, first to ferry N2S, Stearman trainers. Another traumatic transition, from a semi-truck to a sports car! I narrowly avoided a crash, and then learned to fly that and most of the Navy single engine planes of the time. I did later get to fly the PV-I and the PBY and then, on loan to a VRS, the Lockheed Lodestar.
When they cut me loose in January 1946, I went back to WVU for a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, completed in January 1948. From there to work for a company that designed and built coal handling installations. The coal strike of that year put me out of a job, so I moved to the University of Florida as a research engineer.
I still wanted to fly, but couldn’t afford civilian rates, so joined the Reserves at NAS Jacksonville, from a VPS squadron, later to a VP squadron. So, in 1952, one month after finishing my Master’s degree, I reported to active duty. After a period of “”retraining” I was assigned to VP-21 only to find that the officers were predominantly regulars. Lcdr. David (?) Maxwell, Lt. Wallace Amling and I were the only Reserves other than the Ensigns, to my best memory. The general attitude seemed to be that we were unnecessary nuisances, and to be tolerated, if not welcomed.
I loved the P4M, as one of the best I ever flew, both from a pilot’s view and an operating view. I had just made PP1P (meaning I could fly in command, but not in combat) when we found ourselves in a dog called the P2V-6. I flew co-pilot to Lcdr. Ed Hufstedler, LtJG Dale Walsh, Cdr. Dan Ettinger. They would not honor my Reserve PPC until they realized Ed Hufstedler was being transferred out, and they had one more plane than PPC’s, so I was requalified and a crew was assigned. It ultimately shook down, with Wally Amling and Bob Wolen as the pilot/navigation crew and ”Willy” Williams as Plane Captain. I cannot find the list of the crew and my Octogenarian memory refuses to recall all the names. When Wally got out, back to United Airlines, Bill Gerber moved in and rode out the rest of the time.
I recently said to a young friend, an airline pilot, previously P3 commander, that I was a good Naval Aviator, but not a good Naval Officer. He felt the same way. Just as the USN’s had some suspicion of us, we did of them as well. As an engineer, I had little interest in history and/or tradition, but preferred logic in decision making. As a result, when I was about to be released, a scathing fitness report insured that I would never be able to expand the center stripe.
I was CO of a Reserve Patrol squadron when passed over the first time, along with three other CO’s at Grosse Ile. What mystery! After that much time, it made sense to try to complete twenty, so I found whatever billets were available, until it was obvious that promotion was not possible. Then I switched to CEC only to find that I still had no chance for promotion. After two years active reserve in that category, I applied for non-pay retirement, which switched to pay status after age 60.
I stayed in Engineering Education serving at UF, Michigan State, Arizona, Arizona State Nevada, until going to the National Council of Engineering Examiners as Director of Professional Services (mostly the National Exams) for two years. Then, for eighteen years, I served as Dean of the School of Engineering at Youngstown State University, now retired.
My wife, Marilyn, has given me two fine Sons. The Reverend Dana Sutton is a Presbyterian Minister, with two sons, and Jeremy is a teacher and practitioner of a structural integration process called golfing, still unmarried.
I look back on my military career with both joy and sorrow. I’m not sure I liked either of the Military Services, but did like a lot of the people with whom I served, and enjoyed both flying and engineering in the service.”