“We did it with our kite, Chief.”
“Right.” He turned and walked off.
By now my thumb was aching, so I broke out a roll of masking tape I had brought up for kite repair and wrapped it around the tank a few times to seal the hole.
No one had taken our names or units. I was beginning to think we’d get away with it. But then I envisioned the Air Boss explaining how my life was about to change.
A 3rd Class Petty Officer in a purple jersey, the color indicating his responsibility for fueling tasks, asked me which bird was to be defueled.
“This one right here,” I said in my best Senior Petty Officer voice.
“That figures,” he said, “we just fueled it 45 minutes ago.”
Come morning, the pilots hopped into their airplanes and flew off to Hawaii—all but that one lone Phantom parked port side.
I consider it a confirmed kill.