Mostly Navy here at the salt mines, retired and resigned. Kind of a half way house for naval officers.
So anyways, we’ve got a new team member that has but recently joined our group. We started swapping sea stories, and he asked me did I know of a certain “Smoke”, F-14 pilot extraordinaire of yore.
Smoke was a young junior grade nose gunner, with an experienced RO in his truck, for to guide him around and tell him what to do and such. Middle of the Med for a deployment, launching off into the burning blue for an air defense exercise. Those tricksie E-2C controllers found the refueling point for the OPFOR air, and vectored Smoke and RO to the tanker circle, for to catch the bad guys unawares, like, as they were coming off the tanker.
They arrived on station and snuggled up in trail just as a USAF Phantom was coming off the tanker. “Kill, bandit” the E-2 controller radioed.
Smoke sat patiently in trail, his Sidewinder seeker head abuzz.
“Have you shot him yet?” the RO asked, with growing impatience. There being other bandits to target, and life being short.
“What do you want me to do?” Smoke asked.
“Kill him,” the RO responded with vigor. “Shoot him.”
Meaning, off course, to make a “Fox 2, kill” call on the exercise radio frequency.
Nuggets being nuggets, Smoke pondered the unexpected complexity of life in the fleet, armed up his weapons system, centered the dot and shot an actual Sidewinder into the tailpipe of the actual Phantom.
The USAF crew were sore amazed and concerned that order had turned so rapidly to chaos, what with all the explosions back aft, the sudden illumination of fire lights and the loss of hydraulic controls. Discretion being far the better part of valor, they shelled out of their crippled machine, giving it back over to the taxpayers. It wasn’t until long after that they found out that they’d been shot out of the sky. By their own Navy.
“Amazing that such a thing could happen,” my workplace interlocutor said.
“Sure is,” your humble answered. “Amazing.”