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 Duke at 1984 American Fighter Aces Association
Author: Dan Anderson 
Date:   2005-12-09 17:08:59

Here's an interesting post at tpmcafe.com (the blog for Josh Marshall's talkingpointsmemo.com ).
The full, original post is here, towards the middle: http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/8/25/21659/2828

Re: Feds: Duke Took a Bribe
by TCatTAFM on Aug 26, 2005 — 01:12:47 AM EST

. . .
Here's a story that tells you everything you need to know about "The Duke":

Back in 1984, at the annual convention of The American Figher Aces Association, Cunningham showed up in uniform that Saturday night, playing the role of "America's only fighter ace still on active duty" to the hilt, glad-handing left and right.

I was sitting there with three For-Real fighter aces from WW2, (I'm an aviation historian in one of my other existences) and not one of them would get up to shake his hand, and in fact they gathered a few other "legends" (at least to those of us who pay attention to such things) and proceeded to bad-mouth Cunningham as being a perfect example of NOT having what Tom Wolfe described as "The Right Stuff."

As is pointed out at the website, the only reason Randy Cunningham wasn't thrown out of the Navy in 1972 for seriously violating the rules was he managed to become the only Navy "Ace" of the Vietnam War (though it's interesting to note that his famous "aces' duel to the death" was fought against a man who never existed, and that the records of the North Korean Air Force do not record the loss of any pilot in a MiG-17 that day, and Cunningham's backseater has been reluctant to speak about the "battle royale" ever since he got out of theNavy). The Navy was in serious need of good PR back then and he gave it to them - then they were stuck with him.

It's also telling that when a Naval officer achieves such status as a junior officer, he suddenly ends up on the "fast track," and - so long as he keeps his nose clean in public - he is as close to a "lock" guaranteed Rear Admiral as it gets (trust me on this, when I was in the Navy I worked for an Admiral who was a Genuine Hero at the Battle of Leyte Gulf who was a worthless drunk by the time he ended up being the person responsible for the so-called Tonkin Gulf "incident"). Cunningham never made it past Commander (equal of Lt. Colonel in the other services). He didn't even make it to Captain (equal of Colonel). That says all you need to know about what the US Navy really thought of their "hero."
. . .

 Re: Duke at 1984 American Fighter Aces Association
Author: Paul 
Date:   2005-12-10 12:43:15

Dan - You mention the Gulf of Tonkin "incident." Well, it is a small world.

The flight leader of the first strikes against the NVA targets - was Cdr. Wes McDonnald, an A-4 squadron skipper on the Tico.

Wes McDonnald became CNO.

Cunningham's great protector during his active duty years was . . . CNO Wes McDonnald. No one opposes what the CNO says . . . most, except McDonnald knew Cunningham was a jerk.

I cannot recall the Admiral's name that you speak of, was he the carrier division commander or AirPac?

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