News | June 22, 2023

Blue Angels Decades 1946-1955

By Mathew J. Garretson

Review by Cmdr. Peter Mersky, USNR (Ret.)

There have been many books and articles about the Blue Angels in both commercial and Navy publications. We would think that everything has been shown and related about this group of naval aviators, and the people who support them on the ground so they can give the people who watch their outstanding flight demonstrations at air shows around the country the best impression of just how colorful and exciting flying for the Navy and the Marine Corps is. This new book shows how much remains to be told.

The author is a life-long aviation enthusiast and is the executive director of the A-7 Corsair II Association. He has really done something. I’ve seen a lot of books and articles on the Blues, but nothing like this one.

A few years ago, a former Blue asked me to do such a book, but I could never have matched this offering by Garretson. The design and photos, not to mention the text and graphics are just wonderful. I wish my long-time friend Rear Admiral E.L. “Whitey” Feightner (1919-2020), nine-kill Pacific ace, great test pilot, member of the 1952 team and one of only two Blue Angels to fly the Vought F7U-1 Cutlass in Blue Angel colors, could have been here to see it. He’d have loved it.

The publisher has allowed Garretson free rein to accomplish his vision of what a major history and portrayal of the Blue Angels’ birth in April 1946, courtesy of Adm. Chester A. Nimitz, Chief of Naval Operations, and ongoing development should look like. The book begins with a foreword by retired Capt. Gil Rud, the CO or “Boss” of the team 1986-1988, whose memoir leads off this issue’s column. Then, supplemented by contemporary public affairs publications such as programs for various air shows around the country, as well as notes on the many individual aviators and their aircraft that made the team what it became, including team rosters throughout the years. Surely, the volumes that will hopefully follow will bring the story up to and through the 21st Century, resulting in the ultimate history of this truly unique group of men and women who represent the best of what Naval Aviation has come to be. 
Thanks to Tony Holmes, Capt. Gil Rud, Barrett Tillman and Michael Claringbould for help with captions, and obtaining artwork for this issue’s reviews.