HAVELOCK – The Grumman A-6 Intruder was an aviation jewel for the Marine Corps and Navy for more than three decades and those who flew and maintained it continue to preserve its history.
Introduced in 1963, the aircraft’s era ended in 1993 with the Marines and in 1997 with the Navy.
Members of the A-6 Intruder Association will unveil an Intruder Tribute monument – only the fifth such site in the country - at 10 a.m. on May 17 at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center. There is an A-6 on display nearby.
The guest speakers include retired Navy Capt. T-Lad Webb, Intruder Association president; retired Marine Maj. Gen. Tom Braaten, director East Carolina Aviation Heritage Foundation; Havelock Mayor Will Lewis; and retired Marine Maj. Gen. Martin Post, The Intruder Tribute is a 9-foot black granite obelisk with a four-panel collage of laser etched Intruder photographs, graphics and general aircraft information.
The monument was funded through the association and private donations.
Another A-6 ceremony is planned for 2:30 p.m. by the Marine All-Weather Attack Squadron 225 for its 50th anniversary and to honor members lost – killed or missing in action. It was one of seven squadrons, including four at Cherry Point air station and four on the west coast.
With the morning dedication of the Tribute, the association hopes to educates visitors about the A-6 Intruder and the Intruder community - “Preserving the Legend of the Intruder.”
The local association was created in January by men who flew and maintained the aircraft during their Marine careers, such as retired pilot and squadron commander, Col. Tom Blickensderfe, a 31-year veteran. He flew the aircraft in Desert Storm and the Middle East war.
He said the nuclear and conventional bomber was originally developed during the Cold War.
Members include retired Marines who maintained the aircraft such as Bob Szarmach and George Cook; Jesse T. Randall, retired Marine Corps Media Coordinator; and civilian member Steve Foster with Grumman technical support.
“It was an important part of our lives and we didn’t want it forgotten,” said Szarmach, who worked on hydraulics.
The Havelock site was selected for having aviation interests, visitor and foot traffic in and around the Havelock Tourist and Event Center, and the A-6 Intruder on static display nearby.
Havelock is the fifth Intruder Tribute location. The other four Tribute sites are the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla.; the Cradle of Aviation in Garden City, Long Island, N.Y.; the Museum of Flight, Seattle, Wash.; and the Naval Aircraft Carrier Memorial Park, Virginia Beach, Va.
The A-6 Intruder Association consists of a membership of Marine Corps and Navy A-6 aviators, maintenance personnel, civilians, and other aviation individuals.
According to militarymachine.com, the Grumman A-6 Intruder was introduced in 1963 and served as the Navy and Marine’s premier medium/all-weather attack aircraft through the 1990s. It had an avionics system ahead of its time and its side-by-side seating was rarely seen in other aircraft.
The 54-foot-seven-inch aircraft, with a 53-foot wingspan, had a maximum speed of 648 mph, a ceiling of 40,600 feet and a combat range in full combat load of 1,077 miles.
Charlie Hall can be reached at 252-635-5667 or 252-259-7585, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook at Charlie Hall.