A forty millimeter round exploded above us. I don’t know how Denzek and I weren’t hit. You can see where the flak tore into the wings on either side of us, and all the way back to the elevators and rudder.

The folks at Grumman built her rugged. Even with all the damage she flew right and brought us home. Landing was as routine as any carrier trap can be. It’s a shame she’ll never fly again.

And it’s a shame about Loyce. I’m surprised the corpsmen found his dog tags and enough to fingerprint. He was a four-oh sailor, as good as they get. Cared about the young guys, the kids.

They’re pushing him and her over the fantail now. See her flip? All those holes and she still takes her time sinking. It’s a fitting burial for a sailor. The water below us will keep him safer than the air ever could.