Doug was born in Ohio on March 30, 1948 and grew up in South Gate, CA. He joined the U.S. Navy in April, 1968 and served as a Petty Officer (Aviation Electrician 3rd Class) with Attack Squadron 192 (VA-192), aka the “Golden Dragons”, during the Vietnam War.
Starting in early 1969, Doug served aboard the USS Oriskany (CV-34). She had just embarked a new air wing, Carrier Air Wing 19 (CVW-19), for familiarization and qualifications in preparation for her fourth deployment to Vietnam. This air wing was comprised of two squadrons of F-8J Crusaders in VF-191 “Satan’s Kittens” and VF-194 “Red Lightnings”, two squadrons of A-4 Skyhawks in VA-23 “Black Knights” and VA-192 “Golden Dragons”, one squadron of A-4E Skyhawks in VA-195 “Dambusters”, as well as the usual detachments of reconnaissance, tanker, and early warning aircraft – VFP-63 Det. 34 “Eyes of the Fleet” (RF-8G Crusaders); VAQ-130 Det. 34 “Zappers” (EKA-3B Skywarriors); VAW-111 Det. 34 “Hunters” (E-1B Tracers); and HC-1 Det. 6 “Fleet Angels” (UH-2C Seasprites). The carrier underwent refresher training and flight qualifications before deploying to the Far East in April 1969.
The Oriskany arrived at Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin in May 1969 to begin combat operations as part of an Alpha Strike. She launched strikes against North Vietnamese logistics targets in eastern Laos, targeting storage areas, bunkers and lines of communication.
Aerial 3/4 starboard bow view of USS Oriskany (CVA-34) conducting air operations in the South China Sea, May 6, 1969. Official US Navy Photograph from the ship’s photo lab (# CVA-34-3398-5-6-1969), taken from an HC-1 Seasprite by PH1 R. A. Long. Doug was on board the USS Oriskany when this photo was taken.
Typically three and, on rare occasions, four carriers operated on Yankee Station and provided continuous fleet air operations around the clock. A carrier would typically be on the line for a line period of 30 to 35 days, and then leave the line for 6 to 8 days of rest and recreation. Between May and October 1969, the Oriskany performed five such line periods. After her second line period ended on June 30th, her crew took a ten day break at the U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay in Olongapo, Zambales, Philippines. The warship’s third line period took place July 13 through 30. After a fourth line period between August 16 and September 12, Oriskany steamed north to Korea to fly intermittent reconnaissance escort missions into early October. Following a fifth line period off Vietnam from October 8 through 31, the aircraft carrier turned for home, arriving at Alameda via Subic Bay on November 17, 1969.
It was during this cruise that VA-192 was recognized for an amazing safety record during extensive combat operations. Specifically, this safety record spanned over 55 accident-free months, 30,477 flight hours and 11,580 carrier landings. No other carrier jet squadron had ever achieved such a safety record up to that time.
From November 6, 1970 through January 1972, VA-192 was assigned to the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63).
USS Beacon (PG-99) alongside USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63). US Navy photo from page 22 of the December 1970 edition of “All Hands” Magazine. Doug was on board the USS Kitty Hawk when this photo was taken.
During this cruise, VA-192’s “Laotian Highway Patrol” set an all-time record for ordnance dropped on a single cruise, over 15 million pounds, while flying more than 6,600 flight hours and amassing 2,901 arrested landings. The Dragons delivered this record amount of ordnance on enemy supply routes both day and night, in all kinds of weather, without losing a single man or aircraft.
USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63)
January 15, 1971
Doug was on board the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) when the following footage was shot.
Doug Earl Layland
August 12, 2016
Medals and Honors: National Defense Medal, Vietnam Campaign and Service Medals, Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal.