Basic School 2-65 Class Reunion 

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Carson Culler's Story

                                                                            Carson Culler’s Story

   By: Paul Fratarangelo

Carson Culler attended Western Kentucky University on a football scholarship.  His accomplishments as a Division I running back earned him recognition as the Ohio Valley Conference most improved player in 1962.  Carson helped the “Hilltoppers” win the 1963 Tangerine Bowl.

After Basic School, I joined Carson in Pensacola to begin Naval Flight Officer flight training.   We were neighbors, and our friendship grew, as did that of our wives and daughters.  After receiving our NFO wings, we raced each other to MCAS Beaufort, to check into our first F-4 squadron.  We were delighted to find ourselves neighbors again in Laurel Bay.  When Carson and I weren’t flying on the weekend, we would plan family activities together.  The highlight of our summer weekends was hanging out at the O’Club pool, which we all considered the most palatial set up we had ever seen.  During one of our competitive excursions, I recall Carson beating me in an arm wrestling match at pool side and being amazed at his strength. 

During November, 1966, we both received orders to MAG-13, Chu Lai, RVN for the standard 13- month tour.  Between combat sorties and beers at the O’Club, we plotted getting orders to pilot flight training.  Carson was selected for Air Force pilot flight training, and after my completion of Navy pilot flight training, we rejoined each other and our families in Beaufort.  On one of the many Cross Country flights we flew together, I recall we decided to execute a section immelman immediately following takeoff.  For those of you that have flown the F-4, you can imagine how this turned out.

After a second Vietnam tour, Carson reported to VMFA-235, MCAS Kaneohe Bay, where he served as the Aircraft Maintenance Officer.  Carson died while flying a test flight on 1 November 1973.   His personal decorations include 31 flight strike and one single mission Air Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal with gold star.

Carson Culler is survived by his daughters: Lee, Cathy and Courtney, and six grandchildren.  He is sorely missed.

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