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Opposite Top: Captain Clayton C. Marcy is shown on the bridge of the of the USS Point Cruz (CVE 119) in July of 1953, at the time he was the Commanding Officer.


Opposite Bottom: In this April of 1953 photograph, Captain Clayton C. Marcy (left), the Commanding Officer of USS Point Cruz (CVE 119), congratulates the first pilot to make a night landing on the Point Cruz. Photos: Official Navy Photograph


Sikorsky helicopter plant and do not appear on the list (Grossnick, R., 1997). Regardless of where Marcy actually falls on the list of designated Navy helicopter pilots, he is cer- tainly one of the first. Marcy organized what is considered by many to be the first large scale, all Navy, shipboard helicopter deployment (Flying Pinwheels, 1947). This deployment occurred as part of Operation Crossroads in the summer of 1946. Operation Crossroads was a nuclear test conducted at the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean by the United States. The pur- pose of the test was to see how nuclear weapons would affect naval ships. Four Sikorsky HOS-1 helicopters and a team of Navy maintenance personnel departed Norfolk, VA on the USS Shangri La (CV-38) en route to San Diego, CA (Thomason, T., 1981).


The pilots for the mission were


Captain Marcy and Commander Wood (another early Navy helicopter pilot). Along the way one helicopter had a hard landing and was lost. During the transit, the detachment completed the first nonstop helicopter flight from the Atlantic to the Pacific along the Panama Canal. In San Diego, the detachment transferred to the USS Saidor (CVE- 117), the operation’s photo collection ship. Later, another helicopter suffered a clutch failure and was lost at sea. With only two of the original four aircraft still operable, the mis- sion that was supposed to prove the helicopter’s usefulness looked like it would ruin its future. However, the remaining aircraft were able to make important contributions in maintaining the cameras which collected images of the nuclear tests. The film from the cam- era towers could not be retrieved by ship. This was due to the fact that the water of the lagoon where the nuclear tests took place was too radioactive to allow ships to enter. Waiting until the radioactivity levels decreased would have resulted in possible fogging of the film and the loss of photographic records (Beard, T., 1996). Retrieval by air was the only viable option. The helicopters were able to prove their value through their ability to extend the ships’ reach. While the Operation Crossroads deployment was going on the Navy was moving forward with another one of Marcy’s recommendations. He proposed establishing an operational helicopter squadron. Helicopter Development Squadron 3 or VX-3 stood up on July 1, 1946 at Naval Air Station New York (Thomason, T., 1981). When Marcy returned from Operation Crossroads he took over command of VX-3. In this capacity, Marcy oversaw the training of Navy helicopter pilots, development of new operating techniques and evalu- ation of new aircraft. His official service record indicates that in December of 1947 he completed the first transconti-


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