On 24 December 1965, Lieutenant (junior grade) Malcolm Tinker took a moment to record in his diary his feelings on the occasion of Christmas Eve as his floating home, the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk (CVA 63) departed the waters off Vietnam for Japan.
“At last, as last; a welcome respite from the past 28 days,” he wrote upon completing a line period filled with combat flights over North Vietnam. “The day before Christmas and thoughts of many of us are far away- esp. on the first holiday season away- far away from home. There was singing and relaxing in various rooms around the ship. It took a bit of mustering to get up the Christmas spirit, but we all did. Services were held in hangar bay one, which despite a homespun air, were a link with the meaning of it all. Still reeling from the loss of our comrades in the past 4 hellish days, each of us gave thanks that he was able to enjoy this day with the war far away now.”
Such was the irony of the holiday season for those in the profession of arms, celebrating peace and goodwill to men oftentimes amidst the violence inherent in war. The following images capture life in naval aviation ashore and afloat during the holidays.