This is one of the aircraft I worked on, I know this for sure because it still has VMFA-451 painted on the fuselage. It is one of the 12 that made up our squadron. The light grey paint scheme was the last one, used on the F-4/S we had our last few years before these planes were replaced with F-18s.
The F-4 was old, even then, and required a lot of maintenance. For every hour of flight, there were dozens of man-hours of work to keep them ready. We were all young, 18-25, Marines, and we defined ourselves by what we did. If someone asked us, “Who are you?” on the flightline, our reply would be , “Powerplants”, or “Com-Nav”, or …
They were once the hottest, most technically advanced fighters in the air. Held most of the world speed and altitude records. They were loud and fast. And they could be deadly, usually to the enemy, occasionally to the flight crews and mechanics.
Now they sit silent in the desert sun, and I sit at a keyboard, remembering. Airplanes, deployments, good times with the best friends a man could ever hope for.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
(Thus passes the glory of this world)
–from the text for the installation of a new Pope