Soaring with Advancement

Clay Goehring served in the Navy for 24 years. Goehring was enlisted in 1962 for four years, then four years in the reserves. He became an officer in 1971 and finished out his term in 1986. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

Clay Goehring served in the Navy for 24 years. Goehring was enlisted in 1962 for four years, then four years in the reserves. He became an officer in 1971 and finished out his term in 1986. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Mota)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Arizona -- Soaring with Advancement
by Airman Pedro Mota
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Serving 24 years in the Navy, Clay Goehring has seen things most can only dream of.

When first meeting Goehring, one will find an old soul filled with experience, but with still a sense of boyish charm. He has his wits about him and is a polite individual with good manners, but his discussion might quickly draw one's attention away from his personality onto his story.

He began his journey by enlisting in the Navy in 1962.

"I was part of a reconnaissance squadron in Japan before Vietnam started," Goehring said. "When Vietnam started in 1965 I was deployed to the Philippines and became a crew member under the sky warriors."

The sky warriors had attack and tanker airplanes which were modified for electronic counter measures.

"At that time I was an electronics aviation technician," he said. "We would look for all types of enemy radars, tune into their frequency, analyze it from the air, record it onto tapes and take them back to our squadron for further analyzing."

After completing four years in the enlisted ranks, Goehring went home to Missouri to continue his studies and ended up getting married then left for New Mexico.

"I wanted to be a commercial, charter or corporate pilot after my enlistment," Goehring said. "In 1971, I was accepted for Navy flight training and earned my pilot wings. My new mission as an officer was in the Patrol Squadron during the Cold War, hunting submarines in a P-3 Orion aircraft."

He spent the next 16 years flying all over the North Atlantic Ocean with 10 hour patrols each time his team was sent out.

"We were given basic information on where a submarine would be, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack," he said. "The grid we were given could be 50 miles by 100 miles and would take around two or three hours to arrive. Then we would spend four to six hours on station trying to detect magnetic anomalies from submarines."

Once a submarine was detected it would be localized while its course and speed were monitored, Goehring explained.

"To find and track the subs was our mission, we were even sometimes authorized to drop bombs on the subs from time to time," he said. "Our teamwork was what got us through those rough times."

After retiring with 24 years in service, Goehring wanted to continue to fly and taught Lufthansa, largest European airline, pilots, for ten years. He then spent five years picking up and dropping off medical patients in an air ambulance.

"Flying with the air ambulance team reminded me very much of the P-3 operations in a way," Goehring said. "Helping patients get the medical attention they needed made me really enjoy the last five years of flying."

He finally finished flying after 40 years, took some time to relax and then thought about what he would do next.

"I started volunteering at a hospital in North Phoenix and also with a couple things at church," he said. "But my favorite volunteer opportunity is with Sky Harbor Airport. 'Navigator' they call us, we direct passengers to where they need to go, where to eat and where to reclaim their lost baggage, anything to assist. I'm always going to be around aircraft, I can't get it out of my blood."