Most folks who follow the postings on the message board will instantly recognize the name of Ray D. Bean. A majority of these will know that Ray is a photographer who resides in Winnipeg in the frozen wastes of Canada. A few may know that Ray is a charter member of the super secret Cabal of Kit Consultants, who foist their own desires on injected plastic manufacturers for obscure and unneeded subjects, such as the new state of the art Dragon Essex CV-9 to supplant the ancient Hasegawa kit. This of course is done in spite of the wishes of those modelers who would prefer that the company produce a low cost model of Honey Barge X-193. However, very few people know that Ray had a secret life as a naval aviator with the USN.

Ray started out as a surface action weapon's officer on a CG but then discovered that there was not enough action in the black shoe navy for him. He thought that it might be fun to work with the jarheads of the USMC, so Ray signed up for the Gator Navy. However, that too, was not his cup of tea. He felt the yearning to soar into the blue and signed up for naval aviation. Even though he soared like an eagle, Ray still felt curiosity about new ship's fittings and would spend his off hours and liberty periods investigating the new items on ship. From time to time Ray would like to again feel the sharp sting of salt water on his face. 

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One of his first birds was the S2F Tracker ASW prop aircraft but Ray decided that he had a need for speed and went on to jets. He wanted to pack the big load so at first he gravitated to the attack aircraft of the USN. He went into CarQuals for almost every attack jet in the USN inventory. 

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There still was not enough excitement for Ray in flying attack craft. He wanted to be a gunfighter. To satisfy this need, only aircraft starting with an F in their nomenclature would do.

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Ray's skills were appreciated by every crewman on the carrier. Indeed his reputation expanded well beyond the crew of his carrier to first encompass all of the taskforce and then all in the Navy.

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Ray D. Bean, SteelNavy salutes you and your service in connection with the Dragon USS Essex. Unfortunately, this article was not ready to appear last Friday, April 1, 2005, as a companion piece to the astounding Men of the Bainbridge article, in a SteelNavy twin salute to noted luminaries in the hobby. However, since Ray cannot send or receive e-mail at this point in time, it seemed opportune to post this homage now.