As the sun’s rays broke over the top of the eastern hills this morning, the military blogging community was coming to grips with the loss of a truly remarkable man. Retired Navy Captain Carroll LeFon, who was known to thousands by his “nom de blog” of Neptunus Lex, died when his Israeli-built F-21 Kfir single-seat fighter aircraft crashed at NAS Fallon at around 0915 yesterday morning.

The challenge in writing about such a man is that my command of the language to do justice to him is insufficient for the task, yet his mastery of words gave vivid understanding on most everything he chose to chronicle. “Lex” was one of the first and perhaps the best of those military bloggers (milbloggers), with a large and faithful readership that included his former Navy shipmates, other military types (including myself), former military types, and civilians of all descriptions. That readership came and stayed because Lex was far more than a milblogger who wrote about all things military. He had a wonderful gift with the written word, speaking to his readers as if engaged in a conversation at a back table of a favorite pub. His eloquence about military issues, his witty and often brilliant commentary on things political and social, always provided thought provoking reading. His commenters, even while disagreeing and adding rich commentary of their own, respected each other and revered their host.

His post was a daily read for me, and several times a week I would push my chair back from the desk and think (and sometimes say) “Damn! I wish I’d said that!” or “I wish I could write like that!” Lex wrote eloquently of the human condition, both in and out of uniform, and had an appreciation for others who did, as well. We had in common a love of Kipling and the classics of martial poetry and other such works, and I would always smile to read them quoted at some appropriate juncture or situation. His remarkable Rhythms, a superb narrative of a day in the life aboard a CVN, is suitable for publishing. (USNI?)

But Lex did something extraordinary in his missives. In the impersonal world of the internet, he gave us glimpses of himself. His writing brought his readers into his cockpit, where he described in common terms the joys and challenges of flight and what it took to be the exceptional pilot he was. He also wrote incredibly lovingly about his wife and children, his love for them and pride he felt, and the worries he carried as a husband and father. And he managed to do so without intruding into their lives or his, but in a way that allowed us all to share just a little of him.

Lex chose to re-grip the flight controls to serve again the Navy he loved, by doing what had been his passion (outside of his wife and children) for his far too brief time this side of heaven. He helped to train Navy pilots to be better Navy pilots, and accepted the concomitant risks long after his time in uniform ended. The value of men such as he cannot be overestimated. His loss leaves a hole, a void, that never really is filled.

Our thoughts and prayers to his wife, his Navy pilot son, and his lovely daughters. Theirs is a deep grief that cannot be assuaged by the words they will read today and in the coming days. But perhaps, as that grief lessens, they can be warmed with a pride of having been the greatest treasure of such a remarkable man.

Captain Carroll LeFon, United States Navy (Ret.) has stepped into the clearing. Far more than most, he will be missed.




Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Aviation, From our Archive, Naval Institute, Navy, Uncategorized


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  • http://aw1tim.wordpress.com AW1 Tim

    Amen. Here’s to hoping that Rhythms gets published somehow. It would be a great tribute to him if it were.

  • http://steeljawscribe.com Steeljaw Scribe

    Husband, father; Patriot, poet and Fighter Pilot. A fitting epithet, but one that doesn’t lessen the pain of the loss. We are both poorer at the loss, but richer for the all to brief period our paths merged.
    RIP Lex and God Bless and uphold your family.
    w/r, SJS

  • Surfcaster

    Great man, Great man.

    For Strength

  • http://eb-misfit.blogspot.com Comrade Misfit

    Fair winds and following seas, Captain.

  • Old Air Force Sarge

    Thanks URR. You too have a way with words. Cap’n Lex will be sorely missed. Let’s all hope and pray that the Good Lord watches over Lex’s family and many friends during this difficult time. My thoughts are with them all this day. Celebrate his life, miss him yes, mourn as you will, but remember that in God’s good time, we shall all be together again.

    Here’s to happier times, like Surfcaster said, “For Strength!”

  • Quartermaster

    Well said URR. I didn’t get the word until this morning. I normally go by the Castle to read Chris Muir’s “Day by Day.” and read any new headlines. I saw both the Armorer’s and BillT’s headlines and my heart sank.

    I got to meet Lex when I was in San Dog back in July and was looking forward to the possibility of seeing him again this summer. My heart goes out to his family. I remember when the XO came into the Chart house on Courtney in December ’72 to tell me my maternal grandmother had died. I can imagine how SNO’s heart sank when his XO or Squadron Dog brought the news to him.

    We mourn friends, shed tears of grief and remorse, but a lot of it is also for ourselves knowing that we too are fragile and will one day meet our end. Possibly not with our boots on, as Lex did, but the end, however it comes. It pays, therefore, to be, as friends and I so often say, prayed up, packed up, and ready to go up.

    RIP Carroll “Lex” LaFon.

  • Byron

    For Strength!

  • Philbo

    Rest in peace old roomie. USNA was more survivable due to your friendship, humor, and positive outlook.

    I celebrated your successes in the navy and your civilian flying career and will truly, truly miss you.

    Prayers for you, your family, and your friends.

  • Paul L. Quandt

    If the USNI does not publish “Rhythms”, then I will work on getting it published in the periodical “Military”.

    Paul

  • http://www.thebloggess.com Jenny, Bloggess

    He was a quiet hero and will be remembered as such.

  • http://xbradtc.wordpress.com xbradtc

    Thank you, URR, for saying so well what so many of us feel. A great loss for us, it pales in comparison to the loss his family feels.

    Prayers for them.

  • Byron

    If anyone knows any information concerning services, please let us know. I’m sure there’s many people, including myself, who wish to send flowers and cards to his family. Just wish I could be there to say good bye and to thank his wife for the many years she gave her man to the Navy and always the Navy wife par excellence.

  • Glenn

    May you have the wind at your back and a following Sea !

    Hooyah LeFon !

  • Byron
  • Diogenes of NJ

    Wrestle those snakes no more Captain. Look down upon TOPGUN from tne best seat in the house.

    - Kyon

  • Terry TD Deitz

    Six is clear….God Bless
    TD

  • Kevin

    Some people are unforgettable. Carroll was one of these. Au revoir Monsieur Lefon.

  • http://denham1@comcast.net Paul Denham ’82

    Farewell Companymate, Classmate, Shipmate, and Friend. You left too early but arrived on time for your final muster. We will save your seat and raise a glass for you at the 30th. God bless and prayers for your family.

  • Ken Perry ’82

    Farewell et adieu mon ami. From Annapolis to France to the Fleet you lived life to the fullest and shared it fully. Godspeed and open water in your final voyage.

    Ken

  • Seaworthy

    Fight to fly, fly to fight, fight to win.

    Semper Fidelis

  • B Gawne

    Farewell, shipmate. We have the watch.

    Rock’82.

  • http://na Captain Stephen “Hatch” Kingston

    It is a sad day to see the passing of Lex. Lex and I had the great opportunity to be department heads on CONSTELLATION, Lex being the Ops O and I the Air Boss. Lex had the great ability to keep the big picture in sight. He almost without fail tested every department on the ship with the pace and ferosity to meet difficult demands put on the “Connie,” the oldest carrier in the fleet at that time. Lex will be missed. He is a class act.

    Fair winds and following seas my friend, it was an honor to serve with you. To his friends and family, remember Lex was a hero and died “with his boots on.” Sincerely and respectfully, Hatch

  • Don Clements

    Fairwell my friend, you will be sorely missed. May you be at peace and rest eternally knowing that you have touched the lives of many in so many positive ways. Thank you.

    Clem

  • SJBill

    There I go again. Something keeps getting in my eyes, lately.
    URR, a fine tribute, same to Chap.

    As far as flying is concerned Lex had considerable company. He fell sort of claiming any MiG for his record and wished sorely to have had the opportunity.

    As far as writing is concerned Lex had few peers. He painted word images with incredible brush strokes. You can smell the JP-5, lube oil and Connie’s stack gas in his words. He let you feel the burble on final and how unforgivingly dark it was in a night trap.

    Ironic that he passes in daylight, over land, and in a foreign aircraft, after scoring a contractor kill at Fallon.

    CAPT, no need to tank after this mission.
    We will miss you.

  • http://adonaisemperfi.blogspot.com/ Padre Harvey
  • Ruth Milione

    I met Mary his wife while volunteering at the thrift store in Del Mar.
    We just clicked and what a beautiful woman she is and my heart and condolences go out to her and family. I never had the honor to meet her husband but I know from what friends have said that he was an extraordinary man and truly is with our Lord now in the sky above of which he loved to fly and soar. Blessings & Prayers.

  • Dr. Tracy M. Baker

    I’m not an aviator and not Navy(Air Force), but I have read and reread “Rhythyms” over and over because it was so exciting, provoking visceral emotions. I had emailed “Neptunus Lex” that he should put it all in a book that I would happily buy and read. I remember he replied that he had tried to start a book several times, but couldn’t seem to put it all together. Then
    Rhythyms went off the web for a while and I wondered what happened to it. I remember thinking that maybe Capt. Lefons had begun work on a book and this was the reason for the disappearance of Rhythyms. Then, day before yesterday, I found Rhythyms was back on the net and found out Neptunus Lex was killed in a plane crash. Even though I had never met him, I felt like I knew him well and his death was like a punch in my gut. I am still in shock and can’t quite believe it. Reading the preliminary accident report was surreal. I have read similiar reports before and have been amazed that such profoundly qualified aviators who have done extremely difficult activities in airplanes and survived can be killed doing something so mundane as landing, though in his case in harsh weather conditions. I do hope someone will take up the cause to write about his life since that sounds like it would be inspirational.

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