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Captain Leonard ‘Len’ Kaine USN-Retired 
Veterans and Armed Services Advisor

Captain Leonard “Len” Kaine is a “real deal” Navy Top Gun Fighter Pilot. He
began life as an unassuming coal miner’s kid with a public high school education.
But with high motivation and dedication, he was able to serve his nation with
distinction earning two Combat Distinguished Flying Crosses, Seven Combat Air
Medals, two Navy Commendation Medals with Combat V (Valor); Navy Unit
Commendation Ribbon, National Defense Medal with one Bronze Star, Vietnam
Service Medal with three Bronze Stars; a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
with Device and a ‘Command at Sea’ Star.

Two days before his 18th birthday, Len enlisted, and was given a series of tests.
He nailed the exams. In a matter of months he was whisked off to flight training
at NAS Pensacola FL as a Naval Aviation Cadet. Upon completion he received
his Navy Wings with a date of rank as a "Teen-Age" Ensign. 
Len was ordered to NAS Oceana and then assigned to Fighter Squadron 61
flying the F3 Demon. Two years later, Len was the only Aviator in the squadron
chosen to upgrade to the F8 Crusader—the first Navy fighter to exceed 1000

In 1959, he finished in the top 10% of all F8 Crusader graduates and was sent to
VF-84 at NAS Oceana. In that same year his air to air gunnery skills earned him
the title as the East Coast F-8 “Top Gun” pilot and a month later, the All Navy F8
“Top Gun” pilot.

For five months in 1960, VF-84 was deployed to Rota Spain. During that time
Len was the Skipper’s wingman performing the Blue Angel air show through
Spain, southern France, northern Italy and for the Sixth Fleet Flagship in the

Beginning in April 1961, Len was assigned a three-year tour as an F8 Fighter
Pilot Instructor in Jacksonville, Florida. Being conversant in French, he was also
selected as an instructor for the first four French Naval Aviators to be trained in
the F8. While there, he also set a modern day Navy flight record in air combat
maneuvering by flying six different aircraft types in two days. His combat tactics
manual later became the primer for the Navy’s “Top Gun School”.
In June 1964, Len was a Navigator of USS Enterprise “The Big E” as part