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Captain Carroll LeFon, Neptunus Lex, Killed in Crash

Carrol LeFon, better known on the Internet as Neptunus Lex, one of the original milbloggers, has been killed in a fighter jet crash.

From the USNI blog‘s eulogy (“A Remarkable Man Has Stepped Into the Clearing; Captain Carroll LeFon USN (Ret.) 1960-2012“):

As the sun’s rays broke over the top of the eastern hills this morning, the military blogging community is 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.

[...]

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.

He had an impressive Navy career, retiring as a four-striper and having served as XO at TOPGUN. Here’s his bio from Military.com, where he wrote a handful of columns:

Carroll “Lex” LeFon is an retired US Navy captain, incipient crank, rapidly aging curmudgeon and used-to-be naval aviator with over 4000 hours in fighter aircraft, predominantly the FA-18C Hornet. His operational experience includes seven carrier deployments, including several in support of Operation Southern Watch, enforcing UN Sanctions in the Southern No-Fly Zone over Iraq. After commanding an operational FA-18 squadron he reported to the USS Constellation in 2001, later serving as her Operations Officer in the Arabian Gulf during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Shore tours include tours as instructor pilot in basic jet training, as an adversary instructor and as the Executive Officer of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN).

He retired from the Navy in 2008, after serving as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Training on two flag staffs. He is a 1982 graduate from the US Naval Academy with a BS in Political Science, with a Master of Science in Systems Engineering Management from the US Naval Postgraduate School.

He leaves behind a wife, two daughters, and a son. The son, naturally, is now a naval aviator.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Drew says:

    I have to confess I had never heard of him. However he sounds like he lead an extraordinary and exemplary life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  2. I had been a daily reader of Lex since about 6 months after he started his blog. He was articulate beyond all measure, witty and compassionate. The community is heartbroken, most of us for a man we never met in person but felt like we knew better than ourselves. He was the finest kind of person, in every way possible.

    It is impossible to comprehend a world without him in it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  3. walter says:

    I have been Lex’s next door neighbor and friend for many years. He is everything and more than you have grown to know through this readership.

    Kris’ comments above are spot on –

    He was the finest kind of person, in every possible way.

    It is impossible to comprehend a world without him in it.

    May he Rest in Peace.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  4. Teabag says:

    Lex was a fine American. It was an honor to work with him at SPAWAR after he retired from active duty, but even better to see him transition back into the cockpit. His impact on the Naval Service, on Naval Aviation, and on his broad family of friends and admirers will be lasting.

    Fair Winds Lex.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  5. Steve says:

    I served with Lex in Key West while in USN Agressor Squadron VF-45. What a pro. Always so excited to go flying. Condolences to his family.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  6. Brigid says:

    We crossed paths professionally, he finding some humor in that, being someone on his blogroll all along. He was the best of the best. I knew him too briefly, but enough to know the gaping hole that will be left with his passage. My condolences to his family. We are all the lessor for his passing, but the richer for knowing him.

    godspeed Captain LeFon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. Valerie says:

    Rest In Peace Mr. LeFon and thank you for your service to us. My condolences to his family.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. LCDR Black says:

    Drew,
    You missed out. His site is still open, you can get a measure of the man, and get some enjoyment in his prose. Stop by, take a look at some of his work. I only knew him through others and his writing, but I was always amazed at his grasp of the written word. Walter, my (among many) prayers go out to you, your community and certainly his family. If you see they need anything, you have but to ask, and many in the milblog community will make it happen. We banded together for another one of his readers in need, we certainly can band together for his family. We gathered at his hearth each day to hear a story. God Bless CAPT “Lex” LeFon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  9. Dice says:

    Lex was my operations officer and adversary pilot at VF-45 where I served as his GCI controller. We shared a passion for air warfare and saber fencing. He was an inspiration, mentor, officer and a gentleman. Farewell Lex.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  10. Scott says:

    There is another branch of Capt LeFon’s family that some of you may not know of. He was and is a wonderful member of our congregation at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar, CA. I was privileged to know Carroll as a friend. We are all heartbroken and will miss his easy charm, sharp wit, and great friendship.

    Carroll LeFon’s memorial service will be at St. Peter’s on Sunday, March 25, at 1 p.m. with a reception in the Parish Hall to follow. 334 14th Street, Del Mar, CA 92014

    All are welcome.

    May Carroll’s soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, and rise in glory.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. Bill says:

    A year ago, at random, I decided to Google “What is the difference between an officer and an enlisted?” Keep in mind, what little knowledge I have the military comes from those serving or having served, and of course, the movies.

    That Google search led me to Neptunus’ post “Old Ghosts”. So many things struck me about that story. His ability, in a few short words to bring me right to that ready room, as if I’d been stationed on that ship along with him. How real Yeoman Locastro, YN Thies, and PN Bordreaux were, along with a young deck spotter Neptunus. His very real sense of frustration and his subsequent humbling. His unpretentious dedication to honor.

    I learned more about life in the Navy, life as a leader, life as a pilot learning your craft, than I did in the previous 50 search results combined.

    That was my one experience with Neptunus. And now he’s gone. It’s amazing how people who influence your life in way so subtle and discreet can leave such a lasting impression.

    I echo the sentiment of others here. We’ve lost something remarkable and not easily replaced, if ever.

    Take Care Captain, and Godspeed.

    Bill

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0