Well I can't match combat stories as the aircraft I flew in the fleet was support only. Flying into Pakistan at 300KIAS at less that 500' during OEF was about as it good as it got for us
I will share an event that happened about 1 week prior to 9/11. I was with VRC-30 DET-2 with CVW-11 onboard the USS Carl Vinson. A John Fischer (recently screened for command of a VRC squadron), callsign Fish, and I were sent into Bangkok to fly some VIP's out the Carrier the next day. We launched the next day with the mayor of Bangkok and the Govenor of Thailand amongst our guests. The ship was about 600 miles away...
As we check in with Strike at 100 miles, they give us pertinent info...specifically type Case. At 50 miles we check in with Marshall and they repeat the same as Strike, Case I conditions...think VMC conditions, at least 5000/5. However, from well beyond 50 miles, we can see a giant thunderstorm ahead of us, right where the Tacan needle is pointing. As we close on the ship, I'm dropping down to stay VMC, at 10 miles, I'm at less than 400' and can see the ship driving right into the storm. I inform Fish to let marshall know, prior to switching to tower that there is no way it's Case I, has to be Case III. Just look outside for crying out loud. They eventually agree and we are sent into Holding, about 30 miles from the ship, Angels 15.
We hold about an hour, hit our EFC time and commence the approach. A CASE III approach means coming out of holding at 250knots, down to 1200' at 10 miles. We went IMC at 20 miles out. I can't say the turbulence was violent as I've experienced worse, but it was a bumby ride. However, it was the torrential downpour with zero visibility that was a bit disconcerning. Not a huge deal at an 8000' runway but a little bit of a big deal at the carrier. So we get the standard, "stay clean through 10, we'll call your dirty." Sure enough, at 6 miles we get the "Password, dirty up."
Luckily, the ACLS was up and up that day and we got the call.."say your needles.." with a "fly-up, fly right" response. Then the standard..."roger, fly your needles." So on I go (I'm left seat btw) until glideslope intercept at 3 miles and start down...zero vis, massive downpour, turbulence. At 2 miles, I'm 800' and no change in the weather. A little tightening of the sphincter...just a little. Been there done that plenty of times. At 1 mile and 400', still nothing...can't see . At 3/4 mile, I get the standard "Password 25, 3/4 of a mile, call the ball.." I tell Fish to let em know I'm Clara, meaning clara everything. Clara denotes you don't have the ball in sight. However, I didn't have anything in sight, no meatball, no line-up...basically due to the fact that I didn't see the carrier to due zero visibility.
Paddles rogers up the Clara call and tells us to turn on our taxi light. At 1/2 mile and about 250' I still can't see a thing. I'm still on needles at a point where I should be flying the ball or at least changing my scan to visual to fly the ball. Paddles let me keep coming but I started to go a little high on glideslope, did not want to get low at all behind the boat when I can't see it. Now my sphincter is tight as a frog's ass. I kept coming. When I broke out, I was high and right....I made one play for the deck, a left wing drop, max power to keep the ball from going full red as I dropped like a ton of out of the sky. I never saw red but had a high come down at the ramp, OK 2 wire for the conditions. When I watched the tape, you could only see my taxi light during the last 2-3 seconds...pure grey before that.
I remember taxiing out of the landing area and a Hornet driver gave me a thumbs up. My legs wouldn't stop shaking for 15 minutes....adrenaline more than anything. After I trapped, the ship held all other aircraft (read Hornets) until it got clear of the torrential squall we were in. Nice, the advanced aircraft got the easy approach, the big POS came down the hard way. Regardless, we got onboard safely. Though I'm sure the pax felt it was just another day at the boat. Not really, in my nearly 550 times coming aboard the boat, I've never landed in weather like that...I've landed at night, in the snow and rain but have always been able to see ship at 3/4 of a mile...everytime but this one. Fun times.