Updated 18 December 2016

LIST OF ARTICLES: (click to go direct)


Original Catkiller CPT Robert Jordan checked in after locating the Catkiller web site and is now in the process of adding comments and photos to our history files. Here is a sample of those historic photos tucked away waiting to be discovered (now to be archived with the US ArmyCenter for Military History!):

photo by Robert J. Jordan, Jr., 1966

An army aerial observer who served with the Catkillers in 1968–69, 1LTJames E. Johnson, checked in with us and sent in this photo, which is also posted at the roster:

1LT James E. Johnson, AO, 1/83rd Arty

I served with the 1/83rd Artillery, a composite 8” gun and 175 mm cannon battalion. I was in Vietnam from August 1968 to August 1969. During that time I flew 14 missions (daylight and 2 plane night) missions over the Ashau Valley as an Air Observer. I am positive that the 220th was the unit I flew with. The aircraft certainly are familiar and I was amazed 2 six–footers could squeeze into an aircraft that small. On one mission both aircraft came under fire from both sides of a valley during a night mission. I am still thankful that the pilot was cool, extremely skilled, and very smart. Instead of flying up, he flew down and through the Valley. Neither plane took any hits and all was okay.

I am one of the Canadians who came south and enlisted in the US Army, and was commissioned in 1967 through Artillery OCS. After my discharge I returned home to Vancouver. The reason for this anecdote is that I have a grand nephew who (at 14) is a member of the RCAF Air Cadet program, where he has undergone initial glider training. I was wondering if I could purchase a 220th Challenge Coin to give to him as a Christmas gift. Apparently Challenge Coin collecting is a big thing for these young cadets. I will be sending my grand nice a Challenge Coin from the 1/83rd as she is a Royal Canadian Army Cadet.

I am forwarding a photo of myself in Vietnam. Unfortunately, I do not have anything of myself in flight gear. As a matter of fact, the only gear we used was a flight helmet for communications between ourselves and the pilot and to ground (if a fire mission was called). Other than that it was fatigues, a load bearing harness with some necessities attached and a flak jacket. The picture is after the battery I was with returned from FB Quick II to FB Anzio. If I am not mistaken in my timeline, I would have flown these AO missions in early 1969. Believe it or not, flying those missions were some of the better times I had in–country.

Battalion Headquarters for the 1/83rd was at Camp Eagle, just outside Phu Bai. Our Battalion was part of the 108th Artillery Group and our senior command was XXIV Corps. When we flew night missions, 2 First Lieutenants (myself included) would journey over from Camp Eagle, meet with our pilots, get briefed, squeeze ourselves into the planes (sitting on our flak jackets) and off we would go. I do remember one daylight mission where we registered both a 175 mm battery and an 8” battery. We were not specifically assigned to the 220th as AO’s. I will go through the 1/83rd Artillery roster and see if I can remember the other officer I flew with who did a lot more missions than I did.

James E. Johnson

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From Ed Melton’s grandaughter, we now know that Catkiller Burnum Edgar (Ed) Melton, 1965, died on 13 May 2016. The announcement will follow once the obituary is finished.


Anyone that might have a better photograph and/or history of VNAF 112792 is asked to contact Curt Perry [or editor] for transfer of that info to the current owner of this aircraft living in New Zealand. I know we had guys that flew out of Hue until Tet 68. Thanks, Curt Perry:

This is supposed to be a photo of that aircraft:

VNAF Birddog at Hue, 1968

“From what i can tell 2792 was sent to the RLAF in I think 1972, where it was used a little but later for parts as it was noted somewhere that it was in a sorry state in a hanger.. The Thai’s got it in 1975 (I’d say at the time Lao fell) and it went to the Thai Army until around 1996–2000, when it was discharged. It took my wife and I just on 5 years to do a deal for the O–1 and they at last shipped it to NZ. Before 2792 was in the VNAF gray it was in the OD green, with yellow/black checkers on the aft fuse with code DC and before that in the early 1950s it was with the French airforce in Vietnam. If you could at some point in time (no rush) when you can do a good scan of your photo that would be much appreciated to add to 2792’s history.

Have sent some photos of when it was in Thailand back in 2008 when we first saw it ( along with some more O–1’s) and of it today in NZ. Many thanks for your help linking the past. It makes the rebuild even more worth while.”
  • Dean Milner
  • Deltag Aviation Ltd
  • Motueka
  • South Island, New Zealand

Doug Dempsey, son of Theodore W. Dempsey, Catkiller Crew Chief, sent in this note today, 7 July:

My father was SP4 Theodore W. Dempsey, Catkiller Crew Chief, 2nd Plat, Hue 1967. My father passed away in January 2010. I have his scrap book, with many many photos from his time there. If you would like some let me know and I would be more than happy to scan and forward them to you. Thank you,

Doug Dempsey

EDITOR: Our condolences, Doug, and if you have a copy of your father’s obituary we would be honored to post it on our site. Any photos you have of Theodore’s time at Hue would be welcomed, especially any with annotations. We would especially like to have a photo of your father for the roster. Don Ricks.

1LT Jerry Spette, who replaced Tank Meehan as the VARSACC, XXIV Corps G-2 II Section and TDY to 220th, July 1968–Nov 1969, sent in this photograph of one of our 220th Aviation Company warroirs, Captain Steven A. Grass, Catkiller 46, and platoon leater for the 4th platoon:

CPT Steven A. Grass, Catkiller 49, 1969

Another photograph of CPT Gary Zentner, 1969, surfaced today, thanks to him digging into his files to locate this Dong Ha shot:

CPT Gary Zentner, Dong Ha, Vietnam, 1969

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If you have ever read the follow–up story regarding the events surrounding the death of CPT Robert “Bob” Wilton Garth, Jr., located in the Catkiller History Index, Index 8, you know that Chaplain (Major) Calvin Garner served there at the same time and probably was the chaplain who presided over Bob’s memorial service. We now have several photographs provided by the daughter of Chaplain Garner, Daphne Hopson, who sent in scans of recently discovered 35mm slides. Below is one showing CPT Garth and one other captain identified by last name, plus a close–up of CPT Garth). Other photographs will soon appear within a new page devoted to Chaplain Garners ’s photos and a URL placed under the new photo of CPT Garth:

A photo by Chaplain Calvin Gardner, probably taken during a meeting in the chapel he built at Quang Ngai in 1966

A closeup of the above photo showing CPT Bob Garth, 1st Platoon, 220th Aviation Cpmpany

Photographs by Chaplain Calvin Hoyle Garner, 1966

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Lt. Col. Charles (Bazooka Charlie) Carpenter and his L-4 Grasshopper

This is a story shared with me by Herbert De Groft, USMC, over a month ago. Herb said this in his email, and I am honored to also share it with you:

Darn good idea for WW II, even Korea. By the Vietnam era each O–1 Birddog had mounted Zuni and/or WP rockets under each wing. Must admit accuracy from a moving small aircraft was minimal—sighting ability, hitting a specific target was somewhat problematic. Several of the pilots I flew with were pretty good, by my observation.

As for Major Carpenter, he had the right attitude about warfare being 24 hr/day duty against the enemy. His affinity for having to close on the target before firing the bazookas I think likely made his exit off the target a bit harrowing, especially if supporting infantry was in the vicinity of the tanks/armored cars. Staying at tree–top and using terrain–masking likely saved him. Me thinks God was his co–pilot because he should have been shot down—if—the Germans were good shots as we Marines are known to be.

I'm forwarding to our Catkiller web master to share with all the Birddog Band of Brothers. They may not be aware of this part of aerial observation/attack history.

War History Online: “Mad Major” Carpenter
Attached 6 Bazookas To His Artillery Spotter Plane
And Went Tank Hunting [sound familiar]


Don, thought you [and your readers] might find this interesting. Don Nicholson (Longtrip)

I flew Wes Gallagher, the reporter mentioned in the Bazooka story, and his party during their visit to Nam in Jan 1968. He sent my mom a letter telling her he had spoken with me and I was doing well. It was signed by him as the General Manager of the Associated Press.

The Associated Press reporter Wes Gallagher, in a 1945 article in Liberty Magazine, concluded that the major was “a legend in an outfit where reckless bravery is commonplace.”

EDITOR: Sounds like the pilots of the 220th!

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About a year ago we received several photographs showing a former 73rd Aviation Company aircraft that transferred to the 220th when the 73rd inactivated. Thinking that perhaps a story might develop from the inquiries made those photographs we held until now. We could not discover who crashed in the aircraft but share the photos for their historical value. Here also is a comprehensive historical document from the 73rd Aviation Company:

73rd Aviation Company Web Site Assets

Pages 49 and 120 of this document shows photos of 57-2091 inflight. This unit way rather large and spread out over Vietnam, from the A Shau Valley to the Delta. Their history was short, from May 1963 to May 1964. Some of their assets would eventually come to the Catkillers at Phu Bai.
Formerly assigned as an aviation asset for 73rd Aviation Company. R72901 Formerly assigned as an aviation asset for 73rd Aviation Company. R72901 Formerly assigned as an aviation asset for 73rd Aviation Company. R72901 Formerly assigned as an aviation asset for 73rd Aviation Company. R72901 Formerly assigned as an aviation asset for 73rd Aviation Company. R72901

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If you have e-mail contact with the guys that were flying during Tet at Hue and the DMZ, I am attaching the one-page PDF flyer about the April 16 VMI Conference. I would appreciate it a lot if you would spread the word to them about the Conference. Since the main theme/topic is Tet, and since the focus is on Marines who were serving in the areas you and they were covering, I hope there will be a lot of interest. Emphasize to them that there is no registration fee, and we are also providing a free lunch. My collaborator Dan Moore was in Hue for part of Tet.

How long does it take to view the films you have on DVDs that you took of that area? It wouldn't make much sense for me to borrow the DVDs, without the narration. One possibility is we could meet where I work, and we have conference rooms that are all set up for screening movies, etc., from a laptop. If any of your RAC friends are in this area, they could join us, or any Marine veterans who were in Vietnam.

Other possibility is that we might be able to screen this video during the Conference. If you can let me know the length of the video, that will give me a better idea.

In addition to Fred Smith, I am in contact with a retired USMC LtCol. named Jerry Martin, who flew AO missions with 3rd Marine Division early in 1969. He may be at the Conference. And, while I don't know the name, there is a good story on the 3/4 Association site about an incident where the AO saved an infantry company's neck near C-2 in late November, 1967.

The websites for the Conference and the Norman Lane Project are given below.

Al Claiborne, Professor
Chair, Norman Lane Jr. Memorial Project

Tel.: (336) 716-3914
Cell: (336) 529-2105
VMI conference info

Full Version of Conference Flyer

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Two items came in within the last few weeks and if you have information to add, please contact the editor:
1LT Rik Billing Plaque, 1968

The Billing plaque story:

Don, had something interesting happen today I thought I might share with you. Daryl Wesley, Bill Owen and I went to a gun show in Dothan today as we do regularly whenever the gun show comes to Dothan. We do lunch together and the hit the show. anyway we were walking the isles looking at the different items, guns, bayonets and other assorted military objects. we came upon a table with an assortment of items and I noticed a Ziploc bag with different unit patches and there on the top was a Condor (2/17 Cav) patch. I mentioned to the young man at the table that we used to have some of those guys fly with us as observers. He picked up the bag, opened it and handed me the patches to look through, and there in amongst them was a Catkiller patch. One of those patches that were made at the Korean sewing shop right next to our company area in Phu Bai. So, Bill, Daryl and I made conversation with him about the patch. It was not for sale and part of his personal collection. He stated that he had a plaque of snoopy on top of his dog house with a Catkiller's name on it. He couldn’t remember the name. so, we exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and I sent him some pictures of the few patches I had (several just like his Catkiller patch as there were probably made in the same shop) and he sends me a picture of his collection including the aforementioned plaque. He said he picked it up in Birmingham 15 years ago.

I went to our web site and looked up Rik Billing and sent the young man this info about him.
Curt Perry

Based upon this new information several of the web site staff did further research and located the previously unknown facts posted at Find A Grave (ID number 49122514):

           Rik Billing Find A Grave site photo

EDITOR: Former Captain John Henrik Billing, DFC, Purple Heart (OLC), born 2 November 1943, died 20 May 1991, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Bobbie Johnson and Ernie L. Serna

The Ernie Serna, Bobbie Johnson Photo:

Don thanks for the quick reply. I have attached a photo I found of Bobbie Johnson back in 1966. He and I shared the same hooch. The pic [of Bobbie] you have on file shows him w/gray sideburns, so it must be a later pic. I have looked at both of them w/a magnifying glass . I would say w/about 90 percent certainty that it is the same guy. I will keep trying to locate him somehow. After many years I located the Huey helicopter pilot that picked me up, Jack French. We have talked and corresponded. [Editor: the aircraft number in which Ernie crash was 57–2785. This 220th Maintenance Log located on the Catkiller History Index, page 13, shows this number. The majority of our crashes are listed there].

Ernie Serna

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A few weeks ago I received an email note from Bud Bruton, who followed up with an interesting phone call, regarding a renewal of interest in locating fruitful information about circumstances of the disappearance of two of our missing in action, Lee Harrison and Steven Bezold. While there is nothing concrete, as of yet, there was an indication of a high level meeting and promise of a more intense effort taken on behalf of the families of these two men. Our hope and interest is that the North Vietnamese could identify and interview any living Vietnamese soldiers that served in the specific units involved in actions taken by Vietnamese forces on the ground during and immediately following the day our crew was shot down. We are certain there are incident reports within the files of their army, too.

During a visit to Hanoi earlier this year, Bud met with several officers at a gathering and followed that initial discussion with a very thorough emailed overview of the circumstances that led to the crash of the missing aircraft and crew. Here is a reply from the contact in Hanoi:

[Bud] It was a pleasure meeting you at the Peace Trees dinner a few weeks ago. The Ambassador and I had a great time getting to know you and the delegation and having a very interesting and enjoyable discussion.
About the MIA case you raised with the Ambassador. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has looked into it and now DPAA and their Vietnamese partners Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) are working on investigation leads for this case. Based on this, they expect to include the case within the next two Joint Field Activities and hope to develop more information.

[the additional result of a followup email sent from Bud to the contact:]

Thank you for the additional information, I’ve ensured the right people have it. It seems they have a good fix on the crash site and the NVA unit involved, so I hope that we can arrive at some accounting and finally put this to rest for the families of Mr. Harrison and Mr. Bezold and for you and those that served with you. I served in the Army, fortunately in times of peace, and it always touches me the lengths our citizens and country go through to make sure we do account for those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice. Again, I really hope we can do so in this instance.

Best Regards,

Mr. Dara Yin, First Secretary | Political Section | U.S. Embassy Hanoi

Of course, we will reveal any information we receive in the future. While there is more in the emails, the above are the highlights of interest.

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220th Aviation Company original guidon

While going thru stuff in the attic I found the 220th guidon! It was neatly folded in an envelope with a North Vietnam flag. I remember taking it to turn in as we stood down but apparently I kept it.

What I recall is that after all the planes were flow to the turn-in point a few of us were left to dispose of other equipment and close out the unit. I was tasked to take the guidon back to the states and mail it to the US Army Center of Military History. When I returned, it remained in a footlocker, since that was a fast–paced period with all I was doing at the time, and it was never sent.

Thanks to Don Ricks, and the website, my interest was renewed, and I found the guidon stored in and that old footlocker up in my attic.

I will think more about those final days. For some reason I don't recall too many details. I do remember working with the 1st Cavalry pilots and always visiting their bar, and they coming to ours. They were the only ones allowed to wear their (CAV) hats in our bar.

We gave several vehicles to the CAV guys that were not on our hand receipt and lots of furniture and other items. After we finished closing the unit I was reassigned to the Flying Boxcars, 178th Assault Support Helicopter Company (Chinook) in Da Nang. I was not helicopter rated and they would not let me fly co-pilot because the Chinook is a two pilot aircraft. It was a strange time as there wasn't much I could do, and I out ranked the XO. No problem for me but it was weird. I did learn lots about the "s_–hook", as it was fondly called, and really appreciated all it was capable of. I was only there a month or so before getting orders back to CONUS.

I finally went to Rotary Wing Q course on my way to MacDill AFB, Florida, to be the XO of the Army Aviation Support Element (AASE). We provided VIP and exercise support to the Readiness Command, now CENTCOM. I flew Hueys, U8s, U21s and the C12s there. It was a great assignment and it was fun flying all the different aircraft.

Tom Shaver, LTC, U. S. Army, Retired

EDITOR: For additional photographs you will want to see, view the “Final Flight history document”.

As an additional suprise and a generous, historically significant decision by Tom Shaver, the 220th guidon will soon be enroute for safekeeping and display at the Heritage Flight Museum.

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We have lost another of the early members of the Catkillers. Our condolences to the Melton family on the passing of this well–loved man and quiet soldier:

MAJ Burnam E. Melton, Jr., obituary written by his granddaughter, Stephani

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This is a an overview of my now famous flight school classmate in 1967. Bill Reeder a Spud driver in Phu Bai, was shot down in his Mohawk but was safely recovered. He later returned to Vietnam as Cobta pilot. Again, he took fire, was shot down, captured and became a POW. His story is incredible story and he is a long–time friend. His well–receivedbook is a must read.

Colonel Reeder is in the Army Aviation Hall of Fame:

Unit of Assignment When Shot Down

Army Aviation Hall of Fame 2014 Induction

Pictured below is Bill upon his release as a POW, and with his wife, Colonel Melanie Reeder, U. S. Army Retired, at our recent meeting:
Left to right is (1) Bill Reeder being greeted as he returned to US control; (2) Melanie Reeder, Bill Reeder and Charles Finch, 2016

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The All–Birddog Reunion celebrated 50 years of Birddog participation in Vietnam, and we all agreed those years since were significant for all who served there to remember. Yep, fifty years is very significant. Today I received a special note from one Catkiller who is proud to say he has been happily married to his bride for fifty years [4 June 4 1966 to 4 June 2016]. Charles Finch sent in a few special photographs to mark their “golden anniversary:”

Charles and nancy Finch, 1966

Charles and nancy Finch, 2016

Charles and Nancy Finch, greeting

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Seventy–Two years ago my father participated with the 4th Infantry Division in the overall Normandy landing at Utah Beach Sector, and there were thousands of other brave Americans tasked to do the same, and there many paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I was just a few days shy of being one year old. What a great generation to remember and celebrate on this day! Thank you, Dad!

What does the D in D–DAY Mean?
Click on the image


6 June 1942, Army Aviation Born

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An engineer friend sent this link to me, and he said in his only remark, “Don, You are on a similar mission. Dan”

His message was simple, and as I view the YouTube video I realized completely what the message was all about. For some time now I have contemplated why I spend so much time working on three web sites, certainly consuming time and expending energy, and often I wondered why we were not doing other things in the here and new. Dan’s words were simple truth, and an even simplier conclusion. View the film, hear the story, and you will know the reason several of us listed on the card below spend a lot of time and energy and also why many of you contributed along the way to primarily honor the ones who are not here today to speak for themselves. A part of us is with them, even those who have never been found and given the honorable respect of a gravesite:

Catkiller Postcard 2016

Lest We Forger: The Vow

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Col. “Chuck” Meadows will be our Tour Host on this 49th anniversary of this famous battle in Vietnam. As a Captain, he was the Commanding Officer of Golf Company, Second Battalion, Fifth Marines and is an acclaimed historian of the battle to retake Hue City from the North Vietnam Army. This 10–day trip to Vietnam will also include side trips to Chu Lai, An Hoa, and the Hai Van Pass. Whether Army or Marine, you do not want to miss this one.

Ron Campbell, USMC (Ret)
Military Historical Tours, Inc.
13198 Centerpointe Way, Ste. 202
Woodbridge, VA 22193-5285
1 (703) 590-1295 or 1 (800) 722-9501

Vietnam—Hue City Tour of 2017 PDF BROCHURE

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The Academy of Richmond County (ARC), Georgia, leaders certainly have ample justification to be proud of their alumni, and their 2016 hall of fame inductees list reflects a diverse vocational and outstanding accomlishment record for its eleven individuals. Included among the proud inductees were four doctors and three professional military retirees. Our own Colonel (Ret.) Charles S. Finch was one of the three military inductees, and within the narriative for Charles is a statement that exemplfies his attitude and propensity for encouraging others through his time and committment to serve, especially the youth in his community. Congratulations, Charles!

ARC Hall of Fame Inductee, 2016

ARC Hall of Fame Inductee, 2016

ARC Hall of Fame Inductee, 2016

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Rubbing, CPT Robert W. Garth, Jr., KIA 23 September 1966

CPT Robert W. Garth, Jr.

There will be a MEMORIAL REUNION of soldiers that may have know Captain Robert Wilton Garth Jr., who was killed 23 September 1966, at Quang Ngai. The reunion will be held at the home of the daughter of Chaplain (Major) Calvin H. Garner, in Evans, Georgia, on 16 December 2016, at 2:00 PM. Chaplain Garner held the memorial service for Capt. Garth in Quang Ngai in 1966. Captain Garth's son, Robert, and Captain Garth's grandson will be in attendance. William “Bill” Grubbs of Pascagoula, Mississippi, will also attend.

Robert was only three years old at the time of his father’s death. He has never had the opportunity to meet with anyone that served with his father. He would be quite honored if anyone can shed more light on his father’s life and service. If you can’t attend, he would still like to speak with you. If you can attend, please contact Daphne Hopson (706) 825–3498 or email her at for more information and directions to her home.
We will post a list of names of others who indicate they will attend.

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Donald Eugene Wilson, COL, USA, Retired
As many already know, Gene Wilson, our Historian Emeritus, has a rare and progressively deteriorating motor skills disorder. Understandably and reluctantly, he has only shared this personal information with his family and a small group of close friends. A few days ago, I received a phone call from Gene’s wife, Ellie, where she was thorough in her situational update and stated that Gene is now essentially unavailable to us and in a hospital under constant care. Ellie further stated that she did not believe Gene would come home again but might soon be under expert care at an assisted living facility. Thankfully, Gene has never given up hope and still has the will and ability to read email messages. However, it is not certain he would be able to respond via phone. Thank you for praying for Gene and his loving wife (and now caregiver) of many happy years—as together they continue to deal with Gene’s situation. Don Ricks, Editor

UPDATE: 2 December 2016

I received a phone call from Ellie Wilson this afternoon and she provided this update regarding Gene Wilson’s previously reported situation:

Gene is now under care at a hospice facility near his home and next to Lakewood and requested that his diet consist only of liquids. Gene’s family is nearby and Ellie is continually with him or within reach. Their children are also close at hand. Gene is not taking calls but is able to receive readings of written communications via Ellie, so continue to write as you wish.
Please keep Gene and his family in your thoughts and prayers, especially as this is a difficult time for them and close friends and extended family. God be with the Wilson’s and all who undergo stressful situations now and through the holidays.

Don Ricks, Editor

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Anyone who has publication–quality photographs of our Birddogs contact Raymond Caryl, Volunteer Historian, 220th Aviation Company, either by e mail ( or cell phone (520–405–8333). He is particularly interested in a photo showing the right side of the Birddog aircraft (and the smoke grenade installation) and a photo showing a Birddog firing rockets. Either color or black and white will work. He will give full credit for the photos in his upcoming book publication.

The book is currently at 300 pages and isn’t just about him and his personal tour from July 1967 to July 1968, but also includes history of the 220th and emphasizes the special relationship the Catkillers and their Marine Aerial Observers.

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It is with deep sadness and heartfelt condolences to his family and friends that I share the email announcement Ellie Wilson sent to Roger and Shelley Putnam regarding the death of her beloved husband, Gene. We also extend our condolences to Ellie for the recent loss of her mother in California:

Donald Eugene Wilson, COL, USA, family, Christmas 1986
“Dear Roger and Shelley, please forward this to all our Catkiller friends. Thanks for your help.

It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that Gene passed away Thursday evening (Dec 8th) peacefully at Hospice House surrounded by family. He was a valiant warrior throughout the last seven years as we traveled this challenging journey together. His parting gift was the donation of his brain to the Mayo Lab for research.

Because my mother died recently as well, we will be attending to her wishes and memorial service at this time. We will determine arrangements for Gene’s memorial sometime early next year.

We have felt and appreciated your love, prayers and support. Blessings to you all during this holiday season.


“Thank you so much for sharing my message and including it on the Catkillers website. Events have moved along quite smoothly thus far. Research on Gene's brain will take place at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. I should have their report about the first of March. Will keep you posted.

Warm regards,
Ellie Wilson”

[Editor: This revelant research outreach and benevolent act of Gene Wilson to donate his brain for humanity is indicitave of his propensity for thoroughness is all he undertook. His legacy will live on for decades due to his contributions not only from this final act, but also within the extensive and affectionately assemulated documents he produced on behalf of his beloved Catkiller unit. Don Ricks
“I’ve been to one reunion for the Catkillers. Each newsletter that I receive from you is a reunion in itself. Thanks so much for your dedication. On that reunion in Seattle, meeting Gene was one of the highlights. There were others that stand out in my mind, limited only by the short time we spent together. Thoroughly enjoyed the Ft. Lewis trip, which Gene led. Will write Ellie to express my condolences. Some day I hope to visit the Heritage Flight Museum in Burlington, with a military display that Gene had helped to include the Catkiller portion.

Nelson Kunitake, Catkiller 26/03”

Donald Eugene and Ellie Wilson, Heritage Flight Museum, 7 November 2017

“Above is a photo of Gene and Ellie Wilson at our mini reunion at HFM on 7 November 2015. Gene and Ellie are holding a personal certificate and letter of appreciation from MG Jerry Ralph Curry, Catkiller 6, 1965.

Rest In Peace, Gene Wilson.

Dick Tobiason, Catkiller 26, 1966–1967”
I do not know whether or not Ellie was successful in sharing this note with Gene before he died that evening, but this communication send on December 8 at 8:23 AM represents my last effort to convey my appreciation for the soldier and man I came to appreciate and honor. We have enjoyed many outstanding minds and personalities within our ranks, and Gene Wilson certainly stands tall in that regard in my heart:
Good morning, Gene and Ellie. My hope and prayer is that this finds you both smiling and eating a Southern BBQ sandwich and curly fries.

So many have inquired about you and asked for your contact information that if all sent emails you might need a private secretary, but perhaps Ellie is still all you need, Gene.

Gene, your involvement with the army is certainly a blessing for our country, and you can be sure, as in certain, that all your efforts for the Catkillers is an appreciated performance. Your leadership, personality and style and manner have been super examples for many and encouraged others to rise to your standard. Being a part of all we accomplished to bring much information into clarity and focus has been rewarding and fulfilling for both of us, but without your tenacity to carry us forward we would still be in the dark. Thank you very much, Gene.

Ellie, I realize that as an army wife you brought increased possibilities to Gene's life and potential. Since you two are one in the sight of God, you share all the accolades. Thank you very much, too, Ellie.

I sincerely hope that you perceive the love and affection that accompany these words. May your days be merry and bright, and may the spirit of Christmas always dwell within your hearts,

With love,

Don Ricks

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