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Greetings from the Great Northwest
Home of Fort Lewis, where the 220th Aviation Company
was organized on 15 April, 1965
MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
Plan a July 11th arrival, 12-14th time of your life, and departure on the 15th, for the 2012 Catkiller Reunion in Seattle Washington. You may even want to come early and stay late while you enjoy a mini-vacation in the area at the height of our summer season. Hotel rates will apply for 3 days before the reunion and 3 days after the get together.
The hotel will be the DoubleTree Guest Suites, Seattle Airport/Southcenter with unlimited access to more than you can imagine—via the new Light Rail from SeaTac to downtown Seattle—plus many other opportunities within 100 miles or an hour or so in almost any direction.
There is a KOA Campground near the hotel for those who may wish to make this an RV outing. In Fact, here is an "Available Activities" page to help with many decisions regarding what to see and do in the Seattle area (information compiled and presented by Charles Welsh):
At this time we are looking at only three scheduled events — a very informal pizza/salad buffet welcome "mixer" (cash bar) in the hotel atrium on Thursday evening, second, a 220th and associates crew breakfast for all those who served and worked with the 220th (separate breakfast for the ladies to discuss Seattle opportunities), and, third the traditional sit-down Banquet (cash bar) on Saturday evening.
We will take a "straw poll" on the registration sheet to see if there is enough interest for those who might like to refresh any memories of Fort Lewis — or see it for the first time.
Friday will be a totally free day for individuals or "era" groups to do your own thing with the opportunity for many mini-reunions of old friends during the day and evening. We will be offering assistance to ensure that your time during these few days is well spent. And rest assured that the Hospitality Suite at the DoubleTree will be available for your R and R time.
We solicit your assistance in these areas before the reunion:
- Contact others you think may be interested in attending.
- Send us up to three of your best photos from Viet Nam for use in the Hospitality Suite and Banquet. These photos should have information attache—who took the photo, where, and year. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
- We would like to have some short war stories from you. Up to three of them, limited to two single-spaced typewritten pages from your time with the 220th. Your name, time frame in country and location should be included. There should be no offensive material in the stories because we hope to publish these on the web site and possibly even a tell-tale booklet (at cost) after the reunion. These can be from anyone in or who worked with the 220th.
The attachment to this notice gives you a preview of Things To Do in and around Seattle. We will have more information for you later. Come prepared to enjoy every moment of this reunion and your visit to the Great Northwest.
Present Committee Members are:
- Charlie Welsh, 1965—66
- Gene Wilson, 1966—67
- Lloyd Oake 1967
- Al Paulsen, 1970—71
- Norm MacPhee, 1966 (Chairman)
- Dick Wolfe, 1970—71
- Jack Bentley, 1968—69
- Rod Stewart, 1967—68
- Dick Tobiason, 1966—67
We are looking for additional assistance from all year groups who served in the 220th during 1965-1971.
Our email, if you wish any information or would like to volunteer to join us is:
Your Reunion Committee
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Perhaps many of you remember our reunion in Houston. In case you did not attend or have forgotten, you can refresh your memory at the fourth quarterly newsletter, 2006. Those who took the NASA Space Center tour were treated to a reception and personal brief by Army Master Aviator and Astronaut Doug Wheelock. This was a highlight of the reunion for me. As we were informed, Colonel Wheelock would one day command a space mission.
Several days ago, Ed Miler send a note and web link that documents Colonel Wheelock's status and September 2010 mission via photos. Please visit this site for many excellent photos taken on that mission, as well as other links you will find on that page. Congratulations, Colonel Wheelock:
Catkiller 6 Ed Miler's step-son, step-son, MSgt Jerre Thomas, USMC, Retired, a graphic artist with DoD, made this poster. Ed thinks it's pretty good; so do I:
Bob Hope Christmases with the troops:
Thanks to Jan Smith for this link regarding old clips of Bob Hope's Christmas tours:
Gene Wilson continues to aid in making our unit roster as complete as possible. His latest input brought a photo of Marine AO 1LT Collins and Captains Charles Woodhurst and Harold Bordeaux. Thanks, Gene, for being so involved. Here is some added information regarding the captains:
The photo of Woody Woodhurst is from our Command and general Staff College Yearbook (Class of 1972) — Woody was a CPT and Section Leader on the original team in 1965, in the 2nd Platoon at Hue. I also do not see the name of CPT Harold Bordeaux on the roster — He was the 220th Commander, from 9 May 1971 until 24 May 1971 (looks like an interim position between MAJ Johnson and CPT Sapp). I also have come upon a piece written by him indicating that he was Catkiller 46, the 4th Platoon Leader during Lam San 719, based at Khe Sanh earlier in March, then later became a standardization pilot at 11th Aviation Group in Da Nang—but was med-evaced at six months into this, his second, tour — no details.
An Interesting Contact Between Jim Hooper and New Zealander Paul Dodd:
Comments [by Paul]:
"I have just finished reading your book A Hundred Feet Over Hell. Just truly amazing.
I recovered from Tan Son Nhut 3 Birddogs over 21 years ago and rebulit two airworthy aircraft. I have been trying to track any history of these O—1 aircraft. Since rebuild I have flown 1000 hours at airshows and for pleasure. Mine has the US Army number 51—16903. I want to contact anyone who may have flown her. It is flying in US Army colours.
These Catkillers were just amazing what they did under such terrible conditions. I have preserved mine, complete with filled repair shrapnel holes in the fuse as a memorial to the guys that flew them. Three of my friends from the Royal New Zealand Air Force flew as FAC with the US Air Force
in O—2 and OV—10 Broncos in Vietnam. Would like you to pass on to the Catkillers my respects for what they did under such a politically screwed up conflict.
Paul Dodd, New Zealand" [email@example.com]
Jim Hooper's response:
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You're undoubtedly an IBDA member already, so I am cc—ing this to Don Ricks,
webmaster of www.catkillers.org. It is by far the best and most
comprehensive Bird Dog-related site on the internet, and is followed not
only by the Catkillers but those who flew with other RACs as well. I'll keep
my fingers crossed for you that someone has those numbers in his logbook.
Many thanks for the generous words about the book. I’d be delighted to put a
signed bookplate in the post for your copy.
CPT Walter "Chico" Fernandez, who served with the 2nd Platoon at Hue/Citadel, is now located and updated on the web roster. We know you weren't lost, Chico, but welcome back anyway.
Nelson Kunitake checked in with Charles Finch in early January. Nelson is doing well in Hawaii. Phone number on file.
CWO Ernest "Ernie" L. Serna, 2nd Platoon, Hue, 1966ó67, checked in with Dick Tobiason and is now on our rosters. Bob McComiskie and I have his contact information.
CATCOM 2011 Email Test: Bounced email addresses:
- Gerald Bowen: firstname.lastname@example.org
- George Samaras: gnsamaras@aol,com
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Gary Miller, Catkiller 26, found and sent this photograph with several unnamed Catkiller enlisted men. If you are positive about their identify, please email the editor:
"Attached is a photo of the 2nd Platoon, on or about the fall of 1969, which I just found. In the photo, standing left to right, are Bill Owen, Mark Duenow, Jay Fenwick, Wade Godfrey, Gary Miller, Platoon Sargeant SFC Bunger, and the Assistant Platoon Sergeant, whom I cannot name. In the first row are the crew chiefs, and I apologize for not being able to name them, so any help is appreciated.
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Forty-two years ago, on Jaunary 9, 1969, CPT Hugh McNeil "Mac" Byrd became an MIA, and on that same date one of his flight school classmates, 1LT Lynnford "Lynn" Harlow Higley died as a result of a mid-air collision, while serving with the 219th Aviation Company, "Headhunters." In fact, Lynn was a classmate in flight school with Catkillers Charles Finch, Mac Byrd (also a close friend), and Don Long. Don Long also served in the 219th Aviation Company, before being reassigned to the 220th RAC.
During our last reunion at Philadelphia, in June 2010, Nita Byrd Lumpkin, sister of Mac Byrd, attended the event. At our Friday evening dinner, Nita received, as a gift, a Catkiller fligh jacket (donated by Jack Bentley) and won at auction that evening by Charles Finch:
As we pause for this particular moment of rememberance, our hearts go out to each family and their close friends and comrades who lost an unforgotten soul and part of their lives. Indeed, we remember our POW—MIA, and those killed in action:
Nita Byrd Lumpkin recently sent this message to Charles Finch, which states the disposition of the donated flight jacket:
Subject: Matthew and Mac—the husband and son of Mac Byrd's niece—sharing the
Catkiller flight jacket.
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I thought this was the picture to share with you—as Bud [Bruton] suggested,
Matthew can wear the jacket and "break it in" for about fifteen years, and
then Mac can wear it!
Again, thanks so much for your love of Big Mac, your graciously sharing
that love and stories with me, and the wonderfully generous gift of the
Matthew had forgotten that I had told him he would get the jacket as a
Christmas gift, and he was thrilled—loved everything about it. It fits
Jim Hooper, author of A Hundred Feet Over Hell, continues to receive rave reviews and recommendation for his book. Even the ladies like his Catkillers book! In the latest series of accolades, Jim's work made its way to Best of 2010 at these sites (Congratulations, Jim!):
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An interesting and informative web page provided by the United States Army reminds us that before using them we should consider the security aspects of a piece of technology. This reminder also tells us something we all have heard before: never without personal security forethought use anything that carries voice, written or photographic data. You might not always feel a need to consider the impact of, let's say, a photo's embedded data or the content of a letter or text message, but you should consider just how new Smartphones, iPods, iPads, and other personal pocket computers impact on your personal security. Thanks to Jan Smith (Catkiller 41) for bringing this to our attention:
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Our current reunion chairman, Norman S. MacPhee (Catkiller 1966—67), and his CFII, Aaron Harrison of Hagerstown Flight School, recently flew his newly-purchased Cessna 185 from Hagerstown, Maryland, to Spokane, Washington. While I have a long email detailing his personal history and motivation to own and fly this type aircraft, you can request the "rest of the story" from Norman. Here is his account of the interesting flight across our great country in December, 2010:
"We left Hagerstown, Maryland, early afternoon, when the maintenance folks finished up for us. The aircraft included a "belly pod" luggage carrier, so, we flew with that on, which makes the aircraft a bit of a pig and slows you down more than 10 knots. It will come off until the aircraft sells. Our first night was in southern Kentucky. We became familiar with the aircraft systems and how most of them worked. This one has an Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) autopilot, coupled to the GPS, with an altitude hold. You can also couple to an ILS or VOR. It will not fly the glide slope down, but it holds the course while you control the decent manually. When you enter the flight plan into the Garmin 430 and take off, you can couple the autopilot and, except for altitude control on climb and decent, it will fly you to approach minimums, hands off. Better than a coffee grinder VOR, ADF, and marker beacons!!!!
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We made central Oklahoma on the second day. Here, Norm made his first major mistake (left the master switch on), so we had to fly to an airport that had a battery using my back—up hand—held. This Sporty's unit lets you shoot VOR and ILS approaches with it in an emergency. Where will it all end?? Off to Las Vegas, with a stop in New Mexico. The only weather encountered to this point was high winds, causing moderate turbulence approaching New Mexico. We had uneventful flying into Las Vegas, where we arrived just at sunset—using North Las Vegas rather than the main airfield there.
Our plan was to stay two nights there, so we did so. Aaron, my companion,had not been west of the Mississippi, so he really enjoyed the plains, mountains and desert sights. Vegas is beautiful flying in at night. I became night current on the trip also.
We departed Las Vegas headed north for Spokane, knowing we could not make it. Boise, Idaho, was as far north as we could go. It was ice ahead that stopped us, not any other weather. The west side of the Rockies is a bad spot for ice. Aaron left Boise the next morning for Maryland. At one o'clock in the afternoon the weather changed, and I made Spokane (Deer Park is my airport) just at dark.
The best event of the trip was a conversation overheard while flying with Memphis Center, which goes like this:
Guy [person making the radio call] says, "Memphis Center, transponder check." In an obviously back—woods accent (Iím from N. Dak. And I know back woods!), Memphis Center answers, "Transponder check, what is your position and altitude. The guy answers, "Iím going east, from the west, 080 degrees." It was quiet for a moment, then Memphis again says, "Transponder check, say your position and altitude." Guys says, "You donít need to know that. I just want a transponder check!!" Finally Memphis says, "Transponder check, squawk 1234." Guy answers, real slow, "That was 1—2—3—4, correct?" Memphis says, "This was correct." A few moments passed, and Memphis tells him, "We are not receiving your transponder." The guy says, "Thatís what I thought." And he left the frequency.
I need to make about 50 landings to get back the touch. It is fun to fly the Idaho Forest strips near here (there are 50 or more plus some in Montana and lots in Utah). You can fly down to a remote lodge for breakfast and spend a day fishing. There are also a lot of destinations north of us in Canada. We plan an annual trip to Alaska as well.
Thatís about it. This aircraft flies, normally, at 140 knots, burning 12.5 gallons per hour, providing 5.75 hours of fuel. That's longer than our bladders will take at this age. If any of you want to go some time, we will work it out. Summer is best, weather—wise.
This was not supposed to be a public statement, and he might punish me for this, but Catkiller Dick Tobiason works with the Bend Heroes Foundation on several worthy project. I would like to share with you his humble accomplishments:
"Some of you are members of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and might be familiar with its National Leadership Award. I just received it for creating the 325—mile WORLD WAR II VETERANS HISTORIC HIGHWAY (belated honors to Oregon's 150,000 WWII vets) and HONOR FLIGHT OF EASTERN OREGON (taking WWII vets to Washington), and 30 other veterans related projects. I run the 501 C—3 non—profit BEND HEROES FOUNDATION (www.bendheroes.org). I am blessed with my son as VP, and 90 year old Army WWII Medal of Honor recipient Bob Maxwell as a Director.
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This was to be a spacial trip to Florida for Nancy and Charles Finch. More on that later, but a side event caught them out and about with friends in the Clearwater area. Here is a short note from Charles:
"Wednesday, Dec 29, Tampa:
Nancy and I are in Tampa [area], and a good thing is getting to see Bill Hooper, who lives in Clearwater. He is now on Medicare but still working. His wife was off buying a car so she could not join us. We started at Hooters and ended up where these pictures were taken:
This trip reminds me of when I returned from VietNam and Nancy and I drove to Tampa to visit Bill. Seems like yesterday. Bill's right arm was still in a sling when we saw him over 40 years ago. As Nancy and I drove to meet Bill, we reminisced about the first meeting and knew we were in for a great evening tonight. Bill is just one of a kind, and it is sad we cannot see each other more. We called Doc Clement and Brenda later in the evening. The last photo is of Bill Hooper, Marine AO Clyde Clyde "Tango" Trathowen and wife Nancy, and Charles and Nancy Finch.
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CATKILLERS (AND FRIENDS) ARE SPECIAL, but you all know that. Happy New Year, everyone.
I spoke with Jack Bentley this morning, after receiving from him a short email note. Following the informative phone conversation, this is what I know and what Jack released for the newsletter:
He is recuperating from surgery to correct a spinal compression (a broken neck, essentially, due most likely from too much hard work). He underwent surgery on December 8 and was released from the hospital at the end of December. Jack now resides temporarily (because of bad weather up on the mountain and to his home) with his younger daughter in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Jack stands with a walker and can take a few steps but is mostly in a wheeled chair while his condition continues to improve.
"Please do not send cards, letters and flowers," says a crusty recovering straight guy. You may, if you wish, contact Jack Bentley via this phone number: 575-647-8875. He has the "rest of the story," including the name of the halo he now wears.
Hurry up and get well, Jack! What a smile!
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Historical records are always appreciated, and when they come from our aerial observer friends they are even more special. Thanks to Clyde Trathowen, USMC AO "Tango", for sending these in for publication:
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A fellow Alabaman and Catkiller, Randy Jones (Catkiller03/16), sent this amazingly heart-warming YouTube link you will certainly enjoy, and if like me you will also be entranced by the history of those events captured by camera. We have reunions but never one like these men experienced. The person or group that thought and acted upon this idea certainly helped heal a lot of wounds. Thank you, Randy, for sharing your discovery, and thanks to the fellow who posted the video.
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Has it been 50 years already? We have come a long way, baby! See what they are doing for us....
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Charles R. Welsh, from the original Catkiller group that arrived in Vietnam in July 1965, advised of the passing of Charles M. Kieffer on January 9, 2011. We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Charles. The accompanying obituary is below to further brief you on upcoming events regarding this fallen soldier and pioneer Catkiller:
CAPTAIN CHARLES M. KIEFFER
July 5, 1939 - January 9, 2011
CHARLES "Chuck" KIEFFER , 71, passed away suddenly on Sunday, January 9, 2011, at the Oro Valley Hospital in Oro Valley, Arizona.
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Chuck grew up in the Wheatland, North Dakota, area attending grade school at Wheatland and Shanley High School in Fargo, graduating in 1957. Chuck then attended North Dakota State University where he earned his bachelors degree in agriculture engineering, June 1963.
Upon graduation he entered the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in July of 1963. Chuck attended Transportation Officers Training at Ft. Eustace, Virginia in the summer of 1963, followed by US Army Flight Training at Ft. Rucker, Alabama, from Jan 1964—Nov. 1964. He then was assigned to the 6th Army at Ft. Lewis, Washington as a fixed wing aviator. His next assignment was Vietnam where he flew L—19 single engine observation aircraft in numerous combat missions. Chuck was honorably discharged as a 1st Lieutenant the summer of 1966 being awarded an Air Medal—8th OLC, the Army Aviator Badge, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Badge, and the National Defense Service Medal while flying combat missions.
In 1967 he joined Braniff International Airline and flew 727s. When Braniff went through a reorganization, Chuck was furloughed for a couple of years. During this time he embarked on a secondary occupation of acquiring and re-finishing antique furniture. He continued to fly for Braniff until their final closure in 1989. He then joined Air Berlin where he flew B737s all over Western Europe. In 1991 he was hired by Southwest Airlines where he continued to fly 737s and retired as a Captain in July of 1999.
Several years after retirement, Chuck left his long time roots in Dallas to settle in Vistoso Village, a close—knit community in Oro Valley, AZ. There he became very active with their home-owner association and community activities. He continued to pursue his passion for golf and became active in their hiking club and enjoyed traveling with various friends in the community.
Chuck had an amazing capacity to meet people and compassion to help others. He would go ďoverboardĒ as one friend conveyed to help family and friends. A close friend wrote, "Charlie was a friend to anyone he met and could always be depended on for this friendship. He was fun loving, enjoyed skiing with the Braniff Ski Club and golf which he worked hours at mastering. He stayed true to his roots as a North Dakota farm boy. He will be missed by the many friends he had."
Chuck is preceded in death by his parents, Stella and Raymond Kieffer, stepmother Irene Yunker Kieffer, and several aunts, uncles, and cousins. He is survived by his brother Jerold (Kathy) Kieffer of Tucson, Arizona, sister Colleen Rott of Bonney Lake, Washington, and sister Donna (Chuck) Primozich of Norway, Maine, and several beloved nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life in memory of Chuck will be held on February 5, 2011, at 11:00 AM at the Vistoso Village Club House, 13401 N Rancho Vistoso Blvd, Oro Valley, Arizona, followed by a reception at the Vistoso Village Club House.
A Mass celebrating his life will be said on March 5, 2011, at 11:00 AM at St. Leoís Parish, 211 N. Langer, Casselton, North Dakota, with a reception to follow in the church.
In lieu of flowers, the family wishes that memorials be sent to:
In Memory of Charles M. Kieffer:
Shanley High School Scholarship Program
Attn: Todd Mickleson
Fargo Catholic Schools Network
5600 25th Street S.
Fargo, ND 58104
Surviving family members:
Jerry and Kathy Kieffer
37878 S. Desert Bluff Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85739-2151
Chuck and Donna Primozich
361 Norway Center Road
Norway, ME 04268
9116 203rd Avenue E.
Bonney Lake, WA 98391
Having a hard head is not a new thing for me; it merely takes me a little longer to fully comprehend issues that don't directly effect me, I think. Actually, an older brother was awarded the Silver Star for action in Vietnam. Here is a conscious effort to correct one of my senior moments.
Among other important community involvement initiatives, Dick Tobiason, Catkiller 26, is a contributing helper at Military Times' Hall of Valor, which seeks to display for the public citations for Silver Star and above awards. Visit their site at:
According to Dick, the site provides:
"...an opportunity for awardees to register. Honoring the KIAs and MIAs is most important. While it is quite true that Military Times is not all inclusive, [it is a positive step forward]. My friend, Doug Sterner (Vietnam army veteran), manages that site and is trying to create a law that would require DOD to establish a digital data base, of all awards above the Purple Heart. Doug's purposes are to use the data base to prosecute fraud and to register all awards so awardees do not have to register themselves. I am one of Doug's helpers. Doug and his wife Pam motivated Congress to pass the Stolen Valor Act.
This is a effort to let Catkillers [and Friends] know about the Hall of Valor web site and chase down known awardees to enroll. I would think some of the awardees know others."
On behalf of those directly involved, please pass along the above information and encourage participation in this worthy cause and gallant effort. If you post your award at their site, please let me know, and I will post your link in the newsletter. Contact Dick Tobiason at: email@example.com. Thanks for all you do, Dick.
Don Ricks, Editor
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Dale Throneberry is the host of an interesting talk/video show devoted to veterans from various services. On Saturday morning, February 12, Dale and his partner, Gary Lillie, hosted a conversation about the Catkillers. The results are available for viewing and listening at once but will also be archived at Veterans Radio.net.
Ed Miler, Catkiller 6 (1969), sent a thank you note to Dale Throneberry, which effectively gives us an overview of what they spoke about during the hour—long show.
I listened to your program on Veterans Radio today with great interest and a feeling of enormous pride when hearing the voices of Finch, Clement, Pepe, Hillman, and of course, Jim Hooper, the author of the book A Hundred Feet over Hell, and the brother of Bill Hooper, when they were recalling their adventures with the 220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. I was the Commanding Officer of the 220th in 1969 and knew Charles Finch, Don Pepe, and Bill Hooper intimately, as well as many others who were not on your show today. My hat is off to all of the men who flew over the DMZ and into North Vietnam in any kind of aircraft, but particularly the Bird Dog—an unarmed and unarmored Cessna that cruised at 100 mph. This group of young men, The Catkillers, most of whom were in their twenties, were fearless; they would accept any mission if the bottom line was to help a soldier or marine about to be overrun by the enemy. As a previous commander said of the pilots: "Those who flew these missions were unique: self—reliant, aggressive, determined, and tenacious. And because they were virtually on their own from takeoff to landing, it also required a personality bordering on controlled recklessness." (Jim Wisby, Catkiller 6, 1968). But they got the job done, Dale, and there are a lot of folks out there who are alive today due to the efforts and the heroics of the men on your show today and countless of others like them who gave it their very best in the air over Vietnam.
Thank you, Dale, and your co—host for today, Gary, for airing some of the stories of these brave men.
Catkiller 6, 1969
For those who missed it, here is the link to the one hour radio broadcast:
EDITOR'S NOTE: It was heart—warming to hear these men speak boldly about an often—discussed and acknowledged point that keeps coming back to punctuate unit history: the enlisted men and non-commissioned officers were always there closely and actively supporting to ensure their pilots had what was needed, and they kept the aircraft flying and well-maintained. To these men who also gave their very best, an accompanying "thank you" is an implied part of any pilot's discussion about success.
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