Second Quarterly 2014
CATCOM E–Newsletter

Updated:23 June 2014

Newsletter Articles: (click to go direct)

MEMORIAL DAY 2014



Memorial Day Graphic graphic


God bless our fallen and their families and friends.

DEAR EDITOR (dynamic) (27 May):

I have read with amusement the stories about someone putting a WP rocket into the NVA Garrison flag up at Freedom Bridge in the DMZ. Well, I need to straighten out the facts of the matter, because I am the person, or Catkiller pilot that put the WP rocket into the NVA Garrison flag. Just to get the record straight, it did not burn up, because it was laid out on the ground soaking wet after a Monsoon rain. I couldn't believe that they had the nerve to lay their flag out on a trail in order to dry it out. Having a bit of time on my hands and mischief on my mind, I decided that it was a perfect target for rocket practice.

So, believe it or not, I hit it with the one and only rocket fired. I actually wondered how much damage it (the flag) might have sustained so I was up a few days later and saw that I made a nice big round hole in the flag near the lower right hand star point. If the flag had been dry it probably would have burned. Of course if it had been dry, they would not have laid it out so nice and neatly for me on that trail. I can't remember who was in the back seat at the time. It might have been Charlie Douglas, Bob Ziomek, or Bob Keyser. One of them undoubtedly started and shared the story about the NVA flag taking a WP rocket. Anyway, here is a nice before and after picture so you can see how this interesting piece of lore and trivia unfolded.

Glenn Stewart,
Catkiller 45
NVA Flag at Garrison and at the normal Bridge Flag pole base, before CPT Stewart's BDA

NVA Flag at the normal Bridge Flag pole base, after CPT Stewart's BDA

THANKS, Don, for the copy of the Sea Tiger and your help.

I was a NGLO (Navy Gunfire Liaison Officer), OIC of a Marine Unit, 1ST ANGLICO, SUBUNIT ONE (Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company), based in Dong Ha and Quang Tri. We supported the Army (5th MECH) and allied units in the area as the Third Marine Division was standing down. My time there was 69 –70. Was transferred May 1970 to the AMERICAL Division for several months and then to XXIV Corps in Da Nang before rotating home. Retired as a Navy Captain in 1993.

Another side story —There were a minimal number of naval officers in–country serving as AOs/NGLOs. Why I don’t know. Some served directly with a Marine unit while others operated as I did, supporting several units or on call in the air or on the ground. The training was rather limited. In my case I learned about beach landings (of no use) and aerial spotting. We had the ability to call in artillery, naval gunfire and air strikes.

I was very fortunate to fly my first missions out of Dong Ha with Bo Boutwell, who taught me more in a few weeks than the Navy did in three months. Thanks to him I was able to be effective during my tour. Also the AOs/NGLOs usually flew with many different pilots. I never knew who I was going up with until the plane touched down, the door opened and I squeezed in. Usually I never knew what the pilot looked like as he always had his helmet on and the visor down. The reunion in Seattle afforded me the opportunity to introduce myself to two of the pilots I flew with and thank them. As for ground operations, the Marines I worked with taught me the much needed survival skills.

Your idea of moving any information about the AOs/NGLOs that were KIA to the memorial page is a super one.

Best, Jeff Thompson

Comment:

Based on Jeff’s comments we would have probably flow together in October 1969 or thereabouts because the Marines were pulling out during that time frame. I had arrived at the 220th in early August so I was just barely out of my own ‘__ New Guy’ status. As I recall, I didn’t like the ‘new guy’ stuff too much but I recognize that it did contribute to unit cohesion and esprit. However, I don’t think we really applied ‘New Guy’ status to our backseats. As professionals it was our duty and practice to do our very best to get our them rapidly up to speed and quickly create a well functioning team in order to achieve mission success. So, I suspect most backseat’s would say the same thing about their frontseats that Jeff said about me.

Bo Boutwell, Catkiller 12/04

Col Thomas “Tank” Meehan / Catkiller / USMC Detachment Landstuhl, Germany:

Maria Fox-Meehan receives a handmade quilt of valor during the dedication ceremony of The Thomas Meehan Suite

LRMC Commander Col. Judith Lee presents Maria Fox–Meehan with a handmade
quilt of valor during the dedication ceremony of The Thomas Meehan Suite.

A Memory Lives on and Brings Peace to Families
My name is Pete Faerber. I am stationed in Landstuhl, Germany, with the Wounded Warrior Battalion-East Detachment. Col Thomas “Tank” Meehan, who as I’m sure you know was the USMC LNO to the Catkillers for a while in Vietnam, used to live here in Landstuhl and was a central part of our Detachment’s broader USMC community.

You may have heard that Tank passed away in October 2012. The USS New Jersey was a favorite topic of Tank's, and in fact the website for the 2010 Reunion aboard the New Jersey was the website where I located your contact information.

Recently the Army hospital in Landstuhl dedicated a long-term/hospice care room to the memory of Col Meehan. As part of the room, the Detachment ordered a book about both the Catkillers and the USS New Jersey. As good luck and random chance would have it, the book on the Catkillers (100 Feet Over Hell) which was ordered from Amazon.com was signed by two of Tank’s fellow Catkillers:

    Doc Clement (Catkiller 18) and;
    Charles Finch (Catkiller 19)
.

The Marines of the Detachment had already planned to sign the book before placing it into Tank’s room, so it seems especially significant to see that two of his fellow Catkillers also signed the book. I was wondering if there was a way you could let his fellow Catkillers know that their signatures, whether by fate or coincidence, made it to Tank’s room here in Germany.

I’ve cc’d LtCol Leslie Albers—she is the Officer In Charge of the Marine Detachment in Landstuhl and was present at the dedication of Tank’s room in the hospital.

Semper Fidelis,

Pete

email LtCol Peter C. Faerber
Landstuhl, Germany
Wounded Warrior Battalion–East
DSN:314–590–5116
24h: 314–486–6677
EDITOR’S NOTE: Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Web Site: See, “What’s New At LRMC”

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FOUND OR BOUNCED CATKILLERS AND FRIENDS (5 June):

The son of Jimmie Lacie, Crew Chief, 3rd Platoon, Da Nang, 1966–67, checked in. Roger Putnam and others are in the prodess of communicating with Jimmie. The following statement is by Jimmie Lacie, Jr.:

I have heard stories of working on planes L–19’s and flying with Sargent Putnum; also have heard stories of Joe Davis. [Dad] has been said that 667 was part of the tail number of his plane!! I’m not sure all I have to go by are my recollections of the stories I have heard all my life. Also he has said that he was nick named “Indian” by the members he served with.
I worked with Jim Lacie. He was a crew chief on [Birddog] 667. I got out in October of 66 and he got out sometime about Feb. 67. He lived near Tulsa. He called me once while I was in school there. I sent a note to Jim Lacie Jr. to make a contact.

Joe Kemper
I served as Lacie’s platoon sergeant for most of his tour in Vietnam. He was one of our crew chiefs and was a good soldier. I have some pictures of him that he might want to see. [Lacie, Jr.] you or your dad can contact me direct if either of you wants to. Great to hear that Lacie’s son is interested in his dad’s wartime experiences.

Catkiller Provider
Roger Putnam

SP4 James D. “Jim” Sheets, 231st Signal Detachment original member, who was part of the advanced party in 1965, connected with us and is in the process of working with Dennis Currie to record his infoamation and photos, perhaps to add those to the page just posted for Bob Covino, the commander of that detachment in 1965.


Ivon “Ike” Borgen, 2nd Platoon, 1966–67, returned our call and is now in contact. In January 1967, Ike was evacuated to the USS Repose Hospital Ship for six weeks and then assigned to the 219th Headhunters. Six weeks later he was further reassigned to the 282nd Aviation Company “Black Cats” at Quang Ngai. Ike retired at 74 and pretty much flew his whole adult life; 22 years in Army Aviation, corporate, airlines and 22 years as a manager in the FAA. Welcoma aboard again, Ike!

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CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN IN UNIFORM (Empty):

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GLENN LEE LAROCQUE, CATKILLER CREW CHIEF 1968–l69, DECEASED 10 FEBRUARY 2014:

This message is from Joe LaRocque, son of Glenn L. LaRocque. I expressed condolences for the loss of his father, who had emailed a few times last year and sent one photograph, perhaps knowing that one day we would use it here:

I want to bring it to your attention that my father, Glenn LaRocque, passed away last month. He had a short battle with cancer and unfortunately it won. His obituary is at this link (please email Don Ricks for the link via email).

My mother and I really appreciated the thoughtful email you sent. It seems Pa had very few photos from his time in Vietnam and the Army. Growing up, he rarely talked about his service. It wasn’t until I enlisted that he began to share his stories with me. While I was deployed he made sure I got copy of A Hundred Feet Over Hell. I know he was proud of his service and affiliation with the 220th Aviation Company.

Thank you,
Joseph LaRocque
SP5 Glenn Lee LaRocque, deceased 10 February 2014
Glenn Lee LaRocque

August 21, 1947—February 10, 2014

Glenn Lee LaRocque was born in Plattsburgh, New York on August 21, 1947 to Joseph Bernard LaRocque and Marjorie Collins LaRocque. He enjoyed his early childhood surrounded by his family and relatives in upstate New York. His earliest memory was of berry picking with his grandmother, Mary Louise Lyman Collins "Nanny" and cousin, Terry Collins. Glenn always remembered that "Nanny" told the boys a scary story or two to make sure they did not wander away.

At age 3, against his wishes, as the story has been told, his father loaded Glenn, his younger brother Clyde, his mother and grandmother into their 1950 Mercury and towed a 33 foot Spartan Royal Mansion trailer all the way to California, entering San Diego along Old Highway 80. They lived in various places around San Diego throughout the years and Glenn made many lifelong friends. In 1963 his family moved to 6949 Sun Street, two doors down from the future love of his life, Joan Patricia Williams. The day they first met, Glenn went home and told his mother he was going to marry that girl someday.

Glenn graduated from University High School in 1965 and soon after enlisted in the United States Army. He volunteered to avoid being drafted so that he could have a better choice of jobs.

Glenn and Joanie were married on February 3, 1968 in the chapel at the Naval Training Center in San Diego. Three months later Glenn was sent to Vietnam for 13 months, where he maintained Birddog airplanes for the 220th Aviation Company, in Phu Bai, Vietnam. During that time Glenn Jr was born. After being honorably discharged from the Army as a Specialist 5, Glenn, Joanie and little Glenn, settled back in the house on Sun Street again. Glenn went to work for PSA (now Southwest Airlines) cleaning aircraft. In 1971 he and Joanie added another son to their family, Joseph—Glenn was so proud of his boys!

Family and friends were very important to Glenn, as was spending time in the mountains. Many weekends were filled with family hikes and camping trips in Cuyamaca, Laguna Mountains, Borrego Springs and the favorite of all, Yosemite. In February of 1980, Glenn and family moved to Pine Valley to be closer to the mountains and the trails he loved.

Glenn worked doing maintenance for several companies in San Diego County, most often working alongside his father-in-law Tony Williams. Glenn could take apart and fix almost anything or at least tell you if it was a hopeless cause. Glenn had many interests throughout his life, hiking, camping, wood carving, poetry, archeology, history, astronomy, fishing, playing the harp, mountain biking, knitting, genealogy, and of course, storytelling.

When Glenn had an interest he went at it full tilt, and in most instances, had one of his family or friends along for the ride. He enjoyed sharing his knowledge with anyone who would listen. As a lifelong Republican, he had his opinions and wasn't bashful about sharing them. Glenn was a Catholic and he was raised to be charitable. He was a kind man who would help anyone in need, but family and friends were who he loved to help the most. He would drop everything to help a friend. Glenn loved to travel, not by plane though, but in his Ford 150. He crossed our country numerous times, putting over 250,000 miles on that truck. He visited historical sites, had a great love of Yosemite, Moab, Four Corners, and many other National Parks, both on the East and West Coast. Glenn and Joanie visited all the California Missions, completing them just two years ago; but visiting family especially in Upstate New York, was his greatest pleasure. There were quite a few years, after he retired, that he would drive back to Clinton County, Upstate New York and stay for three or four months in the spring and summer. He may have only spent his first three years living there but he was a Saranac Boy!

Glenn loved his family. He always wanted to make Joanie happy and side-by-side they traveled here and there and they had great plans to complete Glenn's bucket list. Glenn even replaced his loved Ford 150 very recently with a new Ford Explorer so that they could travel more comfortably.

If his sons or grandsons had an interest he did what he could to help them succeed. Sometimes he would take up the interest too and try to perfect it, not to compete, but to help his son or grandson do the best they could. That's the kind of man he was, he truly wanted to help others in any way possible.

Glenn was diagnosed with Stage 3C Melanoma in February of 2013 and passed away on February 10, 2014. He didn't complain about his life, he knew he had lived a good one and knew that he was in God's hands. Glenn will be extremely missed by his family and friends.

Rest in Peace—

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CATKILLER VIETNAM TOUR 2014 DEPARTS FROM LAX 4 MAY:

Please click on the link to our Vietnam Tour 2014 located on the left side bar under SPECIALS to view the statement by our tour representative, Bill Stilwagen. Also below this paragraph is a direct link to the Itinerary PDF:

Latest Vietnam Battlefield Tours Itinerary–23 Jan 2014

Our Catkiller Tour Unit Representative is Charles “Bud” Bruton. It is time to make your reservations.

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SEASONED AVIATORS VOLUNTEER TO PERFORM A FLYOVER OF ARLINGTON CEMETERY:

This will melt your heart and make your chest swell for these men:

ARLINGTON FLYOVER

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A CLOSE LOOK AT THE ALL–BIRDDOG MEMORIAL BRICK PAVER:

The Army Aviation Museum is now back in the business of receiving funds and installing pavers in bulk fashion. The new procedures should be on the All–Birddog Memorial web page handled by the 219th Aviation Company at this link:

Birddog Memorial and Brick Paver Link

I recently had lunch with Rick Gates and his wife Marsha as well as the widow of Tony Keltner, Connie. We had a good time together and I learned a lot about determination and talent. While there I was shown photographs from several CD disks that were amazingly historical for the unit. Over the next few months those photos will appear on the Catkiller web site.

I learned that Paul Garin is a gifted photographer and recorded many details of his work as a maintenance officer. These will be shared at a web site that already contains some of his photographs. I also was pleased to discover, along with Connie, Rick, and Marsha, that Tony had as some point before his death taken time to add captions to many of his photos. There are many people shots! Here is an example of a photo showing, along with two other unidentified men, SP5 Michael E. Brown, Crew Chief, whose identity we probably never would have guessed. Below the photo of Mike is another of the brick pavers as they appear on site at Fort Rucker’s Veterans Park:
Phu Bai ramp showing SP5 Brown and others, courtesy CPT Tony Keltner, deceased

CPT Tony Keltner, Catkiller 17, filling sand bags

Memorial brick pavers at Veterans Park, Fort Rucker

Keith Klett at Veterans Park, Fort Rucker, March 2014

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CATKILLER NEWSLETTER ENDING 31 DECEMBER 2014:

The CATCOM E–Newsletter will continue until 31 December 2014, unless we have a volunteer to continue the work. In 2015, I will support the All Birddog Reunion at Panama City, Florida, and after it is completed, if desired, I will post a reunion report from information and photos received from participants. Henceforth, bulk emails will only be delivered via MailChimp Email Service through the end of December 2014, and then the service will be terminated.

The Catkiller web site will remain posted online and available for those searching/researching, as long as funds remain available, and there will be a yearly CATCOM Continuous Notifications Newsletter for special announcements and found Catkillers and Friends only, as I am able. Don Ricks, Editor.

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CATKILLER HISTORIAN CHANGE EFFECTIVE 27 May 2014:

As you have been informed via a letter titled Swan Song by Gene Wilson and located at the ADMIN section on the Catkiller History Index, Gene retires from his volunteer position effective his birthday, May 27 [Whoops! I previously entered 7 May; sorry, Gene, I made you 20 days older!].

We wish Gene a pleasant, happy and enjoyable birthday (on 27 May) and a grand ‘retirement.’ A lot of excellent results but equally excellent effort went into all the he touched. Gene, our Catkillers and Friends have good reason to be proud of their combat experiences, and the way in which you brought the majority of it out into the open is admired by all, so as you take a break from those duties we all agree you can rightfully feel proud yourself for a job very well done!

With genuine appreciation for his stepping forward with an offer we can’t refuse, Raymond G. Caryl, Catkiller 32/42, 1967–68, volunteered to help finish some of the backlog of stories and accounts awaiting processing into the history files and will take on the role of Catkiller Historian effective 7 May 2014. Ray has already submitted numerous articles himself and has started the process of getting acquainted with the style and manner of our production process. He also joins Dennis Currie, Assistant Editor, in helping share the work load of the important initial process of putting submitted material sent to us into a format that the editor can code into an HTML or PDF document. While Dennis and I will be in Vietnam for the first 2/3 portion of May, please contact Ray with any input, suggestions or corrections. Here is his contact information:

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IN THE WORKS:

These projects are in progress to publish and enhance the Catkiller History Index collection by individual indicated:

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ROBERT M. “BOB,” CORTNER, CATKILLER 13/28, 1967–68, IN A STRUGGLE FOR LIFE:(28 March)

Bob Cortner, left, and Gary Tragesser share a good moment at the Catkiller reunion in 2003

Many of us who were aware that Bob had been hospitalized in California with a serious bladder blockage at the beginning of this year have waited anxiously for word from the Naval Hospital in which he receives care in San Diego. Test and more tests and procedures to relieve his condition proved temporary measures pending a diagnosis as all his loved ones waited. We slowly began to receive hints of these last few weeks of a diagnosis none of us wanted to learn about.

His family and close friends shared a series of email notes regarding Bob’s care and situation which unfortunately contains the words we were not prepared to hear. Here is the latest news report from his daughter:

“Daddy is not doing good, as we got really bad news from his oncologist yesterday. Unfortunately they have said that his time with us is very short.”

Bob Cortner is a very well loved man, not only by his family and his Catkiller brothers, but also his community and close friends in the Huntsville area. It is doubtful you could connect with him at the hospital due to his declined condition. We don’t know the workings of medicine and of Devine intervention, so please say a prayer for Bob and his family.

Later in the afternoon: Ray Caryl called and said that he had just spoken with Bob via cell phone (from the hospital). Bob’s voice mail box is FULL, but having recognized Ray’s phone number he called back. They spoke for about five minutes. At first Bob struggled but seemed to have gotten stronger as they spoke. His attitude is positive and said he was going to get out and give it a good fight. Ray speculated that Bob was lifted by having a friend get in touch, which seemed to have improved his spirits and voice quality.

UPDATE: 1 April:

There is a story provided by Bob’s brother, Bill Cortner, and it is now posted at the Catkiller History Index, 1967:

Captain Crash: My Abnormal First Combat Mission (Updated 5 April).

CRITICAL NOTE: According to Bob’s daughter, Melissa, doctors placed Bob Cortner under Hospice care in California and advised the family that he has a matter of days to live with his condition. I spoke with Connie Keltner about 11:45 AM today, and she had spoken with Bob for about a minute and a half. Bob is not easily understood but does have his cell phone nearby, and this might be the last few days anyone will have an opportunity to speak with him: (256) 426–2364 Melissa’s phone number for relays to Bob: (619)820–6107.

UPDATE: 2 April: CATKILLER ROBERT M. ‘BOB’ CORTNER, DECEASED:

I received a phone call from Bob’s friend and fellow Huntsville, Alabama, resident, Connie Keltner. Through tears Connie said she had just got off the phone with Bob Cortner’s daughter, Melissa, who informed Connie that her father died this morning and suffers no more. Funeral arrangements are not complete, we don’t know when the family will transport Bob back to Alabama for burial, which most probably will be next to his wife who died just a months ago and is buried at the national cemetery in Montevallo, Alabama. As soon as I have further details I will devote a separate article to the disposition and plans from the family. Bob was an avid motorcycle rider, and RV owner, and loved to travel. Our condolences will be sent in due time but I know all feel the sadness and grief expressed by his friend Connie, who just couldn’t complete the conversation. I felt the same way, as we have lost another good Catkiller veteran. May he rest in peace.

After posting the above, I spoke briefly with Melissa. She says they will bring Bob’s ashes back for burial next the his deceased wife of 49 years, Bonnie Elain (Fisher) Cortner, who died June 13, 2013. The family will give at least a month and a half notice before any service at Montevallo National Cemetery, Montevallo, Alabama.

I just received this email from William Cortner, CWO, Retired, older brother to Bob:

Catkiller 13 was cleared for takeoff at 15:00 Zulu for his final flight. Visibility unlimited.

I will be driving out tomorrow. I think plans for his interment will be in June at the Alabama National Cemetery at Montevallo, Alabama.

Cards can be sent to:

The Family of Bob Cortner
2239 Black Canyon Rd Spc 89
Ramona, CA 92065–5571

Thanks for everything you do for the warriors.

Bill

God Bless

Comments:

Bob was planning a Florida visit right after his return from California—not meant to be. He would always close out our conversations, as he did last Sunday, with"—I love you like a brother." He will truly be missed. Bear [John E. Kovach, Catkiller 16/8]

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MARCH EDITION OF IBDA’S BARK MAGAZINE: A COOL CATKILLER DEFINITION:

We take this opportunity to provide a little advertising for a great organization, the International Birddog Association (IBDA). Many thanks for their contribution to the All–Birddog Unit Memorial effort, and you can see how to join at their web site, www.ibdaweb.com.

From one of our members, I received a copy of their March Bark publication that contains several keeper items. One, they also announced a reminder that we can now make hotel reservations at the selected hotel for the All-Birddog Reunion in 2015, which includes the same graphic we have in our last quarterly CATCOM newsletter; and, Two, there is an article sent in by Raymond Caryl, our newly recognized Catkiller Historian. If his future plans for the CATCOM History holding area is implied in this cool definition we should have a lot of nice “stuff” added:

IBDA: MARCH 2014 BARK MAGAZINE (PDF)

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ALL–BIRDDOG UNIT MEMORIAL DEDICATION COIN:

A few weeks ago I received in the mail a copy of the coin created by our committee responsible for the All–Birddog Unit Memorial program. I don’t believe I have ever seen a more beautifully done (challenge) coin, anywhere! This one is a work of art, and when I discover who designed it their name will appear here in honor of their excellent design work.

The coin was sent to all contributors to the memorial project, and if I had known they would give such a momento I would have given double. That is how coveted this one will forever be, in a material sense. Thanks to the committee for such foresight and for a beautiful crown symbol to cap the effort we all so very much appreciate (these scans of the coin just do not do it justice!):

UPDATE: 15 April:

The designer of the Dedication Challenge Coin was George (Corky) Cook.

All-Birddog Unit Memorial Challenge Coin, 2015

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‘CLASS OF 67’ (AND MARBLE MOUNTAIN AREA CHANGES), by JACK WELLS:

Don,

A Marine classmate of mine flew with Catkiller pilot Jack Bentley as a AO. Four years ago I had a book published, Class of 67, and in Chapter 43 is a photo of a Catkiller 01 [Tank Meehan] and a little bit about the Catkillers.

I was in Vietnam last month and stayed near the Marble Mountains, at a beach hotel called Hotel Vinpearl. Here is a photo from the hotel with the Marble Mountains in the background and the tennis courts of the hotel. Also attached photo of pool at the hotel.

I send the photos of the hotel near Marble Mountain because I saw that there is a Catkiller tour in Vietnam later this year. I think a number of Catkiller pilots had flown out of the Marble Mountain airfield during the war years.

On page 187 is a photo a Catkiller Bird Dog sent to me by Charles Finch. On page 189 is a photo of a NVA antiaircraft gun that many Catkiller pilots had to deal with.

I mention on page 144 about a top secret base used by Green Berets, that was on the north side of one of the Marble Mountains. On August 23, 1968, NVA sappers penetrated the defensive wire that led to the deaths of more Green Berets than at any other single battle during the war. It didn't make the news at the time because it was top secret that the base was used by the Green Berets for their missions into Laos.

There is another classic Catkiller story about the clandestine flight over the DMZ by Marine AO George Samaras and a bold Catkiller pilot. The mission, to snatch a huge NVA flag flying from their side of the Ben Hai River.

If you or others have any questions about traveling in Vietnam, that Vietnam Battlefield Tours have not covered, feel free to contact me in that I just returned from Danang and Saigon about 10 days ago. All of you will have a great time.

Jack Wells
Cupertino, CA
Marble Mountain view, Hotel Vinpearl, by Jack Wells

Hotel Vinpearl, by Jack Wells, 2014

Mig aircraft at Da Nang, by Jack Wells, 2014

Aerial photo of Marble Mountain area, by Jack Wells, 2014


Front and back Cover, Class of 67, by Jack Wells

For more interesting information, purchase and excellent reviews on Class of 67, use your favorite search engine and enter: “Class of 67: The Story of the 6th Marine Officer's Basic Class of 1967.”

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OLD AND WORN PHOTOS FROM THE PAST, SP4 JAMES H. HOLLOMON, 1968–69:

Specialist 4 James Harmon Hollomon, Aircraft Electrician, April 1968–April 1969, has recently been under a doctor’s care and just underwent surgery, according to his loved one. His daughter sent several photographs that required special attention, and it is always good to have success with historical reminders of our lives in Vietnam. These aren't perfect but viewable and will make James happy when he sees them again. Our best wishes and prayers, James, for a speedy recovery. Let us know how you are doing:

You did a wonderful job on the photos. James is doing well—he is recovering from having a cancer removed from his brain. All went well. He has lost his since of smell and taste but we are happy that was the only thing he lost. I can’t tell you how excited he is about this website. Keep up the awesome work. Jessica.
photo by James Hollomon

photo by James Hollomon

photo by James Hollomon

photo by James Hollomon

photo by James Hollomon

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A MEMORIAL DAY MESSAGE BY HARRY PUNCEC!

Amen!

I would observe that the time in service was the most intense three years of my life. I have more day–to–day memories from that period than from any other equally long stretch in my life, I grew so much that the guy who was discharged on 23 April 1962 resembled not at all that sad sack who reported for induction in March of 1959, and I remember the names of more guys from then than I do from my high school class because, frankly, they were more important.

I have people come up to me and thank my for my service when I’m wearing one of my Vet hats, and I always feel a bit guilty for accepting it. Yes, it was three years out of my life, but in reality it proved essential to creating the adult me. It was an education superior to college and the lessons taught still help me today.

Finally, I feel a thief to accept the gratitude of civilians for credit earned by those who really paid. Just about every vet I’ve met points to the other guy as having done more. I accept the thanks offered but only in the name of those who didn’t live to hear it or who suffered terrible wounds. They’re the real heroes.

Harry Puncec [97th Engineers]

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LTC MILLARD L. PEDERSEN (RETIRED), CATKILLER 6, DECEASED 27 MAY 2014:

NEWPORT NEWS: LTC Millard L. Pedersen, (Ret), passed away on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Survivors include his wife, Carolyn C. Pedersen; daughter, Tiffany Greene; three sons, David, William, and Darrell Pedersen; step-son, Gil Kennedy; sister, Lorraine Murphy and husband, Frank; brother, Darrell Pedersen; a number of grandchildren; and one niece and one nephew. A graveside service will be held Friday, May 30, 2014, at 2:00 PM at Peninsula Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 213 McLaws Circle Williamsburg, VA. Peninsula Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
I just received this via my USMA Class of 1958 ties. I just thought that some Catkillers of his time might like to know of his death. If I learn of any additional information, I will let you know.

Gene Wilson

Comments:

Re: MIBARS [See article below, but this also pertains to LTC Pedersen] All I can remember of them was that we called them Micky MIBARS and That I may have flown one or two missions with one of their camera–toting guys in the back seat—that's it. I don’t even recall where they were located. To tell the truth, I was more interested in missions that required working directly with the ground troops and blowing things up than taking pictures of locations in the jungle. I do recall that there was a RRU (we referred to it as Rock and Roll) unit (the 308th?) unit located at Phu Bai. They flew the U8–D and Beavers that used triangulation of enemy radio transmissions to pinpoint the location of the transmitter and thus track enemy movement. One of my OCS classmates was MI branch—non aviator—and assigned to that unit in 67–68 when I was there. Have had no contact with him since.

In spring 1968, one of their U–8Ds lost an engine on takeoff from Phu Bai, rolled inverted and crashed. Both pilots were killed but the young enlisted radio operator in back survived. The CO, Major Pederson, grabbed me (I was on a day off from the Z) as his copilot in our Beaver and we flew the kid and a medic (it was solid IFR) to Danang for medical treatment—but he didn't survive. Sad, those U–8Ds (Dogs) were terribly underpowered and I guess, quite heavy with all of their radio gear on board.

Ray Caryl [Catkiller Historian]

UPDATE—4 June:

USMA 1958: Funeral of Peeps Pedersen F-1, Update received yesterday after the funeral on Friday:

“This afternoon I attended the graveside service for “Peeps” Pedersen. He was laid to rest in a ceremony at a Newport News cemetery, a ceremony complete with full military honors. The service was attended by several friends, neighbors, family members and folks he worked with for so many years at Fort Eustis.

Peeps' first wife Ann and his present wife Carolyn were both at the ceremony, as were Peeps' three sons and one daughter by Ann, and one son by Carolyn. I met them all and conveyed an expression of sympathy on behalf of our class. One son, Will, retired from the army as a lieutenant colonel after 21 years of service. Another son, David was born at Fort Rucker, Alabama, while a bunch of us were there going through flight training while our wives were having babies.

The military honor guard performed admirably; I assume they were from HQ, TRADOC.

Ron Bellows”

P.S. Ron is another USMA classmate, and Engineer Aviator, who I know very well.
“Mil,” as MAJ Pedersen was known among family and friends, appears to have worked in Army R & D after he earned a Masters Degree in Aero Engineering later in life. He also suffered with Alzheimer's Disease for several years. May he rest in peace. Gene Wilson

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1ST MILITARY INTELLIGENCE BATTALION (AIR RECONNAISSANCE SUPPORT) (MIBARS):

1st MIBARSunit  crest
You should add the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Air Reconnaissance Support), 45th Military Intelligence Detachment (later re-designated Detachment E) at Phu Bai Combat Base to your list of supported units. You supported us in our hand–held photo reconnaissance missions to Khe Sanh, the DMZ and the A Shau valley, in Upper I Corps, from 1968 shortly after TET when the 45th MID was moved from II Corps to Phu Bai. I flew with the 220th several times as a photographer/observer to Khe Sanh and the A Shau valley [1st MIBARS crest came from John]. Our photo missions were usually in support of Provisional Corps, Vietnam (PCV) (later re–designated 23rd Corps), other Army units and the CIA. Our operations area was originally at the end of a taxiway on the Phu Bai airfield but in late 1968 we moved to Camp Bruno A. Hochmuth on the west side of Highway One.

The First Military Intelligence Battalion (Air Reconnaissance Support) was an independent battalion assigned to U S Army Vietnam (USARV) with heaqdquarters in the Saigon suburb of Gia Dinh. All personnel wore the USARV shoulder patch. The 1st MIBARS had detachments at Corps level throughout Vietnam. Det A was in Bien Hoa. Det B was in Danang. Det C was in Can Tho. Det D was in Nha Trang. These detachments plus HHC had come as a unit from Fort Bragg to Vietnam 23Dec1965 and returned to Fort Bragg departing Vietnam on 30 April1972. In addition to HHC and the four detachments there was another detachment that was assigned to the 1st MIBARS after the TET events of January1968. The 45th Military Intelligence Detachment (45th MID) left Fort Bragg for Vietnam by ship, the USS John Pope, from Wilmington, Nortrh Carolina, in early 1967 and arrived in–country at Quin Nhon. From Quin Nhon the unit drove to Phu Cat AFB as their first in-country duty station supporting units in II Corps. In the spring of 1968 the 45th MID was moved to Phu Bai to support Provisional Corps Vietnam (later renamed 24th Corps) with responsibility for providing aerial imagery support for the northern two provinces of Thua Thien and Quang Tri. The 45th MID was re-designated as Detachment E, 1st MIBARS in the fall of 1968. Detachment E was deactivated 14 April1970. The 45th MID's primary responsibility was the interpretation of any and all aerial imagery flown over the two provinces and immediately adjacent areas and the provision of reports to all interested units in the AOR. Imagery was received primarily from the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (TRW) at Tan Son Nhut, the 432nd TRW at Udorn, Thailand, Army Mohawk units and Marine and Navy units. A secondary but vitally important mission was the hand-held photography program that was implemented at all MIBARS detachments including the 45th MID at Phu Cat and Phu Bai. The hand held program consisted of MIBARS imagery interpreters (IIs) using 35mm SLR cameras (Pentax or Nikon) with long focal length lens to photograph targets of interest nominated by units who either due to timeliness needs or not being able to justify an RF–4C mission would request our support. Nearly all of these hand held missions were flown in the 220th’s O–1 Bird Dogs. The success of the hand held photography program was a vital part of the battalion's activities that resulted in a Meritorious Unit Citation for the 1st MIBARS in 1968. The 45th MID/Det E in company with the 220th flew missions over the A Shau valley, Khe Sanh, the DMZ and other areas of upper I Corps. Some imagery taken by image interpreters from the 45th MID/Det E were used as evidence at the Paris peace talks of North Vietnamese incursions into the DMZ, in violation of the 1954 Geneva Accords particularly images of what became known as the “Big Ass Flag.”

I joined the 45th MID in June 1968, after a brief assignment at HHC in Saigon. I was an imagery interpretation team leader and became the Operations NCOIC until returning to the US in May 1969. I was one of several image interpreters, both officer and enlisted, who flew hand held photography missions in the 220th's O-1s out of the Phu Bai. Unfortunately, after returning to Phu Bai after a mission I never had any film left so I don’t have any photos of me and an O–1. I have put a call out to other hand held IIs for photos.

Brent Herrington also of the 45th MID/Det E flew much more than I did and can provide more detail of specific missions he flew with the 220th.

1st MIBARS, Det E, Phu Bai, RVN) [Official web site added. What follows is a brief history of the 1st MIBARS in Vietnam and of the detachment at Phu Bai, the 45th MID/Det E.]

John T. Nichols (former Operations NCOIC),
Manassas, VA

Here are some shots around Phu Bai in 68/69. The first is me standing in front of our hootch at Camp Hochmuth after Typhoon Bess in Oct. 1968. The second is the Operations jeep with its unofficial unit motto that usually got a one finger salute from the Marine gate guards. The third is a view of the taxi way and part of the Phu Bai airfield from the top of one of our operations vans. We later moved operations to Camp Hochmuth from the airfield. The fourth is a view of O–1s in revetments from the 45th MID’s operations area.

1st MIBARS unit photo of Phu Bai John T. Nichols, 1st MIBARS, 1968

John T. Nichols photo John T. Nichols photo

John T. Nichols photo

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TAIL DRAGGER EXTRAORDINAIRE:

A friend serving in Germany, who is a friend of a friend living in Paris, who is a friend of all Catkillers, shared this link as a remarkable reminder that some old things from another era and time have lasting value and are widely appreciated. This one is an iconic gem from the past, and that the Greatest Generation included my father who was there at Utah Beach as this particular ship flew makes it even more meaningful for me. Just watch the movie. That we had men who were brave and gave their lives in huge numbers during that time is a priceless gift to all of us. God bless them all and their families, and thanks for sharing, Michael:

Return to Normandy 2014: A project of the National Warplane Museum

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D-DAY, SEVENTY YEARS AGO TOMORROW: (5 June)

On June 5, 1944, I was almost a year old (born 27 June 1943, at the old Fort Dix hospital), and considering the many brave men and women from World War II who were killed in action or are classified as missing in action, my four other siblings were fortunate to have been born after the war. As we review my fatherís service record and my birth certificate, we see that my mother made a trip from Wedowee, Alabama, to Fort Dix, New Jersey, to be with my father as he helped prepare Headquarters and Service Company, 1st battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, for its participation in World War II.

My father was a First Sergeant (E-7) during initial training events but was later promoted to Master Sergeant and thereafter appointed the Regimental Supply Sergeant. He moved with his unit to Devonshire County, England, for combat training and departed from England on this day seventy years ago for the assault on Utah Beach on June 6. He and his unit then fought through five major battle campaigns, as well as the Saint Lo Breakthrough (for which his unit received a Distinguished Unit Citation). This Greatest Generation still has over 73,000 American military personnel declared missing in action in World War II that have not been recovered. I cannot imagine the suffering endured by the many families represented in the previous statement, but with regard to the many who returned to continue their lives I am both thankful and proud of my family’s military heritage and honor all who continue to take an active part in the preservation of our liberty and way of life.

Just to be able to mention my father’s service is an honor, and many others could state the same. Tomorrow as we celebrate D–Day, we American and Allied families owe as least a moment of silence to those who endured the challenges of the war that should have ended all wars. It has not played out that hopeful way in reality, as the real reality is that we have a continuous line of men and women who bravely serve throughout the world, even in harms way. Thanks to those who dare stand in that long line of courage and do so voluntarily, with faith and trust in the wisdom and courage of our leaders to also stand tall as they decide our destiny and control the lives of our nation’s finest.

Comments:

Here in France, the local TV has aired a number of programs in the past two weeks about the D–Day invasion. The nightly news is also making quite a bit over this anniversary, too. The older French certainly haven’t forgotten and this looks to be a pretty good education for the younger ones.

Saw D–Day, the movie, last winter. Seems to me I recall a snippet in there which Reagan referred to about the British reinforcements announcing their arrival with bagpipes to take a bridge with one Brit saying, “Sorry we’re late.” Excellent movie.

In 1984 President Reagan spoke at Normandy (speech and photo attached). As speeches go, it was not a long speech.

Tomorrow, D-Day plus 70 (Years), there will be more speeches there. I wonder what they will say about the generation of 1944 as their memory slips further into the past: Jan Smith
President Reagan's speech, 6 June 1984

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2LT BOB COVINO, DETACHMENT CDR, 231ST SIGNAL DETACHMENT, 1965:

Several important historical accounts and a continuing review and publication effort by the CATCOM team has our Catkiller Historical Index bulging and ready for your review. Take a look at the index, and if you haven’t perused the contents lately you are in for a few surprises. Your editor expected at this point to be able to slow down but that is not the case. With the assistance of Dennis Currie, Ray Caryl, Gene Wilson (trying to retire) and those who are even at this moment submitting their memories, we will not leave anything behind. The make this point, below is the latest web page courtesy of the writings and sharing of photographs by Bob Covino; the first benefit of his added information has been that we now have contact (and even more information) from James D. “Jim” Sheets, who left the army and went on to obtain a degree in electrical engineering (he said his boss, Bob Covino, who also has such a degree, inspired him). Way to go, Jim!

See Catkiller History Index, 1965: Accounts and Photographs by Bob Covino, 231st Signal Det.

Other ongoing work: We have a disk full of photos provided by Connie Keltner, widow of Tony, and as soon as I have time to work on them we will share a photo page within the history index.

As information comes in from members of the Vietnam Tour 2014 I will do my best to finish that story before we all forget what we did for two weeks!! To keep evertone in suspense with our group, I decided to share the web page that is not yet published but which you can follow along with as necessary work progresses:

Vietnam Battlefield Tours: CATKILLERS AND FRIENDS RETURN TO VIET NAM, 2014

Also, there are numerous photographs from CPT Rick Gates, 4th Platoon Commander, June 1970–8 May 1971. I apologize to Rickl for being so tardy in finishing that project and appreciate his patience./

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CHANGE OR NOT CHANGE THE BRONZE VOTE, ALL–BIRDDOG UNIT MONUMENT: (23 June)

Here is your individual opportunity to voice your opinion about the bronze aircraft representation currently in place atop the All–Birddog Unit Memorial at Fort Rucker. Please use the email address provided in the below linked PDF file (or the email direct link) to record and send your vote FOR or AGAINST:

ISSUE: A proposed replacement of the current model with an authentic representation of the Cessna (L–19, O–1) “Birddog,” to be professionally produced and installed atop said monument.
CHANGE OR NOT CHANGE THE BRONZE VOTE RESULT AND STATUS: Updated 23 June)

Use this direct email link to Rod Stewart with your vote