HONORING ALL WHO SERVED: VETERANS DAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2012
Fourth Quarterly 2012
December 11, 2012
Newsletter Articles: (click to go direct)
I stumbled upon a few photos taken by Catkiller Dean Liken, way back when. Here are two of men recognized by name, and one aerial shot of Phu Bai:
Joe Brett sent in a photo record of some quality time spent in California with another super guy, Glenn Stewart. Glenn and I (Don Ricks) were OCS and flight school classmates, so I knew he was destined to do great things. However, being too busy for golf (my daughter, sons, and grandchildren didn't get it from me), I did not know that Glenn was also such a great golfer! I am not surprised. Thanks for sharing this get–together with us, Joe. It is good to know you all are doing so well. Cori doesn't seem intimidated by you two big guys:
Don, Good work for memorializing Tank.
Here is a happy photo [of us] with Glenn Stewart.
Stu and I met up for a few rounds of golf, when Cori and I spent a month near San Francisco in August. He said you guys had quite a time in flight school [and OCS!]. He is looking great and plays to a 6 handicap. He makes his own clubs and is proficient with his game and use of all his clubs, just as he was as a great pilot. And he was a great pilot and FAC.
For those of you who remember Morris R. Buster, better known as “Rich,” will get a smile out of this new photo from this SP5, Crew Chief, who was stationed at both Phu Bai and Dong Ha, from May 1968—December 1969. Below the photo is an encouraging note from Rich:
Hi, Don:back to top
You’ve really made this newsletter into something great. If it weren’t for your tenacity and a thorough knowledge of computers, some of us would be out of touch with the goings on with our brother “CATKILLERS.” Thanks! [You are welcome, Rich. It is my pleasure to make it happen. Don]
I've attached a pic of an important item from my Bucket list. I try to ride it a few times a week, now that I’ve got some time. Sky diving next. LOL
Grass Valley, CA
The following email bounced several times. Kenneth is a commercial pilot and a retired RVer. He might be on the road. Please send any new information:
Kenneth Lorentz (CatkillerMechanic)back to top
Dong Ha, Phu Bai, 1968-69
firstname.lastname@example.org (former email address that bounced)
A small contingent of representatives from the 220th Aviation Company visited the Fort Rucker Museum in October. We carried the following list of items for consideration by the curator.
back to top
Fort Rucker Army Aviation Museum
Items Donated by the 220th Catkillers—October, 2012
- Wall Rubbing Memorial of Fallen——Al Paulsen [This item is removed; denied for museum policy reasons.]
- Original “We Observe” Patch—Gene Wilson
- Helmet worn by Marine AO (backseater)—Walt Strain, USMC
- Junk Fleet Navy Wings—Norm MacPhee
- Pilot Survival Maps —Norm MacPhee
- Pilot Blood Chit—Norm MacPhee
- Vietnamese and MPC Currency—Norm MacPhee
- Leaflets dropped by 220th, 1966—Norm MacPhee
- Maps from the PX—Norm MacPhee
- Cards issued to soldiers in VN/business cards—Norm MacPhee
- Catkiller “going home” plaque, 1LT Dean L. Liken, Catkiller 19, 12/79-12/70—Ed Miler
- Original set of DVD’s for the 220th Web Site—Don Ricks
Below is the PDF report of our visit. Norman MacPhee continues to work on this project, so expect further information at a later date:
Jack and Cathy Bentley have reason to feel proud. Just take a moment to read the good news. Congratulation, Mom and Dad (and Mike!):
“Our Son Mike made LTC today, so I’m on cloud nine. They are living in Portsmouth, RI, while he attends school in Providence. He already has an MBA, and will receive another masters (International Relations, I think) when he graduates in February. The hurricane knocked down a lot of trees and made a mess of things, but they were spared the heavy devastation that we’re seeing to the south of their location.back to top
The first Birddog company to deploy to Vietnam, the 73rd Aviation Company (Airplane Surveillance)(Light), has established a new website at73rd Aviation Company web site. We have included a link to the 220th RAC website and respectfully request that you include us in your links. Our webmaster is Al Adcock, who can be contacted at email@example.com to top
James Ross McKimmey
Author Jim Hooper shared some information regarding an American hero who read the book, A Hunmdred Feet Over Hell. Now, this would not normally be an item of interest for us, except for his statement regarding the book. When you read the comments, you might get a better perspective of this officer by reading his bio sheet (link provided). Just remember, this army-trained helicopter flying, amazingly well-rounded man credits the men in Jim's book as heroes (as they were):
I waited a while to read it, but took your book with me on a trip which would avail me time with no communications to intervene.
Your book helped me pass an entire day without checking my watch or thinking I should do something else. The differing points of view in your story telling made my mind more agile and had me looking for the differences in each character. It also brought back a few memories of my own limited experience in SE Asia. The attitudes of men in combat toward others who are avoiding it was good for me to recall. The vast difference between those who fight and those who only want to look like fighters remains as stark today—and as hard for non–fighters to see at all.
Please give my best to those heroes. Your book did them a good deed, and a great service to those who read it.
back to top
The long-awaited Birddog models ordered over seven months ago have started coming to those who purchased them. These models look well-made and satisfy this purchaser. I will post comments from others, if they desire:
We tried to obtain aircraft models that did not look so new and polished, but the modelers could not duplicate the many photo color-image views of aircraft from Vietnam. Below are front and back store-bought painting views of the one ordered by Don Ricks:
SOURCE:back to top
Griffin Aerospace Models
4200 N. Main St., Suite 280
Fort Worth, Texas 76106
It is a difficult and sorrowful task to report any death, and everyone is special to someone—especially when we suffer the loss of a family member, friend, great American, or outstanding fellow soldier. After reading the comments posted on the guestbook pages at CaringBridge.com, it is obvious that Tank had those credits and recognitions, plus a lot more, to all who knew him. The Catkillers, especially, had a fond and memorable service connection and association with this Marine's Marine named Tom (fondly and appropriately, “Tank”) Meehan, and we have expressed our condolences to his immediate family. Please allow me to extend that sentiment also to all who know and served with Tank.
The obituary for Colonel Meehan contains all the latest information regarding pending funeral arrangements. Please visit the above CaringBridge.org link for updates:
Major Thomas “Tank” Meehan of the 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, was the Marine Corps liaison officer to the Army's 220th Aviation Company, the Catkillers. As such, it was his job to keep the Catkillers away from the political infighting of those who wanted to tell them how to fly and when to fly (from Hooper’s book, Chapter 1, page 1). Since the 220th was under the operational control of the 3rd Marine Division, Meehan was an invaluable addition to the 220th bringing knowledge of Marine Corps operations and wisdom which accompanies maturity to a bunch of young, fresh out of flight school army officers, each with a different view on how things ought to be done. Tank was an invaluable asset to the company and assistant to the company commander.
Col. Thomas Francis Meehan USMC Ret.
June 24, 1933 - October 16, 2012
Col. Thomas Francis Meehan USMC, Ret., 75, of Germany, died peacefully on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Born in New York, to the late James Meehan and Josephine Cullen Meehan. He is survived by his loving wife Maria Meehan, and daughters; Mary-Mclarnon, of Watertown, New York, Joy Deardorff (Tim), of Temcula, California. Also left to cherish his memory are his grandchildren; Matthew, Mariss, Joshua, Nicholas, and Sydney. He was preceded in death by his two daughters, Key Meehan-Silard, and Kathleen Meehan. He was the brother of Sister Maureen, and the late James Meehan. Col. Thomas Francis Meehan, was retired from the USMC, with over twenty–five years of service.
Funeral Services will be held at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia at a later date.
On behalf of the Catkillers and Friends, Charles Finch made from our Benevolence Fund a donation to the Semper Fi Fund in memory of Colonel Thomas Tank Meehan.
Maria Meehan: “ I wanted to let everyone know that the funeral date is December 18th (Tuesday), at 8:45am at Arlington National Cemetery. There will be a service in the Chapel at Fort Myers and then burial with full honors. If you have questions you can also contact the Funeral Home at www.InterFaithFunerals.com.
In order to provide numbers to caterers please email me directly as to whether you will be able to attend the reception following the internment at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Hello Mr. Ricks,back to top
You have probably heard that my father, Thomas “Tank” Meehan passed away. So many people sent Maria wonderful e-mails about my father, very kind, very moving and I think they gave her strength during this terrible, terrible, terrible time. She's going to copy them all and make a booklet for me. Please thank everyone for their thoughts and kind words.
We have never met, but Tom Meehan has been an acquaintance of mine since 1958-59 at Boston College, in USMC and FBI.
I set forth info of a great Marine and father, May He Rest In Peace.
I found your group on internet and thought you and his Marine colleagues would like to know. [the obituary is sent courtesy of Dan Sughrue]
Don, Here are a two photos from my change of command in 2004 at Ft Bragg, NC, at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School. Not the best of Tank and Maria but something a little different. As a little background, I met Tank at the University of Maine (1987) while getting my degree and commission in the army. I had just finished a six year tour in the USMC as a RECON Marine. You can imagine the ribbing I got from Tank about crossing decks! He was a damn good mentor and a great friend. He saw fit to keep me under his wing and provide sage words of advice that helped me have a successful career.
Joe Barnett located several of his dwendling collection of Vietnam-era photographs. Even with some editing with Adobe Photoshop recovery of the color and fine detail was not possible. If you can identify those in the photos, please let us know. Here is his message announcing the photos:
“Here are photos from the engine shop from 1968 to 1969. If I had not lost half my mind, I would be able to tell you all the names. These pictures were slides, and I transposed them to digital. I am not in the photos, because I took them. Wish I would have asked someone to take one with me and guys. Frank Fatera is the only one I can remember his full name. I remember one we called Chalky. The next photo is the hanger body shop men working on the wing. The next one is the whole crew (except me). I have the electrical crew and a USO show we hosted on the volley ball court, and I have pictures of an awards day, a day at the beach, and a USO show in the hanger. Most of my slides I gave away, or they became blank.
I was in Vietnam from 1969-1970, at DaNang Marble Mountain, with the 245 Direct Support, too. I have some photos from there, but most were slides and are destroyed. Sorry!
Several days ago, I received a poem written by T. C. Lyster, published plainly and without fanfare in a basic Word document. However, there was nothing plain about this poem. As I read the lines, a flood of recall took me to my own relatives who have stood in that long line to put their stamp on the freedoms I enjoy today. My brothers and I did the same for our children, and now our nieces and nephews have taken their place in line, all for what America is about and has secured through past service to our nation. Mister Lyster has made good use of the hours it took him to compose this meaningful rendition of what is in his heart and in his family's history.
As you might have guessed, there is more to reveal in the background of this story, just as there was implied in the long sentence above. When Dick Tobiason wrote the email and sent the poem by permission, he included a statement revealing some of the author's family history:
“TC's roots include a long line of veterans. His great grandfather, Brigadier General Theodore C. Lyster, served during WWI, and he was considered the “Father of Aviation Medicine.” Lyster Army Health Clinic is named after General Lyster. We army aviators have benefited from his service, and now his great grandson honors him with a Veterans Day poem.
Many thanks, Ted, for your great talent and dedication to veterans—especially on their day, 2012.”
Below is the poem by T. C. Lyster, fittingly and respectfully arranged over the 2012 Veterans Day poster seen atop this page, as well as a photo of the poet with friends:
There are many people passing through our airports, both famous and some just like you and me. To get a photohraph of one of the famous ones is not an easy thing to do, but put a bold Catkiller in a situation and he will find a way to squeeze something out of an often boring wait for the gates to open. Here is such proof, courtesy of Catkiller Doc Clement:
On behalf of the Catkillers and Friends listed on our KIA/MIA Memorial and Tribute page, Norman MacPhee sent a donation from the Catkiller Fund to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, as shown on the attached letter. These funds represent a portion of the proceeds from our 2012 Catkiller Reunion in Seattle. Thank you for your participation in this effort:
On behalf of the members of this unit and the Caldwell family, this day I sent forward to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund a set of photographs of SSG Floyd Dean Caldwell for use at the Virtual Wall location for Sergeant Caldwell.back to top
Tom Murray, AO for the 108th Artillery, 1970–71, sent in these photographs. Any information will help update this historic event.
Don: I have no idea who the pilot or observer was [in the flipped airplace]. As far as I know, it’s north of the Phu Bai runway. I only served with the 220th as an AO in Phu Bai in 1971. The story was the pilot got too low on approach to Phu Bai and caught the landing gear on a fence or something strong enough to flip the bird dog. No one was hurt unless a severely damaged ego counts..
Here is another photo.
We were hit by 23 mm near Khe Sanh on one trip. The attached photo shows how close we came to being on The Wall. As I remember we were flying along and the 23 mm hit the rear stabilizer portion and went right through knocking it off. The vertical portion was riddled with shrapnel. I was sitting within a foot or so of where the 23 mm passed through the plane.
I remember flying in one direction and the hit spinning us around 180 degrees. The pilot said, “What the hell just happened?” I said, “I’m not sure, but we are missing some important parts of this plane. We better get on the ground.”
John thought the pilot in picture two might be him. There's a second view of the shrapnel. I'm not sure about where we landed. I'm pretty sure we did not attempt to get back to Phu Bai. We may have landed at Dong Ha. My name is Thomas E. Murray. I was Sundowner Mike. The two AO's I lived with were Rich Diehl and Chris Monteleon. To be exact I’d guess my time with the 220th started in October or November 1970. My memory of some of my service is very foggy, especially after Lam Son 719. I graduated from Xavier University ROTC in June of 1969. I was in Fort Sill by July and in Vietnam by October. I served as an FO for my first 9 months with the 3/5 Armored Cav. I extended and requested AO duty. I wanted a cot and three hots and to hook back up with my buddy Rich Diehl. I stayed for 19 months, DEROS was June of 1971.
One of the only guys I remember from then is John Hillman (who can forget those poker games?). He attended one of the 108th Artillery reunions. I was a 1st LT for my time as an AO. My entire tour [in–country] was November of 1969 to June of 1971.
I was actually shot down three times. The pictures you see were not bad at all, except the terror that came with the hit. We landed fine like any other landing. For Lam Son 719, I was moved to an Air Cav unit. That time I was shot down in Laos and the only person not wounded. The door gunner a foot or so from me was killed. That was a bad day.
Khe Sanh is now a coffee plantation. Lao Bao is a very vibrant city. My wife and I built a school in the A Shau for Montagnard kids, right at the base of Hamburger Hill.
Tom Murray, Sundowner Mike”
We received another, more prominent, photo of the shot-up Birddog 12634 from Randy Jones, with identity of the pilot who flew the injured aircraft and miraculously landed it.
“Here is a little better picture of the Birddog Tom Murray mentioned. The pilot was Richard Wright. I was the Operations Officer at the time, and we put Richard in for the Broken Wing Award, which he received.
I have the Eagle (sheet metal cutout) from the dance floor in the officer’s club, if you want to add it to the collection at Ft. Rucker—just let me know where to send it and to whom [expect a reply from Norm MacPhee, Randy].
Randy Jones” [CPT, 1st PLT Leader, Operations Officer, 1971]
EDITOR'S NOTE: You won’t believe this, but: While searching for any information across the internet, an interesting story displayed on this web site most of us have visited: Talking Proud Archives—Military
This is the text from that site (or The Rest of The Story: (photos between the paragraphs; look for the article after the photo of “Little Annie Fanny”):
“During the ARVN invasion of Laos in 1971, called Lam Son 719, the 101st Airborne Division set up a small Ground Control Approach (GCA) radar at Khe Sanh, not far from the DMZ, not far from Laos. The small group of men set up a tent over their bunker. Bernard Williams, an air traffic controller, was there. On one day, they climbed into their hole to eat lunch and escape incoming attacks. When the attacks stopped, they climbed out of their hole only to find this O-1 Bird Dog sitting right next to their tent. The two crewmembers were just then exiting the aircraft. The aircraft was flown by Capt Richard J. Wright. Williams believes the tail number was C–12634. The aircraft had been hit with 37 mm AAA near the triborder area west of Khe Sanh. He flew over the ridge and had to fly it as though he was without his tail. There were holes within six inches of the backseater. Capt. Wright was quite proud with how well he had landed her. After checking her out, he decided he could fly it, took off, and left. Mr. Williams is looking for the Bird Dog crew.
It turns out that after Capt Wright was hit, he headed for Khe Sanh to make an emergency landing. While on short final, some numb-nuts in a jeep with a camera man in the back pulled out on the runway in front of him and drove down the center line of the runway filming the landing. This explains why Wright ended up where he ended up. And journalists wonder why GIs think so little of them!
The Dog's tail took a beating, but she could still fly.”
The more complete story and article about the Broken Wing Award presentation came from theApril 1972 edition of Army Aviation Digest, page 47.
“With regard to Captain Richard Joseph Wright (Lefty) getting blasted over the Tri-Borders area, I was the one who covered him and guided him to Khe Shan for an emergency landing. When he was on short final, a jeep pulled out onto the runway with a camera man in the back and drove down the run way filming as Lefty landed. Ever since then I have a real special spot in my heart for the news media. Had me holding my breath.
John Michael DeMots, Catkiller 42 (August 1970–Auguat 1971”
“Rich Wright was a guy I remember a lot. I believe he was stationed at Ft Bragg in the mid 70s. I visited him there when I lived in Raleigh. John Hilman and Rich Wright are my strongest memories. I flew with Rich the most. My buddies at the time weere Rich Diehl and Chris Monteleon. We tore up the 108th on some rainy days.back to top
I went on my 30 day leave for extending for 6 months and flew around the world. When I returned our major told us to get some maps ready for an operation and pointed to Laos, west of Khe Sanh. Rich and Chris had DEROSed by then so there were a lot of newbies in that meeting. I said, “Major, we don’t need those maps. That’s Laos. We don't fly there.” He said, “Shut up and get your maps.” I spent 6 weeks sleeping next to the Khe Sanh air strip with a Cav Unit. I was shot down in the bird dog you have pictures of and also went down in Laos getting hit approximately 350 times in a Huey. I do not have any memories from that time forward in Vietnam. I went right back up that day we were shot down. Things were crazy at Lam Son 719. It gets real foggy after that day.
Tom Murray” [Sundowner Mike]
As we informed you several weeks ago, the Catkillers, through the reunion fund, purchased a paver brick from the United States Army Aviation Museum Foundation. That process is now complete, and the acknowledgement below is for all of you:
On November 19, 1966, Major James L. Whitehead, pilot and Captain James M. Johnstone, observer, were the crew of an OV1A Mohawk aircraft (serial number 13115, call sign Project 6) that departed Hue/Phu Bai airbase on a reconnaissance mission over Laos. Renewed interest in this crash produced the discovery of their remains in 2009, after a more thorough search for the crash site. Evidence gathered resulted in both men being identified and declared dead on July 9, 2012 (thanks to Don Nicholson (CAC)for sending in this information):
Links to the story: