Photographs by Captain Claude N. "Pete" Blevins
Catkiller 13/16, 1969–70
Pete has higher resolution copies of these photos in their natural state, or you may click on any photo number to view it at a slightly larger resolution. Mouseover each photo for a caption supplied by Pete:
"I arrived at the 220th RAC in March of 1969 and was assigned to the 3rd Platoon. Maj Miler was CO at that time. Not long after arriving at the unit, Maj Gebhardt was the CO. Along with the flying duties, I was also the Mess Officer, the best job I ever had. We always had food.
I can not remember the NCO´s name, but he had something to do with the military clubs in Phu Bai. Between the two of us we swapped booze to upgrade in the type of foods the unit got. We would trade pot roast and a little booze for steak and other meats. It put me in mind of "MASH" on TV.
I can not remember when, but I was later assigned to the 1st Platoon as Platoon Leader. As you know, the 1st was responsible for the area south of the river that separated North and South Viet Nam. We had one more change of command before Paul, Warren and myself rotated back to the states, but can not remember his name. I was in charge of the 1st until leaving the unit and going home in March of 1970. My time in the unit was rewarding and memorable; would not give anything for the experience. I brought back many stories and memories to last the rest of my life.
Charles Dudley has his name on the jump suit (I think). Do not remember any particulars but remember him. Jeff Wagner was also one of the marine AO´s that flew with us out of Dong Ha. The pictures with all the green flight suits were marines. It seems like their unit was pulling out of the Dong Ha and Quang Tri and was the reason for the party. Probably some of the other guys may remember these faces. They were roasting all of the pilots with whom they had flown. Wish I could remember more, but the marines may have belonged to the 1st Mar Div. All I recall about one of the marines was that he was named Papa. He was one of the marine AO’s that flew back seat out of Dong Ha. The time line was late 69 early 70.
Several days after posting this page, Pete sent an email containing this poem written by the 3rd Marine Division Aerial Observers, as they departed the Dong Ha—Quang Tri area. The poem (displayed verbatim) was probably recited at the farewell party held at the Phu Bai Officer´s Club (photos 9 and 12):
FROM THE HILLS OF NORTHERN “I” CORPS TO THE
SHORES OF THE BEN HAI
THEY WILL FLY THE AO’S ANYWHERE
AS LONG AS THERE IS SKY
IF HO CHI MINH HAS GOT HIS BOYS
IN THE DMZ TODAY,
THERE’S AN AIRSTRIKE OR AN ARTY MISSION
FROM A BIRDDOG ON THE WAY
HERE’S TO US AND TO THOSE GUYS
WHOM WE ARE PROUD TO KNOW
DURING MANY A MISSION, THEY’VE WORKED
THEIR ASS TO SAVE A GRUNT BELOW
WHETHER DRUNK SICK OR HORNY,
YOU CAN SEE THOSE BIRDDOGS GO
A ROUND OF CHEER FOR THOSE DAMNED GUYS
THE DRUNKS OF 2-2-0 !!
No. 4: Wagner. [Does anyone know Wagner's first name?]
No. 9: Left–Right: Clint Smith, Clyde Trathowen, really ugly Cat Killer Dude, almost hiding is Wagner, Mike Granwehr, next guy I need to check a roster, last guy is Ken Phipps (recently deceased).
I missed the party because I was on R&R.
No. 12: Left-Right: Guy half off page, I kinda think I know who it is but will check a roster, guy in the middle of two CK’s is Clyde Trathowen, background guy is Wagner, the two together on the end are Mike Granwehr and Ken Phipps. [So, Ken Phipps is also know as Papa?]
All the best and
Lanny [Landon K. Thorne, 1LT, USMC, AO, Romeo, 3rd Mar Div, 1968–69]
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No. 21 No. 22