Thursday, December 31, 2009

31 December 1969





New Year’s Eve
1969

I’m leaving tomorrow for Okinawa for FAC school.  I didn’t get any mail today so I guess it’ll be about two weeks before I get any more mail.

We just found out today that we have to be there by 1300 on the 3rd, so we have to leave here tomorrow to be sure of getting there on time.  We will go to Danang for further transportation.

I flew twice today.  Once with the pilot who got shot down last Sunday.  I flew the hop before he was shot down with him, and now I’ve flown the next hop afterwards.  I’m glad I missed the one in the middle!!  Both of those guys will get Purple Hearts.  I flew tonight with O.J.

We’re supposed to have a big New Year’s celebration tonight at the club.  A combo from the Americal Division was playing, but they were so bad I left to go take a shower.  I’ll go back over there after awhile, I suppose, to see in the New Year.

A truce is in effect, now, from 1800 tonight until 1800 tomorrow night.  During that time we’ll fly no combat missions in South Vietnam.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

30 December 1969



Tuesday Nite
30 Dec. 1969

Things have returned to normal around here. The days are long and boring! MAG-13 had another plane lost Sunday, but it wasn’t an F-4. It was a C-117, a cargo plane used by the group and belonging to H&MS 13. The plane had about 5 people on it. It disappeared Sunday afternoon and they found it today crashed in the mountains west of here. I didn’t know any of the people.

I got a letter and a Monitor today.

I flew twice today, as usual. I have 53 missions now. Doesn’t seem possible! A big occasion is getting 100 missions. Everyone looks forward to that. Then I can wear a “100 mission” patch on my flight jacket. Of course, I don’t wear my jacket much! Ha.

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve - and I find it hard to believe that it’ll be 1970.

A truck went to Tam Ky today, so I sent the toys and shoes. They had a whole lot of other things as well.

The movie tonight was “Candy” which I had seen in Key West. But I saw it again, for lack of anything else to do.

Russ left for R&R this morning. I’ll bet he has a good time for the next week!!

It’s been a long day since 0530 this morning seems like I just can’t get caught up on my sleep.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009



Monday night
29 Dec. 1969

Boy, do I ever have some tales tonight!!!

Yesterday was really some day!! I’ll start with my first flight of the day. It was a 0215 brief. I got back from that hop and found out that a TA-4 had been shot down and the pilots were surrounded by enemy and the helicopters couldn’t get in to pick them up. So, the hot pad was told to launch 3 sections of planes loaded with napalm to go to the crash site (one section at a time). I was in the last of these sections and took off about noon.

Napalm has to be dropped very low, about 800’ above the ground, and the enemy were shooting at the planes with very large guns. Anyway, this was the scariest mission flown around here in a long time. The second plane in the second section was hit and caught on fire and the crew had to eject!!! These guys are from our squadron and I flew with the pilot on my first hop of the day.

They were okay and were picked up by a helicopter real soon, because where they ejected was safer. My section went on the target, after their plane was shot down so was I ever scared, as was everyone else!!! However, by the time we got there, other planes from other bases had also bombed the target and the guns were pretty well knocked out. So I didn’t get shot at. But I was scared all the same. I was as nervous (or more) as the first time I flew in the F-4.

The target was so far away from Chu Lai, that we didn’t have enough fuel to get back here, so we had to go to Ubon, Thailand. So I diverted to Ubon exactly 2 weeks from the last time. This time I went ahead a cashed a check for $10.00. We decided to spend the night at Ubon, and came back this morning.

Those guys that ejected had only been here about a month, (pilot) and two weeks (RIO) and only had a total of 37 missions all together!! So they were new guys. When I flew with the pilot on that first hop, I was joking that maybe if we got shot down and had to eject, I could get some sleep!! I don’t think I’ll ever joke about that again!

The other pilots were picked up safely after we left the target. One of them had a broken leg. Our two guys were uninjured except for sore muscles, bruises, cuts, and scratches. They were sure lucky! Needless to say they are somewhat heroes now. I don’t know if any medals will be give for all this, but some should be.

I got two packages of toys yesterday, and a box of goodies and a book today. I’ve been sharing the cookies with my friends. The cookies are the best and still very fresh.

I heard today that crew rotation to Japan after six months in country is supposed to start, for sure in January! This means that even if we aren’t pulled out, I’ll still go to Japan at the end of six months. We’ll be replaced by guys like Rick Holt who’ve spent six months in Japan. Good news, eh!!! ( I hope this doesn’t change.)

I won’t be able to get any mail while I’m at FAC school, so should get a bunch when I get back!

I’m getting paid more than normal this pay day because it’s the last pay day of the year. However I’ll need more money because while at FAC school I’ll have to pay for all my meals and probably will have to pay something for my room. Of course, I’ll get per diem, but may not get that until I get back.

I got my watch back from repair, and I’ve been wearing it today to see if it’s fixed. Can’t tell yet.

I’ve learned over here that you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Take those two planes getting shot down! The two days prior to that were so bad, boring, dull, etc, that I didn’t fly either day. Then all hell broke loose! I wonder what will happen tomorrow.

The cookies are so delicious that the other guys just gobble them up, if I let them! Ha. I guess they don’t get cookies from home.

I heard today that the Dallas Cowboys got beat!!! Boy was I disappointed. Another of my favorite teams bites the dust. I’m almost glad I wasn’t able to watch it on T.V.

I’m all “writ” out, so I’ll close now.

Photo - F-4B fighter-bomber

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Saturday night
27 Dec. 1969

Just a short note tonight. I have a 0215 brief tomorrow morning, so I’m going to hit the rack for a little sleep. I’m so tired I can’t believe it! The hot pad is the worst time of all, because we get so little free time!!!


Photo - Vietnamese woman with children

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Friday night
26 Dec. 1969

I made another tape of a mission today. I know these tapes are bad and confusing and hard to understand, but they do give an idea of what we experience. This particular tape has some foul language by my pilot when he got excited about how good our bomb drop was. We got all ten bombs right on target.

My regular pilot, May. Gibson is gone on R & R to Hawaii, so I’m flying with various pilots right now. Today I flew a scramble off the hot pad with my roommate. He’s a pretty good pilot.
Russ Fyke is going on R & R the first of January. His wife is pregnant again, so he’s going on R & R before she gets to far along (I wonder why!). She is about 4 ½ months now, I think. I sure hope they have better luck this time.

Today has been a typical long day! I’ve been on the hot pad since 1800 last night and am on the duty now. I really don’t have anything else to do, but I would like to relax a little bit. I should be off tomorrow morning to get some sleep.

Photo - an unhappy Vietnamese child.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Christmas night
(Midnight)

I’m on the hot pad all night tonight! We just returned from a Migcap mission, my second hop of the day. Today has been much better than yesterday (fortunately)! We had a fairly good Christmas meal, turkey with all the dressings.

I got to sleep in this morning, then flew this afternoon, then the pad tonight. Tomorrow morning I have the “C” pad which means I can go to my hooch, but am on standby. Tomorrow afternoon I have the A pad, then the all night duty. Seems like there’s no slack at all ! Ha. But a lot of work keeps me out of trouble!!!

Well, I’m tired and it’s late, and a long day tomorrow, so I’m going to hit the rack.

Photo - Vietnamese children

Thursday, October 1, 2009



Christmas Eve.

I got mail today and it was just in the nick of time, as my morale had reached the bottom! This was the fourth day without mail (I thought). You see, my roommate was “helpful” and picked up my letter while I was on the hot pad and brought it to the hooch. So I thought I hadn’t gotten mail today. I was moping around at supper and then went to the movie. I got to the hooch and there was the mail on my bed! It was just as though the sun had come out, the way my whole day suddenly brightened!

This day could very well be the worst day of my life, I guess. I spent 12 hours on the hot pad, did not fly, missed lunch, missed seeing Bob Hope, thought I didn’t get any mail, and it’s been raining all day in this God forsaken place on Christmas Eve, 15,000 miles from my family!!!

I was told I got some packages today, but by the time I got off the pad tonight, the mail room was locked up with my packages inside. But, I got mail and I’m now very happy.

We had a good movie tonight. Ha. (a joke). It was entitled War Kill and was nothing but blood and guts killing of Japanese. Real appropriate for Christmas Eve.

We got word tonight that Da Nang was being hit real bad, and they started to launch the hot pad! The weather is so bad that the mission would be a sure DFC award or higher for the crews. However, at the last minute they decided not to launch them. Seems they couldn’t locate exactly where the rockets were coming from.

We had two planes divert to Ubon this afternoon and will most likely have more during the night.

Everyone got a gift package from the Red Cross today. It’s a kind of “ditty” bag, a small cloth bag with a draw string, with goodies inside. I got (in mine) a can of nuts, a can of hard candy, a penlight flashlight, a can of shoe polish, a pen with writing paper and envelopes, a wash cloth, a deck of cards, a few band aids, a few plastic bags, and some “wet naps”. A real nice package.

I may go to a missile shoot. It’ll be about a 4 day trip. A crew flies a plane down, stays about 3 days and comes back. I really don’t know if I’ll go, since I’m going to Okinawa for 2 weeks.

Bob Hope and his group were here this afternoon. I haven’t talked to anyone who got to see them perform. One officer saw them when they got off their planes, but that’s all. It’s real nice their coming here, but of course we can’t see them because we have to work all the time.

Contrary to belief, the war goes on, despite Christmas. The real spirit of Christmas is as far away as the States!! We just carry on as usual, and nothing special has been arranged for us that I know of.

Photo - Vietnamese children

Wednesday, September 30, 2009



Tuesday night
23 Dec. 1969

I’m beat! I haven’t slept the past two nights, I’ve flown all night both nights! I’ve had 4 hrs sleep since noon yesterday. Someone asked me if I wanted a hop tonight at 0200 and I said no! I’m going to get some sleep.

No letter today. Makes 3 days without a letter.

There’s nothing really to write about. I’ve had the usual day of flying (twice), the usual meals, etc! Our hot water heater has been broken for several days, so to get a hot shower (usually only warm) I have to walk down to the other showers. It’s not far, but is inconvenient.

We had a floor show tonight at the club. It was a Korean group and were quite good. We’ve now been entertained by Koreans, Filipinos, and Australians. We still have no word about when Bob Hope and his show will come to Chu Lai.

We go on the hot pad tomorrow, so if Bob Hope does come here some of us will not be able to see the show, for we’ll have to man the hot pad. I’d like to see his show, just so I can say I have.

We had a another pretty day, today. However, I fear bad weather is moving in again.

I did get a can of nuts and a Navy Times today.

Well, tomorrow is Christmas Eve and all my thoughts will be with family.

Photo - floor show at the Officer's Club

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Monday night
22 Dec. 1969

No letters today. I did get a package of peanuts, bean dip, and candy. Boy was I glad to see the candy. I haven’t had any good chocolate in a couple of weeks and my sweet tooth was really beginning to ache! The peanuts are a bit overdone, but I’m able to pick out the less overdone ones and they are delicious.

My flu is just about gone now. I still have a nagging sore throat I can’t seem to shake, but I’m flying again anyway. I’ve flown 4 times in the past 3 days and still lead the “sortie race”. Russ is pushing for the lead, however!

It’s really hard to believe all the exotic places I’ve been, already, in only 2 months over seas! Just think, if I do get to Japan, I will really have some stories to tell! (Actually, I would have been just as happy to stay home and forget all the stories!!!!)

I flew a TPQ this morning at 0100 and didn’t get back and into bed until 0530! And I didn’t get any sleep prior to flying! When we got back from our mission (we dropped our bombs in the south half of the DMZ) the field was closed for 40 minutes. So we had to divert (again) to Da Nang and refuel. Then we came on back to Chu Lai.

I did get to sleep until noon, so I feel fairly rested. I have a 0215 brief tomorrow morning (tonight) for a BARCAP! I’m going to go to bed early tonight and try to get some sleep before the brief.

Photo - Buddhist temple in Thailand

Monday, September 28, 2009


Saturday night
20 Dec. 1969

My health is much improved tonight! I still have a lingering sore throat but I flew twice today anyway. I flew 2 TPQ’s. [ground radar controlled air strike]

We had a squadron formation tonight and they presented some Air Medals, but I didn’t get mine because they thought I would be flying at the time! So now I suppose I’ll have to wait until the next formation which will be a month from now I guess! It’s really unsat!

We had a pretty day today, for once. Only rained for about 5 minutes, and I was out in it! Without my rain gear.

This has been the kind of day I like. I flew this morning, got back in time to eat and brief for my next flight. I got back from that flight, and went to brief for another! The last hop was a BARCAP. We have to taxi three planes to the end of the runway, but only two of them take off, the third stands by in case one of the first two planes can’t complete the mission.

I was in the third plane and never did take off!

Then got my mail and rushed over to eat, then rushed to the formation! A busy day keeps my mind busy! The movie tonight was Where were you when the lights went out? A Doris Day comedy and very entertaining as usual.

Tomorrow’s Sunday, just another day in the week. Doesn’t seem possible that it was last Sunday when I was in Ubon! Time does seem to pass quickly! I’ve been here nine weeks! Seems like forever.

Photo - F-4 waiting for aircrew.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Friday night
19 Dec. 1969

No letters today, but I did get the Life magazine! I read the entire article about My Lai and I see, now, why the people back home are so upset about this episode. If the pictures and story are true then we should be upset.

This is the first time I’ve seen any of those pictures as they haven’t been published over here. There are a few discrepancies in the story that bother me, but not enough to mention. I’m especially disturbed that Life magazine has set itself up as judge and jury in a very serious matter.

It was great reading the magazine. I got a bill from Esquire magazine yesterday so I should start receiving it pretty soon. Esquire is a mens fashion magazine with articles for men. Something like Ladies Home Journal only opposite. I’ve always wanted to take it but it’s an expensive magazine.

I’m feeling much better tonight. All my symptoms are gone except for the sore throat. I started to fly a mission tonight but decided not to. There’s no sense getting in a hurry. I’m still ahead of everyone else anyway. I do plan to fly tomorrow. The RIOs are doing a lot of flying right now. Seems like we’re short of them for some reason.

The FAC school starts on January 6, so I’ll probably leave here on the fourth. I have to go to Da Nang, then to Okinawa. The school is held at Camp Butler, where I stayed on my way over here. I’m looking forward to it.

I won’t be able to get my mail there, so that will be bad!

Well, duh! The only thing I can think of to write about is the weather! And that is boring now!!.


Photo - part of my motor pool

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Thursday Night
18 Dec. 1969

I have (am) been sick. I started a cold about 3 days ago, but yesterday I got to feeling worse, so I went to the Doc. Looks like I have the flu! I have fever, very sore throat, muscle aches and cold chills! I went to bed early last night and didn’t get up until 1400 this afternoon. I still feel bad. I’m grounded which means no flying for a few days.

The weather finally lifted a bit today and it’s the first flying anyone’s done for three days. I also have a severe headache and no appetite! I didn’t eat breakfast or lunch and not much dinner! I hope I get over this tomorrow so I can get back to flying!

I feel so bad I can’t think of anything else to write.

Photo - Buddhists monks in Thailand

Friday, September 25, 2009



Tues. night
16 Dec. 1969

I have now seen more rain than I’ve ever seen before! We’ve had constant rain (not drizzle) for the past 3 days! My hooch has started leaking in places it’s never leaked before.

The hop I was to fly last night was cancelled, as were all the other flights, because of the weather. All the missions in the whole group were cancelled! I don’t think any flights were flown today either. My roommate and Russ Fyke diverted to Ubon the same night I did and still haven’t come back!

Guess what, I have a bad cold. It had been developing for a couple of days, but this morning it was bad! So bad, in fact, that I didn’t go to the orphanage because I would have been out in the rain all afternoon! I wanted to go, but the rain was just to bad.

I’ve been informed that I’m going to FAC school in January! Most people dread this news, but I’m glad. It’s a two week school in Okinawa!! They haven’t been sending RIO’s to FAC duty because there’s a shortage! So I’ll get to go to the school and won’t have worry about going FAC.

The reason I was chosen was because our Squadron was given a quota of three for the school. The qualifications were such that they could only find two pilots, so they picked me for the third. O.J. is one of the pilots. Even if I do go FAC duty, it’s only for three months and would probably be Feb - April. I wanted to be a grunt anyway.

I’m listening to the president’s speech (replay)! I heard it live this morning at 0700. I was disappointed that he only announced 50,000 by April 15. We’re all very anxious to find out who is leaving!

I found out yesterday that I have eleven points toward my third air medal! I have 41 missions and 51 points. So far I have seventeen missions this month and that’s three more than the next RIO!

Maj. Gibson, my pilot, has the most among the pilots. He has about twelve, I think. I can’t believe how I was so excited about getting that first twenty points, and now they really don’t mean that much! I wish they’d give me my medal, though!

I’m really proud to have the most missions! That means, sort of, that I work more. Maybe that’s why their sending me to FAC school! The school starts on the fourth, but I don’t know exactly when I’ll leave Chu Lai.

I haven’t done a thing all day except sleep. I had so much sleep to catch up I didn’t want to get out of bed. Also the rain wasn’t to conducive to getting out!

Photo - Buddhist monk in Thailand.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Mon. afternoon
15 Dec. 1969

Things still continue to be very hectic here!! I flew twice yesterday afternoon, and the second time, we had to divert to Ubon (hooray, finally!) because of low fuel and bad weather at Chu Lai!

We got to Ubon about 1930, spent the night and came back this morning at 1000. The bad thing about it was that I didn’t have any money and had to borrow some from the skipper who was leading the hop. We ate dinner at their beautiful officer's club. I had a delicious sea food platter!

Then we went shopping at a jewelry shop that sells real fine jewelry at a good price. But I didn’t have the money to buy anything. I did buy a tapestry thing for my wall for $2.00 just so I’d have a souvenir of Thailand. I’ve been scheduled for another “manual” mission tonight which will divert if it goes out.

The weather is really bad and these "manual" missions are flown so far away that we get too low on fuel to come back here. If I do divert again tonight, I’ll have to borrow more money. I’m going to pay it back at the end of the month.

Ubon was just great, from the stand point of not being in country. The AFB itself is real nice with all luxuries! The town itself is kind of ratty. We stayed in town at the Ubol Hotel because they don’t have facilities on base for visiting officers like us! I really don’t want to go back tonight because of the money it takes and also because I’d miss our squadron party tonight. However, if I go to the party, that will also cost me a lot of money!

I didn’t get any mail yesterday, and the mail hasn’t come yet today. I’m writing this now, while I’m ODO.

I haven’t been in my hooch since noon yesterday! So I haven’t shaved or brushed my teeth since them! If I fly tonight, I intend to take my divert gear with me! I.e. shaving gear, toothbrush, etc.

I didn’t go to the orphanage today, because no one went because of the bad weather and operations being so messed up.

The reason things are so hectic is because hops are being “held” because of bad weather which throws everything off. Take yesterday morning! I got up at 0430 for a 0530 brief (after 4 hrs sleep) but we didn’t get to fly until afternoon! We were on a weather hold all morning long. Weather is really bad news in this business!

Mail just came and I got 2 letters. Also got cookies and myself and 5 guys here in the ready room ate all but 4 of them in 15 minutes! Everyone raved about how good they are!! They taste just as fresh as if I’d eaten them at home.

Photo - Thailand barber shop.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Saturday night (late)
13 Dec. 1969

This is the first time I’ve spent more than 10 minutes in my hooch since 0900 yesterday morning!

The past three days have been the most hectic days of my life! They sort of compare to the days when we were working on plays! I didn’t even have time to shower, shave, or eat!

It all started Thursday night at 1800. I had the hot pad that night and got launched on a B-52 escort. I wrote my last letter after that mission. I got about three hours sleep after that, then got up and went to breakfast. I then got about a hour and a half of sleep yesterday morning before being called back down to the hot pad at 0900.

I then was scrambled for a CAS [close air support] mission. I got back from that and went directly to a group ground safety meeting (missing lunch). From the meeting, I went to a brief for a “manual” mission, my third hop of the day. We launched on the manual misssion, and had to divert to Danang because of bad weather here. We could, and should, have gone to Ubon, but didn’t. As it was we had to declare an emergency because of low fuel and landed at Danang.

Our plane was "down" [not safe to fly] because we had no navigational aids. So we spent last night in Danang. We got up this morning and got back to here about 1100. Then I got to shave and brush my teeth for the first time since Thursday morning at 0445! I was really looking bad with the growth of whiskers I had.

Then I went back to the pad (after eating a quick lunch) and was on the pad until 2200. We were launched on another B-52 escort mission and they let me have the rest of the night off to get some rest. I was supposed to be on the pad until tomorrow morning.

The squadron gets off the pad in the morning, so maybe things will let up. All total, I flew three flights yesterday, and two today for a total of eight points. That’s nearly half of an air medal in two days!!

I got four letters and a tape today.

I didn’t get to listen to President Nixon’s news conference. We weren’t to excited about it over here. However, we are very interested in his announcement Tuesday concerning more troop withdrawals!

This job I have as ground safety officer can keep me as busy as I want to be. It’s the kind of job that can be given a lot of attention, conducting inspections for safety, thinking up safety campaigns, etc. or, I could make nothing out of the job and go on loafing.

We had a ground safety council meeting yesterday (group council) of which I am a member by reason of being the GSO of 122. We meet quarterly and discuss all the safety hazards we have problems with. It’s all very interesting. Most big companies spend a fortune on safety campaigns.

This area is not as well stressed as aviation safety, and the group wants to change that!

I think I’ll be going to Tam Ky on Monday, if I can get off the flight schedule. Maj. Allinder, our aircraft maintenance officer, is the one pushing this orphanage, and he asked me if I would go and I said I would.

We are having a squadron party the 15th and a stand down on the 16th. We have a rumor that Bob Hope is to be here on the 16th! If he is I’ll go - I hope!

It’s midnight and I’m beat!

Photo - this is not Bob Hope performing at our officer's club.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Thurs. night
11 Dec. 1969

Actually it’s now 0200 on Friday, but this is my Thursday letter! I’m on the hot pad tonight and we just got back from a Migcap mission. We launched at 2325 and landed at 0105 this morning!

I flew twice on Thursday, once at 0300 and again at 2325. Sounds like I never get any sleep! Ha.

I got 4 letters and 4 Christmas cards today.

Sorry this is so lousy! It’s just a whole series of one sentence comments! But that’s about the way I feel!

My mind is at a stand still and I can’t think of a thing to write!


Photo - hats off from a fellow RIO

Monday, September 21, 2009


Wed. Night
10 Dec. 1969

This will have to be short because I have to get to sleep. I’ve been up since 0445 this morning, and I have a 0200 brief for a TPQ tomorrow morning.

I didn’t get any letters today, but did receive a Navy Times and Washington Post.

I was on the hot pad for 9 hours today, but did get to fly. We launched from the pad on a “migcap”, an air to air mission to protect B-52s from Migs from the north. We get two points for these missions.

It has rained all day, letting up to a drizzle at times.

We had a fairly good movie tonight. Che, the story of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. It starred Omar Sharif and Jack Palance.

I got the last slides I took, back today. Will try to get them mailed off tomorrow. The hot pad takes up most of my day and I’m unable to get to the post office during their open hours.

I’m so tired, I don’t think I’ll have any trouble at all getting to sleep!!

Photo - road past the front of my hooch. officer's club in distance.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Tuesday Night
9 Dec. 1969

I had hot pad duty for 12 hours today! From 0600 to 1800 with 40 minutes off for lunch. Nine hours of it I was all suited up in my flight gear but did not get to fly! It’s quite frustrating.

We were told to scramble once this morning, but when we got to the end of the runway, ready to take off, they told us to come back!! All the trouble we went to just because some guy goofed!!

Going to Ubon is getting away from Chu Lai, getting out of country, getting to stay in a real hotel in a real city, getting to see normal people leading normal lives, getting to eat a few good meals for a change, etc, etc, etc!!! A plane diverted last night to Ubon only 10 minutes after I landed!! I could not believe my lousy luck!!

I’m very well stocked up on books now. At the rate I’ve been getting books I’ll have to read one a day to get caught up! Ha.

We had a good movie tonight titled Daddy Went-a -Hunting. It was sort of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, keeping everyone on edge to the last minute! However it had a happy ending. If it hadn’t, I’d been moping around for hours! Ha.

It’s funny how much a mere movie can effect you over here! I suppose it’s the only real connection with the “world”!

A cold front moved in today dropping temperatures lower than they’ve been so far. The weather has been just like the early winter in Lubbock. Chilly, the wind blowing very hard, and the sand blown by the wind! Just like Lubbock.

The high wind is the reason that plane had to divert to Ubon last night. We had managed to land just before with the wind just as bad and it was plenty hairy!! I suppose we could have easily had an accident, but we didn’t! I don’t worry about having an accident. Look at it this way, if I get hurt, they’ll have to send me home!!

I expect to be on the hot pad again in the morning at 0600! And it’s getting late now.


Photo - in the foreground, the bomb shelter for the officer's club. at the left, back of the movie screen

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Monday Night
8 Dec. 1969

Today I got two packages and a letter! The packages were the lamp and pictures. The lamp is great and so are the tootsie rolls, book, soap, and powder.

Today has been another long hard day. I flew a TPQ this morning, then a BARCAP tonight. The BARCAP briefed at 1545 and we got back at 2200. So I got no supper at all. And the lunch I had was awful! It was chili and I didn’t eat very much, so I’m about to starve!

I’ve got plenty of candy, etc to eat, but I’m hungry for a hamburger!! Just think, if I was home, I could get in the car and go to the nearest drive-in!

We take the hot pad tomorrow for the next 5 days, so things are really going to be miserable. They always are on the hot pad.

I left home seven weeks ago. Leaves 45 weeks to go. Ten and a half months. I just don’t know if I can last! It’s a good thing I have R and R to look forward to, and maybe Japan.

Bad weather moved in again today and is due to stay for several days. So, more rain. I hate it!!!

Photo - Chapel and post office, Chu Lai

Friday, September 18, 2009



Sunday Night
7 Dec. 1969

I didn’t get any letters today, but I did get a notice that I have a package at the post office. It’s probably the one with the lamp. I’ll pick it up tomorrow.

Things are as usual here! Dull. I flew twice today. Had a CAS this morning at 0630, then flew practice intercepts tonight with O.J. We are having a missile shoot in January, at Cubi Point, so we’re getting ready for it by flying intercepts here.

This afternoon I laid out in the sun to get a tan and got a beautiful sun burn! I was going to be careful and only stay out for an hour, but that was long enough to get good and red!

This has been a long day. I got up at 0545 this morning and it’s 2230 now.

I haven’t gained as much weight as I thought. In fact, when I weighed for my physical the other day, I weighed 175 pounds, which is what I weighed when I left.

We’ve really been flying a lot this month. I’ve flown 7 times in 7 days and we stood down one day and I didn’t fly another day. I’ve flown 31 missions now and should have close to, or more than, 40 points. I’ve lost count of my points after the first 20. I still have not received my first air medal. I saw a chart of medals showing the precedence of the medals and the air medal is 7th or 8th I think. Not very high. But then who wants a bunch of medals! To earn them you have to do dangerous things and maybe get hurt! So I’m not going to be greedy.

Photo - F-4 taxiing out for a mission.

Thursday, September 17, 2009



Saturday night
6 Dec. 1969

I got two letters today.

I flew two times today. I flew a BARCAP this morning that I wasn’t scheduled for. They woke me up at 0800 and we took off at 0843, so I didn’t even have time to brush my teeth. The BARCAPs are up north and this was a clear day, so I got to see North Vietnam and China real good.

This afternoon I flew on a manuel hop which is a mission that is top secret. We had radio failure enroute to our target so we had to abort the mission. Meanwhile, an A-4 crashed at Chu Lai and closed the runway for 30 minutes, so we had to land at Danang and refuel. We didn’t even get out of the planes.

The movie tonight was a good one, finally. Goodbye Columbus, rated R. It starred Ali McGraw.

Photo - bomb craters

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Friday night
5 Dec. 1969

Today has been a bad day. I’ve been in the dumps all day. Also, I didn’t get any mail today - and we didn’t fly. So it’s been a bad day.

We had a squadron party this afternoon for all the enlisted men and officers. We had charcoal hamburgers and hot dogs plus all the beer you could drink. They had a few cokes, but as usual, not enough. I only got one.

They arranged for a band to play for us and it was an all girl band - the first one I’ve ever seen. They were Filipinos and were fairly good. One of them had a real good magic act.

Some of us got up a bridge game when we got tired of the band, so I spent most of the afternoon playing bridge. I slept all morning. The movie was pretty good, but it was one that left me filling lonely.

I gave up on that book I was reading and switched to a novel named Twelve O’clock High. It was about War World II. I read it yesterday afternoon and last night, and finished it.

Photo - on the way to the shower room.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Thursday night
4 Dec. 1969

My new roommate already has a cassette recorder and tapes, so I won’t have to save my money for that.

My day has been fairly routine. I was to fly this morning, but was canceled because of bad weather.

I got a lot of mail. Three letters, a tape and a notice from Esquire magazine.

I have the all night duty again tonight. I had it only 6 nights ago. Seems they are switching to using alphabetical order to assign it, so I got screwed!

Believe it or not, we had Dr. Peppers in the PX today - for about 3 hours - and I bought a case. I really couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw them. I understand they were all sold in no time at all. When we do get anything good in the PX you have to be there right then to get any of it. They have been getting a lot of good luggage lately, but it’s all been men’s two and three suiters.

Photo - Pilot Kurt Wilbrecht

Monday, September 14, 2009


Wednesday night
3 Dec. 1969

We didn’t get any letters today here, so I didn’t get a letter, or anything else. Today has been a long day, as usual. I spent all morning working on Ground Safety matters, then flew this afternoon. The weather is very bad and cold, about 60 degrees. I wore my flight jacket over to the movie tonight. We had a hum dinger of a movie - Fearless Vampire Killers. I can’t even think of words to describe it.

I mailed Christmas gifts today. The package was to large for SAM or PAL so I had to send it parcel post. I hope it gets there by Christmas.

I was really wrong about my roommate’s name, it’s Kurt Wilbrecht.

I can’t think of anything to write! I’m still reading that book! I’m really bogged down in it, but I’ve vowed to finish it! But, you know how bad I am about keeping my vows! Ha.
I’ve flown a total of 26 missions counting the one today.

Photo - two F-4 fighter-bombers on taxi way. Hangers and revetments in background.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Tuesday night
2 Dec. 1969

This has been a full day, but I really didn’t accomplish much! My job as ground safety officer is going to be more work than I had thought. We had a safety meeting this morning which I attended, and as a result, have to make two reports, and check on some safety problems in the squadron. The work I like - the reports I don’t like.

I had my physical this morning and passed okay. I was worried about the dental part of it, but the dentist said my teeth are in real good shape. Not bad, considering I haven’t been to a dentist for a year! He did say it wouldn’t hurt to get them cleaned - but I’ve been putting that off for six, that’s right, six years. When I had my teeth checked prior to going to LCC, the dentist said I needed to have my teeth cleaned. But I never seemed to get around to doing it! I wonder why. Ha.

Then, I had the duty this afternoon, and played bridge again tonight for four hours.
I have a roommate, now. I have mixed feelings - but I don’t think I’ll like it as much as being alone. His name is Kirk _______ something. It’s one of those Mc something names. He’s a pilot and came from Beaufort.

I used the flashlight tonight and it’s great. It has a very bright light. I will try to bring most of this stuff back with me.

I’m going to buy myself a cassette tape recorder. These cassettes can be bought pre-recorded with music and is like playing records. I won’t be able to make tapes from this recorder, so I’ll have to continue to use the other one for that. These cassette players can usually be used portable or plugged into electricity. The only reason I’m going to buy one is because the radio reception is so bad. I’ll not buy it until I get out of country again, so I’ll have the money saved up.

Photo - hangers and revetments as seen from the runway.

Friday, September 11, 2009



Monday night
1 Dec. 1969

It’s after 2300 and I’ve been playing bridge for the past four hours! I’ve become addicted to this game!! And the good thing about it is that it’s an enjoyable way to pass an otherwise long evening.

Tonight the club was closed for inventory, so no movie. Without the card game it would have been a bad evening. I’ve slacked off reading, because I’m trying to struggle thru a book. It’s good, but it just doesn’t grab my interest!

I got a letter today and a package from the Young American’s for Freedom Club. It was a huge package full of all kinds of goodies and books. I.E. Fritos and bean dip (six cans) life savers, gobs of baggies (125) and other things. I bet that package cost them $6.00 - $7.00 including postage. I opened it at the hot pad today and the c.o. and I just about cleaned up the Fritos and two cans of bean dip. The skipper had missed lunch and was quite hungry! Obviously he craves bean dip.

I have an annual physical in the morning at 0730 so I’ll have go get up early again. I got up at 0445 this morning because we had the hot pad today for one day. The squadron that was to have the pad had a change of command ceremony and a stand-down.

I was on the pad all day, but did get to scramble once! We scrambled for a CAS mission. Not very exciting, but a hop anyway.

My eyes have been giving me some trouble the past couple of day. They itch and I keep rubbing them and they are blood shot pretty bad. I don’t know why.

We got some more rain tonight. The first in 48 hours! We had two real pretty days.

I came across another quote I like. It’s from the book I’m now reading. “If you give a man a fish, he will have a single meal. If you teach him how to fish, he will eat all his life.” Nothing special, but I like it.

Photo - F-4 being loaded with bombs.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Sunday night
30 Nov. 1969

Today has been a much better day than yesterday because I had all the things today I didn’t have yesterday. I flew, got mail, had a good supper, and saw a good movie! The movie was If It’s Tuesday It Must be Belgium, a very good, funny movie. We had good charcoal steaks for supper, t-bones, and mine was real tender and just right!

My flight today was a CAS mission flown with Rich Hee, who was in 513 and has a charming wife. We had a good hop. I taped part of the mission, the part in the target area while we were bombing.

We played another game of bridge today. Russ and I got beat this time, but I’m beginning to get the hang of the game.

My jobs in the squadron are beginning to grow, but I still don’t have anything to do! They are all just “titles” really. I’m the motor transport officer, ground safety officer, and weapons control officer. Sounds impressive, but they don’t mean a thing!

Today, I finally started what I resolved to do several days ago. I worked out this morning!! I did it mostly to relieve the tensions that were building up in my system. I’m so out of shape, that I almost threw up after wards! I haven’t weighed for about a month, and I’m afraid to do so.

I don’t have a roommate, and I don’t want one. I just don’t think I could live with another guy. I’d be worried about waking him up, or keeping him awake, or whether I was bothering him, etc, etc.

Photo - Aircraft hanger at Chu Lai. Notice the plywood enclosures. Outdoor urinals.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009



Saturday night
29 Nov. 1969

Another long, useless, uneventful day is gone! Thank heavens. Each day seems to be a little worse than the day before!! I didn’t get any sleep at all last night so I slept this morning and got about 5 hours of sleep. Then I had to get up and brief for a mission that was cancelled because of bad weather. Next, I didn’t get any mail at all today. The movie tonight was one of those psychedelic, animated movies made by the Beatles and featured a lot of their songs. Title, Yellow Submarine. I watched about half of the movie before I had all I could take.

When I came out of the club, the sky was completely clear, with only a couple of puffy clouds! That’s the most stars I’ve seen from the ground in the last two weeks. It is also very cold tonight! Right now the temperature must be well below 60 which is cold for us. Some of the guys have been wearing their flight jackets, but I’m holding out until it really gets cold!

I mentioned before, I believe, that Russ is teaching me to play bridge. We played a game this afternoon, and we won! Not because of my abilities, however! Russ and I played John Haynes and John Cascio, a pilot. Cascio was stationed at El Toro before coming over here, and he says the place is just great. I sure wouldn’t mind if the whole squadron moved from here to El Toro!!!! Boy, that’s just to much to even think about!

I’ve flown only seven times in the two weeks since I’ve been back from Cubi Point. I was doing so much flying and now it has slacked off so that I feel completely useless.

This may sound like I’m really in the dumps, but, really, I’m cheerful about being over here. I just love each day being 24 hours of boredom! I love the lousy, fitful, sleepless nights! I love all the really fine movies we see here each night! But, I love most of all, the outstanding food they serve us here!! Ugh. There’s no doubt about it - all our fighting men are in good spirits.

Photo - bomb loading equipment on flight line

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Friday night
28 Nov. 1969

I have the all night duty again tonight! Seems like it was just a few days ago I had it last! I didn’t get to fly today, although I was on the hot pad all morning. I was scheduled for a CAP mission this afternoon, but it was cancelled because we didn’t have enough air planes.

That flashlight I wanted, is made in Japan and several people over here have them. I think they sell them in PX’s in Japan and Okinawa. I’ll get O.J. to get me one in Okinawa when he goes next week.

Boy, I can’t think of anything to write! We’re watching television news and they just said that the “New Christy Minstrels” performed here at Chu Lai yesterday and we didn’t even know about it. They went on to say that they performed at the Army’s amphitheater! Boy, we miss out on everything!

The Army division is on the other side of Chu Lai and I understand that all the celebrities that come here visit the army and not the Marines. If Bob Hope comes here we probably won’t even get to see him.

I just heard on television that Arkansas beat Tech 32-0. I had hoped that Tech could do better than that.

Photo - the kind of entertainment we got on our side of the air field.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Thanksgiving night
1969

Thanksgiving day is over, here. I had as good a birthday as possible! I got four birthday cards, two packages and a bill, today. One package was soap, razor blades, candy and books. And I got another package that also had soap, razor blades, and books and candy! So I’m pretty well stocked up on, believe it or not, soap, razor blades, books and candy!

I also got two Navy Times. We had a real good thanksgiving dinner here today. The turkey and gravy was delicious. I finally got to fly again! I flew a TPQ this morning at 0300, so my night’s sleep really got messed up. I slept some this morning, fitfully, so I didn’t get much rest. The weather got a little better, so I didn’t get to divert (rats). Everyone who’s come back from Ubon talks about what a good time they had and it makes me green with envy. Although the weather is not as bad, we still had rain almost all day.

This day was climaxed by the light bulb in the movie projector burning out in the middle of the movie and they had no spare!!

Radio reception is bad as ever! I try to listen to music at night and it’s impossible to get one station for more than a few minutes! The only stations I can get, clearly, are short wave and they fade in and out. Also about half the time the announcer talks in English and talks in some foreign language the other half. Most of the guys buy expensive tape recorders and listen to music on their own tapes. That equipment costs a lot of money.

The time I was shot at was like this: the FAC (forward airborne controller) who was controlling our flight said he was being shot at when he flew over the target to drop smoke on it to mark the target for us. He was flying a small, slow, propeller airplane. Since he was shot at, we naturally assume that we were shot at also, but we were flying so fast (three times as fast as the FAC) and higher, that we didn’t actually see anyone shooting at us! But I’m sure they were. If I was down there being bombed, you can bet I’d be shooting back.
Anyway I was in no real personal danger. A lot of planes do come back shot up. The Air Force lost two F-4s up by Danang about a week ago. Both planes were shot up so bad that they couldn’t land, so the crews ejected. Most of these planes are shot up outside of S. Vietnam.

I’m listening to a news conference with some senator concerning that Army lieutenant who supposedly had all those civilians killed! A shocking affair, if true, but I wasn’t there so I’m not jumping to judge that guy. Funny things happen in war, and only those who’ve been in war can fully understand them.

All the self righteous, peace loving people that rile me, can merely speculate. That’s why I hope to get off this base more and see for myself.

MAG-13 has a civic-action officer who supervises the civic action projects among the people that is being financed by U.S. Navy. He is a lieutenant who was in 513 and I know him real well. He goes out amongst the people almost everyday, and I’m going to try to go with him sometime. I will have to get written permission from my CO to do this. A big part of winning this war is this business of civic action to help the people build schools, hospitals, wells (water), bridges, etc.


Photo - me with orphan, enhanced by a reader.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Wednesday night
26 Nov. 1969

I don’t think I’ve had one good night’s sleep since I got here. It’s really getting bad! I have nightmares or dreams and wake up three or four times during the night! One night, before I flew with an awful pilot, I dreamed that pilot and I crashed! Of course I was okay, but it sure ruined my sleep!

I didn’t fly today, for the fourth day! And I’m about to go crazy, not doing anything! The weather is still very bad here, and even getting colder. It’s like the early winter in the panhandle of Texas.

All flights that take off from here still have to divert to Ubon, Thailand. This morning, eight of our planes were there. It’s really uncanny how all these flights have been going to Ubon and I haven’t been lucky enough to make it yet.

I got two letters today, and the Post. It was just marvelous getting a real newspaper, even if it is two weeks old! We are really news starved over here. I haven’t seen a copy of the Stars and Stripes for four days, and the radio is so lousy I can’t listen to the news. And, even when I can it’s not very comprehensive news.

I was thinking today, if I spend a whole year away, the states could really change in that length of time. When you think of how much can happen in a year and the way fads and fashions change, it’s really uncanny. Plus the ‘71 cars will be out, and I haven’t even seen most of the ‘70 models yet!

It has rained so much today that I finally had to go to supply and get me some rain gear to wear. I’ve been wearing my rain coat, but if it’s raining a lot, it becomes saturated and isn’t waterproof anymore. We’ve had constant rain for three days now, ranging from a drizzle to a downpour!

Everywhere is mud!


Photo - Pilot, RIO and plane captain

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Tuesday afternoon
25 Nov. 1969

This has been a fairly dull day, and really don’t have to much to write about. I’ve been on the hot pad since 0600 and didn’t get to fly because of the weather. This is the third day now that I haven’t flown!

The bad weather continues the same, making flying just about impossible. I didn’t get any letters today, but then, no one did! I did get two packages! Soap and hankies, two books, some homemade candy of some kind (good), a can of mixed nuts, and some newspapers. It’s funny how some days we get letters, then other days we get packages! This candy is sort of like fudge, but not like anything I can ever recall eating before. It’s very good. Just two days ago I was wanting candy, now I have plenty!

The rumors are stronger everyday that all F-4s will pull out sometime during the next few months. Just when and where to, I’m afraid to even speculate about. Just have to wait and see.

We finally got some cokes in at the PX so I bought a case of them. Russ has an icebox and I’m putting them in it. We call ice boxes “reefers” over here for short. Maybe if I ever get a roommate we’ll buy one together, but I can’t see spending the money by myself. They have small reefers for sale at the PX for about $80 or $50 depending on the size. They are only three to four feet tall, with a small ice compartment. Real neat for over here.

All this candy plus cokes and a steady diet of milk, meat, potatoes, gravy, and ice cream means I’m gaining weight!! I’ve just about made a resolution that starting tomorrow I’m going to work out in the weight room every day, if possible! I’ve made this resolution before, then get lazy but I’m going to try once again!

Photo - pilot dressed for combat mission, with mickey mouse ears.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Monday night
24 Nov.1969

Another day is gone. I was on the hot pad all afternoon and had to sit in my flight gear for six hours and didn’t even get to fly! The weather is so bad here in I Corps that no one was flying much.

A real cold front moved in here last night and is expected to stay for three or four days. The wind is blustery and cold, there has been a constant chilly rain all day long and it’s been about 60 degrees all day! That’s cold for here! The head of that orphanage commented yesterday on how cool it was getting.

We launched seven planes today, and five of them diverted to Ubon, Thailand because the weather was to bad to land here. Ubon is our primary divert field when the weather is to bad at Danang to go there, because the Air Force has F-4s there and can work on ours, if need be. Ubon is 225 miles west of Chu Lai. I wouldn’t mind diverting over there, except I really don’t have enough money right now.

The last two times I’ve flown, we bombed in the area between the 140 degree and 210 degree radials about 20 miles out from Danang. That is in the Hoi An river valley.


Photo - celebrating a pilot's 100th mission.

Thursday, September 3, 2009



Sunday night
23 Nov. 1969

This has been a pretty good day, although tiring. I got off the base today for the first time since I’ve been here. Doesn’t sound like much, but you don’t just go off base here anytime you want to.

I went to an orphanage about twenty miles north of here, at Tam Ky, with about sixteen enlisted men. This orphanage is sort of a squadron project and a truck goes up each Sunday afternoon to visit the kids! It’s a combination church, school, and orphanage and appears to be doing a good job. I took a lot of pictures and I can’t wait to get them back.

It was really something being outside the safe boundaries of the base! We were actually out where the war is being fought, out amongst the people. On the whole, the people appear to live somewhat like the Mexicans do. Maybe not quite so poor as the Mexicans. All the people along the roads and in the villages appeared to be genuinely friendly and I saw no signs of dislike toward us. Even the smallest of the children would wave to us as we drove by.

I hope to get off base more often like that. When we go out there, we have to wear our protective vests and carry our weapons, just in case we should be ambushed. But I never felt afraid, just excited. The highway was just as good as some back in the states.

Believe it or not, we got stopped by the MPs who patrol the highway, and the driver of the truck got a ticket for speeding!! Can you imagine it! There we were out in the country in a war zone just sitting on the side of the road while that MP. took his good ole time writing out a speeding ticket!! It was funny to the point of hilarity!

Other than the trip, this has been a pretty dull Sunday. I had the duty this morning from 0600-0900, and didn’t fly at all today. This is the first day since I got back from the Philippines that I haven’t flown. Then tonight we had a floor show at the club (also charcoal steaks). The show was the same as always, a rock and roll band with go-go girls.

For some reason I’m having trouble sleeping good over here! I have trouble getting to sleep, then I have weird dreams and wake up a lot during the night! I’m just unable to relax and really sleep soundly, I can’t figure what the is problem.


Photo -author with orphan.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Saturday night
22 Nov. 1969

I got three letters today!

Well, this has been another typical day! Flew this morning with the group XO, who is a real lousy guy to fly with. He is very dangerous! It’s almost as bad as being shot at to have to fly with him.

Then I spent the afternoon reading, then to the movie tonight. My days consist of the same things: fly once, read, eat, sleep, and go to the movie. The only thing that ever varies is the time of day I fly.

I love to get sweets in packages. Fudge, cookies, anything sweet!! The only candy they sell in the PX is M&Ms! That’s because ordinary candy like Hershey’s would melt.


Photo - ambulance parked next to aid station.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Friday Night
21 Nov. 1969

At the end of another long day, I take up my pen. The squadron didn’t get any mail today, just packages. So I have no mail today.

My day started early with a 0630 brief for a CAS mission. We had a fairly good flight and a good BDA. We destroyed five hooches, two bunkers, and fifty meters of tree line, and damaged four hooches. The Marine ground troops had been receiving sniper fire from this tree line, so we bombed the area thoroughly. This place was about twenty miles southeast of Danang.

Today for lunch we had one of the best meals since I’ve been here. It was fish dinner of fried ocean perch, fried shrimp, and fried scallops, all very good. I just kept going back for more ‘til I was stuffed!

We were to have a floor show tonight at the club and everyone had been looking forward to it for a week. But something happened and it was canceled. Instead we had a lousy movie titled Vengeance of She. These things, plus no mail today, have dropped my morale to an all time low. But I’m already looking forward to when the mail comes tomorrow.

Photo - hanging out on the hot pad.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Thursday night
20 Nov. 1969

It seems like the weeks just fly by over here, but the months drag! I can hardly believe that tomorrow is Friday.

General Walt, the assistant commandant, visited Chu Lai this morning for about thirty minutes. I saw him drive by in a jeep and that was all. He presented a squadron here, VMFA-314, with a trophy for being the best fighter-attack squadron in 1968. The guys in that squadron really think they’re hot stuff. But we do just as much in 122. Gary Fabrizio is in 314.

Flew my 20th mission this afternoon, a TPQ. It wasn’t very exciting at all. Just “old-hat.” I’ve finally done some straightening up in my room! I’d been living like a pig, because I thought I was going to move soon, but no. (To another hooch.)

The laundry is really bad over here! The base has a laundry service that is free, but everything seems to come back dirtier than it was, literally! And it smells worse! But it’s free. One of the Vietnamese waitresses at the o’club has a private laundry service, but it costs money. So far, I’ve only sent one set of utilities there (cost 40 cents) but if my clothes get any worse, I may have to send them to her. I haven’t sent any of my civilian clothes to the laundry because I’m afraid they’ll ruin them.

I bought a knit sport shirt and two pairs of shorts while I was in the Philippines. One of my neighbors in this hooch left today for home. He’s going to Longview, Texas then on to Beaufort. [Marine Corps Air Station at Beaufort, South Carolina] Boy, I can hardly wait until I leave for San Juan, Texas! But I hope I don’t go to Beaufort.

It’s so strange not knowing or having any idea at all where I will live next! Always in the past I sort of knew. I sure would like to go to Glynco, I think. [Glynco Naval Air Station, Glynco, Georgia]

I understand that the astronauts are on the moon, but the radio reception has been so bad today, I haven’t been able to listen to any news at all.

Photo - A pilot and a RIO in deep conversation.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Wednesday night
19 Nov. 1969

I have the duty tonight so I’ve nothing to do except write letters and read. The latter I’ve been doing all day. I started a new book today. I finished, finally, that boring book, and it had one of those sad endings that leaves you with a hollow feeling in your stomach!

I flew a close air support mission this morning and we had a good target, but got a poor BDA! It was a village and Viet cong had been seen there this morning and we suspected there was a tunnel complex there. Anyway, we got credit for three hooches destroyed, 70 meters of tree line destroyed, and one secondary fire.

All the trouble we go to, just to destroy shacks! Of course, there may have been a tunnel complex and VC killed that we may never know about!

O.J. Riddell was given credit, today, for killing a Viet cong, in a village near where we were bombing.

I’m flying once every day, and now have 19 missions. We fly a little less each day, it seems, and I don’t know how much longer they can afford to keep us here for what little we are doing. I see so much money wasted over here, it’s pathetic. I don’t feel the least bit sorry that I won’t have to pay income tax while I’m here.

I got my slides back that I took in Okinawa and here.

Photo - hanging out on the flight line.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Tuesday night
18 Nov. 1969

This has been one of those days that leaves me with nothing to write about.

I flew this morning, a TPQ because of bad weather, and was through by noon. Russ is going to teach me how to play bridge, and I had my first lesson after lunch today. It’s a quite complicated game and I think I’ll enjoy it very much, once I understand it fully.

I’ve been reading a book called the Torch Bearers, and it is unbelievably dull. The only reason I’m plodding thru it is because I don’t have another book right now! They have a few new ones at the PX, so I’ll probably buy a new one tomorrow.

This is the eighth book I’ve read since I left home! I figure, at this rate, I’ll read about 100 books while I’m over here!! Despite all the reading, my spelling and grammar is getting worse, if possible!

It’s still early, but I’m so tired, I’m going to sleep.

Photo - Bridge over the swamp. Officer's club in background.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Monday Night
17 Nov. 1969

I got two letters today! The squadron didn’t fly today at all. We had a stand-down to give the air crews a rest and to perform necessary preventative maintenance on our airplanes. We have two stand-downs each month.

Since there was no flying today, the day was particularly long! I stayed in bed until after 1100!! Then I read al afternoon, then watched the movie tonight. We had two lousy meals today! I’m afraid I’m going to gain weight, unless I start working out. The only food they feed us that I like, is meat, potatoes, and gravy. So, I’m bound to gain weight. But I’m to lazy to do anything about it.

There has been so much static and interference on the radio the past two days, that I haven’t been able to hear any of the football scores from Saturday. It’s really irritating to not even be able to get one decent radio station. We have a television station in Chu Lai, but the nearest radio station is in Danang, 40 miles away.

I’ve thought of something else I’d like to have for Christmas. A pocket size flashlight that can be plugged into a wall outlet to recharge the battery. When there’s no moon out over here, it’s pitch black out. (No street lights). So it’s difficult to walk at night.

Photo - metal grate walkway in lower right hand corner of photo.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Saturday night
15 Nov. 1969

I got back to sunny Chu Lai at 1700 and it is good to be back!! When people ask me how the trip was, I just say okay, because they think I’m crazy if I say I didn’t like it!

I hit the jackpot on mail!! Four letters and a tape.

We get two points for missions that require us to fly outside of South Vietnam. I’ve flown three of these missions, but I can’t say much about them. These include the BARCAP missions up off the coast of North Vietnam. So three missions out of country and one mission where we were shot at, give me four extra points.

We had a squadron formation tonight and several air medals were given out, but I didn’t get mine! The formal citation has to be signed by the wing CO and that takes a long time. Russ Fyke just got his air medal tonight and he has already earned several.

Russ has also been recommended for the DFC. (Distinguished Flying Cross) for a mission on which he flew about a month ago. All four people in the flight were recommended for the DFC, but probably only the pilots will get it. Usually the RIO gets the next lower medal, in this case would be the Bronze Star, or a single mission air medal. Sometimes they award an air medal for only one mission if its real good, but not good enough for DFC. The DFC is the fourth highest award in the Marine Corps. Mike Sharbaugh had one and Major Heald had one or two.

Two more days and it’ll be one month since I left the states. And it seems like ages!

They have two survival schools in the Philippines. One at Cubi Point NAS for one day, run by the Navy. Another, at Clark AFB for ten days by the Air Force. There is also a water survival school at Okinawa. O.J. is going to that one in about a week. I don’t know when I’ll get out of country again.

It has just started raining! Looks like it’ll never stop.

Photo - Go Go dancers at the officer's club, Chu Lai

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Saturday
15 Nov. 1969

I’m sitting by the pool killing time until time to leave. The bus is to pick us up at 11:45 to take us to the air terminal. I’ll be glad to leave here!! This place is so depressing. See families living here, carrying on normal happy lives.

I spent yesterday getting packages mailed, reading, sleeping, and sun burning!

The money here in the Philippines is the peso and is worth 25 cents. I’m keeping some of this money for my collection! I’m going to get some money from every country I visit.

I haven’t taken any pictures here, but I will before I leave. This bay, Subic Bay, is a very pretty place. The bay is completely surrounded by low mountains, except for the inlet out to sea. It’s all jungle here and very green.

The aircraft carrier USS Ranger was in port here when we got here Wednesday. It sailed out Thursday on it’s way to Vietnam. This port here is really a big one. It’s a natural place for a port and there are all kinds of navy ships and freighters tied up here.

I watched Apollo 12 launch last night. It was 12:22 this morning when they shot off. The television coverage over here was via satellite and was a fairly good picture. I hope everything goes alright on this flight.

It’s so pretty here. Of course the town is a real dump, but the base is nice.

Photo - Bachelor officers quarters at, Subic Bay, Philippines

Tuesday, August 25, 2009



Friday
14 Nov. 1969

Greetings from hot, muggy Philippine Islands. The humidity is much worse here than in Chu Lai and the BOQ is not air conditioned. So I’ll be glad to get back to my air conditioned hooch!!

We had the survival course all day yesterday and finished it in one day, so I’ve today and tomorrow morning free. The course included learning about survival signaling devices, how to hide in the jungle, how to ride rescue devices lowered from helicopters, and how to survive in the jungle. We spent yesterday afternoon out in the real jungle learning the various trees and vines which can be eaten and give water.

Rick Holt is here!! He is down on a two week deployment, practicing bombing, like we did at Yuma! We ate dinner together the past two evenings, then went out to town to see the sights and do some shopping. It’s sure been good to see him again!

The town here is Olongopo, and is a dirty, poor little town much like some of the towns in Mexico. I got my pocket picked as I walked down the street. Some guy bumped into me, and took the money out of my shirt pocket. Didn’t even know it until later. About the only decent merchandise they have out in town is wood carvings.

Photo - catching a little shut eye on the flight line, Chu Lai.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Tuesday night
11 Nov. 1969

Guess what!! I earned my air medal!! I got my 20th point last night on a TPQ!! It was a extra mission added to the schedule. I didn’t fly at all today, although I was on the hot pad all afternoon! I also had a CAS mission cancelled this morning. So it’s a good thing I got that extra mission last night.

I won’t actually get the medal until we have another AOM, or some occasion at which they’ll pass out the medals.

O.J. Riddell has been here two weeks longer than I have, and he has only nineteen points! So I beat him! I suppose from now on, I’ll earn a lot of air medals, but they won’t mean as much as the first one! I didn’t get any mail today, but I’ll be looking forward to the mail that is waiting when I get back.

Photos - Vietnamese civilians working on new, hardened revetments.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Monday afternoon
10 Nov. 1969

I’m on the hot pad again, this time from 1200-1800! We flew last night and it really turned into a nightmare. We took off at 2140 for B-52 escort. We got back to Chu Lai about 2330, but the weather was bad, we were low on fuel, and the runway was closed because some guy had blown a tire on the runway. So we diverted to Danang and spent the night. Got to bed at 0200 and up at 0600! When we have the hot pad, it’s plenty hard to get enough sleep.

Today is the Marine Corps’ birthday. We’re having a ball tonight but I won’t get to stay for all of it because I have a 2000 brief for a TPQ! I said I wanted to fly when I came here, but I didn’t have in mind such inconvenient times.

Saw Don Mikulka in Danang. He is in the squadron up there that they tried to talk me into getting in! He’s been here nearly 2 weeks and hasn’t flown yet. I understand that John Allen went to Japan. He wanted to come to Vietnam real bad. But I imagine he’ll manage to have a good time up there!

I’ve lost count of how many points I have toward my air medal, but I think I have nineteen points. So I only need one more point to get my fourth ribbon. I’ve already earned combat action ribbon, Vietnam campaign ribbon, and of course, the national defense ribbon. And if I’m here six months I’ll earn another campaign ribbon for five ribbons. That’ll look a lot better than one ribbon!

Some consolation for having to be over here in this miserable place fighting this miserable war, thousands of miles from my loved ones!

Where I flew last night is classified “top secret”, the highest there is.

Photo - officer's club, Chu Lai

Saturday, August 22, 2009




Sunday night
9 Nov. 1969

Some of the guys are sitting here (hot pad) and talking about when they are going on R&R to Hawaii. Most of them are going pretty soon and it depresses me to think about how long it is till my R&R!!

I was on the hot pad this morning 0600-1200, and back on tonight from 1800-0600. I haven’t flown yet today, but may get to during the night. If we do it’ll be a B-52 escort while they bomb.

Tomorrow is the Marine Corps’ birthday ball!! I don’t know what kind of party they’ll have, but I hope it doesn’t cost me money!

We usually have charcoal steaks on Sunday Night. But tonight, no!! The steaks didn’t arrive, so we had cold, tough roast beef! Something else to boost our morale!

I’m watching television, half-way, for the first time since I’ve been in Vietnam! The XO left his portable television down here for us to watch. I think we’re watching 21st century.


Photo - bottom - me in my quarters
Photo - top - me at my desk

Friday, August 21, 2009



Saturday night
8 Nov. 1969

Boy, I hit the jackpot today in mail!!! I got four letters, a tape, and a can of bread. I’ve been so busy and tired today that I haven’t had a chance to listen to the tape.

I can say without a doubt, I’m the most tired right now that I’ve been since I got here! I was ODO last night and only got three hours of sleep! Then I had to do some work this morning with Russ. This afternoon I got a little sleep, but had a 1630 brief for a BARCAP mission.

I got back from that mission at 2100, then we had an AOM [all officers meeting] at 2130, that lasting ‘til 2300! Finally I got a chance to read the last of the letters just now and it’s 2330. I got my mail right before the mission brief and had read only two of the letters.

I have been assigned to one pilot. He is Maj. Gibson, the operations officer. We fly together every day and have flown about nine missions together.

Last night the air field was under condition “yellow” which meant we were expecting an attack! However, none came and it was an uneventful night.

Photo -F4B being loaded with bombs.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Friday night
7 Nov. 1969

I received a package of goodies today. I used up my last bar of safeguard today!

Well, they finally caught up with me and I’m going to have to go to work. I’m the ODO all night tonight, 1800-0600, which means I’ll get little sleep. Plus I’m working for S-4 now, with Russ Fyke, and we have to do an inventory of all the wall lockers in the squadron to see how many are serviceable and how many aren’t. So that’ll take up tomorrow morning. Then I’ll probably fly tomorrow afternoon. But I don’t mind the flying! In fact I love the flying over here (I don’t love being here). There’s no “Mickey mouse” training. It’s all work and we’re all aircrews! There are absolutely no students. It’s really great. The flying is the only thing that makes this place bearable. If I were a grunt, I’d go out of my mind.

The thing that is so disappointing is that we fly a lot and drop a lot of bombs costing a lot of money, but we’re really not doing any good. Take today, I flew a CAS mission and our BDA, bomb damage assessment, was one trail cut and two structures damaged! Big deal, huh! Two airplanes, four people and twenty bombs just to destroy what may have been out-houses for all we know. It’s just costing to much to keep F-4s here for what little good we do. I know all this sounds like blasphemy coming from me, the great supporter of our President, but that’s the way it is. I’m only being realistic.

I’ll be going to the Philippines on the twelfth, if the plans don’t change. Of course I won’t get mail there. I sure would be pleased to find a whole stack of mail waiting for me when I get back. I’m supposed to be down there for four days, I believe.

Russ Fyke and I are tied, at the present, with the most missions this month in the squadron. We have eight each in the first seven days. Of course I’ll fall behind when I go to the Philippines. I have fourteen points now toward my air medal. I’m told that after the first air medal, it all becomes old hat and you don’t even worry about how many points you have.
The weather continues to be cloudy and rainy here. The only good thing about this weather is that it keeps the temperature fairly cool and comfortable.

There are no Marine ground troops in this area. This province is the responsibility of the army’s Americal Division. They use a lot of helicopters to move their troops around this area and the army has a lot of their planes here at Chu Lai. They also have a large, well stocked PX, but it’s so far from our area that we can’t walk to it, and it’s hard to get a ride.

Photo - Headquarters building of VMFA-122, Chu Lai

Wednesday, August 19, 2009



Thursday Night
6 Nov. 1969

It’s been another long day here climaxed by no mail! For some reason there was no mail for the officers and there was very little yesterday. We have such “wonderful” postal service over here! I was reading in today’s paper (Stars and Stripes, the only paper we get) about how President Nixon has been getting so many letters and telegrams supporting his speech. I’m glad to see that a unity is, perhaps, growing amongst that “silent majority”. For the only way we’re going to get out of this stinking mess, is to stand together.

I flew two missions today. One at midnight last night from which I finally got to bed at 0200 this morning, then another one at 1100 this morning. The second one was a CAS, and I flew with the Group XO, a Lt. Col. whom I didn’t enjoy flying with. These high ranking officers live in a world of their own, and I’m certain that none of them was ever a lieutenant! The other plane in my second mission was carrying napalm, that stuff that everyone back in the states thinks is so inhuman. We did virtually no damage at all, and I would say the whole things was a waste of time, personnel, and money.

I hope I don’t sound bitter, because I’m not. Just disappointed at being here for no real purpose. Oh well!

Anyway, I have twelve missions (14 points)!

I still don’t have a job in the squadron, but I’ve heard that I’ll probably work in S-4 which is logistics, materiel, etc. This is the section responsible for supply of the squadron.

Photos - hot refueling F-4B after combat mission