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

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