My Military Service

Immediately after graduating from high school in 1963 I enlisted in the United States Air Force. Upon completion of five weeks of Basic Military Training in the 3726th Basic Military Training Squadron, I was reassigned to Amarillo AFB, Texas for training as an Airplane General Mechanic (more than two engines.) From Amarillo I went to Pope AFB, North Carolina and the 464th Troop Carrier Wing, a Tactical Air Command unit that was in the process of converting from the twin-engine Fairchild C-123 Provider to the new Lockheed C-130E Hercules. I was initially assigned to the 464th Organizational Maintenance Squadron, but in August 1964 I was given the opportunity to cross-train into the Aircraft Loadmaster career field and was reassigned to the 779th Troop Carrier Squadron.By March 1965 I had completed all training requirements and was assigned to a "combat ready" flight crew as the teenage loadmaster. I was now a full-fledged "TAC-Trained Killer!" My aircraft commander was Captain Marvin Shoupe, Captain Cornelius J. Carney - co-pilot; Lt. Dereck Eller - navigator and Airman First Class Donald Sweet was the flight mechanic. Over the next nine months we enjoyed numerous adventures all over the world - first to France, then to Okinawa and finally to the tiny island of Mactan in the Philippines, with flights to the Dominican Republic and the Congo in between. My first combat mission was to the Dominican Republic in April 1965. Within a just a few weeks I was in South Vietnam for the first time. In October we came back to Mactan with a hole in the wing from a bullet fired from a Viet Cong we passed over while landing at Dong Ha, a remote airfield just south of the Demilitarized Zone that divided the two Vietnams. While we were on the ground I took the photograph shown below.

In December after returning to Pope from Mactan I went home on leave. When I got back I found orders waiting for me to Naha AB, Okinawa where I was assigned to the 35th Troop Carrier Squadron.

From February 1966 to August 1967 I flew on C-130As. Our misisons included in-country shuttles out of Cam Ranh Bay, the Bangkok Shuttle in Thailand, the C-130 flare misison at Ubon, Thailand and FACT SHEET and JILLI Leaflet missions that were classified at the time, but were flown over North Vietnam and off the coast of North Korea. We also had a special mission at Kadena, the large SAC base a few miles up the island from Naha.

I reenlisted while at Naha and was assigned to the 58th Military Airlift Squadron at Robins AFB, Georgia as a loadmaster on C-141s when I returned home. The primary mission of the 58th was transporting special weapons, but we spent most of our time on MAC "channel traffic" missions all over the world, but particularly to Southeast Asia, Europe and the Middle East. I was only at Robins for a year when I got orders sending me to Clark Field, Philippines, which turned out to be the best assignment I had while in the military. I was assigned to the 29th Tactical Airlift Squadron and flew with a screw-ball crew that had a reputation as the best crew in the entire 463rd Tactical Airlift Wing. One of our missions was dropping huge ten and fifteen-thousand pount bombs to clear helicopter landing zones.

When I left Clark I went to Charleston AFB, South Carolina where I was assigned to the 3rd Military Airlift Squadron, the first USAF operational unit to fly the huge new Lockheed C-5A Galaxy. I remained in the 3rd for the rest of my 12 years of Air Force service. I got out of the Air Force in July 1973 with the rank of Technical Sergeant and a whole bunch of medals and decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and 13 Air Medals.

It was only natural that I had gone into the Air Force. Both my dad and my uncle were Army Air Forces veterans of World War II. My dad flew a 30-mission tour as an aerial engineer with the Eighth Air Force in B-24s and his brother Delmar flew 35 missions as a B-24 pilot. Uncle Del remained in the Air Force for twenty years, and flew the B-29 and B-36.

Daddy and Uncle Del   Blind Bat/Lamplighter  Commando Vault

Distinguished Flying Crosss              Air Medal