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Maryville, Missouri was my birthplace in 1948. I graduated from Worth County R-1 High School in my hometown Grant City, Missouri. I joined the U.S. Air Force at Kansas City, Missouri in 1968, because I didn’t want to be an Army grunt.
I was assigned to the 18th Special Operations Squadron as a Stinger Gunship Aerial Gunner, originally stationed at Nakhon Phanom (NKP) Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand in October 1970 but later transferred to Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam for the last five months of my tour.
The most noteworthy mission I flew was in late April 1971 when our AC-119K Stinger aircrew, piloted by Major Kiepe, destroyed 39 trucks while receiving heavy anti- aircraft fire. I think 39 was the record for trucks destroyed at the time, at least for Stingers. Later, our crew was visited and recognized by the Secretary of the Air Force Seaman for our accomplishment. Names of crewmembers that I remember are: Major Packard, Navigator; Major Rose, NOS; Major Helm, FLIR; Sergeant Payne, FE; Sergeant Taylor, Lead Gunner; Sergeant Coates, Gunner; and Sergeant Filipiak, IO. I cannot remember the copilot’s name. Our crew was photographed being congratulated for our accomplishment by Secretary Seaman.
The most exciting mission for me was a TIC (troops- in-contact) where we provided assistance to a fire base that was about to be overrun. I don’t know when that was or where the fire base was located, but it made me feel like we were doing some real good for our troops on the ground.
After separating from the Air Force at McConnell AFB; Wichita, Kansas in May 1972, I entered college at Missouri Southern University at Joplin and graduated in 1976. I currently live in Jefferson City, Missouri.