Robert Lynn Aspinwall, Navigator
18th SOS, Da Nang and Nakhon Phanom, 1971-72

I was born in Greeley, Colorado in 1935. I graduated from Greeley High School in 1953 and from Colorado State University (CSU) in 1957. I joined Advanced Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at CSU to avoid the Korean War draft and to finish my college degree. I was commissioned a second lieutenant in the USAF in 1957. I was then assigned to navigator school at Harlingen AFB, Texas in May 1958.

I served with the 18th Special Operations Squadron FOL (forward operation location) at Da Nang from April to October 1971 and then at FOL Nakhon Phanom (NKP) Air Base, Thailand from October to my DEROS in April 1972. My most exciting AC-119 mission was in the Plain of Jars (Northern Laos) at Ban Ban. Ban Ban is near the “fish’s mouth” of North Vietnam. We dodged a lot of AAA. However, near the end of the mission, we were able to catch three trucks being refueled by a tanker. Boy, did they ever explode and burn!

I will always remember the closeness of all the people I served with while in the Stinger gunship squadron. We had a great group. I will always remember Terry Courtney who we lost a week after I returned home. The locals called him “Nit Noy” because he was so short.

I retired from the United States Air Force in July 1979 at Grissom AFB, Indiana. I currently live in Wichita, Kansas.