Arthur C. Bennett, Navigator
17th SOS, Phan Rang, 1969
Honolulu, Hawaii was my birthplace in 1932. I graduated from Hopewell High School in Hopewell, Virginia in 1950 and from Syracuse University at Syracuse, New York in 1954.
I joined the USAF to carry on a family tradition. My father, grandfather, great grandfather, and my brother all served in the U.S. Army and my son served in the U.S. Navy. We truly are a military family.
My most exciting AC-119 mission occurred when we were supporting ground troops. Ground fire hit the left engine, causing it to catch fire. When we tried to put the fire out, the wrong fire bottle was used. The one used was supposed to be for the generators! We had to jettison all the superfluous equipment and flew very, very low to get back to Saigon. When we landed at Tan Son Nhut, all the tires on the left side blew. Believe me; I kissed the ground after we safely departed the aircraft!
The things that I will always remember about my time with AC-119 gunships are: Aussie steaks, kool-aid, the officers club, and of course, almost being shot down and flying home on one engine.
I separated from the Air Force in September 1978 at McGuire AFB, New Jersey. I currently live in Lake Grove, New York.