Irvin Ernest Greenberg, Pilot
18th SOS, Nakhon Phanom, Tan Son Nhut, Da Nang, and Bien Hoa, 1972-73
Hope, Arkansas is where I was born in 1942. I graduated from Hot Springs High School at Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1960. I graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1964 and from Arkansas State University in 1988. I joined the Air Force on February 1967 at Little Rock, Arkansas to avoid being drafted.
I was assigned to the 18th SOS as a Stinger pilot in March 1972. From September ’72 to January ’73, I flew missions out of NKP, Da Nang, and Bien Hoa. During January ‘73 to March ’73, I ferried VNAF C-119s from Tan Son Nhut Air Base to Clark Air Base, Philippines.
I will always remember flying a mission out of Da Nang on New Year’s Eve 1972. On our midnight take-off, we had to dodge all the friendly fire of South Vietnamese troops celebrating the New Year by firing their weapons in the air. Another mission that sticks in my mind was flying in defense of Bien Hoa Air Base. The base came under rocket attack and we instantly located the rocket launching sites and requested permission to fire on the enemy locations. All of a sudden, streams of red tracers shot down from above and just past our gunship. A VNAF AC-119G was firing miniguns at ground targets from 2,000 feet above us. We were lucky they didn’t shoot us down. We never did get permission to fire on the rocket launching sites.
My most memorable AC-119K mission was when one of our gunships at Bien Hoa had been seriously damaged in a rocket attack. Maintenance did not have the capability to properly repair the aircraft at Bien Hoa. My crew had to ferry the aircraft to Nakhon Phanom Air Base, Thailand at night. We had to sign off over nineteen pages of red X’s and circled X items before we could take off.
The thing that I will always remember about my time with AC-119 Stinger gunships was the camaraderie of the crews which crossed all lines of rank and position. We spent all our time together both on and off duty. There was a feeling of mutual respect that applied to everyone. There was an amazing attitude of enthusiasm for the mission and for accomplishing the mission regardless of any obstacles.
I retired as a Major from the Air Force on March 1, 1987 at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas. I currently live in Hot Springs.