William B. Gregory Jr., Pilot
17th SOS Ops Officer, Tan Son Nhut, 1970-71
I was born in Dallas, TX, in 1932. I completed high school at The Webb School, Bell Buckle, Tennessee in l950, then returned to Dallas where I attended Southern Methodist University (1950-1953). I earned my pilot wings through the Aviation Cadet program in February 1955.
My first Air Force assignments were as Air and Ground Transportation Officer at Nouasseur AB, Morocco, followed by Motor Pool Officer at Holloman AFB, NM. From 1958 until 1964 I flew the B-47. The B-47 was a pain, lumbering and under-powered, but the combat crews and crew chiefs made it an excellent experience. I was privileged to fly the B-58 for six years beginning in 1964. The B-58 was one hell-of-an aircraft to fly. We still have a reunion every two years at the Green Oaks in Fort Worth, and it is attended by over 400 people!
I completed AC-119G combat crew training in July 1970.
Upon arriving in Vietnam, I was appointed 17th SOS Operations Officer, at Tan Son Nhut AB. Between August 1970 and August 1971, I logged 608.8 combat hours in 155 missions, earning the Air Medal with 8 Oak Leaf Clusters. I also received the Distinguished Flying Cross for a mission flown 11 June 1971.
From the 17th SOS, I was assigned as Commander of the 67th Security Police Squadron, Bergstrom AFB, TX. It was a different, but rewarding assignment. The men were exceptional; I still have three of my closest friends from that tour. We took a unit that had not passed an ORI in 2½ years to the Number One in TAC by the time of my retirement in October 1973.
In 1976 I completed a B.S. in Health and Physical Education at Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, TX while also serving as Head Coach for the Women’s Softball Team. In 1977 I completed a M.S. in Health and Physical Education, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX and in 1979 was awarded a Ph.D.
Flying the AC-119G gunship mission at Tan Son Nhut was an outstanding experience. The missions allowed our aircrews, maintenance personnel, and myself to show the rest of the Wing how to operate in combat. The professionalism and support of the 230+ members of the Saigon Shadows are the reason we lost no aircraft and lost no aircrew member during my year of combat duty.
I still see and visit with my co-pilot (who recently retired as a Captain with Continental) and Bernie, who I have an occasional tennis game with at Texas Christian University. To all of you who made my tour exceptional, I offer my humble thanks!