I was born in New Albany, Indiana in 1948. I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and graduated from Wolfson High School in 1967.
I entered the Air Force at Jacksonville on 3 September 1967. I had told my uncle that I could do anything he ever did and I did.
Two combat missions flown out of Da Nang with Lt. Col. McGuire’s crew stand out in my memory. On one mission, we took two (2) rounds of 37mm through the right wing which left a Big Hole. We flew back and landed at Da Nang, took another Stinger gunship and flew back to the same area. I was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for this mission.
On another mission, Col. McGuire rolled the AC-119K to inverted flight which they say can’t be done. Well, we did it and lived to tell about it. Of course it was unintentional. Col. McGuire was taking evasive action to avoid anti- aircraft fire when the gunship rolled upside down. I was awarded another DFC for this mission.
My nickname “Baby Huey” was bestowed on me by a Stinger Navigator and I have flown with that nickname ever since. For those who don’t know, Baby Huey was Donald Duck’s little nephew.
I was the young know-it-all sergeant when I started my tour of duty in Southeast Asia. Old MSgt. Yowell and TSgt. Gravitte took me in as a roommate when I arrived at NKP. The reason they wanted me for a roommate was because I didn’t drink beer. They wanted my beer rations. They taught me how to play cribbage and other card games so they could take my money. But I was a fast learner and they ended up buying many steak dinners for me at the Thai Restaurant. Good ole Ray Gravitte checked me out as a SEFE gunner and then sent me to Da Nang so he wouldn’t have to go to Da Nang. Nice guy? But he did have to fly to Da Nang to give my check ride. We were a Band of Brothers in S.E.A. I hold each of them dear to my heart.
I retired from the United States Air Force on 4 September 1993 at Hurlburt Field, Florida as a Senior Master Sergeant. During my last 13 years on active duty, I was a gunner on MH-53J helicopters.