Mail Call

Mail Call is one of our communication tools for significant events in our Association and individual members’ livesincluding notifications of illnesses and Last Flights.
You can open the Directories at the bottom of this page to access prior year Mail Call entries.
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Here are the 2020 Mail Call

       June 27, 2020 Mike Friel was an IO on Stingers in 1971-72.  He wrote a short book, or long story, about Col Ron Terry, the Father of the Gunships.  Mike’s book has been circulating around for a few years, but has never been published, until now.  The name of the book is “Spooky, Spectre and the Man”.  It is available on Amazon as a paperback ($6.95 plus shipping) or as a Kindle e-book ($0.99).  This book should almost be mandatory reading for all Association members.  Thanks to Wayne Laessig for his help in editing this and Mike’s son Michael, who has become a good friend.  Here is the link to the book on Amazon: Spooky, Spectre and the Man

       June 25, 2020 Roy Davis is in the process of gathering information on a flight that IO Mike Friel was on.  The flight was on 18 August 1972.  Mike was injured on that flight when a gun exploded (broke his tail bone).  He was sent home to recover.  After several months, he returned to flight duty in SEA.  If you were on this flight, or are aware of the incident, please contact Roy Davis at roy@island-escape.com.  Mike received a DFC for his performance on that mission. Thanks!

       June 12, 2020 It is with great sadness, we post the following: Bruce L. Byrd, Jr. passed away at age 73 on June 11, 2020 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was a scientist and an entrepreneur, a patriot, a teller of some good ghost stories, and a reasonably good cook. His office was sometimes messy but he always knew where to find things. Bruce was born in Detroit Michigan on a cold icy morning on January 16,1947. In 1953 a family move took him to Richmond, Virginia where he was a 1965 graduate of Hermitage High School. Bruce was a US Air Force veteran and flew 141 combat missions on Special Operations gunships in Southeast Asia – he was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses, nine Air Medals, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry. He graduated with a BS degree in Geology from Virginia Tech in 1974 and worked as a Geophysicist and Geologist for several oil and gas companies in Texas, West Virginia, and Colorado. In 1981 he earned an MBA degree from the University of Denver and later opened his own petroleum exploration consulting company – Dune International. He was an Emeritus member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, as well as several other professional petroleum organizations. Bruce played guitar since his teens and loved bluegrass music, salt water fishing out in the Gulf, hiking and camping in the Rockies, anything to do with Einstein and astronomy, and a cold beer or a good single malt Scotch whisky. Maybe not in that exact order… He loved to travel and his work often took him on trips to Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. At last count he had set foot in some 66 countries – some exotic, some dangerous, but all interesting and full of new things to experience. Bruce worked on a number of US and worldwide exploration and development projects for public and private companies, and foreign government agencies. Bruce is survived by his wonderful loving wife Jo Anna, 3 daughters – (Rhonda – Columbus OH, Jennie – New Orleans, and Ashley – Houston) and 4 grandchildren (Michael, Conrad, Macallan, and Reese). Also surviving are his loving mother Mildred, sister Gail, brother Greg and niece Gina Cannella Romer. His father Bruce Byrd Sr. predeceased him in 1982. “I’ve had a really good and full life – so no flowers and no tears, please. Instead just have a sip of a nice cold beer on a warm sunny afternoon and think about the good times we shared”, Bruce Byrd Jr. Please keep Jo Anna and family in your prayers. R.I.P. Brother and Stinger Gunner.

       May 30, 2020 From Baby Huey: “We lost Gordie tonight.” R.I.P. Brother.

       May 29, 2020  Larry Hunter sent Ev this info: MH-53 PaveLow, and Stinger Brother 70-71, Gunner Gordon “Gordie” Williams is in Hospice at Pensacola Sacred Heart hospital. I went with Ron Dorazio and Dale Blackwood today.  He may have known we were there, but he never opened his eyes.  We stayed about 2 hours with the family and I went in again with Ron and we said a pray for him. Please remember him and his family in your prays.  Baby Huey

       May 19, 2020 Postponed Reunion info from the Four Points Hotel: “We released all rooms that were not yet reserved.  Guests who already booked their reservations can keep their reservations if they decide to still come down for a vacation. If they would like to cancel their reservation, they will just need to give us a call at 850-243-8116 (mention you’re with the AC-119 Gunship Reunion) and we will get that processed for them.”  The Hotel will also provide Gus Sininger with an updated 2021 Reunion contract soon.

      May 16, 2020 Update from Shirley Bartlett on Frank:  Quick update on PET Scan. All clear, no indication of cancerous cells. Only question being, why the cancer indicators (CEA) are so up from 3.4 to. 9.8. Have lab draw on 6 July and doctor follow-up on the 8th. We’ll see and cross that bridge then. Thanks, Frank & Shirley

     May 13, 2020 President’s message: Greetings from NJ. We are in a global situation unlike anything we have ever seen in our life-times. My everyday activities are extremely altered compared to what was previously a life of normal retired guy. Nonetheless, I have taken on again the responsibility to lead the Association moving forward.  Thankfully, the members of the Board of Directors, appointed officers, and committees are still working, focused on continued success. We are fortunate to have dedicated and conscience folks participating. The Shadow and Stinger spirit is as strong as ever.

REUNION 2020 IS CANCELLED! It saddens me to announce that the Board has decided that the Association will postpone the Fort Walton Beach Reunion until 2021. We considered all of the uncertainty associated with the October timeframe, we’ve had meaningful discussions with the Four Points Hotel staff (Thank You Gus Sininger), we discussed many of our member’s health concerns, and then we envisioned a reunion requiring social distancing and face masks. No way will that work. Will there be another spike in “the curve?” Will a therapeutic or vaccine be widely available? No one knows if this is the perfect decision. Personally, I love FWB and will miss all the activities we would be doing. Thankfully, Reunion Coordinator Jerry McDonald for the Branson, MO reunion is willing and able to work on moving that Reunion from 2021 to 2022.

Thank you to Association newsletter editor Don Luke, for pulling the May newsletter together. Please, thoroughly check it out. Beyond all the routine news, there is so much information regarding: the raffle for a highly customized semi-auto Kimber Classic .45 ACP pistol; new items in the Quartermaster’s store; an ongoing request for copies of your Special Orders from our Outreach Committee chairperson Ev Sprous; the Sponsorship Program, and more.

I pray that if we all do the correct things to stay safe, we will get past this global crisis and stay healthy.

All the best,

Mike Drzyzga

     May 9, 2020 Shirley Bartlett sent this: “Hi guys, asking for prayer for your old gunner here. Guess I was a little naive about cancer. Thought we were home free except for healing. 29 Apr Frank had labs. His oncologist didn’t call so I went on the premise of no news, good news. On the day of our phone consultation she said Frank’s cancer marker was elevated. She said let’s redo the test. We did and still elevated. We now are scheduled for a full body pet scan for this coming Friday 15th. Doing it locally. It seems obvious he has some kind of cancer but my prayer is it is something that can be dealt with. She did say the tumor in colon, which they got all out was the primary tumor. So, maybe this is still small enough to be manageable.” Prayers worked last time and we’ll do it again!  Please add Frank and Shirley to your prayers!! And stay safe.

      April 12, 2020 Don Luke notified us that one of our AC-47 Brothers and AC-119 Gunship Association Life Member Larry P Anduss, 4th SOS Nav, passed away on June 13, 2019 in Pawhuska, Ok.  Memorial services were held June 17, 2019 at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum Planetarium in Tulsa. 

      March 25, 2020 NEWSFLASH  Praying this FLASH message finds you all well — dealing rationally with the crisis the world is facing, and taking all the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Change to Board of Directors: We are sad to announce that President Jerry Hester had to resign from the President position due to health and other issues. During a teleconference Board meeting, the Board understandingly accepted his resignation. Jerry did an outstanding job dealing with Association business since the previous reunion in Salt Lake City, successfully tackling some tough challenges like improving our website management, rebuilding our treasury, re-energizing our Outreach, and creating a super online repository for all our Oral History Videos. We thank him for those! The Association is in great condition, and we will continue to move forward with our goals and objectives. Following Jerry’s notification, the Board took action to fill the President’s position. As a result, Mike Drzyzga will step back up into the position, and Wayne Laessig will fill the Prior President’s position, which was vacated by Mike. Jerry and Ellen are doing well in TX and we look forward to seeing them at Reunion XXI in Ft. Walton Beach, FL in October. Reunion XXI Planning for FWB:  This year’s reunion is still a GO! By October, we are confident that the hard choices being made now will successfully win over the COVID-19 pandemic. Reunion XXI will be a very-much-needed fun time. Coordinator Gus Sininger has done a great job planning the Fort Walton Beach Reunion. The Association is working to publish a detailed April Firing Circle Newsletter, which will present specific information about special topics, such as: the raffle of a custom Kimber 1911 .45 ACP hand gun, the wide selection of reunion T-shirts that are available now, and several cool new items in the Association’s Quartermaster web page. I encourage you to make your Reunion XXI plans now: first the on-line Reunion registration, and then book a room at the Four Points in FWB. Everything you need to know about the Reunion and to register is easily found on the Association’s web-site at: https://www.ac119gunships.com/reunion/upcoming-reunion/   All the best to you and your families, be smart, stay well!! See you in October. Michael Drzyzga, Back as President

     March 23, 2020 Ev Sprous and his Outreach Team keep finding guys but also learn of some who passed before we were able to make contact.   Those include Seth B. Hodges, 18th SOS Stinger Nav who passed on Nov 19, 2019; and Jack K. Pilson, 18th SOS Stinger FE who passed May, 2002. R.I.P Brothers.

      March 18, 2020 Just learned of the passing of Doug Blair, 18th SOS Gunner. Doug had been in a home for the last year. Here is the obit: https://obits.nwfdailynews.com/obituaries/nwfdailynews/obituary.aspx?n=douglas-s-blair-doug&pid=195705897 Please pray for his wife Helen and daughter Rose & other members of the family.

     March 2020 Update: Ev Sprous and Don Luke found several of our brothers who passed away before we made contact: R.I.P all.

  • Bob Jones daughter sent us: “This link is to a video of my Dad’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery last May Bob Jones. You have to scroll down to my Dad’s video “Jones, Joe Jerry” and enter this password to be able to watch the video JJJ75$. The most moving part starts at about the 17 minute mark where my sister Terry talks about my Dad and his life. I forgot to add for those that did not know my dad that he flew AC-119K Stingers out of DaNang in 1970 and 1971. God bless all of you heroes who served over there. You all have my utmost respect and appreciation.
  • We recently learned of the passing of Richard Havens, 18th SOS Stinger Illuminator Operator. His niece, Linda Levine, sent the message by mail and included a $100 check in honor of Richard. He passed on 26 April 2019. Please join us in prayer for the family.
  • William Joseph Ubinger, 71st NAV/NOS passed away on 9/19/2011
  • Eugene “Gino” Veltre – 9/27/2001 https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/125054477/eugene-r-veltre/photo
  • Info found in Find A grave for Lance Weyrough, 17th SOS Maintenance. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/114155445 Lance Alan Weyrough Birth 1 Feb 1950 Death 24 Feb 2000 (aged 50)
  • CMSgt Donald F. Zeorlin, 90, AC-119 Maintenance, passed away Sunday, September 11, 2011, in Abilene. https://www.dignitymemorial.com/en-ca/obituaries/name/donald/zeorlin Graveside services were held in the Santa Fe National Cemetery, He served his country in the United States Air Force for 32 years, with service in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

      March 4, 2020 Just got this from 18th SOS Stinger FE, CMSgt Pugh’s daughter: “This is Robin Reichold, daughter of Chief Master Sergeant Retired USAF William G. Pugh He lost his battle with Parkinson’s at 8:13 am today! He was the Best Son ..Brother..Soldier.. Husband..Dad..Uncle and Friend Ever!!! He was Really the Best and Greatest at a lot of things and will be Missed Dearly!! I can’t talk anymore right now but you are the Best Pa!! I Love You.”

      March 4, 2020 Jerrilyn Derr contacted our website: “I am letting you know that Bob Derr, 17th SOS Shadow Pilot, passed away the end of December 2019.”

      February 6, 2020 We just learned of the passing of Jim E Sands II on Feb 6, 2020. Jim was Avionics with the 18th SOS Stingers at Phan Rang. Please pray for the Sands family & friends.  

      January 24, 2020 Duane Ferneau’s son wanted to share his obituary with his old crew. He had a bunch of old slides and pictures. https://kdminer.com/…/feb/15/obituary-duane-richard-ferneau/ Duane, 18th SOS Weapons Load, passed away Jan 24, 2020. His Memorial was held Feb 21, 2020 at Hualapai Mountain Park Campground, 6250 Hualapai Mountain Road, Kingman, Arizona. In lieu of flowers, please donate in Duane’s honor to the Patrick Tillman Foundation at www.pattillmanfoundation.org.

      January 9, 2020 Bill Boyne regretfully and sadly announced that Col Walter James Boyne flew his last mission and passed at 3:10, Jan 9, 2020 in Silver Spring MD. “It is with a heavy heart that I speak to you today. Dad is to be interned at Arlington Cemetery, date unknown at this time. Many of our warriors are falling and God bless them all. It is a long and noble waiting list. I know the he was so very proud to be a crew member in the USAF, and was honored to serve and meet the very people I contact today. I will continue to post information about the service arrangements and I ask for your prayers. The Boyne family cherish your thoughts, memories and stories. Dear Dad, Above and Beyond!!”

      January, 2020 Update Ev Sprous “found” several members, and sadly learned of others who had passed away.

  • Michael Douglas, 17th SOS Maint, passed March 2016.
  • Richard D. Hehman, 71st SOS Maint, passed on December 30,2013.
  • Keith Underwood, 18th SOS Nav, passed on October 10, 2019.
  • Norman Wills, 71st SOS NCOIC of Admin, passed on November 9, 2004, 

      December 24, 2019 Tony Perez notified us that his Dad, Mario Alfaro was ill, and sadly a few days later informed us that Mario, 71st/17th Flight Line Supervisor, passed on December 24, 2019. Services were held in Antioch, CA on January 8, 2020

Here are the 2020 Mail Call

      May 9, 2020 Shirley Bartlett sent this: “Hi guys, asking for prayer for your old gunner here. Guess I was a little naive about cancer. Thought we were home free except for healing. 29 Apr Frank had labs. His oncologist didn’t call so I went on the premise of no news, good news. On the day of our phone consultation she said Frank’s cancer marker was elevated. She said let’s redo the test. We did and still elevated. We now are scheduled for a full body pet scan for this coming Friday 15th. Doing it locally. It seems obvious he has some kind of cancer but my prayer is it is something that can be dealt with. She did say the tumor in colon, which they got all out was the primary tumor. So, maybe this is still small enough to be manageable.” Prayers worked last time and we’ll do it again!  Please add Frank and Shirley to your prayers!! And stay safe.

      April 12, 2020 Don Luke notified us that one of our AC-47 Brothers and AC-119 Gunship Association Life Member Larry P Anduss, 4th SOS Nav, passed away on June 13, 2019 in Pawhuska, Ok.  Memorial services were held June 17, 2019 at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum Planetarium in Tulsa. 

      March 25, 2020 NEWSFLASH  Praying this FLASH message finds you all well — dealing rationally with the crisis the world is facing, and taking all the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Change to Board of Directors: We are sad to announce that President Jerry Hester had to resign from the President position due to health and other issues. During a teleconference Board meeting, the Board understandingly accepted his resignation. Jerry did an outstanding job dealing with Association business since the previous reunion in Salt Lake City, successfully tackling some tough challenges like improving our website management, rebuilding our treasury, re-energizing our Outreach, and creating a super online repository for all our Oral History Videos. We thank him for those! The Association is in great condition, and we will continue to move forward with our goals and objectives. Following Jerry’s notification, the Board took action to fill the President’s position. As a result, Mike Drzyzga will step back up into the position, and Wayne Laessig will fill the Prior President’s position, which was vacated by Mike. Jerry and Ellen are doing well in TX and we look forward to seeing them at Reunion XXI in Ft. Walton Beach, FL in October. Reunion XXI Planning for FWB:  This year’s reunion is still a GO! By October, we are confident that the hard choices being made now will successfully win over the COVID-19 pandemic. Reunion XXI will be a very-much-needed fun time. Coordinator Gus Sininger has done a great job planning the Fort Walton Beach Reunion. The Association is working to publish a detailed April Firing Circle Newsletter, which will present specific information about special topics, such as: the raffle of a custom Kimber 1911 .45 ACP hand gun, the wide selection of reunion T-shirts that are available now, and several cool new items in the Association’s Quartermaster web page. I encourage you to make your Reunion XXI plans now: first the on-line Reunion registration, and then book a room at the Four Points in FWB. Everything you need to know about the Reunion and to register is easily found on the Association’s web-site at: https://www.ac119gunships.com/reunion/upcoming-reunion/   All the best to you and your families, be smart, stay well!! See you in October. Michael Drzyzga, Back as President

     March 23, 2020 Ev Sprous and his Outreach Team keep finding guys but also learn of some who passed before we were able to make contact.   Those include Seth B. Hodges, 18th SOS Stinger Nav who passed on Nov 19, 2019; and Jack K. Pilson, 18th SOS Stinger FE who passed May, 2002. R.I.P Brothers.

      March 18, 2020 Just learned of the passing of Doug Blair, 18th SOS Gunner. Doug had been in a home for the last year. Here is the obit: https://obits.nwfdailynews.com/obituaries/nwfdailynews/obituary.aspx?n=douglas-s-blair-doug&pid=195705897 Please pray for his wife Helen and daughter Rose & other members of the family.

     March 2020 Update: Ev Sprous and Don Luke found several of our brothers who passed away before we made contact: R.I.P all.

  • Bob Jones daughter sent us: “This link is to a video of my Dad’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery last May Bob Jones. You have to scroll down to my Dad’s video “Jones, Joe Jerry” and enter this password to be able to watch the video JJJ75$. The most moving part starts at about the 17 minute mark where my sister Terry talks about my Dad and his life. I forgot to add for those that did not know my dad that he flew AC-119K Stingers out of DaNang in 1970 and 1971. God bless all of you heroes who served over there. You all have my utmost respect and appreciation.
  • We recently learned of the passing of Richard Havens, 18th SOS Stinger Illuminator Operator. His niece, Linda Levine, sent the message by mail and included a $100 check in honor of Richard. He passed on 26 April 2019. Please join us in prayer for the family.
  • William Joseph Ubinger, 71st NAV/NOS passed away on 9/19/2011
  • Eugene “Gino” Veltre – 9/27/2001 https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/125054477/eugene-r-veltre/photo
  • Info found in Find A grave for Lance Weyrough, 17th SOS Maintenance. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/114155445 Lance Alan Weyrough Birth 1 Feb 1950 Death 24 Feb 2000 (aged 50)
  • CMSgt Donald F. Zeorlin, 90, AC-119 Maintenance, passed away Sunday, September 11, 2011, in Abilene. https://www.dignitymemorial.com/en-ca/obituaries/name/donald/zeorlin Graveside services were held in the Santa Fe National Cemetery, He served his country in the United States Air Force for 32 years, with service in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

      March 4, 2020 Just got this from 18th SOS Stinger FE, CMSgt Pugh’s daughter: “This is Robin Reichold, daughter of Chief Master Sergeant Retired USAF William G. Pugh He lost his battle with Parkinson’s at 8:13 am today! He was the Best Son ..Brother..Soldier.. Husband..Dad..Uncle and Friend Ever!!! He was Really the Best and Greatest at a lot of things and will be Missed Dearly!! I can’t talk anymore right now but you are the Best Pa!! I Love You.”

      March 4, 2020 Jerrilyn Derr contacted our website: “I am letting you know that Bob Derr, 17th SOS Shadow Pilot, passed away the end of December 2019.”

      February 6, 2020 We just learned of the passing of Jim E Sands II on Feb 6, 2020. Jim was Avionics with the 18th SOS Stingers at Phan Rang. Please pray for the Sands family & friends.  

      January 24, 2020 Duane Ferneau’s son wanted to share his obituary with his old crew. He had a bunch of old slides and pictures. https://kdminer.com/…/feb/15/obituary-duane-richard-ferneau/ Duane, 18th SOS Weapons Load, passed away Jan 24, 2020. His Memorial was held Feb 21, 2020 at Hualapai Mountain Park Campground, 6250 Hualapai Mountain Road, Kingman, Arizona. In lieu of flowers, please donate in Duane’s honor to the Patrick Tillman Foundation at www.pattillmanfoundation.org.

      January 9, 2020 Bill Boyne regretfully and sadly announced that Col Walter James Boyne flew his last mission and passed at 3:10, Jan 9, 2020 in Silver Spring MD. “It is with a heavy heart that I speak to you today. Dad is to be interned at Arlington Cemetery, date unknown at this time. Many of our warriors are falling and God bless them all. It is a long and noble waiting list. I know the he was so very proud to be a crew member in the USAF, and was honored to serve and meet the very people I contact today. I will continue to post information about the service arrangements and I ask for your prayers. The Boyne family cherish your thoughts, memories and stories. Dear Dad, Above and Beyond!!”

      January, 2020 Update Ev Sprous “found” several members, and sadly learned of others who had passed away.

  • Michael Douglas, 17th SOS Maint, passed March 2016.
  • Richard D. Hehman, 71st SOS Maint, passed on December 30,2013.
  • Keith Underwood, 18th SOS Nav, passed on October 10, 2019.
  • Norman Wills, 71st SOS NCOIC of Admin, passed on November 9, 2004, 

      December 24, 2019 Tony Perez notified us that his Dad, Mario Alfaro was ill, and sadly a few days later informed us that Mario, 71st/17th Flight Line Supervisor, passed on December 24, 2019. Services were held in Antioch, CA on January 8, 2020.

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