Ronald E. Newberg, Gunner
17th SOS, Phan Rang, 1970
I was born in 1934 at Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In June 1952, I graduated from San Jose Technical High School and then attended San Jose State College in California. I had joined the California Air National Guard in 1951 and applied for and was accepted for the Aviation Cadet Program. Then I joined the U.S. Air Force and entered active duty in 1954 prior to my Cadet Class starting date in 1954.
I applied for and completed Airborne Radio Operator Technical School at Keesler AFB, Mississippi. I was then assigned to the 601st Communication Group at Gifu Air Station, Japan. I decided I liked it and upon returning to CONUS, I reenlisted and attended Weapons School at Lowry AFB, Colorado. After a couple of short duty assignments at Oxnard AFB, California and Larson AFB at Moses Lake, Washington, I served another tour in Japan, this time, with 3rd Bomb Wing at Yokota AB. Upon returning to CONUS, I applied for and was assigned as a Weapons Instructor at Lowry AFB. Then I was sent to Vietnam for my first tour of duty and upon completion, sent back to Lowry AFB.
While serving as instructor at Lowry, I became acquainted with TSgt. Morrison, Airman Assignment Branch at Randolph AFB, Texas. I worked with him on filling requirements for The Palace Gun Program that specifically recruited and screened applicants for aerial gunners. Many of the gunners selected for the program came with my recommendation. Then BINGO, I was ripe for SEA once more and gave Morrison a call and told him I was ready for my turn. I went the traditional route: AC-119G training at Lockbourne AFB, Columbus, Ohio in the dead of winter, ice storms and all, Survival School in Washington with ice and snow, Jungle Survival in the Philippines, and on to the 17th Special Operations Squadron at Phan Rang.
Upon arriving at Phan Rang, I was rapidly upgraded to Instructor Gunner in July 1970, then to SEFE in the same month. I was able to fly with most of the aircrews in the 17th SOS at one time or another. My primary crew was commanded by Major David T. Olson.
In October 1970, I was transferred to HQ 14th SOW as SEFE for AC-119G/Ks. I had the pleasure of flying with most of the aircrews in both the 17th SOS and 18th SOS while certifying instructors and flight examiners in both Squadrons. I can proudly state that every mission, some 150 plus that I flew and every crew I had the fortune to fly with during 500 hours plus, was “most exciting”. It was always a pleasure to work with true professionals.
I became involved in the gunship program again in 1975 when I served as NCOIC of the AC-130 Gunshop, NCOIC Stan Eval, and First Sergeant of the 388th Munitions Maintenance Squadron, Korat AB, Thailand. I retired as a Senior Master Sergeant from the U.S. Air Force in February 1979 at Lowry AFB, Colorado. I currently live in Aurora, Colorado.