Lansing, Michigan is where I was born in 1949. I grew up in Fowler and graduated from Fowler High School in 1967. I attended Lansing Community College in 1967-68. I joined the Air Force on June 19, 1968 in Detroit to fly, see the world, and to beat the draft.
I served as an aerial gunner on AC-119K Stinger gunships at Phan Rang in October 1969, Da Nang in November, Phan Rang in December, and at Da Nang from January to October 1970. Lots of bag draggin’ at the beginning of my tour!
When we started flying missions into Laos in 1969, it was very dark. When I left in October 1970, the whole country was on fire. Gunships worked the Ho Chi Minh Trail every night, shooting everything from fuel depots to elephants carrying supplies. I remember the F-4s supporting us with napalm drops and the B-52s dropping their payloads. We flew very low while providing close air support for friendly troops. I remember the large surface to air weapons fired at us and exploding outside our windows. I flew 150 combat missions and each one had its own story.
From Lockbourne AFB, Ohio to Southeast Asia, there were many training flights. Once in Southeast Asia, especially flying out of Da Nang, every mission was unique. Flying with the 18th SOS commander’s crew was always eventful. While at Da Nang, we used the commander’s jeep to drive to South China Beach on a regular basis and made trips to Freedom Hill to visit the marines. I remember the great food and comradeship through the entire program. The people involved in the gunship program always seemed to have an everlasting bond. There were many good times and plenty of hair-raising experiences.
I separated from the Air Force on June 18, 1972 at Grand Forks, North Dakota. I currently live at St. Johns, Michigan.