Liegh Robert Norstrum, Maintenance
17th SOS, Phan Rang and Phu Cat, 1970-71
I joined the Air Force on July 5, 1956 at Fargo, North Dakota to keep from getting drafted into the U.S. Army. I had already tasted Army life in the North Dakota National Guard for one year, three months, and 26 days. Born at my hometown Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1938, I graduated from Central High School on May 29, 1956.
I reported for duty with the 17th Special Operations Squadron at Phan Rang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam on 13 July 1970. On 2 August 1970, I was sent PCS to Phu Cat and served for a short time as Line Chief and then returned to Phan Rang PCS where I served until my DEROS date of 13 July 1971.
I was sent TDY along with AC-119G gunships and maintenance people to Phu Cat on 24 December 1970 where our Shadow gunships launched to interdict enemy supply convoys headed down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to the South Vietnam border. On 24 December 1970, we launched a combat mission from Phu Cat to hunt targets on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. After strafing a target, the aircraft commander turned the aircraft 180 degrees back toward the target to witness what seemed to him like the whole earth was on fire. I said to the AC, “You must have hit an underground ammo dump.” We then flew back to Phan Rang that night and were greeted by Santa Claus with a bottle of whiskey for all to join in a short snort.
After twenty years, one month, and 26 days of military service, I retired an E-6 from the U. S. Air Force at Travis AFB, CA on 1 August 1976.I graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration from Northwood University in Texas on 6 June 1995. My wife Shirley and I live in Abilene, Tx.