I was born and grew up in St Louis, MO; graduating from St Mary’s High School in 1966. I was in AFROTC at St Louis University and entered active duty in September 1970. I joined to serve in Vietnam and St Louis University only had AF ROTC. My assignments included AC-119K NAV, NOS, AND FLIR; B-52G EWO; and F-4C/F-4G Wild Weasel EWO.
My most exciting events in SEA included rocket attacks while on the ground in S. Vietnam while inside a fully fueled AC-119K, and airbursting/exploding 23 and 37MM anti-aircraft fire in front of the left engine that I heard while at the NOS station in the left door.
My most memorable events with AC-119s were a maximum effort mission where we destroyed enemy barge traffic, and a Troops In Contact (TIC) mission where we assisted Army soldiers using 7.62MM and flares.
My most memorable persons in SEA were Major Bao, a South Vietnam Army Helicopter Pilot, and Captain John Bates, my AC-119K Aircraft Commander.
One (after the fact) humorous event occurred as the result of a large set of explosions at the ammo dump on Bien Hoa AB, S. Vietnam. The barracks Day Room received strong shock waves from the explosion, giving the feeling of a direct hit. I subsequently was lying face down on the floor – drooling – and thought I was bleeding from my head. I reluctantly checked on a fellow officer as I believed he was deceased. However, we were both ok.
With time to spare during the day, I recovered 26 20MM Ammo Cans from the dump, filled them with sand, and surrounded my bed with these Ammo Cans. I then recovered a bed-sized piece of armor plate and made a bed-size bunker to protect me during rocket attacks. The effect of my efforts earned me the nickname of “Bunker Bill” which I didn’t particularly like at the time as I was just trying to survive. Many times during a rocket attack, I would receive unannounced fellow officer guests in my little bunker (any port in a storm).
I had a roommate at Da Nang who would drop his metal Army helmet from above his head onto the floor to see my reaction when I awoke from a dead sleep thinking I was under a rocket attack. Being a good roommate, I returned the favor with my helmet. What a sweet revenge to see his eyes open with fear, thinking he was under attack when I dropped my helmet from above my head. Priceless.
My awards include the Air Medal with 9 OLCs and one DFC. I retired from the USAFR at McChord AFB in 1993 as a Lt. Colonel. I then retired from the Seattle Police Department as a Patrol Sergeant. MY wife Gretchen and I enjoy 4 children (3 boys and a girl), and 7 Grandchildren (3 boys and 4 girls) and our life in Hawaii.
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