Gary Eugene Rubingh, Gunner
18th SOS, Phan Rang, Phu Cat, Nha Trang, Udorn, and Nakhon Phanom, 1969-70
Charlevoix, Michigan was my birthplace in 1948. In 1966, I graduated from Ellsworth High School in my hometown of Ellsworth, Michigan. I joined the Air Force at the recruiting office at Traverse City, Michigan in February 1968. I joined because of my interest in airplanes. I graduated with an Associate Degree in avionics from Ferris State University at Big Rapids, Michigan in April 1974.
My most exciting mission while flying on a Stinger gunship as an aerial gunner was the time we flew into a flak trap. The North Vietnamese turned a vehicle’s lights on and surrounded it with anti-aircraft guns. The NOS and FLIR operators said we had found the world’s dumbest truck driver; however, when we fired our guns, twenty-five to thirty anti-aircraft guns shot at us. The IO was shouting “Break left.” The gunner scanner was shouting “Break right.” The pilot was ignoring both while trying to avoid the tracers in front of the aircraft. The FLIR operator, who could not see the tracers, was saying, “Fly straight up!” When filling out the after-action report, anti-aircraft rounds fired at us simply said ‘several thousand’. We never called a NVA truck driver dumb after that!
I remember flying combat missions out of three different air bases (Phan Rang, Phu Cat, Nha Trang) located in Vietnam and two different air bases (Udorn and Nakhon Phanom) located in Thailand. The thing I remember most about my time with AC-119K Stinger gunships was the world class men I served with. I served with the best of the best in fixed wing gunships.
I separated from the Air Force in 1972 at McConnell Air Force Base at Wichita, Kansas. I currently live at Ellsworth, Michigan.