Mike Friel was a Stinger IO (and AAA Scanner extraordinaire), 1971-1972. He was also the 18th SOS NCOIC of Awards and Decorations. He also loved military, and in particular fixed-wing gunship, history. He crewed both AC-119k Stingers and AC-130 Spectres.
Toward the end of our first AC-119 Gunship Reunion, Mike reminisced about those we’d lost, the friendships we’d made, and the public legacy we had not yet achieved. He shared that he had authored a “book of sorts” about (then) Capt Ron Terry’s challenges in making fixed-wing gunships a reality. That “book of sorts” turned out awesome, especially for those who are interested in knowing what it took to make it all happen! Mike Friel’s story helps remedy the legacy of our AC-119s and those who flew and supported them.
Mike lost his battle with cancer the year after our first Reunion in October 2001. We are honored to offer this book, with grateful appreciation to Mike’s sons, who provided insights that help us understand the father they knew as “Sonny”; his dream, and the proud heritage he gave them and us.