Jim “Viva” Acquaviva was a Stinger Copilot in 1971-1972. Simply put, he enjoyed life.
Sometime during his tour, Jim decided he wanted to send men home with something that might bring a smile to their face. He approached the 18th SOS Stinger Commander, Lt Col Robert Mathews, with the idea of compiling a booklet made up of the many cartoons men had drawn to humorously depict their life in SEA and ACV-119s. Col Mathews agreed and signed every copy and somehow, most of us received one – now treasured mementos of that time and place,
Many contributed to this unique collection, and Jim’s Forward in the booklet says it well:
A Forward (of sorts)
This volume is dedicated to all those who have become noble, though in many cases, unwilling members in the “Killer Duck” of gunship operations – the AC-119K.
The distinctness with which this organization is blest has on occasion been overlooked by some of its members and it was in the interests of filling this need that this volume was conceived and brought to fruition. Let us pause a moment to
reflect on just a few of the records our beloved “Stinger” so proudly bears: The highest maintenance man-hours per flying hour in the Air Force history, far surpassing such contenders as the F-111, C-5 and C-133; the only squadron in SEA
operations where the equivalent average number of years on the aircraft is greatly exceeded by the number of Lieutenant Colonels we possess; a mission abort rate keeping us consistently in the Top Three in this category; a tour where members are able to spend their time in no less than three sun-filled locales. We could go on but to do so would seem boastful. Suffice it to say that we all have many memories to carry with us as we return to saner worlds. That we were able to successfully perform the missions assigned is truly a remarkable achievement for all of the personnel involved. It is this common bond accompanied with a deep sense of the ironic all Stingers share that made this book possible. Let us gaze now upon these pages and reflect upon the two mottos of our squadron – “Vengeance by Night” or in the unspoken vernacular of the crew, “We Never Launch.”
So there you have it – wit and wisdom of the 18th SOS as contributed by gunner and pilot, navigator and engineer, IO and ACM alike. All gave freely of their creations seeking only the knowledge of a job well done. Besides that we couldn’t afford to pay them. What were the lessons learned during this year? A profound respect to be living and the ability to laugh at what we hope this book leaves you with. Or, if not, you could always nail it to your john door.
by James F. Acquaviva
Thank you, Jimmy!