James (Jim) D. Shope, Pilot
18th SOS, Phan Rang and Nakhon Phanom, 1970-71-72
I was born 26 October, 1942 in Greenville, Mississippi; grew up in Sams Valley, Oregon, and graduated from Crater High School in 1960 and the University of Southern California in 1968
I Joined the Air Force July 21st 1960 in Portland, OR – because I needed a job! The Air Force recruiter only had one opening the day I walked into the Medford, OR recruiting office…I would have joined any branch of service that would have had me. Except maybe the Marine Corps.
I was assigned to AC-119Ks from Pilot School; trained at Clinton County and Lockbourne. I arrived at Phan Rang AB July 1970 and served as a floating co-pilot for 6 months, then sent to NKP. I then returned to Hurlburt Field to be an AC-119K Instructor Pilot (figure that one out). I returned to NKP for a TDY from January 1, 1972 to March 31, 1972.
My most memorable events with AC-119s include when I was assigned to fly mostly with Captain Terry Courtney’s crew. Unfortunately, he could not hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle. One night, he tried to hit some trucks on the HCMT…he missed them completely! But as luck would have it, we set off a huge ammo dump next to the road. Fires raged all night and jet fighters were directed in to drop ordinance in on the ammo dump that we lit up for them. FACs reported and confirmed the next morning that we had taken out a very large ammo dump…which proves that sometimes luck is just as effective as skill. I hope we took out a lot of guns and ammo for a long time, because, quite frankly, I was tired of being shot at every night.
My most memorable persons) in SEA were Captain “Wild Bill” Weida and Captain Terrence Courtney….I was shocked to hear about the loss of him and Capt Slagle.
I retired from the Air Force as a Major in July 1987 at Charleston AFB, SC, followed by a career and retirement in 2002 from United Airlines as a Captain on the 747.
My wife Christine and I (married 56 years) have four children: Robert, Brian, Sandra, and Ulrica; and eight grandchildren: James, Ryan, Nicole, Miranda, Savanah, Pat, Chris, and Paul.