Loren D. Van Duyn, Phase Dock Maintenance
18th SOS, Phan Rang and Nakhon Phanom, 1970
I was born in September 1947 at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and graduated from Colton, SD High School in 1966. My wife, Judi, and I were married in November 1966, and in I967 I became eligible for the draft. Together, we thought it over and decided that as a married man it would be better to go into the Air Force. I enlisted in the Air Force September 1967, and was assigned to Amarillo Air Force Base in Texas for basic training. After graduation, I was assigned to tech school at Shepherd AFB at Wichita Falls, TX as a reciprocating aircraft mechanic. I graduated from tech school the spring of 1968. I then received orders to Offutt AFB near Omaha Nebraska, where I was assigned to work on U-birds, a 2-engine Cessna aircraft, which were phased out. I was then moved to work the flight line on the T-29.
During the summer of 1968, I received orders to Vietnam. The orders were cancelled because we were expecting our first child, our daughter Lora, who was born November 5, 1968. In late December 1968, I received orders to go to Clinton County Airport in Ohio, to be trained to work on the C-119 aircraft. When I finished training, I went back to Offutt AFB to collect my family, so we could move to Lockbourne AFB in Ohio, where I was assigned to the 18th SOS to work with the phase dock maintenance team on AC-119K to prep the aircraft for the trip to Vietnam.
The aircraft departed Lockbourne in 3 different increments, starting in October 1969. Six aircraft left each month. On December 31, 1969, I boarded a C-141 loaded with aircraft parts and supplies for Phan Rang. We arrived January 1, 1970, and were greeted by our 18th SOS troops.
During our processing time into the 18th SOS, we were initiated by a mortar attack, which was frightening to say the least. Other than that, there was nothing overly exciting regarding my time with the AC-119K Stinger aircraft. The next day, I started working at the phase dock. I was assigned to inspect the left wing and left landing gear for defects and have it repaired. After completing the various phase inspections, the aircraft was moved to the flight line for final testing and released for flight status. As time moved on, there was a roof put over our dock. It was a great relief from the sun and rain.
Early December 1970, I received orders to go back to Offutt AFB. I left Vietnam the end of December and was home for Christmas. During my leave, I moved my family to the Omaha area. My orders were to cross train from reciprocating (prop) aircraft to jet aircraft. I was assigned to a ground crew team to refuel KC-135.
Unfortunately, 2 months later, I received TDY orders to return to Phan Rang, Vietnam. My assignment was changed to NKP AFB Thailand where I worked the flight line at night, launching and recovering aircraft after their missions. After a short 2 month TDY, I was sent back to Offutt AFB. When my tour was completed, I started working with JC Penny as a delivery driver. During this time, I checked out an aviation school. I was accepted at Mid-Continent Aviation School in North Kansas City MO. While in school, I worked part-time for JC Penney Distribution. I graduated from the aviation school July 1973. Due to the fuel recession, aviation jobs were unavailable. I attended Penn Valley Junior College from 1974-76. JC Penney offered me a full-time job, which I worked at for 19+ years, and then the company consolidated their distribution centers, closing the one in KC. Late in 1990, I started driving a semi-truck locally and then coast to coast. After 26 years of driving, I retired in December 2017.
We live in the Liberty Missouri area. Two of our children live in the KC area. Our daughter has 2 daughters and our youngest son has 2 daughters and 2 sons. Our oldest son lives in the Sacramento California area with his wife and 4 sons. We travel to Sacramento at least once a year. We plan to do more traveling soon.