Thomas A. Weisenfluh, Gunner
18th SOS, Nakhon Phanom and Da Nang, 1971-72
I graduated from Elmira Southside High School in 1969, and from Erie Community College in Williamsville, NY in 1977. I joined the Air Force in 1969 at Elmira, NY. I joined because my draft number was #28. Heard the AF had better food, so I cut a better deal.
My most memorable event with AC-119s; I don’t recall the exact month, but it was between Dec 71, and Jun 72. On many of our missions, we would receive small arms fire that we were not aware of. The maintenance guys would inform us the next day after they had it repaired. On one particular mission, we were hit by AAA, and had to abort the mission. As we headed back to Da Nang, it was determined we would not make it, and we were diverted to an alternate landing field. It was an Army, and Marine airfield called Phu Bai, which was just south of Hue. We spent a couple days there waiting for parts to be flown up from Da Nang. While there, we got to know the guys in the Cobra squadron that were stationed there. Geno Caruso and I thought that was pretty cool. Everything turned out well, and being 20 year old’s, we never even gave a thought to what could have been.
My most humorous event in SEA also happened at Da Nang. Many of you might be familiar with the nighttime activity (mostly by gunners), of sneaking over to the fighter squadrons’ hootches, and stealing the war souvenirs they had collected. That’s another story, but when we weren’t doing that, we needed to do something else. On one particular night, Ron Dorazio, Gene Caruso, and myself were out on the prowl. One of them had a slingshot known as a wrist rocket. We were sneaking between the barracks and spotted the small tin shack the Army guard was in at the entrance to the compound. Naturally, we let some stones fly with the slingshot. After a couple hit the shack, the guard came running out with his M-16 and started chasing us. We turned around and took off at full speed. Remember, it was pitch dark out, but Gene and I both remembered the steel cable that the mama-sans strung between the barracks and ducked under it. Ron forgot, and it caught him just under his nose. All I can remember is seeing Ron completely horizontal in the air, and landing on his back. We both went back to help him, but he just said: “leave me”. To this day we can never figure out what happened to the guard.
I separated from the Air Force in May 1973 at Seymour Johnson AFB, Goldsboro, NC as a Sergeant (with a line # for Staff Sgt.). Following that I began and retired from a career as an Electrician.
My wife Marisa and I have a daughter Heather and grandchildren Parker & Brody.