Wooster, Ohio is where I was born in 1950. I graduated from Cloverleaf High School at Lodi, Ohio in 1969. I joined the Air Force because I had a middle of the road lottery number and I just knew that I was prime to get drafted. I figured I would not have to carry a gun in the Air Force. I joined the Air Force in May 1970 in Cleveland, Ohio.
My most exciting mission involved an early morning hour takeoff from Da Nang. It was pretty much a normal mission and I don’t recall much about it. On the return flight to Da Nang, we were advised that the Da Nang runway was fogged in and we were diverted to Hue. I can remember a couple of Army guys coming up to the aircraft at Hue to ask why we had landed there. We explained why and told them when the fog lifted at Da Nang, we were out of there. They said that was good because they were also getting ready to do the same. When we were told the fog had lifted at Da Nang, we climbed onboard the gunship and got ready for takeoff for the short trip to Da Nang. But the left side jet failed to start. Da Nang was contacted and we were told that they would send a mechanic to Hue on a helicopter to fix the thing so we could get home. Sure enough a short time later a Chinook landed, but there was no mechanic on board. Everyone on our crew loaded on the helicopter except the pilot, flight engineer and me.
We were to stay with the aircraft. As the day wore on, we saw very little activity anywhere. A small child walked towards us and then turned and walked away. Not long after, the pilot asked if we were in favor of taking off on three engines instead of four, which the FE and I agreed to do. It was a long takeoff roll, but we made it back to Da Nang on three engines. We never did hear why they didn’t send a mechanic.
I remember the good times as well as the bad at Da Nang and the friendships that were formed. I will never forget those we lost to SEA.
I separated from the Air Force in 1974 at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas. I currently live in Sun City Center, Florida.