William “Bill” Joseph Zito, Gunner
17th SOS, Tan Son Nhut, Da Nang, Phan Rang, and Phu Cat, 1970-71
Although I was born in Providence, Rhode Island in October 1950, my hometown was really East Providence. I graduated from East Providence High School on 10 June 68 and was sworn in at the Providence induction center eleven days later on 21 July 1968. I joined the Air Force because I was a member of the Civil Air Patrol as a teenager and was therefore already Air Force oriented.
I served in the 17th Special Operations Squadron as a gunner on Shadow gunships from June 1970 to June 1971. My home base was Phan Rang but I did a month at Tan Son Nhut and a couple of short stints at Da Nang and Phu Cat.
The most exciting mission I remember is defending an Army outpost that was being overrun by the Viet Cong. I will always remember all the friends made during my Vietnam tour of duty, our mascot dog, Shadow, and all the card games in the hootch. Dave Voisey, Norm Evans, Mike Drzyzga, and Rodney Friese were some of my friends. Our mascot, Shadow, was airlifted home (to Massachusetts, I think) when the last Shadow aircrews returned. Pinochle and spades were the most popular card games but a good poker game was known to have happened on some evenings and weekends.
I separated from the Air Force at Travis AFB, California in January 1973 and returned home to Rhode Island. My wife, Paula, and I were married July 5, 1975. We have 2 sons – Adam and Joshua. We lived in Rhode Island until 1988 when we moved to Vacaville, CA where we still reside. Adam served 4 years in the US Marine Corps. Joshua is in the Air Force Reserves and has deployed twice to the desert – Iraq and United Arab Emirates.