My favorite commercial aired during the 2013 Super Bowl was the one that paid tribute to our brave military personnel. Oprah Winfrey narrated the commercial.
My favorite commercial aired during the 2013 Super Bowl was the one that paid tribute to our brave military personnel. Oprah Winfrey narrated the commercial.
We welcome our latest F-4 veteran and author Joe Boyles, Colonel, USAF (retired). Joe wrote the following newly added articles:
1. The Tale of Gator 3 – Joe and Charlie Cox dropped 12 Mark 82 500 pound bombs on Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand. We should have given Joe and Charlie a 1 Mission Over Korat patch!
2. Rocket City – DaNang Air Base, South Vietnam, was frequently the target of rocket attacks.
3. Gone, but Not Forgotten – Joe remembers his nine USAFA classmates killed in Southeast Asia.
4. Rockin’ Robin – Robin Olds was the commandant of cadets the last three years of Joe’s four years at the Air Force Academy.
Jeannie Beckers, Lyle Becker’s wife, found this video that all fighter pilots must watch. I personally don’t know anybody like the retired fighter jock in the video. Here are some of my favorite lines:
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by John T. Correll
The almanac has all major facts about the air war in Vietnam. Here’s a list of some of the facts in the almanac:
In the fall of 1969, I was a senior at Penn State University enjoying my last year of college and fraternity parties. The U.S. Army was drafting young men to fill its need for soldiers in Vietnam. Because I was a full time student in college, I had a student deferment that had kept me out of the draft for three years. The deferment would terminate on my graduation in June of 1970, and I would then be eligible to be drafted. My draft number was 183, a number selected at random by the U.S. Selective Service System by putting 366 birthdays in a jar and picking them out one by one. My birthday was the 183rd pick, which gave me a draft lottery number of 183.
Each local draft board was given a quota of the number of draftees that were to be selected by the draft board to be inducted into the Army. People who had a draft deferment for reasons such as college or medical problems were not eligible to be drafted. From the pool of eligible potential draftees, the draft boards were obligated to draft starting with people whose draft lottery numbers were started at 1 and then proceed in order to lottery number 365 if necessary. Because my number was in somewhat in the middle of lottery numbers, I was in a gray area. I could not predict if I would be drafted or if my number was high enough to avoid the draft.
I decided to hedge my bet by applying for admission to USAF flight school. If I got drafted and if I got into flight school, I would have the option to join the USAF and fly instead of being drafted into the Army and possibly being sent to Vietnam. If I were drafted, I would have to serve two years in the Army. I could also avoid the draft by volunteering for the Army and get a choice of what my job would be. By volunteering, I could get a “safe” job such as computer programmer or cook, but volunteers had a three year active duty service commitment. The Air Force commitment was three months of Officer Training School, one year of flight school followed by five years of additional active duty.
The application process for becoming an Air Force officer and airplane driver was intense and took many months. I first completed a lengthy application. I passed the first round of cuts and had to take several tests such as an aptitude test, general knowledge and eye-hand coordination. After passing the second round of tests, I was given a very comprehensive flight physical, including an eye exam. A common mis-conception is that you cannot become a military pilot if you do not have 20/20 vision. Only a select few (such as Air Force Academy cadets) know that it is possible to get a waiver of the 20/20 requirement from the Surgeon General of the Air Force. I also had to complete a detailed Department of Defense questionnaire about my entire life, which would be used by the FBI to investigate me to determine if I was eligible to hold a Top Secret security clearance. After passing the FBI background check, the last stage of the process was to be selected by a selection board.
I began the USAF application process in the fall of 1969, but did not get notice of my acceptance until May of 1970, about the same time I got a notice from my draft board to report for a draft physical. When an Army recruiter told me that I had a good chance of being drafted into the Army and being sent to Vietnam, I elected to accept my USAF slot and go to Officer Training School and flight school. I goofed off the summer of 1970 in Westport, Connecticut, were my parents lived. In early September of 1970, I took the oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States and became an E-4 (for pay purposes) and reported to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, for three months of OTS.
Officer Training School in 1970 was a cross between college and military boot camp. We were assigned to squadrons of new Officer Trainees (“OTs”). Each squadron had an Air Force officer who acted as a low key drill instructor. I got up each day except Sunday at about 5:30 a.m., made my bed in the USAF way, showered, shaved, got dressed and marched to the mess hall for breakfast. We had to march everywhere outside. If we went any where on the OTS campus, one OT had to be the flight leader who gave the marching commands to the other OTs (or sometimes a single OT) who marched in single file or in a column of two.
Breakfast, like all meals, was quick and we could not talk. We only had between 5 – 10 minutes to eat our food so everybody woofed it down. Then it was back to the barracks to study for class. A typical day consisted of mostly class room instruction on military subjects like how to be an officer, the structure of the USAF, and military history. An hour or two each day was devoted to exercising and physical education. We ran a lot, and I’m not big on running long distances. We also played team sports like football, softball and a strange game called “Flickerball,” which was a combination of basketball and football.
I don’t remember OTS as being very difficult, certainly it was nothing like Marine boot camp. I do remember making a lot of good friends and having a lot of good times. We always seemed to find something to laugh about. I distinctly remember getting the feeling that I was getting converted to the Air Force way of thinking. I also remember seeing movies in the big auditorium, which we affectionately called the “master bedroom” because when the lights went out in it, a lot of us nodded off to sleep.
Every Saturday morning at OTS the cadet wing of OTs had a parade and marching competition. The first six weeks I was at OTS, I marched in the parade. The marching skill of each squadron was graded. The quarters of each squadron was also graded. The squadron that scored the highest combined score won the weekly prize. The last six weeks I was at OTS, I was one of the OTs who graded the squadrons’ marching at the parade. The only time I ever marched or participated in a parade was when I was at OTS. I never marched or participated in parades on active duty.
I’ll never forget watching an Air Force made short movie called “There is a Way.” The movie was about men my age and a little older flying combat missions over North Vietnam in F-105 Thunderchief (the “Thud”) fighter bombers out of Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand in 1966. Lt. Karl Richter was featured in the movie because he epitomized the heroic young American warrior of the Vietnam air war. Lt. Richter had survived 100 missions over Route Pack Six, the most dangerous area of all aerial combat of the Vietnam war, and he volunteered to fly another 100 missions.
Lt. Karl Richter was shot down and killed in action on July 28, 1967, after completing his second 100 missions over North Vietnam. There is a statue of Karl Richter at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, on which is inscribed, the following words from the prophet Isaiah: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Here am I. Send me.” Lt. Richter gave his life in the service of his country. Karl Richter’s spirit and sacrifice will live on in the annals of the United States Air Force and American history. The December 1992 issue of Air Force Magazine contains an article about Karl Richter written in its Valor section.
The movie includes footage of a mongrel dog named “Roscoe,” which had a special purpose and place at Korat. Roscoe attended all the early morning briefings given to the aircrews that were to fly into the dangerous Route Pack Six area in North Vietnam. The briefings were held in an auditorium at Fort Apache, the intelligence building on the flight line at Korat.
Roscoe had a reserved seat at the briefings in the front row. Because the Route Pak Six briefings were usually very early in the morning, Roscoe liked to sleep. Sometimes, however, Roscoe woke up. Korat fighter pilots believed that if Roscoe slept through the briefing then nobody would get shot down. If Roscoe woke up during the briefing, the fighter pilots believed that it was a bad sign that somebody was going to be killed or captured that day. For more information about Roscoe, see the histories written by Col. William C. Koch, Jr. USAF (Ret) and several contributors to the Korat AB website.
Roscoe was adopted by all the fighter pilots at Korat. The youngest flying officer was given the additional duty of “Roscoe Control Officer.” His duty was to take care of Roscoe’s needs and transport him around the base and make sure Roscoe was present for the big Route Pak Six mission briefings at Fort Apache.
In the summer of 1972 when I arrived at Korat, Roscoe was still alive and living the life of top dog on base. I saw Roscoe most every day while I was at Korat. He was usually at either the Officers Club or Fort Apache, which was the intelligence building where aircrews planned and briefed combat missions.. One day I was waiting outside the Officers Club for the shuttle bus to take me to the flight line and a pickup truck pulled up and stopped in front of me. A bird Colonel got out of the truck, opened the door and Roscoe jumped out and sauntered into the club.
Sunday night at the Officers Club was “cook your own steak night.” The Club always made sure that Roscoe got a steak Sunday night. I frequently ran into Roscoe while on the shuttle bus. When Roscoe wanted to go someplace, he would wait at the bus stop until the shuttle bus arrived. The drivers all knew Roscoe and stopped to pick him up and let him out.
After graduating from USAF Officer Training School (OTS) at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, I was commissioned as a brown bar Second Lieutenant in December of 1970. I spent a year earning my wings. I finished high enough in my class to pick the F-4 Phantom as the airplane I would fly for the next five years. After a two week romp in the beautiful mountains of Washington state where I attended survival school followed by a couple of weeks at water survival school outside of Miami, Florida, I reported in November of 1971 to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, for six months of F-4 RTU.
2nd Lt. Richard Keyt is in the back row, 6th guy from the left.
RTU stood for “replacement training unit.” It was called RTU because we were being trained to replace other F-4 guys in Vietnam after they finished their one year tour of duty. Since I was young pup, I had dreamed of flying a jet fighter. When I drove onto Luke AFB for the first time and saw the sleek Phantoms lining the ramp, it was a dream come true. It gave me a chill to see row after row of camouflaged F-4s.
It was a very exciting time. I was 23 years old, single and ready for adventure. I got an apartment at the Oakwood Garden Apartments at 40th Street and Camelback Street in Phoenix, Arizona. Although it was a 45 minute drive one way to the base, my apartment complex was well worth the long commute. I picked Oakwood for several reasons: a lot of Luke F-4 pilots lived there and recommended it, the apartments were far from the base so I could live like a civilian, it was close to the night life, and the amenities were great.
Oakwood at the time was singles only. It was and still is a large apartment complex. It had a beautiful large pool, tennis court and tennis pro, sand volleyball courts, six pool tables in a big recreation center, live bands on Friday nights, an activities director and a lot of young adults. I roomed with two other F-4 students in a two bedroom apartment. We had black lights and liked to play music with the black light on at night and talk and talk and talk.
I was assigned to the 311th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, which consisted of approximately 10 – 15 F-4 instructor pilots and about 40 students. The course lasted six months and included three primary phases. We generally spent half the day in an academic class and the other half of the day flying. We also squeezed in about twenty 1.5 hour missions in the F-4 simulator.
The classes were just like college, except we weren’t studying political science, English or chemistry. We had text books for each subject and nightly reading assignments. The F-4 instructors taught classes in aircraft general, formation flying, basic fighter maneuvers, aerial combat maneuvering (dog fighting), bombing theory, weapons delivery, nuclear weapons, combat mission planning, electronic warfare and countermeasures, and weapons computer delivery system. From time to time in each course we had tests, including final exams. Anybody who flunked an exam risked losing their wings.
We spent a lot of time learning and studying about the F-4 and its systems. We were issued a large book about an inch thick called a dash one, which is the equivalent of the owners manual for the airplane. It was filled with page after page of information about all the unclassified systems of the Phantom. We studied the dash one religiously and were constantly being quizzed on F-4 trivia. The Phantom is a complex machine with a lot of systems and it demands your full attention.
Before we could fly, we had to learn about the Martin Baker ejection seat and the finer points of surviving emergency air and ground egress. The Martin Baker ejection seat is a rocket propelled ejection seat that had an excellent record of saving lives. It is known as a “zero, zero” seat, which means that it is supposed to safely eject a man when the airplane has zero altitude and zero airspeed. In theory, if a man was strapped into the ejection seat in the F-4 sitting still on the ground and the ejection seat fired, the man and seat would be blown 300 feet in the air, the parachute would open and the man would parachute back to earth safely. The nice thing about flying with an ejection seat is that you can always leave the airplane if you don’t like what is happening. It gives you a false sense of security.
The ejection seat, however, was a very dangerous device that required the utmost care. There were a number of accidents, usually involving maintenance personnel who were working inside the cockpit and accidentally fired the seat. Most seat accidents were fatal. I was very careful to check my ejection seat from top to bottom before getting in the cockpit. The seat had seven safety pins stuck in various parts, all of which had to be removed for the seat to fire. The seven pins were all attached to a long nylon cord. Normally when the airplane was not in use, all seven safety pins were in the seat. Just before a scheduled flight, the crew chief would remove six of the safety pins and put them in the safety pin bag and lay it on the top of the seat.
My first flight in the F-4 was a blast, literally and figuratively. Standard USAF procedure before flying the F-4 was for all the crewmembers in a flight to have a mission briefing two hours before scheduled takeoff. F-4s usually flew in flights of two or four. The briefings lasted an hour during which the flight leader would follow a briefing checklist and discuss the mission from A to Z. He briefed us on the weather, time to start engines, radio procedures, flight check in time, taxi procedures, arming area procedures, type of take off such as single ship or formation, departure procedure, route to the restricted flying area, how to perform the mission such as dive bombing, strafing, intercepts, dog fighting, return to base, ground emergency procedures and emergency air fields.
A video about plans to create a Veterans Memorial Center on the Mall near the Vietnam Wall to memorialize the Americans who died in the Vietnam war. The center will educate people about the sacrifices made by Americans who gave everything in all U.S. wars. People will be able to see items left at the Wall including photos, letters and messages. The goal is to tell the story of every American who died for freedom in the Vietnam War. To contributions to the fund, go the the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
If you watch the ten minute video at this link you will see what a wonderful museum they plan to build and want to contribute to the building fund.
As you watch the videos ask yourself what does it say about our leaders today who can waste billions of taxpayer dollars on boondoggles, but can’t spend the money to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that the people of the United States can be free?
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