Gunships Mail Call
|2010 Mail bag|
post a MAIL CALL entry please
email the webmaster at retcmsgtatatt.net
Reunion 2010 KUDOS - I want to thank everyone involved in the 2010 reunion. It was my first one and I have to say it was spiritual and magical. My heart was filled with joy and happiness, I never ever thought it could be so moving. The friends I saw there after forty years was unbielevable it was the love and friendship we had forty years ago it had not changed one bit.
The friends you made while you were there can never be equaled. I got to see Bob Hamorsky, Joe Alvarez, Larry Mersek, Mike Davis and Bruce Byrd.They will be friends forever and beyond. I had hoped to have seen other people there like Ben Collins and Terry Bott and Bill Pettrie. I hope to see all of you again in the future.Thank all of you for all you do for our gunship reunions and our web site. I look at it every day.
Dan Jensen 18th SOS 70-71
In two messages to me, Bernie furnished the following information:
In mid 1970, late MAY early JUN "Stingers" from Phan Rang saved our arses in/round a place called Thuong Duc, middle area of Quang Nam Province and near where your RAAF Bomber crew disappeared in NOV 70! Anyhow my Bn (Battalion) got surrounded by at least two NVA Bn which turned out to be a NVA Regt reinforced and they attacked on all fronts our dug-in Bn positions for three days and nights before we had to withdraw in CH-53s and still in heavy contact =shits were trumps!
B-52 Arc Light went next day and when we returned shortly after found two large NVA graves of around 60 and 80 or so blasted apart NVA soldier's bodies, we had to dig up and count in those bloody days!
Anyhow the "Stingers" from Nha Trang, I think it may have been C/S Stinger 62 saved our bacon (lives) on three consecutive nights before we withdrew! See the write up attached by my Senior Advisor Col Bacon of the 51st ARVN Regt when he returned Stateside.
They have impressive firepower and glad they were on our side!
I tried to follow up on pilots and crew of the particular Stingers but had little luck unfortunately!
More info from Jim! The period we are talking about was 29 MAY 70 - 11 JUN 70 and my Bn (Three Advisors (Moi plus 2 US Army) and 700 or so ARVN) was located to the north of Thuong Duc, which was a SF outpost in those days!
If any of you Stingers have information on this mission/contact please contact Jim Drever at angryantvatbigpond.com (don't forget to replace the word "at" with @ in the email address)
Recent Letter to Wayne Laessig about 2010 Reunion:
Commando's lose another — It is with great sadness I pass along the news that ACA president Charles 'Chuck' Keeler died at approximately 0115 this morning, June 11th, in Fort Walton Beach.
Details as to funeral arrangements and burial will be forwarded as they become available.
Brig. Gen. Harry C. "Heinie" Aderholt (1920 - 2010)
He is survived by his wife, Anne; daughter, Janet Lynn Elliott and
husband Chaplin Col. (Ret.) Richard G. Elliott Jr. of Panama City,
Fla.; son, George Aderholt and wife Pat of Navarre, Fla.; one sister,
Katherine McDaniel of Trussville, Ala.; two brothers, Warren Aderholt
and his wife Bunny of Marietta, Ga., and Louis Aderholt of Huntsville,
Ala.; grandchildren, Kevin Richard Elliott and wife Kathy Anderson
Elliott, Stacie Lynn Elliott, Kellie Marie Elliott and Mark Randall
Elliott; great-granddaughter, Annie Lynn Elliott; and several nieces
Air Commandos say farewell to Air Commando One - All Air Commandos are saddend to learn of the passing of Brigadier General Harry C. "Heinie" Aderholt Thursday morning, 20 May 2010 in his home after a long illness. As we expected, he fought to the very end with the same fighting spirit that he displayed throughout his incredible career. We will always miss him. Memorial service details will be provided as soon as possible.
Brigadier General Harry C. (Heinie) Aderholt was commander, U. S. Military Assistance Command, Thailand, and chief, Joint U. S. Military Advisory Group, Thailand, with headquarters at Bangkok.
General Aderholt was born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1920. He entered active military duty through the aviation cadet program in April 1942 and graduated from pilot training with a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps in May 1943.
During World War II, from October 1943 to August 1945, General Aderholt served in North Africa and Italy as a B-17 and C-47 pilot.
In September 1945 General Aderholt went to Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., assigned as a staff pilot with the Army Air Forces Eastern Flying Training Command. After completion of Air Tactical School at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., in December 1948, General Aderholt returned to Maxwell and served as a flight instructor and flying safety officer with the 3800th Air Base Wing.
During the Korean War, from July 1950 to September 1951, General Aderholt commanded a Special Air Warfare Detachment of the 21st Troop Carrier Squadron. He next was assigned as an operations staff officer with the 1007th Air Intelligence Service Group in Washington, D.C. In June 1953 he was transferred to Donaldson Air Force Base, S.C., where he served with Headquarters Eighteenth Air Force as tactical and operations staff officer in the Directorate of Operations and Training.
In October 1954, General Aderholt was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Wiesbaden Air Base, Germany, and served in the Directorate of Plans as an unconventional warfare planning staff officer.
In September 1957 General Aderholt returned to Washington, D.C., assigned to the 1007th Air Intelligence Service Group as a special warfare staff officer, and in September 1959 joined the 1040th U.S. Air Force Field Activity Squadron in the same capacity.
General Aderholt left for Okinawa in January 1960 where he became commander of the 1095th Operational Evaluation Training Group. During this assignment, he contributed to the pioneering of special air warfare techniques, and was instrumental in developing the Laos airfield complex known as Lima sites. These fields were used throughout Southeast Asia as support sites for special warfare operations and as "Jolly Green" helicopter forward staging bases for rescue and recovery operations in Laos and North Vietnam.
From August 1962 to February 1964, General Aderholt served as special advisor to the commander of the U.S. Air Force Special Air Warfare Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. During this period, he contributed to and participated in RAND Corp. studies which resulted in the publication of the Single Integrated Attack Team Study. He then was transferred to Hurlburt Field, Fla., where he served as vice commander and commander of the famed 1st Air Commando Wing.
General Aderholt left for the Republic of the Philippines in August 1965 where he was assigned as deputy commander for plans and operations with the 6200th Materiel Wing at Clark Air Base. While in this assignment, he joined the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, where he conceived and activated the Joint Personnel Recovery Center in Saigon, and served as chief from July to December 1966. He then was selected by Headquarters Pacific Air Forces to activate the 56th Air Commando Wing at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. This wing, which he organized and commanded from December 1966 to December 1967, conducted low-level night interdiction missions over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and North Vietnam, using prop-driven aircraft. The efforts of this wing were so successful in slowing infiltration that the enemy reacted by greatly increasing anti-aircraft defenses and committing a large amount of his total assets to keep the trail open.
In January 1968 General Aderholt was reassigned to the U.S. Air Force Special Air Warfare Center, later redesignated U.S. Air Force Special Operations Force, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., to serve as deputy chief of staff for operations.
General Aderholt returned to Thailand in June 1970 for a two-year tour of duty as chief of the Air Force Advisory Group, Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group, in Bangkok. He retired from active military duty in December 1972 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
He was recalled to active duty in October 1973 and assigned as deputy commander, United States Military Assistance Command, Thailand, and deputy chief, Joint United States Military Advisory Group, Thailand, with headquarters at Bangkok.
General Aderholt became commander, USMACTHAI, and chief, JUSMAG, Thailand, in May 1975.
His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation Emblem, and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon with oak leaf cluster. He is a command pilot and wears the Parachutist Badge.
He was promoted to the grade of brigadier general effective May 31,
1974, with date of rank May 25, 1974.
To the AC-119 Group, I was curious-- During Vietnam my father, Charles Lee Wesen, was stationed in Thailand and flew with the triple nickel squadron. I was wondering if he also flew on the AC-119? He was a navigator — so I wasn't sure if he would have done both — and there is a Charles L Wesen listed on your website under Last Flight 18th SOS. He passed on in 1987 so I was curious.
Charles Lee Wesen
Note: If you remember Charlie Wesson, or have information on
him, please contact Wayne Laessig at qadvocate"at"sbcglobal.net. Wayne
will put you in touch with Ann-Marie.
Air Commando One needs your thoughts and prayers - April
30, 2010 – Gen.
Heinie Aderholt, Air Commando One, has been in failing health
in recent weeks. For those of you that may have missed Gene Rossel’s
message of last Friday, here it is again.
There are many gunship guys who served under Him. The AC-119 Gunship
Association will keep Gen. Aderholt in our thoughts
Robert Hartley Spencer May 15, 1935 - March 30, 2010 17th SOS Flight Engineer 1969-1970 Bob, as he was known to everyone, died peacefully on March 30 with his daughter Cheryl at his side. He was diagnosed with cancer in early February.
“Our extended AC-119 family continues to grow" with the birth of LeRoy and Rose Frahm’s grand-daughter, Liev on February 16th, 2010.
Mom Rose had a tough time after delivery but is doing well now. Ellery and grandpa LeRoy took Liev to a recent appointment across town and he is healthy. He claims it's the first 3 generation Frahm men appointment!
Best wishes to all and welcome to the the 71st and AC-119 family, Liev!”
Your AC-119 Gunship Association family
C-119 folks from the 60th Troop Carrier Group, 1950-61, Rhein Mein and Dreaux, 10th, 11th, 12th Squadron and honored guests are invited to the 2010 Reunion at Music City USA.
Arrive at Fiddler's Inn, Nashville, TN, Wednesday September 8th with banquet Thursday evening. You will need to make your own hotel reservations in advance. Please tell them you are with the 60th Troop Carrier Group. Phone number is 877-223-7621. Rooms are $69 plus local tax.
You will need to fund Paul and/or Darlene Baldwin (personal check is OK) by August 15th for dinner and shows. Thursday banquet is $27, Friday's dinner show is $33, and the Grand Ole Opry is $38 per person. $98 per person for all three. Please help spread the word that all our 10th, 11th, 12th, base flight and 60th group (and Wing) folks are invited as well as the 317th or other Troop Carrier Vets of our era. For more more information contact Paul and Darlene Baldwin, 113 Par Drive, Whitney, TX 76692, PH: 254-694-2267. E-mail: email@example.com
When God closes a door he often opens a window of hope–Welcome to our newest 4th generation AC-119er, Samantha (Reffner) McFarland, weighing
in at 7 pounds 7 ounces, and 20* inches; great-granddaughter of our own 18th
SOS Gunner, Bill Reffner; grand-daughter of Bill Reffner Jr, and daughter of
Catherine (Reffner) and Anthony McFarland. Some of you may remember our
Albuquerque Reunion Banquet where Anthony got down on his knee and asked
Catherine "Will you marry me" to the tune of many "a-h-h-hs" and "o-h-h-hs" from the folks there (causing a few glistening eyes). Catherine said "Yes".
Your AC-119 Gunship family.
Thank You AC-119 Gunship Association from Frank Hill's Family:
Thank you from Frank Hill's Family for the Newsletter and Web mention,
We have forgotten to mention dad's other son Frankie Jr. I just wanted
everyone to know that he has a son to carry on his name.
We lose another brother - Frankie D. Hill Sr died last
weekend from lung cancer. He was a Stinger Gunner in 1969-1970. He’s
survived by his daughter Debra Betterton and two sons.
Urgent! Gunship Brother Needs Assistance – One of the benefits of being an AC-119 Gunship Association member is being able to get assistance with Awards and Decorations that are due our members based on their combat service. Sometimes those who could help us are no longer with us and we hit a wall. In those cases, we turn to you, our members and associates, with requests like the following one. If you know anything about this event, please send an e-mail with your information to our Awards and Decorations Manager Mac MacIsaac at: colmacmacatmac.com. Here’s the event we need help with:
During a mission on August 11,1972, about 10 clicks South of DaNang AB, a Stinger gunship began firing at a known enemy position. In doing so it received heavy ground fire from enemy ground troops. The aircraft commander ordered all mini guns on-line, but the #3 gun jammed. Gunner Frank Bartlett Informed the aircraft commander of the malfunction and electronically removed the jammed gun to off-line status. While attempting to clear the jam a round, that had not fully chambered, exploded resulting in powder burns to his left eye. Dan McDuffie (Deceased) came to his immediate aid. The aircraft commander declared an emergency and returned to DaNang. The 18th SOS, Det 1 commander, Lt Col Teal, met the aircraft at the end of the runway and escorted Bartlett to the emergency room for treatment.
The AC-119 Gunship Association Board
Looking for an information source such as after action or mission reports or crew contact on a pair of AC-47's, Spooky 73 and Spooky 74, which provided fire support for me and a small force of Vietnamese popular and regional force troops during the nights of February 14 and 15, 1969.
The aircraft were out of Bien Hoa and both Spooky 73 and 74 were on station over my small team providing flares and mini gun support for more than four hours on the night and into the pre-dawn of Feb. 14-15 1969. It just happened to be the eve of the anniversary of the '68 Tet Offensive. My former call sign was Linwood Stumper Two Zero Delta, and the action took place in III Corps over Tanh Linh subsector.
Any info or contact would very much be appreciated.
Another Brother Leaves Us
Stingers, I thought you should know that my dad, Shelby Lucky (18th SOS), left us on October 7, 2009. I'm his son, also a proud USAF veteran, and I think the other Stinger crewmen would be glad to know he went out as he lived, with honor and dignity befitting an Air Force NCO and combat aircrewman.
Dad's buried at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery, and he's in good and honorable company there.
Web Kudos – Hey, great job on the website. I was just doing some searches and found it easily.
Very refreshing to read everything and viewed all the pictures. I
swear I smelled food being prepared on the streets of NKP while reading
and viewing the pictures.
Anyone hear of the "Shadow Shooters Society"
During a clean up of old papers I came across a certificate from the "Shadow Shooters Society" signed by the "Master of Saigon tea" to
Mr. T.A .Keary as an honorary shadow and member of the triple's. for operational
missions on 17th July 1969.
Sad news of another brother's Last Flight
MSgt Charles March,
Chief Fred March’s son, passed us the sad news that his father passed away and asked that we post his father’s name on our Last Flight list. We
do so with deep respect and prayers, as we join his family and friends
who mourn his loss but celebrate his life.
Fredrick David March
Fred retired from the United States Air Force as a Chief Master Sergeant where he served a bomb loader specialist, as well as serving two tours in Vietnam. MSgt Charles March remembers his Dad's pride as a Flight Mechanic/Engineer on AC-119Ks in the 18th SOS, as well as tours in AC-47s and AC-130s. After a proud and full career, Chief March purchased and ran two Laundromats, and his family remembers him as a loving husband, father, grandfather, and brother. A funeral service was held January 14, 2010 in the chapel of Emerald Coast Funeral Home, Fort Walton Beach. Chief March received military honors by the Hurlburt Honor Guard and local Chiefs paid their respects.
The loss of another brother and reflections from his son
We sadly received the following from Rick Romandetta about the passing
of his Dad and our brother Dominick, AC-119 Flight Engineer and Life
member #254. Rick’s words are far better than anything we can
1st 1931 in N.Y., N.Y. he was 1 of 4 children raised by Catherine & Frank
Romandetta, who is survived by his 2 sisters, Teresa Deleo and Angi
Ferrar, and his brother Frank Romandetta. Meeting my mother,
Louise, in 1954, they were married a year later in Boise, Idaho, and
in the 54½ yrs that followed, their family grew from 2 children (my
sister Rusty & I), to include: 4 grandchildren - Stacy,
Lindsay, Kyle & Stephanie and 3 great-granddaughters - Allyssa,
Lily & Adrian.
A New Life Brightens Our Fold
Add one more to our AC-119 extended
family – “Uncle
Bill” Reffner’s Great-Grand-daughter!
Congratulations from your AC-119 Gunship extended family
Another Brother Lost
We sadly inform you that Jeffrey A. Winter, of West Bend, Wisconsin
and formerly of Cedarburg, passed away on Christmas Day, December 25,
2009. He is survived by his wife Lynn, daughters Amy DiCristo and Tammy
Jeffrey was one of our Stinger Gunners who often flew with “Mingo” Marsland and “Uncle Bill” Reffner, and proudly earned his Stinger nickname “Donkey”. Catherine Reffner (McFarland), Uncle Bill’s Granddaughter, tells us, “We can not let what he did in his life pass with him. He will be greatly missed by all of us. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Thank you to everyone for all that you have done over the years to keep us free.” For anyone desiring to send messages to Jeff’s family, please contact Catherine or Bill Reffner at cbscruffyatcomcast.net.
Another Gunship Brother Passes On
Newell Riley was born in Puyallup WA, May 23, 1947 to Newell R. Lee, Sr. and Stella (Mikus) Lee. He was an alumnus of Enumclaw High School ('64) and Central Washington University ('68) where he obtained his Bachelor's degree in education. Newell was an officer and pilot for the United States Air Force serving two tours in the Vietnam War. During this time he flew AC-119s (earning the Distinguished Flying Cross) and C-130s. He completed his service to our country achieving the rank of Major. Upon leaving active duty in '77 he moved his family from Hampton VA back to the Enumclaw Plateau. He retired from the state of Washington DOT/Aviation Division ('09) where he and colleagues were charged with coordinating searches for pilots of downed aircrafts across the state. He was a Royal Arch Mason with the Crescent Lodge #109 for 41 years, a volunteer firefighter with K.C.F.D. #46, where he also served as Medical Officer, and Valley Regional Fire and Rescue Dist. #44 for 30 years, a member of the VFW #1949, Eagles #1387, the Gold Prospector's Association of America/Lost Dutchman Mining Association, and WA Prospector's Association. His was a life of service, family, and community. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Sandra, and mother-in-law Amy Roché. He is survived by his wife Alice of Auburn, daughters Alicia Woods (and husband Michael) of Auburn and Danielle Lee (and husband Scott) of Bonney Lake, granddaughter Alyssa Lee, step-daughter Melinda Holder, fathers-in-law Charles Roché of Yakima and Bill Wesley of Auburn, and brother-in-law Chuck Roché of San Luis Obispo, CA as well as a multitude of cousins throughout WA, TN, and VA.
Donations can be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the VFW #1949. Newell's ashes will be interred with his wife Sandra's at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, WA. A memorial service will be held at Crescent Lodge #109 in Enumclaw, at 11 am on Saturday, January 23, 2010. All are welcome. The family thanks Week's Funeral Home in Enumclaw for their services and guidance. http://obit.weeksfuneralhomes.com/obitdisplay.html?id=739601&listing=Current
Webmaster note: our AC-119 Gunship Association sent a contribution to the Leukemia Society in Newell Lee’s name.
THANK YOU VIETNAM VETS
A Thank You to all Vietnam Vets from a Marine in Iraq
A guy gets time to think over here and I was thinking about all the support we get from home. Sometimes it's overwhelming. We get care packages at times faster than we can use them. There are boxes and boxes of toiletries and snacks lining the center of every tent; the generosity has been amazing. So, I was pondering the question: "Why do we have so much support?"
In my opinion, it all came down to one thing: Vietnam Veterans. I think we learned a lesson, as a nation, that no matter what, you have to support the troops who are on the line, who are risking everything. We treated them so poorly back then. When they returned was even worse. The stories are nightmarish of what our returning warriors were subjected to. It is a national scar, a blemish on our country, an embarrassment to all of us.
After Vietnam, it had time to sink in. The guilt in our collective consciousness grew. It shamed us. However, we learned from our mistake. Somewhere during the late 1970's and on into the 80's, we realized that we can't treat our warriors that way. So ... starting during the Gulf War, when the first real opportunity arose to stand up and support the troops, we did. We did it to support our friends and family going off to war. But we also did it to right the wrongs from the Vietnam era. We treat our troops of today like the heroes they were, and are, acknowledge and celebrate their sacrifice, and rejoice at their homecoming ... instead of spitting on them.
And that support continues today for those of us in Iraq. Our country knows that it must support us and it does. The lesson was learned in Vietnam and we are all better because of it.
Everyone who has gone before is a hero. They are celebrated in my heart. I think admirably of all those who have gone before me. From those who fought to establish this country in the late 1770's to those I serve with here in Iraq. They have all sacrificed to ensure our freedom. But when I get back home, I'm going to make it a personal mission to specifically thank every Vietnam Vet I encounter for THEIR sacrifice. Because if nothing else good came from that terrible war, one thing did. It was the lesson learned on how we treat our warriors. We as a country learned from our mistake and now we treat our warriors as heroes, as we should have all along. I am the beneficiary of their sacrifice. Not only for the freedom they, like veterans from other wars, ensured, but for how well our country now treats my fellow Marines and I. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.
Major Brian P. Bresnahan
AC-119 Gunship Association