Welcome To A Forward Air Controller
& Spouse Home ~Page
Right Click Below To Hear
It's With Deep Sadness I Must Report The Passing of
Colonel HAL and wife Hazel (his copilot)
(Viet Nam Forward Air Controller & His Faithful Companion)
CLICK PICTURE ABOVE TO BEGIN
This Page Dedicated To Both Their Memories
Internment Arlington National Cemetery 15 Nov 2010 11AM
She Was Born August 25, 1919 Kenmore, Ohio and Died October 2, 2010 Murrells Inlet, S.C.
First Female to Receive Pilot Instructor's license in Atlantic City 1938
THANK YOU TO ALL THOSE THAT SENT WELL WISHES
From Their Proud Children: Chuck, Lynn & Tom
Internment Arlington National Cemetery 3 Oct 2005 11AM
He Was Born June 21, 1920 Atlantic City N.J. and Died July 19, 2005 Myrtle Beach S.C.
Triple Silver Star Winner and Triple Vet: WWII, Korea And Vietnam
It was a cool fall day at Arlington National Cemetery. A group of about 30 people were in attendance as we
got briefed on the military service, the immediate family position and role was explained. We convoyed out
to the the burial site and were surprised to see a service about to begin for a very senior Admiral or General
officer as it looked just like JFK and Ronald Regan's Military televised service. There was the service colors,
a rifle team, a formation of airmen, a full band, a separate bugler and there was this magnificent horse drawn
caisson with riders led by one rider less horse with the boots in the stirrups backwards.
It turned out it was an All Air Force Personnel formation. But it was for our Colonel Hal.
He Would Have Loved It.
Col Hal's Arlington USAF Services; Colors, Caisson, Band, Formation, Rifles & Bugler
a strange thing occurred during the rifle team firing 3 volleys of 7 shots, followed by the bugler sounding
Taps... as if on cue at the final note; an American Airlines 777 taking off from nearby Regan National made
a most unusual very low at tree top level and very loud Take Off all the while banking steeply straight up.
As if to say... 'they had just lost one of their own.' Right Click Picture
Blue Skies mon Capy-tan
An 18 year old 1937 FEMALE Pilot In Training, Bader Field, Atlantic City
It should be stated here a most remarkable event. A teenager in 1938 got it
into HIS head he wanted to learn how to fly & went out to Atlantic City's lil
Bader airfield which is the historic place where Charles Lindberg traveling
around USA to support aviation, said that with all the boats, waterways and
planes that this place looked like an "air-port!" Thus the name stuck when
reported the next day in all the world's press. He saw a group of guys in the
tarmac parking area who was the instructor? They said inside the airplane
hanger. Inside there he found some pilots talking and when asked where the
flight instructor was they replied inside that plane over there. He saw a very
cute girl inside the training plane and asked if there was someone there that
could teach him how to fly?
My Mom said yes, Me! This All Back In 1938! Dad got instructions, they
began dating, then got married, later in 1942, got drafted into the Army. He
then got asked, while learning how to dig Army fox holes, 'Does anyone here
know how to fly?' And with That ended my dad's career as an Army ground
pounder (infantry). Mom must have taught him very well as he would then
graduate #1 in a class of 200 & wound up sitting out the war as a B-29 Boeing
Superfortress Senior Flight Instructor. Way to go Hazel... You Did Good!
Hazel May F. Teenager and Fledging Pilot Mrs. Hazel May L. Pilot Instructor
Hazel in her Beloved Luscombe Teaching Harold How To Fly at Bader Field N.J. 1938
With His Brand New Army-Air Corps Wings and his Soon To Be Very Happy Bride
Hal and Haze Start Their New Family with a Toe Head Son Announcement
A.F. Military Internment Service
"FOR A SOLDIER THAT DIED TODAY..."
Colors, Marching Band, Bugler and the Rifle Team
The Military Funeral Procession Begin To Form Up
Air Force Pall Bearers Join Up Behind The Casket
Horse Drawn Caisson, Rider Less Horse w/ Commander
The Six Horse Drawn Caisson Passes In Review
Procession Arrives At The Columbarium Entrance
Honor Guard Transfer Ceremony In Positioned
Arrival At The Chaplain's Service Theater
Military Honors Are Rendered By 6 Man Pall Bearers
A Grateful Nation Salutes Your Husbands' Service Hazel
Rabbi, Son Tom, Daughter Lynn at end of Service
It Sounded Like This
The Final Journey
Now Welcome to VietNam
Place : Republic of South Vietnam, I Corps ( border w/ Laos & North Vietnam
Time: Year leading up to the 1968 TET Offensive (May 1967 through May 1968)
Pilot A/C: Lt. Colonel HAL from Offutt AFB (SAC Hqts.)
WWII Pilot Korea Senior Pilot Vietnam Command Pilot
WWII: B-29, Korea: Gooney Bird C-47 Medivac & 'Nam: O-1 & O-2 FAC
Major Hal Awaits Orders For Vietnam In Capehart Housing Offutt AFB Omaha Nebraska
Taken Prior To Tet 1968 At Main Gate La-Vang Airport where he served as Base & Sqdrn Cmdr, Quang Tri City I Corps
a USAF combat PRESS photo
'Snoopy' BIRD DOG /O-2
The Forward Air
Controller or FAC is a military program for controlling
air resources from slow and
low flying aircraft. Its primary mission was to support ground troops by affording them tactical air
coverage. This was done by 3 different methods. ONE, air reconnaissance; TWO, troop support by
air surveillance; THREE, by directing fighter - bomber assets on selected ground targets with the use
of marking rockets that would leave a cloud of of color smoke as an aim point for the fighter aircraft
flying 'Top Cover.'
Both 20th & 22nd TASS Flew Gray Low Observable 0-1 & O-2 Cessnas
SNOOPY (a Beagle Bird Dog) was made the official F.A.C. Mascot in 'Nam
(Thanks Personally To Mr. Charles Schultz)
"If the enemy is in range, then so are you."
Maj Hal's Teeny Tiny O-1 firing off marking rocket with white smoke burst
FAC’s have actually
been around since the dawn of flight, beginning with lighter than air
observation balloons during the civil war when they were used to direct canon (artillery)
fire. In Vietnam FAC’s were in either 0-1 Bird Dogs or 0-2 Super Skymasters (although the
Army would try and incorporate the OV-10 Bronco as FAC's from lessons learned in SEA).
The main difference between the earlier 0-1’s & the later 0-2 was that the 0-2 had to fly off
from a more improved runways and that meant there would always be more 0-1’s in country
& available than 0-2’s. O-1's were tail draggers while O-2's had a tricycle type landing gear.
"USUALLY, It is generally inadvisable to eject
directly over the area you just... bombed."
Top Cover TAC F-4 Phantoms laying ordnance from O-1 aim points
(TAC = Tactical Air Command)
The story of
Forward Air Controllers and Vietnam all began I suppose back in 1965
the Army requested USAF air assets to support the arrival of the 1st Green Beret advisors
sent by President JFK. 20 Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs were put in theater, difficult at first due
to the hot steamy rainy muddy jungle conditions and unprepared young pilots. That got
remedied by training previous war combat pilots in new all weather aircraft.
"Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword,
obviously never met any fully automatic weapons."
Snoopy 1965 20th TASS Patch 1968 TASS Squadron Patch
It was not until December 1965 20th TASS was commissioned and in full operation.
FAC pilots began round the clock daily missions 1966 in January. FAC's supported
US Marine ops in I Corps, US Army & ARVN ops in III Corps, convoy escorts for
all services, surveillance of DMZ and Ho Chi Minh trail for General Westmoreland.
During 1966 FAC's were given many tactical call signs such as: Tigerhound, Covey,
Raven, TallyHo and Steel Tiger. In early 1966 20th TASS was given the mission to
fly out-of-country interdiction flights over the Ho Chi Minh trail under the call sign
Tiger-Hound AO (air operations). To accomplish this assignment 20th TASS set up
a set of FOBs (Forward Operating Bases). Khe Sanh, Quang Tri, Cam Lo, Kham Duc
and Kontum. In 1967 when I arrived In-Country we set up hdqts at DaNang, also
Dong Ha, Pleiku and Dak To. My first job was get Talley Ho up which was part of the
giant Steel Tiger tri-service joint operation with the Marines and the Army as well as
Naval Ship-to-shore aircraft & USAF F-104's, F-105's; only all to be replaced with the
new AF F-4C Gunslinger aircraft. This was the first with the rotating 20mm Gatling
canon. Talk about something that could keep the enemy's head down! Very effective
especially when it was controlled by the USAF FACs. SO, If the mission was to cross
the border either North Vietnam or Laos, the call sign would revert to Covey and
operated by our 'black' unit the Ravens at DaNang.
So, after having gone through the required O-1 conversion school at Angels Gate,
Hurlburt Field, Eglin AFB in Florida for former fighter and bomber pilots who were
now being recruited into the Viet Nam FAC (Forward Air Controller) program and
then on to the survival school at Fairchild AFB, Wash.
There was also the foul weather course for SEA (South East Asia) jungle training
school called Palace Chase which was located at the large Clark AFB in the P.I.
(Philippine Islands). Finally we had our Palace Gate at III Corps Bien Thuy AB for
all Vietnam In Country orientations.
"Remember, Tracers Rounds can work in BOTH directions."
I WOULD ARRIVED IN COUNTRY MAY 1967...
and I then went directly to FAC-U (Forward Air Controller University at Binh Thuy
(pronounced too-wee) AB for all IN theater indoctrination and pilot orientation.
I was met in Saigon by Maj Gund from 20th TASS in DaNang whom I was to
replace and who was "VERY" glad to see me. LOL. He picked me up in a nice comfy C-130 to DaNang
headquarters to sign in. We would later transfer to a commuter Twin Beech that could land at Bien Thuy
Friendly Fire - Isn't Play China Beach
We then immediately took off from Danang to my first in-country post at the Bien Thuy landing strip,
but first we had to have a protective escort with one of our single engine gun ships seen here below.
They were all seasoned instructor pilots, who were training the ARVN Air Force cadet pilots.
Our Bien Thuy arrival was quiet, uneventful and quite calm, at least from the air before we landed.
I would be here for about 3 weeks to get up to speed in my aircraft, get the lay of the land, familiarize
myself with air traffic control in an actual war zone and practice air to ground co-ordination with real
life practical experiences very quickly.
Wonderful morning view of Bien Thuy airfield from the officers / pilots barracks area above.
When We Pull The Damn Pin
Mr. Grenade is NOT our Friend
However, a not so wonderful view of the Ho Chi Minh 'Half-Hilton' Quonset area...
My suite (rack) was third on right, upper bunk & next to the latrine. With wonderful room smells that
almost competed with the equally lovely aromas that wafted in from the nearby local Howard Johnson's
OR in other words - the city sewers... uh, take your pick, same difference !
My only personal luxury was a Christmas picture of my wife Haze and our new Boston Bull Terrier
'Tippy.' Everything else was government issued.
Here is a close up of that picture... Notice my Electro Home of Canada Stereo/Record/AM-FM Radio
combo unit on the left with two Bangkok giant brass candle holders Chuck had mailed us from Thailand
Notice my 'farmers' tan arms, my new Swiss Brietling aviator wristwatch and the ever present look of
Vietnam shell shock on the face... The very first thing you do when you arrive on Day One is to start a
FIGMO calendar, otherwise you go nuts I wuz told... 364 Days and a Bag Drag !
FIGMO says it all Play BOOTS
Well after Bien Thuy I had my first Combat Command and assignment.
ENTER KHE SANH (pronounced K-San)
This was the name for the famous battle locations in "I" Corps that made all the news all around the
world just after I left for Bangkok for my in country R&R.
Not Exactly Hilton Head HILTON but, sure beat the Army and Marine Foxholes
After Binh Thuy I flew out in my newly assigned O-1 Snoopy Bird Dog and reported to the Khe Sanh
area joint service outpost which was located in the north west corner of I Corps RSVN. The exact point
where North and South Vietnam & Laos all come together near the Mekong river. Khe Sanh prior to the
'68 TET Offensive (which took place on the Chinese celebrated date, January 30th) had a compliment of
US Army, Air Force & Marine contingents that numbered about 300 personnel. The Army had a full
colonel but, I was next in rank as an USAF Major. Khe Sanh was an Army outpost with two artillery
batteries that covered both ends of the PSP (perforated steel planking) single runway. The Air Force
contingent was made up mostly of the FAC crews assigned with five O-1 Bird Dog type spotter aircraft.
Our Not So Friendly Khe Sanh AB Next To The Axis of Laos, North & South Vietnam
War Might Be Hell, But If You Are Not Getting Paid For It
Then It Can Be Down Right Ugly As Well
Very Nasty area which also had the distinction of being the forward most out post to confront the now
infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail that acts as a highway bringing enemy troops, weapons and supplies from
communist mainland China all the way down into the entire South Vietnam country side.
You can just tell from the ROCKS in the background that this was dangerous territory! NOT a single
friendly neighborhood to be found and NOT too many lovely places to go window shopping either!
Wonderful mud everywhere. Welcome to SEA Paradise Plantation, or at least that was what we called
the arm pit of South Vietnam. Never a dull moment. Very bad battles would be fought all along here
just after I left which was just before TET.
The Cessna O-1 Bird Dog would continue to prove to be an outstanding choice of aircraft for the theater
of operations. It was my second month at Khe Sanh that I had the opportunity of meeting and flying the
former chief of staff of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) one eye general Moshe Dayan on his guest tour of
the battle areas & describe the methods we were using in SEA. He said to me that although they normally
did not fight in a jungle area, they had some experience in the 1956 Suez war around the Nile delta area.
The use of airborne helicopters as strike forces from the sky (Air Calvary) was an option he wanted to see
up close. Further, he said they have used similar 'spotter' planes for some ten years and although they'd
tell nosey reporters the plane were just liaison planes for commanders when they actually were really night
time desert observation aircraft which had some tactical and FAC uses. Because of his check rides with us
they would now look into be expanded upon. He also asked me about my thoughts on a new type aircraft
as he was planning on getting the IDF-AF to ordering about a dozen Piper Taylorcraft which were like our
O-1 Cessna. I told him maybe he should check into a dual use planes to save money. One, a combat FAC
mission and the Other a peacetime a primary propeller trainer aircraft. They were already using Piper 150
super cub which could fulfill both missions easily. Then during combat you would have air assets, all ready
trained pilots & with in an hour conversion time for some wing mounted marking rockets would be good
to go. Turned out I was right on the mark! Achem...
Here two IDF FACs are seen over the Sea of Galilee on patrol just two years later
So, What Part of "NO"
Didn't You Understand?
Now, my son Msgt Chuck who was stationed next door at Dong Mung RTAFB, Bangkok would LATER
in 1973 be assigned to Israel when they were battling for their life in the surprise Yom Kippur War. He
got a special assignment on the Golan Heights for over a month during the war. While there he made a
similar assessment and recommendations for the IDF-AF to adopt their Magister jet trainer aircraft as a
FAST FAC. The Magister jet trainers were then converted with weapons and Fast FAC smoke marking
rockets for the IDF F4 Phantoms (same plane as Navy, Marine Corps & Air Force used over Vietnam).
Here IDF-AF Fast-FACs / Jet Trainer dual mission aircraft 1975
Images Of My Camp Life In A War Zone On The DMZ
Making Tape Letters To Haze, Chuck, Tom & Linda From My Commander's cubicle
I should mention that in all the war zones we had free U.S. Mail, no postage required. Haze, I and Chuck
and later my second son Tommy all used a lil open reel tape recorder. We would start a tape (about 30
minutes) and who ever we sent it to replied on the other side, that way we knew what the subjects of
discussion were all about. Later I found out Chuck kept a whole bunch of them including the one in my
pocket in the picture above. He would always ask me to take the battery tape recorder with me and to
tape my air missions.
Coming Soon Aircraft 2-Way Communications
It once save my life (that is another story) and another saved some of my fellow pilots butts in a JAG
enquiry about an ARVN incident. Chuck said he would post some of the recordings here on my web
page. I am holding him to that...
This is where the 'lucky' Khe Sanh folks got to hang out, an air-conditioned bunker with real bath
rooms. Our command post, control tower and comm. center all is safe, secure and damage resistant
reinforced concrete and steel.
The ever present CONEX boxes was for out side storage of non essentials. A lot of us would scrounge up
folding army cots which gave you some sleep. This was luxury at Khe Sanh BTW since most of the 300
troops were in fox holes & open ditches 24/7! It was the only A/C and cement building as well. It rained
366 days out of the year. We worked 2 13 hour shifts every day with no over lap. Nothing was ON time.
"5 second fuses
would have a nasty habit
of lasting only 3 seconds."
In-Country ONE WEEK PASS TO BANGKOK
I asked my son Chuck, next door in Bangkok to book us a hotel room for what we call
an In-Country vacation. Because we had our own planes, that meant we could hop next
door to Thailand. He said Christmas was booked solid but New Years was looking pretty
good. So I took my vacation after everyone else came back from their holiday vacations.
Officers Bangkok Hotel 'Chao Phrya' Lt Chuck getting a 2 for 1 on the cheap!
I had to check my son in as a 2nd Lt! 1 carton cigs + 1 liquor got us a Guide/Taxi
Very Ornate Temple of the Golden Buddha Time Exposure of Golden Buddha & Chuck
The (World's Largest) Reclining Buddha Entrance Marble Buddha Temple Grounds
Me and Temple of Paradise near Thai River Queen's Temple Sculptured Gardens
Maj Hal & Son at The Emerald Buddha Travelers, Hal, Chuck and Mong (Guide)
Temples were everywhere and gorgeous The Temple Of The Sun with Gardens
"I really loved taking all of these picture memories of once in a lifetime exotic sites."
Guardians of the Temples from 'King & I' Farewell at Chao Phrya Hotel Entrance
As luck would have it, not even three days after arriving in Bangkok, all of South
Vietnam exploded. Wall to wall news (Armed Forces Radio, Stars & Stripes) & all
Here is what our bases looked like January 30th 1968... TET OFFENSIVE
the local media carried extensive gory details. I then got an unexpected bonus, now
there was no longer a place for me and Elvis to land back in Nam or even come back
to in one piece. I wound up staying almost 3 weeks. So... I Missed... TET !
Divine Providence and my resourceful son again stepped in! Thanks.
NOTE ON TET: The local Vietnamese celebration of New Year begins sundown last day in January.
NEXT ASSINGMENT LAVANG AIRPORT, QUANG TRI (kwon tree)
TASS: Tactical Air Support Squadrons MACV Compound at Quang Tri City below
Here is Elvis & me. I have my side arm (45 cal), my Tom Cruise Ray Ban sunglasses, my flak vest on &
my white communication helmet in my left hand. Just back from my early AM mission. You can see
here clearly how we get those dark sun tan fore arms from jungle flying.
I wanted to name my bird dog 'Snoopy,' but that was taken, then my son Chuck suggested in a Tape
Letter to name it Elvis which I and everyone else thought was pretty funny at the time. I also knew my
wife Hazel would appreciate NOT having her name assigned a combat war bird!
Here is my ever dependable squadron team who took care of our Snoopy's through monsoons, dirt,
dust, enemy fire, mechanical failures & jungle rot! Thanks Don Hable & Don Cheney for always being
there. My main man for our Snoopy maintenance; Sgt. David Sciacchitano (shak key ta no) below.
Perimeter post @ Major Hal's base in I Corps, LaVang Airport, Quang Tri City near the DMZ, RSVN
By the way, when I refer to "I Corps" (pronounced Eye Core) we are referring to the common practice
of how everyone stated their location in Vietnam. The Marine Corps broke the country of VietNam up
into corps areas where they had their divisions stationed. The Army, Navy and Air Force would latter
adopt this demographic reference as well.
"Major Hal assignment was to the 20th TASS LaVang Airfield (above). His headquarters was DaNang
Air Base, TASS operated out of DaNang with eight or nine forward operating fields, of which Hue Citadel
(but not Hue Phu Bai), Quang Tri (La Vang Airfield), and Khe Sanh were but three. Khe Sanh was later
shut down by early February 1968 after TET, but that would be 3 months after your father left and came
down here to Quang Tri." So said the senior enlisted NCOIC. Also...
"Maj Hal was assigned to the 20th TASS with headquarters at DaNang. He was assigned to command
the airfield and the squadron of 5 O-1 aircraft at tiny LaVang airport near Quang Tri city.
The FAC's at Hue were all out of the 20th TASS. Colonel Brown, author of the book on FAC's in 'nam
entitled "Palace Gate" was ensconced at Hue and would fly out of the Citadel paved airfield with his
good buddy Maj Hal. All of the pilots assigned to Quang Tri occasionally flew out of Hue Citadel,
DaNang or some other airfields for various reasons e.g. ferrying materials
of DaNang and eight or nine forward operating airfields, of which Hue (Citadel), Quang Tri (La or intra
service people. Also bad weather, enemy activity, etc. But those were not TDY movements, just tactical
issues decided ad hoc." Excerpt from Col Brown book 'Palace Gate' chapter.
"Many pilots flew for more than one TASS, but I don't think Maj Hal did. I think he was always assigned
to the 20th. Training for all FAC pilots countrywide was down at Binh Thuy (TOO-WEE). Maj Hal was
there for training only. The 22nd TASS supported the pilot training at Binh Thuy for all of the FAC squads
under the group, which during Maj Hal's tour was the 504th Tactical Air Support Group. In 1967, all of
those who checked out on O-2's Skymaster in Vietnam did so at Binh Thuy - I think it took about several
weeks." as communicated by Sgt. David S. (Maj Hals crew chief).
Here You See The Famous Quang Tri Welcome Sign which translated says 'Go Home Yankee or Die'
Here's The Pastoral Country Vietnam Scene Of Downtown Main Street at The Height Of Rush Hour!
First Rule In-Country, Never Ask What You Are Eating. If it Moves: Stab It. If It Looks Back At You,
Smile. And if it is not moving about your plate, better eat it quickly before it flees for it's life... Also,
when your waiter asks 'Well, Medium or Rare?' Make sure it is burnt to a crisp & then when they bring
it to the table... ask them to burn it some More! You will Thank me later.
Play Time Is
Yup, That's My Weapon On The Wall, A Very Necessary Fan, Snoopy Images and Tape Deck On Desk
"You Know, Any ship can be a minesweeper. ONCE."
The FACs at Hue were all out of the 20th TASS and this was Maj Hal's 1st RSVN command...
This Is What Early Morning Roll Call Was Like For My People. MACV advisors all, ready for duty.
There Are 3 Things In Combat
That Are Key To Survival
And Don't Ever Forget It
Yeah, I Forgot All Three...
Quang Tri MACV Twin 40mm Guns Mounted On A Stationary (immobile) Tank was at Quang Tri
(not at Khe Sanh). Lt. Col. Brown (author of the book "Palace Gate," was ensconced at Hue. Hal and
Browny were inseparable since both were WWII pilots, married, both from Offutt AFB and came into
Nam together in all the schools and 'Gates.' They talked daily on land line as well as air-to-air every day.
Browny put a whole chapter on Hal as Harry Livingston. They would both fly out of the Citadel airfield
during hostilities. All of the pilots assigned to Quang Tri occasionally flew out of Hue (Citadel), Hue
Phu Bai, DaNang AB, or some other air field under different circumstances like ferrying materials, our
resupplies, moving personnel, or because of bad weather, enemy activity and protecting the aircraft.
This Is What Later Became Known As The 'NEW' Commander Hal's 'renovated' Quang Tri Mess Hall
Quang Tri MACV Officers Club Happy Hour Area, Off Limits To Enlisted Unless They Were Buying!
MACV Barracks And Office Area In Quang Tri Compound Area
MACV Area Looking South From Defensive Positions In Quang Tri
Northern Most Remote Outpost in South Vietnam Main Street in Regional Capital of Hue [whey]
Our Regional MACV Headquarters Compound Typical Scene of Hue and Main Bridge we Built
Freedom Bridge over the DMZ River Lt Cmdr 'Doc' Hurst & I in our Quang Tri Barracks
Looking North into North Vietnam from the DMZ & Looking South into South Vietnam from the DMZ
My Hue Captains Johnson & Furbish Quang Tri Buddhist Shrine and Temple Grounds
This Was A Favorite Park along the Hue River We All Would Visit
Main Building Of The Historic Hue Citadel
"There is no SANE reason to fly through a
thunderstorm during peacetime"
Armed and ready for a rare night mission
Play Green Berets
The closest to the border with North Viet-Nam was I Corps with Khe Sanh in the West, Quan-Tri (Tree)
provincial capital in the central area & Danang our main Northern base on the Pacific coast. II Corps
was next and then Three (III) Corps with Cam Ran Bay huge military complex and Saigon. Then we had
IV or Four Corps to the South where Senator and presidential candidate Kerry had his missions on the
Mekong River Delta followed by Five (V) Corps in the deep South.
Waiting in the ready area on PSP all weather surface
We had the most activity due to our location to the Ho Chin Minh Trail. Our job was to interdict and
disrupt all the traffic Charlie was using thanks to the direct intervention of the NVA (North Vietnamese
Army) and even the in direct contribution by the Red (Communist) China. Khe Sanh (San) sat at the
cross roads of the main highway which over looked the entire Ho Chi Minh Trail area.
"The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world;
it can just barely kill you!"
Maj Hal's famous monsoon 'Water Landings' during Nam's wet season
"You know that your landing gear is up and locked...
when it takes FULL power just to taxi to the terminal"
OUR LIL PLAY AREA
This was sort of a 'gentlemen's agreement, usually like our R&R beachs on the coast. There's a nice
white sandy beach at Na-Trang. We could get time off for good work and earn some rest & relaxation
(R&R) time; but, not too far up the beach, so did Charlie! We would leave all our personal weapons
at a check point, change into swim trunks and tote our 6 packs (beer) & towel for a nice day at the
beach. So did Charlie!
Nothing ever happen while at the beach and we all sorta just got along. If we saw Charlie, we would
wave and he would wave back. Amazing. I suppose it's funny when you look back on it years latter,
how we all seem to just get-a-long and co-exist during a war.
Maj Hal getting his O-1 refueled at La Vang AB POL area
Dry, Hot, DUSTY summer day, just right for a 'cool' O-1 mission to beat the boredom
Daily activities consisted of reconnaissance flights of the RSVN and Laotian border areas. RC-135
(Boeing 707 type) airborne control aircraft was always on station when fighters were put into action
(sorties) controlled by FAC's. On board as a matter of American policy was in addition to a general
officer was a liaison of the Laotian military who would provide final permission to strike targets well
within the borders of Laos. Same applied to RSVN Army liaison as well.
The Air Force is just an expensive flying club"
Maintenance chief Sgt David S. prepares OUR O-1 Snoopy for daily mission. Look very
carefully, he is right in front of the engine of our Snoopy O-1 Bird Dog... Really!
We were able to spot for the commanders on the ground, enemy deployment or Charlie's trying to lay
ambushes or planting road side devices... yup same thing we call IED's in Iraq today. We were most
successful in preventing ambushes. Many a mission we found ourselves warning those on the ground to
watch out to their SIX (directly behind them) or we are spotting movement to your 2 O-clock, turned
out to be a very successful life saving procedure.
"Airspeed, altitude and brains.
TWO are Always needed to successfully complete the flight"
This Is Either My 'On The Road Again' maneuver...
or my 'Back In My Saddle Again' feeling
COMBAT CASUALTY... My O-1 !
Then there was the time your father cracked up a Bird Dog at La Vang. Hal had been flying over the
MACV compound with another pilot as part of a memorial fly by ceremony, when accidently he then
'clipped' the radio antenna tower with one of his landing gear and cracking the wheel axel.
The gear collapsed on landing with the results you see in the photos below. Hal was uninjured. However
not wanting to face a board on inquiry, he pulled out his side arm and pumped a few well placed bullet
holes. It then became combat damage. YUP and another one of those funny local ARVN awards. In the
book 'PALACE GATE' Colonel Browning would often state his good buddy Harry Livingston (nom de
guerre for our Col Hal) was a very resourceful guy. (Brown says at introduction he changed all names).
The only time you might have too much fuel is...
when your aircraft or vehicle is on fire.'
Talking about coming in on a Wing And A Prayer... Here, I Dodged another bullet !
As the test pilot climbs out of the experimental aircraft, having torn off the wings and smashed the tail
in the crash landing, the fire trucks all arrive. The rescuer sees the pilot bleeding and bruised & asks,
'What happened Major?' The pilot's reply: 'I don't know, I just got here myself!'
"Col Hal turned what would have been a case of pilot error by shooting a few holes in the aircraft and
calling it battle damage. He was always a resourceful fellow. I don't remember the tail number of the
aircraft but I think it must have been 1 of those you see here from the LaVang O-1 Snoopy collection."
'Battle Damaged' O-1 repaired, Going back into action again
THEN THERE WAS THE TIME
Speaking of funny, my son asked me once what was one of the more memorable moments I had
while on tour of duty in theater. Well, got my morning assignment to head up a big Army push
into what had been a Marine Corps area of operation which the Marines wanted to free up their
troops in that quadrant. I'd be alone on this mission. I had to wait as the fighter aircraft was slow
for some reason to get on station that morning and so I sat with my prop on idle at the end of the
runway. Well, as luck would have it I got a little bored after almost two hours sitting in a very hot
humid Viet Nam summer day cockpit. So I went through all the switches & cockpit controls. Uh,
then there was this one funny looking knob... yup, I just had to find out what it would do if I threw
the switch on. It turns out it was an emergency release so that in the event I went to fire my marking
rockets and they did not launch, I could have an on board explosion, this switch would immediately
release the rocket. Well, it went straight across the field and wound up in the dining hall tent that
luckily was unoccupied at that late hour of the morning...
I then decided to TAKE OFF immediately. When I returned to base later that day, every one came
running up to me saying they finally got rocket attacked by Charlie but no one was luckily hurt. I
then expressed my surprise and surveyed all the damage which later got us all brand new dining
hall equipment, furniture and even a new cook since our old cook could no longer talk coherently
anymore for some inexplicable reason... ! So ends the exciting story of the "Our Base Camp Under
Attack." I believe we all got a medal or something from the South Vietnamese Air Force as I later
would recall. You know, it's funny how combat was sort of like that...!
The 0-1, whether by design or accident proved to be an outstanding FAC aircraft. It provided
exceptional visibility, was not complicated and was surprisingly easy to fly. However, as the
weapons of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese regulars became more sophisticated,
the 0-1’s vulnerability was accentuated. This vulnerability was finally countered by a new FAC
aircraft. The new Forward Air Control plane was the Cessna Skymaster which was a modified
Cessna 337. It was an inline dual engine aircraft with one propeller pushing & other pulling.
Flying the airplane is more important than radioing
your plight to a person on the ground WHO is
incapable of understanding or doing
anything about your emergency"
ENTER THE O-2:
The powers to be in Saigon thought after a while that the O-1 was getting too vulnerable and so
perhaps a faster, higher flying FAC with a back-up engine was needed. Enter the Cessna 337 which
had two engines IN-LINE with the one in the front the 'puller' and the one facing rearward called
the 'pusher.' Because of the tricycle landing gear they needed a paved surface free of any dirt, rocks
and debris that was commonly found on most rural outposts and O-1 operating fields.
"Many pilots flew for more than one TASS, but I don't think your father did. I think he was always
assigned to the 20th. Training for all FAC pilots countrywide was down at Binh Thuy, but I don't
think your father was ever assigned there - he was only there for O-2 training. The 22nd TASS
supported the pilot training at Binh Thuy for all of the FAC squadrons including Thailand. Under
the group, during your father's tour was the 504th Tactical Air Support Group. In 1967, all of those
who checked out on the O-2's in Vietnam did so at Binh Thuy. It took a week."
But those were not TDY movements, just tactical issues decided ad hoc.
There were five official USAF Bird Dog/O-2 TASS's (also later included OV-10s): the 19th TASS out
of Bien Hoa covering III Corps (and sometimes adjacent out of country areas); the 20th TASS out of
DaNang covering I Corps and at times part of II Corps (Pleiku and Kontum), plus part of Laos and
North Vietnam; the 21st TASS covering II Corps & parts of Laos; the 22nd TASS covering IV Corps
and parts of Cambodia with headquarters at Binh Thuy and the 23rd TASS operating out of NKP
Air Base in Thailand and covering the Ho Chi Minh Trail. There were also "unofficial" facs flying
out of Laos with no squadron designation (like the secret 'Ravens').
My O-2 Check Ride Out From Bien Tuey
We would have air missions and sorties set every day and NIGHT... seven days a week. Never a day or
night off. We would fly at a low altitude around 500' so that we were able to observe up close if there
was any hostile intentions of those we spotted on the ground. You might think that would be fool hardy
or subjected us to enemy fire but you would be wrong, Charlie soon was able to figure out by waving
and smiling he had a chance to live and fight another day. Shooting at a slow one propeller O-1 Bird
Dog unarmed Piper Cub or even an O-2 twin engine Cessna would get a whole squadron of screaming
fighter jets or worse (like PUFF) a Korean war vintage AC-47 gunship (and later an AC-130 Gunship)
right down on the deck in seconds with napalm, HE or White Phosphorus which was impossible to
make it stop burning through the skin.
I then was assigned to the provincial capital of HUE (Way) where I converted to the newer and a faster
FAC aircraft the 0-2 pusher/puller twin engine plane with 28 tubes for marking rockets even though we
rarely carried more than ten total since our loitering time was about an hour. While the 0-1 carried 4
marking rockets, two under each wing; the 0-2 had 4 stations, 2 under each wing in 4 launchers of 7
tubes each. We were also armed with a 45 cal pistol and a collapsible stock AR-15 one hand machine
gun for pilots (USAF cockpit M-16) personal protection if we had to bail over enemy ground.
"If you see a bomb technician Running...
try and keep up with him."
After Khe Sanh
outpost, which was wiped out during the 1968 TET offensive I had to
report to our
O-2 conversion base in III Corps Bien Tuey only to get posted right back up to I Corps again but,
this time to La-Vang airport Quan Tri City a provisional capital under the French occupation of the
1950's along a famous highway called the Street Of No Joy. We were located across the river from
a big Marine forward headquarters and airfield at I-2 which was all under construction during the
time I was station there. We flew all the time with an Out-Rider which was a Marine Corps company
officer usually a Major who maintained direct communications with HIS forces and company
commanders during hostile ground maneuvers.
Here Arriving is Major Mikesh (who was my USMC sector ALO for Hue quadrant of the DMZ)
This was a joint service operation as the Marines had very little air assets on the ground or in theater
at the time. They also very little in the way of heavy armor. That was all Army and they don't share!
"If you hear me yell;" Eject, Eject, Eject!"
REMEMBER, the last two will be just echoes"
Sometimes we would also have South Viet Nam officers ride along which gave us some local linguistic
communications with their forces also on the ground and in theater. This actually was suggested by a
USAF FAC and proved to be one of the smartest things we can lay claim to in a Combined Forces
situation. This is all the norm today but was very rare and a radical departure in those days.
Maj Hal O-2 on a mission in the highlands around Pleiku
"When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane,
you will always have enough power left
to get you to the scene of the crash."
"There were five official USAF Bird Dog/O-2 TASS's (also later flying OV-10s): the 19th TASS out of Bien Hoa
covering III Corps (and sometimes adjacent out of country areas); OUR 20th TASS out of Danang covering I
Corps and at times part of II Corps (Pleiku and Kontum), plus part of Laos and North Vietnam; the 21st TASS
covering II Corps and parts of Laos; the 22nd TASS covering IV Corps & parts of Cambodia with headquarters
at Binh Thuy and the 23rd TASS operating out of NKP Airbase in Thailand and covering the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
There were "unofficial" FAC's flying out of Laos with no squadron designation (such as the Ravens mission)."
Here both Browny (Lt Col Richard Brown who wrote Palace Gate) and my O-2 are parked together as usual
FYI this bird (serial #21316) would be the very same plane years later at the Dover AFB air museum in 1997
Because of the tricycle landing gear all of our O-2's were kept at the Hue Airfield just down from Quang Tri
My Faithful O-2 Super Skymaster that I used with my Marines and their ALO (Air Logistics Officer)
Col Hal 1997 visiting his 20th TASS O-2 (same exact USAF serial numbers) at the
Dover AFB Delaware air museum
"What is the similarity between air traffic controllers and pilots?
Well... If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies;
BUT, If ATC screws up .... the pilot dies"
Coming Here Soon...
"You ask me about an incident that was widely reported, second
only to TET but, went largely misunderstood in the press. Let's
see if we can try and set the scene for your web readers here... "
OK, you wanted to know what a typical O-2 daily mission would be...
BATTLE OF THE PLAIN OF JARS & TYPICAL IN COUNTRY
ARMY & USMC COMBAT MISSIONS
NOTE: Many More Color Images
Also we Will Embed 2-Way Combat Communications
There Are Now Some WWII & VietNam Era Tunes here
And Some Col Hal Observations From Saved Tape Letters
in his own voice...
Play Country Roads
Last Mission 20 March 1968, LaVang airport, Quang Tri City, I Corps, DMZ
November 2010: the Activation Ceremony for the 20th Reconaissance Squadron
(previously the 20th TASS). The ceremony is currently scheduled for the 14th of
January 2011 at Whiteman AFB, Missouri (about 1.5 hours from Kansas City Mo);
Have received overwhelmingly positive responses to posts on FACnet, FAC
Association and at Covey-FAC.com. 432 WG Protocol at email@example.com
Ms Angela Bennett-Engele," she is the daughter of Capt Bennett, USAF Medal of Honor
winner from the 20th TASS who was shot down on 29 June 1972 in the Quang Tri Province.
Her 16 year old son (going in to the Air Force Academy to later fly low and slow in the 20th
like his grandpa did) also wants to be included at the squadron activation ceremony.
Hal and Haze celebrating 80 years of age
Colonel Hal's favorite 1938 Instructor Pilot, Here 90 years young
Hazel and Her Good Buddy... Ms. Vicky during the Summer 2006 in South Carolina
Hazel Always Thought These Pictures Were Kinda.... PHUNNY !
Instructor Pilot in Command 1st Lt. Hal's WWII B-29 Superfortress
Captain Hal's Korean War Gooney Bird Hal's Soul Mate/Pilot Instructor Hazel's 1938 trainer in the
Medivac flights from Teagu Korea to Tachikawa Japan Back Ground & dad's WWII AAF Trainer in the Foreground
Maj Hal's O-1 Snoopy Bird Dog at Khe Sanh, DaNang, LaVang
Type: O-1E Bird Dog Task: Joint Service Liaison
Year Built: 1956 Crew: 2 Engines: 1 * 213hp Continental O-470-11
Wing Span: 10.97m Length: 7.85m Height: 2.22m
Wing Area: 16.16m2 Empty Weight: 732kg Max. Weight: 1089kh
Max. Speed: 209km/h Ceiling: 5640m Max. Range: 848km
O-2A marking aim points of hostile targets in III Corps, Bien Thuy, Hue & DaNang
Year Built: 1961 Crew: 2 Engines: 2 * 155kW Continental TSIO-360-A
Max. Speed: 370km/h Ceiling: 8930m Max. Range: 2500km
Comm Gear: Full Ground to Air Combat Air to Air (call in any air assets)
Special Thanks to all that contributed, some that shall remain nameless and to
MSGT & Lt / Col Richard Brown
Rodger Bucy Ellicott City and Col Hal THE photographer
OUR Family's T-Bird...
Here we have a Thunderbird with chuckmeister's last name emblazoned on the side, Thanks to Brian L. (crew member of
the 1998 Thunderbird Team in the center with my son Dave on the left & me in my Habitual Honolulu Hat. BTW, I'm not
really that short... as my seven foot son and my 6'11" Thunderbird relative can attest to
Cascade Lakes @ Boynton Beach Florida
Col HAL, son chuckmeister, Grandson Mike and
Great Grandson Kaizen Scott 6 June 2004 Yes Sir
First Great Grand Child 2004 (here 1 year old)
Images... That Were Sent To Colonel Hal and Hazel (Grand pop and Grand mom)
Me Mike Auntie Nancy Dave Hickam AFB Mike 2 & Dave 4 'Trick Or Treat' Hawaii HAFB Family Holiday Memories
Col Hal Lynn Me Dave Nancy Dave in Grand Pop's Chair Gun Ship Jet Helicopter Pilot U of Delaware Graduates
As you can see we're deep
in construction, but this site has improve over time,
More first hand related material coming to this site with some anecdotal experiences
thrown in like the battles of Plain of Jars & Battle for Khe Sanh
There is now sound and video to enhance this site and pictures. Some of the
tunes are from WWII era, some from Vietnam and the Arlington service will
be added to give the reader an impression of what it was like Once-Upon-A-Time.
I have been asked over the years if my mom and dad knew about this web page.
Absolutely. Dad saw on his own computer and heard from me from 1995 all the
way till he passed away in 2005, 10 years. My mother, 15 years from 1995 till
2010. I would take copious notes three and four times a week. They proof read
and offered comments, suggestions and clarifications many times over the years.
I also am in contact with dad's maintenance chief to this day and I still ask weekly
questions from my mom's sister since she dated dad before my mom did. He said
he did NOT know they were sisters BTW. I also talked and have the book Palace
Gate from Col Brown. I have my dad's entire collection of slides and my slides. I
also have dozens of Tape Letters we all used to communicate with one another.
Final thought... in a last phone call on the day before dad passed away he
related that he would like very much for me to do that project I always
promised both him and his dad (my grand father) & to do a Family Tree with the
history / generations / and family story that I never seem to get the time to do.
I finally found the time and it is now up and running at the Link Below. I have
received a lot of help from near and distant relatives on the narratives, spelling,
research and now the web site. It takes weeks and months to collect, sort, find,
transcribe and now post each set of 100 names. Also time frames for the decennial
years to be cross-referenced.
Family names ALL came from the PUBLIC archives, published records,
the Mormon Genealogy Project Library & US Bureau Of The Census web site.
Col Hal and I. Edward... Your Family Tree is up. I've found 10,000+ of our clan!
Col Hal and Haze DVD with all the family favorite music is ALPHA listed here...
Hope Everyone Enjoys The Many Hours Of Listening To Their LIFE IN MUSIC
For Those That Asked At Hazel's Internment; Her Favorites Were: Neil Diamond, Abba,
Vaughn Monroe, Bill Cosby, Martin Denny, CCR, Bill Haley, Billy Joel, Enya, Elvis,
and all Hawaiian especially IZ and the Classic Souvenir Album "Island Paradise"
Dad's Favorites Were: Four Lads, Kingston Trio, Bill Black, Enoch Light, Nat King Cole,
Brook Benton, Hugo Montenegro, Christmas Music, Roy Orbison, Prez Prado, Ventures,
Provactive & Persuasive Percussion Albums, Mitch Miller, 101 Strings & Marty Robbins
Our Troops and Salute ALL Our Veterans
Past, Present and Future
This Was Colonel Hal's Last
Computer Screen Saver Above
Here we have USAF Colonel Mayer,
Leah and Colleen in Hawaii
Here an Air Force Vietnam Vet Stands
While All Others Sit On Their Hands
And then there is this...
There is now a grove of evergreen trees planted
in their name near Rosh Pina, Northern Galilee,
Thanks To Many That Have Joined Gedanke's
GOLDEN KNIGHTS*SR-71 BLACKBIRD
B-2 STEALTH BOMBER
Air Show SCHEDULES
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