Distinguished Flying Cross
Vietnam Service Medal
In Vietnam, the United States Military (Army, Marines &
Air Force) needed a special kind of aviation unit. It needed a unit comprised of aircraft and personnel
capable of performing missions so varied and wide spread that it was not
unusual for unit commanders to not see their company personnel for weeks
& months at a
time as they flew out of tactical locations far from home base.
Starting in May 1963 through 1965, these special units
would be created and deployed across all of Vietnam. In December 1971,
the last of these units would leave Vietnam. It is in this period time
where all the stories happened. This is when all the action would occur
with the O-1/L-19 Birddog airplane and the personnel who would fly and
support them. These are the times and people that will be commemorated
and memorialized when we all GATHER TOGETHER IN 2015. (Not
familar with the Birddog?
terrain these units operated over was as diverse and dangerous as the
missions themselves. Flying over mountains, jungles, rice paddies,
oceans and rivers in hostile conditions where the weather, the enemy,
and pure luck would all conspire against both aircraft and crewmembers
to create what many have labeled to be "suicide missions".
To the pilots, crew chiefs, mechanics and all other unit support
personnel, on the ground, the single engine O-1/L-19 Birddog was an airplane like none
other. These units (Army, Marines and Air Force) were formed for duty in Vietnam
and they used the Birddog in a combat role that supported military units
on the ground of all
types and from many countries. For the personnel on the ground in these supported units, the O-1
Birddog was their assurance of support and a lifeline when in trouble.
To them, the Birddog was not just an airplane, it was a clear message
that they were not alone.
This is the reason why in the year 2015, some fifty
two years after being
first deployed to combat in Vietnam, there will be for the first time, a
reunion of personnel from all the military Birddog units who will come together to not
only honor their own service and this incredibly versatile and rugged
airplane, but also to honor those who fell in combat, who were lost when
they made the ultimate sacrifice.
In 2015, those of us who still remain including many family members of
those who were lost and personnel from other units who flew with us will have a chance to meet each other where
stories will be traded and where many memories will be relived. For many
this will be the first time since those traumatic days in the 1960's and
1970's that they will join together as a group.
More will come....