Rattler/Firebird Association



A veteran – whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve – is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including my life.”

“Like the book said, we may be through with the past but the past is not through with us!”


Our Association is getting into financial straits. As you all know we have always done business with the pocketbook of our members in mind. Things like negotiated free breakfasts, free lunch and free drinks save the average Joe some bucks that add up. Also our life memberships were always very reasonable. For that reason, we have a huge life membership roll. That’s good and not so good. It’s good that we have such great participation. It’s not so good for any future funds. Our drawings for prizes at the reunions are a great fund raiser and many of you have been very generous over the years. 100% of the profits from the book Firebirds also gave us thousands of dollars over the years. If you feel so moved, it would be greatly appreciated if you felt like sending a donation to us. Keep in mind direct donations are tax-deductible because we are a 501c-19 organization.

A few of you have your dues expire on June 30th. This only effects ones with 2019 on the label. Dues are $12 per year and $100 for life membership if you are age 66 or over.


The Association Board of Directors has unanimously agreed that at future reunions, when our Memorial Service is scheduled to begin, usually at 8:30 on Saturday morning, the doors will be closed at that time and there will be no further admittance to the room. The purpose of this service is to honor our fallen brothers by showing all the respect they are due. It is a very solemn event.

This notice will appear in every newsletter going forward and, at reunions, there will be prominently placed signs to this effect, as well asannouncements.

2020 Reunion – Mobile, AL

Mobile Marriott
Mobile Marriott

The 2020 Reunion will be held at the Mobile Marriott at 3101 Airport Boulevard, Mobile, Alabama from Wednesday, May 27, 2020 until Sunday, May 31, 2020. The hotel has 251 guest rooms and 4 suites. Among the hotel concessions, the contract has given us these items.

Do not try to make reservations before June 10th please! Call the hotel at 251-476-6400 and ask for in-house reservations. Then tell them you are with the Rattler-Firebird Reunion.

Cutoff for reservations will be Thursday, May 7, 2020. The room rate is $119.00 per night plus all the taxes which brings it to about $150.00 per night total.

We were able to negotiate a smaller room block which protects the Association. However, a byproduct of this is the absolute necessity of making your reservations as soon as possible.

Tours to be offered include the USS Alabama plus additional displays at this park, including touring a WWII submarine.

The Naval Air Station at Pensacola, FL will also be offered.

Military Reunion Planners (MRP) will again be handling our registrations, tours and banquet tickets. MRP will not have prices on all this until our November newsletter. Everyone will be prompted to do this in November.

David Hunter
David Hunter



If you have a VA disability, and your death can be attributed to that disability, be sure your wife is aware that she needs to file for dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC). She should be able to draw about $1500 a month, tax free, as long as she remains single. This is important!


The Fort Rucker, Alabama Army Aviation Museum has a program to raise funds for the museum by selling paver stones with individual’s names or unit names and patches engraved on them. The Association has purchased one such 8 X 8 inch stone. A photo of what will appear on the stone is in this newsletter.

The company doing the engraving of the stones only starts a new batch of stones when they have orders for at least 50 stones. Ours has not been made yet. A notice will be placed on our website home page when this occurs.


by Terry Garlock

Well into the autumn of my life, I am occasionally reminded the end is not too far over the horizon.

Mortality puts thoughts in my head, like “What have I done to leave this world a better place?”

There actually are a few things that I think made my existence worthwhile. I will tell you just one of them, because so many of you need to hear it.

No matter how much this rubs the wrong way, I am quite proud to have served my country in the Vietnam War. Yes, I know, most of you were taught there is shame attached to any role in the war that America lost, an unfortunate mistake, an immoral war, an unwise intrusion into a civil war, a racist war, a war in which American troops committed widespread atrocities, where America had no strategic interest, and that our North Vietnamese enemy was innocently striving to re-unite Vietnam.

The problem is, none of those things are true. People opposed the war with loud noise, half-truths and fabrications. They are the ones who still write their version in our schoolbooks, and their account of history conveniently excuses themselves for cowardly encouraging our enemy while we were at war. You see, having the right to protest does not necessarily make it the right or honorable thing to do.

So, yes, I am defiantly proud to have been among those who raised our right hand swearing to do our duty for our country while so many others yelled and screamed and marched, burned their draft cards, declared, ”Hell no! I won’t go!” and some fled to Canada. In that period of uncomfortable controversy, even patriots tended to look the other way when activists heartily insulted American troops as they returned through California airports from doing the country’s hardest work in Vietnam. War correspondent Joe Galloway summed it up nicely in a column about Vietnam vets in the Chicago Tribune long ago; “They were the best you had, America, and you turned your back on them.”

To be sure, there were lots of warts and wrinkles in the war. We were fighting a tough Communist enemy, defending South Vietnam’s right to remain free. At the same time we were betrayed by our own leadership in the White House with their incompetent micromanagement and idiotic war-fighting limitations that got thousands of us killed while preventing victory. And we were betrayed by fellow citizens encouraging our enemy.

I was trained to be an Army Cobra helicopter pilot. I remember many times, with no regrets, shooting up the enemy to protect our ground troops, firing to cover fellow pilots, and firing to keep the brutal enemy away from South Vietnamese civilians. A high school student asked me last year how I deal with the guilt. I answered that I don’t have any guilt, that I was doing my duty and would proudly do it again.

When John Lennon turned the Beatles into a protest band, his song “Give Peace a Chance” was hailed as genius. Look up the inane lyrics and judge for yourself. At protest rallies, crowds of tens of thousands would raise their arms to wave in unison while chanting in ecstasy, “All we are asking, is give peace a chance!” over and over. Luminaries like Tom Smothers, presidential candidate George McGovern, writer and self-acclaimed intellectual Gore Vidal and a host of others lauded Lennon’s song and observed “Who wouldn’t prefer peace to war?”

What self-indulgent, naive stupidity!

My friend Anh Nguyen was 12 years old in 1968, living in the city of Hue, the cultural center of Vietnam. One morning when he opened the shutters to his bedroom window, a shot was fired over his head, the first he knew the enemy’s Tet Offensive had begun. The Communists had negotiated a cease fire for their New Year holiday of Tet, then in treachery attacked on that holiday in about 100 locations all over South Vietnam.

The enemy was well prepared and they took the city of Hue. They had lists of names and addresses provided by spies, and they went from street to street, dragging from their homes political leaders, business owners, teachers, doctors, nurses and other “enemies of the people.” The battle raged four weeks before our Marines retook the city. In the aftermath, mass graves with nearly 5,000 bodies were found, executed by the Communists, many tied together and buried alive.

Anh and his family had evacuated to an American compound for protection. Anh says when the battle was over and they walked Highway 1 back to their home, the most beautiful sight his family had ever seen was US Marines lining the road, standing guard over South Vietnamese civilians. To follow John Lennon’s plea, Anh’s family and countrymen could “Give peace a chance” by surrendering to the Communist invaders, but even a mush-head like Lennon should know there are some things worthy of your fight. I doubt Lennon would have understood the best way to ensure peace is to carry the biggest stick.

Want to know what causes me shame?

In 1973, when we basically had the war won, the US gave it away in a peace agreement when escape from Vietnam was the only politically acceptable option. In the peace agreement, the US pledged our ongoing financial support to South Vietnam’s defense, and pledged US direct military intervention if the North Vietnamese ever broke their pledge not to attack South Vietnam. In the 1974 elections, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and President Nixon’s resignation, Democrats were swept into Congress and promptly cut reduced all funding to South Vietnam in violation of the US pledge.

In early 1975 when the North Vietnamese attacked South Vietnam, President Ford literally begged Congress to fund the US pledge to intervene, and Congress refused.

The same news media, protesters and academia who had screamed against the war, firmly turned their back in 1975 and refused to notice the slaughter and inhumanity as the Communists overwhelmed the ally America had thrown under the bus. Even today, few on the anti-war side know or care there were roughly 75,000 executions, that a panicked million fled in over-packed rickety boats and died at sea by the tens of thousands, that a million were sent to brutal re-education camps for decades and also died by the tens of thousands, or that South Vietnamese who fought to remain free - and their descendants - are still persecuted to this day. Abandoning our ally to that fate is America’s everlasting shame.

We could have won that war if our military had been allowed to take off the soft gloves, but it went on far too long with no end in sight, mismanaged to a fare-thee-well by the White House and became America’s misery. Through it all, even the betrayals from home, we fought well and never lost one significant battle.

At the 334thAttack Helicopter Company in Bien Hoa, we Cobra pilots were 19 to 25 years old with very rough edges. We thought of ourselves as gunslingers and might have swaggered a bit. We drank too much at the end of a sweat-stained day, for fun or escape or both. We laughed off close calls with the bravado of gallows humor. We toasted our dead and hid the pain of personal loss deep inside. We swore a lot and told foul jokes. We pushed away the worry of how long our luck would hold, and the next day we would bet our life again to protect the South Vietnamese people and each other.

To properly characterize my fellow Vietnam vets, I need to borrow words from John Steinbeck as he wrote about the inhabitants of Cannery Row, and ask you to look from my angle, past their flaws, to see them as I often do, “. . . saints and angels, martyrs and holy men.” America’s best.

I am proud to be one of them because we faced evil together in a valiant effort to keep the South Vietnamese people free, doing God’s work for a little while, even though it failed by the hand of our own countrymen working against us from safety at home.

More than any other class of people, I trust and admire the American men and women who served in Vietnam and met the test of their mettle, even the ones I don’t know.

Everyone deserves a second chance. But for the naval-gazing flower children who remain unrepentant about encouraging the enemy we were fighting, who still smugly know all the wrong answers about us and the Vietnam War, who have never known mortal danger and didn’t give a fig when Saigon fell and the Commies made South Vietnamese streets run red with the blood of innocent people, I want to be sure to deliver this invitation before I get too old and feeble: kiss me where the sun don’t shine.


I was originally with Dwayne Williams, Beryl Scott, Jerry Shirley and Bob Pruhs in flight class 66-13.

Fort Rucker could not take our whole class and asked for volunteers to take a leave and go to class with 66-15. A 28 day leave and only charged us 21 days of leave. Since we all knew we were headed to VN, we said okay, my two roommates and me traveled from TX to Co to WI and then AL in our 30 days and saw parents and friends. I am glad I did; otherwise I would not have met my future wife and I could have been the unlucky one with Dennis Hand.

Rattler 20 Bill Lurvey

The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga

John Lincoln "Johnny" Clem
John Lincoln Clem

In May of 1861, 9 year old John Lincoln "Johnny" Clem ran away from his home in Newark, Ohio, to join the Union Army, but found the Army was not interested in signing on a 9 year old boy when the commander of the 3rd Ohio Regiment told him he "wasn't enlisting infants," and turned him down. Clem tried the 22nd Michigan Regiment next, and its commander told him the same. Determined, Clem tagged after the regiment, acted out the role of a drummer boy, and was allowed to remain. Though still not regularly enrolled, he performed camp duties and received a soldier's pay of $13 a month, a sum collected and donated by the regiment's officers.

The next April, at Shiloh, Clem's drum was smashed by an artillery round and he became a minor news item as "Johnny Shiloh, The Smallest Drummer". A year later, at the Battle Of Chickamauga, he rode an artillery caisson to the front and wielded a musket trimmed to his size. In one of the Union retreats a Confederate officer ran after the cannon Clem rode with, and yelled, "Surrender you damned little Yankee!" Johnny shot him dead. This pluck won for Clem national attention and the name "Drummer Boy of Chickamauga."

Clem stayed with the Army through the war, served as a courier, and was wounded twice. Between Shiloh and Chickamauga he was regularly enrolled in the service, began receiving his own pay, and was soon-after promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He was only 12 years old. After the Civil War he tried to enter West Point but was turned down because of his slim education. A personal appeal to President Ulysses S. Grant, his commanding general at Shiloh, won him a 2nd Lieutenant's appointment in the Regular Army on 18 December 1871, and in 1903 he attained the rank of Colonel and served as Assistant Quartermaster General. He retired from the Army as a Major General in 1916, having served an astounding 55 years.

General Clem died in San Antonio, Texas on 13 May 1937, exactly 3 months shy of his 86th birthday, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


We were the river people, but we also spent a lot of time on helicopters. I was a radio operator in the 9th Infantry Division, based in the Mekong Delta south of Saigon. By the time I left, someone told me I had made more than 50 combat assaults via chopper. Most but not all of them were routine insertions that could happen as often as three times in a day. Occasionally there was light resistance. A few times there was a good deal of shooting. And since you never really knew if and when the shooting would start, we all developed our own little formula for when, under fire, we would decide to jump out of the helicopter.

If I knew what a differential equation was, I would say this might have been one. There were so many variables. Foremost was altitude. You could jump from very high up and maybe break your legs. The forward speed of the chopper was something to take into account. The landing area might be water, mud or dry land. All were factors. You wanted out of that chopper in the worst way because the chopper was the target. Still, you didn’t want to get panicky and jump too soon. So each individual had his own leap point. Mine was probably about the height of jumping from the roof of a one-story house. Survivable and a good middle ground balancing all the risks.

The pilots did not have the luxury of jumping out. Helicopter pilots in Vietnam were among the hardiest of the whole bunch of us. They took a lot of casualties but they always seemed to be there when you needed them. Flying us into hot landing zones, flying medevacs to “dust off” the wounded and just getting potshots from all over when they were in the air meant there wasn’t much in the way of a routine day for them. They earned every accolade they received. Many, too many, didn’t survive: 2,165 helicopter pilots were killed in action, and another 2,500 crewmen.

Many of the survivors stuck with flying. Long after Vietnam those pilots often showed up to fly news helicopters for the television stations where I worked, and I loved to go flying with them. In uniform or out, these were very cool customers.

A helicopter is an awkward contraption. There are huge competing g-forces pulling in different directions, and it seems almost a miracle it can fly. It takes no small amount of skill to fly one even without the overlay of ground fire, steep landing zones and various life-and-death emergencies. And these pilots in Vietnam were never pampered.

We got a horrifying example of that one afternoon as we lined up to board choppers coming in to take us to the next landing zone. We were spread out in what were called pickets of six men each. Five groups were in a line on the left separated by about 25 yards each. Five more were on the right as the choppers descended onto our positions. You could figure out quickly which bird was coming for you and it was easy to follow it right to the ground. In this case as my eyes followed our chopper, I noticed a short length of barbed-wire fence just a couple of feet off the ground. It seemed too low to make any difference but the chopper came in a little fast, causing the pilot to lift the nose and drop the tail just enough for the tail rotor to hit that wire. The next events happened so fast it’s hard to imagine even now how we survived.

At the moment the tail rotor hit the strand of wire, the chopper flipped onto its left side. The main rotor was driven into the ground and splintered into a thousand pieces. It was just our good fortune to have been on the right side of the chopper or we probably would not have survived. We had dived onto the ground but we could still see the right side door gunner and the co-pilot climbing out just as the now crashed chopper burst into flames. The co-pilot must have known that was going to happen because he exited the wreckage with a fire extinguisher. But it wasn’t to put out the fire. The fire was already beyond that. He sprayed it directly on the plexiglass windshield in front of the pilot who was struggling to get out. The cold spray of carbon dioxide shrank the hot plastic and the windshield literally popped out. He pulled the pilot to safety as the fire raged.

The left-side door gunner (crew chief) never had a chance. He was pinned under the chopper right next to the fuel tank that was exploding into black smoke. By now we were all up and everyone thought to flip the burning chopper upright, but searing heat prevented us from getting near it. The gunner died very quickly.

The pilot was distraught beyond all description. Anyone would call this a tragic accident, but in his mind it was pilot error. In his mind his mistake had taken the life of one of his crew. There isn’t much worse for a guy in his position.

It was a very bad scene. A smoldering chopper. A dead door gunner. Scared soldiers and this inconsolable pilot sitting on the ground wailing.

A few minutes into this drama several new choppers arrived on the scene, one carrying a guy who was clearly the man in charge of this whole chopper squadron. He was all business. He walked straight over to the pilot and told him to get up off the ground. He never asked what happened. No arm around the shoulder. He just walked the crying pilot over to the helicopter he had just arrived in and ordered the pilot to get in and take the stick.

The scene drove things home to us. This was a war. If you are going to be an effective pilot in the future, there is no time for grieving now. It was the ultimate version of getting back on the bicycle. But that’s how they did things. There was no time for sentiment.

I met up not long ago with a former Vietnam chopper pilot who had been a few years ahead of me in our high school. He said it was the best job he ever had, despite all the dangers. He still missed it. As we talked I could tell that even now, 50 years later, he would happily get back in the cockpit. He still had that gritty commitment that reminded me of all the Vietnam pilots I had known. That’s why we all trusted them with our lives.

Bill Lord is a retired television news executive and former general manager of WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. During the Vietnam War he served as an infantry sergeant carrying a radio for Charlie Company, 4th/47 Infantry, 9th Infantry Division.

DEAD BUG! - A Tribute to the Army's first generation of combat helicopter pilots!

(Yes, by God, we flew in Vietnam and we were winning when I left)
ByJ.C. Pennington

As we get older and we experience the loss of old friends, we begin to realize that maybe we ten-foot tall, bulletproof Army aviators (and crew) won’t live forever. We aren’t so bulletproof anymore. We ponder… if I we’re gone tomorrow, “Did I say what I wanted to my Brothers?” The answer is “No!” Hence, the following random thoughts:

When people ask me if I miss flying, I always say something like, “Yes, I miss the flying because when you are flying, you are totally focused on the task at hand. It’s like nothing else you will ever do (almost). ” But then I always say, “However, I miss the unit and the guys even more than I miss the flying.”

Why, you might ask? They were a bunch of aggressive, wiseass, cocky, insulting, sarcastic bastards in smelly flight suits! They drank too much, they chased women, they flew when they shouldn’t, they laughed too loud and thought they owned the sky, the bar, and generally thought they could do everything better than the next guy. Nothing was funnier than trying to screw with a buddy and see how pissed off they would get. They flew helicopters that leaked, that bled RPM, that broke, that couldn’t hover, that burned fuel too fast, that never had all the radios and instruments working, and with systems that were archaic next to today’s new generation aircraft.

But a little closer look might show that every guy in the room was sneaky smart and damned competent and brutally handsome in his own way! They hated to lose or fail to accomplish the mission and seldom did. They were the laziest guys on the planet until challenged and then they would do anything to win.

They would fly with rotor blades overlapped at night through the worst weather with only a little position light to hold on to, knowing their flight lead would get them on the ground safely. They would fight in the air knowing the greatest risk and fear was that some NVA anti-aircraft gunner would wait ’til you flew past him and open up on your six o’clock with tracers as big as softballs. They would fly in harm’s way and act nonchalant as if to challenge the grim reaper.

When we flew to another base we proclaimed that we’re the best unit on the base as soon as we landed. Often we were not invited back. When we went into a bar, we owned the bar. We were lucky to be the Best of the Best in the military. We knew it and so did others. We found jobs, lost jobs, got married, got divorced, moved, went broke, got rich, broke some things, and knew the only thing you could count on — really count on — was if you needed help, a fellow Army Aviator would have your back.

I miss the call signs, nicknames and the stories behind them.

I miss getting lit up in an O’ or NCO’ Club full of my buddies and watching the incredible, unbelievable things that were happening. I miss the crew chiefs waiting as you got to your ship for a Zero-Dark: 30 preflight. I miss pulling an armful of pitch, nosing it over and climbing into a new dawn. I miss going straight up and straight down. I miss the tension of wondering what today’s 12 hours of combat flying would bring. I miss the craps table in the corner of the O-Club and letting it ALL ride because money was meaningless. I miss listening to BS stories while drinking and laughing until my eyes watered. I miss three man lifts. I miss naps on the platoon hootch porch with a room full of aviators working up new tricks to torment the sleeper. I miss rolling in hot and watching my rockets hit EXACTLY where I was aiming.

I miss the beauty and precision of a flight of slicks in formation, rock steady even in the face of tracers flying past you from a hot LZ. I miss belches that could be heard in neighboring states. I miss showing off for the grunts with high-speed, low-level passes and abrupt cyclic climbs. I even miss passengers in the back puking their guts up.

Finally, I miss hearing In-Coming! called out at the bar and seeing and hearing a room full of men hit the deck with drinks spilling and chairs being knocked over as they rolled in the beer and kicked their legs in the air—followed closely by a Not Politically Correct Tap Dancing and Singing spectacle that couldn’t help but make you grin and order another round.

I am a lucky guy and have lived a great life!

One thing I know is that I was part of a special team of guys doing something dangerous and doing it better than most. Flying the most beautiful, ugly, noisy, solid helicopters ever built… an aircraft that talked to you and warned you before she spanked you! Supported by really talented Crew Chiefs and Gunners committed to making sure we came home! Being prepared to fly and fight and die for America. Having a clear mission, clear vision, and having fun.

We box out bad memories from various missions and events most of the time but never the hallowed memories of our fallen comrades. We are often amazed at how good war stories never let truth interfere and how they get better with age. We are lucky bastards to be able to walk into a reunion or a bar and have men we respect and love shout our names, our call signs, and know that this is truly where we belong.

We are ARMY AVIATORS and CREW MEMBERS. We are Few and we are Proud to have been one of the first combat helicopter FLIGHTS CREWS the world ever saw.

I am Privileged and Proud to call you Brothers. Clear Right! Clear Left! Pullin’ Pitch!

"It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not."~~ Andre Gide


By Ron Seabolt

From Sergeant Willard Buck in a maintenance formation on Friday, October 14, 1966, “Anybody here want to be a crew chief?” Only James Morrison and I raised our hands. Morrison had been in-country about 18 days longer than I and he got the assignment.

From Sergeant Buck on November 22, 1966, as I was called to the orderly room for a phone call, “Seabolt, you still want to be a g---d---- crew chief?” With a yes, my entire life changed.  Can I do this?

From Mr. Conrad Howard on December 7, 1966, “Cu Chi medivac, Rattler one four inbound with one!” I had taken my cherry hit along with 1Lt. Jim Norris and Tom Knapp. An infantry Major had been hit across his back as we came out of a field position. We were at 1300 feet. Crew Chief Ernie Palmieri had been killed only hours before on this day. He was the first person killed during my tour that I knew. We were in the same hootch. Ernie would not be the last I knew who was killed.

From Mr. Jerry Shirley on December 23, 1966, “Get the battery, get the battery!” Spoken to Mr. Gene Martin as I lay face down in the mud under my crashed aircraft thinking F--- the battery. I thought he was talking to me when all he meant was cut the power.

From Mr. David O’Quinn to me on January 2, 1967, “Get ‘um back on Seabolt!” Calm as a cucumber while under automatic weapons fire. This day of flying was the only time I ever questioned my line of work. While trying to re-load infantry who were slogging along in thigh deep water, I saw automatic fire hitting the rice paddy coming straight for me. It’s as clear today as it was 52 years ago when I thought, “What in the hell are you doing out here?” The rotation of my ship in this red hot area cut off this fire from reaching me. My gunner, Don Flatten, killed the guy shooting up my aircraft.

From 1Lt. Dennis Hand, while spending four days in the Delta at Dong Tam with the 9th Infantry Division on mortar alert, “Two minutes after the 1st mortar hits, that helicopter is leaving, with or without a crew chief!” Lesson learned, don’t sleep too soundly! During this week we ferried Martha Raye from one outpost to another. She was wearing a lieutenant colonel’s uniform and appeared exhausted.

From David O’Quinn, “That’s the damnest display of marksmanship I’ve ever seen!” after I fired 600 rounds at one man without hitting him. Years later (1991) I learned that all the crew chiefs were shooting at this one guy. He made like “Bullet” Bob Hayes out there in that rice paddy!

From Mr. Beryl Scott flying lead on Eagle Flights, “My crew chief is hit, headed to the medivac pad!” (referring to Pete Perez) I actually saw this guy after he fired not 20 yards straight out from my side. However our exit from the LZ was a hard bank to the left, meaning my M-60 could not traverse up enough to shoot the guy. It’s a good thing too because I would have probably shot our main rotor blades off.

On May 15, 1967, Rattler 6 stated, “Rattler flight, that’s just some trigger happy door gunners wanting to fire their guns!” This was in response to two separate crew chiefs reporting receiving fire from 9 o’clock. One second later, BAM (very loud), Mr. Jerry Shirley says, “What’s the master caution for?” The immediate reply, “Negative transmission oil pressure!” Immediately the flight hears, “Lead, this is one zero, we’re hit and going down!”  Sort of makes Rattler 6 blush I’m sure. It should have!

From Major George Jackson, on May 24, 1967, “Mayday, Mayday, this is Rattler one six going down five clicks north of…..!” My aircraft engine had blown all to hell at 1500 feet.

From Mr. Jerry Shirley, on June 18, 1967, “Mayday, mayday, mayday. This is Rattler one zero on fire and going down!” We had a magnesium flare burning at 5600 degrees Fahrenheit hung on a cable swinging outside the left side of my aircraft.  There was a blackout curtain in place and the pilots could not see what was going on behind them.  After what seemed like forever, actually probably 10 seconds, gunner Tom Knapp was able to cut through the wad of cables with a pair of dykes, freeing the burning flare to fall away. Earlier that night we had avoided a mid-air collision with an F-4 by mere feet.

From the company PA speaker on the night of July 14, 1967, “Attention in the company area. All flight crews report to the flight line immediately!” The terror of a night combat assault looming with me slated to go to Hawaii tomorrow on R&R. The SOBs are gonna kill me before I can leave here. (Firebird nine three, Davy Ellingsworth, stopped this potential night combat assault by blowing the living hell out of the ocean going ship that was attempting to re-supply enemy units south of Chu Lai)

From Rattler Operations on September 12, 1967, “Rattler --, get rid of your pax (passengers), go battalion frequency and report to Tam Ky to replace downed aircraft!” On this day James Morrison, the guy who raised his hand 11 months ago, died along with Efrain Robledo and Robert Garcia was mortally wounded. As we flew by Chu Lai, I keyed my mike and said to my gunner Jerry Tippit, “Jerry, if I live to get back to the Snakepit, I’ll never fly again!” I had seen enough. I did not have to prove anything to anybody, especially myself. I had crewed in the 1st platoon from 23 November 1966 to 12 September 1967.*

* It helps to have a good memory. It really helps when you kept a diary!



An elderly couple, who were both widowed, had been going out with each other for a long time. Urged on by their friends, they decided it was finally time to get married.

Before the wedding, they went out to dinner and had a long conversation regarding how their marriage might work. They discussed finances, living arrangements and so on.

Finally, the old gentleman decided it was time to broach the subject of their physical relationship.

'How do you feel about sex?' he asked, rather tentatively.

'I would like it infrequently, she replied.

The old gentleman sat quietly for a moment, leaned over towards her and whispered ..... "Is that one word or two?"


After being married for thirty years, a wife asked her husband to describe her. He looked at her for a while, then said, "You're an alphabet wife .. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K."

She asked, "What the hell does that mean?"

He said," Adorable, Beautiful, Cute, Delightful, Elegant, Foxy, Gorgeous, and Hot."

She smiled happily and said, "Oh, that's so lovely ... but what about I, J, K?"

He said, "I'm Just Kidding!"

The swelling in his eye is going down, and the doctor is cautiously optimistic about saving his testicles.


Stress is caused by three problems: Money, family and family with no money!


Arguing with a woman is like reading the software license agreement. In the end you have to ignore everything and click “I agree”.

Beth & Bob Dewy
Beth & Bob Dewy

Jim Malek, Bob Gardiner, Bruce Kelly

Bob Wade, Fred Biermann, Gary Fisher, Atty VanHamel, Bob Ratliff
Bob Wade, Fred Biermann, Gary Fisher,
Atty VanHamel, Bob Ratliff

Roger Hobbs
Roger Hobbs

Jerry Meader
Jerry Meader, WWII & Korean War Vet

Jim Surwillo, Jim Dame, Ron Olson & Steve Lively Washington D.C. Reunion 2004
Jim Surwillo, Jim Dame, Ron Olson & Steve Lively
Washington D.C. Reunion 2004

Wes & Carol Johanson
Wes & Carol Johanson

Bobby Wright
Bobby Wright

Terry Wasson
Terry Wasson

Sam Arthur
Sam Arthur