2 November 1965

We had left McGuire on October 24th and after our October flying we arrived in Chateauroux on October 30th. Now, from Chateauroux we had to fly to Wheelus AB. You can read about Wheelus Air Base here:


“In September 1969 King Idris I was overthrown by a group of military officers centred on Muammar Gaddafi. Before the revolution, the US and Libya had already reached agreement on US withdrawal from Wheelus. This proceeded according to plan, and the facility was turned over to the new Libyan authorities on 11 June 1970.[5]

We went in and out of Wheelus AB pretty frequently, but I never laid over there. This time I left Wheelus for Athens. Enroute, I had a five year old boy sitting on my lap when we passed over an Aircraft Carrier. I rolled up the plane so he could see the carrier. I asked him if he wanted to land on it and he said: “Yes!”

We flew in and out now Athens and around the Middle East for several days and we landed in Yalova. We had to fly low over the field to drive the sheep or goats off the runway. There was just a single runway in 1965. Here is an image of Yalova today.

You can see Istanbul to the north, across the Sea of Marmara. One night, I was in Istanbul and I needed to fly to Yalova. The ceiling was 700 feet. There was only an ADF navigational radio at Yalova and the minimum you could descend to was 1100 feet. I could not fly there on an instrument flight plan. I decided to go VFR, that means Visual Flight Rules and went into the IST operations office to file for a VFR flight. The Major looked at my papers and said: “Don’t you know you can not fly VFR at night from Istanbul? You have to file for SPECIAL VFR flight.”

I said, “How do I do that?” He answered, pointing to my paper, “Put Special here.” So, I added SPECIAL in front of VFR and he approved my flight.

So, I flew a Special VFR flight from Istanbul to Yalova at 500 feet and landed at Yalova at night.

Finally, we got back to McGuire on November 11th.

27 October 1965

We departed McGuire on the 24th. You can read that post. But on that trip we ended up in Chateauroux and when we left, we flew to Incirlik, Turkey. As we got ready to leave Incirlik, we discovered that the starter for our #3 engine would not function. I decided to go out on the runway and taxi down the runway, spinning the prop on the engine that wouldn’t start normally and start it on the runway.

Our first stop out of Incirlik was Beirut, just across the Mediteranean. Well, we dropped off our cargo and loaded what they had for us and then we started three engines and taxied to the runway. Take a look at the Beirut airport. notice how the runway goes right out over the Med.

We got to the runway and got cleared for takeoff. We started rolling down the runway and we started the engine on the roll. The tower operator said: “I think one of your engines is not running.” My co-pilot said: “Keep looking.”

The engine started properly, I brought it up to full power and we made an uneventful takeoff. I did not have any problem with this maneuver because the C-130 had lots of power and we could have lifted off the ground with just three engines.

From Beirut, we went to Jedda, in Saudi Arabia. Later on, when I flew for Pan Am, I went up to Afghanistan and flew for Ariana Airlines. Pan Am owned 51% of Ariana Airlines. We flew an old 707 airplane and went to Jedda from Kandahar. We carried people into the Haj. If you want to read about Saudi Arabia I recommend: VISION or MIRAGE by David Rundell.

At any rate, we started our third engine by a run on the runway and then taxied back for takeoff, at Jedda. Our next stop was Asmara, Eritria. We spent the night there. This is 2500 meters high, too high for bigger planes.

I always liked the Eritreans I met and liked the layover there. Naturally, we started the 3rd engine on the runway and taxied back for our takeoff. And we went to Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia. We started #3 and taxied back for takeoff.

From Addis we flew to Cairo, Egypt. Here was the perfect opportunity to tell the US Airforce that we had a bad starter and NEEDED to have one sent to us. That guaranteed that we could have a layover in Cairo. During this time, under General Nasser”s leadership it was hard to get a layover there. It took about FIVE hours for the woman who we were working with to get us cleared into Cairo for our layover. Read about Nasser:


We went to our hotel and then we grabbed a taxi and headed for the pyramids and the Sphinx. I don’t remember his name, but my copilot was from Pennsylvania. On the taxi ride out into the desert, he was afraid we were being kidnaped. When we got out to the pyramids and standing in front of the Sphinx, he looked at the pyramids and said: “We have slag piles bigger than them where I grew up.”

There was a restaurant out out there and it’s entertainment was ending because it was getting late and the tourists were leaving. But we walked in and they had us sit at a big table. We told them they could let the orchestra leave, we didn’t need them for our dinner. They refused and kept them there and they played for us, as we ate the pile of lamb and goat chops that they provided.

The next morning, my friend Tom Stringer, my navigator, and that copilot went to the Cairo museum, but as aircraft commander, I went to the airport with the mechanic who installed the new starter. You see, the Air Force had rules that you were not allowed to make running starts on engines. We, as Navy pilots, didn’t pay too much attention to those rules, unless we were in Cairo.

From Cairo we started a run through Beirut and Incirlik to Chateauroux and got there on the 30th. We left for Wheelus on 2 November.

15 April 1965 Tehran

We left McGuire on the 5th of April and we got back on the 24th. In all that time we had been as far east as Tehran. Actually we were there four times in that stretch of time, and we stayed there for four days, from the 9th to the 12th. During that time we were amazed by how modern the attire was. Women were not rapped in veils and burkas. It was the time of Mohammed Raza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. You can read about him Here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Reza_Pahlavi

The first Shah of the Persians, Cyrus the Great, had taken that title 2500 years before the current Shah took the title and Cyrus ruled over 50 million people.

Pahlavi came to power after Mossadegh had NATIONALIZED the oil industry and the United Kingdom and the United States overthrew his father’s rule and reintroduced privately owned oil companies and brought the Shah to power.

I remember going up to a pool, with a small waterfall, just outside of Tehran where the Shah used to go with his harem. When we were there, they were washing huge Iranian carpets in the water and they were using TIDE soap. I know I took some pictures of that. I have to look for that picture. These guys took the wet carpets, folded up on their shoulder, climbed a little up the cliff and unfolded the carpet to let it dry in the sun. After a little while, the hill was covered in carpets and the colors were wonderful to see. Especially through the cloud of a little hashish smoke.

We went back and forth to Karachi and we stoped in Incirlik. We also had a layover in Peshawar, Pakistan. Tom Stringer was my Navigator on this trip and he and I went to the Khyber Pass and walked around the gun shops and ammunition dealers.

Later, in April, we were ordered by radio to stop at Peshawa and pick up some American families that were being evacuated due to a the war between India and Pakistan that had just started. We landed and we taxied toward the tower. We left one engine running and I climbed the wooden steps on the outside of the tower, to an office just below the tower. There was a Pakistan sergeant at a blackboard with chalk in his hand. He was controlling the traffic. I had NO IDEA how to speak to him, so I said: “We come in big plane down from sky and want to file flight plan to leave.” in a John Wayne voice. He looked at me and said: “Excuse me sir, but can I help you?” in perfect English and then it occurred to me how long the British had been out there. The wooden tower was gone in this image.

Well, we picked up the families and flew them to Karachi. There was a US Colonel with a wife and two kids and a couple of other wives. The Colonel was worried about my getting in trouble for bringing civilians in, on my airplane. He said he would figure out how to get transportation after they got away from the plane. I told him not to worry about it and told Karachi that I needed a bus to transport our passengers.


Well, civil rights really got accelerated here in Birmingham, Alabama. At 10:22 AM on this Sunday morning some Klu Klux Klan men killed four young black girls by setting of a bomb against the side of the 16th Street Baptist Church. You can look at this video:https://youtu.be/K5KqCMsHlq0

Do a little research on what it was like in the USA with fully visible racism in Birmingham with Governor George Wallace, Commissioner of Safety “BULL” Connor in Birmingham and J. Edgar Hoover as the head of the FBI. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bull_Connor

I got to Naval Air Transport Squadron Three, VR-3, at McGuire AFB in New Jersey in September of 1963. Since I grew up in NY City, I went home Friday evening on the 20th of September 1963. On my way to Corona, I stopped at the Village Voice in Greenwich Village to catch Nina Simone singing. I was alone and sat at a table. She came on stage and sang “Mississippi God Damn” for 45 minutes, alone, no band and got up and left the floor. Here is a video: https://youtu.be/LJ25-U3jNWM

Well, I really missed her singing and doing Jazz, so Sunday evening on the 22 of September, on the way back to McGuire I stopped at the Voice again to catch her midnight show. She walked out on stage and said” It’s midnight on Sunday night. The people here came to listen to some Jazz. Let’s do Jazz.” and she played for about an hour. Then I drove down to McGuire.

Medgar Evers was assassinated on June 12, 1963. You can read about him here:https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/media-jan-june02-evers_04-18

August 28, 1963

There was a march on Washington on this day in 1963. Many people attended and 200,000 people marched. Martin Luther King gave his “I have a Dream” speech and Bob Dylan sang at the Lincoln Memorial performing “When The Ship Comes In” with Joan Baez and “Only A Pawn In Their Game” solo before Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his remarkable speech. Check it out:




James Meredith wanted to attend the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in Oxford, Mississippi and the US Supreme Court ordered that he should be able to register there and get his degree there. But Ross Barnett, the Governor of Mississippi had segregationist ideals and conversations with both Jack and Bobby Kennedy could not get him to help them get Meredith registered. Here are a series of conversations you can read: http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/prestapes/a1.html

So, the Kennedys tried to get Meredith into Ole Miss, in Oxford, without violence but it didn’t work. Federal Marshalls took Meredith into the university grounds and two men were killed in the mellay.

Though President Kennedy and Governor Barnett talked several more times, the rioting in Oxford forced both men to do what they wanted most to avoid: Barnett had to step aside without his valiant last stand, and Kennedy had to storm Mississippi with U.S. Army troops. Still, James Meredith achieved his goal: on Monday morning, October 1, 1962, he walked across the smoldering, battered campus of Ole’ Miss and registered for classes.

Historians say that President John F. Kennedy simply did not understand the depth and ferocity of Southern racism. The President thought segregation was illogical, and that a cogent argument could make that clear to Ross Barnett. But the Kennedy-Barnett calls show how hard it is for two leaders to work out a problem on the phone if they don’t speak the same political language.

Bob Dylan recorded OXFORD TOWN on 6 December 1962 in response to the Mississippi riots. Check it out:

Oxford Town

Bob Dylan

Oxford town, Oxford town
Everybody’s got their heads bowed down
Sun don’t shine above the ground
Ain’t a-goin’ down to Oxford town

He went down to Oxford town
Guns and clubs followed him down
All because his face was brown
Better get away from Oxford town

Oxford town around the bend
Come to the door, he couldn’t get in
All because of the color of his skin
What do you think about that, my friend?

Me, my gal, and my gal’s son
We got met with a tear gas bomb
Don’t even know why we come
We’re goin’ back where we came from

Oxford town in the afternoon
Everybody’s singin’ a sorrowful tune
Two men died ‘neath the Mississippi moon
Somebody better investigate soon.


Emmet Till was murdered in Money, Mississippi after he said something to a white woman Carolyn Bryant. Read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmett_Till

The lasting importance of the Till case was the remarkable political achievement of Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till Mobely, her friends and her allies, and the dozens of community organizations and institutions of Black Chicago that they were able to mobilize, to launch a huge national protest movement. What matters most about the men who tortured and murdered Emmett Till and the jury in Sumner who acquitted them is not their brutality or their short-lived victory, but instead what African American activists and their allies across the country were able to build from these outrages. The movement mobilized hundreds of thousands of people over the course of almost two years, raised an immense amount of civil rights money, including substantial startup funds for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and greatly expanded the size and strength of the NAACP. Mamie Till Mobley and her friends and allies brought together a national network of powerful organizations that became some of the most important support for Martin Luther King, Jr. and what became a national mass movement for Black citizenship and equality, which really did not exist prior to the Till case.

THULE 20 JULY 1964

We left McGuire and flew to Goose Bay, Labrador. Then we flew up to Thule, Greenland.

It was our job to resupply various fields where people remained all winter. We had to go to Nord, Alert, and Eureka. In Thule, at this time of the year the sun is visible all night long. Outdoors all the buildings are connected by rope lines so you can find your way in a time of blowing snow. When we took off from Thule we had to worry about the weather at our destination, the weather at Thule and the weather at Sonderstom.

We had to bring a 35,000# Caterpillar tractor to Nord. The Headquarters for Military Air Transport gave a weight limit for takeoff from Thule. Nord was 765 miles from Thule. Our Alternate from Thule was Sonderstrom AFB and that was 660 miles away. With all that distance and the winds starting “white outs” at Thule and Nord, we had to cancel the delivery several times while we were airborne. Finally, we had to go to the Headquarters to allow lifting the takeoff weight to the C-130 limit.

When we got to Nord, on our third attempt, the sky below was perfectly clear and we started a penetration, went out to sea a little and turned back in to Nord. There was nothing we could see. The entire sky was covered in ice fog that was generated by our penetration. We came in at 50 feet and then thought of their large radio antennas. We held for about 30 minutes and the fog dissipated and we landed. Then we delivered the tractor.

At Eureka we went in and had lunch. The crowd was mostly Danish and we had a lot of fun with them. You can’t see Eureka on the map but you can fond Resolute. Eureka is across the bay.

It was very interesting to fly up here where the Magnetic North Pole is not really useable and we needed to use the True North Pole and Grid Navigation. It was wonderful to have a navigator to handle that, flying up there.


24 October 1965

C-130 37835 was one of the C-130s we had at McGuire. This plane was used to fly to a remote airport in th US. A tower operator there knew that this would be the first four engine airplane that would land at this field. He set up his 8 millimeter motion picture camera to capture this landing. Here is that video:

Well, just after I became an Aircraft Commander, I was sent out on a trip to Europe. The aircraft I got was 37835 and after the accident it had, it had no wing tanks. I had to fly to Goose Bay, Labrador to get enough fuel to fly to Prestwick, Scotland.

On the 24th of October Goose had had a lot of snow that had been removed and piled on both sides of the runway. I was getting a Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) from the radar operator at Goose.

The strictest Check Pilot we had in VR-3 was Lieutenant Commander Norman Garsoe. It happened that Norm wanted to go to Rota, Spain because he was being re-assigned there and he wanted to see the housing that was available. Sure enough, he came on my first trip as an Aircraft Commander. In fact, as I was making this GCA he was looking over my shoulder. At about 300 feet above the ground, with large piles of snow on both sides of the runway, Norm said: “Tell me all the electrical components that are on the Battery Bus.”

I turned my head for a second to look at him and then it got to me that he was having some fun. I had to chuckle.

We ended this days flying in Chateauroux and went to the Swans for dinner.

23 September 1965

VR-3 wanted to have me check out as a C-130 Aircraft Commander but they did not want to have the Airlift Wing give them any grief. They arranged for the wing check airman, Commander Tufo, to give me the check ride and we left McGuire on September 23rd.

We went to Chateauroux, France and rested overnight. Check it out: http://www.chateaurouxairstation.com.

The next day we took off and headed east. Our destination was Topel. A Turkish Base where American soldiers were temporarily stationed. As we passed Athens, on our way into Turkey, they told us that the ceiling at Topel was 700 feet. It was still a bit of a flight to Topel and I said I would proceed and decide what to do when I got there.

Well, when we got up there, we spoke to planes coming out. They had stayed there overnight and they said the ceiling was 700 feet. If you look at this map you will find Yalova. That is a very small airport and I landed there several times. It had a radio navigational facility, an ADF Radio. When you wanted to make an approach to this field you could maneuver on the facility and lower yourself to 1100 feet. If you could SEE the runway from there, you could land.

Well, at 1100 feet, we would still be in the clouds. I briefed my crew. I said I would cross the ADF at 1100 feet. Then, I would fly north until we had water underneath us and I would lower myself to 500 feet. I would turn east to fly to Topelo. I said we would fly to the east end of the Sea of Marmara, cross the shore and look for the field. If we saw it, we would land and if we did not see it in three minutes after we reached the shore, we would execute a missed approach and return to Athens.

Well, that’s what we did. We saw the field, we landed, we picked up the troops and we left. I offered the check captain the leg back to Chateauroux and he said: “I’ll tell you when I want the leg.”

My copilot, Pete Simola, got really sick in Chateauroux, so I had the check pilot act as my copilot. We flew back to the States. We landed in Lages in the Azores and then went to Pope, to drop off the troops. Finally we went to McGuire. I never offered him a leg and he didn’t ask for a leg.

When we got to McGuire, he never said anything to me. It was late in the evening. My copilot and I went to the parking lot, he got in his car. It was a fancy Chevrolet that had a manual five speed transmission. He started yelling: “They’ve stolen my transmission.” So, I drove him home.

The next day, the Operations Officer called me and asked if I was qualified as an Aircraft Commander. I said: “I have no idea.” He said: “What happened.” I started to explain and he said: “Just come to my office.” So, I went into his office and explained what had happened. They called the Wing to find out what Commander Tufo had decided. They told us a letter was coming over to explain it.

Well, when the letter came the Commander opened it and read it. When they trained me as a pilot, they told me to do what I thought was the correct thing to do. That is what I did on the check ride. The Check Pilot praised me for having used the Navigation radio and adjusting the decent over water to 500 feet to enable completing the mission. He said he was pleased to elevate me to Aircraft Commander and hoped all the NEW pilots would do as well when they got checked. So, I was an Aircraft Commander.

November 22, 1963

I was in training at Sewart AFB in Nashville, Tennessee to be a pilot on the C-130 Hercules aircraft. We went flying in the morning and when we landed, we learned that President Kennedy was shot to death in Dallas, Texas. This assassination started a heartbreaking series of events that changed the direction of American politics to the right.

John F. Kennedy gave the following instructions to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor, the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, regarding the purpose of their mission to Vietnam:

“I am asking you to go because of my desire to have the best possible on-the-spot appraisal of the military and paramilitary effort to defeat the Viet Cong. . . . The events in South Vietnam since May have now raised serious questions both about the present prospects for success against the Viet Cong and still more about the future effectiveness of this effort unless there can be important political improvement in the country. It is in this context that I now need your appraisal of the situation. If the prognosis in your judgment is not hopeful, I would like your views on what action must be taken by the South Vietnamese Government and what steps our Government should take to lead the Vietnamese to that action.[1]”

In doing research for this post I discovered the JFK had decided to bring US troops home from Vietnam after McNamara/Taylor reported what was going on.

Look at this:

I quote:

A more thorough treatment appeared in 1992, with the publication of John M. Newman’s JFK and Vietnam.1 Until his retirement in 1994 Newman was a major in the U.S. Army, an intelligence officer last stationed at Fort Meade, headquarters of the National Security Agency. As an historian, his specialty is deciphering declassified records—a talent he later applied to the CIA’s long-hidden archives on Lee Harvey Oswald.

Newman’s argument was not a case of “counterfactual historical reasoning,” as Larry Berman described it in an early response.2 It was not about what might have happened had Kennedy lived. Newman’s argument was stronger: Kennedy, he claims, had decided to begin a phased withdrawal from Vietnam, that he had ordered this withdrawal to begin. Here is the chronology, according to Newman:

(1) On October 2, 1963, Kennedy received the report of a mission to Saigon by McNamara and Maxwell Taylor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The main recommendations, which appear in Section I(B) of the McNamara-Taylor report, were that a phased withdrawal be completed by the end of 1965 and that the “Defense Department should announce in the very near future presently prepared plans to withdraw 1,000 out of 17,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Vietnam by the end of 1963.” At Kennedy’s instruction, Press Secretary Pierre Salinger made a public announcement that evening of McNamara’s recommended timetable for withdrawal.

(2) On October 5, Kennedy made his formal decision. Newman quotes the minutes of the meeting that day:

The President also said that our decision to remove 1,000 U.S. advisors by December of this year should not be raised formally with Diem. Instead the action should be carried out routinely as part of our general posture of withdrawing people when they are no longer needed. (Emphasis added.)

The passage illustrates two points: (a) that a decision was in fact made on that day, and (b) that despite the earlier announcement of McNamara’s recommendation, the October 5 decision was not a ruse or pressure tactic to win reforms from Diem (as Richard Reeves, among others, has contended3) but a decision to begin withdrawal irrespective of Diem or his reactions.

(3) On October 11, the White House issued NSAM 263, which states:

The President approved the military recommendations contained in section I B (1-3) of the report, but directed that no formal announcement be made of the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963.

In other words, the withdrawal recommended by McNamara on October 2 was embraced in secret by Kennedy on October 5 and implemented by his order on October 11, also in secret. Newman argues that the secrecy after October 2 can be explained by a diplomatic reason. Kennedy did not want Diem or anyone else to interpret the withdrawal as part of any pressure tactic (other steps that were pressure tactics had also been approved). There was also a political reason: JFK had not decided whether he could get away with claiming that the withdrawal was a result of progress toward the goal of a self-sufficient South Vietnam.

The alternative would have been to withdraw the troops while acknowledging failure. And this, Newman argues, Kennedy was prepared to do if it became necessary. He saw no reason, however, to take this step before it became necessary. If the troops could be pulled while the South Vietnamese were still standing, so much the better.4 But from October 11 onward the CIA’s reporting changed drastically. Official optimism was replaced by a searching and comparatively realistic pessimism. Newman believes this pessimism, which involved rewriting assessments as far back as the previous July, was a response to NSAM 263. It represented an effort by the CIA to undermine the ostensible rationale of withdrawal with success, and therefore to obstruct implementation of the plan for withdrawal. Kennedy, needless to say, did not share his full reasoning with the CIA.

So,; Kennedy made the decision on October 11th 1963 to pull our troops out. I knew that sadness fell on America after that assassination but I did not know that Kennedy died: so the military, industrial, congressional complex could make the money they made, in the next 60 years.

ΠΚΑ … 1958

ΠΚΑ is a fraternity that got started in Virginia. The PIKE “A” chapter was founded in 1868 at the University of Virginia. Pi Kappa Alpha limited its membership to white men. This restriction was becoming a problem to a national fraternity in the light of civil rights concerns at American universities. In 1958, at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) ΠΚΑ “GT” house, the members sent me and Bob Schulz to the ΠΚΑ national convention in Washington, DC, to overturn this restriction.

  We put forward a motion on the issue of ΠKA banning black men as members. Τhe leaders of the meeting called for a vote and rolled out some oldies, …. some 80 year old guys, in wheel chairs, to vote against our motion. Our chapter was GT and these guys came from single letter chapters from all across the south.  In 1964, ΠΚΑ changed the rules that Universities were starting to look at, for allowing fraternities on campus.

But it was instructive to watch that vote, for me. I knew almost nothing about slavery and the loss of the Civil War in the South. As the son of immigrants, raised in New York and having been schooled in the segregated schools of NY, I did not have it in my brain. You see, I lived at 37- 24 102nd Street and 37th Avenue was the dividing line between white and black families. But all the white kids on 102nd street played hand ball and stick ball with the black kids on 102nd street, all the time. We went to the Worlds Fair grounds, out on Flushing Bay, together and played basket ball and touch football. It never entered my mind, that they went to schools on Northern Boulevard and we went to schools on Roosevelt Avenue.

Now, thinking about it, I wonder why I never thought about it. But, you see, racism was not in my brain either. You know, Louis Armstrong lived on 107th Street, just a few blocks from my house and we sometimes rode over there on our bikes, to hear music from his back yard.

But my real education on this subject, occurred when I went through single engine jet training, on the T2J aircraft, at Meridian, Mississippi. I was a Lieutenant Junior Grade when I got there, after my time on the USS Engage. A Black 1st Lieutenant Marine Corps officer came to Meridian, just a few days after my arrival. He had grown up in Chicago and had gone to Notre Dame. Well, we two northern kids went out to eat in Meridian. This was in 1962, a year before the FBI came down to the Sip.

Of course, we could not eat in a restaurant but ended up eating in the black section of the Trailways bus stop. And when we tried to go to the movies, they wanted him to sit up in the balcony.

The next day, he went in to the CO of the Naval Air Station and got transferred to Whiting Field in Florida, to fly the T28s. He just did not want to put up with that bull in Mississippi.

I saw that same stuff, in Johannesburg, South Africa, when I first flew there, in Pan Am 707s, in 1968. Being black, makes people carry an extra burden through this thing we call life

August 4th 1964 VIETNAM

On August 4th 1964, I was at home in Country Lakes, NJ and was on alert status as a co-pilot, of a C-130E aircraft crew. I listened to President Lyndon Baines Johnson speak on TV just before midnight about the ship confrontations in the Tonkin Gulf, of North Vietnam. I had been there, on my ocean going minesweeper, MSO USS ENGAGE 433. We had ships run in on us when I was there in 1961. But that did not matter now, I went into my bedroom and packed a bag for the trip that was about to start, because President Johnson said war maneuvers would begin.

We were called out and we left before dawn on August 5th from McGuire AFB and we flew to Shaw AFB, in South Carolina. We picked up a field hospital and headed west. We went to Travis AFB, in California and then to Hickham Field, in Honolulu, Hawaii. From there we continued to Wake Island. By the time we got to Wake Island, we ran into a problem with the oxygen tank that held crew oxygen which we might need in a loss of pressurization. So, we had to wait for parts to get to us. We arrived in Wake on August 8th after crossing the dateline and we were there on August 9th. So, here we were on Wake Island looking at the field from our bunkhouse and seeing a parade of US aircraft landing and taking off every few minutes. It was a very real show of how much force gets moving once war plans are executed and we saw it with our own eyes.

On August 10th, we flew to Kadena AFB on Okinawa, removed the field hospital and then flew to Midway Island, the western most island in the Hawaii chain. I had been to Midway on the Engage. As we were steaming into Midway, there appeared to be a ship in the channel. Captain Zook asked the Operations Officer how much speed it was making and was if it going into port or coming out of port. Ensign Stephen Phelps Henderson III answered: “Making 5 knots and steaming out of port, sir.” But when we got there, it was and old wreck, fast aground to the right of the channel.

Midway is a place where the Albatross gather in large numbers and it is instructive to watch them land and tumble to a stop and to see how they take off from the ground. They are beautiful in flight but they are strange to see on the ground.

The albatross are all over the island. This photo was taken by someone who lived on Midway for several years. it is an albino albatross.

From Midway, we flew to Hickham AFB in Honolulu and to Travis AFB in California and then back to McGuire. That was the first, of many flights that I took to the western Pacific, in my flying for VR-3, Naval Aviation Transport Squadron 3.