220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company

First Quarterly 2005 CATCOM E-Newsletter
(updated March 25, 2005, morning)

Catkiller plaque
and Family,
and all Friends
and Brothers in Arms,
in memory of those who have served


Charles Finch sent this note and these photos of a gather in Tampa:
"Friday night, January 21, Charles arranged a small get together in Tampa, Florida.

Who was there:


Charles Finch
Bill Hooper
Mark Gaddis


Clyde Trathowen (TANGO)
Clint Smith (SIERRA)
Russ Cedoz
Maybe Lanny Thorne

We met at Lee Roy Selmon's Restaurant in Tampa, FL
Mark Gaddis was in touch with Clint Smith, and that is how he was found.

Mark can be written at mdgaddis@hotmail.com.

"Charles Finch"

Second message with photos:


I will write something later, but it was glorious to see these Marines who I had not seen since 1969. Mark Gaddis, another Catkiller, also showed up, and I will send some photos of him:


Clint Smith, Clyde Travhowen, C. Finch, Russ Cedoz, and Bill Hooper, 2005

Additional photos, but someone will have to let me know these unidentified in these photos. Then, I'll post their names apprropriately:


Dale Ross Stith sent in this new information, and a might fine looking bunch of pilots, too!

Association meeting, 1 Jan 2005


This announces the date for the 2005 Quiet Aircraft Association Reunion, sent in by Dale:

To All,

Our 2005 Quiet Aircraft Association (QAA) Reunion will be held at Cable Airport in Upland, CA July 8, 9 & 10 2005.

Upland is East of Los Angeles between Pomona and Riverside.

Planning for the event is underway, more news to follow. Check the airport web site for additional planning information:

Cable Airport Web Site

Points of Contact:

Kurt Olney
Sonny Morrow
Dale Ross Stith


Jerry DiGrezio sent in this unusual and by-chance encounter, which someone out there might recall:

My son had a very interesting thing happen to him: He is a senior ROTC student at Davidson College in NC and had a retired Marine speak to his class about Vietnam. The Marine told of an incident where he and 6 other Marines were surrounded on a Hill 43 (I am trying to get a better location) and broadcast a Mayday requesting assistance from anyone on this frequency. He was answered by what he remembers as Catkiller 887. My son almost fell out of his chair and after the class told the Marine that I had served with the Catkillers.

The Marine's name was Lt. Lee Sargeant and the incident occurred in December 1964. He went on to say that the Catkiller in question adjusted fire and dropped grenades from the aircraft thereby saving their lives. He would love to find out who the Catkiller was and get in touch.

Could you include this in the newsletter so that we can try to find out who was the Catkiller in question?

Jerry DiGrezio


The following message came from Tom Mangan, an author. If you have any information for him, his home and e-mail addresses and phone number are below:

I am trying to locate Catkillers who flew the daily coastal recon from Danang to the DMZ in August 1966.

I'm writing a book about some of the men whose names are on The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. One of the stories is about two Coast Guardsmen who were killed on the USCGC Point Welcome on August 11, 1966. According to the Point Welcome's deck log, they who used to talk to the Catkillers all the time, and they worked with the Catkillers to destroy a couple of camouflaged VC sampans near the DMZ less than 24 before they died.

Can you help me locate some pilots or observers from the 220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company (RAC) who flew missions from April to August 1966. I found these names on your website.

Richard Bielot
Zack Bogue
Ernie Cerna (Serna?)
Jerry Currey
Chico Fernandez
Palmer Haines
Joe Hodges
Jerry Tastad

I also found Don Medley's name on another website, and I heard from him today.

If you can help me locate any Catkillers who flew the daily coastal recon from Danang to the DMZ, or who remember working with the 82-foot Coast Guard patrol boats in 1966, I'd appreciate it very much. I'm an email kind of guy, so email address would be fine, but I do a lot of snail mail too.

Tom Mangan
194 Utica Street
Brockport, NY 14420
(585) 637-7033


Doc sent in this update on his recovery progress (see December newsletter):

Don, I am walking a mile a day on the tread mill, and getting better everyday. Just got back from Miami today; down there with my wife for two weeks. I start my rehab in a couple weeks, so everything is looking up. There is nothing like a top over haul! The doctors say I am good for another 20 years. I appreciate all of the prayers and good thoughts from everyone-they really helped.


Charles Finch sent this interesting Catkiller plaque photo, belonging to Major Ed Miler:


Major Ed Miler's Catkiller plaque


This was taken Christmas Day 1968, aboard the USS NEW JERSEY.

Bounds, CAPT Ed Snyder, Finch, 1968

The CO of the ship was Captain Ed Snyder who is in the middle. Roger snuck me out there to see the BOB HOPE show with Ann Margaret. I think we were AWOL for about three days. Major Wisby punished us by making us fly New Years Eve on the DMZ. We did get hosed pretty bad that day but seeing BOB HOPE and eating Navy hots was well worth it. Ann Margaret and the GOLDIGGERS were soft on the eyes, believe me.

Sorry to bore you with this but it is midnight and I just found the photo. Thanks again Roger Bounds for being there for me.

Being a Catkiller was the best. Happy Easter everyone!

Charles Finch


This came in an e-mail from Bud Bruton, the photo taken at Dong Ha airfield, circa July 1968:

"Jerry and Bill and et al

Found this in an old album and thought you would like to see it. I'm going to Vietnam on March 17th and will be in Dong Ha. I don't think anyone will recognize us now.

Think of you guys often.

Bud Bruton"
220th RAC aviators


This is the latest from Charles Finch, and we join in wishing Sarg a great time in retirement:

Sarge and Steph are here celebrating Sarge's 62nd birthday. He will finally retire from the Army on 31 May 2005. He will have completed 39 years of service. Longest serving Catkiller for sure although John Herring appeared older!!!!!!.

Charles Finch
Sargeant Means, age 62

On a note of sincere congratulations and thanks for all of us, Sarge Means retires soon with what I hear is 36 years of active army service. Thanks, Sarge, we know you must have done a lot of things well!!


The following came in from Ned Miler, former Commander of the 220th RAC. Thanks for the memories!
"Dear Catkillers....
Last week I wrote a letter via USPS to Colonel Jack Mullen who was the CO of the 212th Combat Support Aviation Battalion, our parent unit long before and after the time that I was there (January - June 1969), reflecting on those times of so long ago. I told him about Quinton Anderson contacting me in the summer of 2003 regarding the planned reunion at Las Vegas, and that while I was not able to attend, his contact started a flurry of email communications from many of you which continue, much to my pleasure. And, I might add, with my appreciation to all of you for caring. I also told Col Mullen of the book that Jim Hooper, Don Pepe, Charlie Finch, and others of you have written regarding the Catkillers, and that I intend to send him the latest draft that Jim sent me. I think that he would enjoy the manuscript a great deal.

Jack Mullen's email reply to my letter is below; a few comments on my part may be helpful. The free spirit at our club who challenged him on the "much despised" officer writing program was indeed Glenn Strange.... the Bumgardner/Lafrombaise incident was also heatedly discussed. As I mentioned to Jim Hooper in my comments to him for his book, after a little time and a few beers, the matter was resolved with serious damage to no one. See especially the middle paragraphs of Mullen's reply; Gary and Val that RR 6 refers to are Gary Alton, CO of the 131st Surveillance Airplane Company (our next door neighbor at Phu Bai) and Val Panzitta, CO of the 282nd Assault Helicopter Company out of Marble Mountain.

Near the end of his reply, he refers to someone who met him in the hallway of Snow Hall (which is at Fort Sill, OK) and thanked him for the officer writing program. Sometimes things that a commander does which in his mind is for the good of the "troops", but which is often perceived as dumb in the mind of those troops, turns out to be not so dumb after all.

Another memory that I have of Jack Mullen was his "Bend with the Wind" program. Based on Asian philosophy, "by bending with the wind, bamboo columns will not break unlike the rigid oak tree, which may give strong wood, but is easily broken in strong wind". His program encouraged every man in the battalion to give his all but to take a little time off in the middle of the day to rest - and even nap for a few minutes when the workload permitted. Col Mullen wrote a letter outlining his thoughts on the program, which he personally signed and had a copy delivered to each and every member of the battalion, some 1300 +/- men. I wish that I had saved a copy of that letter.

Although I got "called on the carpet" a number of times for various things such as unnecessary low flying and "rumored" flying under bridges (paying attention Bounds and Finch?), and firing the M-16 out of the windows of the Birddog (which I did not object to in spite of the possibility of shell casings jamming control cables and shorting electronic components. Hell, you had to defend yourselves from ground fire in some manner.), I respected Jack Mullen a great deal. On the day of my change of command (to Major Gephardt), Mullen said to me, "Ed, here is a souvenir for you". He handed me three M-16 shell casings that he found in one of our Birddogs earlier that day. As Colonel Mullen said in conclusion to his note to me, "those were heady times", to which I can only add "indeed!"

I hope this communication finds all of you well, and once again, thank you all for your service.
Ed Miler
Catkiller 6

Here is Col Mullen's reply to my email."

Howdy Ed! What a pleasant and welcome surprise to hear from you after all these years. Your reminiscences brought memories that, as MacArthur would say, "have grown dim, tone and tint." I can add nothing to the narratives you have shared with me. They certainly preserve the truth that Bird Dog Aviation was a no guts, no glory world in the air and in the club! The 212th days were the highlights of my 22 years of active duty. I went on to the Pentagon, war college, 1st Cav. Division and TACATA at Hood to graduate from the Army in June of 1976.

I'm proud that the courage and team work of the officers and men who put bird dogs into the air in RVN is being preserved in print. I remember vividly being challenged at your club for my much despised officer writing program. Was that Strange? Names have faded away. I do remember that officer who took me on bought me a drink later and said, "I'd have been disappointed if you couldn't handle my shit!"

I would have been disappointed if he and you and Gary and Val and all of the other's who served above the best couldn't stand firmly on two feet, look me in the eye and speak their piece.

Incidentally, a few years later, a face loomed out of the crouded Snow Hall hallway with a hearty recognition. I confess, I did not recognize him. "You know that writing program you had? It helped me in the advanced course." So much for imortality, eh?

Those were heady times and I really appreciate your thoughtful time and effort to share and remind. (I don't think that is redundant.) Best wishes, Ed. I'll try to stay in touch.

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