Third Quarterly 2009 CATCOM E-Newsletter

September 17, 2009

What's new (will be a reverse-order index in future newsletters): 

  • Link to Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing Available!!
  • Update from Jim Hooper, Author:
  • Naval History from a Naval Backseater:



Our Reunion Chairman, Charles W. 'Bud' Bruton, Jr, advises we now have a link to Catkiller group reservations at Penn's landing in Philadelphia. You may begin making reservations using the link:

In the lower right hand corner of Hyatt Hotel wed site photos are usefuul links to further information. On the first page photo is a link to seventeen photographs of various hotel areas, and another to a nicely done fact sheet regarding the hotel. Look around the site, and when you see a photo, check the same lower corner area for other links.

Make your reservations anytime you desire, the earlier the better.


Not offten will you read a more clear historical message, as this one from Jeff Thompson has a source few of us actually maintain: a daily flight journal. I wished many times my equipment had included a note book. Thanks for the input, Jeff, and you are on our mailing list.

"Dear Editor:

I flew back seat with the Catkillers from September '69 - April '70 as a naval gunfire and artillery spotter. The pilots would pick me up in Dong Ha and later Quang Tri. My flight log, if I am reading my scrawl correctly, lists the following: Taylor, Boutwell, Cook, Kelly, Arrington, Hayes, Klutts, Blevins, Savage, Gallager, Baze, Anderson, Fox, Misenheimer, Geisz, Hyde, and Gerhke. The Navy did a less than stellar job of preparing me for the duty and all the pilots were outstanding in teaching me the job. After training the Navy gave me to the Marines who were less than thrilled. My prior experience had been serving in Gunnery on a destroyer off the coast of Vietnam. Since our ship fired over 16,000 rounds in support of the troops and off the coast of North Vietnam the detailers must have figured I had experience. After just reading "100 Feet Over Hell" I feel very fortunate to have had the pilots as my instructors and for their skill.

My flight log also lists flying several missions in #742. I donít know if this was the same aircraft mentioned in the book as I only listed three numbers.

If possible I would appreciate being added to your e-mail list. My flying tour on the DMZ was the most impressionable time I spent during my Navy career of 28 years.


Jeff Thompson"


Here is an update I requested on marketing efforts concerning Jim Hooper's popular book, A Hundred Feet Over Hell:

"As an update on our marketing progress for A Hundred Feet Over Hell, a review will be coming out in the October/November issue of Air & Space/Smithsonian, written by the magazine's former editor, George Larson, who served as an artillery officer in Vietnam. The book is in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum gift shop, and I've received a request from the manager to do a book signing there.

The first stock sent to the Marine Corps Heritage Museum at Quantico has sold out, and more are being shipped. The cross-service appeal of the Catkiller story is such that reviews will run in Leatherneck Magazine and the Marine Corps Aviation Associationís annual Journal. The Air Force Foundation Museum recently ordered the book, and Iím hoping for a review in the Air Force Friends' Journal. The latter is entirely due to the lobbying efforts of Joe Noah, an old friend of Catkiller 6, Ed Miler, and overseer of the George Preddy website: Preddy Foundation

The manager at the Army Aviation Museum gift shop agreed to stock the book when she learned about three upcoming Bird Dog reunions at Ft Rucker in October. The publisher of Army Aviation Magazine asked for a review copy. At first, he seemed less than enthusiastic about reviewing a book about one of the most highly decorated army fixed-wing units in Vietnam, so this is really a positive, welcomed outcome.

One of our troops in Iraq contacted me to say he'd read some of my previous books and wanted to get A Hundred Feet Over Hell, but that the Army and Air Force Exchange System doesn't stock hardbacks. When he came up with about a dozen orders from friends, I ensured they got the maximum discount from Zenith, which also waived the postage. A Marine O-5 who just deployed to Afghanistan took a copy and has asked about getting more for his colleagues.

The response from active and retired military personnel has been overwhelmingly positive, though Zenith is still working on depleting the initial print run of 10,000 copies. There are other irons in the fire, and I will keep you posted on developments.

Thanks for asking,

Jim Hooper (click to visit my web site)"

Jim Hooper, Author


Catkiller 26, Dick Tobiason, of Bend, Oregon, is this year's leader of their Flag Parade. The following photo shows a great community spirit for our Patriots. Thanks for the photo, Dick:

"Will fly 50 flags here in downtown Bend, Oregon and two at home. Attached is a photo of flags on Bend's Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Catkiller 26
Leader, Bend Parade of Flags"
Flag Day, Bend, Oregon


Jan H. 'Smitty' Smith (Catkiller41) sent in a funny reminder that our memories suffer with age. Thanks, Jan; I got an I-can-relate laugh from that one:

better, older pilot


Jack and Cathy Bentley were recently at Sedona, Arizona, visiting with Lyn and Virginia Bumgardner. Some interesting history provided by Jack reveals the naming of that city, and someone took a very nice photo :

"Schnebly was one of the early settlers in the Sedona area. They were growing produce along Oak Creek in the Sedona Valley and needed a way to get it to market in Flagstaff so he built the road. It drops 1800 feet in five miles and is an absolutely spectacular drive. Don't recommend it in a passenger car but my truck is built for such outings. With the lumber Schnebly was able to procure in Flagstaff he built a store and an inn and then petitioned the US Government for the Post Office Franchise. They couldn't fit Schnebly on the postal cancellation stamp, so he settled for Sedona (his wife's name) and thus the area became known as Sedona."
Catkiller Lyn Bunmgardner and wife, Virginia; Catkillker Jack Bently and his wife, Cathy, September 2009


The Curator of the Battleship New Jersey wants to arrange to have any Catkiller crew that fired the New Jersey, or worked with her in any way, to be available to be interviewed by them during our reunion in Philadelphia. He is also interested in memorabilia, articles or pictures you may have concerning the New Jersey.

The Curator states they are also beginning to put together a Vietnam Display on the Battleship, so they will need material to fill the display. Beginning with our 4th Quarterly CATCOM newsletter, we will include an announcement regarding how to send your donations of memorabilia, articles, and photographs for inclusion in the battleship's Vietnam display. Plan to be there for a group photograph not only of pilots, but also ground and flight crew members who were involved in missions that called for fire from the New Jersey. They would prefer meetings on board the New Jersey, rather than coming to our hotel, since they have all the recording equipment set up aboard the ship.

Please collect and set aside your stories, photographs, or anything related to the New Jersey for use on the Vietnam display.


John Hillman sent in a contact report between him and Dale Moore:

"A lost Catkiller contact me this morning, and he would like to be included in the distribution of the newsletter and on the roster [Dale was added to roster]. It's Dale Moore, phone 580-649-0124, e-mail is

He would appreciate being included. I told him about our reunions and the upcoming one as well, he is very interested and will probably attend our Philly reunion. Dale was in the unit when I arrived and knows all the old guys well.

John Hillman"

Robert 'Bob' LaFerriere, Catkiller 2, checked in and passed his information for the roster. He was an assistant operations officer in the unit in 1968. Welcome to the excitement, Bob. Anyone desiring to contact him can obtain his contact information from Bob McComiskie. We hope to see you at the reunion in Philadelphia.

Catkiller Crew Chief Danny Freitas checked in with information, which is now on the roster, and with two photos. Thanks for the contact, Danny. You are close to Philadelphgia, so we hope to see you there in June 2010!

SP5 Danny Freitas, Crew Chief, 220th RAC, 1968-69 SP5 Danny Freitas, Crew Chief, 220th RAC, 1968-69

Other Catkillers newly added or updated on the roster. If you know the e-mail address for any with a star, let us know:

  • Dale Moore
  • Paul Smith
  • Ben Hartman*
  • Lem Brinkley*
  • Tom Messeder*
  • Norm MacPhee
  • Galen Keener


I have sent condolences to Frances Woytowich following receipt of her e-mail. If anyone has photos of Wayne while in the unit, please share them with us for the newsletter. I also asked Fran if she has any photos to post and will place them here, if I obtain any. God rest his soul.

I am sorry we did not know of Wayne's condition before he died, as he was from Madison, Alabama, not too far from my own home. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, Frances. Don Ricks

"Dear Don,

My husband, Wayne Woytowich, was stationed at Phu Bai. He served as a crew chief in Viet Nam from May 69—Oct. 70. He was in the 220th RAC, 1st Aviation Brigade. He passed away on June 18th. I believe that he would want me to tell you how very much he enjoyed receiving the Catkiller newsletters. He retired from the Army in 1989. He died after a four year battle with a malignant brain tumor. He was always proud of his service to his country and the men he served with as well as those who have continued to serve. Thank you for taking the time to publish the newsletter. It means more to those who read it than you could possibly know.

Fran Woytowich"

Obituary for Wayne Kenneth Woytowich, June 18, 2009


Sundowner Joe 'Lt. Beans' Brett passed thru my AO, and reverted back to observer status at an on—the—water rock—n—roll concert. He had to admit that sea level was his lowest flight ever with a Catkiller, and blames us for his gray hair.

We danced like it was a floor show in Phu Bai. Hope you and all yours are living it to the max.

Rod Stewart

Catkiller 13

Joe Beans Brett and Catkiller Rod Stewart


Tony Keltner, of Huntsville, Alabama, died after a short illness. Please remember Tony and his family in prayer. His obituary is located at the link provided below.

Connie requested we add her to our e-mail list, so she is now on the official Catkiller roster as:

An interesting bit of information provided by Bob Cortner: "as we both know Tony was Catkiller 17. Connie and her family placed Tony's ashes at the Veteran's Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri. Tony spent many years in military and government service. His marker site is number 317. That 17 keeps following him."

Tony Keltner, Catkiller 17, Dong Ha, South Vietnam, 1968


Jim Hooper's excellent book, A Hundred Feet Over Hell, will soon be available at Fort Rucker's Army Aviation Museum Gift Shop.

The foundation manager recently stated that the book will definitely be available during the 219th Recon Airplane Company's reunion in October. The 'Headhunters' have their reunion from October 15-17, at the Hampton Inn, Enterprise, Alabama. Details are at their web site, so click on their web site link located on the left side Cat Bar. Here is an abstract of their activities on Saturday, October 17 (he 199th RAC and 221st RAC web sites also contain information about their upcoming reunions):

"Saturday, October 17, will include a 1 1/2-hour bus trip to Baker, FL, just north of Fort Walton, for a 'fly-in' arranged by the 'Delta Birdogs.' They represent the 199th and 221st Recon Companies and will be having their reunion also. Bird Dog rides, (not sure of cost, if any) camaraderie, and a fish fry are the included activities."

So, as you can imagine, there is a potential for a large gathering of members of 199th RAC 'Swampfox,' 219th 'Headhunters' and the 221st RAC 'Shotguns' as they gather in Baker, Florida. I have made reservations and plan to be there, so there will be at least one 'Catkiller' present.

Make plans to also attend the great Catkiller Reunion at Philadelphia in June 2010.

Don Ricks, Catkiller 49


Courtesy of an e-mail from Gary H. O'Shields (Catkiller1968), here is a super photo gallery of some good looking tails:


For your information, to access the newsletter and all other pages from the main page, all you need is the following web address (you don't need to add CATCOM):

Until the next newsletter publication in October, this new web address AND the previous one (with \catcom\ added), will both work.


Some of you have children, perhaps grandchildren, who currently serve in various, often challenging, jobs and far away places, friends who have fallen, and memories of your own days standing guard for freedom. To all of you, in either category:

Thank you, Veterans, for your sacrifice and service


Happy 4th of July!


To view a short message from our reunion staff, and their photo (where they display a great look of confidence and determination), left click on the link below. More information to follow, so keep checking back:

The official date for the 2010 reunion is 24 of June—27th June. The official hotel is the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia, at Penn’s Landing, 201 South Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia Penn. 19106.


Battleship New Jersey logo

"Bob McComiskie is in PA for the pre-reunion meeting [in Philadelphia], and he sent me the attached photo from his cell phone. The picture was taken on the Battleship New Jersey.

Best wishes BROTHERS... Jerry [DiGrezio]"

See more of the Battleship New Jersey and where she visits


Ed McMahon was a voice in entertainment, and he probably entertained you with his wit, grace, and presence on the Johnny Carson Show. His biography is interesting and informative, especially for this group. Here is the interesting point of the biography:

"McMahon graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949 and his distinctive voice soon found work in the up-and-coming medium of television. He hired on with WCAU-TV in Philadelphia and by 1952, was reportedly working on 13 different local shows; even moonlighting as the announcer for local competitor WFIL’s "Bandstand" (1952-57) music showcase. But as he had remained in the Marine Reserve upon his discharge, the worsening Korean War called him back to the service, and he shipped off to Korea in 1953, flying unarmed O-1E Bird Dog air reconnaissance and artillery spotting planes on 85 missions."

Thanks to Daryl Wesley and Curt Perry for sharing this bit of 'history.'

Source: Ed McMahon's Bio


As you know from last quarter's newsletter, our reunion staff, headed up by Bud Bruton, are schedlued to meet at Philadelphia on 25 June for the purpose of developing plans for Catkillers and friends to gather in early 2010. Anyone who was at either of the last two reunions in Las Vegas (03) and Houston (06) knows we had a great time. The next reunion will be even better, and if you have any ideas or suggestions for Philadelphia, please phone or e-mail Bud or any listed reunion committee member:

  • Bud Bruton: 610.518.3900
  • Carl Drechsel:
  • Charles Finch:
  • Doc Clement:
  • Grayson Davis:
  • Jerry Bonning:
  • Robert McComiskie:
  • Sandy Drechsel:
  • Paul Brennan:

We recently put together a sample ADOBE PDF file containing photos of the activities at those reunions, mostly from the last one. Also in the works is a tribute to our enlisted men, from photos introduced by Paul Garin, Charles Finch, Ed Arthur, Guy Trettel, and others. If you have an unique story-telling photo with identified names, please send it to the editor.

Plan are to produce a similar PDF file after the Philadelphia reunion and have it available for personal viewing and download. You will want to be a party to the next one, and it is not too early to start making tentative plans to do so. Below is the link to the PDF file (Adobe Reader required) mentioned (password: catkillers):


"I spent the last several days with Sarge Means. We played golf in Philly (our annual 54 holes in one day SOLSTICE tournament). Then to Bulle Rock, Maryland, where the LPGA had just played. Then down to my house for some more golf and to celebrate my 66th BIRTHDAY.


Charles Finch"

Here are some photos (with Sarge and Nancy Finch). Happy (belated) Birthday, Charles :

Charles and wife Nancy celebrate his 66th birthday, June 2009Charles Finch and Sarge Means


Jack Bentley, Catkiller 16, and Sarge Means, Catkiller 16, 220th RAC

"My thoughts today have been on all of the brave men who have fought in wars far and near to secure and maintain our freedom that I fear so many take for granted today. Tomorrow is the 65th anniversary of D-Day and as I write this, it is particularly poignant as it is a few minutes after midnight, June 6, 2009 in England, and at this time 65 years ago a young
James T. Barnett was loading on one of more than 900 DC-3 aircraft to fly off in the night sky to be dropped via parachute behind enemy lines. Jim would survive the rigors of D-Day and as he always managed would bring an element of humor into the experience when he spoke of it. Perhaps it was his way of coping with the horror and fear of it all. Sometimes you could see it in his eyes.

As a member of the 101st Airborne, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Jim would go on to participate in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944). He was severely wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Bulge and laid in a snow covered trench for three days until an American aid vehicle came through and picked him up. On the way back to the aid station the vehicle was ambushed by a German patrol and Jim was even more severely wounded. Bad luck for Jim, but good luck for many who will read this.

Barnett was placed on a hospital ship and sent back to the states, and then a long train ride back to California to an Army hospital to cope with his injury's. The doctor's wanted to amputate his leg, but he implored them not to do so. After some 18 months and nearly 30 surgery's he was discharged from the Army with his leg intact and semi functioning. During his stay in the hospital he would meet a newly commissioned nurse by the name of Shirley Jean Sanborne. She would eventually resign her commission and the two were married.

At the time of his discharge Jim was told that he was 60 or 70 percent disabled (I can't remember which), and he refused to accept it! Just because one leg was three inches shorter than the other it was no big deal. He finally accepted a 20 or 30 percent disability rating just to get out of there. Absolutely amazing by today's standards. I never agreed much with Tom Brokaw's analysis of the news but when he coined them as the "Greatest Generation", I concurred. Jim and Shirley were married for 57 years and the most important thing that they accomplished (from my perspective) was having Anne Catherine Barnett, my wife of nearly 40 years! Jim would leave the military with the Combat Infantryman's Badge (CIB), Bronze Star, and three purple hearts.

As I conclude this note it is already the 6th of June in Vietnam and as such marks the 40th year since the death of Mike Lafromboise. I remember Mike as a great Marine Officer, great friend and an always prepared observer. He was fearless, relentless and a great warrior. I was fortunate to have had him in my backseat during my first mission with "troops in contact". I know for a fact that through his efforts many men are still alive today and if he had it to do all over again, he would not change a thing. Through his mentoring I became a better pilot and that legacy was passed to others. It was with honor that Cathy and I named our first born son after him and his warrior legacy continues to this day. Our son Michael is a Major serving on active duty and flying the Army C-12.

The flag will fly high over the ranch tomorrow!

Jack Bentley"

Here is a recent photo of that flag:

Jack Bentley and Don Ricks in Arizona


Catkiller photo banner

You are looking at the new and completed re-design of the web site. These pages are now easily managed, photos (like the sample one above) are more easily produced, edited, and posted— and the response time to do all of this is cut in half, a big help to the editor.

I draw your attention to the top web page graphic, which appears at the top of each page: This graphic represents our unit's identity—those unit insignia graphics in the middle represent the major units the 220th RAC supported while operating in our area. The units represented are, from left to right:

5th Infantry Division (Mech)
3d Marine Division
108th Artillery Group
101st Airborne Division

Our mission varied from direct support to these units to specific mission tasks involving other entities, sometimes classified, and often just as dangerous. With your input, we might also highlight those units and organzations that assisted our efforts, such as the USS New Jersey (BB-62), DASC, and the other multi-service aviation units that brought the fight to the enemy.

The bottom graphic design provides its space for the use of other photo-type banner graphics. These can and will soon highlight individuals, groups, and duties. Newly acquired software technology presents many new and interesting possibilities. With the new software is a neat capability to compose and publish Adobe PDF files, so announcements and photo reviews, etc., can and will be done in a format that all can view with the free Adobe Reader.

Announcements that a new quarterly newsletter has been posted will no longer be sent out. You will find the latest newsletter at the side Catbar, but if there is a special reason to announce an important event I will notify everyone on my e-mail list. In this regard, it is important that we keep our e-mail addresses updated. Please place my e-mail address into your address book so that your server does not reject messages. If you have a other suggestion or input regarding the web site, please send yuour comments in via e-mail (see e-mail link at the bottom of the Catbar).

Donald M. Ricks, CATCOM Ed/Pub



I wonder if the book [A Hundred Feet Over Hell, by Jim Hooper] describes an incident that happened when I was at Dong Ha as a crew chief for a few days.

In the middle of the night, the base was taking what seemed to be mortar and maybe rocket fire. A couple of pilots came from the Marine officers club and were [a good word for angry] because it was disrupting their night. They had me pre-flight a bird, but it wasn't rated for night flight—because the lights didn't work in the instrument panel (I believe it was a "circle red x"). They swore us to secrecy and took it anyway using their flashlight to see the panel. A couple hours later they came back and had taken out the mortar. I don't believe we logged that flight in the green book. I believe the other crew chief was Eddie Cayton. I knew Capt. Donnlley flew me up for my RON [remain over night].

If you know anyone who can fill in the blanks for me it would be pretty cool. I've also ordered the book and am looking forward to reading it. It's such a different perspective from the ground, pretty much just doing a job, but a great experience nonetheless.

Ed Arthur @ 220th. June, '68—Nov, '68"

These are some photos Ed sent a few days after the above e-mail:

Ed Arthur, Straight, Tom Elliot, 220th RACEd Arthur and two Vietnamese women (hooch maids)

Ed Arthur at Phu Bai

Ed Arthur training at Fort Rucker

Ed Arthur in Vietnam, June 1968


Dennis Jenkins, SP5 from 1968—69, sent in a welcomed historical review of enlisted men he remembers from his time in Phu Bai:

"Thanks for the update. There are a few corrections and additions I can offer to the unit roster. In the roster under Rich Busters name there is a typo it should read Phu Bai. My rank is correct and should read the same as Rich Busters, Phu Bai and Dong Ha. Rich and I spent a lot of time in Dong Ha. I can't remember if the other Crew Chiefs had the same call sign, but mine was Catkiller 00 because I was a Crew Chief. I'm pretty sure all CCs used this call sign to identify with the control towers in Dong Ha and Phu Bai. In the newsletter section of the web there are pictures submitted by Charlie Finch. In the First Quarterly Newsletter 2008, I can identify most of the Catkillers in the first picture in the NCO club. They are from left Jim Van Pelt SP5 Flightline Phu Bai 68-69(not on roster), myself, Sgt Al Lopez, Phu Bai 68-69(not on roster), Bob Lerch, SP5 68-70(not on roster), and Bob Weaver, SP5 ,I think (not on roster).

Other Catkillers not on the roster are: [all are now on the roster. Thanks, Dennis]

Dwight Friend, SPC5 Flightline '69
Bill Fenstemaker, SPC5 Flightline '69
Wayne Butterfield, Flightline '69
William (Greenie) Greenawalt Flightline '69-70
Sgt Dumas (can't remember his first name)

By the way, I ordered and received the book, 100 Feet Over Hell. I was surprised to see my picture in the book. There is a picture of Rich Buster and myself in Dong Ha. I haven't read it yet, I just received it yesterday. I ordered it through Barnes and Noble.

I will try to send updates as I remember them.

Thanks again,

Dennis Jenkins" {roster updated]

Phu Bai NCO Club: l-r: Jim Van Pelt, Dennis Jenkins, Al Lopez, Bob Lerch, Bob Weaver

Dale Dalcamp, SP5 from 1968—69, also sent in an historical list, giving me lots to do with the roster:

"Hey Don: Here is some of the information I can share:

Assigned to the 220th from March 1968 to June 1969. I was 67B20 Crew Chief, but was immediately assigned to manage the Wings of Freedom Open Mess. I managed and kept the books for the 220th and the Mohawk and Huey units next door. There were 7 clubs all total. I am a retired GM snowbird spending time in FL and MI. Here is a list of other names and where they were from, 40 yrs ago?

Dennis Pawels, Hart, MI
Bob Dodson, Robinson, IL
Ervil Cooper, Muncie, IN
Tim Grove, IN
Jose Maria Cabral, San Mateo, CA
Dennis Dewberry, Hollywood, FL
Tom Elliott, Los Altos, CA
Ken Houston, East Alton, IL
Larry Huston, Hart, TX
Doug Jenkins, Yakima, WA
Bill Fleckinstien, Medford, OR
Chris Burnell, CO
Larry Hamilton, Ashland, OR
I have a few photos I will send, when I find them? Please, let me know if you need any more info!

Thanks, Dale" [roster updated]

George 'Larry' Wright checked in with some corrections and additions. Thanks for the names, Larry.

"I am SP5 George 'Larry' Wight, 220th RAC, 212th BN, 1st AVN Brigade, Phu Bai, 10/70—12/71, I was the SP5 in charge of the airframe repair shop (sheetmetal shop). David L. Clark worked for me, same MOS. He served in 1971, too. Bruce Gore was my hooch mate and worked in motor pool, as I remember (also 1971). I have had no contact with them.

Larry Wight
Phoenix, AZ
(phone number and mailing address on request) [Roster updated]

Catkiller 15, Joseph F. Peters, reports the following regarding his service with the 220th. Joe is now on the unit roster:

CPT, TC (at the time), LTC retired.
Served as a pilot with 1st Platoon in Quang Ngai, from mid-May 1967 through mid-August 1967, then transfered as a DROS shuffle to the 183rd RAC 'Seahorses'. Now lives in Hayes, Virginia.

Well, Lanny Thorne was not a Catkiller, but he was a great Marine, and now he flies a Bird Dog, in USMC VMO-6 dress: tail number N68VN. Take a look at his beautiful bird:

Bird Dog owned and flown by Landon K. 'Lanny' Thorne

Old photos from the past are always welcomed, and one of our recent contacts sent in several. Back in 1969, SP5 Alec Knight took these shots with his camera, and recently he scanned the old slides you see below. There are higher resolution versions, but these reduced to 375 width provides the essence. Thanks for the input, Alec. He was a engine mechanic but served as NCOIC of the EM and NCO clubs:

Alec Knight, 1969 photo courtesy Alec Knight, 1969 photo courtesy Alec Knight, 1969 photo courtesy Alec Knight, 1969 photo courtesy Alec Knight, 1969 photo courtesy Alec Knight, 1969 photo courtesy Alec Knight, 1969 photo courtesy Alec Knight, 1969 photo courtesy Alec Knight, 1969 photo courtesy Alec Knight, 1969 photo courtesy Alec Knight, 1969 photo courtesy Alec Knight, 1969

Raymond Caryl, Catkiller 32/42, sent in some interesting history and two new contacts from 1967-68 era:

I tracked Nathan G. Stackhouse as far as a winery in Michigan and then lost him [but spoke with him via phone on 7-24-09]. He had a degree in enology (wine making) from USC and used to walk around the 3rd Platoon area with a glass of wine (usually red...'el Vino Tinto') in his hand while the rest of us were tossing down beer, or in my case, Scotch. This all reminds me of three stories:

  1. Smitty used to REALLY piss Stackhouse off. I think it was because Stack couldn't get under Smitty's [Jan Smith, Catkiller 41] skin and Smitty COULD get under Stack's. Smitty had decided that he was going to map EVERY bunker in the Third Platoon TAOR with eight (or it might even have been 10) digit coordinates. Smitty was a man of great patience and attention to detail. I think he was more interested in doing that than hunting down bad guys and actually killing them......sort of a 'personal challenge' sort of thing. Anyway, he had a tendency to stay out waaaay past his scheduled mission time and once acrually ran out of gas (COMPLETELY) on landing at Marble Mountain. Remember, when the Bird Dog is sitting on the ground, it is tail low and there wasn't enough gas left in EITHER tank to feed the engine, so it just died on roll out......the crew chiefs had to run out to the runway and push Smitty's Bird Dog in to the ramp. Stackhouse was LIVID! Smitty just smiled that 'smile' he was known for and went about his business as though nothing had happened.
  2. Smitty had a pair of madras Bermuda Shorts (quite the fashion back then....and I think they are coming back).....that were split right around the crotch. He and I were room mates and he use to ambush me when I'd come in the door to our hootch by bending over and 'mooning' shorts on under the madras Bermudas.......just Smitty's [butt] in all it's grinning glory! YUK! Actually, in time, I sort of got used to it......Smitty IS a confirmed liberal, you know.
  3. One day, I had problems with the electrical circuit on my rockets. One of the tubes had been written up as inop so I took off with just three Willy Petes. I tried to use them several times during my mission.....I don't really remember what for, but I went through the proper proceedure each time: Arm the rocket using the covered switches on the left overhead panel, remove the pin from the 'trigger' on the stick, aim and squeeze. After the rocket fired, disarm the circuit by flipping the cover back over the switch on the left overhead and putting the pin back in the trigger. Each time I tried to fire a rocket I used this proceedure EXCEPT THE LAST TIME. Mission over, I flew back to Marble and landed.....perfect three-point touchdown on the PSP runway (they later pulled up the PSP and replaced it with asphault because the Mohawks from the 245th tore up the PSP)......just one problem......I had forgotten to flip the covered arming switch off even though I HAD put the pin back in the trigger. As luck would have it, two Marine CH-53s were climbing out toward the south just as I touched down.....FORTUNATELY, they stayed low because when the grounding wire on my landing gear touched the PSP, it completed the circuit to the 'armed' rocket and I watched in horror as one of my rockets left it's tube and headed right for the two CH-53's!

Had they not stopped their climbout and broken left when they did, I would have stuck that wayward rocket right up the upen rear cargo door of #2 CH-53! As it was, it went right over the top of them and landed in the Special Forces compound just to the south of the runway. They thought they were under attack, and I heard later that all hell broke loose down there. (An aside: Those SF guys were the ones who did the out of country missions.....SOG. They were all killers of the first order and probably would have hunted me down, had they known who did it.) Aparently nobody was injured by my rocket (God looks after fools and drunks). Stackhouse met me when I taxiied in to the rivetments and asked just one question: 'What the hell happened, Lt?' I told him (thinking that I was headed straight to a Court Martial) and he just said 's---!', turned around and walked away. I never heard another word about it! I really hope we can find him so I can thank him.

Oh, yeah, guess I have a 4th story, seeing as how I mentioned Scotch earlier.........The nite TET started, Jan 30, 1968, I was sitting in the Blackcat O Club at the bar. The bartender had just placed my FOURTH DOUBLE Scotch and water in front of me when all hell broke loose. The sound of gunfire everywhere. The club naturally emptied. I grabbed my drink, ran outside, saw and heard all the commmotion and ran (drink in hand) to the line shack. I collected my rifle and gear, quickly preflighted an airplane while one of the crewchiefs loaded rockets and one of the Marine AO's and I climbed aboard. I carefully placed my drink between my legs, fired that baby up, taxiied out and took off. I finished my drink somewhere near Hoi An, opened the window and threw the glass out, and flew 3 1/2 hours. I'm pretty sure adrenalin overwhelmed the alcohol in my system......but I WAS legally buzzed!

After 3 1/2 hours, I flew back to Marble, refueled, and took off again for another 3 1/2 hours. By then it was light, but they were still shooting out there. After I taxiied in and shut down, Cpt. Feltner, the platoon leader after Stack left, came sauntering out and said to me, 'Lt. Caryl, I'll take your aircraft, you go get some sleep.' I sorta remember doing the following, but it WAS confirmed later by my Marine AO...... I took a half-step back, put my right hand on my .45 and said the following.....'Captain, you get your own f------ airplane.....this one is mine!' Feltner didn't say a word....he just turned on his heel and walked away. Never heard another word about that one either. God, it was good to be ten feet tall and bullet proof like we were back then!

Another former CatKiller I located is Dave Latimer [now on the roster]. I was a West Point grad and realy the 'unofficial' leader in the 3rd Platoon when Stack was the Plt. Ldr. Dave was EVERYBODY'S favorite (except Stack), had a great sense of humor and was pretty darn fluent in Vietnamese. We used to stop at the Rabbit Patch by Marble Mt. on our way back from Steak Night at the Navy's Elephant Club in Da Nang.....a once a week event. Dave could 'habla' like crazy and get the girls to come out and talk to us.....none of us ever got out of the 3/4 ton truck, but Dave was good at getting the one with the HUGE hooters to lift up her top and shake 'em at us.


These are rebuttal comments by Jan Smith:

Well... Not quite. I did stay out longer than planned on one mission and there were definitely circumstances involved. A small Marine unit along the coast northwest of Marble Mtn. was under fire from a recoilless rifle in the hills just above it. Seemed that as long as an airplane was around, the rifle held its fire. I was in contact with and flying above that unit and was told that a Marine O-1C was on its way up from Marble Mtn. to relieve me and to provide cover. Apparently, he had a temporary mechanical so was running late. Assured it was finally on its way, I stayed to provide cover for the unit then headed for Marble as soon as it arrived. By then, the fuel gauges were below 1/4 full in each tank which was marked with a red NO TAKEOFF segment. I was so close to Marble for this entire time that I had no concern that I couldn't get safely back to base with the fuel I had. However, as Ray said, when the O-1 settled onto its tail, the engine stopped and the crew chiefs had to drive out with the fuel truck to put in fuel so I could taxi the airplane back to the ramp. Jose Munoz remembers it well and, I might guess, Stackhouse, too, wherever he might be.

The Bermudas were a memory treasure for a long time but my bride finally tossed them with her periodic closet cleaning.

[Liberal comments ommitted]

Regards, Smitty

This came in from Joe Mead, Radio Operator in 1969. If you know any additional information regarding the three men he named (and Andy), please send an e-mail:

When I arrived at the 220th on May 29th, 1969 the Operations staff included SP4 Bill Ledford and Sgt Early (you may want to add them to the roster [added to the roster] ). Before leaving Bill was promoted to SGT and Sgt Early to SSG. One of my co - workers was Andy from Beaumont, Tx but I can't remember his last name. One night Andy won a bet - that he could not drink 10 cans of beer in about 10 minutes. Not only did he down those 10 beers but after he collected his winnings he opened an 11th that he drank slowly.

Tom Mc Guire also reported to the 220th with me and was assigned to the flight line where he was typing up records. After a month or so he went home on emergency medical leave to be with his wife. Shortly after Tom got back he was assigned to another unit elsewhere in Vietnam. I did get one letter from Tom and in it he told me about some of the other guys we had trained with in Radio Op. and Teletype schools. One was living in a large open barracks with 24 hour noise from talk/music and another in an 8 man tent that leaked when it rained. Oh well, all of us were living better than the grunts.

Many a night I worked from midnight to 8 AM and if there was trouble the Operations bunker was the only place guys came for help. One night a SP4 came in covered with mud and dirt from head to toe. He was a known trouble maker and had lost a fight to an equally well known trouble maker in the Catkillers. On another occassion an EM was unsuccessful at committing suicide, he tried to poisen himself but just got sick instead. As usual I woke up the First Sgt and we got the poor fellow some medical attention right away. There were other visitors in the late hours of the night including an officer who had me come with him to the supply bldg. He was so drunk he could not work the combination lock so he had me do it for him - all he wanted was some C rations as he was hungry. On another occassion a cook brought over some freshly baked cake for which I was mighty thankful. More than one Sgt of the Guard stopped by to see if I had anything to read to help pass the hours and stay awake.

Perhaps someone can remember Sgt Early's first name or Andy's last name.

Joe Mead


When: Oct 30, 31, and Nov 1, 2009


Make Reservations at:

Best Western Las Brisas
7060 South Tucson Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85706
Phone 520-746-0271
Web site: Best Western Las Brisas, Tucson

Ask for Sharon or Tammy and mention Quiet Aircraft Association or YO-3A for room discounts.


  • Friday—informal check in and gather in meeting room to see displays.
  • Saturday A.M.—QAA meeting and 3 short presentations and lunch.
  • Saturday P.M.—Visit PIMA Air and Space Museum to:
    1. See the recently restored Army-Lockheed YO-3A 69-18006 on display.
    2. Docent—led tour of Museum and Visit the Aviation Boneyard.
  • Saturday night—Banquet followed by informal gathering in meeting room.
  • Sunday—Hoping for a fly-in by the NASA YO-3A.

More information contact: Kurt Olney at: Cell 760-716-7780

PIMA AIR and SPACE MUSEUM: Is restoring an Army-Lockheed YO-3A 69-18006 for static display over their SR-71 Blackbird in the main hanger. Click on the link to view the progress. See a photo of the Aviation Boneyard by clicking on this link.


Harold L. Vail, Catkiller 27, sent a reminder of how vulnerable our bases were during the initial Tet Offensive (aircraft number: 82810).

Now, there was a well-dressed pilot (note the flak vest, grenades, rifle, pistol, AND bandolier)! If you can't see them all, e-mail me for a close-up.

Harold Vail, Catkiller 27, at Hue, during the Tet Offensive