This page now complies with W3.org's requirements for HTML codes/CSS styles (see Cat Bar certification tags).
- Unit History Update: (July 1)
- Dear Editor: (Dynamic): (July 18)
- Found Catkillers and Friends: (September 2)
- F Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry: (July 1)
- Army Strong Begins When We Strap On Our First Uniform: (July 1)
- Thomas "Tank" Meehan's Selection into the Boston College Athletic Hall of Fame: (July 1)
- Children and Grandchildren in Uniform: (July 1)
- Correction to Military Records: (July 1)
- Photos From The Other Side: (July 5)
- VHPA Newsletter, July/Aug 2011, Cover Pager: (July 22)
- Aerial War Is Still For Young Men (and Women): (July 23)
- In Honor of LTC John Robert Ogburn, US Army Retired: (July 27)
- Mort Brown, Cessna's Chief Production Pilot, Celebrates His 103rd Birthday: (July 29)
- Catkillers at Oshkosh, 2011: (August 1)
- 219th Aviation Company Reunion , September 29—October 2, 2011: (September 1)
- 199th/221st Aviation Company Delta Birddog Reunion , September 29—October 2, 2011: (September 2)
Gene Wilson completed unit history overviews for years 1965—71. These are available from the Catkiller History Index. Gene asks for your comments and input ragarding additional information and corrections to the published years, as well as anything you feel would help write the story for our years of service. Note as you read these reports and overviews, there is purposefully little or no bias in reporting and in the acquisition of our history. As the editor in almost daily contact with our volunteer historian, this gentleman embodies the historian's historian: he is fair-minded, calm in his approach, sensitive to issues, and will make public what is coherent, prudent and reasonable. He seeks to document our history with reflective candor and unreserved honesty. It is my opinion that what Gene Wilson undertakes and puts his name on reflects a synthesis of who we were and what we accomplished as a unit.
Also note that additional CATCOM pages are now archived off the Catbar and rest within the main archived pages. The Catkiller newsletter is a dynamic e-newsletter (marked by usually continuous and productive activity or change), so check back often. We want and need you participatiuon, so feel free to comment and share what history you have. Together, we are making this an amazing history book.
Our email addresses are either on the Catbar or within the history files (for Gene's email at the bottom of this linked history page).back to top
1LT Terrance "Terry" Bozarth was killed in action February 22, 1968, and for many years since his friend, Ted Wendeln, has placed a flag on Terry's grave and honored him with visits and rememberances. Such honor and love is the tread of extended life to our loved ones through family, friends and grateful citizens. Thank you Ted, for this wonderful message and for your devotion and friendship to Terry:
"As I had said in my earlier emails, I've been taking a flag out to Terry Bozarth's grave for 20+ years. I also try to make it out for 4th of July and Veterans Day. This year I took [this] pic and thought I'd pass it along.
Finally got around to getting A 100 Feet Over Hell, and just wanted to say thanks for all you guys did over there. I know there have to be thousands of grunts who still remember what you guys did.
Thanks, Ted Wendeln"
Michael E. Brown ("Mike"), 1967—68, was a crew chief, mechanic and section leader in the maintenance end of company operations. After he left the service, Mike had a couple of interesting careers. I'd like to share with you some of what he revealed in a few emails. Mike and I share a common acheivement; we both retired from the FAA, and I believe his story is interesting [his second comments are in response to my comments to him regarding a Cessna 175 I owned while living at Nashville. Don Ricks]:
When I departed the company I was an SP5 and the 1st platoon section leader under SGT Johnny Dumas. I spent time in Quang Ngai, Da Nang, Phu Bai, and Dong Ha. I was awarded the Air Medal for flying back seat on numerous missions while stationed in Quang Ngai. I recently retired from the FAA as an Aviation Safety Inspector, assigned to the Scottsdale FSDO. I have attached a few photos when I was in Quang Ngai.
Before being hired by the FAA in 1987, I ran a repair station in Prescott, Arizona. I converted one Cessna 175 and two Cessna 170 to 180 HP, which makes the airplane a true 4-place and enhances the performance considerably, but (as you found out) it must be done properly. I always tried to do the job right; in fact, I was honored to be selected as the 1980 Arizona State, Western Pacific Region and National, General Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year. I was presented the award in Washington, DC, by then FAA Administrator, Langhorne Bond. Not bad for an old Army crew chief [well said, Mike].
Since I retired, my wife and I moved to Idaho where we live on 140 acres 30 miles east of Weiser, Idaho. I hope to attend the reunion and look forward to seeing old acquaintances again.
I was reading the July 27,2011 Quarterly News Letter and the article by Michael E. Brown and saw the photo of him standing next to Bird Dog, Tail #72880. Something clicked in the back of my head. I went back to my photos during the time I flew with the 220th as an AO for the 82nd airborne out of Phu Bai—and there it was—Bird Dog Tail #72880, on one of our missions to fly the A Shau Valley in August 1968:
Mike, thank you for keeping Bird Dog 72880 flying!
COMMENT:While checking out the latest quarter, I noticed Pete Henderson standing by bird dog 72880 and realized that was one of the birds I flew. Sure enough, I remember flying Pete as back seat. In fact, that's me filling out my info for the flight. It's good to see a lot of the guys coming forward with these pics. Brings back a lot of memories. Thanks for the great work you do to keep the 220th site updated.
I am Frederick Tyler Rich, better known as Tyler, and was assigned to the 517th Military Intelligence Company, 1st Brigade of the 5th Division (Mechanized) in September, 1970, with a rank of E-5. We were stationed in Quang Tri. I had been trained as an image interpreter at the intelligence school at Ft. Holabird, Maryland. Although I was not a Catkiller, I worked as an observer on a daily basis with the Catkillers from January, 1971 through July, 1971. The First of the Fifth stood down in the summer of 1971, and I returned to the United States on August 13, 1971.
Pilots from the 220th with whom I often flew included Andy Bergren, John Gaunt, Cleve McDonald, Brown Cabell, and Paul Bates. I also rode with [Harold] Paul Bordeaux, Lonnie Odom, Paul Smith and Jim Niemi. They would pick me up at the Quang Tri air field (or at the air strip at Dong Ha, depending on the wind conditions) from which we would conduct our missions.
In June, 2010, I discovered the Catkiller website, which is an excellent source of information [Tyler is now on the roster and our email n otification list].
"I served as an Air Observer and FAC and was designated as the Chief AO for the 3rd Mariine Division from July 1965 to July 1966, The Marine Observers and Army Aviatiors were billeted jointly. As an example, most of my Marines flew 250-300 missions in Army aircraft.
Some of the Army pilots were Bob Chandler Tom Murray, Jimmy Morris, Henry Gonzalez, etc. The commander was Major Jerry Currie.
Walter L. Strain, LtCol"
I had a friend named Fred Babb who went to Ord and Rucker with me. I went to Phu Bai and he went to Quang Ngai. He passed away a few years ago, but I was wondering if anyone knew him there. Mike Brown said he was in Quang Ngai and I've misplaced Mike´s email. Is there a way to contact anyone that was in Q N in '68?
Ed Arthur (email@example.com)
[In response for requests to correct web roster information:]
I've enclosed my picture, and I was not the supply officer. I was at Danang for awhile and flew some interesting flights with Sgt. Putnam in the back seat! I moved to Phu Bai and was the aircraft Maint Officer, until wounded in September 1967. While in the hospital I found out that I was a Major. Later stateside was suprised to receive the DFC for the action.
Don,back to top
Just read you latest update and noticed the article on Bill Barry. I knew him when he was in Guantanamo Bay. I saw him on the strip in Danang one day and learned he was killed a few days later. Killed with one single rifle shot. Thanks for all you efforts.
Jim Glavin [LT/JG US Navy, NILO, Hue (backseat AO)]
While searching for the designer of our first unit patch, Gustof Otto Fajerson, we instead located his obituary. We extend our condolences to Gustof's family and friends. Our departed brother will be honored at our reunion in July 2012.
SFC Gustaf Otto Fajerson, US Army, Vietnam Veteran:
The Family of Sergeant First Class Gustaf Otto Fajerson, US Army, Vietnam Veteran, has requested the attendance and participation of the Patriot Guard Riders at the Interment of their Loved One on Thursday, 18 Nov 2010. Services will be held at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery at 15:00.
Gustof was honored in a special way, as this web site informs:
SFC Rubin Oliver, platoon sergeant, 4th platoon, checked in with his address, email, and phone number. Rubin says he might be able to add to unit history during 1971.
Kurt Lauer (Catkiller66-67), checked in with Gene Wilson with his contact information and is on the roster. Kurt lives in Springfield, Virginia. Welcome to the list of growing members, Rubin and Kurt.
Steven A. Grass, Catkiller 46 (4th platoon leader, 1969), is alive and well. We spoke with him a few days ago, and he will send his contact information. Steve retired from the army in 1986.
During July, our reunion committee chairman send out a request for information to several on our official roster but not on our email notification list. Responding were Rick Gates, Hardy Bogue, Calvin Boyles, Don Longsdon, Don Long, Patrick Snyder, Bill Livingston, Buzz Trevathan and Mike Brown. These gentlemen are now on the web roster, and we have contact with them.
CPT Louis B "Buzz" Trevathan checked in this week. Buzz is now on our list. He was the 2nd Platoon commander in 1970. Here is a platoon sign showing other members, courtesyy of Catkiller 25 Jerry DiGrezio:
The mystry of our home page unknown mechanic is no longer a mystery: (Welcome home, Ken!)
"The other guy with Al Lopez is Ken Lorentz (68—69 Dong Ha-Phu Bai). I got out in Octobert 1970, after getting my commercial pilot ticket (with instrument), multi—engine, and flight instructor. The army, in their great wisdom, said I could not fly because of my glasses. So, I flew King Aire's, Citations and DeHavilland 125s before going to Island Airlines as chief pilot flying a Ford Tri-motor and other twins for charter.back to top
I retired 2 years ago from a trucking company terminal manager job.
My wife and I have 6 kids with 12 grandchilden, go lots of rv-ing and just enjoying this great country.
Would you believe it? Our history files say we supported the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry in 1969. That was forty-two years ago. Over the last few months, members of this unit corresponded with the commander of F Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, who sought our input on the possibility of his unit assuming the Catkiller nickname. Overwhelming positive response told the captain we would consider it an honor pass along the callsign to an active aviation unit. With that reception and consensus, Captain Nathan Parker took the recommendation to his unit, and I would like to share with you his statement regarding the rtesult:
First, thank you to Mr. [Ed] Miler for a copy of A Hundred Feet Over Hell and his personnel photo book. Both provided great insight into the pilots and character of the Catkillers. The unwavering tenacity and support of the ground units combined with low altitude, visual reconnaissance draws direct resemblance to my last two deployments as on OH-58D Kiowa Warrior pilot. Many of the recounts covered in Jim's book reminded me of similar incidents. The book also made me wish there was a stocked bar and O-club to come back to at the end of the day—which likely would have resulted into some ventures into Pakistan so in the end its probably best we stayed sober. Second, thank you to all the Catkillers who voiced their support for F TRP, 2-17 CAV.
After multiple discussions with my soldiers, 1SG and command group we have come to a final decision regarding our callsign and unit designation. While we have decided to operate under the call sign Firehawk, I would like to continue to bond between our units. The 220th RAC has a great history that deserves to be carried forward while providing a great inspiration and historical underpinning for my young unit. If I get similar concurrence to move forward with this relationship, as I did on our initial use of the Catkiller callsign, I will pursue options to have the Army formally recognize the relationship.
Attached is a nearly completed version of the F TRP, 2-17 CAV patch. We drew strongly from the Catkiller patch while adding the required Cavalry flare:
Any and all feedback is appreciated. Thanks again for your support. I believe I got all the emails of those that responded before but please forward as necessary.
F TRP, 2-17 CAV
We proudly note the similarities between F Troop's patch and the unit patch for the 220th Aviation Company. That's a great looking piece of work, Firehawk 6! Keep in mind that our first commander retired a major general, and you seem to be on schedule to make your own mark, too.
"I was also very interested in the piece about the 2-17th. They are in the same Brigade as my son's company [see entry below regarding CPT Micah DiGrezio].back to top
I recently sent Micah one of my C-2-17 patches that was given to me when I was in VN. Micah gave it to the brigade commander, and they put it in their museum.
McComiskie said I was lucky they didn't put me in the museum!
Best wishes, Jerry DiGrezio"
Some time ago, Joe "Beans" Brett (Sundowner Yankee), an AO in Vietnam with the 108th Artilery, made contact with a friend with whom he had played little league ball back when—well, when they were kids. The 1958 photo Joe sent tells of a fun time to be just that, a kid. Both youngsters grew from their little league ball team days into men who answered where opportunity knocked.
When Joe sent in this photo, and some detail, I wrote back and asked him for permission to use the story and photo. His initial reply was as surprising as the offer of such a newsworthy item (can't you just see the adventurous side of Joe in this response?). His narriative below the photo is as interesting as the photo, and the Secretary's comments acknowledge our Catkiller unit!
"I am off to China on a recon mission and will return on May 8th. My wife and I are moving there for a year. We will be in Haikou, on the island province of Hainan, just off the mainland coast. A tad west of Hainan is N Vietnam. I hope to get to Vietnam and the DMZ at some time during our adventure. When I do , I will play golf near there—and leave smaller and fewer divots than the last time we played that part of the world
We will be moving to China in August, where I will be an assistant professor at Hainan University. I have found the Chinese very friendly to Americans. It should be a wonderful time.
We will see you at the reunion in Seattle,
Photo Narrative: Joseph E Brett, June 9, 2011:
Looking at the old photo of my little league team from Watertown, New York, is more than a memory—provoking, nostalgic experience. Fifty three years after the photo was taken, I am a semi retired army veteran of the Vietnam War and living in Arizona, with an admission that not a day goes by that I do not in some way think about the events and friends from my time in uniform. That fact is made all the more relevant because one of my teammates is John McHugh, the current Secretary of the United States Army. I found this photo soon after John was appointed to his position and thought it would be fun to send a copy to him, in which I acknowledged our service to the army. The inscription reads, "Army strong begins when we strap on our first uniform." I think that statement is true; at least it was for me. I used to sing along, silently, with the national anthem before each game and would often include my own prayer that I would play well. That pre—game ritual was (and still is) a moment of great pride in America and a reminder that we in uniform are somehow privileged and have a special duty to our team and to our country.back to top
John stayed in Watertown and built a successful career in government and politics. He was an honest, hard working staffer to the city manager and later to a state senator. He ran for and won the seat vacated by that senator. He later ran for congress when our local congressman retired, and he served with distinction on the armed services committee. President Obama appointed him Secretary of the Army in 2008. I know John to be very appreciative of those who serve in the military and to be a very patriotic, sincere, and humble person, who has the best interests of the soldiers in his heart. He is truly a big fan of the military and the men and women who serve in it. I could not be more proud of him.
One of my dear friends from Vietnam, John Donovan, served as the Public Information Officer for the 108th Arty Group and later served as a civilian with the army Office of Public Affairs in the Pentagon. I asked John if he would help get the photo to Secretary McHugh, which he did. Sadly, while John Donovan was doing this favor for me, his wife was dying of cancer. After losing contact with him for several years I contacted him a few weeks after 9/11 and found that he was in the Pentagon on that day of infamy, not far from where the plane was crashed. He said he thought of me when the plane hit, to which I voiced my doubt. He reminded me that when the plane exploded on impact, he ducked under his desk. The last time he did something like that was during a rocket attack at Dong Ha, when we both dove under a table and looked at each other in terror for a few seconds before heading to the bunker.
One thought that runs through my mind is that we who served in combat are different from those who stayed at home, and we paid a price for our service. One of our coaches in the photo, the man to the right was Tom Cahill who was a very kind man who devoted a lot of his time to the players on that team.
We did not then know that he was a veteran of the Korean War and had served in the battle for Pork Chop Hill. He married the town sweetheart and had a wonderful family. As he aged he had issues with drinking and was sent away for treatment and had what we now know as PTSD. He died a relatively young man. From my own experience, I too had issues with drinking, sought help and quit over 24 years ago. From personal observations, it seems that most of the vets I know are still carrying feelings and issues from their war experiences and have had help in dealing with them, if "only" from wives and loved ones.
Was it worth it, I ask myself? The academic answer is probably not. However, I could not have stayed home and missed out on what I felt was my duty, as I learned from my days in little league and from all the heroes from the greatest generation. My only wish is that our political and military leaders would do a better job of picking our wars. My real regret is that I could have dealt with it better when I got home. Thankfully, Sky 6 has seen fit to give me a great life and wife and the chance for more adventures in the years remaining to sort of make up for some rough years when I was lost in guilt and remorse.
And all this from an old photo!!!
Message traffic regarding this event tells it all, beginning with the proud heads-up from his wife, Maria. If you can, please be there. Tank would welcome your attendance:
"Tank won’t tell you, but I will! Boston College has announced that Tank is an unanimous selection for induction into Boston College’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He received the news, yesterday [April 26]! The induction ceremony is to take place the weekend of September 17th at Boston College.Boston College Athletics:
Boston College Athletic Department announced Colonel Thomas F. Meehan, USMC (Ret.) is a unanimous selection for induction into the Boston College Athletic Hall of Fame, 2011. Induction ceremonies will take place during the football season weekend of September 17th, at Boston College.
Colonel Meehan is a native of Broad Channel, New York. He holds a BSBA from Boston College, an MA from Michigan State University and a MEd, University of Maine. At Boston College he was a member of football team, the "acting captain" and recipient of Boston College’s highest football honor: "The Scanlan Award." Post-season honors placed him as honorable mention, AP All-American; First Team AP All-East and First Team All-New England.
Colonel Meehan received his U.S. Marine Corps commission via the Officer Candidate School, Quantico, Virginia in January 1959. He remained at Quantico to play service football. He was a member of the 1959 undefeated Quantico Marines National Service Football Team. Post-season honors placed him on the First Team All-Sea Service football team and First Team All-Marine, both worldwide.
Colonel Meehan served as Reconnaissance Platoon Commander; Scout-Sniper Platoon Commander and Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. He left active duty in December 1961 to accept a position as a Special Agent, with the FBI. He holds 3 commendations from the FBI for disarming a knifing assailant, the safe return of a kidnapped child and involvement in the Judith Salkin, 29 Palms kidnapping case while on active duty with the US Marines.
He returned to active duty in 1966 and served in Vietnam as an Air Observer/Tactical Air Controller Airborne, flying 147 missions with the US Army "Catkillers" and Marine Observation Squadron Six. His aircraft was downed on two occasions by anti-aircraft fire. He holds the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Colonel Meehan served in Japan, Korea, Germany and Belgium. He was on the committee for the return of Okinawa to Japan; while serving in Japan, he flew Aerial Reconnaissance missions off the coast of North Korea; was involved in hostile actions against North Korean’s "axe murders," August 1976; 1980 he was involved with the return of the hostages from Iran was engaged in counter espionage and anti-terrorist matters that included the terrorist attacks at Ramstein Air Base, Germany and the assignation attempt against the U.S. Army General F. Kroesen, Frankfurt, Germany, both1981. He returned to the United States in June 1983 and was involved in security matters during the Los Angeles Olympics, 1984.
Colonel Meehan retired from the Marine Corps, August 1986, and later from the University of Maine as the Director of Game Management. He is a former counselor of the US Army’s Career and Alumni Program. He is married to Maria Catherine Fox of Warrington, England. Maria is the Information Specialist, Kaiserslautern Elementary School, DoDDS. They reside in Mackenbach, Germany.
From Charles Finch to many Catkillers and Friends:
So who is going to JOIN ME September 17 at Boston College, to honor this wonderful brother? Doc and I will be there, as well as Coach and hopefully many more.
After Vietnam, when I was flying for Delta and laying over in Bangor, Maine, Tank and I would get together. Being the humble man he is, he would never tell me all he had done with the FBI, playing football, being a Marine or earning so many honors. When I visited where he lived there were so many pictures and momentos that clearly told me that this man was keeping many stories from us. When I went on campus to the student center with Tank, it was like walking with the POPE. The adulation and love just poured out to him everywhere we went. He knew every student's name, knew the courses they were taking and simply was an ICON at the University.
I know that Tank and I got lucky to survive that first day looking for Lee Harrison, and when you go through something like that there is a bond that is so special—it is hard to describe. Being at the club around Bear and Tank and Sharkey, and then with our commanders Maj Wisby and Maj Miler, it was just fun to listen. Many of you have not seen Tank since 1969. Tank has been in Germany for all of the reunions, doing who knows what. We know he will be stateside for this award and what a great time for a mini reunion to honor one of the finest men I have been priviliged to know and serve with.
I will try to find out from Tank his itinerary and will do all I can to handle the arrangements. Let me know what you think.
This from Tank, in reply:
Thank you for your kind words—and the words of our time together are still clear, vivid and detailed. The Catkillers are special to me. I was accepted, allowed and came to learn that the United States Army has the best Aviators in the world, bar none. Jim Hooper's book is the dedicated item, which will remain in the archives for generations to see.
My selection into Boston College's Athletic Hall of Fame came from the blue. I learned "The Old Timers Selection Committee" reviewed past records and contacted Maria for any information possible. My Good Mother, like all Mothers, saved the newspaper clippings; and Maria sent copies to BC. I consider the selection more than an honor, for it has made me a permanent part of Boston College athletics.
Presently, the induction ceremony will be taking place the weekend of September 17th and the BC/Duke game; as information develops I will let you know.
"Only United States Marine with a Catkiller call sign"
Finally, Tank's response and acknowledgement to all this as a planned article in the newsletter came with kind advice and admonition to also include his proud service as a USMC AO with the Catkillers (see the duty roster). My own comments were directed at Tank after an overwhelming understanding that this man has served our country long and well:
"As I read the information sent, it was obvious to me they honor not only an athlete (a specific honor itself), but also a great patriot and an amazing soldier. To have "Catkillers" even mentioned in this newsletter announcement will here be considered an honor by all who read the newsletter.back to top
I also sensed there was an amazing amount of background withheld concerning Tank’s military and government service, and if known and revealed (maybe a thousand years from now) there would be other stories and awards. Congratulations, Colonel, you deserve this and most likely much, much more. Thanks for being the soldier you have been. I’d be happy to also include a photo taken at the ceremony, as a follow-on." [Don Ricks]
Captain Micah DiGrezio, son of Jerry DiGrezio (Catkiller 25/3), takes command of D Company, 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment ("Ghost Riders"):
Congratulations, Micah, and good luck with your assignment. Shared are several photos of the young captain, one being with his lovely wife and son:
Our historical initiative was destined to bring to our attention deficiencies in full process regarding awards or historical documents. Below is an example, courtesy of Norm MacPhee, of how you could—with a little work—finally have your military records corrected:
"Gene Wilson, during his history work, came across documents that indicate the award of the Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation for a lengthy period of time for service in the 220th. This award DID NOT appear on my records at all. Gene also put me onto the form for requesting a correction of the DD 214. The web address for this form follows:
The PUC was awarded to those in the 220th from the period 29 March 1966—30 January 1967 (Less the 4th Platoon).
The Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm was awarded to those serving in the 220th from 1 March 1966—26 March 1967.
If you desire to correct your military records, here are instructions:
1. Complete: DD FORM 149 (OMB 0704-0003) (see this sample copy of Norm MacPhee's completed form)
2. Attach a copy of your present DD 214
3. Attach a copy of the five attachments provided below: "MacPhee1—MacPhee5"
4. Mail per the instructions
MacPhee Answer Letterback to top
A friend in France recommended this web site address, with the subject line merely stating, "Photos from the North." I had no idea what it was about, so I almost deleted it. Something, like curiosity, held my attention, and I took a chance. I'm now glad the delete button is on the extreme right side of my keyboard. This link provides a series of interesting perspectives gathered by embedded North Vietnamse photographers, taken while we fought them and their soldiers struggled to keep supply lines open into South Vietnam. You might agree that the time you spend viewing them will be worthwhile. Several are from the Quang Tri area:
Within this link is another link which takes you to the National Geographic Store, and to the book, "Another Vietnam." Their opening pitch for the book captures your imagination right away, and you just know there is another story from the other side, too:
"We watched it happen, this first war to be broadcast on television, but what didn't we see? Another Vietnam answers that question. Veteran combat photographer Tim Page, who was a freelancer for UPI during the war, returned to Vietnam to find his surviving North Vietnamese counterparts—the photographers who documented, with equal depth and courage, their nation's conflict with America. From interviews with these men and from their surprising photographs, a compelling new view of the war emerges as readers discover the humanity of a once-faceless enemy. With rare exception, this is the first time these photographs have been seen by Americans."back to top
The 220th Aviation Company name appears correctly on recent cover page of Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) Newsletter-July/August 2011, plus a cover photo by Catkiller Jerry DiGrezio. Another photo by Catkiller Phil Lowentritt is in the referenced article (about a helicopter unit, callsign Scarface), and found at the middle page of newsletter (info courtesy of Carl Drechsel):
Approximately thirty years before our service in Vietnam, a high-level commnad group decided that older men should not expose themselves unnecessarily to the dangers of flying, Courtesy of one of our Naval Aerial Observers, Jeff Thompson, we have a glimpse at a serious but humorous rendition of concern for seniors who fly. Thanks for the "reality" this document brings, Jeff. The same advice is probably valid for some of us who ride motorcycles (and bicycles):
LTC John Ogbum was the commander of the 219th Aviation Company (Headhunters), from 20 July 1966—12 Mar 1967. John was beloved by his family, friends, and unit and will be missed:
LTC John Robert Ogburn US Army Retired, age 81, died Sunday, July 24, 2011 at his home in Sanford. He was bom September 17, 1929 in Guildford County, son of the late Hubert Ira and Beulah Irene Young Ogburn. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1952 at Fort Benning, Georgia and served in the US Army Aviation Branch as a flight officer. As an officer in the 82nd Aviation division, 18th Airborne Corps, he deployed for several tours overseas in Korea and Vietnam. A recipient of the Legion of Merit, John honorably retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with over 20 years of leadership and experience. In 2011, he was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award recognizing pilot's skill and aviation expertise for 50 years or more. Lt. Colonel Ogburn is survived by his wife of 56 years, Helen Covert Ogburn, two daughters Jaci Watson and husband, Jeff; Robin Childress and husband, Jay, both of Sanford; sons John Ogburn, Jr (Jay) and wife Chastity of Newland, NC; Mark Ogburn and wife Kelly of Vicksburg, Mississippi; grandchildren Chrissy, Robert and Cameron Childress; Parker, Carter and Fuller Watson; Wyatt and Rachel Ogburn; Zach, Annah Jill, Mary Kathryn and Parker Gautier; and great-grand child Collin Kream. A graveside service with Military honors will be held on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 10:30 AM at Buffalo Cemetery in Sanford, NC. Family will receive visitors at 9:30 at Rogers-Pickard Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, it is requested that any donations be made to Community Home Care & Hospice, 809 Wicker St., Sanford, NC 27330 or a charity of choice.
This testimony by one of John's men is fitting and honors the commander in few but meaningful words.
"I had the honor to serve under his command in the 219th Avn Co (1966-1967) and again at Fort Bragg & XVIII Abn Corps Flight Standardization Branch. An outstanding aviator/soldier who not only completed the mission, but also was a great leader who took care of those who served under him."back to top
Mort Brown, Cessna's chief production test pilot from 1937 to 1972, is celebrating his 103rd birthday. If you're new to the Club, Mort's been a friend to Cessna pilots since the day he first test flew on their behalf. Look in your original logbooks if you still have them and the first entry you'll probably see will be Mort's signature signing off your aircraft.
Mort's doing great and looks younger than he did when we celebrated his 100th Birthday back in 2008. Mort's website is at MortBrown.info and includes a birthday tribute featuring Mort over the last year.
Mort would love to hear from you today. Drop Mort Brown an email. He served in the United States Marine Corps, 1927—1931.
Yep, Mort also flew the Bird Dog:
Brief recap of Catkillers at Oshkosh 2011 EAA AIR VENTURE AIR SHOW:
A retired Delta pilot by the name of Connie Bowlin, who is heavily involved in EAA Warbirds, invited Doc Clement and myself to Oshkosh to give a presentation about the 220th RAC Catkillers, the 0-1 Bird Dog and the book 100 Feet Over Hell, by Jim Hooper.Connie Bowlin's induction in the Warbirds Hall of Fame
Doc and I arrived on Sunday and for the next 4 days we were like two children in a candy shop. Being at the "worlds greatest aviation celebration" should be on everyone's "bucket list."
We had three separate book signings where we engaged some of the most entertaining veterans, pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and historians. Doc and I learned so much about their lives, their war careers, airplanes they flew as well as answering their many questions about our unit and the mighty Bird Dog. Catkiller Dave O'Hare joined us for one and truly enhanced the conversations as he sat at the table with us and signed some copies.
So many of the people that came to our signing table wanted pictures with us, hugs and kisses and of course we NEVER refused at least for the females. Funny how people treat you as a celebrity just because you are at a table signing a book.
Our presentation at the Warbirds Alley outside was cut short because of the rain and cold. We actually stood under the wing of a Bird Dog as we talked as the rain was coming down so hard. We thought they would postpone it but because so many were in the stands with umbrellas, we gave them about 15 minutes before the wind joined the rain to force everyone to abandon the bleachers. No inside venue was available.
Warbirds is about those aircraft that served our country in training and fighting. It was truly and honor to have our airplane parked beside the Corsairs, the P-51 Mustangs,the Grumman F-4 Wildcats as well as having it displayed on billboards throughout Oshkosh. For the Catkillers to be included in this years program which was celebrating the Centennial of Naval Aviation was very special.
Doc and I found it strange that in the different book stores where we signed, the 100 Feet Over Hell book was the only ARMY book on aviation. We know that the Marines, Navy, and Air Force get all the glory (except for Iraq and Afghanistan) and fly all of the beautiful aircraft, dazzling us in the air shows, the movies and TV but being an Army Aviator at Oshkosh did have its rewards as we were a rarity. We got a ton of love and respect from the WWII and Korean veterans, especially the pilots and crew members. As we toured the massive display of aviation, there was one Mohawk, 2 Army Bird Dogs, one OH- 6. No Cobras, Hueys, Apaches, or Blackhawks.
The Jim Hooper book has done more that tell the story of the 220th Catkillers. It has put Army Aviation Fixed Wing from Viet Nam into the Warbird World, allowed the other branches to know more of our mission and enlighten the public of our contribution to the effort in Viet Nam. So many had no knowledge of our airplane but we certainly educated them.
It was a very emotional event for me to be touching an Army Bird Dog again, standing by Doc like it was 1968. The memories of Lee Harrison and Mac Byrd and their sacrifice continue to trouble me more than it should. But I also know that the year I served with the Catkillers was the best year of my life. We were so fortunate to fly the great Bird Dog in the most challenging and exciting mission supported by the best commanders, best soldiers, best observers and creating life long friendships. Oshkosh was a powerful reminder of the privilege of wearing the uniform and serving this great country. I encourage each and everyone of you to attend this magnificent event someday.
Charles Finch, Doc Clement (Catkiller 19 and Catkiller 18)
Fellow Headhunters and Friends:back to top
We are coming up on our next 219th Aviation Company Reunion to be held in Beaufort, South Carolina, from September 29—October 2, 2011.
We have held a reunion every two years since 1998. This will be a great chance for you to attend and revisit those times in our lives where we all served in Vietnam. For many of us, the time with 219th was the most significant period in our lives.
If you want more reunion details or want to see who is attending, please go to the following link.
219th Aviation Company Reunion Page
Peace to all and ....Welcome Back!!
Bob Brewster [219th Webmaster]
The 221st Aviation Company "Shotguns", in conjunction with the 199th Aviation Company, will hold their 2011 Delta Birddog Reunion at the Doubletree Hotel, San Antonio Downtown, from October 13—October 16. For further details, visit their Shotgun reunions web site . A registration form is available at the bottom of the page on this site. Their reunion coordinator is Don Smith, e-mail to: Shotgun-8A@hotmail.com.back to top
And, if you have time on your hands, try this Birddog puzzle, courtesy of the Shotgun Blasts Newsletter.