Hastings, Iowa Staff sergeant, U.S. Air Force
Served with 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron in Vietnam 1968 to '69, in Air Force from 1967 to '71.
Memory: “I arrived in Vietnam shortly after the first OV-10s were introduced in 1968. Used as forward air controllers and based in Bien Hoa, they would occasionally have to use other landing strips when problems developed.
“I was sent to Cu Chi as the jet engine mechanic to help determine the cause of a forced landing and help fix it if possible. As it turned out, it wasn't an engine problem so I left to return to Bien Hoa.
“The normal way to get around was to go to flight operations and ask any pilot there if they were going to your destination and if they had room for an extra passenger.
“So it was that I climbed into the back of an O-2, the military version of a Cessna 337. As I recall, there was a lieutenant and a captain in the seats up front.
“About halfway to our destination, these two hot dogs decided it would be fun to fly through a thunderstorm. It really wasn't much fun sitting on the baggage in the back with a bag full of wrenches and other tools clutched in my lap so they wouldn't become lethal projectiles.
“Several times I was sure that even if the airplane made it, I wouldn't. We did in fact arrive safely but after that, I always opted for a larger aircraft if at all possible.”
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