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Phoenix, AZ--July 2007

A smaller than normal number of VHPA pilots and guests attended the annual reunion in Phoenix, AZ........probably due to the 110+ degree heat!! No worry, however, as some 16 former Thunderbirds registered before the reunion and the photos below are of those who found their way to the 33rd Trans/118th Thunderbird mini-reunion on Thursday, July 5th. Next year the VHPA annual reunion will be in San Antonio and should draw a much larger group.

Front: Steven Kilbourne (69-70), Dennis Gulich (70-71), Tom Watson (63-64), Jack Swickard (67-68)
Back: Ron Suess (70-71), Gale Truitt (69-70), Glenn Clark (69-70), Dale Moore (hiding) (68-70), Reed Kimzey (66-67)
Ted Jambon (65-66), Jim Ellis (65-66), and John Wrinkle (68-69)
Not in photo: Charles Williams (69-70), Chick Luther (70), Richard Crabbs (69-70) and Robert Brightwell (68).
(Photo courtesy Jack Swickard)


Gale Truitt taking it all in and in a relaxed state.
(Photo courtesy Jack Swickard)


Dennis Gulich and "Cowboy" Glenn Clark.
(Photo courtesy Jack Swickard)


Ron Suess not sure if he should say
something or just smile!!!
(Photo courtesy Jack Swickard)


Ted Jambon telling one of those war stories
that begins with......TINS (this is no shit)!!
(Photo courtesy Jack Swickard)


Jim and Geneva Ellis glad to get inside
from the heat outside!
(Photo courtesy Jack Swickard)


John Wrinkle and wife listening to stories and
wondering, where did all the white hair come from??
(Photo courtesy Jack Swickard)

Ft. Rucker, AL--June 2007

145th CAB

Ft Rucker, AL was the site for the 2007 Reunion. For those who spent time at "Mother Rucker", back in the sixties and seventies, it was a chance to see the base in a whole new way, as an honored guest. None of the old WWII baracks type wooden buildings on high raised foundations are present. In their place Ft Rucker has a lot of very new and modern buildings and facilities. On post they had a large meeting room, the 145th Memorial, a tour of the Ft. Rucker Aviation Museum, 1st Bn, 145th Avn Rgmt and a Post briefing, plus static displays of aircraft, a picnic by the 1st Bn, 145th Avn, and a tour of the flight simulators.

Since the 145th CAB reunion is held every two years, the 2009 Reunion will be held in the Dayton, OH area. Early plans are for a visit to the National Museum of the USAF, American's oldest and largest military aviation museum.

Kneeling, L to R: Fred Lilly(aka Mush Mouse)(68-70), Pat Matheny(64-65), Warren George(65-66), James Tipton(1SGT 70-71),
Charles Moore(63-64), Norman Bixler(70), George Owens(CO 66).
Middle Row, L to R: Doug Marchi (68-69), Tommy Thornton(65-66), ? , George Mika(63-64), Fred Eckelmann(68-69),
John Ferrara(68-69), Larry White(68-69).
Back Row, L to R: Tom Story(67-68), Brian Wizard(68-69), Ted Jambon(65-66), Frank Maus(63-64), John Flynn(69-70), Dick Rissmann(68-69), Jim Thorne(67-68).
(Photo courtesy Fred Lilly)

Kneeling, L to R: Pat Matheny(64-65), Warren George(65-66), James Tipton(1SGT 70-71), Charles Moore(63-64), Norman Bixler(70) and George Owens(CO 66).
Middle Row, L to R: Doug Marchi(68-69), Tommy Thornton(65-66), ? , George Mika(63-64), Fred Eckelmann(68-69), John Ferrara(68-69).
Back Row, L to R: Brian Wizard(68-69-with Huey), Larry White(68-69), Tom Story(67-68), John Flynn(69-70), Dick Rissman(68-69),
Ted Jambon(65-66), Frank Maus(63-64) & Jim Thorne(67-68).
(Photo courtesy Pat Matheny)


L to R: Jim Taylor, member of SF A-Team 342 that was
rescued at Dong Xoai and James W. "Pete"Booth, CO,
197th AHC at time of Dong Xoai, June 65 at the
145th CAB reunion, Ft. Rucker, AL (June 2007)
(Photo courtesy Pat Matheny)


Thunderbird crew members from 64-65 era,
L to R: Patrick Matheny, Freddy Holder and Bob Kennedy
at the 145th CAB reunion, Ft. Rucker, AL (June 2007)
(Photo courtesy Pat Matheny)


Warren George and Ted Jambon telling "tall tales"!
(Photo courtesy Pat Matheny)


L to R:Mrs. Ferrara & John Farrara, Richard Mika,
John Flynn & Mrs. Flynn.
(Photo courtesy Pat Matheny)


More attendees at banquet evening.
(Photo courtesy Pat Matheny)


Ted Jambon, George Owens and Tommy Thornton.
(Photo courtesy Pat Mathney)


Downtown Daleville, AL and the monument to the
"Bowl Weevil". Store goes....because the bowl
Weevil decimated the cotton crop the area
farmers began to plant peanuts as a replacement
crop which was a much better crop financially.
(Photo courtesy Pat Matheny)


L to R: Fred Lilly (aka "Mush Mouse"), Doug Marchi,
Larry White and Brian Willard (Wizard).
(Photo courtesy Fred Lilly)


L to R: Fred Lilly, Larry White, Doug Marchi
and Brian Wizard at the dedication ceremony
of Red Bird 10 at Andalusia-Opp Airport.
(Photo courtesy Fred Lilly)


Plaque below Red Bird 10 at Andalusia-Opp Airport.
(Photo courtesy Fred Lilly)
145th Memorial at Ft. Rucker, June 2007
(Photo courtesy Norman Bixler)


L to R: Patrick Matheny, Frank Maus, Mrs Maus
at Ft. Rucker Officers' Club, June 2007
(Photo courtesy Norman Bixler)


Hamburger fry picnic at 145th CAB reunion, June 2007
(Photo courtesy Norman Bixler)


Norman Bixler who served as Commo Chief NCO
for SFC James Tipton, First SGT for 118th AHC,
RVN '70.June 2007
(Photo courtesy Norman Bixler)


Debbie Bodkin, Andrea Smith and Jim Bodkin
at 145th CAB reunion banquet. 2007
(Photo courtesy Norman Bixler)


Special recognition honoring Debbie and Jim Bodkin
who founded the 145th CAB Association that
sponsors the bi-annual reunions.June 2007
(Photo courtesy Norman Bixler)


L to R: Shirley Tipton, 1SGT James Tipton &
Norman and Phyllis
(Photo courtesy Norman Bixler)


Wives of 145th CAB Ft. Rucker Reunion. (07)
(Photo courtesy Norman Bixler)

Battle of Dong Xoai

While at the 145th CAB reunion at Ft. Rucker, AL a group of men who survived the Battle of Dong Xoai , on the ground, gave a "Thank You" tribute. It was because of the helicopter crews of the 118th AHC and 197th AHC that they were all rescued and saved that fateful 10 June, 1965. Below is the presentation as given by those men to the attendees at the 145th CAB reunion.

 A-342 Remembers
June 2007

Reunions should be just that - opportunities to renew old friendships, catch up on news of families, remember those with whom we served, tell a few stories and catch a beer or two-or more. Military reunions tend to be in a class by themselves because of shared adventure during stressful times and the death of comrades in combat and while performing other duties. Military reunions also have a forward looking component-the hope for good health and prosperity for unit members, past, present, and future and the sincere hope that our soldiers prevail in whatever missions they are asked to undertake and return safely to their families.

For the surviving members of Detachment A-342, 5th Special Forces Group, and some of you here for this event, your reunion allowed us to renew relationships that began forty-two years ago this month at Dong Xoai, Vietnam; relationships that have grown stronger in recent years as we have found more time to communicate and have great new tools with which to do so.

For those of us on the ground during the Battle of Dong Xoai on 9-10 June 1965, this reunion has provided a wonderful opportunity to thank the "sky soldiers" who fought that fight and supported us so magnificently-gun ships and "slicks" that provided aerial fire support, evacuated the Special Forces and Seabee defenders, and brought to the Battle the reinforcements that stabilized the area. The 145th Combat Aviation Battalion pulled our "fat out of the fire," and we are ever mindful of that fact.

Detachment A-342 had been at Dong Xoai for only a few days when the attack occurred, as was typical on a dreary night of rain and fog. The attack that began shortly before midnight on 9 June 1965 was anticipated, in a sense. Some of you will recall that Song Be, a few miles to the north, had been hit earlier in the month and that a strong Viet Cong presence was believed to have remained in the area between War Zones C and D. Several days before the attack, supporting Seabees arrived without important construction equipment and Civilian Irregular Defense Corps (CIDG) troops were air landed on short notice with families, pigs and chickens.

Every combat veteran can speak with experience about conflict intensity, a very personal concept. The Viet Cong in the Dong Xoai attack were judged to be in excess of two regiments. We all had a good look at Charlie's arsenal-antiaircraft weapons, 75 mm pack howitzers, recoilless rifles, mortars, rocket propelled grenades, machine guns galore, flamethrowers, satchel charges and lots of AK-47s. All involved in a Ft. Benning-like Mad Minute that stretched into 24 hours.

Casualties were significant during the 9-10 June timeframe-Special Forces, Seabees, aircrew, U.S. Advisors, Vietnamese forces, civilians, and thankfully "beaucoup VC," as we said back then. The situation on the ground was such that no medivac or resupply missions were flown and initial Vietnamese efforts to reinforce the area by air were met by overwhelming enemy resistance. In an act of heroic proportions, three helicopters from the 118th Assault Helicopter Company and one from the 197th Armed Helicopter Company descended from nowhere about 1400 hours on 10 June and plucked the remaining defenders from two artillery positions in the Dong Xoai District Headquarters.

Over the past several years we had the pleasure of corresponding with Pete Booth and Bill Fraker, and reviewing notes on the battle-what aircrews were doing and what we were doing on the ground as our activities became intertwined. We are grateful to Pete, Bill and all of you for allowing us to participate in your reunion and meet others who were involve in the fighting at Dong Xoai and Thuan Loc-pilots, door gunners and ground crewmen. We greatly admire the skill and courage demonstrated by elements of the 118th and 197th. Those of you who have been saved by others will understand the meaning of our thanks.

Harold Crowe---Dallas Johnson---Dan McLaughlin---Bill Stokes---Jim Taylor

(NOTE: If anyone attended the 145th CAB reunion in June 2007 and has photos to donate for this site,

please contact Tom Payne, Webmaster.)

Washington D.C.--July 2006

When the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association met for their 23rd annual reunion at the Wardman Park Marriott in Washington D.C. , the 33rd/118th Thunderbirds took the opportunity to meet for a mini-reunion on the afternoon of July 2nd. 30 former Thunderbirds attended the mini-reunion and relived their time with the Thunderbirds. However, not all who came to D.C. were able to attend the mini-reunion. Not in the photos were Gil Ferrey (66), Angus Desveaux (67),Robert Brightwell (68), Ron Suess (70-71), William James (63-64), Richard Wessel (69) and Chick Luther (70).

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L to R: Jim Harvey, Leo Morawski,
Gerald "Jerry" Peffers and Al Laya.
(Photo courtesy Tom Payne)


L to R: Mike Hurley, John "Jack" Grasmeder
and Frank Zipperer.
(Photo courtesy Tom Payne)


L to R: Reed Kimzey (mouth open), Tom Payne
and Jack Swickard.
(Photo courtesy Tom Payne)


L to R Kneeling: Larry Smith, Donald Abrams
Standing: Glenn Clark, Duane Speirs, Gale Truitt, Dennis Gulich, Dale Moore, Frank Basaldua and Bruce Shafer.


Al LeBeau, who lived in D.C. Area, attended
with his wife and daughter. Al was in the
118th as and EM during the 70-71 time frame.
(Photo courtesy Tom Payne)


"There we were......"!!
Jim Harvey telling war story to Gerald "Jerry" Peffers
and Leo Morawski.
(Photo courtesy Tom Payne)


L to R: Sam McGlone (64-65),
Donald Parrish (64-65) and Jerry McKelvey (64-65).
(Photo courtesy Tom Payne)


Checking out "One over the World"
L to R: Duane Speirs, Frank Basaldua,
Larry Smith and Dale Moore.
(Photo courtesy Tom Payne)

L to R: Jack Swickard, Bob Kelley and Reed Kimzey who all served in the 66-67 time period.
Bob Kelley returned to Vietnam in 70-71 as the CO of the 128th AHC "Tomahawks".
(Photo courtesy Tom Payne)

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