My time flying in Vietnam
I enlisted in the Navy in July of 1970. In January of 1971, I attended CT (Cryptologic Technician) school at Cory Field, Pensacola Fla. When I graduated, I was a CTTSA and sent to Guam to join Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ-1). The Squadron was tasked to collect information at various locations in support of Naval Operations and National Security.
My Chief at the time was very strict and we did not get along. As such and since I was the junior man in my Department, he sent me to Atsugi Japan where we had a detachment. I was assigned a buffer, and was required to buff the floors at the detachment daily. CTT1 Larry Vere took pity on me, and invited me to come fly with him and learn about collection techniques. The Chief on Guam was furious, as I, a E-2 was given the opportunity to fly missions and send the material back to Guam for analysis.
In August of 1972, my Chief decided to transfer me to the detachment in Danang, Vietnam, where our squadron flew daily missions over the Gulf of Tonkin. I remained there during Linebacker 2, supported efforts to retrieve material from the first B-52 that was downed, and also supported piolets both while they conducted missions and was part of the rescue operations for downed piolets.
Since I was only an E-3 at the time and most of the crew on the aircraft was senior to me, I needed to find a way to make myself important to them. The squadron usually deployed two aircrews to Danang, and each crew only flew for three days, with the following three days as liberty. This meant that each crew was returning to the Gulf after being away for three days. During the times they were in liberty, missile sites and gun placements usually moved. I took advantage of this and flew 52 consecutive missions, one each day, changing crews every three days and providing them with the combat knowledge of gun and missile placement while they were on liberty call. It got to the point later in my career, that crews would not fly dangerous missions without me being assigned to their crew.