From: Tucson, AZ
DOUGLAS A-1E SKYRAIDER VIETNAM 1965, narrated by Lt Colonel Thomas A. Dwelle:
This was mid 1965 and about 100 missions into the 270 that I ended up with. We lost 31 of our 100 A1E Skyraiders and 29 "Brothers" during my one year tour. I flew the F-106 'Delta Dart' Air Defense interceptor during the Cuban Missile crisis, so I was very experienced by 1964 when I trained in "Counter insurgency" to be an "Air Commando". We were "bad ass". The right seat was always empty except for the odd newsman and some of the new guys getting their first area familiarization ride. I flew 10 missions with Larry Burrows, Life Magazine, in the right seat and he loved it. I guess the word went out that I was experienced and probably wasn't likely to get anybody killed...and generally a lot of fun to be around. I was exuberant, and still am at 81, so the press gravitated to me. I took on all comers.
OK so this Canadian photographer wanted a ride and off we went. I think we were #3 , element lead, in this four ship Skyraider mission. The briefing was great and I took pains to explain what we were likely to experience. I included parachute training and a quick brief on escape and evasion. It all went well as you can hear until the Viet Cong (VC) broke and ran for the trees. At this point my Canadian started yelling at me to "be excited". I said "What" ? "BS, you are going to get us killed" YGBSM! (you gotta be kidding me). He got more agitated and I couldn't shut him up. OK, here we go...you asked for it "Toyota". I remember I missed a couple of radio calls acting for this guy...which caused me to be chastised during the debrief. A combat debriefing can be brutal...and rightly so.
My Canadian was totally excited at all this and could hardly wait to hand this film to the Canadian Lady who produced an anti war movie with my film. ****! In all fairness, a lot of stuff was put in this film which didn't happen on my watch.
I had seen a few snippets of this film on History channel, but today is the first time I have seen the whole thing. Thanks to George Mihal and his Office of Image Archaeology. I expected some kick back from the "Head shed", but it never happened. I have 30 minutes of color gun camera film which I should start releasing. In 1974 I went back to Udorn Thailand to fly the F4E Phantom.
"Press on with pride"...tad