Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

There I was...part 1

by Chuck Clifton

Remember the stories that ran on the back cover of the Airman Magazine years ago? Well, with thanks and apologies to the man I believe was the author of that feature, Bob Evans, but without his great illustrations, let me try and add a couple.

In late July of 1966 I was assigned to the Triple Nickel Squadron, 8th TFW, flying F-4C/Ds out of Ubon, Thailand as a GIB (Guy in Back). By the time I rotated back stateside in mid February of '67 I had flown 102 missions over North Viet Nam, plus a few more over Cambodia and Laos. During the course of those hundred plus sorties I returned with holes in, or parts missing from, the bird over eighty times; thus my nickname Magnet Ass. Part of the price of doing business. Shot up a bunch of times but never shot down and didn't lose a wingman either.

I had about 35-40 missions up North when we got a new Wing Commander and D.O. They quickly became known as Blackman and Robin. Robin Olds and Chappy James had arrived.

I soon became Col. Olds' back seater when he flew daytime sorties and Chappy's night guide.

One night Chappy and I found ourselves 70 degrees nose-high, passing thru 50 knots over Route-pack 5 while he was looking back to see where his bombs hit. After a brief discussion about spatial disorientation and airspeed/altitude management, we returned to controlled flight. Chappy then resumed control and brought us back home.

One evening, right around Christmas, I was at the stag bar celebrating the completion of my ninetieth mission over the North,(there was an unwritten rule that you didn't get scheduled for any more missions up to Route Pack 6 after you had ninety) when I was approached by a couple of Sky Cops. They asked me to accompany them outside, where they informed me the Wing Commander requested my presence at the main briefing room.

When we arrived to a packed room, Col. Olds excused himself from the podium and walked to the back where I had just entered. In a suddenly quiet room, every head there followed his trail. He stopped, put his arm around my shoulders, and in a very soft voice explained that the operation being briefed was a MIG sweep over downtown Hanoi. "Chuck," he said, "I know you just completed your ninetieth, but I'd like you to come with me on this one."

I said, "You got it Boss."

On the second of January, nineteen sixty-seven, we executed Operation Bolo, where we shot down his first, and my only, MIG-21.

Two weeks later Robin flew with me on my 102nd and final mission over the North and yeah, we did buzz the tower.

The following is from an unknown author to whom I would gladly give credit. I feel the sentiment expressed is worth risking his wrath., If anyone can give this proper accreditation please do.

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