Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Fio Blows a Tire

by Lou Comadena

I first met Jim Fiorelli at football practice in the fall of our Doolie year (1960). I soon discovered that we had similar backgrounds. We were both second generation Italian Americans from the East (Jim was from Delaware), both had done well enough in high school football to receive scholarship offers from major colleges, and we both loved and missed Italian food like our mothers had made for us. We liked each other and got along well together. For one reason or another, neither one of us played ball after our third class year.

After graduation we went in different directions, but in 1966 we were both stationed at Luke AFB Arizona, he as an F-100 pilot and me with the base civil engineering sq. We shared an apartment in nearby Glendale, were among other things we indulged our passion for cooking and eating Italian food. In those days the Officer's Club at Luke was the hottest spot in town, and I'm not refering to the Arizona sun. Jim and I spent a lot of our free time there. One day while sitting at the bar, another of Jim's squadron mates turned to me and asked, "Aren't you Fiorelli's buddy?" When I said yes, he proceeded to tell me what an unusually gifted pilot Jim was. He concluded by adding that Jim has been able to do things in the F-100 that no one had ever seen before. It was soon afterwards that Jim shipped out to Viet Nam and joined the "Mistys", leaving behind for me his mother's hand written recipe book, which I still have and treasure to this day.

Next it was my turn. I had volunteered for Nam and was assigned to a RED HORSE Sq. In Thailand. I talked about those assignments in my history and story#1, Lessons Learned. So there I am at NKP in charge of all construction including the newly resurfaced runway (it was still pierced steel planking when we arrived). One day I'm at a construction site and I get a call on my radio that some pilot named Fiorelli was waiting for me at the BX. I drove right over to the BX, and there was Fio buying everything in sight. I asked what he was doing at NKP, and he told me that they had been flying a mission near Hanoi and he was low on fuel. So hooked up to a tanker but for some unknown reason was not able to take on any fuel. After several more unsuccessful attempts, he diverted into NKP. We were the closest US base to Hanoi. So when he touches down on the runway that we had just resurfaced, he blew a tire. Since we had no F-100 spares at NKP, one would be flown in from his base at Bien Hoa the next day. We had therefore had that night free to ourselves. Off we went to the O' Club for some drinking and story telling. After awhile, at about 0200 hours, Jimmy says, "You know, Lou, I'd really love to have a home made pizza like the ones we used to make when we were at Luke." To which I said, "You came to the right place, Fio, I have a full field kitchen as part of this RED HORSE Detachment." Off we went to the kitchen, and made a couple of the best pizzas ever made. At least it seemed so at the time. Next morning as I'm driving Jimmy over to base operations, he jabs me with, "This has been great, but you know if you did a better job of building runways, I wouldn't have blown a tire, and none of this would have happened." To which I replied, "Look out at that runway, Jimmy. Planes are taking off and landing every few minutes, and no one is blowing tires. If you were only a better pilot you wouldn't have blown a tire." We both had a good laugh and a few minutes later he took off and flew back to rejoin the "Mistys" and write a few more new pages into the U. S. Air Force's air to ground combat history.
[ My History ] [ Home ] [ Table Of Contents ]