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November 7th – Shoot-Down Anniversary

Sunday, November 7th, 2021 begins a special week. On November 7, 1967 (54 years ago) my aircraft commander Capt Ken Fisher and I were flying a combat mission over N. Vietnam in this F-4C Phantom, tail number BB600. It had been decorated with victory stripes to honor our Ops Group Commander Col. Boots Blesse, a famous Korean War ACE.

 

That day this beautiful beast was blown out of the sky, and Ken and I were fortunate to have great equipment and training. We ejected over enemy territory and were captured immediately. Ken would be my cellmate and leader for the next 1955 days–more than five years. He was six years senior and a courageous leader and role model for a young kid like me. His character, courage, and commitment were a great influence on my life. He’s still my hero and we stay in touch and celebrate at reunions.

 

This is also the week of Veterans Day, and I’m headed back to San Antonio to speak at a dinner event honoring all Veterans for their service. While I’m there, I’ll go back to Randolph AFB (where all AF returned POW pilots requalified for flying) and the monument honoring those who did not return from the war.

 

The inscription says: “We who came home must never forget those who could not.” To all our Veterans we say thanks for your service.

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