Lyle Lynn Bainbridge
“My mother said, as a boy, you know all little boys talk about firetrucks, she said, “all you could talk about was airplanes. Airplanes, airplanes, airplanes, airplanes”. My neighbor, his father had an airplane over there and kept it in a t-hangar right next door, the farm right beside our farm and one night he came in and he said, “Lynn would you like to have an airplane ride?” I said, “Oh boy, would I?”. I jumped in the airplane and off we went, it was the thrill of a lifetime. ” After the ride Lynn’s mother made him promise never to ride in an airplane again. And Lynn said, “Okay mother, and I put my hands behind my back, crossed my fingers, and said I promise I’ll never fly again. Well, I didn’t lie, I just fudged the truth a little bit.”
1st Lieutenant Lyle “Lynn” Bainbridge was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and was featured in a film by KPBS titled, “Distinguished Wings over Vietnam,” along with Charles “Chuck” Sweeney (USN-Ret.), Michael E. O’Neil (Capt. USA AH-1G Cobra Pilot, Vietnam 1970), and Greg MacNeil (CWO2, USA UH-1, and OH6APilot, Vietnam 1967-68), which aired recently and will re-air September 11, 2017. Unfortunately, Lt. Bainbridge “Headed West” before the tribute special aired.
In the video, Bainbridge says “We actually thought we were there [in Vietnam] for a reason and then we realized in the last six months the only reason we were there was to get our ass home at the end of the next six months cause there was no way we were going to win that war in Vietnam. Everybody knew that.
The coach says “go out and play” or go out and kill in this case. Either kill or be killed. If someone gives you that choice it’s a pretty easy answer. Their job was to kill us, our job was to kill them. And sometimes we were both pretty successful.”
Lynn Bainbridge served with the 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron (BATS) out of Sioux City, IA.
In 1961, the unit was re-designated the 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron and converted to flying nuclear-capable F-100C Super Sabre aircraft. The squadron flew the F-100 from 1961 until 1977, a period of 16 years.
On 26 January 1968, the squadron was recalled to active Federal service as a result of the Pueblo Crisis. The 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron, augmented by many of the other group personnel deployed with their F-100s to Phu Cat Air Base, South Vietnam on 11 May 1968.
During their year in South Vietnam, the 174th flew 6,539 combat sorties totaling 11,359 hours of combat time. One pilot was killed in action and two airmen were killed on active duty. The unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. Individually, its members were awarded 12 Silver Stars, 35 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 30 Bronze Stars, 115 Air Force Commendation Medals, 325 Air Medals, and 1 Purple Heart. On 28 May 1969, the personnel and aircraft were returned to Sioux City and released from active duty. In addition, the 174th Fighter Squadron won the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with a designation of valor.
The “Bat” depicted on the tails of the aircraft and the shoulder patch of the pilots during the Vietnam War became a legendary symbol of the 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron. “Bat” was the call sign of the 174th during its Vietnam War service, and the “Bats” became renowned for their outstanding performance.
The squadron converted to the A-7D Corsair II in 1977. While flying the A-7s, the unit won the Spaatz trophy for the second time in 1990, recognizing them as the best Air Guard unit in the country. The Unit also was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit award five times – 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, and 1991. In 1989, the unit won the 12th Air Force A-7 gunnery meet for the second time. (source: Wikipedia)
Lynn’s portion of “Distinguished Wings Over Vietnam” by Devin Scott and Jeanne Scott’s America Dream Stories for KBS can be seen at https://www.americandreamstories.com/reel, the entire video can be seen at Https://www.pbs.org/video/distinguished-wings-over-vietnam-lonfxn/.
- 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Sioux City, IA
- 1/1968-5/1969 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Phu Cat, Vietnam (F-100)
Awards & Decorations
Distinguished Flying Cross
Military & Civilian Education