30 November 1957 – Capt Benny Lacombe is killed when he unsuccessfully attempts to bail out of Lockheed U-2A, 56-6704, Article 371, 13 miles SE of Laughlin AFB. Ejection seats had not yet been fitted to U-2s at this point. The history of the U-2 program is fraught with fatalities and crashes. “CIA pilots Wilburn S.
Benjamin J. Dailey
Born in Marengo, Illinois I was raised on a 120-acre dairy farm, by my Grandmother Ella Murphy, Uncle William Murphy, and his wife Julia after my mother died. I attended grade school in a one-room country school then went to Marengo Community High School and lettered in basketball, football, and track.
At the onset of the Korean War, I enlisted in the Air Force on October 9, 1951. After basic training at Lackland AFB and Shepard AFB Texas, I was assigned to Keesler for Radar Mechanic’s school. While at Keesler I applied and was accepted for the Aviation Cadet Program. I did my flight training in T-6’s at Bainbridge, Georgia, and San Angelo, Texas. I then completed my flight training at Foster AB Texas in the new T-33 jet aircraft, graduated in June 1953, and was commissioned a 2/LT.
From Texas, I was transferred to Nellis AFB Nevada for Combat Crew Training and checkout in the F-86. After training, I was reassigned to the 1708th Ferry Squadron in Long Beach, California, where I ferried new F-80’s and T-33’s to various bases in the USA.
In April of 1954, I was reassigned to the 18th FBW at Osan AB, Korea. I became a member of COKE FLIGHT flying F-86-F models. On 31 October 1953, the wing was transferred to Kadena AB Okinawa.
In April of 1954, I was reassigned to Nellis AFB, Nevada as an instructor pilot and academic instructor, assigned to the 3595th Training Squadron. During that tour, I was flying F-86-A, E, F and H models, and the F-100-C, D, and F models. I married Barbara Jean Abraham, a hometown girl, in 1955 and we had one son Benjamin Jr. We were divorced in 1960.
In 1961 I applied for and was accepted for the Aircraft Maintenance Officer Course at Chanute AB, Illinois. I completed the training in 1962 and was reassigned to my old unit in Okinawa as the 18th TFW Flight Test Maintenance Officer flying F-100-D, and F models. While in Okinawa I married Setsuko Chinen and in January of 1965, we had our first son John Douglas. I was sent TDY to Nellis in 1964 to check out in the F-105. I was reassigned as Flight Line Maintenance Officer with 12th TFS and went TDY to Korat in 1965.
In November of 1966, I was reassigned to Nellis AFB as the Wing Flight Test Maintenance Officer. Due to a shortage of fully qualified Flight Test Maintenance Officers in Thailand, I was reassigned to the Takhli AB in 1967. I flew test flights and ferried battle-damaged aircraft in and out of the country. I also got a few flights as co-pilot in KC – 135’s on combat missions. When I was upgraded to Wing Quality Control Officer, I revised Wing F-105 aircraft maintenance inspections and schedules, to produce more quality flying hours. The average was three test flights a day. I was awarded the Bronze Star for these accomplishments.
I was then reassigned to the 18th TFW in Okinawa in December 1967 as the Wing Quality Control Officer. In January 1968, I was relocated to Osan AB, Korea with the Wing, when the North Koreans captured the USS Pueblo. Within 10 days I was promoted to the Wing Chief of Maintenance and was responsible for getting 50 F-105 aircraft up on Nuclear Alert. I accomplished this in a few days and provided additional aircraft for training flights. My daughter Carol Ann Dailey was born in May of 1968.
A few months later the Wing was moved to Kwangju AB in the South. There my unit had to build their own operating and maintenance facilities and facilitate the Nuclear Alert. After six months I was returned to Kadena as the Wing Quality Control Officer.
I retired from the Air Force as a Lt/Col in January 1971. My daughter Deborah Jean was born in 1970 and my son William Thomas was born in 1971.
After retirement, I owned and operated a pet shop in Okinawa, and also had an import/export company- In 1968 I took a position as Site Administrator in Iran with Sikorsky Aircraft. In 1968, I departed Iran in the middle of the revolution and was reassigned to El Toro MCAS, California as a Logistic Supply Rep. I then transferred to MCAS Futenma, Okinawa in 1982. In 1984, I took a position as Department Manager for the American Engineering Corporation. I departed AEC in 2003 when my wife came down with cancer. She died in 2004. In 2011 I married Mitsuko Tomori.
In 2020 – I am still living in Okinawa with my wife Mitsuko and my daughter Carol and son Bill and their families. I love it here. I’ve had a wonderful and fulfilling life, Praise the Lord.