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.
Kermit Charles Beverly
Chuck Beverly’s Story written by his daughter Diane
I struggled with how to start this story on my father, Lieutenant Colonel Kermit Charles “Chuck” Beverly, so I decided to start at the beginning. He was born to Kermit and Edith Beverly on July 16th, 1932 in Garrett, Kentucky. He was the oldest of three boys. He met the love of his life at Oklahoma A & M, which is now called OSU (Oklahoma State University). They married and had three children. Brent, the oldest, was born in Illinois in September of 1954. I (Diane) was born in Louisiana in August of 1958. William, the youngest, was born in Arizona in April of 1967.
When my parents were first married, times were tough, as they are for most couples starting a life together. I remember a story my mom told me when my daughter was a new mom and worried about Christmas decorations. She told me that one year for Christmas, they did not have the money to buy a tree, so they went out and picked pine cones and made a tree from those. This story made my daughter feel better ([she is] struggling at the moment). The story inspired my daughter and gave her and her children something fun to do as a family that year.
In the early ’60s, my Dad was stationed at Hahn AFB in Germany. I am sure most of you reading this do not need a history lesson about Germany in the ’60s, but the trials were beginning for Frankfurt Auschwitz camps. President Kennedy affirmed America’s guarantee of freedom for West Berlin in a tear-jerking speech made in Berlin in 1963. The Cold War was reaching its climax, and the Treaty of Friendship was signed between France and Germany as an act of reconciliation. Times were turbulent, but as a family, we enjoyed living in Germany.
My Dad had a wonderful sense of humor and was very much a jokester. When we first moved to Germany, we lived off base. I was 4 years old and I saw my first live chicken. I asked my Dad if I could have a chicken and he said yes. When I asked where we went to get a chicken, he told me to go get a chicken feather, plant it, and water it and I would grow a chicken. Being a trusting young child, I did this and watered it faithfully. Needless to say, a chicken never appeared. This is one of those funny stories that was told at every family gathering.
After Germany, my Dad was stationed at Davis Monthan AFB in Arizona. My younger brother was born while we were there. My family stayed there when my Dad was deployed to Vietnam. For the first six months, my Dad was stationed in Thailand where he flew missions over Vietnam. It during this war he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for successfully completing one of his missions. This medal is awarded to any individual who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Air Force, distinguishes him or herself by extraordinary heroism in combat. Shortly after this medal being award, my Dad was transferred to Saigon, Vietnam, where he completed his year of deployment.
After that, my dad was stationed at Clark AFB in the Philippines. He was the ops officer of the fighter squadron where his best friend, Col. Charlie Goodwin, was the squadron commander. He loved taking us kids to the squadron to get Guido burgers. Guido was the name of the cook and he made amazing hamburgers. We lived in a house that was built in 1902 and was right off the parade ground. My family really enjoyed living there because of all the activities they had. I do remember how every time there was a typhoon, we would be there and my Dad would have to take his squadron and leave. Being a service brat has some perks but it also makes you have to grow up fast.
From the Philippines, we moved to Nellis AFB in Nevada. My father was the Ops officer for the Fighter Weapons School. This was his final assignment. He retired with 20 years of active duty. Though out the rest of his life, when asked what he did for a living, he always responded that he was a retired fighter pilot in the Air Force. He was proud to serve his country and loved the adventure and thrill of flying.
Chuck Beverly and Flying in the Vietnam War
Chuck shared this story with me, a non-aviator, so there may be details that are not remembered correctly. Please excuse any discrepancies.
Actually putting his life on the line multiple times had a great effect on Chuck. He shared many stories on his flights and how proud he was to have served and how much he appreciated the other warriors with whom he served. There was one story however that stands out. Chuck was selected to lead a large attack flight against an enemy site in North Vietnam. His role was to take over 80 aircraft coming from bases across Thailand, Vietnam, and other areas and maneuver them into a coordinated strike against the target. There were many hours of planning and communication with the diverse elements and services to get everything just right.
The big day came and everything was prepared. Chuck was to lead the flight from his F-4 Phantom II. For those who may not know, the F-4 is a two-seater fighter. The pilot sits up front and the navigator sits in the rear seat. Chuck often referred to the navigator as the GIB (“Guy In Back”). He got into the aircraft with his GIB and launched. Planes were launching from all over and forming up for the big strike. “OK, we are ready. What’s the heading, Navigator?” There was silence from the back seat. “What is our heading, Navigator? I need to know where everyone is going.” Still silence. Finally, there was a response. “I forgot the map” came from the Guy In Back. “I had everything marked on the map but I forgot the map back at the base.”
So what could Chuck do? There was no time to fly back to base and retrieve the map. Over 80 planes were in the air waiting for direction on where to fly. Chuck took charge and directed the entire operation with the details in his head. The operation went smoothly and to his dying day, he expected that no one involved in the operation could tell that he didn’t have everything he needed to make the operation a success.
To all those who flew and who put their lives on the line for our freedom, we salute you.
The “forgot the map’” story was written by Chuck Beverly’s son Brent.