LTC Sherman Edward Flanagan, Jr hailed from Westminster Md and served with the 355TFS/37TFW. On this day he ejected from his F-100 aircraft over Laos and was recovered. He had minor injuries. However, on July 21, 1968, the news read ” A Super Sabre and its pilot was lost during a mission to destroy an anti-aircraft
Martin Valentine Case, Jr.
I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on 6 September 1956 in Miami, FL, was put on a Delta Airlines airplane to San Antonio, TX, and then on a bus to Lackland AFB. We were met with a less than happy D.I. and our “rainbow flight” was marched over to Base Supply to get our uniforms.
After Basic Training I was back on the bus to Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, TX, for training as a Tow Reel Specialist. My job would be to ride in an airplane pulling a banner or dart target while fighter aircraft shot at it! In February of 1957, I completed Tow Reel school and was assigned to Eglin AFB in Niceville, FL, the home of Air Proving Ground Command. I enjoyed the flying and as I had close contact with the pilots. One or two of them suggested I apply for the Aviation Cadet program
I did and having passed the entrance exams at Keesler AFB, Biloxi, MS, I entered Aviation Cadet Class 60 Foxtrot on 8 December 1958 at Lackland AFB, TX. My Primary Flight Training was at Marianna, FL, where I soloed in the T-34 and T-37. My Basic Flight Training was in the T-33 at Reese AFB, Lubbock, TX, where on 18 March 1960 I received my wings and 2/Lt gold bars. I received the Commander’s Cup for Distinguished Graduate, so I was given a Regular Commission and first choice of assignments. I picked the F-100. I reported to Luke AFB, Phoenix, AZ in April and was sent to Stead, AFB in Reno, NV, for survival training. After a course where I practiced survival skills (or starving skills), it was back to Luke for the F-100 checkout.
From Luke, I went to Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, NV, for Air Refueling and Nuclear Delivery training. In March of 1961, I was assigned to the 35th TFS whose motto was “First To Fight” and was stationed at Itazuke AB, Fukuoka, Japan. Little did I know how prophetic that was. In August 1964, the conflict in Southeast Asia was heating up and the 36th TFS was being sent to a classified destination (Korat). The squadron was short on bodies as we were still sitting Nuke Alert at Osan AB in Korea. The powers that be asked for volunteers and, as I was a bachelor at the time, I was “volunteered”. They put me on the IST (Initial Support Team) airplane and because the 36th had not arrived yet due to weather, I may have been the first F-105 pilot to set foot in SEA.
A few days after the airplanes arrived a mission was set to go to the Plain De Jars in Laos to shut down a AAA site that was annoying CIA aircraft. The 36th was tasked to shut down the site on 13 August 1964 but was unable to make contact so they Returned to Base (RTB). The next day, 14 August 1964, another 4-ship was tasked for the mission and I was #4. We reached the area and made contact with the C-123 who said he would fly over the site so we could see its location in the jungle. He flew over the site and encountered enemy artillery, so flight Lead (#1) rolled in, still not sure exactly where the gun was, and shot some 20mm.
More fire opened up again on #1 but #2 was not far behind (remember, we are trained to deliver Nukes, not conventional ordnance) and #2 took a hit to the tail. Lead called off and gave #2 the lead and told him to head for home. Then #3 rolled in but his hits were wide. I rolled in, shot some 20mm, and fired the rockets (there were no tankers so we had a 650-gallon tank on the centerline station). I pulled off and #3 appeared on my wing and gave me the HEFOE signal. He had no radio and no clue as to what was going on. I turned for Korat and that is how I went from #4 to #1 on my first combat mission.
At the end of August, I returned to the 35th TFS and on 3 October 1964 married RN 1/Lt. Barbara (Bobbie) A. Gonnella. In March of 1965, we got a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) to McConnell AFB in Wichita, KS, with the 563rd Tactical Fighter Squadron/23rd Tactical Fighter Wing. I was sent to join up with the 563rd that was already on a Tour of Duty to Tahkli AB, Thailand and I started flying missions right away. We watched the enemy building SAM sites and reported them to Intel, but they firing on them ourselves was off-limits according to the ROE (Rules of Engagement).
After an F-4 was shot down by a SAM we were then ordered to attack them. Because President Lyndon B. Johnson would announce which SAM sites we would attack 3 days before we would take off, it made Operation Spring-High a disaster. We lost 6 airplanes and 4 pilots – 2 others were POWs. The 563rd returned to McConnell in August and we geared up to be an RTU for the F-105. The 563rd put the first class through to graduation, but I decided to leave the Air Force in August of 1966 and join American Airlines.
After training at American, my first base was Nashville, TN. While there, I decided to join the Kentucky ANG in August of 1967 to maintain my flying skills (my job at American was a Flight Engineer on Lockheed Electra’s). The Kentucky ANG was flying the RF-101 (VooDoo) at that time.
Shortly after I became Combat Ready in the VooDoo, the North Koreans attacked the USS PUEBLO and took the ship to North Korea where it remains to this day. President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara called up three RF-101 Squadrons and I got another 18 months of active duty. We were released from duty in July of 1969 and I transferred to the Dallas, TX base at American Airlines. I promised my wife Bobbie that I would not get into another Guard or Reserve Unit unless they had F-105’s.
In June of 1972, I got a phone call from a Colonel at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma City, OK, asking if I would join a Reserve unit there that was getting new airplanes. I told him about my promise to Bobbie and he replied: “I can’t tell you what we’re getting because it’s still classified, but I think you’ll be interested”. I was and I did. I stayed until the unit converted to the F-4D and passed the ORI. I retired as the DCO with the rank of Lt/Col.