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.
John L. Cotton
“I arrived at my first base in Tuy Hoa in July, 1969 and was there until November, 1969. I then transferred to Camp Enari in Pleiku and was there until March, 1970. My last base was Cam Ranh Army from March – July, 1970. I didn’t go by a nickname and was known as Kit.”
“I believe I am the only Donut Dollie who – at the end of my tour – got married in Saigon. Let me backtrack: during my first assignment in Tuy Hoa, I met a fighter pilot named John Cotton. We started dating, and when the Red Cross in Saigon found out that we were pretty serious, I was moved to Camp Enari in Pleiku, which was my favorite assignment. But my new locale couldn’t keep John away, and he would go up into the tower at Tuy Hoa and contact a chopper flying over saying, “Would you mind taking a fighter pilot up to Pleiku?” When I was transferred to Cam Ranh Army, it was easier for John to come see me, because he could catch C-130s, as well as choppers. It seemed as if every time I turned around, there was John, and I was so happy to see him!
I should mention that my Dad had an office in Saigon, and he came over to visit and check out John. Our original intention was to travel around the world and then get married in the States. But, my Dad, in his authoritative voice said, “No daughter of mine is going to travel around the world with a man to whom she is not wed!” So, in a way, he forced our hand in marriage.
We had arrived in-country about the same time, and when John was ready to DEROS (Date Estimated Return From Overseas) to his next assignment in Lakenheath, England, he asked me to marry him. And what a procedure that was! We had to follow the same rules as the GIs did if they wanted to marry a Vietnamese woman. And that entailed many trips down to Saigon – which neither the Red Cross nor John’s squadron commander appreciated!
…The ceremony consisted mainly of paperwork – all in French (which I speak) – and John and I signed on the dotted line. When we walked out of the office, I was Mrs. John L. Cotton!
From there we immediately went to the Red Cross office, where I turned in my Red Cross pin and papers and was no longer their responsibility. I was now under the umbrella of protection of my husband and the United States Air Force.”