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.
Gilbert Warren Ahl
I entered the USAF as a totally naive farm kid and with no college degree. With the exception of 7 years as a navigator (thanks to a devious recruiter filling a quota) and 2 years at CENTCOM as a staff puke writing letters to each other, flying Fighters, especially the F-100 was the fulfillment of a childhood dream. Nine years of overseas assignments were not only pleasant but reinforced the belief of how lucky we are to be Americans. Flying combat missions with Misty was the highlight of my career. (MISTY was the callsign a top-secret squadron in Vietnam tasked with disrupting the transfer of enemy supplies and equipment down the Ho Chi Minh trail).
I am humbled by warriors like Bud Day and proud to have served. Throughout the balance of my flying career, each time I flew down initial, I wondered how much longer am I was going to be able to do this.
Other than flying, one of my most memorable experiences was on a return flight to JFK from Saudi Arabia. Upon landing the Captain made the announcement “Welcome to the United States of America” where upon the majority of passengers erupted into cheers and applause. They were all foreigners, most of whom were of Arabic descent!