25 September 1968 – Norman Macleod Paulsen was born on October 6, 1945, in Elmsford, NY. His mother said, “Ever since he was a little boy, he dreamed of flying.” He had enlisted in the Air Force and began his tour on August 3, 1968. He had the rank of First Lieutenant. On a mission
Donald O. Neary
“In January 1968, North Korea seized the USS Pueblo in international waters. The U.S. responded by calling up its reserve forces to provide a show of force. As a result, 2,000 members of the 140th Tactical Fighter Wing and its subordinate squadrons were deployed to South Korea, Greenland, Japan, Taiwan and a number of other locations throughout the world.
One of those squadrons, the 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron, was called to South Vietnam and was the first Air National Guard unit in-country.
“Every night the VC — the Viet Cong — would blow up the pipeline, and so his (the Intelligence Officer’s) first comments were, ‘they blew up the pipeline again last night,’ and that was going on … 230 times that I flew there,” said Neary.
Donald Neary was with the 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron from the COANG. Two of his buddies were lost while stationed at Phan Rang just two weeks before they were due to return home. [Capt. Perry H.] Jefferson was one of two COANG members lost in the Vietnam War. “The first, Maj. Clyde Seiler, was killed in action when his aircraft was shot down March 27, 1969, just seven days before Jefferson disappeared. Seiler’s remains were recovered a year and a half later, near the site where his F-100 Super Sabre jet crashed, but for 39 long years, the whereabouts of Jefferson remained a mystery. (1)
“We lost Perry Jefferson, not knowing at that time where he was or if he was going to be recovered,” said retired Col. Donald O. Neary, a former fighter pilot with the 120th TFS. “Clyde [Seiler], we knew because I saw what happened there, but Perry’s was different because it was an unknown thing,” said Neary, who was Seiler’s wingman on that fatal flight.
For Neary, Beabout, Rowan and many other COANG members who served during the Vietnam era, Jefferson’s status as missing in action festered like jungle rot.
I don’t say I gave up hope; there are a lot of remote possibilities,” said Neary. “But at the same time ….”
On April 2, 2008, representatives of the Colorado Air National Guard arrived at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., where they laid wreaths and rubbed Jefferson, Ecklund and Seiler’s names in quiet reflection. Then on April 3, Perry H. Jefferson’s remains were laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Although the mystery of his death remains unsolved, one thing is certain: The burial of Jefferson’s remains helped bring a final measure of closure to the COANG family, a family that counts Jefferson’s brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Joy Jefferson, and his stepchildren Cindy Kuehl and Rick Berry, among its ranks. “(2)