26 June 1969 – Capt John Casper was serving with the 413th TFS out of Phan Rang AB, Vietnam. On a mission to detect VietCong...Read More
I graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA in June of 1957 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. My active duty began December 1, 1957, with Primary Flight Training at Bartow AB, FL flying the T-34 and T 28. I was then on to Webb AFB and Class 59E flying the T-33. I lucked out and got an F-100, and went to Luke AFB in Arizona flying the F-100F and F-100C.
I made it through Survival School at Stead en route to Nellis AFB in Nevada for F 100 Top-Off training and was later assigned to Cannon AFB in the 430th Fighter Bomber Squadron/474 Fighter Bomber Wing. The term “Fighter Bomber” was used prior to squadrons being called “Tactical Fighters”. My 18 months at Cannon included a northern route Atlantic crossing with KB 50 tankers and a 4-month TDY at Adana AFB in Turkey. We were on a Nuke alert mission and had lots of great flying.
I got orders to the 492nd Tactical Fighter Squadron/48th Tactical Fighter Wing in July 1961. This remains my favorite tour that included; low levels in UK, France, Germany and Holland, gunnery at Wheelus, and great XCs to US and Allied bases throughout Europe.
In 1965 I got orders back to Cannon. With family still in Chicago, I was told I was going to Viet Nam with the 522nd. Ten days later that move was canceled and I was selected to go TDY to Viet Nam as a FAC with the 1st Infantry Division. Not what I wanted, but the most rewarding part of my career.
After the Vietnam tour, I went back to Cannon and into the RTU business. I was able to go to Fighter Weapons School in January of 1967. As Wing Weapons Officer at Cannon, I flew with just about every class and met a lot of the current Super Sabre Society members.
In late 1969 I was sent to Heath flying the Hun for two years before converting to the F-4 in 1972. I ended up just short of 3000 hours in the Hun.
After leaving Heath in 1974, I went to Shaw AFB in 9th AF Weapons and Training Office. A highlight was my time as the 9th Red Flag rep where I attended the first meetings at TAC.
I was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1977 and sent to Safety School with orders to Osan AB, in South Korea as Chief of Safety. This led to an assignment to PACAF in the Safety Shop and a promotion to Colonel. I finished my Air Force career at Nellis AFB, NV in the 554th Range Group, and retired as Commander on December 31, 1987.
I have a number of awards, peacetime, and wartime, but my favorite was a thank you note from a wounded NCO in the Big Red One after airstrikes that we directed saved his platoon.
- Flying School Class 59E, Luke AFB, AZ/Nellis AFB, NV (F-100)
- 1/1960-7/1961 430th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cannon AFB, NM (F-100)
- 8/1961-7/1965 492nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, England (F-100)
- 8/1965-6/1969 422nd Tactical Fighter Squadron/27th Tactical Fighter Wing, Cannon AFB, NM (F-100)
- 9/1965-4/1966 TDY FAC with 1st Infantry Division, Lai Khe, Vietnam (O1-F)
- 6/1969-12/1969 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, Phan Rang AB, Vietnam (F-100)
- 12/1969-7/1974 493rd & 492nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, England (F-100, F-4)
- 8/1974-6/1977 9th Air Force, Shaw AFB, SC (T-39)
- 7/1977-J6/1978 51st Combat Wing, Osan Air Force Base, Korea
- 7/1978-6/1982 PACAF Hickam AFB, HI
- 7/1982-12/1987 554 Range Group, Nellis AFB, NV
- 1/1/1988 Retired from USAF
Awards & Decorations
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with 9 Oak Leaf Clusters
AF Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal with V device
Vietnam Service Medal
AF Overseas Long Tour Medal
AF Longevity Service Award
AF Training Ribbon
T-33 in Basic training
F- 4 C/D/E
Military & Civilian Education
- SOS, Command and Staff, ICAF,
- Fighter Weapons School
- BA, Business Administration/Economics, Coe College, IA