“After leaving the service I went to work for Nebraska Book Co. in Lincoln, NE traveling the US purchasing used text books on college campuses. In September of 1968, I returned to Iowa City, IA to work in family-owned college bookstore serving the University of Iowa and in February of 1973, I purchased the store eventually selling it to my youngest son Kurt.
Here’s a comment on my 5 years in the Air Force: I had great CO’s and I was lucky to get the plane of my choice out of PIT. My most memorable experience was dancing with three F-100’s over a hot target… more than once. And finally, the officers and enlisted folks I served with were outstanding. There is not a day that I don’t apply the lessons I learned in the service.
“Turkey” Joe Turner (Maj.) mentioned that both our time at Tan Son Nhut in 1965 and his time in Korea strongly resembled what was relayed in the book Catch 22. Every major character in the book was represented in our 481st Squadron. Our CO, Lt Col Comstock, left our brown bar scrounger back at Clark AFB. Our reincarnation of book’s 2nd Lt Milo Minderbinder could get us anything our Squadron needed. It was not unusual for Comstock to get a call from a Flag Officer asking for a favor of something only our guy at Clark could deliver.
Our Squadron philosopher, Capt. Paul Phillips reminded me of Catch 22’s Capt. Yossarian. And finally Major Major Major had to be Maj. Joe Turner.
But even more than the characters, the events resembled the book. My first clue of a disconnect from reality was the survival training we received prior to checking out in the F-100. To prepare us for VN, we did survival at Stead in 1963 in the mountains, in the winter, on snowshoes.
Then after my first deployment (Misawa & Kunsan), I received a night owl orientation from the back seat of an “F”. The brass at Cannon AFB didn’t think I had enough F-100 time to fly it myself. As luck would have it, three months later I was scheduled for a Night Owl mission in the delta of VN. We delivered napalm and CBU’s under flairs on a high-level meeting of VC and NVA leaders. I can still remember my shock seeing how high the trees were on both sides of the road which was illuminated by the glow of the napalm I had just dropped. I couldn’t have been more than 10 feet above the road. Needless to say, my pull off was straight up and immediate.
And finally, I had to ask why everyone in the Squadron stopped talking to my roommate 1 Lt Jerry Salome. Capt. Phillips/Yossarian told me that Jerry was assigned to fly top cover on the plane that carried our Secretary of State McNamara into Saigon and he hadn’t taken that opportunity to shoot him down.
As with most novels, Catch 22 is a work of fiction based on facts which very much reflected my experience in VN in 1965.”