1 April 1969 – Maj Ron Standerfer (Misty 99) was front seat and 1Lt C. Lacey Veach was backseat in F-100D #563863. Ron had already ejected from an F-100 once before. Here’s his accounting of the 1 April ejection…
The second time I ejected was on April 1, 1969, while I was flying a Misty mission. The late Lacey Veach (RIP) and I were putting an airstrike in on an interdiction point near Tchepone, Laos. There was a ZPU firing at us from a couple of clicks away but he wasn’t getting very close. In fact, I remember commenting when we pulled off from the final pass that the gunner definitely needed more training. Five minutes, later the “Engine Oil Overheated” light came on. I had never seen one ON before and had to look it up in the emergency procedures checklist. It said to check the oil pressure. I did, and it was dropping. “No sweat,” I told Lacey, “they told us at Luke that jet engines sometimes run an hour or more without a drop of oil.”
The guys at Luke were wrong. Ten minutes later, as we were climbing through twenty thousand feet, the engine came unglued with a spectacular display of violent compressor stalls and gray smoke streaming into the cockpit. We were eighty miles west of Da Nang at that time and not far from the A Shau Valley. In other words — in the middle of nowhere.
There were four F-4s on our wing when we punched out. The ejection went okay—-perhaps a little easier than the one in Korea. But instead of a soft, shallow river to greet me when I landed, I crashed into the top of a very tall tree, atop a small mountain. For a moment it looked like I would be able to stay there, but it was not to be. After a moment or two of thrashing, slipping, and sliding, I fell headfirst all the way to the bottom smashing into every branch and limb along the way.
The RESCAP didn’t get off to a very good start. The F-4s went off to hit a tanker and brought the rescue force back to a different mountain sixty miles away. It took nearly an hour to sort all that out. Meanwhile, Lacey and I were sweating it out because it was getting dark and we didn’t want to spend the night in Laos. Nobody did in those days.
When the rescue force finally arrived, the Spads got right down to business and located me in about ten minutes, despite the fact that I was concealed under multiple layers of trees. The pickup by the Jolly Green helicopter also went well, although my head got stuck in the fork of a large limb as I was ascending and they had to pull me and the limb loose by brute force, which wasn’t fun. It was worth it though.
As luck would have it there was a USAF combat photographer on board the helicopter. He took the enclosed picture just minutes after I was pulled aboard. The big grin on my face tells it all!
Anyone interested in further details about these ejections can read about them in my book, The Eagle’s Last Flight. Although the book is classified as historical fiction it is very autobiographical in some parts.
~ Ron Standerfer