On June 11, 2021, at the Air Force Academy, about 90 individuals attended a ceremony where the Super Sabre Society leadership unveiled a large, bronze plaque honoring those who flew the F-100 in the Vietnam War. Eighty-eight Hun pilots, of which 11 were USAF Academy graduates, never made it home to loved ones, family or friends. These Academy graduates’ names are on the plaque along with those of two F-100 graduates who were POWs. This plaque joins 21 others already on the east wall in the Plaza of Heroes.
The plaque tells the story of the F-100 Super Sabre. The Hun provided close air support and flew interdiction sorties from 1964 through 1971. F-100 pilots flew 360,665 combat sorties, suffering 191 combat losses with 88 pilots killed in action. Aircrews from more than 25 fighter squadrons, active duty, and air national guard, flew in this conflict. The major South Vietnamese F-100 bases were: Bien Hoa, Phan Rang, Tuy Hoa, and Phu Cat.
The audience included relatives of three graduates listed on the plaque; the Commandant of Cadets, Brigadier General Paul Moga; the Dean of Faculty, Brigadier General Linell Letendre; many former ‘Hun pilots to include those who flew the Misty Fast FAC mission; classmates of the deceased; as well as Academy cadets who will soon “welcome” the incoming Class of 2025, June 24th.
Don Shepperd began the ceremony with an appropriate invocation. Don was followed by Eddie Bracken who welcomed family members and the distinguished visitors – especially the Cadets – before covering the significance of the Southeast Asia Memorial Pavilion and Plaza of Heroes to all those who served in that conflict. One hundred fifty graduates from the first 14 classes gave their all in that conflict. Then it was Tom Griffith’s turn.
Tom began his remarks by reminding the audience that these 11 men were doing what they loved, what they volunteered for, and what they were committed to for their country when they were killed. He then covered what we knew about each pilot’s short career including vignettes provided by family and classmates. It was a moving and emotional tribute to the fallen. Tom concluded his remarks with the inscription on our plaque: “All gave some, some gave all in a long tough war” and then invited the four relatives (one daughter, one son, and one sister and brother) to accompany him to the wall to unveil the F-100 plaque. After many photographs and a few tears, the crowd moved to Doolittle Hall for a reception and the opportunity to visit and tell more stories.
The family members were beyond thankful for the ceremony as well as the opportunity for others to hear about their loved ones. Not only did they shed a few tears, they embraced us for our efforts to include them in the ceremony. The Commandant noted it had the desired effect on the cadets.
This ceremony, in such an appropriate setting, fulfills one of our key missions to preserve the legacy of the Super Sabre and the pilots who flew the jet. Without a doubt, we succeeded!
For a video of the ceremony click here.