• From Vietnam to Iraq: Air Force Veterans Tell Heavy War Stories of the 39th Airlift Squadron

From Vietnam to Iraq: Air Force Veterans Tell Heavy War Stories of the 39th Airlift Squadron

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SEATTLE, Aug. 25, 2009--In a program at The Museum of Flight on Sept. 12, veteran 39th Airlift Squadron pilots and crew members will share exciting stories and photos from the Vietnam era to the present. Mission permitting, a 39th Airlift Squadron Lockheed C-130 will be open to the public for tours during Museum hours on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12 - 13 in the Museum parking lot. The program is at 2 p.m. in the William M. Allen Theater, and is free with admission to the Museum. Aircraft tours are free.

The 39th Troop Carrier Squadron has been moving everything from soldiers and celebrities to bodies and ammunition in and out of all sorts of places in every American conflict since World War II. Now renamed the 39th Airlift Squadron, it is one of the few World War II squadrons of any kind that is still active today.

The work horse-and sometimes aerial battle ship-of the 39th Airlift Squadron is the rugged, four-engine Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft, which has been in service since the Vietnam conflict. C-130 missions include carrying combat necessities such as food and ammunition. Personnel carried onboard the big planes include soldiers, prisoners of war and USO entertainers. C-130 missions are noted for dangerous tasks like flying through air strikes. Mission permitting, a 39th Airlift Squadron C-130 will be open to the public during Museum hours on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12 - 13 in the Museum parking lot.

The panelists include:
Lt. Col. Charles Howard, U.S.A.F., is a pilot and the current 39th Airlift Squadron Commander. Howard will relate Vietnam era operations to current C-130 operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. Mike Washofsky, U.S.A.F., was a pilot who flew over 300 C-130 missions in Vietnam during 1968 - 1969.He was assigned in 1970 to Headquarters Military Air Command Vietnam regarding planning operational C-130 missions.

Maj. Thomas Sparr, U.S.A.F., was a pilot with the16th Special Operations Squadron, Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, from April 1968 to March 1969. Sparr deployed with the command element and two 13-man AC-130A Gunship aircrews--Maintenance and Support personnel-to establish the operational squadron for the AC-130 aircraft being tested by the USAF Aeronautical Systems Division. He flew night time search and destroy combat missions over Laos-Ho Chi Minn Trail-to stem the flow of trucks with supplies and ammunition destined for South Vietnam. He flew missions from Saigon in support of Army Special Forces Camps to discourage or suppress attacks by Viet Cong forces.

Capt. Ed Buyniski, U.S.A.F., was a pilot in Vietnam from March 1968 - Aug.1969 with over 300 C-130 missions.

Lt. Col. Mike Lantz, U.S.A.F., was a C-130 navigator on Vietnam flights from May 1971 to May 1972. Lantz flew from the Udorn, Thailand airborne command post at night over the Plain de Jars, Northern Laos-about 50 miles from the border with North Vietnam. His missions flew the "Allleycat" orbit, with takeoffs at 5 p.m. and landings at 6 a.m. the next morning. During one Alleycat mission the plane escaped from the only known MIG attack on a C-130.

From Dec. 1972 to March 1973 Lantz was stationed in southern Thailand involved with high level air combat air drops. His missions also dropped food and ammunition into isolated locations in Cambodia and Vietnam.

More more information on the 39th Airlift Squadron, see: http://www.afhra.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=10215


Image: Lockheed C-130. U.S.A.F. photo.
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