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Monday, 26 February 2007

Flight Instructors. Memories of Vietnam

This was a rather hazardous job. Spending one's time flying around Vietnam during the war with all the dangers attached was not to everybody's taste. We all had to do it to move from A to B from time to time but not on a daily basis. Some of the younger pilot's, and most seemed very young, were rather wild.
I knew a flight instructor from the Bahamas. His mother had been a racing car driver. I would have described both his parents as rather eccentric, although his sister was most pleasant. Anyway he had been sentensed to death in Cuba for gun running, had his sentense commuted to life imprisonment, and then had been released under the Tractor/Bay of Pigs deal with the Americans. I had tried to see him when I was in Cuba, but as he was in the Isle of Pines nobody was very helpful, and I had enough of my own problems at that time.
Jerry Degnan, another flight instructor went missing in 1967. There was an investigation as to where he had gone and nobody had a clue. Flight Instructors led their own program, rarely if ever, informing the office where they were going. If I had done quite a lot of unauthorised travelling by road, they did it officially by air, and nobody the wiser. And I had told my mother if anything happened to me she would know within twenty four hours.
I believe the mystery of his death was only cleared up a few years ago. There had been a mix up of bodies from a helicopter that had been shot down and as with many cases only a determined insistance by his family had resolved the issue. I felt our own HQ in Saigon had been pretty useless.

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