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34th Tactical Fighter Squadron - Thud Era

Korat RTAFB, Thailand - May 1966 to May 1969

Reunion 2014

September 23 through September 27 at Ft. Walton Beach, FL

John Wambough did a wonderful job hosting the reunion! Lodging was in the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort.

Who Was There

Doug & Christa Beyer
Larry & Mary Bogemann
David & Jan Carter
George Clausen & Margaret Head (daughter)
Vern & Scotty Ellis
Steve Falls (Clyde Falls son) & Jolie
Coy & Lynda Gammage; Cassie & Kevin
Tony & Brenda Germann
Dave Groark & Juetta Wells
Don & Ginger Hodge & Scott Hodge
Leon & Cheryl Hutchings
Dave Igelman
Bob & Joyce Jones
Jim & Joyce King
Ken & Gay Mays
Jim Metz Family (4)
  • Melissa Mathews (Daughter)
  • Charlotte McDaniel (Niece)
  • Karen Medley (Daughter)
  • Jim Metz, Jr. (Son)
John & Jo Murphy
Al Nelson & Pat Chase
Harry & Pat Paddon
Monty & Martha Pharmer & Jim Pharmer
Bob & Kay Reed
Mark Revers (Don Revers son)
Joe & Frances Sechler
Jake & Happy Shuler
Bill & Jane Shunney
Rick & Val Stratton
Homer & Pat Terry
Dave & Sue Waldrop
John & Brenda Wambough

Guest speaker General Charles "Chuck" Horner and his wife Mary Jo.

Summary of Reunion 2014

by John Wambough

Activities

Oasis Hospitality Room
National Aviation Museum
Lunch at Cubi Café Bar
Dinner at McGuire’s Irish Pub
Sea Blaster
Lunch at Dewey Destin Seafood
Air Force Armament Museum
33rd Fighter Wing—F-35
Destin Commons Shopping
Reunion Banquet

Our itinerary. Click a day for more details.

Wednesday, September 24 
7:45 A.M. - We departed the Ramada for the National Naval Air Museum the first event on our reunion itinerary. Our bus arrived at the museum at 9:30 A.M. We were split into two groups and both tours ended up in Hangar Bay One. Many people watched the Blue Angel 4D Experience which showed absolutely fantastic photography of the Blue Angels while in flight. Both tour guides were excellent. Many pictures were taken. We all did a great deal of walking but it was well worth it; exhibits of aircraft were outstanding.

Cubi Café Bar
We then proceeded to the Cubi Bar Café and dined in the West Pac Room. Service and food were excellent; circular tables allowed good conversation. Timing was just right so that people could attend the 1 PM “The Magic of Flight” Blue Angel IMAX presentation. Others visited the Flight Deck Store or more museum exhibits. Recommend the museum’s website: National Naval Air Museum.

The Cubi Café Bar is a replica of the Cubi Point Officer’s Club, Republic of the Philippines, that was closed in 1992 after forty years of operation. It displays the thousands of plaques and other memorabilia that adorned the walls of the original club as tokens of thanks from the Navy and Marine squadron members who transited though Cubi Bay. The prepaid lunch included one entrée, a non-alcoholic beverage of choice and a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie. We departed the museum at 2:15 PM to return to the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort. We took the scenic route home along the Gulf of Mexico from Pensacola to Navarre - so everyone could see the beautiful emerald colored waters of the Gulf. We arrived back at the Ramada at 4:00 P.M. Our schedule allowed time to rest up or relax in the Oasis hospitality room - prior to dinner at McGuire’s Irish Pub.

McGuires Irish Pub.
At 6:45 PM we boarded the bus in front of the Ramada for a quick trip to McGuire’s Irish Pub, advertised as one of America’s great steak houses. McGuire’s gave the 34th TFS VIP treatment by opening up the entire upper level of the restaurant to include a huge bar and dining area. We believe every- one had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the excellent food and camaraderie of the evening. To refresh your memory of the evening and restaurant, visit McGuire’s Irish Pub We arrived back at the Ramada at 9:45 P.M. and at that point, people pretty much decided to call it a night.
Thursday 
9:00 A.M. – We departed the Ramada for a short trip to the Destin’s Original Sea Blaster Dolphin Tours.

Captain Larry is a strong supporter of the military; he gave the 34th TFS a private tour on his newest Sea Blaster, a 73-foot custom built boat, one of the Gulf Coast’s largest speedboats; it can accommodate more than 100 passengers.

The Sea Blaster
The Sea Blaster departed the dock at 9:30 AM for an exciting two hour trip. Captain Larry gave us an incredibly good boat ride which attracted many Dolphins – some of which chased after the Sea Blaster. There were lots of laughs and everyone had great fun. Plenty of photos were taken of the Dolphins. I’ve been on the Sea Blaster many times and this was one of the best rides ever. To conclude our ride, Captain Larry dropped us off at Dewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant at 11:30 A.M. Dewey’s, located on the Bay by the Destin Bridge looking out to Crab Island, is known for its great seafood (why we went there).

At 12:45 PM – We departed Dewey Destin Seafood Restaurant by bus for a short trip to the Ramada to drop off or pickup as needed; then on to Eglin AFB where we visited the Air Force Armament Museum. Our arrival at the museum was 1:30 P.M. Members of the 34th TFS gathered to pay our respects to our fallen comrades, reminisce about days in combat flown almost fifty years ago (May 1966 to May 1969), and tour aircraft that many F-105 pilots had flown during their Air Force years of service.

At the museum, we sat down on chairs setup in front of the F-105D. We stood for the pledge of allegiance to the flag and then words were spoken that focused on the family members that came to this reunion to honor their father or family member who had lost their life. We talked about the F-105 pilots of the 34th TFS and the period in history when they grew up (WWII and ColdWar). To them, stopping communist North Vietnam from taking over South Vietnam seemed just as logical as stopping communist North Korea from taking over South Korea. Anyway, our F-105 combat pilots focused on stopping movement of supplies (North to South) that would be used against our military forces in South Vietnam. Note: Rules of engagement continually hampered execution of the air battle over North Vietnam. Ask any F-105 pilot about rules of engagement and you will get an earful. Purpose of my brief talk at the museum was to emphasize to the children of those who lost their Father that their parent went to combat to honorably serve the national security interests of the United States of America as defined by National Command Authority. Children should be proud of what their father did (taking very high risks) to fulfill his commitment to our Nation. Over 20,000 sorties were flown by F-105 pilots from Korat and Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Bases during the Vietnam War. Hundreds of F-105 aircraft were shot down in combat during the war. Some of the pilots were rescued, others became POWs and still others made the ultimate sacrifice – killed in action or died while in POW captivity. One thing never to forget, your Father loved you more than anything else in this world. He grew up at a time where honoring commitments and serving your country were guiding principles in how you lived your life. You should know that the 34th TFS pilots are delighted that family members of F-105 pilots, - we thought so highly of, – are here today. We thank each of you for honoring your father or family member; we welcome a pilot here today who flew 100 F-105 missions and was later shot down and became a POW; we also honor his wife who is here with us.

34th TFS Memorial Journal - Click for information

Joe Sechler read from the newly created 34th TFS Memorial Journal the names of deceased 34th TFS F-105 pilots, starting with those who were first lost in 1966 and coming forward with those who have passed away in peacetime through 2014. Each of the 79 pilots were honored with the dignity of a separate page in this hand-made, leather bound, field journal beautifully crafted by an amazingly talented calligrapher. Both the journal and the custom-made walnut case that protects it are a fitting tribute to these warriors. The inscription on top of the box is the last stanza from John Gillespie McGee, Jr’s famous aviator’s poem, “High Flight”. “
Inscription

Click any picture for a larger image.

Memorial Journal 2

The Memorial Journal in its custom, hand-made box.

Memorial Journal 2

The Journal in front of its box.

Memorial Journal 2

The inscription inside the cover of the journal.

Memorial Journal 2

Each deceased member's page is like this.

Joe Sechler’s reading of the names of the deceased was a moving ceremony everyone will remember. We thank him so much for bringing this journal and inscribed wooden case to our reunion. It is intended that a reading from the journal will be conducted at all future reunions, lest we forgot the sacrifices made by our Thud pilots and their families.
The Director of the Air Force Armament Museum, George Jones, welcomed us and introduced our tour guides who gave a brief presentation. We then proceeded to the F-105 for a group picture taken by a professional photographer, Mert Wagner. Excellent photos will be forwarded to Jack Phillips for display on our website, http://34tfsthuds.us/. During our photo session, Dave Groark was interviewed by Lauren Reinlie of the Northwest Florida Daily News. Dave’s article represented the pilots of the 34th TFS.

We split into two groups for our guided tour. Both groups experienced aviation warfare armament from the early days of World War I right through to today's high tech planes and weapons. Inside we found an extensive collection of weaponry and interactive displays. Outside static displays included vintage military aircraft such as the fastest plane ever built, the SR-71 Blackbird. The tour guides said they learned a lot from the F-105 pilots taking the tour since these pilots had actually flown many of the aircraft in the museum. To review what we saw on our museum tour, visit the museum website and exhibit section: http://www.afarmamentmuseum.com. At 4:00 P.M. We departed the museum and arrived back at the Ramada around 4:30 PM. The rest of the day was free time!!
Friday 
8:45 A.M. – We departed the Ramada for a quick trip to the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB. We arrived at headquarters at 9:00 A.M. Friday morning started a great day at the 33rd TFW. The briefings were excellent and focused on the various variants of the F-35 of which there are three: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL); the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL); and the F-35C carrier-based CATO- BAR (CV). The F-35 variants are intended to provide the bulk of manned tactical airpower for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy over the coming decades.

F-35 Flight
Our morning ended with a tour around a new F-35 aircraft. As we exited the academic building and approached the F-35, we were deeply honored by a “V” formation of F-35 maintainers, flanked by the American flag and the POW/MIA flag, and called to attention by their NCOIC who paid respects to the 34th for our service to our country after having had his element render us some mighty sharp salutes. Then, we had the opportunity to walk around the aircraft and ask questions of these highly skilled maintainers and one of the pilots who had given us a briefing. In the background were F-16s and F-35s in the overhead pattern accompanied by the sound of freedom you love to hear.

The 33rd Fighter Wing is a graduate flying and maintenance training wing for the F-35 Lightning II, The wing also has geographically separated organizations at Tyndall AFB and Hurlburt Field, Fla. Its mission is to train world-class F-35 pilots and maintainers, air battle managers and intelligence personnel. After having a great morning, we departed the 33rd TFW at 11:30 A.M. for the Ramada then Destin Commons for shopping.

12:15PM – Our Destin Commons trip was excellent. For further info go to http://www.destincommons.com -- The bus departed at 2:30 PM for a short return trip to the Ramada; thereafter, people had free time.
Friday Banquet 
At 6:00 P.M. we were at an Open Bar in the Ambassador Room (our banquet location) and at 6:30 P.M. our planned dinner serve time; however, there was a bit of a delay due to opening remarks and recognition of those responsible for this very successful reunion. There were two meal choices: Grilled Chicken Oscar or Grilled Amberjack both included salad, desert, and tea/coffee. In welcoming remarks, the host John Wambough recognized those instrumental in making this reunion a success.

Jake Shuler spent countless hours on the master registration list, tracking the events people would participate in, hotel registration, calling and emailing pilots and dozens of other things that resulted in this successful reunion. Jake and Happy Shuler were given loud applause for all their efforts to make this a great reunion.

Ken Mays hosted our 2010 Reunion and was able to give much valuable advice. Sometimes hosts, like me, come up with dumb ideas (like picking up everyone at the airport). Ken Mays said do not do it!

The question was asked: did everyone enjoy the 33rd TFW tour and F-35 experience? That resulted in resounding applause. Ken Mays set up the 33rd TFW tour from start to finish. I want to thank Ken for doing that; it was a great success. Also, know that Ken Mays and Gay prepared all the name tags. Ken and Gay received loud applause for all they did to make this reunion a success.

Joe Sechler spent effort putting together a Memorial Journal which he presented at the Air Force Museum yesterday. It was outstandingly well done and very well presented. Joe Sechler also had designed 34th TFS Mugs. They are absolutely beautiful and represent a great amount of time and effort in bringing them to you.

Another very significant thing Joe did was to contact a niece of Jim Metz, Charlotte McDaniel. As a result we have four family members of Jim Metz attending this reunion; they will be introduced later.

Joe Sechler and Frances were given a loud round of applause for their efforts in making this a great reunion.

At 7:00 P.M. dinner began to be served and introductions were completed.

The flow of the evening went well. Tony Germann told a touching story about the Flying W Ranch Restaurant in Colorado Springs (our 2012 reunion) when a young lady (having heard a tribute to the 34th TFS and F-105 pilots), came over and gave him a hug and thanked him for his service to country. As Tony recalled to all of us, we were not getting any hugs returning from Vietnam except from family members.

Tony Germann also told the story of how he took good looking shirts (while F-105 pilots were flying combat missions) and converted them into neckties. Larry Bogemann was not happy at all when Tony took a shirt that his wife had given him in Hawaii on an R&R and converted it into neckties. Tony met his match when John Murphy plotted to remove all the ties purloined during Tony’s tour and have them converted back to a shirt. The same tailor that Tony used to convert shirts into ties was used to take all the ties and convert them back to a shirt. The tailor thought this was hilarious; so did we! Tony topped his presentation off by asking General Horner to stand up. General Horner was wearing a very good looking Hawaiian shirt that apparently Tony had taken a liking to. Anyway, this generated a good laugh.

During the course of the evening, Joe Sechler toasted all family members that sacrificed so much with the loss of their loved one. Also, Joe thanked in behalf of all the F-105 pilots, the spouses who held families together in their husbands’ absence. Again, Joe was instrumental in getting four members of the Jim Metz family to this reunion. Each of these members has indicated that they really enjoyed the reunion and talking with F-105 pilots who knew and flew with their dad.

Ken Mays told the story of how the 100 Mission Snoopy Wagon came about. He built it along with another pilot. He talked about Bob Hope’s visit to Korat, along with Ann Margaret – and how he helped Ann get strapped into the Snoopy Wagon. Ann Margaret was not quite sure of Ken’s intent. Anyway, more laughs.

Guest Speaker General Charles (Chuck) Horner—See (biography) (USAF biography).
General Chuck Horner was our guest speaker and is really one of our own; he flew 111 missions in the F-105 over North Vietnam (41 in the F-105D and 70 in the F-105 Wild Weasel). General Horner talked about how lessons learned flying combat over North Vietnam were applied to winning Desert Shield and Desert Storm (the 1st Gulf War). We learned what to do and what not to do. One of the keys to success of air power is unpredictability; i.e., you do not run the same air campaign every day – you switch things out. We did the exact opposite in conducting the war in North Vietnam – everything was predictable which led to the loss of hundreds of pilots.

General Horner took lessons learned from the air war in Vietnam and forged them into one of the most successful air campaigns in history. Looking beyond the successful outcomes of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, General Horner touched on the significance of the first Gulf War in recapturing the respect and admiration of the American people for our soldiers and airman. General Horner knew how Washington politics and bureaucrats could damage the war fighting apparatus of the military and preclude effective execution of a war.

General Horner and General Norman Schwarzkopf briefed President Bush (the 41st President of the United States) on their plan for winning the 1ST Gulf War. Both the President and Vice President gave them clear cut goals for the war and the go ahead to win the war. They never interfered with prosecution of the war. General Horner mentioned that Vice President Cheney was a key supporter; he believed in letting the generals lead the war effort and instructed staff (that wanted to put their two cents in) to stay out of it. The result of having generals run a war is why we won the war quickly.

Of note, General Horner had a resignation letter ready to go if the civilian bureaucracy started to interfere with how the air campaign war was conducted. General Horner was very impressed with the fact that President Bush was not only concerned about the potential loss of life of our soldiers but Iraqi soldiers as well. One les- son of war is that if you win a war quickly and decisively, lives are saved on both sides – friend and foe. A devastating air campaign, orchestrated by General Horner, led to quick defeat of enemy forces.

Many salient points were made in General Horner’s talk. May I suggest reading “Every Man a Tiger” a book written by Tom Clancy with General Horner – to gain deeper insight into modern day use of air power.
We thanked General Horner for joining us and making our reunion very special. After General Horner’s talk, Ken Mays presented him (in behalf of the 34th TFS) with a personally hand-crafted wooden salad bowl engraved with a bird and inscription. Of course, General Horner’s wanted to know right away if the 34th TFS or Ken was giving him the Bird!!! Everyone laughed. As host, in behalf of the 34th TFS, I presented General Horner with two 34th TFS Mugs and thanked him, again, for joining our reunion and being our speaker.
The hosts closing remarks consisted of thanking General Horner and everyone for coming to the reunion and an announcement that the Oasis Room would be opening up so people could pick up their memorabilia; also, that breakfast would be at 8:30 A.M. in the Garden Café and planning for the next reunion would begin. It’s been great being your host; hopefully, we will see you all at the next 34th TFS Reunion. Good Night!
Saturday 
After breakfast in the Garden Café, Steve Falls (Clyde Falls’ Son) discussed the next reunion which he and his wife Jolie have volunteered to host in Seattle, Washington. There are a number of interesting things to do involving Boeing Aircraft Company and travel attractions for which Seattle is well known. Steve and Jolie are going to provide us with links to look at and then all of us will give them feedback on which activities are of most interest. We thank Steve and Jolie for volunteering to host our next 34th TFS Reunion. Steve is a little apprehensive given General Horner told him at dinner that hosting a reunion is a lot of work.

Note for Steve and Jolie: Rest assured each of us involved in planning and executing the 2014 reunion will be pleased to help you any way we can. Each of us knows: successful reunions are a joint effort. Thanks again for volunteering!!

Many pictures can be accessed via the links below.

Steve Falls (Clyde Falls’ Son) and his wife Jolie graciously volunteered to host Reunion 2015 in Seattle, Washington.

In Remembrance Of Those Who Served!