It was December 1969 and we were anticipating the holiday season at Binh Thuy. Back home there was a family event of significant importance. In mid-December Mike Jr. completed the army flight training program, which he began when I left for my second tour in Vietnam, and received his wings and rank as a warrant officer. He also received orders to go to Vietnam.
Mike graduated from flight school and celebrated his twentieth birthday, a situation similar to mine when I finished flight training twenty-seven years earlier. With a son who was a full-fledged army aviator, I should have asked myself what I was doing in Vietnam. I was flying combat missions as a "peter pilot" when most military aviators my age were drawing retirement pay. The majority couldn't pass a flight physical after twenty-seven years of military aviation duty. Although I'd been grounded when diagnosed with glaucoma, I received a waiver to continue flying.
I received a wonderful letter from Ethel telling me about Mike's graduation. She went to Hunter Army Air Field to pin on his wings and sent a picture of the two of them after the graduation ceremony. She was as beautiful and trim as ever, but Mike appeared to have put on a little weight. I figured that flight school must have been getting easier. I had been almost skin and bones by the time I graduated.
I was proud to have my son follow in my footsteps. I showed the picture to Ed Moate, Con Jaburg, and Buddy Barnes. They were delighted about the news that my son had received his wings but were noncommittal about his coming to Vietnam. I hadn't told anyone within my circle of friends that I had a son in flight training. Ethel's