Freedom isn't free: Charlie (My Dad) is the man in the middle with his arms folded.
On 4-7-73 we had been temporarily stationed at Da Nang for the previous week. We were to change crews on two aircraft the next morning. We had the aircraft ready for an ICCS mission to Lao Bao which is in the valley just south of the DMZ. The C-46 was very late getting there with our replacement crews and the ICCS mission was late leaving, so it was decided we would run the mission and worry about getting back to Saigon later. We had taken off from Da Nang with 12 to 15 people (comprised of ICCS people and North Vietnamese military as high the rank as General) on two aircraft heading to Lao Bao. About 15 minutes out....the inbound crews contacted us on the radio.....they said to return to Da Nang and they would fly the mission. Our two aircraft met the C-46 (#984), switched crews and we were off for Saigon as original plans. About 20 minutes after we left Da Nang, we heard the crews transmitting 'on guard'.........sounded like they were in the valley and there many SA-7s coming at them from their rear.......17006(Clark/Osterman) had taken a direct hit, 71-20117 (DeVoll/Hotchkiss) was damaged and landing in the valley. It sounded obvious to everyone, although cleared with NVA, that this was set-up.....and North Vietnamese Generals on board must have been expendable.
Thank you to all who have worn the uniform, protected us, fought for us, died for us and survived to remind us...Freedom is ours because of them!