Hot SGI News


 SGI "Losses" - Lt Col Ray Yagher, EWO/Hugh 'Wilk' Wilkins, Avionics Tech 


As relayed at our SGI reunion earlier this month, we're saddened to confirm the 7 Oct death of Ray Yeager, Stray Goose EWO, who served with us at Clark AB 1981-84. Ray's family has announced a celebration of Ray's life to be held Tuesday 25 Oct at the Eglin AFB Bayview Event Center (1018 Boatner Road). Services will begin at 1330 with social hour to follow. RIP, Talon comrade!

(Image thanks to Paul Hooper)

Ron Rowe has also informed us of the passing of Avionics Technician, Hugh 'Wilk' Wilkins back on 22 February 2020.  RIP our friend!


 SGI Reunion 2022 - An Unqualified  Success! 


Remembering Even 62, The 12 Man Crew of Acft #64-0558, Lost 5 December 1972


The weather was perfect and the turnout exceeded projections. Paying tribute to the Even 62 Aircrew, we welcomed the families of two of its casualties, LTC Donald (“Jug”) Martin and LT Douglas Thierer as our honored guests who, along with the hundred or so other attendees, enjoyed a weekend of fellowship, war stories, fun, and outstanding SC BarBQ.

We owe sincere gratitude to the event staff for their hard work and dedication pulling the reunion together and to all who contributed to its success. Special thanks to LTC Adam Schmidt, 15SOS/CC, and his staff who sacrificed their holiday weekend, inviting us into their squadron for updated SOF briefings and an aircraft display. For those who participated in our raffle/auction/50-50 event, I’m pleased to report your generosity covered all reunion expenses with some left over to add to our unit treasury.

(If you have any photos to upload, please send them along to Goose TJ)

The plan is to continue holding this annual event. The 2023 dates are 6-8 October at the same location. 

Papasan & Goose TJ


SGI Membership Roster Available!


 You can now download the SGI Membership Roster (a/o 30 Sep 22) after logging into the members' area. On the login page, note the password shown to open the roster and then click on the image to begin the download.

Enjoy; another service brought to you by your SGI staff!

Goose TJ


"SGI Times" Page Renovated!

The "SGI Times" page has been cleaned up and is now more easily accessible to our membership.  You can either read them online or download them for printing and offline reading.  If you are a member, you can access them by logging in (top right) and then clicking on the "SGI Times" link in the Members Only section on the left.  Enjoy; another service brought to you by your SGI staff!

If you run into any bad or "dead" links, please let me know.

Goose TJ


Database Update Completed


All members issued member numbers (normal, Associate, and Honorary) have had their expiration dates updated to 6/30/2040 and should now be able to log into the members-only section of the website.  This is in accordance with the Board's recent action eliminating annual dues.  If you are having problems logging in, please email the webmaster.


Be sure to read, AND ADHERE TO, the use restrictions on the log-in page before entering the members-only section(s.)


Goose TJ



As previously announced, due to declining membership and recognizing evolving priorities and dynamics, our Board of Directors has decided to eliminate yearly membership fees effective 1 July 2022. Accordingly, all those who have been assigned membership numbers will now enjoy permanent status with no annual fee. 

We will continue to hold quarterly meetings/annual reunions and will maintain online communications using our website and Facebook outlets. However, without annual fees, we will have to depend on donations and fund-raising efforts to cover our recurring annual administrative expenses (approximately $5,000).

We are exploring online methods of donation and will provide details as fundraising efforts are announced. For now, please contribute by mailing a check to SGI, PO Box 881, Shalimar FL 32579. If you prefer using electronic (ACH) bank transfer, indicate our PNC bank’s routing number: 083.000.108 and our account number: 31.6147.7196.

On behalf of our Board of Directors, thank you for your loyalty and continuing support. We’ve entered a new era, but together we will continue Maynard’s legacy by sharing our history, stories, and latest Combat Talon/MC-130/Stray Goose information.



S-59/564 Memorial Flight 2022

MC-130E 64-0564



Sent: Wednesday, March 2, 2022 04:05

To:; 'Lee Hess'

Subject: RE: [Non-DoD Source] RE: STRAY 59


Goose TJ, I’ve got a lot of great photos from the Memorial Flight and our PA made an outstanding video tribute. There is also an article that does a great job of capturing what we tried to do this year. I thought they might be worth posting as well.


The short version is that we wanted to really focus on the people. MSgt Chris Brewer, who led the initiative, designed this year’s Memorial Flight to represent the members we lost in 1981—and the lone survivor. Each member of the crew was the actual rank of a member lost on STRAY 59. The passengers are also represented not only in rank, but in service. This allowed us to share our heritage with our Army and Navy brothers and sisters. To represent our Australian and New Zealand partners we reached out to members of not only the 353d SOW, but the 18WG across Kadena Air Base.


Naturally, we dropped more than just a wreath this year. MSgt Brewer personally designed and fabricated some special offerings, including a tablet with the dog tags of each lost member embedded in it. And my aircrews had more than a few bottles, patches, coins and a cigars. It’s truly amazing to see how much of an effect this event has on everyone, whether they’re new to the community or seasoned vets.


Every day in Command of this awesome unit is humbling. Proud to lead the Geese!



Beyond Remembering How Stray-59 Continues to Shape a Squadron/



Very Respectfully,


Commander 1st Special Operations Squadron

Kadena AB, Japan


Mt. Pinatubo Respiratory Problems??

Dave Erteschik, EWO, recently wrote: "I would be curious if you hear of any members who mention if they have any respiratory issues that they think may be related to the volcano eruption. I had a CT scan last month and they found some scarring and nodules in my lungs and asked me if I was ever exposed to metal filings, asbestos, etc. I know the ash had metal and rock, but I haven't heard of long-term problems. There may be no cause and effect on this, but was wondering if there were others encountering this now. Thus far, nothing debilitating, but they just found it."

Please email Dave if you have any information that might help him with this.


Database Update Completed

Our database has now been brought up to date. Please sign-in, review your personal data,  and send me an email ( if your data requires correcting.  After 30 June all members holding an SGI member number will be able to check their data regardless of dues status.

I should have the SGI email connectivity and full access to the database info (rosters, etc.) back up and running in the near future.  Please be patient; I'm moving as rapidly as possible (within certain SGI-imposed constraints) to get this website back up and running.


Goose TJ




30 Dec 21 - And, a Happy New Year! 


Goose TJ & Birdshit



31 July 21 - New Mail Box Address



For those of you who haven't mailed us recently, our new mailing address is (due to the Hurlburt base post office closing a while ago):

PO Box 881

Shalimar, FL 32579




SGI BKK Reunion - June 27, 2015

TILAC on Soi Cowboy


FUCK - What happened?


I clearly remember the RZ with OD.  As planned he was at the Tilac Bar sitting on the corner of an outside table holding a bottle of Singha in a condom (all pre-arranged).  The long range signals worked as planned.  I asked if he was a retired officer (challenge) he responded "fuck no, I work for a living" (response) all as planned and pre-arranged.  It gets hazy from this point forward. 

Thank Bhudda and the beer gods OD was wearing a 1984 Cobra Gold T-shirt.  Otherwise Daniel (we still don't know who the fuck he is or was) would have never appeared.  But these things are supposed to be spontaneous. Anybody can have a well-planned and boring reunion it takes complete strangers and a lot of beer Singha, with tequila sidecars, at the front of the Tilac bar, with Yings in short skirts, to make a good one.

So Daniel joined Team Mekong at the RZ table.  His inputs to the discussion topics were short and predictable as the night moved on -  "18 Delta - Green Beret, Sir".  And that's all Daniel said all night at 20-minute intervals until he stumbled off the table and into the moving mob on Soi Cowboy.

Shortly after Daniel was welcomed McAnus, the British Auxiliary Unit, showed.  Still not speaking real English and with no idea how an RZ or recognition signals work.  But he immediately bought more beer.  The reunion was launched.  Sometime later, an individual, I think named Brian showed up.  Maybe Brian claimed to be a friend of McAnus and a former British Tank driver. Somewhere in the evening it came out that his real nom-de-saloon was 'Bastard's Brother', which is a hell of a lot better sounding name than Maybe Brian.   So Bastard's Brother was inducted into the Team Mekong British Aux.

Beer Singha and tequila shooters punctuated with gropes exchanged with Tilac Bar Maids continued and were looking promising until Bucklin (aka Bucky), now calling himself Scot showed and was soon followed by Ms. Birdshit ( this one has a Thai marriage lisc). McAnus then revealed that Ms. McAnus (also with a Thai marriage lisc) was in a prowl car on Soi Asoke waiting for trouble.

So we plowed into the Beer Singha and the tequila shooters. The tequila was a really bad idea. But we were sure the fuck all getting handsome.   (Note:  Not having any encounters with alcohol since early January, the tequila, for myself, was a brain shot.) 

Then the subject of commander came up, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  Only one name was checked off as qualified for all three.  It was a tie in the categories of Good and Bad (Grapes, T, Prater, Mess, Yankme, TJ and a couple of more in a tequila mist).  But when Ugly was thrown in it was a clear decision.  I defended Yankme and pointed out how much better he was than say a Casteel type, but the other members of Team Mekong were insistent, and with Daniel's input Yankme carried the vote.  A congratulatory napkin for Yankme was filled out with a Chicken Shit nomination, but barmaid #43 made off with all of it.  After explaining this to the two Brits they announced they were going to the head to take a Casteel.  (Explanation pending).

The attributes of bar maids  #22, #36, #18 and #98, as well as their asses, were then reviewed and voted on.  # 22 was a clear favorite and there was a tattoo on her tit, the left one I recall. I did not actually participate in the selection, nomination or appraisal of any of these Team Mekong sweethearts for reasons stated above.  #98 was immediately recognized as a Two Dogs candidate and she/it was chased away from the RZ table.  That was the last mention of Song Mah (2 Dogs).   

Chickenshit awards were then nominated and unanimously approved for all former EWOs except 'All The Way Live', 'Hamburger' and 'Bloom'.  Near this point Big Red was brought up.  A recon of the Soi Cowboy bars confirmed that her twin sister was still hanging on the wall three bars or six down from the Tilac (photo attached).

Myself and OD were then recognized as being the two members of Team Mekong who were in the 1SOS when it moved to Clark and in the squadron/wing when it moved back to Kadena. 

Then there followed a review of favorite squadron wives, the Good, the Bad and the Nasty. (Note: this input in all three categories is still classified.)  However, none of them were directly associated with the hired help at Uncle Mitch's.  The Brits called bullshit after the second Flame / Uncle Mitch story claiming no one that drunk could drive a pickup or anything.  OD countered that Der Flame could do all of that and FLY.  There was a toast to Dave and Linda Smith.  Then another one to Linda.

Ms. Birdshit and Ms. McAnus then decided they and the ATMs were leaving.  McAnus had to work and Birdshit was on a morning train to Hua Hin.  Scot and OD were last seen with #22 and #36 trying to communicate the different possible combinations of 4.

In summary, the most accomplished was deciding to label this a pre 2015 Team Mekong Reunion with the real one to be scheduled and run without Daniel, tilacs or wives (with or without Thai marriage lisc) on Saturday, 19 September, same location and with #22.  Final planning on 18 September.


Chief Scribe


The SGI BKK DET FWD aka Team Mekong, announces its 2015 Reunion.




Team Mekong was founded in 1994. Charter members were  OD, Boone, Clanton, and our  British Para Liaison - McAnus.  Current members are OD, Bucky, Clanton and our British Para Liaison McAnus.  We have no idea were the fuck Boone is.  Obviously our membership criteria is very select, your handle has to start with an O, C, B or Mc.




Attendees should review the online SGI Times to get the idea of what a Team Mekong Reunion is about.


This will be  a beer drinking, ying groping, bar fining, bad boy corner, coin check, no shit Mekong bar brawl affair.  TOT is 1900 hrs Tilac Bar.  Soi Cowboy is the target LZ/DZ.  Alternates will be between Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza.   Don't come if all of that and more doesn't appeal to you and/or your participation will reflect badly on your  promotion potential.   Chicken Shit awards will be published by Team Mekong for everybody we can remember that fails to show up. 

Attached invitation and posters are provided for SGI News publication.






Webmaster's Note: Here you go!  Better late than never.

Combat Talon Memorial Approved

Dedication Ceremony 24 April 2015



Official AF Video


Mike Tribble's Take on the Ceremony


Hi Guys,

Well, just a short 2 months and it will be time for the October, SGI  Columbus Day Weekend Reunion. I got my ACA magazine just the other day and I had written an article for the Air Commando Association on the CT Memorial Ceremony on April 24th, 2015! It didn't make it in, I thought I would send my humble piece of writing to show my side of the event. I hope to see you at the reunion this October!

Ssgt. Rich Hovan

Crew Chief 

CT MC-130E 


Call Sign "Charlie"

"Dum spiramus tuebimur"



Recap of the 21st Annual Reunion - "SGI-2014"

25th Anniversary of 353rd SOW

Friday-Sunday, October 10-12, 2014

View Rich Hovan's Reunion Slideshow

Once again, our annual Stray Goose reunion was an unqualified success, as we enjoyed good weather, great food and an outstanding exchange of war stories, which seem to get more colorful each year.   I owe special thanks to the local reunion "committee" who year after year help pull all the loose ends together - from Thursday's setup to Monday's teardown.  This year we managed to live without running water, due to the housing area construction to the west, but the only serious annoyance was the difficulty some had finding the portable toilets after the sun went down.  (Chem lights helped find the target, however).

Total weekend attendance was well over 100 as we welcomed a number of new members and first-time attendees -- among others, Vern and Kay Hays, Mel and Shirley Hendrickson, "Wilk" Wilkins, Dennis Novy, and Jeff Blohm.  Also attending were Stray Geese we haven't seen for a while -- "OB" and Sue O'Brien, "EJ" Worles, Pete Dawson, Ronny Buss, James Hilton, Jeffrey Miller, Bill Rose, Dave Skinner, and Tony Winans.  Traveling the greatest distance were Dave and Annette Payne, who once again made the journey from Glenns Ferry, Idaho, but just beating out Sam and Phyllis Galloway from Albuquerque for the prize (nothing).

-- Special thanks to Neo Ned Calvert and Freddie Frederick, who arranged a spot-on Saturday morning agenda at the Special Operations School with 3 outstanding presentations and the Air Park tour.

 -- As usual, we had a  fantastic auction, raffle and 50-50 drawing. Thanks to YOUR GENEROSITY and to those who contributed items for the event (Rich Hovan, Joe Gambiani, Heather Lewis, Brian Lewis, others) (Kangaroo Balls??) and to Lynn Lewis and her �ticket sales team�, we raised an additional $2000 for the Special Ops Warrior Foundation.  This years total contribution to that deserving charity: $7500! - up from $6000 last year!  Thanks, folks -- You're truly making a difference in the lives of the children who lost a parent in a SOF Operation. 

-- Kudos again to the reunion �team� and especially to Larry Sutton (and his 'helpers') for the outstanding Carolina BarBQ and hush puppy dinner Saturday evening.  Larry�s �pig roast� -- the trademark of our reunion -- is special, a treat that brings us back together year after year.  That, and the entertainment provided by "Dirtbag."

-- Mark your calendar now � SGI Reunion �15 dates are 9-11 Oct, during which we�ll commemorate the raid on the Son Tay prison compound (1970), the 25th anniversary of AFSOC's foundation (1990), and we'll remember Operation Eagle Claw and those we lost during that operation in 1980 - 35 years ago. 

351 days and counting down - mark your calendars and watch for details on our web page and on Facebook!


Papasan and your Board of Directors

Webmaster NOTE: Only about 40 of the 120 or so SGI members in the local area turned out for the reunion.  Hopefully, we will have a better showing than 1/3 of our local area membership at future SGI reunions!



Our Reunion 2014 T-Shirt Logo

Compliments of Jay "Birdshit" Clanton

Personal Data WARNING!!


Your SGI has been alerted by the membership to a potentially dangerous release of personal data on our members. 


In recent weeks, we have received reports of at least three empty envelopes being received (via US Mail) by various SGI members with a return address attributed to other SGI members.  In all cases, none of the return addressees were involved with the mailings. 


More disturbing, however, is that the recipients (and in some cases the false return addressees) had their SSANs, email addresses, and home phone numbers clearly shown on the outside of the envelope.  We are fairly confident that this information DID NOT come from a hacking of our database (I cannot disclose how we know this).  Furthermore, we do not have access to, nor do we store on our site, any member's SSAN!


All impacted members that we know of have been informed.  The AFOSI and Santa Rosa County (FL) Sheriff's Office are investigating this security breach.  If you have received one of these envelopes or are informed that you sent one of these envelopes, please do the following:

1. Inform SGI immediately; include a photo copy of the envelope if possible.

2. Forward the original envelope to SGI for follow-on forwarding to the investigating authorities:

SGI/P.O. Box 9355/Hurlburt Field, FL 32544

3. Monitor your credit reports and IRS filings closely.

1st SOS News


1st SOS Welcomes New Commander




6/24/2014 - Lt. Col. Shane Vesely, 1st Special Operations Squadron incoming commander, accepts the guidon from Col. Benjamin Maitre, 353rd Special Operations Group commander, during a change of command ceremony on Kadena Air Base, Japan, June 2, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer)


Back To New Zealand


Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:23 AM
To: Lee Hess
Subject: New Zealand Article


I scanned in an article from the base paper about our recent trip to New Zealand. The title got cut off, but it says "Pacific Air Commandos Return to New Zealand." We had a great time down there. I hope you are well.



Commander, 1 SOS


Webmaster Note: You can read the official AF story here.

Col. Bernie Fisher, MoH Winner, Passes Away


From: David Payne []
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2014 8:56 PM
To: Lee Hess; TJ Doherty;
Subject: Colonel Bernard F. Fisher Funeral

Papasan and TJ,

Just thought you'd want to know that today I attended the funeral service and Idaho State Veterans Cemetery service, with full military honors, for Colonel Bernie Fisher. Inasmuch as the heroic actions for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor took place while he was a member of the 1st Air Commando Squadron in Pleiku, I took it upon myself to represent Pacific Special Operators, past and present, in paying last respects to this patriot. I know the 353rd SOG has a room dedicated to him at Kadena. I was friends with two of his sons, Courtney and Robbin, while in the AFROTC program at BYU in the mid 70's, and had the distinct honor to know their father. As is typically the case at funerals, there were some great anecdotal stories shared about this gentle man. Here's one I'll pass along, as related by his son, Robbin.

"In the late 60's, while stationed in Germany, Dad took the family to Paris to the biennial Paris Airshow. He hooked the tent trailer to the back of the car, and off we went. We opened up the tent trailer in the parking area of the airshow, and the tailgate made a perfect place for us to sit and take it all in. While we were watching the airshow, a couple of guys came by, apparently disoriented as to their location.
One of them climbed up on the hood of our car to try and figure things out. When Dad saw him, he went up to the front of the car and told the guy to get down off of the car. Dad didn't speak any French, and the guy apparently didn't speak any English, so he just stayed up on the hood. Dad told him two more times to get down, but with the same result. So finally, Dad just pushed the guy down off of the hood of the car. At this point, the guy came up with his fists raised, ready to teach Dad a lesson. It was at that point that he noticed the six of us brothers lined up behind Dad. He quickly re-thought his plan and went on his way without further incident."

By the way, Papasan, Annette and I were standing with Dale Smith during the cemetery services, then Dale rode back to Glenns Ferry with us.

Although I may not be a mainstream SOF guy on a daily basis, I try to do the right thing by us all. I was honored to bid this great warrior a farewell from all of us.

I've attached the .pdf of the funeral service program for you to look over.

Annette and I are looking forward to the reunion again in October.

Until Then Best Regards,
Dave Payne



Combat Talon 1 1965-2013

Our own Ron Rowe has updated his video and brought it forward into the 21st Century - I think you'll like what you're about to see!


You Tube Comments on the Video:

Dear Sir, Thank you so much for taking the time to make this slide show. My father was a navigator in the SG-6 crew of this squadron. I was very young when my Dad was in Vietnam and as he never talks much about it, I never really knew until now what y'all did, nor did I realize how intregal what you did was to lives of so many American men. Thank you for sharing how brave and courageous my father and all of you were and still are, and thank you for your service, now and then.
Patty Wolfenbarger

Great video, My dad retired as one of the original members of this Det 1 and flew on some of the aircraft depicted in this video. It still amazes me to hear the daring missions these men and their wonderful flying machines took on, and continue to do so today. Rest assure, as the sunrises somewhere in the world, one of these aircraft are returning from a long night of low level flying.
Frank Spence

S-59/564 Memorial Flight 2014

Squadron continues tradition of honoring fallen comrades


MC-130E 64-0564




From: Lee Hess []
Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 10:56 PM
Subject: Re: Stray 59 Memorial

Well done, Mike - to you and all involved. My thanks for keeping a very important tradition alive. We'll never forget.

Goose 1 (#15)

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 7:25 PM
To: Lee Hess
Subject: Stray 59 Memorial


I wanted you to know our Stray 59 Memorial flight yesterday was a success. I promise to send some photos as soon as PA processes them. We launched out of Kadena and performed our airdrop over the crash site before heading to Clark to refuel and RTB. We dropped a wreath, some whiskey, Goose coin, and some letters. It was gorgeous day off the coast of Subic as we did our two passes. Anyway, we were honored to have the opportunity to honor our fallen Stray Goose brothers. Again, I'll send photos ASAP.

Mike Jackson
Lt Col Mike Jackson

View previous years' articles on S-59/64-0564 Memorial Flights


1Q/2014 SGI Quarterly Meeting Attendees

Friday, January 10th, 2014 - Location: Sunny's Dog House



Good gathering at Sunny's Dog House.  Thanks for the beer John Reading!! 


Attendees were: Front Row: Dave "Hardnuts" Hardy, Ken "NoDick" Dolnick, Larry "Slut" Sutton, Larry's new grandson, Willie "Dirtbag" Guerttman; Middle Row: Lee "Papasan" Hess, Frank "Silver Fox" Szemere, Guy "Stoney" Stone, TJ "Elmer Fudd" Doherty; Back Row: Ron Hickman, Mike "Sunny" Sundberg, Ronny Buss, Dave "Wolf" Wolfkeil, Dave "Iceman" Smith.



SGI Reunion 2013 Recap

October 11th-13th, 2013

"SGI - 20 Years & Last MC-130E Operational Mission"


From: Lee Hess []
Sent: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 10:30 AM
To: TJ Doherty (MC130)
Subject: Reunion '13

SGI Reunion 2013 Recap.

Great Weather, Great Food, Great Turnout! � all in all, one of the best we�ve had in our 20th year (or maybe our 21st � or 22nd).  One annoying electrical power glitch, but other than that, and with special thanks to the local reunion �committee�, it was one to remember.   Total attendance was 155 as we welcomed four new members (Paul Shireley, Jeremy Bergin, Rod Bosh, Joe Gambiani) and quite a number of others who we haven�t seen for a while (including JIm Hobson, Dave Sims, Mike Warbis, Sam Galloway, Dave Payne, Ron Jones, John Karutz, John MacNeil, Paul Hooper, Danny Rivera, Rick Hollowell, Geno Roessling, Mark Finlen, others).  

Highlights of the weekend:

1)  We welcomed a special new member to our group -- Cynthia Harris McCrary, who traveled here from her home near Nashville Tennessee.  Cynthia�s father, Jack, was the flight engineer on the crew lost in the mission over North Vietnam in Dec 1967.  She was happy to have the opportunity to speak with those who knew her father and promised she�d be back next year and be a frequent attendee after that.   

2)  Due to the government shutdown and Hurlburt �closure�, we had to conduct our Saturday symposium at the picnic area, not at the 15SOS as planned -- thanks and kudos to Ned Calvert and Freddy Frederick, who adjusted and pulled it off � no problem.  

3)  We had a fantastic raffle and auction.   Thanks to those who contributed items for the auction and raffle (TJ, Dirtbag, Ron Rowe, Banzai, others) and to the John Lewis Family �raffle ticket sales team�, we raised an additional $1700 for the Special Ops Warrior Foundation.  This years total contribution to that deserving charity: $6000!

4)  Some of our members traveled to Duke Field Saturday where, thanks to the 919th SOW and especially to LTC Tom Miller, they were able to walk through the facilities were Jimmy Doolittle conducted the training for the WWII B-25 raid on Tokyo.

Special thanks again to the reunion �team� and especially to Larry and Norma Sutton for the outstanding Carolina BarBQ and hush puppy dinner Saturday evening.  Larry�s �pig roast� has become the trademark of our reunion � a special treat that brings us back together year after year.  Mark your calendar now � SGI Reunion �14 dates are 10-12 Oct, during which we�ll commemorate the 25th anniversary of AFSOC foundation (1989). See you then!



1st SOS/CC Update

Papasan and SGI,

Greetings from Okinawa and the men and women of the 1 SOS.  Rest assured, it�s been another busy year and the Stray Geese continue to do great things.  We�ve flown missions in the PI, Indonesia, Australia, Thailand, Korea, Guam, and Japan.  We�ve also supported OEF, supporting OEF-P out of Zamboanga in Mindanao and with a crew flying in Afghanistan early in the year.  In all cases our crews have executed to Talon standard, on time and on target.

A couple notables for the year, the squadron has added helo and tilt rotor air refueling to its repertoire, with half our birds typically having pods installed at a given time.   We�ve also started flying a lot more formation, including simultaneous NVG landings.  In Afghanistan our deployed crew flew repeated IMC combat airdrops and SCAs.  We completed JCETs and JCS counter-terror exercises and a higher headquarters inspection.  In the latter, the 1 SOS shined, with more recognized superior performers than any other squadron.  To top it off, the 1st was named the SOG�s squadron of the year.

The next 12 months will be just as busy.  We�ve got members deploying to OEF in Afghanistan and OEF-P in the PI.  We have exercises planned in Korea, Guam, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, the PI, New Zealand, and Alaska.  A great year ahead no doubt.

For our six hard crews, we�re up to Goose 69 on the board, with a few more potentials in the lineup over the next few months.  The men and women of the 1 SOS continue to be what makes our squadron truly special.  Your Stray Geese continue to be a tight knit family, professional and tactically up to any challenge. 

We look forward to keeping in touch and wish you and the SGI all the best.


Mike Jackson, LtCol, USAF

Current Goose 01

Praetorian Starship #16 Available

Hi, TJ

I was a pilot on S-26, by way of introduction. What I wanted to run by you is that I just got my renewal sent in and acknowledged. You ask for news for your �News� section. I would like to put in a note saying that I have #16 of 100 of Col. Thigpen�s book The Praetorian Starship. I wouldn�t mind selling it, and would like to hear from people who might be interested, but I don�t know if this would be appropriate for the website. I have a copy of the text on my computer; they make it available for free online. But this is a special volume. It�s black with gold lettering, autographed, and it�s in pristine condition. I don�t know where to list it; it�s too esoteric a volume for the market to be very large. it being the history of the Combat Talon program, it pretty much needs to be one of us to really appreciate it. One of my crewmembers from 26 suggested I let the Air University at Maxwell or the SOCOM office in Tampa know about it. (He didn�t want it). Let me know, if you would, how I can approach this.

Dave Patton

Webmaster Note:  Anyone interested in buying this book, please contact Dave directly at


Russ Feldt Checking In


Firstly, as a new member of the SGI association, I would like to say hello to all of you. I was stationed with First Flight at Nha Trang Vietnam from January to December 1971. We were sister flight to the 90th SOS and were actually attached to them for awhile. We took care of the ECM equipment on the Blackbirds as well as our own C-123 Bats. The tail numbers of the Talons at Nha Trang at that time (according to my research) were 64-0523, 64-0555, 64-0567 and 64-0568 (this one left in July).

Secondly, I would like to ask your help on a project I've undertaken: I'm building a detailed 1/72 scale model of one of the Combat Talon aircraft (64-0555) as it was in 1971. This model will have a fully detailed cockpit, Talon compartment and cargo area. I remember a lot about the plane and have managed to collect some photos but they lack a lot of detail. There are two areas inside that I'm not clear on - the Talon compartment layout and the cockpit main panel.

I remember that there were consoles at the front of the cargo bay for the sensors operator, radio operator, EWO and (I believe) left navigator. I'm not sure about these positions and who sat where.

For the cockpit area, I need to know if the main instrument panel was laid out in the standard C-130 format with some additional instruments to support the covert mission, or was already upgraded to the Talon I layout.

Below are a few pictures of my progress so far. The first two show the lower flight deck area and the TO rack. The last one shows the top of the fuselage from the cockpit back to the wings removable so the interior detail can be seen.



Again, greetings to all of you and many thanks if you can provide me any information.  You can contact me at

Russ Feldt, MSgt (Retired)

From: Russ Feldt []
Sent: Sunday, July 28, 2013 12:13 PM
Subject: Pictures of Nha Trang 1971

Hi, TJ,

I finally located some of my pictures of Nha Trang and our compound (see attached). If it's not too much trouble, maybe you could add them to my post. I very much appreciate it!




Black Market Goods


Camp McDermott - Nha Trang


Compound looking towards Club


ECM Shop, Nha Trang

Theater Area, Nha Trang


Family Dinner

Me with "Lifer"


Son Tay Raid Aircraft Displayed at Cannon


Spectators gather near the Combat Talon I, Cherry One, during a ceremony officially welcoming the retired aircraft to its new home by the front gate of Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., June 28, 2013. The Talon flew point in the largest covert operation of the Vietnam War, the Son Tay Raid, to rescue Prisoners of War. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jette Carr)


by Senior Airman Jette Carr
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

7/2/2013 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The 27th Special Operations Wing held a ceremony to celebrate the official new home of Combat Talon I, Cherry One, near the front entrance of Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., June 28, 2013.

If the retired aircraft could speak, it would undoubtedly have many hair-raising and death-defying exploits to share. Perhaps, though, the most intimidating story it could tell is that of the Son Tay Raid, the moment this particular Talon cemented its mark in time during a Prisoner of War rescue mission in the Vietnam War.

The notorious MC-130E was given a voice during the Cannon ceremony by way of several original crew members who flew the craft during the famous raid. Together, the veterans reminisced, chiming in with details and reminding each other of the moment they leapt into the history books.

Retired Lt. Col. Irl "Leon" Franklin, the Talon's pilot, recalled the day he was recruited to play a part in the Son Tay Raid.

"We got word from Headquarters [U.S. Air Force] to provide a crew for an unknown, classified mission," said Franklin. "They expressed my name specifically, and that of another fellow, a navigator, by the name of Tom Stiles. The rest of the crew was to be chosen from the 7th Special Operations Squadron."

It was a joint-service operation of the utmost secrecy -- formulated like a puzzle. Only those with a need-to-know were told how the pieces fit together, leaving most participants in the dark. Each group, from the flight crews to the army rangers, practiced specific combat maneuvers, all the while speculating what their mission would be.

According to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, an assortment of aircraft trained for the operation, including six helicopters, five small attack planes and two large support aircraft. All unknowingly prepared for a raid on a POW camp in North Vietnam, where intelligence analysts believed 55 prisoners were being held.

Eventually, the mission was briefed to all and they flew what was to become the largest covert operation of the Vietnam War on the night of Nov. 20, 1970.

Flying point under the call sign Cherry One was the faithful Talon 0523, prepared to lead a team of helicopters in close formation. However, as it would happen, all was not smooth sailing for the military bird as the mission started off with what the craft's copilot, retired Maj. William Guenon, called a "Murphy" moment.

"In any good, secret and dangerous mission deep behind enemy lines, there's usually a few surprise 'Murphy' moments to be dealt with along the way, and this will always be the case no matter how much development and training is done," Guenon said. "Our mission was no exception. After having flown Cherry One for more than four months with absolutely no serious issues, on the night of the raid, her number three engine would not start. We lost 21 minutes before we finally, using the double-starter-button-trick, got number three to start."

Once airborne, the crew modified their route to make up for lost time and caught up to the already in-flight formation. Upon reaching their destination, the Talon crew began to drop flares on the sleeping prison camp below, lighting up the area for other aircraft that destroyed Son Tay's defenses and landed inside the fortifications to begin the raid.

Cherry One then flew up the road away from camp and dropped fire crackers to simulate a ground fire-fight in an effort to deter North Vietnamese reinforcements. Finally, Cherry One was to drop a couple napalm bombs, which would burn bright and serve as a reference point for five A-1E Skyraiders and Cherry Two, another Combat Talon I. The first bomb went out on point, but it was the second that gave the crew of aircraft 0523 a bit of a problem.

"Another anxious moment that will always remain with the crew of Cherry One was when our second napalm bomb was armed, got hung up during airdrop and would not leave the aircraft," said Guenon. "You can believe we all had our individual visions of what nasty things could happen, and you can be sure none of these thoughts were very pretty. That derelict napalm was finally jettisoned by using negative G's and an old-fashion, and properly timed, heave-ho by our highly motivated ramp crew."

Though they were prepared for nearly every kind of hiccup in the mission, there was one moment that no one saw coming. During the raid a message came over the radio that simply stated, "No packages."

"When they said negative packages, I never knew what that meant," said Tom Eckhart, head navigator on Cherry One. "I said, 'What's that'; and they said, 'No prisoners.' That was quite a letdown because that was our purpose, but later on I found out it was worthwhile because I got to speak with several people who were prisoners in Vietnam and each one told me that I saved their lives. That made it all worthwhile."

"They were told over and over again, 'Nobody will come and get you; they don't care about you; they have forgotten about you, and you're here forever'," said Eckhart. "After the Son Tay Raid, they [the POWs] found out that we did come for them."

Because of the raid on Son Tay, North Vietnam gathered all POWs together in one location, fearful of a repeat attack. It gave men who had been in isolation for many years the ability to communicate with one another - they were no longer alone.

In Secret and Dangerous, a book by Guenon containing a first-hand account of the rescue operation, was a letter from a Vietnam POW, retired Brig. Gen. Jon Reynolds, who expressed the importance of the Son Tay Raid.

"While the rescue was not to be, the success of the mission and its importance for American prisoners in North Vietnam should never be understated," said Reynolds. "Its impact on us was positive and immediate...morale soared. The Vietnamese were visibly shaken. Even though not a man was rescued, the raid was still the best thing that ever happened to us."

After the mission was completed, the crew parted ways with their Talon, though they found they had become quite attached. At their craft's retirement, the Vietnam veterans were glad to see Cherry One, not in the bone-yard or buried in a museum, but prominently displayed at a special operations base.

"Our bird, Cherry One, aka 64-0523, is a larger than life C-130E(I) - one of the first, and has been operating in the shadows around the many hot spots of the world, she's always brought her aircrews safely home," said Guenon. "When not stemming the tide of communism, she, in the dark of night, quietly pursued those fanatics who still wanted to harm the U.S. Indeed, for a large-sized aircraft, this is certainly no small feat."

"By displaying a proven special operations legend at the Cannon Air Force Base front gate, aircrews can see and realize the true spirit and proud tradition of the Son Tay Raid from so long ago," Guenon continued. "Hopefully her example will influence others to succeed in spite of great odds." (Click here for story on Cherry One's departure from Duke Field)

352nd Special Operations Group Welcomes Osprey

7th SOS Converting to CV-22B

1st SOS LAST Overseas Combat Talon Unit!


RAF MILDENHALL, England -- The 352nd Special Operations Group resurrected a key capability when two CV-22B Ospreys touched down June 24 here. The Ospreys are the first of 10 slated to arrive as part of the 352nd SOG expansion, which will last through the end of 2014.

The CV-22 fills part of the role previously accomplished by the MH-53 Pave Low helicopter. However, it combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical-landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel-efficiency and speed of a turboprop aircraft.
This new acquisition to the 7th Special Operations Squadron enhances the unit's ability to rapidly respond across greater distances. (Webmaster NOTE: I just have to question the veracity of that statement!  Are you telling me that a CV-22 is FASTER than an MC-130H???  I certainly hope that AFSOC has a better reason for removing the MC-130H from the European theater than that Whiskey-Delta excuse.)

"It brings a new capability to the (European Command) theater that hasn't really been here for a while, and I think that was when the MH-53 (Pave Low) departed, the vertical lift piece of this departed with it," said Lt. Col. Chris Goodyear, the 7th SOS director of operations.

The CV-22's arrival here further solidifies the enduring partnership between U.S. and U.K. forces. Forged out of the need to unite during World War II, U.S. and U.K. forces formed a bond that has stood the test of time.

The 352nd SOG expansion allows the two countries to continue working together while benefitting from more modernized equipment and additional personnel. Being stationed in the U.K. simply allows U.S. forces to work with their coalition counterparts and train in an overseas environment.

"The arrival of the new aircraft is the next chapter in a 70-year historical relationship the U.S. and the U.K. share," said Col. Christopher Ireland, the 352nd SOG commander. "While this is a new airframe, we are still operating under the same parameters previously set by Her Majesty's government. We are partners with the Ministry of Defence and follow U.K. aircraft regulations and restrictions. We set high standards for our people, and we are committed to being good neighbors."

The 7th SOS executes night, adverse-weather, long-range insertion, extraction and resupply operations. The squadron can also support noncombatant evacuation and humanitarian relief.

The aircraft's speed allows it to reach its objectives faster than its predecessor and is a proven combat asset. In addition, when in airplane mode, the aircraft is quieter than other rotary wing aircraft, which is beneficial when over hostile territory.

"It gives you access to places that you normally wouldn't have with a fixed wing aircraft," Goodyear said. "The unique thing about the CV-22, unlike our rotary wing partners, is it has the speed of a fixed wing platform. So you kind of get the blend of the best of both worlds. You have the speed of a fixed wing, and you have the vertical lift capability of a helicopter."

The arrival of the CV-22 marks the start of a new chapter in an enduring partnership, but also is the dawn of a new era in which modernization and increased capabilities are a reality for 352nd SOG Airmen.


Jun 26, 2013|Air Force News| by Tech. Sgt. Stacia Zachary

Looking for Information on S-01's Jack McCrary

Hello my name is Cynthia McCrary-Harris. I am currently researching my Father's career on a timeline basis. I was born at Sewart AFB in  1958, so I assume my Father was in the 314th while we were  stationed there. His name is Jack McCrary and at the end of  his career he ended with a rank of Chief Mst. Sgt. His plane and crew  went down over Nth. Viet Nam in '67. He was stationed in Nha Trang at the time of disappearance....Hopefully someone  will know his name and contact me to further my education  about his career, any photos, any comments, etc. After  Sewart we were stationed in Charleston for 6 years...As far  as I know he always flew the C130. His plane was 64-0547  S-01 crew in Nha Trang. After 40 years I am finally  able to open up the wound of heartache and total loss of my  Father. We all know the perils of war and the atrocities  that accompany it. Now I want to educate myself concerning his career and logistics. Would certainly like to  hear from past comrades and friends that may be living, he  would be 81 years of age now.  My name is Cynthia Harris, 131 Needle Crt.,   Nashville, TN 37214, (615)-578-8742 or   


Best Regards,



Webmaster NOTE: Anyone who can help Cynthia in her search, please contact her directly.


353rd SOG, Batcats, Get New Commander

Former 1st SOS Pilot, 7SOS/CC and SGI Member, LtCol Ben Maitre



U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ben Maitre, 353rd Special Operations Group commander, receives the guidon from Maj. Gen. George Williams, Air Force Special Operations Command vice commander, during the 353rd SOG assumption of command on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 10, 2013. Maitre most recently served as a National Defense Fellow at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photos by Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer/Released)


Batcats welcome new commander
By Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer
353rd Special Operations Group Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Members across Team Kadena joined the 353rd Special Operations Group to welcome a new leader.

Lt. Col. Ben Maitre assumed command of the 353rd SOG during a ceremony held here May 10. Maj. Gen. George Williams, Air Force Special Operations Command vice commander, highlighted the group's recent accomplishments before passing the 353rd SOG guidon.

"Your accomplishments showcase your unfaltering dedication to the mission, the capability to sustain excellence and an ability to undertake America's toughest security challenges at any time and any place," Williams said. "It's safe to say that the 353rd Special Ops Group is revving on all cylinders, and Colonel Maitre is the perfect individual to assume the controls and continue this tradition of excellence."

Before arriving at Kadena, Maitre was a National Defense Fellow at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., where he was responsible for coordinating varied diplomatic initiatives while assigned to the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. He has commanded joint special operations forces in combat in Iraq, along with the 7th Special Operations Squadron in Royal Air Force Mildenhall. He has flown more than 4,000 hours in the MC-130H and HC-130H and has also been an aircraft commander, instructor and evaluator pilot in the Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Although he is new to the island, this is not Maitre's first time at Kadena. His operational Air Force career began here while assigned to the 1st Special Operations Squadron in 1998, so he returns with the knowledge of the vital role the 353rd plays here in the Pacific.

"While we as Americans face the challenges of a complex and dynamic global arena, as Pacific Air Commandos, our posture toward those opportunities is ultimately straightforward," Maitre said. "I charge each of you to give the best of who you are so that this group may make the most of you. Our continued success demands nothing less."


You can view the online article to include more photos at:


Seven Summits team reaches peak of Mount Everest

USAF 7 Summits Team members at Camp 4.

(Courtesy of USAF 7 Summits)



by Heather Uberuaga, courtesy of Seven Summits Team
Air Force Safety Center Public Affairs

5/22/2013 - KIRTLAND AFB, N.M. -- On May 19, the U. S. Air Force Seven Summits team reached Mount Everest, the highest point of the world, 29,035 feet. This success marks the first time a team of military members from any nation has reached all seven summits: Mount Elbrus in Russia, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, Mount McKinley in Alaska, Mount Vinson in Antarctica, Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, and Mount Everest in Nepal.

The team included:

Maj. Rob Marshall, 34, a CV-22 acceptance pilot from Mercer Island, Wash., currently stationed at Bell Helicopter in Amarillo, Texas.

Capt. Andrew Ackles, 29, a TH-1N instructor pilot from Ashland, Ore., and stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala.

Capt. Marshall Klitzke, 30, a KC-135R pilot from Lemmon, S.D., currently an instructor pilot at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Capt. Colin Merrin, 28, a GPS satellite operations mission commander from Santee,
Calif., stationed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

Capt. Kyle Martin, 29, a T-38/F-16 pilot from Manhattan, Kan., currently stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

Staff Sgt. Nick Gibson, 36, a Reserve pararescueman and physician-assistant student from Gulf Breeze, Fla., stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.

"Fifty years after the first American boots stood on top of the world, the first American military team has followed in those footsteps," said retired Col. Rob Suminsby, USAF Seven Summits team support. "The team unfurled the Stars and Stripes and the U.S. Air Force flag on the summit right after 5 a.m. in Nepal."

Though unable to make the journey themselves, Suminsby and Maj. Mark Uberuaga, co-founder of the USAF Seven Summits project, supported the team at home by keeping the blog updated and relaying key messages to friends and family members of the team.

"We were all on this journey with them. The day they took off for the summit we received 12,000 hits to the website," said Uberuaga. "The Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark Welsh, commented on one of the blogs a couple days prior to the summit attempt. The team knew the entire Air Force was rooting for them. I know they carried that with them to the top."

The 7 Summits Challenge began eight years ago when Wrath 11, an Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130H 'Talon II' crashed in Albania in March 2005.
"Rob and I had been planning a climb of Mount Elbrus in Russia, which is the highest point in Europe, before the crash," said Uberuaga. "We decided to dedicate the climb to our fallen friends. It was something we could do to honor them and it helped us deal with the loss."

As the planning continued, Marshall and Uberuaga decided to launch an effort to climb all of the seven summits to raise funds and awareness for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a charity that provides full scholarship grants, as well as educational and family counseling, to the surviving children of special operations personnel who lose their lives in operational or training missions.

Two of the climbers, Capt. Colin Merrin and Staff Sgt. Nick Gibson, turned back before the summit due to illness and concerns over frostbite.

"These guys deserve a huge amount of credit, as they made one of the toughest decisions a climber can make, turning around short of the summit," said Col. Suminsby. "Both made a good decision to turn back. The team was committed to safety throughout the process, and their actions are shining examples of how to do the right thing even when it's disappointing and not easy. A lot of people have been willing to sacrifice fingers or toes to reach the summit, but this team defined success from the outset as bringing everyone back in one piece."

Key to the team's success was including risk management in the planning and execution process. All members of the team are trained in risk management and use the principles in their day jobs and while mountaineering.

"The Air Force Safety Center has been a strong supporter of this effort," said Suminsby. "They recognized early on that this is an opportunity to promote a risk management mindset in all Airmen."

Learn more about this effort by going to USAF 7 Summits Challenge at



MC-130E, Combat Talon I Farewell



62-1843(L) & 64-0565(R) following their final operational flights from Duke Field, FL on August 15th, 2013



64-0562(L) & 64-0568(R) following their final operational flights from Duke Field, FL on August 15th, 2013.

Webmaster NOTE: 568 never got airborne due to a prop low oil light!


From: "Lee Hess" <>
To: "Miller, Thomas E LtCol USAF AFRC 919 SOW/XP"
Cc: <>; <>
Sent: Wednesday, May 01, 2013 9:19 AM
Subject: Re: Copies of Speeches?

She served us well. From her early days in Heavy Chain to the 711th - a genuine treasure.

Sent from my iPhone
On May 1, 2013, at 8:49, "Miller, Thomas E LtCol USAF AFRC 919 SOW/XP" wrote:

> 1843 just departed for AMARG, very sad ...
> Lt Col Tom Miller
> 919 SOW/XP

From: Lee Hess []
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 10:02 PM
Subject: Posted to SGI Facebook

I posted this on the SGI Facebook page today. Perhaps you could include in your next 'hot news' update.

A/C #64-0551 departed for DM (Boneyard) today at 0900, A/C #62-1843 departs on Wed, 1 May 0900. A/C #64-0565 and #64-0568 will depart on 6 May, and the last one A/C 64-0562 will fly out 14 May. At that point the Talon I history book will have its last chapter written. I'm proud to be a part of that history -- no other aircraft in US inventory has served with more distinction! As I mentioned at the ceremony, from the earliest operations in Vietnam to the most recent missions in Operation Enduring Freedom, throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, Central and South America and the Middle East, these birds have compiled an enviable, .... and most likely never to be duplicated, .... string of successful missions that changed the battlefield picture over and over again. In most cases, the credit for these successes has been given to the aircrews who flew the missions. But the credits do not stop there, but must extend to the personnel behind the scene whose hard work and dedication made those missions happen --- our dedicated crew chiefs, all other aircraft maintenance personnel, and those from supply, transportation, security, intel, admin, medical, and other support activities. YOU ALL deserve much credit and heartfelt thanks as we say our final goodbye to the Chariot of Armageddon.


Farewell Combat Talon I (From AFA Daily Report)

A "massive crowd" turned out at Duke Field, Fla., to bid farewell to the Air Force's five remaining MC-130E Combat Talon I special-mission airplanes, marking the end of the aircraft type's nearly five decades of service, according to a base release. "Today we say goodbye to a trusted friend, more than a machine to those who flew her, but a faithful and reliable partner," said Maj. T.J. Kollar, an electronic warfare officer with Air Force Reserve Command's 711th Special Operations Squadron, during the April 25 retirement ceremony, according to Duke's April 29 release. The five MC-130Es were adorned with American flags and lined up for viewing, states the release. The MC-130Es flew their final sorties from Duke on April 15. They will take to the air one last time in mid-May when they fly to the Air Force's aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., for retirement. The Combat Talon I flew its first combat mission in 1966 and participated in all major US conflicts since then, states the release. New-build MC-130J Commando IIs are replacing the MC-130Es for special-mission roles like covert infiltration and exfiltration of special operations forces. (Duke report by TSgt. Samuel King Jr.)


Air Frame: Against the backdrop of an MC-130E Combat Talon I special-mission aircraft, an Air Force honor guard presents the colors at Duke Field, Fla., during the retirement ceremony for the service's remaining MC-130Es, April 25, 2013. The Air Force operated the Combat Talon I for nearly five decades. (Air Force photo by TSgt. Samuel King Jr.) (Click on image above to reach wallpaper version.)



Air Force bids farewell to Combat Talon I (click link for pictures)

By Tech. Sgt. Samuel King Jr.
919th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs


DUKE FIELD, Fla. -- "Blackbird fly... into the light of a dark, black night."

The Beatles somber, fitting refrain closed the MC-130E Combat Talon I's retirement ceremony here April 25th, completing the "Blackbird's" almost 50-year career with the U.S. Air Force.

The 919th Special Operations Wing hosted the ceremony because the last five Air Force Talon Is sit on the Duke Field flightline. They were aligned for viewing and adorned with American flags for the ceremony. The birds will take flight only once more when they leave for the "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., by mid-May 2013.

"Today we say goodbye to a trusted friend, more than a machine to those who flew her, but a faithful and reliable partner. You have served well, my friend, and we are grateful for your nearly 50 years of service," said Maj. T.J. Kollar, a 711th Special Operations Squadron Electronic Warfare Officer, during the invocation.

A massive crowd turned out to the little base to pay respect and remember the Talon I on the 33rd anniversary of the Operation Eagle Claw mission to the Desert One landing site, an attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran. The lead aircraft on that mission, Aircraft 64-0565, was parked at the hangar doors and served as a backdrop for the ceremony.

Retired Col. Ray Turczynski, a former 1st Special Operations Squadron commander and a pilot on the second Talon to land at Desert One, recounted the story of the mission that revitalized special operations after Vietnam.

When the Combat Talons returned to Masirah, Oman, after the Desert One landing, a group of British military personnel brought the dejected Combat Talon aircrew members a case of beer with the following inscription hand-written on the package: "To you all, from us all, for having the guts to try." That motto became the impetus for the rebuilding of special operations forces in the U.S. military, and is the true legacy of all Combat Talon members past and present, according to Turczynski.

Surrounded by pictures, mementos and displays, including a Fulton Recovery System, Lt. Col. Tom Miller, the master of ceremonies for the retirement, explained the various nicknames the Talon had earned through five decades. They were the Praetorian Starship, Chariot of Armageddon, Blackbird, Stray Goose and the Pterodactyl.

Retired Col. Lee Hess, former commander of the 1st SOS as well as other SO positions and a Talon pilot, read statements from former pilots and active commanders, who wanted to honor the warbird.

"Though it is time for engine shutdown, our Talon I mission is not done, for in us lives a legacy of fights yet to be won," said Maj. Gen. Brozenick, the commander of Special Operations Command Pacific, in a statement read by Hess.

After reading the statements, Hess saluted "the guys who made it happen" - the maintainers and all of the support people; that comment brought the crowd to its feet with applause.

The keynote speaker, retired Maj. Gen. James Hobson, a Talon pilot and former commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, reminisced about the "good old days" and the early career of the Combat Talon. He also told his story of airdropping troops into Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury.

Lt. Col. Daniel Flynn, Commander of the 711th SOS, spoke about the 919th SOW's role with the historic aircraft from Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom to humanitarian missions after Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake. The 919th SOW will leave its 40-year C-130 mission behind and transition to an Aviation Foreign Internal Defense mission flying C-145A Skytrucks.

"Thank you for always bringing us home safely," said Kollar. "Take your leave. You've earned your rest."

The Combat Talon I flew its first combat missions in 1966 and since has participated in all major U.S. conflicts. The newer MC-130H Combat Talon II, and the MC-130J Commando II, will carry on its legacy and mission of infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces and equipment.

"All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free. Blackbird fly."



From: Danny Nunn []
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 1:47 PM
To: 'Lee Hess'
Subject: Thanks

Good Afternoon Lee,

Well, I think Rich has already beat me to this but I just wanted to also say thank you for the recognition that you gave to all of the maintainers over all the years and only wish there could have been more there to receive it. After the ceremony that was one of the first things that we had talked about and over the years, to our knowledge, we had never had anyone to do that and for sure had never had anyone to ask flight crew members to stand and acknowledge that. We really appreciate what you did and thank you very much.

I have already emailed Col. Miller today to thank him for making sure that everyone was made to feel welcome at the ceremony and also to let him know of one particular airman that he has there and that is Sgt. Krist Devenney. We have been keeping in contact with Krist since they brought �568� over for the static display at our last reunion in October and when we met up with him on the tarmac the other day the first thing he did was present me with a plaque showing the year that I was crew chief on �568� back at Nha Thrang. I was totally shocked to say the least and then he had me put my signature and year on the inside of the nose gear door.
This was a ceremony for some of us that we will never forget and thanks to people like you, Col. Miller, and Sgt. Devenney hopefully we will not.
Thanks again,

Danny Nunn

From: Rich Hovan

Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2013 10:09 AM

Subject: Combat Talon 1 Retirement Program

Program From Combat Talon 1

Retirement Ceremony





Air Force Combat Talons fly for last time (Click link for pictures)
by Tech. Sgt. Samuel King Jr.
919th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

DUKE FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) -- The Air Force's last four MC-130E Combat Talon I's spread their wings for a final mission from their home at Duke Field on April 15.

The Talons will be officially retired in a ceremony at Duke Field on April 25 and the aircraft will then be flown to the "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.,. April 25th commemorates the 33rd anniversary of the Desert One mission to free the Iranian Hostages - several of the MC-130E's at Duke Field took part in that mission.

"This is an emotional and historic day for the Airmen of the 919th Special Operations Wing," said Col. Andy Comtois, 919th SOW commander. "Since our inception, the 919th SOW has primarily been a C-130 wing and, for almost 20 years, a Combat Talon wing. We will miss these great warbirds."

The four Talons took off as two 2-ships carrying more than 40 of the Wing's Airmen who had a long association with the Talon I's and wanted to be a part of the historic final flight.

"I was glad we were allowed to be a part of it," said Tech. Sgt. Lora Huett, of the 919th Force Support Squadron. "The best part was when they opened up the ramp and took people back to sit on it. It was a beautiful view."

Chief Master Sgt. Tom Mason, the wing's new command chief, flew his last mission as a loadmaster on Aircraft 54-551. The chief transitioned to the loadmaster career field when the Talons arrived at Duke in 1995.

"I've had many great missions over the years both at home and in war," said Mason. "I don't know that I could have planned a more honorable way to end my career as an enlisted aviator than with the last flight of the mighty Combat Talons."

The final flight and the upcoming retirement of the Talons are large steps in the continuing transition to the new Aviation Foreign Internal Defense mission for Air Force Special Operations Command. More than five of the wing's new aircraft, the C-145A, already populate the Duke flightline.

"As our future mission emerges, we must say goodbye to the past," said Comtois. "The sun has set on the Talon mission. The 919th looks forward to a new aircraft and a new mission. Our Citizen Air Commandos are more than ready and capable to take on this new challenge."

The MC-130E made its first Air Force flight in 1966 and has taken part in every major U.S. conflict since. The Talon's primary mission was to provide infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces and equipment in hostile or denied territory.

Secondary missions include psychological operations and helicopter and vertical lift air refueling.

John Gargus Writing Book on S-01


From: John Gargus []
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 9:06 PM
Subject: Book on S-01 crew

This msg goes to Les Smith, Dick Sells, Lee Hess, and Rich Hovan.

Thank you for your quick response to my quest for photos on early Stray Goose Combat Talons.

Lee referred to my future book as being on the Son Tay raid. That is not correct. This book, that does not yet have a title. (publishers reserve the right to alter or coin a title for whatever they decide to print) The book will focus on the loss of the S-01 crew. You already know something about my involvement in it. Consequently, it will be written from my perspective.

To make it more general public friendly, I will begin with the Stray Goose Talons. How did they come to be? How the aircrews trained in them at Pope? What was their mission in Vietnam? How was it like to live at Anh Hoa? When and where did we loose the S-01 crew? Then that part of Combat Talons in Vietnam will stop once I rotate back to Pope. Then the book will focus on the S-01 memorial and how we learned about the crash discovery. Why wasn't the special ops commands in PACAF and Hurlburt informed about the crash site discovery? Then I will write about my quest for that answer. I will address the unprecedented effort the JTF-FA and CILHI in Hawaii expend in bringing the Americans home and how they handle the identification of remains. I visited both organizations and later on received much useful information through the FOIA. This part of the book will shed much light on why it took so long to bring S-01 crew home. It will also explain why there were so many glitches in the DOD communications that left out the special ops community.

I am looking for color photos that show the Fulton recovery and Stray Goose Talons in a TFR flight. I would love to have a photo that will show a wing tip clearance to terrain that goes higher than the aircraft flight level. Tethered balloon training Fulton recovery would be nice to show how we reused the balloons.

Since I will be describing Anh Hoa as it was during my time, it would be nice for me to give you guys some credit. How did you come by the power generators, truck with the water tank trailer. Who hired the cooks. Why did we have Chinese for hotel guards. Also do you know anything about the set up we have for groceries with the commissary in Saigon. How about the Class vi stock? What were your major challenges in gettin such fine facility established. I would welcome some comments like that.

Thank you for your interest and I hope to communicate with all of you.

John Gargus

SGI On FaceBook!


A must see! Papasan has done a fantastic job advertising us on Facebook.  Just click the link below to view it:


Air Commando Journal to feature Combat Talon I


From: Lee Hess
Sent: Saturday, March 09, 2013 1:43 PM
To: TJ (MC130)
Subject: Notice for the Web Site

(From Dennis Barnett) "Looking to focus the Air Commando Journal on the Talon (primarily T-1) in a couple issues. Looking for articles and ideas and possible authors. Could you distro to your SGI members?

As for articles we like to have pieces on significant historical missions, medal winning efforts, personal anecdotes about efforts that went above and beyond. Want to highlight the people aspect as much or more than the machine itself. Mt Pinatubo evacuation, reconstitution of the 1st SOS at Kadena, move to Duke and missions by the 711th, etc etc. Some that are not SGI specific are 7th SOS interface with 47 SF, Viet Nam missions, BLU 82 and leaflet drops in DS, etc etc. I know there are lots more aspects that could generate an article. 2-3000 words seems a good fit but will take any and all. More pictures is better."

I told Dennis that we would forward his idea to our members. I'll also mention this at the 12 April meeting.


S-59/564 Memorial Flight 2013

Squadron continues tradition of honoring fallen comrades


Air Commandos remember STRAY 59
By Tech.Sgt. Kristine Dreyer
353rd Special Operations Group

Kadena Air Base, Japan -- No matter how painful it is to remember or how easy it is to forget, one special operations squadron makes it a priority each year to remember its heritage and to honor those before its members now who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

As an annual salute to their fallen comrades, a crew from the 1st Special Operations Squadron returned to the crash site of STRAY 59 Feb. 26 to drop a wreath in honor of the eight crew members and 15 passengers who were killed 32 years ago off the coast of the Philippines.

"It's important to look toward your heritage," said Capt. David Monico, 1st SOS navigator. "We look toward the future a lot in the Air Force, but it is also important to go backward and see the people who have come and to honor those who have given their lives for the cause."

On Feb. 26, 1981, after completing 12 missions during a 16-day exercise hosted by the U.S. Navy SEALS, the crew of an MC-130E with the call sign STRAY 59 began its final mission to extract a joint multinational special forces team from Naval Air Station Cubi Point, Philippines.

With no indication of problems with the aircraft, the STRAY 59 crew made a call to the ground radio station to report normal operations six minutes into the flight. Minutes later, a local fisherman saw the 1st SOS Combat Talon I hit the water and explode. The crash left one survivor, the electronic warfare officer, who was thrown from the aircraft and rescued by a fisherman.

The aircraft sank 250 feet shortly after hitting the water, leaving little physical evidence for an investigation.

The crash that took 23 lives may have left the small Talon community with unanswered questions of how the accident happened, but there is no question concerning why STRAY 59 will forever hold an important place in 1st SOS history.

"It's a dangerous business that we work in," said Staff Sgt. Jerred Sevold, 1st SOS loadmaster. "To be a participant in a ceremony like this just reminds me of the danger of our job and what it is that we are ultimately here to do."

The 1st SOS members lost Feb. 26, 1981, during the STRAY 59 crash were Maj. James Kirk, aircraft commander; Capt. Norman Martel, pilot; Capt. Thomas Patterson, navigator; Capt. Gregory Peppers, navigator; Tech. Sgt. Stephen Blyler, radio operator; Tech. Sgt. Barry Chumbley, loadmaster; Tech. Sgt. Gary Logan, loadmaster; and Staff Sgt. John Felton, flight engineer.

The 15 passengers lost were:
From the U.S. Air Force
Senior Airman David Bingaman, Senior Airman Glenn Bloomer, Senior Airman James Bach and Airman First Class Kyle Wells.

From the U.S. Army
Sgt. 1st Class Danny Janecki, Staff Sgt. Patrick Estel, Staff Sgt. Davis Hagen and Sgt. Bryan Broadwater.

From the Philippine Navy
Radioman Petty Officer 3rd Class Rodrigo Penol and Seaman Manuel Dumo.

From the Australian Army
Sgt. Ewen Miller, Sgt. Murray Tonkin and Signalman Gregory Fry.

From the New Zealand Army
Warrant Officer 2nd Class Dave Heywood and Sgt. Dennis Terry.

Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 6:31 AM
Subject: RE: S59 Memorial Flight Request

Col Doherty,

Sir, thanks so much for looking. I sure wish I had deeper collections. Here are the links to the photos from the stories over the last four years. This year's photos should be coming out very soon. I'll forward them when TSgt Dreyer completes her work.

2013 Memorial Flight

2012 Memorial Flight
2011 Memorial Flight
2010 Memorial Flight
2009 Memorial Flight

Stephen Ove


'Son Tay' Talon flies into history


Master Sgt. Kent Castro marshals out an MC-130E Combat Talon I to its final flight at Duke Field, Fla., June 22, 2012. This particular MC-130E, tail number 64-0523, is now at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., where it is slated to be a static display at the base�s airpark. Castro works with the 919th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samuel King Jr.)

by Tech. Sgt. Samuel King Jr.
919th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

6/27/2012 - DUKE FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) -- After more than 23,500 hours of flight and approximately 47 years in service, the MC-130E Combat Talon I known as the "Godfather" left the ground here for the last time June 22 for its ultimate mission.

The aircraft with the tail number 64-0523 took off for its final resting place -- a special operations airpark at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.

"It's always sad to see these significant aircraft retire," said Col. Anthony Comtois, the 919th Special Operations Wing commander. "There's so much history behind these old birds, not just for our wing, but for both special ops and the Air Force. They've been a part of the Air Force's involvement in every major conflict for the last 40 years."

The Godfather is one of four Combat Talons retiring from Duke Field this year as the 919th SOW begins its transition toward the new aviation foreign internal defense mission.

"Change is always difficult, but it's a good thing," said Comtois. "Our wing is continuing to transform and grow to support the special ops mission."

More than 40 Airmen and retirees with connections to 0523 lined the flightline area to see the Godfather off. The aircraft's nickname came about just after it arrived here in 2000. Duke Airfield was the last of four bases 0523 was stationed at through the years.

"There were four of us who were maintaining it when it first arrived," said Rick Andreozzi, the crew chief of 0523 for nine and a half years and who gave the Talon its iconic name. "We all came from New England and had Italian heritage ... that's how the name came about."

Of the many combat sorties in which the Godfather took part, one will always be remembered as part of special operations history.

On Aug. 21, 1970, 0523 flew lead on the Air Force assault force that brought Army Special Forces Soldiers to Son Tay to raid a prisoner-of-war camp and rescue any detainees. Prior to the raid, the Soldiers involved trained for the mission at Duke Field.

"We weren't making war, but leading a humanitarian mission deep into the heart of the enemy," said William Guenon Jr., the retired Air Force pilot who flew 0523 on the Son Tay raid mission 42 years ago.

Although no POWs were recovered in the raid, the mission forced North Vietnam to gather POWs in fewer locations to prevent similar raids, making POW communication and organization easier. POW morale was said to have soared after word of the raid reached other camps. Later, one POW recalled that "...the Son Tay rescue attempt dispelled all doubt: We were not forgotten; our country cared."

The Son Tay raid was one of the most complex and dangerous missions of the Southeast Asia war. It laid the groundwork for future joint forces operations by serving as a model of organization, cooperation, and flexible execution, according to National Museum of the Air Force documents.

The mission "is a permanent reminder for one faced with an impossible mission, to know it can be done with proper planning, training, and execution," said Guenon. "Hopefully it will serve to inform, motivate and even inspire others to achieve that special goal."


An MC-130E Combat Talon I lifts off for its final flight from Duke Field, Fla., June 22, 2012. This particular MC-130E, tail number 64-0523, has the distinction of leading the Air Force�s assault force during the Son Tay Raid to rescue prisoners of war in Vietnam in 1970. (U.S. Air Force


SonTay Raid Fact Sheet

Digitizing Images Redux


From: Ron Rowe []
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2012 3:24 PM

Subject: Combat Talon 1 Digital History

Hello TJ/Papasan:

Per our conversation recently about expanding the DVD video presentation.  Anyone who has pictures/videos of the Talon 1 aircraft and crew shots from 1966-present can send them to me at or mail to:
Ron Rowe
2077 Bourbon Street
Foley, Al 36535

The highest resolution possible please...
If someone has slides or photos and wants to digitize, I will do that for them at no charge and return The originals to them plus a DVD of their slides/photos....
It would be helpful if they could identify the tail #'s, Location, Dates, and outfits in the photos as it adds to the presentation.
My idea is to have one DVD with Chapters around 10yr increments. 1965-'75. 1976-'86, 1987-'97, 1998-2008, 2008-present or something around this idea.


Update: 9/20/2012: Ron has completed his most recent update to this effort and the results can be viewed at


Were You There?

Do You Remember?


From: JCC
Sent: Saturday, March 17, 2012 10:09 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: La Union during earthquake

A slow Sunday and I noticed this photo had sustained some water damage from a leak sometime during a previous typhoon.

It was shot by me from the control tower in San Fernando during the earthquake relief operations in the summer of 1990.

The airfield had a MOG (Max on Ground) of 2. This photo shows 4-53's, a civilian (Abotiz C-130 - white wing tip in right middle frame) and a SOS C-130 on the ground with one more SOS C-130 on final approach. A civilian helo in in the grass behind the 130 on the right as FARRP (refueling) ops are going on. The blade of a UH-1 is visible in lower right.

On one of the days we had 28 fixed/rotary aircraft on the ground at the same time, including 4 C-130's. At one point that day we brought a C-130 from 21st TAS in between a C-130 on one side and a CH-47 on the other side. There was about 12-18 inches clearance wing tip-to-wing tip on one side. On the other side a crew member from the 47 climbed on top and turned the rotor manually so the wing tip didn't hit it. I seem to remember Orozco and Mickey Wright doing the marshalling. A C-130 crew member got off after it stopped and yelled: "What the fuck was that?" Mickey smiled at him and said "Miles of room, sir.....miles of room" and then he went back to work.:-)

We did break a few rules, but they just kept sending planes in even when we said we couldn't handle any more. In the end, we only shut down for a short period when President Aquino's aircraft failed to follow the marshallers and shut down in the center of the ramp.

Just more shitty days in paradise...



S-59/564 Memorial Flight 2012

Squadron continues tradition of honoring fallen comrades

Squadron continues tradition of honoring fallen comrades

NEAR CAPONES ISLAND, Philippines -- Staff Sgts. David Wardell (left) and Ian Macgregor, both loadmasters with the 1st Special Operations Squadron, prepare to release a wreath in memorial of STRAY 59 while aboard an MC-130H Combat Talon II Feb. 26. The flight was to honor fallen brethren that were lost 31 years ago when a 1st SOS MC-130E, call sign STRAY 59, crashed during an exercise killing eight crew members and 15 passengers. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke P. Beers)


by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram
353rd Special Operations Group

2/28/2012 - NEAR CAPONES ISLAND, Philippines -- A 1st Special Operations Squadron Combat Talon II crew departed from Kadena Air Base Feb. 26 on a unique mission to commemorate their fallen brethren who were lost 31 years ago when a 1st SOS MC-130E, call sign STRAY 59, crashed during an exercise killing eight of nine crew members and 15 special operators that were passengers.

The crew flew more than three hours to reach the exact coordinates of the crash site to release a ceremonial wreath in commemoration of the sacrifice made by the men of STRAY 59 Feb. 26, 1981. The memorial flight has been flown every year since the tragic accident and the crew members are grateful to pay tribute to their fallen comrades.

"Each year we fly this mission to honor the crew of STRAY 59 and their special operations brothers that perished that fateful day over 30 years ago," said Lt. Col. Andrew Lewin, the 1 SOS commander. "Our fallen comrades helped build the heritage of this unit. This flight is a small way for us to pay tribute to those Air Commandos that came before us."

The members of the 1 SOS share their commander's feelings toward their unit and the crew of STRAY 59, and feel a great sense of pride in honoring them. This is especially true for the crew members who have flown these memorial flights in the past and the aircraft commander for this year's flight.

"I am deeply humbled to honor our fallen brothers and their families," said Maj. Jeremy Bergin, the aircraft commander. "As the squadron's 59th Combat Talon II crew commander, I carry the call-sign GOOSE 59 and unfortunately this is my last flight with the 1st SOS. Some may not realize how important heritage is, but it means a great deal to me. We can't understand where we are headed if don't know where we have been. I can't think of a more fitting way for me to pay tribute than for one 59 to honor another on our last flight with the 1st SOS. I am filled with a great deal of pride to carry on this tradition and carry the call-sign GOOSE 59."

"This flight has great significance, not just to me, but to the 1st Special Operations Squadron and the Talon community as a whole," said Staff Sgt. Ian MacGregor, a 1 SOS loadmaster. "I am deeply honored to be a part of this and proud to honor the fallen."

In February 1981, crews from the 1 SOS were responsible for the airlift during Special Warfare Exercise 81, an annual joint exercise in the Philippines hosted by the U.S. Navy SEALS. The squadron established an Air Force Special Operations Base at Naval Air Station Cubi Point, Philippines, and crews flew day and night missions involving low-level, psychological operations, infiltration and exfiltration of forces.

Maj. James M. Kirk commanded STRAY 59 and a crew from the 1 SOS that was responsible for a total of 12 missions during the 16-day exercise. STRAY 59 was scheduled to be his crew's final mission during the Specwarex 81.

The morning of Feb. 26, 1981, the crew's takeoff time for the mission was slipped from 1:05 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. due to an extended crew day on their mission a day before. STRAY 59, executed a non-tactical departure from Cubi Point at 4:28 a.m. and executed a tactical landing back at Cubi Point at 5:06 a.m. to quickly load 15 personnel participating in the exercise. STRAY 59 executed a tactical departure two minutes later. The crew made their operational normal call six minutes into their low-level flight with a ground radio station. The second, and last, transmission from STRAY 59 was received at 5:21 a.m.; and there had been no indication from the crew to indicate a problem with their aircraft.

Minutes later, a local fisherman watched the aircraft impact the water and explode. Eight crewmembers and 15 special operators were killed instantly. One crew member from the 1st SOS, the electronic warfare officer, was thrown from the wreckage and rescued by a local fisherman.

The investigation conducted on STRAY 59 could not pinpoint the exact cause of the accident. The lack of physical evidence following the crash hindered the investigation. Minutes after impacting the ocean the wreckage sank to a depth of 240 feet.

The 1 SOS members lost Feb. 26, 1981, during the STRAY 59 crash are Maj. James Kirk, aircraft commander, Capt. Norman Martel, pilot, Capt. Thomas Patterson, navigator, Capt. Gregory Peppers, navigator, Tech. Sgt. Stephen Blyler, radio operator, Tech. Sgt. Barry Chumbley, loadmaster, Tech. Sgt. Gary Logan, loadmaster, and Staff Sgt. John Felton, flight engineer.


Stray Goose Losses


We regret to pass on to the membership that we have been informed of the the following members who recently passed away:

February 28, 2012 - Mike Grimm (apparent heart problems)

January 14, 2012 - Msgt (USAF Ret.) Theodore (Ted) F. Trainer (Cancer)

January 13, 2012 - Msgt (USAF Ret.) Duane C. "Mitch" Mitchell (Heart & Kidney failure)

September 1, 2011 - Rick Dargis (Cancer)

October 21, 2011 - Col (USAF Ret.) Larry Hoff (Cancer): 

From: Barron, Tim {Quaker} []
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 11:13 PM
Subject: Col. Larry Hoff


Unfortunately, this is true.  Col. Hoff passed away on Oct. 21st of last year.  Here's the article that ran in the local paper in Monroe, GA.   

Retired Col. Larry Hoff balanced a stern nature with a caring heart, giving direction when needed and at other times a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen to the problems of students at Monroe Area High School.

Usually at the forefront of everything he does, Hoff retired after 13 years of serving as the commanding officer of the Hurricane JROTC after being diagnosed with stage four neuroendocrine carcinoma. Hoff�s 17-month battle with cancer ended Thursday. 

�Col. Hoff�s leadership of the ROTC program was exemplary. During his tenure he established one of the top programs in the nation and many of his students have gone on to have distinguished careers in military service,� Walton County Public Schools Superintendent Gary Hobbs said. �Col. Hoff made an indelible mark on the young people he taught and his influence on our community will be felt through the contributions they continue to make. We extend our deepest sympathy to his loved ones. He will certainly be missed by the Walton County Public Schools family.�

It was not hard to find people whose life he impacted.

�I rose through the ranks of the JROTC under him in the early 2000s. I was an officer and squadron commander by my sophomore year and Col. Hoff was as supportive as anyone when we realized that I had a future in cross country and track,� wrote Mark Bryant on The Tribune�s Facebook page. �He understood that I�d get into college easiest with that route. He wrote several recommendations for me for applications over the years. He was one of the greatest influences in my life.�

�I had the pleasure of having him for a teacher from 1999-2003. He was a great man that helped you through anything, that was willing to give you 110 percent of his time if you needed it,� Amy Purser wrote on The Tribune�s Facebook page. �He made a difference in my life along with so many others. He will be missed.�

Hoff was a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and retired in 1995. He started his career as a pilot of C-130s and served as the executive assistant to the vice director of operations during the embassy hostage crisis in Tehran in 1979-80. He also was commander of the U.S. Air Force base in Goose Bay, Canada, and was on the first Special Operations Forces team to enter Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction. He also served as an air operations officer during NATO efforts in Bosnia in 1992.

Although there was a ceremony Jan. 1, 1995 for Hoff�s retirement, he was obliged a retirement more fitting for him a month earlier when he parachuted into the back gate of Scott Air Force Base in Illinois at midnight, retired and walked back out.  

Hoff was involved in the American Legion, serving as a member of Post 233 in Loganville, on the Homeland Security Committee, the Georgia Boys State staff and most recently in the capacity of senior vice-commander of the state American Legion, No. 2 in the chain of command in the organization. 

�The word hero gets thrown around a lot and rarely to someone who deserves it. Col. Hoff was a hero and will always be remembered as such,� said Phil Youngblood, commander of the Georgia American Legion. �To show you the kind of man he is, he called me Wednesday, the day before he passed. Only he knew how sick he was, but he said, �Phil, I�m not going to quit.� When you talk about Larry Hoff, you are talking about a decorated Air Force colonel, ROTC instructor, but more importantly to me he was a friend, a confidant. 

�Larry had a number of innovative ideas on how to bring the Legion forward on issues and came up with a lot of programs. We have a responsibility to the American Legion and the Col. Hoff to continue his work. Just because he has passed there is no reason for anything he stood for to pass. His passing to this department is going to be a blow only if we allow his passing to set aside what he started. The Georgia American Legion is a family of more than 60,000, and our hearts go out to his wife and entire family and we will stand by them.�

Hoff was also involved in the Walton County Local Emergency Planning Committee, the Citizen Corps Council, the Citizens Emergency Response Team and the Walton County Schools Crisis Management Planning team.

�Col. Hoff was dedicated in making our schools and communities safe and better prepared for any disaster or crisis that might occur,� said Donnie McCullough, director of the Walton County Emergency Management Agency. �I know he was a blessing in my life and many others as well. He supported emergency management in Walton County and I appreciate his contributions. I will miss him.�

Tim Barron

Regional TPM Manager - Pepsi America Beverages

The Summer '11 "SGI Times" Is Here

Read or Download the latest SGI Times issue.  Simply "Log On" above and then select "SGI Times" on the left.  Be sure to read the instructions at the top of the page on how to download the issue and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, the password needed to open the issue.  You can then read it on your computer, save it for future reference or print it out in either black and white, or color. 

*** Please note that you'll need an updated version of the Acrobat Reader (version 9.0) to read the newsletter.  You can update your reader at the Acrobat website ***

Another membership service brought to you by your SGI Staff!


MC-130E, 64-0567, Enters the Air Park

May 6th, 1100





Colonel Michael T. Plehn

Commander, 1st Special Operations Wing

cordially invites you to attend a Dedication Ceremony

honoring the placement of MC-130E, Tail Number 64-0567

in the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park

on Friday, the sixth of May

at eleven o�clock in the morning

Air Park

Hurlburt Field, Florida

RSVP by 26 Apr                                          Dress:

884-4742                                                                  Military � UOD

Email:      Civilian � Business Casual

Webmaster NOTE: Following the ceremony, there will be an open house at the 15th SOS along with a BBQ and static displays of both an MC-130E and an MC-130H.  Additionally, following the BBQ, there will be a get together at Iceman Smith's house in Emerald Point off Hwy 98 in Wynn Haven.  See his address in our roster.

More good history information - from John Lewis

----- Original Message -----

From: "EXT-Lewis, John R" <>

To: "Lee Hess" <>

Sent: Friday, October 15, 2010 10:19 AM

Subject: Tail Numbers

When I was at Nha Trang in 1969/1970, aircraft tail numbers were not used in-country, but designators were used instead.  The four Combat talon airplanes assigned during that time were:

64-0523 was Romeo Alpha

64-0555 was Romeo Bravo

64-0567 was Romeo Charlie

64-0568 was Romeo Delta

First Flight (Duck Hook) used "Whiskey" instead of "Romeo" as a prefix to their Alpha designators.

I found it curious/interesting that when we departed Nha Trang for a Phase Inspection and went to CCK, the flight orders were written used the Alpha designators; but when returning from CCK to Nha Trang, the flight orders used the actual tail numbers.

I don't remember what airplanes were assigned to the 1st S.O.S. when the four ex-Heavy Chain airplanes were newly assigned, but I believe that 64-0572 was there.  There were swap-outs  of airplanes on occasion, depending on the needs of the user.


John Lewis

P.S.  For what it's worth, the four airplanes that were specially modified for the European (7th S.O.S./ECM Update) requirements were: 





Goose 1 Update

From: Lewin, Andrew J

To: Papasan

Sent: Friday, January 14, 2011 10:12 PM

Subject: RE: Fw: Goose One update


The main effort right now is getting ready for the ORI at the end of next month.  Since we last talked we have flown missions to Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand and the PI.  We have a JCET in Udon Thani that starts in a couple weeks and should have most of the squadron there.  (should be fun)  I am currently down in Zambo as the JSOAD/CC, but should be back in the seat at the end of this month.  The fellas have done well at the group as far as awards and we expect to compete at AFSOC well. We also were able to get SSgt Kosnosky (one of our ELs) STEP promoted last month. Our deployed crew kicked ass out in the desert and are enjoying CTO prior to heading back out for the Thai JCET.  Personnel moves;  Col Brad Sullivan (former 7th CC) will be the new GP/CC; Lt Col Marc Martines (Talon Nav) is coming in as the 353 OSS/DO; Lt Col Jay Pelka (Talon Nav) is coming in as the new Chief of Safety; so the Talon mafia might eventually displace the 53 stranglehold on the command.  One small side note...In my travels down here in the JOA, I ran across a Phil orphanage called the Talon Talon orphanage.  Julie (my wife), after seeing some pics of the kids, rallied the other wives and we have supplied them with a ton of diapers and formula etc.   



Col Bob Howard, USA, Medal Of Honor Winner, Passes Away

Those of you who were in or associated with the 1st SOS during the late 80's and early 90's probably remember Col. Howard who was our COMSOCK (Korea) during that time frame and who attended several of the squadron Dining-Ins.  He recently passed away and here's what the news media had to report:

Get Combat Talon Stuff at

From: []
Sent: Friday, January 01, 2010 4:38 PM
Subject: Talon Products availabe at site

Hello everyone --

Nine prints are now available for purchase directly from the site + more prints to be added in the coming weeks.

Payment can be maid via your Pay Pal account or via credit card through Pay Pal.  For other payment options and multiple print discounts please contact

The link is located on the main page in the "Support This Site" block at or just click on this link  for other Combat Talon products click on this link

"Sir, do you remember that TDY to ...?"

(Well, I've still got the pictures!)

CSAF visits Yokota

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- General Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, talks with Chief Master Sgt. Michael Sundberg, 36th Airlift Squadron, May 12 about the aging C-130 Hercules fleet following a breakfast at the Yokota Officers' Club. When Chief Sundberg, who will retire this summer after 30 years of service, entered the Air Force in 1979 the 374th Airlift Wing's fleet of C-130s were already five years old. (U.S. Air Force photo/Osakabe Yasuo)

Webmaster's Note: And they are the same ones that Norty flew at the 374th when he was there in the 776th and 21st TAS before Sunny entered the AF!

Pacific Air Commandos honor those 'with the guts to try'

4/27/2009 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Members of the 353rd Special Operations Group gathered for a combat dining out here April 25 to celebrate and remember the service members that conducted Operation Eagle Claw 29 years ago. 

Operation Eagle Claw was an aborted rescue mission into Iran to recover more than 50 American hostages captured after a group of Islamist students took over the American embassy in Tehran Nov. 4, 1979. The mission resulted in the crash of two aircraft and the deaths of eight American service members at a remote site deep in Iranian territory known as Desert One. 

"This combat dining out is a way to honor all of the service members that participated in Operation Eagle Claw," said Col. David Mullins, the 353rd SOG commander. "We pay respect to the eight fallen comrades and commemorate the efforts and the tactics devised for this mission because without them many of today's missions would not be possible. These brave men laid the ground work for the world of special operations as we know it today. It's a privilege for us to serve in the community they helped create." 

Airmen and family members from the group dressed up in their battle gear for the combat portion of the evening. During a "cease fire," people listened to retired Col. Thomas Beres, one of Eagle Claw's crew members and former 353rd SOG commander, share his experiences and lessons learned from the mission. 

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Members of the 353rd Special Operations Group and their family members raise their glasses to toast during a combat dining out here April 25. The dining out commemorated Operation Eagle Claw, an aborted rescue mission April 24, 1980, into Iran to recover more than 50 American hostages captured after a group of Islamist students took over the American embassy in Tehran Nov. 4, 1979. The mission resulted in the crash of two aircraft and the deaths of eight American service members at a remote site deep in Iranian territory known as Desert One. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram)

Col. Beres stated at the time the embassy was captured, special operations was still considered unconventional warfare. There were limited crews in special operations squadrons and some of the tactics the mission would call for didn't exist. The months leading up to Operation Eagle Claw saw crews rush to develop new tactics like refueling helicopters in remote locations and fly using night vision goggles in near blackout conditions. Crews were chosen based on their flexibility not experience, he said. 

After months of training and planning, a complex two-night mission was designed that had three MC-130Es, three EC-130s and eight RH-53s landing deep in Iranian territory at a dusty landing strip -- Desert One. The EC-130s would refuel the RH-53s, so the helicopters could transport rescue forces further into Iran. The MC-130s would infiltrate Army forces closer to Tehran to capture and secure an airfield that would be used to exfiltrate the rescue crews and hostages once the RH-53s delivered them to the captured airfield. The mission did not go according to plan. 

On April 24, 1980, three MC-130Es and three EC-130s landed at Desert One after taking off from an air base in Oman. Eight RH-53s departed the USS Nimitz. Two of the helicopters experienced maintenance issues and never made it to the landing site. Of the six that made it to Desert One, only five were still mission capable due to a hydraulic system failure. The mission required at least six RH-53s to continue. 

With fuel running low on the C-130s, the call to abort the mission was made. Before the aircraft could take off, one of the RH-53s needed to be moved. As the helicopter moved, it kicked up dust. The pilot of the RH-53 became disoriented and turned into one of the C-130s. Fire engulfed the wreck. In all five Air Force and three Marines were killed; several were injured. 

"I saw a flash of light out of the corner of my eye," Beres said. "It took a moment to realize what happened." 

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Retired Col. Thomas Beres, one of Operation Eagle Claw's crew members and former 353rd SOG commander, shares his experiences and lessons learned from the mission during a combat dining out here April 25. Members of the 353rd Special Operations Group and their family members commemorated Operation Eagle Claw, an aborted rescue mission April 24, 1980, into Iran to recover more than 50 American hostages captured after a group of Islamist students  took over the American embassy in Tehran Nov. 4, 1979. The mission resulted in the crash of two aircraft and the deaths of  eight American service members at a remote site deep in Iranian territory known as Desert One. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech.  Sgt. Aaron Cram)

The surviving personnel and C-130s departed Desert One for the air base at Oman. Upon their return, the C-130 crews found a British contingent on the base had left them a gift: two cases of beer and a note that read, "to you all from us all for having the guts to try." 

Over the last 29 years, Col. Beres said he has heard many versions of the events that took place at Desert One. He stated he does his best to share his story and lessons learned when he gets the chance. During the combat dining out, the retired navigator shared five main points with the people in attendance. They are: 

-- "Special operations is a frame of mind. Special operations forces say we can do it if this happens or this happens, not why they can't do the mission. It's a can-do attitude that makes these impossible missions possible. 

-- "You can never 'what if' it enough. We would ask questions and be told not to worry about it because it wasn't in the plan. As we all know, not everything goes according to plan. When planning a mission, I suggest you 'what if' that mission to death." 

-- "Let the people doing the task decide how it gets done. The best way to get a task done right is to let the people performing the task determine the best course of action to carry out their duties." 

-- "People are more important than equipment. Make sure you have the right caliber people in the right place. If you don't, no piece of equipment can save the mission." 

-- "Rank does have its privileges, but don't take it on a mission. Rank should be used to expedite the mission, not limit what a person can do. No matter what rank you are, a mission task is not beneath you." 

Col. Beres closed his speech noting the strides special operations forces have made since crews began pushing the envelope when they started training for what would become Operation Eagle Claw. 

"I look back at some of things we did preparing for the mission and think they were pretty dangerous," he said. "We were doing things that were unheard of or thought to be impossible. Today, you do these tasks and other extraordinary things thought to be impossible and make them look routine that amazes people like me. We respect you for it. We're kind of in awe and know the best is yet to come."


KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Members of the 353rd Special Operations Group and their family members raise their glasses to toast during a combat dining out here April 25. The dining out commemorated Operation Eagle Claw, an aborted rescue mission April 24, 1980, into Iran to recover more than 50 American hostages captured after a group of Islamist students took over the American embassy in Tehran Nov. 4, 1979. The mission resulted in the crash of two aircraft and the deaths of eight American service members at a remote site deep in Iranian territory known as Desert One. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram)

Nha Trang Painting Retrieved

From: Jeff Bliemel [mailto:JBliemel@Poquoson-VA.GOV]
Sent: Monday, April 06, 2009 6:30 PM
Subject: Original 15th SOS Painting


I tried this before but got no response so I thought I�d try again.  I�ve attached a photo of the Stray Goose velvet painting that hung in the An Hoa hotel in Nha Trang until we were moved on base.  I�m guessing it is about 16� or 18�  by about 20�.  It has no frame.  Is there a better place to share it with everyone?  If so, please let me know.

Cheers,   jeff

Jeffrey J. Bliemel, P.E.
City Engineer & Infrastructure Coordinator
City of Poquoson
500 City Hall Avenue
Poquoson Virginia 23662
(757) 868-3590 FAX (757) 868-3515

Webmaster's Note:  On this second attempt, we connected with Jeff and Papasan has acquired subject item and is getting ready to present it to today's 15th SOS as a gift from SGI.  Thanks for your perseverance Jeff!

 Worldwide Combat Talon Reunion Recap

For the �first-ever� Worldwide Combat Talon reunion, it was a weekend where the stars came out.

On one hand, some of the �stars� who helped make Talon history over the past four decades were there for the weekend, the last weekend in May.  Seasoned crew members from the Son Tay Raid, �Desert One,� �Urgent Fury� and �Just Cause,� joined Talon vets who flew combat over the skies of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan (to name a few areas of operations) to share and compare stories with their Talon comrades in arms. The weekend together gave all the Talon members, past and present, the chance to �catch up� on each other�s stories and reflect on friendships that have lasted through the many years.

On the other hand, the stars came out in blue, in the form of General officers there to honor the Combat Talon mission and the men and women who flew it. General Norty Schwartz, currently the Commander of United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), came in for the reunion, and was the keynote speaker at Sunday�s memorial service. Gen Schwartz has a solid Talon legacy as a pilot and former commander.

Joining him were Lt General Donny Wurster, the Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) his vice commander, Maj Gen Kurt Cichowski, Maj Gen Dave "Chode" Scott, Deputy Director at US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Center for Special Operations (and former 16 SOW/CC), and the current Vice Commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing, Col. Mark Alsid. This esteemed collection of the most influential leaders in today�s Air Force Special Operations was testimony to the Talon legacy and the people who brought it to life.

As a bonus to everyone in the Talon community, just a few days after the reunion we found out that General Schwartz had been selected to serve as the next Chief of Staff of the Air Force! Having a former MC-130 pilot and 16 SOW Wing Commander as the upcoming leader of the United States Air Force only emphasizes how the Talon and its people have become integral to the mission of the USAF and today�s mission in the Global War on Terrorism.

Friday and Saturday were days for the Talon family to eat, drink and visit together. Saturday morning also featured a visit to Hurlburt Field for an update-brief on the current and future ops of the Combat Talon around the world. Thanks to Ned Calvert for putting that very special presentation together. In that �up close and personal� brief, we  heard, first hand, of some of the incredible combat exploits in ongoing Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, and then we saw what�s in the future for the Talon mission and aircraft. From that briefing, we went out to the Hurlburt flight line and took an in-depth tour of Combat Talon I and II aircraft. For many of the families who were there, it was the first time they had ever been onboard this aircraft so important to their spouse or loved one. For some of the folks for whom it has been a few years since stepping aboard a Talon, it was a nostalgic trip back to a familiar time.

One of the highlights for the weekend was when Buff Underwood unveiled a LARGE draft of a Combat Talon memorial monument. This magnificent, stone monument will be placed in a prominent spot to be announced later.

The replica showed that the monument will commemorate all of the organizations that have been home to the Talon over the years, as well as serve as a memorial to the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to the Talon mission. The cost for this massive stone will be borne totally by members of the Talon community, and we raised more than $10,000 in donations in this reunion weekend. Quite a good omen for the campaign we�ll be conducting over the next year to raise the funds for the monument. By the way, a special commemorative Combat Talon coin was unveiled at the reunion, and it will be presented to all donors to the Talon Monument fund over $20. This is definitely a collector�s item, and it�s available in a limited quantity.

Sunday morning we gathered at the Hurlburt Air Park for a memorial service, honoring our fallen brothers and sisters. At the service were family members of our lost comrades. Gen Schwartz gave a tribute from the heart, and we were all touched by this solemn ceremony of distinction and its meaning to the Talon community.

For all of you who missed the reunion, you deprived yourself of a great time! The hospitality room was a popular place with eats, drinks and friends, and the weather at the Quality Inn was perfect for all to enjoy a Spring weekend during one of the best times of the year for the Florida panhandle. Barbeque, wurst on the grill, free-flowing suds and a few hundred members of the Talon family were a perfect mix for the three days.

For the many people who helped plan and execute this weekend, we say thanks. There are too many to mention in this article, but without your hard work and commitment, this weekend would not have happened. Talon members have been noted for their dedication to mission, and the volunteers who put together this first reunion exemplified that proud tradition. We�ll be posting photos of the weekend soon, on the 7th ACS and SGI websites, so check them out!

Although this was the first all-Talon reunion, it won�t be the last. We�re thinking this should be an event held every two years and we�ll let you know when we have another one in the planning stage.


Dues Reminder

Almost 200 members became inactive on the 30th of June.  In order to remain a member in good standing, you need to update your dues. If overdue, please remit dues ($15/yr or $40 for 3 years) to:

Stray Goose International

P.O. Box 881

Shalimar, Florida 32579


Hurlburt Field News

Read the latest news here.

Kadena AB News

Read the latest news here.

 "Stars & Stripes" Now On-Line

Read the latest issue here.

Master Roster Available

A copy of the 2010 master roster is now available from Papasan by sending him a request for it or downloading it from the main Roster page.

  SOF Research - Three Key References Available for Download

Electronic versions (Acrobat) of the following books are now available for download off the SOF research page:

The Praetorian STARShip
The Untold Story of the Combat Talon

Jerry L. Thigpen

Colonel, USAF, Retired

15th Anniversary

History of United States Special Operations Command




Apollo�s Warriors
US Air Force Special Operations during the Cold War


Michael E. Haas

Colonel, USAF, Retired

SGI Proudly Supports America's Fighting Men & Women (3.0MB download)



Air Force officials are urging airmen to use common sense and remember operations security when posting on the Internet. They are especially concerned with the placement of photos of forward operating bases on personal Web sites because adversaries can use them to plan attacks against U.S. forces. Lt. Col. Brieuc Bloxam, Air Force operations security program manager, cited cases of airmen posting photos of personal living areas, common-use areas such as dining facilities and basketball courts, operations buildings, perimeter fences and guard shacks. He described a recent case where personal photos taken by an airman and placed on a personal Web site were downloaded and placed on an anti-American site. What began as "I was here" photos for friends and family became propaganda material used by an adversary.

Webmaster Note:  Y'all be careful out there!

Warnings To the "Axis of Evil"




"Mouse over" to view this video (4.4 MB) - But, Well Worth the Wait! (And, put your speakers on)