118th Assault Helicopter Company


News &Updates

This page is designed to provide former 33rd/118th Thunderbirds with news and information about what is happening today. It will be updated as needed with items of interest the webmaster believes would be of general interest to all former Thunderbirds. The latest update will be at the top(immediately below) and the oldest going down the page. If you have something you think might be of interest to all former Thunderbirds, in general, send it to the webmaster.

November 11, 2006

Hello fellow Thunderbirds,
Looking back it seems I have not sent a Thunderbird Update since June. Since that time I have received a number of contacts from former Thunderbirds and several batches of photos. Below are those I can remember.

1. The Thunderbird Mini-reunion at the VHPA annual reunion in Wash DC was attended by a small but raucus bunch of guys. You can see the photos of the "aging" attendees who were there at our Thunderbird web site under "Reunions" and Wash D.C. I might add too, one of the former Enlisted Thunderbirds showed up and it was a pleasure meeting him. He is Al Lebeau and his wife and daughter also were with him. Al works with Vietnam Vets as does his daughter Pebbles and she has writted severa poems and a book. I will include her info in this Update.

2. Al LaBeau's daughter, Pebbles sent this email: "Hi Mr. Tom, It was an honor to meet you and the other guys who served with my dad, Al LaBeau at the reunion in DC. I've attached a copy of my poem, A Name On The Wall which is one of the poems in my book. Also, I make t-shirts with the attached pictures and the poem on them. My book will be back from the publisher within the next few weeks and I'll get a copy to you. If you could pass on the info on the book to anyone you know they will be sold for $10 plus shipping and all the money goes to help the MVET Center in Baltimore and the Coatesville VA Hospital in PA to the PTSD Ward. The t-shirts are $20 plus shipping and the money from them also goes to help these two worthy non-profit groups. I've also written a poem called Pilots Plea, and I was wondering if you could give me the info on the man who sent you the picture that is on the main page of the website. I would like to ask him if I could use his picture and put that poem on it and make t-shirts. Of
course I don't keep any of the money, I have a calling to help all Vietnam Vets and to make sure your sacrifices were not in vain and you will never be forgotten. I will send you a copy of the poem Pilots Plea so you can read it. It is also in my book. Thanks Mr. Tom, and I look forward to hearing what you think about my poems. schmole@comcast.net

Pebbles LaBeau Brunori
7996 Bellhaven Avenue
Pasadena, MD 21122

3. Derek Scammell sent this email: "I don't know why I never thought to look up the 118th on the Internet, but an article on the 1st Infantry Division and their participation in the fight for Loch Nin, June 1966. Brought back memories of the night we flew from Bien Hoa to surpress the tree lines with our rocket and mini-gun fire. I was a crew chief with the 118th "Bandits until I was wounded during "Tet" offensive over the "Plain of Reeds on
Feb 5, 1966. I'll see if I can locate some old photos to forward for yopu growing collection. Sincerely, Derek Scammell Scammelld@bellshouth.net

4. Gordy Graham, who served in the 118th for several months in 69-70 found the web site and wrote in. He lives in the Seattle, WA area and his email is: dgordongraham@gmail.com Gordon left the Thuderbirds and went to 12th Gp Opns, but flew with many of the Thunderbirds of those years.

5. Jim Strachan, Missouri City, Texas who commanded the very first "Shot Gun Platoon" found our Thunderbird web site and sent this email: "Hello, and I enjoyed the great web page. Brings back many fond memories. I didn't see any mention of Operation Shotgun 1, Mar - June '63. Under that operation, I commanded the 4th Provisional Platoon Machine-gun (Counterinsurgency), 1st Battle Group, 35th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. We were one of five such platoons of volunteers recruited from each of the 25th's five infantry Battle Groups for an initially secret mission to an undisclosed place. We trained on Oahu Jan-Mar 63, including firing machine-guns from H-21's at 55-gallon drums in a remote valley. We deployed from Hawaii to Vietnam on TDY in Mar 63 to replace crew-member doorgunners in the five helicopter companies then supporting ARVN forces. An Army Times article once reported these five infantry platoons in March '63 were considered the first combat troops sent to Vietnam, (well ahead of the units arriving in '65). My platoon was assigned to the 33rd at Bien Hoa. The platoon consisted of 1 officer (me) and 20 enlisted. We lived in the 33rd compound and were attached oo the 33rd under command of MAJ Henderson. In addition to commanding the 33rd's first doorgunner platoon, I had an additional duty as weapons officer for the 33rd, inventorying and accounting for all weapons. I also prepared and coordinated the 33rd's perimeter defense plan with the Bien Hoa USAF base commander as another additional duty. Myself and all platoon members flew many missions as doorgunners on the 33rd's H-21C's and we all received the air medal. One platoon member received the purple heart. We returned to Hawaii in June '63. A couple of years later, we were all retroactively qualified for the aircraft crewman badge. I have a platoon roster which should get into the 33rd history in some way. Haven't yet read Brandt's book but I knew him then. When I went to Hanoi in 1994, I stopped by an art exhibit and there was Richard Olsen, one of the Olsen twins who was a 33rd pilot when I was there. He is an artist of some renown at University of Georgia in Athens. We had a 33rd mini-reunion in Hanoi, of all places! Jim Strachan, Missouri City, Texas." Jim's email is:

6. Floyd Beebe---The son and family of Floyd Beebe contacted me about posting a photo of him when he was a door Gunner on Bandit 8 and we now have that photo posted on the web site at the bottom of the page at: http://www.118ahc.org/Bandits65-66.htm#anchor97614 Scroll to the very bottom of that page. Floyd is very ill and would love to hear from any one from the 118th. The sent this email: "Hi, this is Rob Beebe, Floyd's son, I was
going through some of my dad's old pictures from his days in the service and thought that you would perhaps post this one on your website. My dad is not doing well, health wise. He flew on Bandit 8 as the door gunner and was in the Bandits from Dec. 1965 to Dec. 1966. My family would appreciate it if you could post this picture on your site. If anyone recognizes him, my family would appreciate it if you could contact us via e-mail at mbisho1@twcny.rr.com . We are trying to get a purple heart for him for injuries he sustained to his right eye on Dec. 8, 1966 during a firing pass over the city of Cu Chi.

7. Lastly, I also heard from a former Medic of the 93rd Med Det attached to our Thunderbirds. His name is Lyndon Lawler and he sent a bunch of great photos now incorporated into our web site under "93rd Med Det". Lyndon sent an email and said: Tom, Great site! My name is Lyndon Lawler and I was a medic with the 93rd Med Det, 118th AHC, from Jan66 to Jan67. I do need to correct the 93rd Med Det NCO staff for this period that is on your Website. When I arrived, the NCOIC was SSG Harold Henley, later promoted to SFC, and the assistant NCO was SGT Robert Flagg. When SGT Flagg rotated back to the States a couple of months or so after I arrived, SGT William Summers took his place as assistant
NCO. When SGT Summer rotated back, I took over as assistant NCO, Nov66, and SP6 Benjamin G. Ashford III took over as NCOIC. This was also the time that I went on Flight status as a non-crew member, flying as a Medic on the 573rd maintenance helicopter, the Bird Watcher. Imagine my surprise as I was looking at the pictures from Operation Attleboro and saw myself in the picture of the Bird Watcher!! Sincerely,
Lyndon V. Lawler lynbarb@escapees.com

Sorry this Thunderbird Update was so long, but had been months since I sent one out. Please take time and send more photos and stories.

Tom Payne
Bandit 32; 66-67
Tulsa, OK


June 4, 2006


Hello Thunderbirds,

Now that summer is in full bloom, folks are off on vacations and taking grandkids to Orlando or the beach or maybe just fishing. Hope your summer is a great time and you will return safely home when it is over.

Several things to tell you about that may be of interest.

1. The VHPA annual reunion will take place this year in Washington DC at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on July 1-6th. The Wardman Park Marriott is at 2660 Woodley Road NW which is just across the road(or very close) to the National Zoo. There will be Thunderbird mini-reunion at the hotel on Sunday, July 2nd from 1-5 PM in the "Maryland C" room. So far there have been the following 26 former Thunderbird pilots
register for the reunion:

Donald Abrams 70-71
Francisco Basaldua 69-70
Robert Brightwell 68
Glenn Clark 69-70
Angus Desveaux 66
Gil Ferrey 66
John Grasmeder 64-65
Dennis Gulich 70-71
James Harvey 63-64
Mike Hurley 64-65
William James 63-64
Reed Kimzey 66-67
Allen Laya 63-64
Chick Luther 70
William Moline 67-68
Dale Moore 68-70
Donald Parrish 64-65
Tom Payne 66-67
Gerald Peffers 63-64
Lawrence Smith 69-70
Duane Speirs 69-70
Jack Swickard 67-68
Gale Truitt 69-70
Richard Wessel 69
Frank Zipperer 64-65

Now, the important thing for you Enlisted crewmember guys to know is that YOU ARE WELCOME TO COME TO OUR Thunderbird mini-reunion!!! So, if you live close enough and wish to come to the mini-reunion, let me know (Tom Payne at bandit32@cox.net) or just
show up. We would love to see you there even though this is a pilot reunion.

2. Donna Moreau, author of the already published book, "Waiting Wives-The Story of Shilling Manor, Home Front to the Vietnam War", is planning on writing a book about the Battle of Dong Xoai. Donna has visited in our home while doing research on "Waiting
Wives...." and is very interested in talking to men who took part in the Battle of Dong Xoai. If you would like to help her research, you may contact her at Donamore@aol.com 326 North Street Leominster MA 01453 Phone: 978-665-9805 Mobile: 978-835-0318 I am sure she would
appreciate hearing from those who were involved in the Battle of Dong Xoai, both pilots and enlisted crewmembers.

3. Pat Rodgers, the former US Army pilot and now curator of the Riverside, CA Wings and Rotor Museum located at March Airbase in Riverside, CA has found another former Thunderbird UH-1H that he is in negotiations for. Tail number 67-17808 was in the 118th its entire Vietnam two year career in 69-70 and flew over 2200 hours before returning to the US. Pat found her in AZ and in excellent condition. He thinks that if they can get
her, she should be in flyable condition in a couple weeks. He said she had been in depot twice and she didn't have the original tail boom which might have given a clue as to which 118th platoon she belonged to. If you have old diaries that might give a clue for Pat or you remember flying this bird, let me know. Attached is a couple of photos of the bird that Pat sent. Check out their web site at: http://www.wingsandrotors.org/home.html

4. Finally, please update your email address if it has changed or if you know someone who has changed and may not get this update, please have them send me their new email address. And remember the 118th Thunderbird web site is now at:

See you all at Washington, DC in July.

Tom Payne
Tulsa, OK


March 27, 2006



Hello Thunderbirds:

Another update is needed because of several emails I have received recently. Any help you can provide will be very much appreciated.

1. Brian Willard (aka Wizard)---Hi, At the bottom of the page regarding Pollution IV it is asked if anyone has more photos of Pollution IV.
As you know, I have an excellent video/film documentary Thunderhawks, (my fiction name for the Thunderbirds used in my novel Permission to Kill) shot from the doors of Pollution IV and the flight, which is now on DVD. Accompanied with the sequel I made regarding my return to Viet Nam in 1999, Make Friends Not War, this two-documentary film won the New York International Independent Film Festival's Las Vagas screening in June 2005, as you can see on my website. I sell the DVD on, http://www.brianwizard.com should anyone care to have one. You could, should you want to, add a link to my website at the bottom of the page, or if you want to refine the link just to the DVD info, or the shorter music video, I can send them along (I'd have to get the exact urls from my webdesigner, but this could be done quite easily.) I'm pretty sure I could give you the direct link to the music video, for free, as at the moment it is part of a larger compilation of work that I sell for $1. If people don't like the music, they can turn off the sound, the footage is still good. Just a thought. Thanks for adding in the photos of the SmithsonianI, Nat'l Air & Space Museum display of
my helmet, etc. Cheers, Brian Wizard
PS: I have a new novel coming out next week. Space Egg, my first sci-fi story.

2. Jeff Horn---I really enjoyed reviewing your website. Very informative. My father was Lt George A. Horn of the Bandits in 64. Interesting to see a few pictures of him on your site. I have many pics if you are interested. Let me know. Thanks for the great site! Jeff Horn jeff_horn@comcast.net

3. Richard Curtis---Was in the 118th 68-69. Need help with VA claim. Need to contact anyone that was there during this time frame. Call sign was oldwarrior one. rcurtis15@cfl.rr.com

4. Brent Roberson---Hello, my name is Brent Roberson. I am from Little Rock, Arkansas. I'm not really sure if you might know my father, but he was in nam as a door gunner with the 118th bandits and did 2 tours. His name is James Harold Roberson. I was talking about him tonight and my girlfriend suggested I look up his unit. Low and Behold I found your sight and recognized the crest because I currently have his kerchief. If you can help me, I would like to know a little more so I can understand a few things about what he might have gone through in those days. I got him to open up about it once when we got to talking about Iraq and the time I spent over there. It was a once in a lifetime moment because I believe he is still fighting his demons. But if you can possibly send any info or maybe contact me somehow it would be great. He might even crap his pants when I tell him there's a website solely based on his old unit:) brent.roberson@us.army.mil
Brent Roberson, SPC ARNG Range Control

5. Finally, some of our former Thunderbirds have made recent trips back to Vietnam and have forwarded me photos of their trips(Al Laya and Charlie Milan). In light of that, I am considering starting a "Thunderbirds Today" or "What's Happening, Today" page to highlight a few of those photos and trips and other things of interest. What do you all think? Let me know if this is of interest to anyone and would be something we could add to the site.

Please let me know of email address changes.....I get a number of kick backs each time I
send out a Thunderbird Update.

Tom Payne
Bandit 32 (66-67)
Tulsa, OK


January 20, 2006



Hello Thunderbirds,

Time to pass along some info and emails from former Thunderbirds. The moved web site (www.118ahc.org) has continued to show an increase in "hits". Initially, the move caused a dramatic drop in hits. However, it will take a few months to see the search engines(Google, etc.) catch up with the move. We are reaching exactly 30,000 hits and almost 84,000 page views since inception. Lots and lots of foreign hits daily, too. Most
of the European hits are from Germany.

1. Tom Monroe---One of our former Thunderbirds, Tom Monroe has retired from the USAF. Tom served in the Thunderbirds in 68-70 time and retired at Ft. Detrick, MD, outside Wash DC on Jan 27th. Tom Monroe is an E-8 Al LeBeau, who lived only about an hour from Ft. Detrick took the time to go to the retirement and really pleased and surprised Tom. Tom spent 33 years in the military over 5 decades. 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000. I made up a congratulatory certificate(below) for Tom and sent it for presentation. Al LeBeau presented it on behalf of all us Thunderbirds. Three of the photos are attached. Shorter fella in green suit is Al LeBeau and lady is Mrs Monroe. If you want to send a note to Tom congratulating him his email for a while is: Thomas.Monroe@ft-detrick.af.mil

Al LaBeau & SMSgt Tom Monroe

Tom Monroe and Mrs. Monroe


(If anyone else would like a copy of this certificate, please let me know and I can send the file for you to print.)


2. Darrell Burkhalter---emailed to say: "I am not listed on the roster of the 118th AHC. I am Darrell L. (never "Lonnie") Burkhalter (CW2). I was with the 118th From Oct 69 to Oct 70. I was in the 2nd platoon until about Mar 70 (Thunderbird 21), then to the Bandits (Bandit 34) at that time. I had 3 "hoochmates" who were Abe Abrahamson, Mike Goode and Dave Winkler. I am, however, listed with the VHPA, but as dead. Hmmm...My ship was Bandit 6 "Pappy's Pooper".

Darrell L. Burkhalter
Bandit 34 (70)
Marshfield, Vermont


3. Richard P. Bubar---Richard was one of the 4 Thunderbirds who was killed in the rocket/mortar attach on Nov 1, 1964. His cousin C.I. wrote: Hi, My name is C.I . I am a cousin of the late Richard P. Bubar, who was a member of the 118th Thunderbirds. Thank you so much for posting the picture of the day room that was named after Richie. It means a lot to me to see it. He was such a great guy. I will pass the picture on to my family members. By any chance do you have any pictures of Rich, or any information about what happened on November 1, 1964, when he was killed? I heard that the barracks he was in was bombed, that everyone was taken by surprise and that Rich and 3 others were killed instantly. Once again, thank you very, very much. You guys are heroes for the courage that you showed through your willingness to serve. Words aren't sufficient to express my feelings in this regard.

Very sincerely,


4. Michael Matthew---Michael sent me about a dozen photos and I have been working on them to add to the web site. His email is:

5. Lorraine Owens---Finally, Some of you know the Lorraine Owens, wife of Thunderbird CO in 1966, George Owens, passed away at 12:10am Christmas Morning 25 Dec 2005. Burial was at Bourne National Cemetery, Cape Cod, MA. Lorraine came down with pneumonia around the
first of December and was on very strong antibiotics. She had had a stroke early last year while having bypass surgery and has been in a nursing home since then. Her battle was very hard on her and her family . Lorraine attended just about all of the 145th CAB Reunions, many of the VHPA reunions and most all the Otter/Caribou reunions with George and was very well known and liked by all attending.. Lorraine was loved by many and will be missed. Condolences may be sent to the home at 133 Center Road, Shirley, MA 01464. (978) 425-9653 email is:

Not much else to report, so hope you have a great Spring and will consider the VHPA reunion in Wash D.C. in July. Registrations are underway at www.vhpa.org.

Needles in the green....

Tom Payne
Bandit 32 (66-67)
Tulsa, OK



December 4, 2005


Here we are knocking at the door of 2006, some 40 years after I was in Vietnam! Amazing to think of something so important in our lives, so long ago. May your Christmas and New Year holidays be great ones, filled with thanks and gratitude. First, be thankful that you are an American and second, that or way of life is being defended by wonderful men and women around the world fighting terrorism. May the events of the future develop so they may ALL return home safe and sound very soon.

1. ALERT!!! The Thunderbird web site has moved!! It is no longer at GORILLA......the new address is now: www.118ahc.org Pass this info on to all who might be interested. There are still some who didn't receive previous Updates about this change because their email address changed and they never notified me of the change. I have also been busy over the last month contacting and notifying other web sites that link to our Thunderbird web site of the change. If you see the old web site address on one of these other web site links that is WRONG, please email the webmaster or let me know his address
and we can get them to change it.

2. 145th CAB Reunion: The 145th CAB reunion took place in Kansas City, MO on Sept 28-Oct 1, 2005. The attendance was a little low, mainly because of problems with the 145th CAB web site and probably because of economy. There were 57 total people there and again most were former 118th Thunderbirds. I have received photos from John Flynn, Dick Rissman and myself to go through and select representative ones of all former Thunderbirds that attended. Check out our Thunderbird web site under "Reunions" and see who was there and how "old" they now look. Sorry for anyone I missed. If you were there and have a photo or two that you would like included, please send to me. Thanks to Joe and Janet Boggs, Tommy and Dixie Thornton and Ted and Diana Jambon for helping host the reunion. A special thanks goes also to Jerry Head, who works for a transportation company in the area who arranged and drove us all around the city and area.

3. Ken Simpson, a former 118th Thunderbird has been in Iraq this past year sends this email: "Hi Tom: I will be back from Iraq and in the States on Oct 15th 2005..........It (has) been a Long road for me,but I will make it.........Old dogs are hard to kill.............I would like to thank all the Thunderbirds who supported me and my unit in Iraq,the emails made my ay..............If you see Wayne Guffy tell him it's all over now this old dog is going home for the LAST time in a War Zone..........Its time for me to be a Grandpaw and a Grandma now after my wife pass away in April. Thanks Guys.........Ken SGT Kenneth J
Simpson 4/279th ACR Tn Apache's"(Ken's wife passed away from cancer in April while he was home on emergency leave.)
Welcome home Ken. Ya done GOOD!!

4. Jeff Johnson sends this email: " I have retired from the FAA, and the National Guard and am now flying EMS helicopters. I spent the afternoon looking over the website and was wondering about two pilots from the 1970-71 time frame that I didn't see.One was a WO1 Fleming? He was KIA early in my tour, so it was probably summer or fall of 1970. The second was a WO named Hestand (I think) who was captured after being shot down during an assault into Cambodia if I remember correctly.

I still have a ton of paperwork from that time frame that I will look at when I get a chance and see if I can find either of their names.Anyway, it is good to be back in touch. I don't know if this will be posted in news and updates, but I would really like to get in touch with Rick Davis, the crew chief and great friend that I flew with on Blue 3 until he went back home to California.
I am not very good at keeping in touch with people. I have been a bit of a gypsy most of my adult life. When I read the names on the website, images pop into my head of people who shared some of the most intense experiences that a man can have. It seems a shame to me that I haven't been better about maintaining contacts.
101 Fox Hollow
Monticello, FL 32344
Jeff Johnson
Thunderbird 29

5. Web site update: Tommy Thornton submitted a bunch more photos of his tour with the 118th in 65-66. He took a lot of great photos, too. One which shows the 118th Thunderbirds on a combat assault in the Tan Uyen area is especially good. In fact, it is so good, Jack Swickard, also a former Thunderbird in 66-67 era, plans on using it on the cover of "The Aviator" magazine of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Assoc. (VHPA). Also, I have included this photo on the Index page of our 118th Thunderbird web site at www.118ahc.org This photo is very dynamic and just about says it all!! Check it out, as well as the 50 or 60 more photos recently added to the web site.

Keep those emails coming and tell others about our web site. Plus, if you find some old photos in the attic or trunk, send them to me for the web site.

Take care and "needles in the green"!!

Tom Payne
Tulsa, OK


April 1, 2005


Every Vietnam vet will get a one-time award of $100................April Fools! It is now time for a Thunderbird Update. Hope all are doing well and you are preparing for our reunion in late Sept.


1. What is most exciting for ALL former 118th Thunderbirds is that the 145th CAB reunion for 2005 will be in Kansas City, MO Sept 28-Oct 1. It will be at the Kansas City Airport Merriott and will require NO shuttles or travel after landing (except to hotel). It appears the price is very reasonable at $69/night, too. This reunion is being
chaired/hosted by former Thunderbird CO, Joe Boggs. And, it is open to ALL former Thunderbirds, EM and pilots. While this reunion is much smaller than VHPA, it is more personal and is a great time. Year after year the 145th CAB reunion seems to be attended by mostly former Thunderbirds. I personally plan on attendig this reunion and helping out where I can. More info is available at: http://www.145cab.com/ You need to go to the web site and register now and make arrangements for transportation. See ya there.


1. Pat Paluch sent an email about his father, Paul Paluch who was an EM that served in 63-64. "He is my Father. He never talked about the war he got sad when he brought it up. My father is sick with cancer and i don't want to bring it up but i want and need to know some things about him and things that he did so if you have any information please contact me. 916-777-6996 or equalityman2@aol.com

2. " I have just reviewed the 118th web page and in looking at the list of pilots who served, my name is missing. I served with the 118th from July 67Through Dec.67 when I was reassigned to fly for J.P. Vann. I was copilot with Jack Swickard when he won his DFC, awarded a DFC myself, and roomed with Jim Thorne. I flew with the Bandits. Hopefully, this oversight can be corrected(he has been added). I am hoping to make SFO this summer for the
VHPA reunion (it will be my first). Regards, Ivar Siqveland, Bandit 35." ivaremail@comcast.net

3. " Hello my name is Fred Lilly aka MUSH MOUSE , I was in the 118th from 68 to 70 in 2nd platoon and I was wondering if you have an address on William Gray Tatum who was my pilot on old " BLUE 3 " ? I would like to get in touch with him if at all possible. Thanks Fred Lilly aka MUSH MOUSE" gullywumpler@bellsouth.net

4. "I was assigned to the 118th 2nd FLT PLT as a flight engineer in 1968. I was on a "D" model. I think it was Blue 3. Mine was the 1st smoke ship in the 118th as far as I know. I still have 2 of my patches. These are the only ones I know of; they have a white background with a dark blue hood and axes with bround handles. Between the top of the axe's handles is the company's name in red. Beneath the handles are two lines. The line is the platoon "2nd FLT PLT" and under it "TH" Leonard Max Pohl email: lmckpohl@grnco.net

5. " I was a gunner in the 1st platoon of the Thunderbirds from Apr '68 to Jan '69. I retired from the Army eight years ago, and for the past couple of years have been working for the Army at TACOM in Warren, MI.
I am now doing a four-month tour in Kuwait as a DA civilian, 'til 8 May. Kuwait is to Iraq what Cambodia was to Vietnam: A secure base of ops.I would like very much to hear from my old Thunderbird A/C: Thunderbird 1-5, Ralph Smalley."
My email is: david.evans9@us.army.mil
Thanks for the updates. Dave Evans

6. Thanks for the email, I am currently at Fort Eustis VA, for the ARMY so it is a little hard to check my email. My phone # is 520-419-4889 so feel free to give it you to any one who wants to get a hold of me. I would really like to talk to some Bandits that may of served with my dad. Thanks Bradford K Frey bfrey92@hotmail.com

7. Lee Hallquist writes: "Good afternoon. I seem to remember that when I got to the 118th in July of '70 the first sgt was Walker and he was very short at the time. I believe Tipton came over from the 190th. Also I seem to remember cpt Walsh as the Scorpion plt leader in Oct '70. He went home after hurting his back in a crash in late
'70 or early '71 and Williamson took over the platoon. Also When I first came to the company sp5 K L Fasnacht was my room mate. He worked flt ops at night so no one probably saw him but his sole job seemed to be to program the scrambled radios (I want to say KY 28s, could that be right?) each night. It's been a long time, so I could be wrong, but this is what I remember. I'd like to know more about the 118th association or whatever. I didn't realize there was an association or reunions. Guess I've been out of touch for quite awhile. Thanks for your time, Stanley LeeHallquist email: lhallquist@msn.com


1. Ken Simpson, Thunderbird EM in 70-71 time period, was in Iraq with a Tennessee Apache unit. He returned to the US on Emergency Leave to be with his wife who has cancer. Not sure if he has returned yet. kenneth.j.simpson@us.army.mil

2. Wayne Guffy, Thunderbird WO pilot in 70-71, is back in the US and at Ft. Sill as a DAC. He is working with a HQ that prepares aviation units for overseas deployment. His email is: WGUFFY@aol.com


Wayne Wright reported the following medical condition...."I was just diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and will start chemo the 21st. More importantly, all those who were in RVN need to be cognizant of health conditions presumptively connected to Agent Orange. I thought this was mostly BS, and it may be, but more than a few around here have come down w/ prostate cancer, lymphoma and other conditions which qualify for government
disability compensation. More can be found at http://www.va.gov/agentorange Wayne can be reached at: WWright5@satx.rr.com


Lastly, Al Laya is successfully heading up a group of former Thunderbirds to return to Vietnam in October 2005. The group is forming now and if you have any interest, let me know. Going back with guys who also served in the same unit would surely be better than returning with those who you don't have anything in common with.


Brian Willard aka "Wizard" writes: You might want to mention in your next news letter that I have a DVD out that contains my 1969 footage doco Thunderhawks, as well as my music video, and my 1999 Viet Nam footage of my return doco on my webstie FOR FREE, plus postage and handling. I think $8 total. That money simply covers costs. As well, all my other work, VN related or not, is for FREE. All ebooks are absolute FREE, this includes Pollution IV, a condensed version of Permission to Kill, and my written report of my '99 return to Nam. This new website design of mine, and marketing strategy of ALL FOR FREE (plus p/h for hard copy items) is in the process of being constructed, but will no doubt be in place by the next time you sent out a newsletter. You can contact Brian at: bwizard@brianwizard.com


The web site continues to grow with new photos being added from Dick Rissman(Teeny Bopper), Greg Reynolds and several others. Again, lets try to have a BIG turn out at KC of former Thunderbirds for the 145th CAB reunion. You won't be dissapointed if you attend, I guarantee it. And, if you live in the KC area, please let me know so we can get you involved to help with the logistics a little.

Tom Payne
Bandit 32 (66-67)
Tulsa, OK

January 22, 2005


When we were in the "vacation land" of Vietnam, at the expense of Uncle Sam over 30 years ago, the year 2005 was not even on our radar screens. Yet, here it is! Hope your holidays were the best ever and this year will be the best year ever, too. This first Thunderbird Update of 2005 will have some things many of you will be interested in.


1 The VHPA annual reunion will be in San Francisco this year July 1-6. It is shaping up to be a great time and will be filled with many activities you pilots will enjoy. For more info you can go to the VHPA web site at: www.vhpa.org The VHPA 2006 reunion will be in Wash DC. 2007 will be in Phoenix, AZ. 2008 in Philadelphia, 2009 in San Antonio and 2010 in San Diego, CA. They will all be in large Marriott hotels. I don't
plan to go to San Francisco this year because my wife, Wanda, would like to go to her high school reunion. So, if you go to San Fran, have fun.

2. What is more exciting for ALL 118th Thunderbirds is that the 145th CAB reunion for 2005 will be in Kansas City, MO Sept 28-Oct 1. It will be at the Kansas City Airport Merriott and will require NO shuttles or travel after landing (except to hotel). It appears the price is very reasonable at $69/night, too. This reunion is being chaired/hosted by former Thunderbird CO, Joe Boggs. And, it is open to ALL former Thunderbirds, EM and pilots. While this reunion is much smaller, it is more personal and is a great time. Year after year the 145th CAB reunion seems to be attended by mostly former Thunderbirds. I personally plan on attendig this reunion and helping out where I can. More info is available at: http://www.145cab.com/


1. JOHN KIRK & DALE RAMSEY--"My name is John Kirk. I was in Shotgun 10. I have a good buddy named Dale Ramsey and he was in shotgun 8. Dale Ramsey's email is Rams872@aol.com He needs to be added also and I think he knows a few more gunners. Bill Gurley was also in SHOTGUN #. 8 Please contact him and he can give you a few names." John Kirk's email is H2sman@aol.com

2. FLOYD BEEBE--"Hi, I found the site by using the metacrawler (www.metacrawler.com) search engine. I am trying to do some research for my dad. My dad (Floyd Beebe) was wounded over in Vietnam, but never received a Purple Heart for the wounds. He and I have copy of a Record of Injury Report showing that he was wounded during a firing pass over the city of Cu Chi in Dec. of 1966. He has tried to get the matter straightened out. I have also, by sending a letter and copy of the report to my Congressman, but to no avail. If anyone can help from the website I would appreciate it. My dad's health is not very good at this point." Rob Beebe

3. LEE CHAPPELLE--"Glad to read that a few folks are still around from the 63-64 time period. I was there as a Private when the 33rd was packing up to go home and the UH1B's were being picked up at Saigon. I was assigned to the Tech Supply, 573rd and worked night and day to order all the parts necessary to support/sustain the new ac's and turn in all the H21 parts and they were everywhere. I stayed the 2o years and retired as a MSG and work at Redstone Arsenal as a International Programs Specialist. I really enjoyed the team work in the 118th and 573rd and the great people that allowed me to fly once in a while to Vung Tau, 611th to pick up parts and "guff off" a few minutes on the beach. Years later as a "loggie" and in the Cav we would fly to the Corpus Christi Bay and pass over the beach area at Vung Tau and my memory would wonder back to those great days. My e-mail is leechappelle@msn.com if anyone would like to say hello."

4. DALE BULLOCK--My father is Dean Bullock, and he served in the 118th in 1964. He is a long haul truck driver and doesn't use a computer very often. If possible, I would like to get any information you may have on other unit members who served with my dad. One person in particular I know he would like to contact is CPT. Knisely. Any information would be greatly appreciated. ( Greg's email is: sailortanker@hotmail.com )
FC1(SW) Greg Bullock, USN


We have a number of former Thunderbirds who are still in the NG or Reserves. Some of them are in Iraq and SW Asia(not SE Asia like Vietnam...grin). If you know who is and where, please tell me so I can pass it on.

***Ken Simpson, Thunderbird EM in 70-71 time period is now in Iraq with a Tennessee Apache unit. Not sure of his exact location but email is: kenneth.j.simpson@us.army.mil

Ken Simpson inspecting an Apache in Iraq


***Wayne Guffy, Thunderbird WO pilot in 70-71 is in Qatar as a civilian analyst and his email is: WGUFFY@aol.com

Please take a moment and send these guys an email. Remember what a blast it was to get mail from home?? It is a lot easier now with email.

Tom Payne
Tulsa, OK


December 4, 2004


Here is hoping your Thanksgiving was just like you hoped it would be and that your Christmas will be Merry. I would be remiss unless I asked each and everyone of us to be remembering, thinking and yes, Praying for our men and women in Iraq and everywhere else they might happen to be. There are numerous things to tell you about concerning our Thunderbird web site and the many who are finding it everyday.

1. Guest Book--I have the guest book straightened out and it should be working better. Seems the company ceased offering free guest book services and just made it inop until someone "bitched" . So, I subscribed to it for a year at very little cost.

2. We have a number of former Thunderbirds who are still in the NG or Reserves. Some of them are in Iraq and SW Asia(not SE Asia like Vietnam...grin). If you know who is and where, please tell me so I can pass it on.

***Ken Simpson, Thunderbird EM in 70-71 time period is now in Iraq with a Tennessee Apache unit. Not sure of his exact location but email is: kenneth.j.simpson@us.army.mil

***Wayne Guffy, Thunderbird WO pilot in 70-71 is in Qatar as a civilian analyst and his
email is: WGUFFY@aol.com
Please pass on to me the names, locations and emails other former Thunderbirds now active
and deployed.

3. I have had a number of guys find our web site or contact me since the last Update. Below is a list of names and their email addresses:

A.***CHARLES ROSS , a door gunner in the Choppers and Bandits in 70-71: chasross@adelphia.net
B.***JIM FRANEY, in 93rd Med in 65-66: suburude@comcast.net
C.***FRAN MANNONE, was in 573rd and Scorpions in 66-67 and asks if "any body knows two
gunners named Jokest & Powell. Any & all Bro's call @1-978-692-2575 (wk) or 978-392-9607 or Westford Auto Svc, P.O.Box 2094, Westford, MA 01886. Villageiron@hotmail.com
D.***STEVEN KINCAID, 70-71 can be reached at email: kfandb@yahoo.com
E.***CARL FEATHERS, a door gunner in 2nd Plt on Blue 2 says: my CE was Bruce
Jourdaain.a\c Steve Carlson.1968-69. My best friend was James H {Pop Corn}Turner. He lost his life 1969 His
email is: carllln@yahoo.com
F.***GERALD "JERRY" PEFFERS, Bandit 32 in 63-64 is at: gpeffers@tampabay.rr.com
G.***GARY L. COLE said, "I served as an enlisted member of the 118th from 1963 to 1964. Major David B Hayes was the CO when I arrived and Major L. Vincent McNeese was CO when I departed. I would be interested in receiving information on future reunions and also addresses of members who served during '63 and '64, if available. Gary L Cole Major, Retired" Gary's email is: garyleecole@comcast.net
H.***HEINZ ROST, WO pilot in 69 time period would like to hear from some guys he knew.
His email is: harost@msn.com

4. Remember the story of Bandit 2 that has been restored and now flyable in California? And, remember too it appears in an aviation calendar with a couple good-looking "chicks"? Below is an email from Pat Rodgers
about where Bandit 2 is and how you can purchase that calendar:

"Tom, Finally found out where to go to order the 2005 Tantalizing Take-off calendars. http://calendardepot.com/wall_calendars.htm

I believe they're $14.00 each and can be ordered online. The Huey is July or August, and is a pretty nice photo. We are going to be doing another shoot (aerial) for a 2006 aviation calendar later.

The History Channel movie we did last year was temporarily shelved due to the death of the producer or something, and they couldn't say when it would be finished/revived.

We have moved our collection from March Field to French Valley airport (F-70), in Murrieta/Temecula, CA. We were unable to settle with March on a new lease agreement, but are now in a much better setting for people to fly in. Happy Holidays to all, Pat Rodgers"

5. As is becoming more and more prevalent, I am receiving emails from sons and daughters of men who served in or were KIA with the 118th. One that I recently had contact with is Sean Hall, the son of CPT Walter Hall, who was KIA/BNR at Dong Xoai on 10 June 65. Sean seeks to talk to anyone who knew his Dad and flew with him. If any of you former Thunderbirds knew Walter Hall during that time period and would contact Sean Hall about his Dad, his email is: hallhouse@adelphia.net

6. Lastly, but certainly not least, this subject is very important to all Thunderbirds. The book "Thunderbird Lounge" , written by MG Bob Brandt, Ret. has been UPDATED and ENLARGED to 402 pages. More stories and more photos have been revealed since the initial writing. Seems that when many of the Original Thunderbirds started reading it, they began to remember MORE stories and likewise uncovered MORE photos about their year in Vietnam. So, since the book is such a vast and historical book, Bob decided to add the
new things and re-publish it for all to see. You can order it at Trafford Publishing now. Simply go to our 118th Thunderbird web site and the Index or first page and click the link to "Thunderbird Lounge" and then click the link to Trafford Publishing. After that, simply follow the instructions on the publisher's web page to the book.

Guess I better quit, because this update is getting rather long. As I do with all the updates over that last year or so, I also put it in our Thunderbird web site for all to see. Our Thunderbird web site is at: www.gorilla.net/~118ahc

Merry Christmas to all and to all a great 2005!! Gosh we are not getting any younger.

Tom Payne
Bandit 32; 66-67
Tulsa, OK

Sept 10, 2004


Hello Thunderbirds,

I know I sent out an update only last month, but several new things have come to my attention that you need to know about. It is amazing the emails I get from people who have found our web site and want to contact so and so after all the years. I enjoy being the POC and am glad to pass them on to all of you. But, before I get into the 6 items below, let me tell you about a NEW thing added to our Thunderbird web site.

Because the site is getting so large(170 pages, over 1000 photos and 25MB in size), I have added a SEARCH capability. Look at the bottom of the Main page and you will find a SEARCH window. Type in the name or place, or whatever you are looking for, and it will tell you the pages where the item you are looking for is found. This is a subscription service and will be tested for a year to see if it works well. Let me know what you think. Finally, I have been posting these updates on the web site for future reference. The link to them is found on the Main or Index page near the top and at the bottom. Hope these things help as we attempt to keep us old Thunderbirds in touch. Now the latest items below.

1. Whenever I send out an update, I get about 50 "kick-backs" from email addresses that are no longer valid. If you are reading this now, you are not one of those. What I ask you to do is look at the LONG list of former Thunderbirds in the TO: area and alert me to some that are wrong. I don't want to lose any of our guys because of bad email addresses. Your help will be appreciated.

2. Rosemary Haney, wife of Charles "Chuck" Haney, sent an email to say that Chuck passed away on August 16th in Dothan, AL of cancer. Chuck was the Opns Officer for the Thunderbirds in 1966-67. He had attended several of the 145th CAB reunions and was close to a lot of the guys who flew with him in those 66-67 years.

3. Gerald Golding, found our Thunderbird web site and remembers the terrible day of 24 Nov 1969 that is written about in the web site. He says: "I was the crew chief of 66-00771 on November 24, 1969. Just found the web site. In the photo, I am crew chief with the dark hair carrying Wilcox from the area. My door gunner that day was, last name Lonnon (Zaughman), and believe first name was Mike. Dave Norton was a good friend. Missed him when he went home. Believe Lemieux was AKA "Uncle Lem" I see an email address for Dave Norton and will attempt to contact."

Gerald L. Olding
Gerald L. Olding, P.C.
10500-B Abercorn Street
Savannah, GA 31419
(912-927-9966) Day
(912-925-8880) Night

4. Tom Faulds, who was the Platoon Leader of the very last "Shot Gun" platoon found our web site and sent some old orders of his assignment to the 118th. He said, "I visited the 118 th WEB site , I have some input. I served as the Shotgun Platoon leader with the 118th in Sep to Nov 1965 , I have orders and Air Medal citations to authenticate this(he did). I would like to be listed on the ShotGun ( door gunner )| page. (A correction was made and he is now.) As I recall my platoon was the last of the TDY Door Gunners from the| | 25th Inf Division in Hawaii. I returned to Hawaii and the rest of my platoon stayed in RVN with the 118th to finish their tours. Lt Thomas G Faulds , US Army , Of 101433 , 163342611. I live in Columbia SC , I have been here since I left the Army in 1970 , I had two more tours in Vietnam after I left the Thunderbirds , one with the 25 th Inf Div at Cu Chi , Apr 66 to April 67. During that tour I saw Thunderbird Hueys on several occasions. When I was at Bien Hoa in 65 we had D models for Slicks and B models for Gunships , and we used ' bungee cords ' to support the M 60 machine guns and a C-ration can to smooth feed the ammo to the M60 , I remember I and several other guys carried a square steel plate and sat on it to protect our behinds from ground fire." Tom Faulds can be reached at: TOM.FAULDS@bcbssc.com

5. Garrett Ronning, former Thunderbird Bandit has been found and is living in the Olympia, WA area. He supplied a couple of photos from his time in the Bandits and was also helpful in giving his rememberances of the Bandit aircraft that caught fire and burned up on the Nui Dat airfield in 69. That story can be seen on an Aussie web site at: http://au104.org/Veteran_Stories/vetstory36.htm
Garrett does beautiful wood carvings and can be reached at: garrett@ronning.biz

6. Finally, an interesting contact was received from a guy who is trying to find former Thunderbirds who knew Lynn Rathenbuhler who was killed in a B model in 1963. Seems that Lynn Rathenbuhler's grandson is dating this fella's daughter and he is trying to help him. He said: "My daughter's boyfriend is a very nice young College Army ROTC student who plans to be an Army Aviator - and wants to fly helicopters like his grandfather did in the 118th AML. His name is Paul Rothenbuhler - his grandfather was the Lynn H. Rothenbuhler who was sadly the first combat casualty in the UH-1B in the 118th as stated on your site. He was killed in action by ground fire on 28 Dec 63. Paul is the son of Lt. Rothenbuhler's daughter, but as an adult has elected to take his grandfather's name for himself out of love and respect for what he had learned of the man through his grandmother (Lt. Rothenbuler's widow). He is very enthusiastic about learning what he can - any contacts, stories or sources of information would be very much appreciated. He has learned much from his grandmother, but time has misted over some things, and of course there may be personal contacts out there that might provide a very meaningful contact. I showed him the picture of the plaque in front of the ops hooch with pilots / crew chiefs / crews names, including his grandfather's. It was an almost unbelievable touchstone for him to see a picture of something half-way around the world from 40+ years ago where his grandfather served, hard to put in words."
If anyone is able to contact this fella and to provide any memories of Lynn and his service in the 118th, you can contact Jeff Neville at: jeff.neville@gulfstream.com

Keep those cards and letters, and emails, coming. Look for some new photos to be installed on the web page that were recently donated by Donald Roof, Crew Chief on Bandit 3 in the 65 time period.

Tom Payne
Bandit 32
Vietnam 66-67 & 70-71
Tulsa, OK

August 7, 2004

Hello Thunderbirds:

This late summer/early fall update has a number of things that I believe you will find interesting. I have been contacted via email by several family members seeking contact with men who knew their fathers or brothers. Please read them over and respond to them. As the years go by, some of our comrades never told their families and children much about what they did in Vietnam. Then, when they pass away, there is no chance to find out details unless we, who knew them, will do it.

The VHPA annual reunion in Dallas at the Adams Mark was a very good reunion. On Sat afternoon we had a 33rd/118th Thunderbird minireunion and a few surprises happened.....several men who had never been to a reunion and who lived in the region stopped by. Check out the photos and lists of the 30 or so who attended. You can find the photos within the "Reunions" page under "Dallas, TX--July 2004". You will be surprised how time changes all things!! ha

1. The first is from a lady named Anna Ellsworth. Her brother flew with one of the very first Shot Gun platoons in 1963. Here is her email and address. "Hi, my name is Anna. My brother Sgt Jesse Lee Harris was with the Shotgun program I believe in 1963 0r 1964? Do you have anyone I can communicate with that knew by brother? Jesse was killed in action November 19, 1966. His Platoon leader was Rich Cacioppe who dirested me to this wonderful link...God Bless....Anna anna@RemingtonPlasticSurgery.com

2. The second is from an Aussie, Henis Hare, who was at Nui Dat when a Bandit caught fire while refueling. "Hi Thomas---Currently working on a story of US Army Huey 65-09551 that catch on fire after touching down to refuel at Nui Dat on the 12 Aug 1968. Two Bandit's normally came down each day to support our operations and our SAS boys. Story is for the 104 Sig Sqn Web Site at www.au104.comAny records of the crew and what happen? Was one of the crew injured? Any photos of the aircraft. Techo details of its configurations, number of rockets, miniguns, etc? Any other details? Once we write it up would you be happen to check over the details?

Attached is a photo of the the Bandit just after it blow up! Note: Date is a copy date that will be removed.

Regards from downunder

Ex 104 Sig Sqn, 1ATF, SVN
Denis Hare
11 Estate Rd, Middle Park Q 4074
Ph: 07-32793414 Mob: 0419-334535

3. The third is an email from Willis Browder Jr. looking for people who knew his Dad who flew as a pilot in 1962. "My father, Browder A. Willis JR. was a member of the 33rd Transportation Company in 1962-63. I found a photo of him taken by Ness. He was a Cpt. at the time and the Co. OPNS. He passed away in Jan. `97. I'm searching for any information and or photos of his tour of duty during the war. Any information was be greatly appreciated. I can be reached at browder.willis@sdcourt.ca.gov

Many Thanks,
Browder A. Willis III

Hope you remaining summer is a great time for you and your family. Let me know anything about our former Thunderbirds you may find out.
The VHPA reunion next year will be in San Francisco. Then in 2006 it is back to Wash. DC.

All Needles in the Green,
Tom Payne
Tulsa, OK

June 16, 2004


Hello Thunderbirds,

Again, the time has come to fill you in on a number of subjects concerning the 33rd/118th Thunderbirds. Your support and interest in our Thunderbird web site is appreciated. New things are still coming in for the site, although the volume has slowed a bit. It still seems to have a world wide group of visitors with about a dozen hits a day, consistently. That is not bad considering we are not selling anything or trying to bash somebody!! Maybe the summer's reunions will pick up the items to add to our site.

1. Pat Rodgers, the lead guy in the restoration of the UH-1B in Riverside, CA to full Bandit gunship insignias and armament tells that: "Just found out the History Channel movie we did with the Huey 3 months ago will air on June 27, on the History Channel. I think it's called "The RAID". So, what we need to do is keep watching the History Channel for that showing to see the restored UH-1B "Bandit". www.historychannel.com

2. The VHPA reunion at Dallas in the Adams Mark Hotel is just around the corner. So far, from the "Morning Report" of men who have registered so far, there are 20 former Thunderbirds who will be there. They are:

Les Voluche (63-64)
Jack Swickard (67-68)
Ronald Suess (70-71)
Leroy Spivey (69)
Raul "Pete" Smith (68-69)
Tom Payne (66-67)
Chad Payne (63-64)
Donald Parrish (64-65)
Dale Moore (68-70)
Larry Mobley (65-66)
Pat McLarney (64-65)
Reed Kimzey (66-67)
Dennis Gulich (70-71)
Richard Glasgow (62-63)
Gil Ferrey (66)
Jim Ellis (65-66)
Ronnie Disbro (70-71)
Angus Desveaux (66)
Glenn Clark (69-70)
Donald Abrams (70-71)

Many of these men have attended other reunions in the past, but a few are FNG's! Looking forward to meeting one and all. We have a Thunderbird Mini-reunion room reserved for Saturday, July 3rd from 1-5PM in the City View 7 conference room. I know that is the same afternoon the luncheon trip to Mineral Wells takes place, but we will not have to leave the room at 5 PM and can probably use it well after 5, until ??? Pictures will be taken for our web site. My plans are to take them around 4-5PM. Bring your pictures, slides, videos or other items from "those good ole days". If any of our former Thunderbird EM are in the Dallas area, you are welcome to come to that room and join us. We would love to see you again.

3. If you have ever considered making a return trip to Vietnam, there is a group now doing planning for May of 2005. Information is being provided by former Thunderbird Allen Laya who was in the unit in the 63-64 time period. Check out the attached e-mail that Allen sent to me which shows the dates and the 14 day itinerary. Allen is a very accomplished world traveller and has researched a lot of companies and trips that offer Vietnam trips. Email Allen direct if you have questions or are interested in going. I, personally, have a desire to go back and would rather do it with men I can relate to. We can talk more about it in Dallas.

4. Plans are still preleminary for a reunion in Dallas in the Fall. I plan to check out the hotel at DFW airport when I go down for the VHPA reunion. The 145th CAB is planning a reunion in Kansas City next year around June. I have been to several of those and they are good. We might consider Kansas City for an all inclusive reunion of former Thunderbirds.

Have a great summer and hope to see you at a reunion somewhere. Again, remember to send those items for our Thunderbird web site at: www.gorilla.net/~118ahc

Tom Payne
Tulsa, OK

March 24, 2004


Howdy former Thunderbirds,

I have been intending to do an update for several weeks and now is the time because there are several important items you all need to know.

1. Our Thunderbird web site is still growing.....because several guys keep sending me photos and stories. Thanks to Willis Long who keeps digging through his old footlocker of photos and finding some good ones. Thanks Willis. Also, thanks "Doc" Bahnsen for your info and details about Operation Double Eagle in early 1966. There was even a former "grunt" advisor with the ARVN's who sent me a photo of the Thunderbirds and smoke ship landing in an LZ to the NE of Bien Hoa. He is asking to find the pilot/crew that saved his ass when he was an ARVN adivisor. I have attached his request to this email. It will also appear in the next VHPA Newsletter, also. Total hits to the web site now exceed 20,500 and total page views are now at 57,000+ ! I am always amazed to see where the visitors to our Thunderbird web site are from. They are world-wide and from numerous government and military addresses. Indeed, the Thunderbirds were a history making unit in Vietnam and apparently many people are
interested in what we did. Even our present day Apache pilots are interested and have been using our Bandit Tactics SOP as a guide.

2. I am sorry to inform all of you that one of our former Thunderbirds, Bob Michel, passed away after a rather short bout with lung cancer. Bob served in the Thunderbirds in late 66-67 flying with the Bandits as well as the slicks. Bob and his wife, Pattie, lived in Melbourne, FL. Bob Kelley, who flew with Bob and visited him in Melbourne, reports that burial services will be in Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, March 31, 2004.
The funeral services will be held at: Demaine Funeral Home, 520 S. Washington Street Alexandria, VA 22314. Tel: 703-549-0074
Visitation: Noon - approximately 1:00PM
Service: 1:00 - 2:00PM

Full Military Honors Ceremony will immediately follow at Arlington Cemetery - Must follow procession to the gate of Arlington - no taxis allowed.
If you live in the Arlington area and would wish to attend, your presence would be very much appreciated by his family.

3. There have been a number of former Thunderbirds who have contacted me since the last Up-date. Some of them and their email addresses are:

Heinz Rost '69 harost@msn.com
Donald Goodwin DONALDGOO@msn.com
Patrick Matheny '65 PMathenyWV@webtv.net
Robert R.Zesiger '63 ZESIGER@terra.es
Marshall Jackson '63 marshall179@webtv.net

4. Pilots remember the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Assoc. (VHPA) annual reunion this year at Dallas, TX. It will be July 1-4 at the Adams Mark Hotel in downtown Dallas. Go to the VHPA web site at: www.vhpa.org for info and registration. We are planning a 118th Thunderbird Mini-reunion at the VHPA reunion on July 3rd from 1-5PM. A special room will be reserved for us in the hotel for that. Plans are still being contemplated for the fall in Dallas for all former Thunderbirds, possibly.

Let me know any info to pass on and keep those photos and stories coming for our web site at: www.gorilla.net/~118ahc

PLEASE NOTE MY NEW EMAIL ADDRESS IS NOW: bandit32@cox.net NOT "gorilla.net"

Tom Payne
Tulsa, OK

December 18, 2003


Hello Thunderbirds:

I find the time has come for another update to you concerning a number of things of interest.

1. The UH-1B that was referbished by Pat Rodgers, the director of Maintenance for the Whittier Aviation Museum, in Riverside,Ca. has been completed. The aircraft was used in 3 scenes for a History Channel movie that was shot on Monday, Nov 19th. Attached are two photos taken and sent by Pat, who actually flys the aircraft. I am hoping some Thunderbirds in the Riverside, CA area will go by and see the aircraft and talk to Pat.
Also, hoping Pat will send some more photos.

2. Jean Smasal, a former Thunderbird pilot who lives in Clifton, VA, recently attended the Grand Opening and Dedication for the new Annex to the National Air and Space Museum on 9 December as a salute to Military Aviation Veterans. The Annex is located at the Dulles airport just outside of Washington, DC. I am sure many of you might have seen the news coverage about this opening. Amazingly, Jean has found out that there is one UH-1H among the many aircraft of the Annex and that Huey was in the 118th Thunderbirds from Oct 69-Apr
70!! In fact, the 118th was the last unit the aircraft was in in Vietnam. The serial number of the UH-1H is 65-10126!! As you can see from the photo attached to this email, 65-10126 has not YET been painted with any logos, which means there might just possibly be a chance we could convince the Smithsonian to use the 118th Thunderbird colors and markings on the aircraft. Jean has been in contact with MG Carl McNair, Ret. of the Wash DC area to see how we can go about getting this job done. MG McNair, I believe, was the CO of the 145th CAB during the time this aircraft was in the 118th. Such a small world and what a coincidence. If any of you live in the Wash DC area, you might be interested in going to the newly opened Smithsonian Annex. And, if any of you want to join in our mission, your ideas and help will be much appreciated.

3. The AAAA is presently voting on the next inductee for the AAAA Hall of Fame. BG John C. "Doc" Bahnsen, Jr., a former 118th Thunderbird and Bandit during the 65-66 time period is one of the candidates. Likewise, MG Carl H. McNair, Jr Ret. is one of the candidates and he was CO of the 145th CAB during the 69 time period. If you are member of the AAAA and would like to know more you can check their web site out at: www.quad-a.org All the 24 candidates are featured in the latest Nov 03 issue of "ArmyAviation" magazine.

4. I have had emails from a number of former 118th Thunderbirds in the last couple months
who have just found our 118th web site.
a. Joe Lemieux lives in Westlake, OH and his email is: ejl@core.com
b. Norman Bixler who was the NCOIC of the Commo Shop(Jan-Dec 1970) and his email
is: nbixler@gtcom.net
c. Dan Chase who was a CE in 69-70 and his email is: dchase@bendcable.com
d. C. Joseph "Duke" DuShane who was in the first group of 25th Div ShotGunners in
63 on the H-21's and his email is: DuShane007@msn.com
e. Bill Leary who was in the 118th in 66-67-68 and his email is: onenarc@worldnet.att.net

That is all of the latest happenings concerning the Thunderbirds. Hope all your have a
very Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year.

Tom Payne
Tulsa, OK



October 26, 2003


Hello Thunderbirds,

More things have been happening in last couple of weeks that I thought you might be interested in. People are seeing our web site and emailing me and asking lots of questions. Since the web site was put on the internet there have been just over 15,000 hits on just the Main page where I have a counter and a total of over 50,000 page views. No telling how many total page views there have been. Also, old Vietnam era helicopters are turning up all over the place and some of them are old Thunderbird aircraft. I will tell you more below.

1. Ronald T. O'Keefe----As I mentioned in a previous update, one of the enlisted men (Ronald T. O'Keefe) who was living in the 118th area on Bien Hoa Airbase and was killed in the rocket/mortar attack of 1 Nov 1964, was from Blue Earth, MN. He apparently was the first person from that county in MN to be killed in the Vietnam war. The Faribault County paper editor previously wanted to know more about him and some details of his death for a special piece in their paper this coming Veterans' Day. One of you responded to the editor, but that is all I am aware of. Now O'keefe's two sisters have contacted me and want to know more about his friends and buddies. Their names are: Marilyn Barnick at smcrb@bevcomm.net and Sharon ('O'Keefe) Grunzke at sgrunzke@bevcomm.net Both ladies are interested in finding one of their brother's good buddies at the time of
his death named Roger A. Carter from Brooklyn, NY. Anyone who can help them out, please do so. They seem to be truly interested in finding someone they can talk to.

2. Thunderbird Aircraft---Previously, I told you about a UH-1B that was being rebuilt, from ground up, at the Whittier Aviation Museum, in Riverside,CA. Pat Rodgers, the Dir. of Maintenance is in charge of the job and he has sent me pictures all along showing the progress and they are IMPRESSIVE!! Plans are to have the bird flyable sometime next month in order to be in some movie shoot in next couple of months. While this aircraft (UH-1B 62-2084) is not a former Thunderbird or Bandit, Pat is painting it up like Bandit 2 from the 1964 time period. I have attached several photos of the great job he is doing. He is primarily using photos from our 118th Thunderbird web site to pattern the logos from that time period.


Now a very interesting twist has developed about this rebuild of a Bandit 2. Pat sent me
this email just yesterday


"You guys may be interested, and saddened. I discovered UH-1C 65-09506, aka Bandit 7, at China Lake Naval Weapons Test Center. She was used as a target for missile testing of some sort. I have not been allowed to take pictures on the range, but she's been shot up pretty bad. I've got parts off her here at the museum, mostly stuff from the M5 gun system, but some other bits and pieces that were serviceable have been installed on our B
model, so part of her will fly again! There's more than one piece on the New Bandit! All of the back seat attaching hardware, Tail rotor drive shaft cover, & some electronics, are now in use! I also have one of the data plates with the numbers on it, that I salvaged
from 506."



Now let me give you some piece of history about this shot-up hulk of Bandit 7 that Pat has found at China Lake Naval Weapons Test Center.....she is the bird that Jim Thorne and Wayne Walker had an incident in and a near mid-air while doing autorotations on May 2, 1968!!! This Bandit 7 was in the 118th from Oct 66 thru Feb 69 and was flown 1465 hours. Too bad she is being used as a firing range target!! But, as Pat says, he removed some of
her parts and is using them on the aircraft he is rebuilding now!! Way to go Pat.

So you see, there are some interesting things happening. I hope you have enjoyed hearing about them. I didn't even mention the story of the former UH-1H model that was a former Thunderbird and was recently on E-Bay!! You can see that story by linking from the Index page at the bottom where I mention several former hunderbird aircraft that have been seen around the USA. No one bought her, last I heard.

Keep in touch,

Tom Payne
Tulsa, OK

October 11, 2003


Hello Thunderbirds:

Time to tell you of a couple things since our last email.

1. Below you will see some of the latest photos of the UH-1B 62-2084 that is being painted in 118th Bandit colors at the Whittier Aviation Museum in Riverside, CA. As I told you recently, this aircraft did NOT serve in the 118th in its early days of 1962-63, but did serve with the 101st starting at Ft. Campbell, KY and then on to Vietnam(14 repaired holes in her). The numerous emails I received from some of you early guys, who were present when the 25 ea UH-1B's replaced the CH-21C's, was that the serial numbers assigned to the 118th were from 62-2038 thru 62-2063. So, that puts this aircraft outside that sequence. No matter.....If they want to paint this aircraft like a 118th Bandit, power to them and we can be proud of the recognition! They apparently plan to make the aircraft flyable and "rent" it to the movie makers for their use, thus raising $ for their Whittier Aviation Museum in Riverside, CA.

Alert!!! Any of you guys who live near the Whittier Aviation Museum in Riverside, CA. need to make a trip to the museum and see for your selves and send me photos. Besides, you can "supervise" the painting to make sure it is accurate!! What say???

2. I have recently been contacted by several former Thunderbirds who found our web site at: www.gorilla.net/~118ahc and they include:

a. Ed Mros EMros@bellhelicopter.textron.com Who is still working for Bell and is presently in Baghdad as a Tech Rep!
b. Walter Menning menning@mayo.edu Who was one of the very early "Shot Gun" Platoon Leaders to the 118th in 65.
c. Ken Simpson remember911ny@juno.com who was a Doorgunner on Blue 10 and Blue 6 in 70-71 and who still is in TN Army Nat'l Guard and works on AH-64's.
d. Thomas Monroe Monroe Thomas N SMSgt AFMLO/FOE who was a Crew Chief in the 118th in 70-71 and is in USAF.
e. Lloyd Doug Keith LDkeith@aol.com who was a pilot in the original 33rd who came over in 1962-63.
f. Joe Lemieux ejl@core.com who was a Platoon Ldr and pilot in 1969.

All these guys have been added to my Thunderbird email address book which now numbers over 355 guys. If your email address changes, PLEASE let me know the new address. I am getting some "kick-backs" now which tells me some of you have changed email addresses and didn't tell me.

Finally, anymore comments about having an all inclusive(PPilot and Crewmembers) Thunderbird reunion next year in DFW?? I need some volunteers living in DFW area to help with the planning and arrangements. Let me know.

Tom Payne
Bandit 32
Tulsa, OK

August 23, 2003

Hello once again former Thunderbirds,

Busy summer months have brought several items to me that I thought you all would be interested in hearing about. So, here goes.

1. The widow of Shot Gun Platoon Commander, John W. Irving, Jr. who was KIA on May 8, 1965 contacted me to say she was writing a book about a Vietnam widow and would like to talk to anyone who knew her husband, John Irving. He was one of the 25th Div TDY Shot Gun Platoon Leaders and was very well respected by those who served under him or who knew him. Her email address is: Normadonlon@aol.com

2. I also had an email from John Ferrara who was the crew chief of Bandit 3 in 1969. He was shot down April 20th of that year and just found our Thunderbird web site. Anyone wishing to contact John can do so at:

3. SFC Roscoe "Pappy" Batton's son, Roscoe III contacted us to say that Pappy passed away in 1993 at Ft. Campbell Ky. He was a civilian worker there. He didn't change much from the picture(sitting on top of Huey as seen in a photo in 573rd Trans Det. page) till he left us.

4. A former Thunderbird Huey is not on display in Belle Plaine, MN. Steve Jones, a Vietnam Vet. spotted the Huey and sent me several great photos that show her sitting on a "tall stick". You can see the photos and read about the display on our 118th Thunderbird web site under "I remember when....Page 9" Check it out.

5. And I think I might have already mentioned to all of you that the Tactics Manuel written for the 118th Bandits was put to good use by young attack helicopter pilots in Afghanistan! The story goes like this: "Just a
note to thank you guys for posting your tactics on the web. I'm the Standardization Instructor Pilot/ Instrument Examiner, for C/1-229 AVN RGT, Ft. Bragg, NC. We are equipped with the Longbow Apache now and recently returned from the war in Afghanistan. We are preparing to return to the thearter of operations in the near future.

I was a Cobra pilot several years ago and a lot of the tactics you have posted on the web were comon knowledge and used often, but with the age of technoligy, those tactics went by the wayside. Now step into today....Guess
what, we're doing tactics you guys defined 35 years ago. There aren't too many of us former Cobra pilots still around so we're often looked at like crazy people when we talk of running and diving fire and close range
shooting. Coincidentally, before we went to Afghanistan last year, we printed several copies of your Tactics Guide and used it to train by. The end result was we had a successful tour. We've turned in our "A" model Apache's and now are Longbow Apache equipped and will soon rejoin the war effort. I've been teaching the new guys the ways of old and have printed several copies of your Tactics Guide to help me out. Althought we're no longer seeing Huey's on the Battlefield, the techinques are still very much valid. My company, C/1-229 AVN RGT, is part of the Blue Max Association and is carrying the Blue Max ARA into the future. I am sure you know of the BM Association. I will share your site with the Association President, Russ Warriner. I'm sure he will be pleased with your website. He as a crewmember and gunner on Huey's back when turbine engines were new to the game.
Thanks again, hope to hear from you. "
CW3 Zac Noble
Blue Max 11
C/1-229 AVN RGT
Ft. Bragg, NC

That is about all this go-a-round. There is already some rumblings about
having a stand-alone Thunderbird reunion for both pilots and EM next year in
Dallas. Any suggestions, let me know. We need to make it happen, in my

Tom Payne
Tulsa, OK



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