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The Flash of the SAMs

41stTEWS shoulder patch
41stTEWS shoulder patch
41stTEWS shoulder patch

Sometimes a newspaper or magazine article, or television story, is so true to life that it grabs you by the throat and won’t let go.

Earlier this week I was thrilled when the January/February 2014 edition of The VVA Veteran arrived in my mailbox.

I always devour the contents The VVA Veteran, because of the articles, and regular features such as The Locator, which helps Vietnam Vets locate the guys we served with in combat; and the Veterans Benefits Committee Report which often contains valuable information about my veterans benefits that I can’t get anywhere else.

But when I tried to read Richard Currey's article, "Bill Milcarek & the Flash of the SAMs,” I had to put the paper down and walk away.

Currey hit the nail right on the head when he described the MIG attack on Milcarek’s B-52.

In an instant, I was back strapped into my ejection seat in the navigator bombardier’s station of an EB-66E near Vinh, North Vietnam in April 1969, when we were jumped by a North Vietnamese MIG, who fired an air-to air missile up our tail.

To this day, I have no absolutely idea how that missile missed or how I survived that moment.

I couldn't finish Currey's article. I had to walk away. But I feel that Currey's article will help other people understand what some of those combat missions were like.

I firmly believe that if you’ve never been there and done that, then you really don’t have a frapping clue what it was like; and neither would I.

I’ve flown combat missions over North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, but I never carried an M-16 and slogged through the Mekong Delta, so I can never understand what my brother Joe went through, God rest his soul.

My brother Joe and I both knew what is like to stare death in the face, and keep doing your job anyway.

But I don’t have any idea what it was like for Joe as an infantryman in the Delta during Tet. Just as Joe never had any idea what it was like in the air over North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos.

I also have absolutely no idea what it was like for my brother-in-law, Bill, who served as an advisor to a South Vietnamese naval unit. I’ve never been in the Navy, and I’ve never patrolled the coast of South Vietnam in a small boat.

That’s why Currey's article struck so close to home.

Currey is a former Navy Corpsman and longtime contributor to the VVA Veteran. But somehow, even though he had never been there and done that in the skies over North Vietnam, Currey got it right.

His article made my skin crawl, and it literally made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

If you want to understand what it was like for the aircrews in the skies over North Vietnam and Laos, then check out Currey’s article. It is available on the VVA Veteran Online website at

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