More About FACs
A Shau Valley
A Shau SF Camp
Hué Cit Airfield
Battle of Hué (Tet 1968)
Close Air Support
Rules of Engagement
Battle at Hua Cu
Trail Dust Mission
Hammer 51 Rescue
Search for Jolly 23
Search Area Map
Link to Past
Vietnam plus 33
Click images for larger view
Hué Citadel Airfield, RVN - August 1968
Zamperini Field, Torrance, CA - June 2002
In June 2002 I had an unusual reunion with a "buddy" from Vietnam.
The "buddy" was one of the O-2s I had flown as a FAC at Hué
during 1968-69. The best part was, I actually got a chance to
fly her again.
As so many stories go today, we met on the Internet.
Actually, her current owner found me from this Web site.
In February 2002 I received an e-mail from a man in California who
told me how much he enjoyed this site.
What particularly fascinated him, however, was the airplane pictured
at the top of the O-2 page.
"I'm the current owner of that aircraft!" he told me.
He purchased the plane in 1999 and was doing a Web search for the
tail number (67-21309) to learn more about its history when he
stumbled onto my site.
I do not remember why I even bothered to add the tail number to that
photo when I started the site in 2001, but what an incredible stroke
of luck it turned out to be.
The airplane was based at Zamperini Field in Torrance, CA,
owner, Mitch Taylor, invited me out to fly with him sometime.
In June 2002 I took him up on the offer.
It was a real thrill just to see the airplane again; flying it
was off the scale!
It is in almost mint condition with all the original radios and other
Mitch even has two pods with wooden rockets that he hangs on the
wings for air shows, but he is understandably a little nervous about
flying around with them over a major metropolitan area in light of
heightened security concerns.
[Note: This was written in the aftermath of 9/11.]
I was surprised at how good an O-2 looks when it is clean and with a
glossy paint job - not the typical SEA forward operating location
The current picture (above) does not do justice to how good it looks.
And, yes, I know the airplane has held up better over the
years than I have, but then it has had both engines rebuilt, new
props, and major cosmetic surgery (including bullet hole patches).
I am still on the original equipment all around!
Mitch Taylor, Tom Pilsch
(Click for larger image)
Click here for additional photos and information on 309.
The day of the flight was a sunny Southern California afternoon.
We flew out and around Santa Catalina Island and then down the coast
to San Clemente and back.
A great experience!
The O-2 was never known for its blistering performance, but I was
surprised at how much more nimble it was without the rocket pods and
a full load of gas, even with two non-standard weight pilots aboard.
In checking my logbook prior to the trip to California, I was struck
by the number of memorable missions I had flown in this particular
Some were humorous, others deadly serious but all brought back
poignant memories of what was a pivotal experience in all our lives.
It also brought thoughts of our brothers who did not return from
Southeast Asia and the unanswerable question of why was I so lucky.
My thanks to Mitch Taylor and people like him who help keep the memories of those heroes alive.
Click here for more on my experience with '309'
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