Rustic 37 Has Departed the Fix
Our good friend and comrade-in-arms,
Lt.Col. Merle Shields (ret.) has left our group for eternally CAVU
conditions. He was a great guy with
many accomplishments during his time here.
You may read his obituary here if you like.
Bob Harris and his wife
Cheryl have just completed a sizeable roadtrip to visit several of our group
at their homes. Here is one of the
photos showing their visit with Wayne Baker and his wife Leslie. More pics and a narrative may follow.
Redeye R-33, Cheryl, Stump R-22, Leslie
Rustic Wild Bill Goes Off-Grid
Wild Bill Healy has
apparently decided enough is enough in Texas, and for that matter, maybe any
highly populated area.
view from our deck
“We are now residents of Lake City, CO
as of May 16th 2016. Much more to do, but the worst is over.” - Bill
To my fellow Rustic buddies,
I have been pretty quiet these last few years, but I came across
this news about Google Earth and Angkor Wat.
Some of our gang have been there.
Those who have not (including me), can get a real nice
"virtual" tour. I have
wanted to go there for a long time, probably highschool days. I had relatives living in China
during the 1930s, and other times.
They had told me about Angkor Wat back then. My great-grand uncle (something like that) was president of the
Chinese division of the American Tobacco Co., so they travelled a lot. Here
is the link
I have flown over the complex when I was
returning from a couple of days off in Ubon, back to Ban Me Thout. I may post a map latter, but obviously,
Angkor Wat is a long way from the route back to BMT!
I would like to say to everyone that being a Night Rustic
was a great way to start on my tour in Vietnam. (except, I still stay up late
at night)! A great group of guys.
Bill Carruthers, Rustic 34
Rustic “Over” Participated
In Retirement Ceremony
Don Mercer, Rustic 41, who was responsible for submitting at
least 30 awards being belatedly approved for individual Rustics by the Air
Force's Board of Review, attended the retirement ceremony of USAF Colonel Joe
Lineberger in Washington DC, during January of 2012. Don participated in the ceremony and
presented the Col. with a personalized copy of the newest book version, The
Rustics. Over worked with Col.
Lineberger for over 10 years, but had never met him until being invited to
attend his ceremony. Ed. note:
This invitation speaks highly for Don’s professionalism and tactful
persistence with the Board (AFBCMR) by being honored to participate. He must
have made quite the impression in Washington….
Nicely done, Over!!!
Rustic Zeke Rides Again!
Las Vegas, NV.--
Nellis Air Force Base hosts an open house every year for the public called Aviation
Nation, which culminates each day with the Thunderbirds flying their
aerial show. This event was held
November 12th through the 14th, 2010 and purports to be
the world’s largest and best military airshow by showcasing many additional
aerial demonstrations and performances in all types of aircraft, not to
mention numerous static displays of planes.
Over the past several years, Commodore Aerospace Corporation which
owns, sells and flies vintage Cessna O-2A Forward Air Control aircraft from
the Vietnam War era, was again invited to Aviation Nation to display their
aircraft type. In addition, they were
also asked this year to participate in a daily airshow performance by flying
one of their O-2A’s in a reenactment of a Forward Air Controller (FAC)
mission entailing the rescuing of a downed F-4 fighter pilot. As an ex-USAF Rustic FAC pilot from that
era, Mr. David DeKoker, a native of Morocco,
IN now residing in Largo,
FL was invited by Commodore owner Mr. Don Nieser, to fly in the daily
simulated aerial rescue performance for the crowd. During the performance, all the radio transmissions between
Rustic 32 and other aircraft were heard over the crowd’s PA system. Other aircraft participating in this
rescue were: an F-4 Phantom; two A-1E Skyraiders; and a UH-1 Huey
helicopter. This was Zeke’s first
aerial performance in an airshow and his emotions ranged from nervous to
anxious, to emotional, to proud, to “absolutely awesome!” He says he will always remain very
grateful for the honor and opportunity of participating. Following Aviation Nation, he helped fly
the three O-2’s in formation back to Oklahoma
City where they are based.
The black bird was
used for the performance.
Over the Rockies
heading home VFR to OKC.
– Webmaster Zeke
Ever Wonder how our O-2s got to SEA?
to read this
amusing account as written by Colonel Wood.
R-30 Requests Rejoin!
A previous O-2A driver has recently contacted us and has
rejoined the formation! Some may
remember Tom (Jammer) Jamrosy from the later months of the Bien Hoa
operation. Rustic 30 was his call
sign and he served in our mission from April thru July of 1971. You can find his contact information here on the site.
Rustic Website Activated Since
YOUR INPUT IS ALWAYS REQUESTED!
Please send all news items
of significant events in your life if you would like them posted here.
This site is hosted through contributions from the
Night Rustic FACs and designed by webmaster Dave (Zeke) DeKoker of Absolutely
Go to Events & Outings tab for details.
“I am America”
Our nation is alive and speaks up in this
excellent Memorial Day narrative authored by a man in Florida. Click here to read
The Night Rustic Patch Flies Again
April 14th, I and Cheryl joined up with Doug Aitken, Claude Newland,
Lendy Edwards and Tom Capps for a briefing on the Rustic call sign
history. Last year (2016), Captain Charles Cole of the 74th Fighter
Squadron (Flying Tigers) had asked his Squadron CO if a history wall for
their Rustic call sign could be displayed in their Squadron HQ
building. Permission was granted and Capt. Cole started doing some
research. He located the Rustic.Org website and contacted Doug
Aitken. The 74th FS is part of the Air Combat Command, 23rd Wing based
at Moody AFB, Valdosta, GA. Their squadron history goes all the way back
to the legendary "Flying Tigers" which is now using the Rustic call
sign, so we are now a part of the Flying Tigers history. The 74th
is flying the A-10.
all met at Moody late on April 13th and prepared to give a briefing on
our history flying combat over Cambodia,1970-1973. The
14th schedule included a morning breakfast, midday hour long briefing to
the 74th, tour of their operations, sim flight in the A-10 and some war story
time at the bar. Each of us gave a brief description of our top secret
mission using the OV-10 and O-2. At the end of the briefing a copy of
our book was presented to the 74th.
part included what night operations were like compared to the day
timers. I basically said that it was pretty much the same except we did
it in the dark with no guns, no armor, no lights, bad weather and high pucker
factors. I also told them how the O-2 was ferried to SEA. I
saved the rest for the bar.
of the day was seeing the Rustic Patch being worn by the new warriors of our
time. I thought about Go-Go Gonzales and how proud he will be when he
finds out that his drawing is still in the air. And, being worn proudly
by the new Rustic pilots. I think Cheryl's highlight was hearing the
stories around the bar and being around a lot of real stud muffins. Click on the photos to view larger
image. -- Redeye
Sleepytime Forerunner Photo
wife, Gloria, sent in a group photo of the Sleepytime pilots of our unit just
before we received the Rustic mission.
Jerry was apparently absent the day this was taken –probably sleeping
as all should have been. Check out
the photo to see
who you may recognize.
Thanks to all
of you who helped provide the names of these men. We are still missing a couple actual names, so please help out
if you can.
BNA to HYK !
ALWAYS WITH ME
Taken on one of my CIRRUS SR-22 trips from Nashville to
Hickory, NC. I am blessed to still do it. (Ed.
Note: Yes you are, Mike!)
- Chunk Thrower,
Check Out Kudos
from Native Cambodian
I received two unsolicited emails (one
forwarded from Claude Newland) from
Mr. Chhun and feel his comments are very worthy of posting on our Kudos page. Please
check it out.
Mr. Chhun and wife
Still Looking - Still Looking, Calling Night Rustics!! We need your Tour photos
Photographs taken during your SEA tour are needed
for posting in the Photo Gallery on this website. If you have a scanner, please scan your photos singly or in
gang sheets. Save your prints into a
.jpg or .bmp format and send as an email attachment to webmaster.
You are always sending out
good stuff and I enjoy it. Sometimes
I think back to what we all did and what it took in our day to earn one Air
Medal. As I recall, it was twenty
combat missions 120nm or more from “home”, with a 1-50,000 map, at night with
an antiquated Starlight Scope or a $15,000 "Coffee Can", where, at
times, the only thing lighting the pitch black Cambodian night was the
sparkle of small arms or the red/orange tracks of tracers. I'd say we earned
every one. But over the years, I've
noticed the Air Medal, typically associated with combat, has lost that luster
and significance. The overuse of this
award in peace time has diluted the value and meaning it was supposed to
I was cleaning out the
garage today and came across a paper I thought you'd be interested in. It was issued by the Headquarters, IX
Troop Carrier Command, on 15 November
1944. Here's the meat of what it says
"Section II: Awards of the Air Medal
........Headquarters, United states Strategic Air Forces in
Europe, subject: 'Awards and Decorations', dated 8 Sep 1944, an AIR MEDAL is
awarded to the following named
officers, organizations and residences as indicated, for the
meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flights during the
period 17 Sep 1944 to 23 Sep 1944. As
Troop Carrier glider pilots, these officers demonstrated exceptional
airmanship and resolution in the execution of missions vital to the vertical
envelopment of enemy positions in Holland. Piloting their gliders over extended
routes in difficult weather, and braving hails of flak and small-arms fire,
they formed part of the vast glider armada which successfully landed
thousands of airborne troops and huge quantities of combat equipment and
supplies at designated objectives behind enemy lines. Their outstanding achievements
in the greatest operation in military history reflect the highest credit upon
the military forces of the United
A single Air Medal, but
what it represented was the heroism and perseverance to preserve the free
world. The operation referred to
here is "Market Garden".
The first name on the list, 1Lt. Clyde M. Litton.
Before Market Garden, he
was at Normandy and, like others, went on to volunteer for the Christmas
mission to resupply Bastogne, taking in ammunition and being
"snatched" out with wounded onboard. For all of that, his uniform,
neatly pressed and stored in a steamer trunk, has simply one lonely ribbon,
but what a story it tells.
By the way, he is still
around. The stories would make a great movie.
John Litton - Air Unit Manager/Supervisory
Lancaster Aviation Unit
Regional Aviation Group
for the letter John, and thanks for allowing it to be published.
Send your best stuff,
B&W or color
New Hero Shot Just Posted
I just received a great photo
of the late Lt.Col Jerry Auth by his steed from his wife Gloria.
Jerry was tapped to be the
very first pilot to fly our top secret Rustic mission during the initial
ground invasion into enemy sanctuaries just inside Cambodia.
Logos for Your Use
and they are FREE!
O-2A and new Night Rustic
Logos have been submitted to the site for your personal use on any print or
digital items of your choice. Click here to view and
ROADTRIP – August, 2014
91 HOLES OF GOLF
don’t usually drive 500 miles, one way, just to play golf. However, when a dear friend invites you to
do anything you go, if at all possible.
Of course, I live outside Washington, DC and Ace lives just a couple
of miles outside Burneyville, OK. We
met with five others from Texas and Oklahoma in Highlands, NC to play golf
over a three day weekend in mid-August.
Ace and Hangar-man flew to Franklin, NC in Ace’s plane and the others
came commercially into Atlanta, GA then drove over to Highlands in a
rental. It took me considerably
longer even though I was much closer.
But it was well worth the drive.
for you non-golfers, most of the time you play either 9 or 18 holes at least
some multiple of nine. How did we end
up playing 91 you might ask? First of
all only I and Hangar-man actually played 91 holes. The first day all seven played 36. The second day three of us (me, Ace and Hangar-man) played 37
and the others played 36. And the
third day Hangar-man and I played another 18. Why 37 you might ask?
Somehow we got lost between number 10 and 15. So we backtracked to number 11 then played
15 a second time. We didn’t do any
better the second time so our score did not improve.
had never played more than 18 holes of golf in a day. But this story is not about the scores but
endurance and a miracle payoff. The third day it was just Hangar-man and
me. We decided to play another 18 at
the Franklin Municipal course in Franklin, NC. Here is where the story gets real interesting, at least for me. The fifth hole was a par 3. I used my 5 iron since the pin was around
170 yards away from the tee box. I
don’t usually hit a 5 longer than about 150, but I didn’t want to over shoot
the green. That’s assuming I hit it
at all. The ball landed about 18 inches in front of the hole then bounced to
about 3 inches on the other side of the pin.
Hangar-man said that it looked close to the hole. I was shocked that I even got to the
green. After a closer inspection, we
saw a divot the size of the hole and the ball just inches away from a
I had to take a picture of this miracle shot. At first I couldn’t get the cell camera to work. Then I forgot to even pick up my
ball. Hangar-man said it was close
enough for a birdie so I didn’t even hit in the hole. Then even after retrieving my ball I
forgot to repair the divot. Oh well,
my golfing manners could use some work.
Actually I left the divot so that the greens keeper would know where
the hole should have been and for posterity purposes. You can see the picture below.
it worth driving 1,000 miles just to play golf? You bet it was. Met
some new friends, saw some old friends and almost shot a hole-in-one. Not a bad three day experience.
‘stroked’ by: Robert ‘Redeye’ Harris
“Over” Completes His Largest Book Project
Don (Over) Mercer, Rustic
41, has informed us that his latest work, a book on the Night O-2A Rustic
mission in Cambodia
has been completed and is in the hands of the publisher at this time. This was quite a large endeavor for Don
and has taken years in traveling for the collection of one-on-one video-taped
interviews, transcription, research, compilation and writing of this
book. We have all been eagerly
waiting for Over to get his “baby” done.
The book is titled Lights Out – Destination Darkness
Day Issues Remind Us
Why U.S. Needs to Follow the Law
1/14/2010 2:25:00 PM
Letter to the Editor
Frank E. Sovich
Yesterday my hope and undaunted
faith in this country was rekindled as I attended a "naturalization
ceremony" in Kansas City,
Kan. It was truly an
inspiration to see folks from Afghanistan, Laos, Vietnam, Turkey, Cambodia,
China, Russia, India, Cameroon, the Philippines, United Kingdom, Brazil,
Mexico and so many other countries; 85 folks in all, stand tall and be
For them, it was a birthday, as the judge put it, an awakening of a new
day. After years of painstaking immigration trials, a substantial amount of
personal fortune paid for both the process and lawyers, they had finally
made it to the Promised Land!
As they stood there, their names were read with their country of origin,
and the job they currently held; software engineer, real estate agent,
translator for the United Nations, university professor, internet engineer,
and on and on. And then, boom, it descended upon me like a bolt of
lightning. These men and women are legals! There really truly is a process.
A person from Gambia, Iran,
and any other place on the globe can actually get here, legally! The
government wasn't lying, it can be done!
I guess that is why the question of illegal immigration is such a tenable
subject. That method comes, at a minimum, complete, with the immigrants'
demands shouted via a bullhorn, street demonstrations demanding recognition
of their countries' flag, and compromises scripted by greedy politicians.
Oops, that dark side is trying to sneak out; sorry.
But yesterday, I was truly humbled, and that in itself as those who know me
will attest to is a truly remarkable feat. There were so many in that room
who certainly could have matched my paltry accomplishments without blinking
an eye. I mean, I already knew English, all I had to do was get the degree.
The United States
was in full bloom in that courtroom. It was truly a beautiful thing to
behold. Our strength really does lie in these people. They ask for nothing,
they demand nothing save for getting their shot at success. They had a
dream, they fought like heck to make it happen, no one handed them
anything, and now they stand shoulder to shoulder with us; the oath of
allegiance is complete, the certificate of naturalization is in their hand.
Yes, it can be done.
As we were leaving, I felt obligated to find the three soldiers in uniform
that also went through the process and shake their hands. I was truly
speechless, misty eyed as I held out my hand. Perhaps the glare from the
combat medals had something to do with my emotional state. I mean they were
proud members of the Big Red One; the army division that landed in Normandy
on D-Day, the same division I supported with airstrikes on the Cambodian
border in 1970, and now these young men had certainly proven their meddle
in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I guess that pride is true of our entire
military; young men and women willing to go in harm's way to keep you and
God love each and every one of them. After that, there was only one last
thing to do. I had to locate and hug that guy from Turkey.
I mean after all, he was my son-in-law.