Rustic Hoppy Hopkins and his wife Karin have
hopped to a new home location still in Buckeye. Congratulations to them and you can get
their new address on the Contact Info page tab above.
Rustic 34 Relocation
Mike “Chunk” Thrower kicking back near his new digs
paddling along on some South Carolina waterway. Not sure who his new “kayak gang” is that
is backing him up, but they look pretty incognito and tough, haha.
Night Rustic Challenge Coin
Damon “Rustic Go-Go” Gonzalez approached Zeke a
few years ago with the idea of designing a custom Night Rustic Challenge
Coin, but somehow the idea got lost. He
recently tried again and this time the two of them sprang into action and
they are in the process of minting and distributing same. They have canvassed the full Night Rustic
Roster twice via email for those interested in purchasing coins. The overall order is about to be placed for
nearly 170 coins! To all those who
ordered, “Thanks!” for making this effort a huge success.
-- “Go-Go”, R-46 & “Zeke”, R-32
Mrs. Margaret Sovich
“Maggi” Sovich was recently laid to rest a
little over a year from her passing into her final resting spot at NAS
Pensacola, home of the Blue Angels.
Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers over this past
year. By the way, the old man cleans
up pretty good.
- Daughter Julie
Frank, Rustic 36,
with his children in Pensacola
“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
DD-214’s Available Online
National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) has provided the following website
for veterans to gain access to their DD-214 online: http://vetrecs.us/
NPRC, however, will still take several weeks to months to process your
DD-214. If you require your DD-214
promptly, you’ll need to hire a private research company with researchers
located at the various facilities where your DD-214 may be located. This will
cut the waiting time veterans have had in the past to obtain copies of their
DD 214’s and will be particularly helpful when they need a copy of their
DD-214 for employment purposes.
of these companies is Touchstone Research Group. You can find a description
of their DD-214 Express Service at http://dd214express.com/info/.
and his wife Cheryl made 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,
Shot Now Posted
a great photo
of the late Lt.Col Jerry Auth by his steed from his
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.
Rustic Wild Bill
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
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
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
Wonder how our O-2s got to SEA?
to read this
amusing account as written by Colonel Wood.
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
Rustic Website Activated Since
YOUR INPUT IS ALWAYS REQUESTED!
all news items of significant events in your life if you would like them
This site is hosted through
contributions from the Night Rustic FACs and designed by webmaster Dave
(Zeke) DeKoker of Absolutely Graphic! AbsolutelyGraphic1.com
Rustic 41 Completes Huge Life Goal
During the past 9 years, our roving photographer, “Over”, has finally
visited every U.S. National Park. As
of late, some photos have been from underwater like this one.
CONGRATULATIONS for this
Don holding his last park
banner on the ocean floor
2021 50th Anniversary Night Rustic Reunion
Due to the COVID Pandemic of 2020, we were unable to hold
our usual biennial reunion that year.
So we are holding it this year, which also falls within the 50yr
envelope for the Rustic Mission (1970-1971).
This year the venue is St. Pete Beach, FL at the Sirata Beach Resort
November 10th to the 14th. We will have a good turnout for this event.
Those planning to attend are listed on the Events
page. You can also see the Schedule of
Events planned there as well.
Roberds Flies West…
Our unit commander (ALO) during the Vietnam War,
Rustic 21, Colonel Richard M. Roberds, Ret., will
be laid to rest Saturday, Sep 19th, 2020 in Tullahoma,
Tennessee. You may view his obituary here.
Many in our tight-knit unit were very close to Dick and thought very
highly of him as a fellow FAC pilot and distinguished officer. His memory
will long live on and he will be missed by all those who knew him!
- Rustic 32 “Zeke”
Night Rustic Hat Survives!
the 25th of February, I flew King Air 350, 615CL, for the last time ‘cause on
3 March, at 12:30 AM , John Tune Airport got hit by
a tornado. I accidentally left my
rustic cap on the airplane when I last locked her up and left her to drive
home. The hat survived. It was rescued today.
- Rustic34, Chunk Thrower
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 Click here for large pics.
Auth’s 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.
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,
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
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
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 -
II: Awards of the Air Medal
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
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.
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.
- Air Unit Manager/Supervisory Pilot
Lancaster Aviation Unit
for the letter John, and thanks for allowing it to be published.
your best stuff, B&W or color
2021 Reunion Photos Posted
The photos from the 2021 Reunion in St. Pete Beach at the
Sirata Beach Resort have been posted here for viewing. Apologies to all those who have been
waiting so patiently for me to get these done. Busyness, back injury and life somehow got
in the way, but that is in the rearview mirror now, I hope. If anyone else has other photos they would
like to have posted, please email them to me. Visit the Photo
Gallery link to view our reunion.
“Jammer” Jamrosy Has
Rustic 30, a good friend and member of this elite and
unique pilot group passed away November 30th, 2021 following a
long illness. I was just made aware of
this news. The Jammer was always a friendly
and outgoing person, an excellent FAC and he will be missed by this
team! May God give his family strength
and peace in his passing!
- Rustic 32 “Zeke”
for Your Use
and they are FREE!
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 download them. These are
made available by the original artists, daytime Rustic Jim Gabel and our very
own Damon R-46 “Go-go” Gonzalez.
Thanks Go-go and Jim!
Issues Remind Us
Why U.S. Needs to Follow the Law
1/14/2010 2:25:00 PM
Immigrants join America
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 recognized.
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, Tibet 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.
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 hole-in-one.
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
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
His Largest Book Project
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
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