Friday, February 06, 2015

There beneath the blue suburban skies

Ha Phan (sic), Vietnam, 1967
A U.S. twin-engine transport Caribou crashes after being hit by American artillery near Duc Pho on August 3, 1967.  U.S. artillery accidentally shot down the ammunition-laden plane, which crossed a firing zone while trying to land at the U.S. Special Forces camp.  All three crewman died in the crash.” Photo Credit

There beneath the blue suburban skies

 A memory of when our father was in Vietnam

This is one of the biggest, there are others, but this sticks out the most in my mind. It was enough for me to create imaginary friends who lived in my closet and traveled to school with me that fall in the basket of my bike.

Like many other military families, we could choose where to live while our dad was overseas and it was decided that we would like as close to Vietnam as we could, which to my mom was Vacaville, CA. Dad sent us a letter, an audio tape or a package everyday, like clockwork. It was on a summer afternoon with the smell of fresh mown grass and the sounds of "I'm a Believer" drifting by on a muggy breeze, that I walked down  freshly painted brown stairs to check the mail. There was nothing from Dad, I told my mom and sister.

About three hours later, Dan Rather came on the five o’clock news and flashed a picture of a C-7A Caribou that was snapped by a Japanese university graduate by the name of Hiromichi Mine. It had spent seven hours on an air transport headed for stateside media and depicted a Caribou coming apart in midair. “This incident occurred in August of 1967 when the Caribou (tail number 62-4161) flew into the line of fire of a 155mm howitzer, “states one Veteran.

Our father was flying the C-7A in support of Special Forces. We did not eat dinner; mom sent us to our rooms and spent the night crying on the phone to friends and family.  We held our collective breaths for ten days while we waited for word. And then on the eleventh day, just like that, we had a lot of mail from dad.

 Hiromichi Mine's picture was not only memorable for us, it became iconic for the era. Unfortunately, he was killed a few years later when the vehicle he was riding in took fire.