Air Force MSgt. Mandy Mueller, 39th Medical Operations Squadron medical services flight chief, reads a holiday letter on Dec. 11, 2019, at Incirlik AB, Turkey. SSgt. Joshua Magbanua
Photo Caption & Credits


Aug. 31, 2023

We love letters! Write to us at To be published, letters should be timely, relevant and concise. Include your name and location. Letters may be edited for space and the editors have final say on which are published.

Versatile Bronco 

Darrel Whitcomb’s article  [“Flying the Last Missions in Cambodia,” August, p. 50] really resonated with me. My first choice of aircraft was the OV-10 when I graduated from UPT Class 71-03 at Reese Air Force Base, Texas. I missed the assignment as one of my classmates selected the only OV-10 just ahead of me in the selection process. I often think of how my life would have changed had I been given the opportunity to pick the “Bronco.” 

However, I was afforded some insight into that “alternative” life when I met Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Dandeneau, USAF (Ret.) at HQ USAF, the Pentagon, during a Reserve assignment.  As a fluent French speaking Airman he was selected as a backseat translator to facilitate communication between the Cambodians and the forward air controller pilots. Ron was one of the Rustics. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for “extraordinary achievement on Nov. 23, 1970, while participating in aerial flights in Southeast Asia.” 

When the missions in which he participated were declassified he was able to share his experiences with me. I often think I could have been his aircraft commander but for one of my UPT classmates taking that OV-10.

Col. Jon S. Meyer,
USAFR (Ret.)

I enjoyed Darrel Whitcomb’s article on the last days of the Southeast Asia (SEA) war in Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos “Flying the Last Missions in Cambodia” and was pleased to be reminded of Lt. Col. Howie Pearson.

Howie was an instructor pilot at Craig Air Force Base, Ala., when I was a student in class 68-H at Craig. 

I ran into Howie when I was on my second SEA tour flying A-37’s at Bien Hoa and he was an adviser to the VNAF A-37 Wing at one of their bases; then saw him at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and the last time I saw him was at the BX at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., where he was promoting his lovely wife’s book. I was there at DM in the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron putting together the OA-37 program and proudly carrying the call sign “Nail 13.”

Howie was a natural leader, a thinker, a warrior. The guy you would go to war with. My kind of leader.

Maj. John H. Lamb,
USAF (Ret.)
Parker, Colo.

 I was a young two-striper when I arrived at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in February 1970, following weapons mechanic tech school at Lowry Air Force Base, Colo. I was instructed on weapons systems of F-100s, F-4s, F-105s and a mock-up of the F-111.  When I arrived at Hurlburt and was introduced to the aircraft I would be working on, to my surprise, it was the OV-10.  “But it has propellers!” I said.

But what a great airplane she was, and I grew to love her.  I even got to fly once and was duly impressed as we did a navigation run over that part of Florida, with spins from altitude and touch-and-goes.

My follow-on assignment was to Korat RTAFB, Thailand, as a weapons loader on F-4s and then F-105Gs. One of our Thuds IFE’d  (In-Flight Emergency) into Nakhon Phanom Air Base, and I led a team of weapons guys to go fetch her.  While we were doing an engine change out at the end of the runway, an OV-10 taxied out for take-off.  I now know that airplane belonged to the 23rd TASS, mentioned in the article, and I have a nice photo of her.

Now that I am twice retired (33 years Active duty and 14 as a contractor for the AF) I volunteer at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF).  When I started volunteering in 2007, I noticed our OV-10 had no guns, and I asked why.  I was informed that there was no gun hardware in those sponsons.  I made a few calls and found a company in Mesa, Ariz., that was refurbing OV-10s for various uses, none of which required guns.  

They had the necessary hardware for the guns and with a quick trade of some drawings, the company provided two sponsons with all the required bits.  I then told the director of restoration here at the NMUSAF that I sure would like to help install the guns when the airplane was ready.

Then, at the appointed time, as the guns were being delivered through the hangar doors, I opened up the left sponson and 40 years came rushing back at me. It was a real pleasure to work on the good ol’ Bronco one more time! 

Col. Frank Alfter,
USAF (Ret.)
Beavercreek, Ohio


We now have a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) office in the Pentagon. Noble concepts when taken individually. However, when slammed down a service member’s throat, not so much. Those concepts are being imposed on the military supposedly to give everyone a voice. For straight, White males, however, there is an implicit vilification. Has the Service that I loved given way to pronouns, victims, diversity, CRT (critial race theory), and the like? Those ill-conceived notions destroy unit cohesion and promote a ruinous victimhood. And they discount and denigrate personal efforts, dedication, and merit.

Admittedly, since I left the service in 1995, I am writing from an “old-school” perspective. We wonder why patriotism is at a low for younger people. We wonder why we can’t meet recruiting goals. Why our senior leaders apparently don’t understand what unit cohesiveness is all about. 

Old-school? I’ll take the LeMays, the Doolittles, the Shauds, the Foglemans, over any of this current crop of officers. Perhaps we should return to old-school thinking. It seemed to work better than today’s well-meaning, but ineffective efforts.

Col. Art Cole,
USAF (Ret.)
Brevard, N.C.

In the Know

What an excellent issue August was. If anyone wanted to know what is going on in the Air Force war preparation effort today, it was covered in a precise, terse, comprehensive (yet unclassified) manner. Well done!

Lt. Col. C.J. Letzelter II,
USAF (Ret.)

Unit Reunion:
51st Bomb Squadron (SAC, B-52s), 
Seymour Johnson, AFB, N.C., from 1963 to 1982.
A reunion will be held in Goldsboro, N.C., from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3, 2023.
Contact: Greg Gorniak (