Recognizing a Vietnam War Airman

At a Pentagon ceremony last week, Yia Kha, a former Royal Laos Air Force pilot who served with USAF forward air controllers during the Vietnam War, received belated recognition for aiding American and Laotian forces, flying FAC missions as a “Robin” backseater for “Raven” O-1 Bird Dog pilots, often under intense enemy fire. In presenting a certificate of appreciation to Kha—until recently believed to have died in a decades-old helicopter crash—Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said, “His intellect, loyalty to the mission, and, most importantly, courage … are certainly traits that we in our Air Force will always cherish.” Former Air Force assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs Craig Duehring flew as Raven 27 and recalled at the ceremony that Kha “stood out from all the rest” of the Robins, serving most often when “things got scary.” (Air Force report by TSgt. Amaani Lyle)