From Mark Massen (Norwalk High School Class of 1964):

"I was flying F-4s out of North Carolina when in 1972 we were in the middle of an ORI and as we went into the early morning briefing, they closed the doors, said the briefing was Top Secret - FOR REAL - the ORI was cancelled and we were going to war.  North Vietnam had invaded the South on Easter Monday; President Nixon got fed up and ordered everything in the states to deploy to Southeast Asia.  So, with an hour's notice, off we went.  Didn't know exactly where until we got to Guam, and then we found out it was to Ubon, Thailand.  Didn't know how long we'd be gone either.  Turned out it was for several 6-month rotations.  We were there from April 1972 to September 1973.  Flew lots of missions throughout South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam.  Yes, I had a couple of close calls -- one of which we got hit with an air-to-air missile and should have ejected; we were directly over Hanoi and decided to stay with the bird as long as she would hold together, hoping we'd be able to get to the Tonkin Gulf before we had to eject.  Once we got over water, we turned south and headed to DaNang.  Didn't have enough fuel to get there; couldn't refuel due to our massive damage (I was mildly wounded), and too long of a distance.  We figured the farther we got, the less we'd have to swim.  As it turned out, we got some tail winds and as we burned off fuel, we got lighter and were able to make a fuel-out, dead-stick, one-approach, cable-arrested landing into DaNang.  Of course, the bad guys were shooting at us during the approach and landing, but there was so much damage to the plane, a few more holes didn't make any difference.  As we landed and stopped, the engines erupted into flames, so we jumped out.  Front seater jumped into a ditch as the fire trucks were going to run us over trying to put out the flames on the jet.  He hurt his leg; I managed to stay out of the way and my hand & shoulder weren't too bad.  Had to stay the night there; got hit with mortar attacks as we were leaving the movie theater and going to our BOQs for the night.  Other missions were not quite as hairy, but just as dangerous -- flying in total darkness in Laos protecting the AC-30 gunships and hoping to not run into the mountains in Laos.  On July 4, 1972, over 100 SAMs shot at us over Hanoi.  So, yes, I had some interesting missions."


This photo was taken at the home of my Uncle Jim (Mom's older brother) and Aunt Kathy in Bellflower, California.  We had family poker games for many years on holidays and Friday & Saturday nights.  [JAM 6/12/2020]