On January 11, Major Clark Mola, US Army's 101st Airborne Assault talked about his chopper-based combat in the Vietnam War. Thanks to Maj. Ed McGaa (Marine F4 pilot, Vietnam) for getting him lined up.
On February 8 Captain James A. Huff (US Navy ret) of Rapid City talked about his tours in Vietnam and Desert Storm as a naval intelligence officer. A Navy captain is the equivalent of an Army colonel. As the logo suggests, Cpt. Huff is also in a position to share how wars are fought even on the highest diplomatic levels as well.
On March 8, Verne Sheppard talked about his experiences in the Pacific and the Far East as a radio operator in the Air Transport Command from 1944-1946, and his service aboard a C-54 took him to battle zones such as Guam, China, and Japan. Sheppard entered the Army Air Corps in 1944, after graduating from high school. “I got my education in the Pacific,” he said.
On April 12, we heard from Charles "Charlie" M. Summers of Rapid City who spent three tours in Vietnam flying the F-100 Super Sabre, becoming a member the “MISTY” Forward Air Control Squadron. During his
second tour he was shot down and ejected. Injured, he was awarded the purple heart, and after recovering from his broken back and ribs, returned to fly and fight for a third tour. Over the course of his time in Vietnam, Summers received four Silver Stars (only eleven other aviators since WWII have received four Silver Stars), awarded three Legions of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Meritorious Service Medal, and 16 Air Medals. more
On May 10, Maj. Ed McGaa (USMC F-4 Phantom pilot Vietnam) talked about Charles Schreyvogel's 32 drawings which depict Red Cloud, Custer, and the guns and horsemanship used by the Sioux and US Cavalry during heroic battles of the 19th-century. Bill Casper moderated.
On June 14, Charlie Summers spoke on South Dakota glider pilots of World War Two. This much decorated F-100 Super Sabre pilot from the Vietnam War has a lifelong involvement with gliders in both military and civilian worlds. South Dakota had 40 glider pilots during WWII, with a 10% loss rate in Belgium, Holland, and at Normandy and Bastogne in France, including Operation Varsity as the Allies crossed the Rhine River.
Summers says that he has rebuilt a training glider from WWII with the name of South Dakota's "Lt. Joe Gamet" on the side. Col. Lynus Ryan of Custer is a glider survivor of the war. Aberdeen was the state's training center. All in all, there were more than four major US glider battles in Europe and 2 in the Pacific. Lt. Col. George Larson will also be at the meeting to add supporting details from his book Aerial Assault into Burma which discusses the role of gliders in the retaking of Burma from the Japanese in savage jungle combat. At the end of WWII, America had more than 12,000 glider pilots and 6,000 gliders. more
On July 12, LTC Jennifer Rollins of Ellsworth Air Force Base talked about her experiences as a Senior Defense Official and Defense Attache in Sierra Leone, Africa, July 2010-July 2012. As a B1-B navigator and Weapons Systems Officer, she has logged thousands of flying and combat hours, working on missions such as Operation Iraqi Enduring Freedom. radio interview more
On August 9, Maj. Curt Nupen (USAF ret) of Piedmont offered a PowerPoint presentation about his experiences as an Electronic Warfare Officer in B-52s during the Vietnam War's Operation Linebacker II. He focused on three particular intense combat missions.
The Christmas Bombings of targets like Hanoi and Haiphong from December 18-29, 1972, were part of President Nixon's strategy to force North Vietnam to the negotiating table. Also in the audience were other B-52 crew members from Vietnam, including CPT Kim Morey and CMSGT Richard Lake (see stories under Vietnam tab above), and Marvin Bishop of Hermosa. more
On September 13, Col Marty Mahrt who lives on a horse ranch in Custer talked about being an F-105D pilot during two tours of Vietnam. He was shot down on his 102nd combat mission, and was rescued by a Jolly Green Giant crew making the farthest north rescue of the war. He received the Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, and many more medals. Photo above shows him during the fall of Saigon in 1975. more
On October 11, MSGT Jim Blair (photo above) of EAFB and director of the SD Air and Space Museum talked about recent advising missions to the Afghanistan military. He spoke on "my overall experience and role as an Air Advisor to the Afghan National Air Force students teaching them technical orders and how to maintain and repair the aircraft, both fixed wing and rotary." more
On November 8, WW2 US Army soldiers Paul Priest and Bill Lofgren, along with military historian LTC George Larson (USAF ret), talked about the Bridge at Remagen, scene of horrific fighting at the Ludendorff Railway Bridge spanning the Rhine River. Soldiers like Priest and Lofgren (and other veterans in our group) then assaulted the German homeland. Says Larry Beezley, "Paul Priest of Rapid City was a scout, on foot, with the 9th Armored Division pushing eastward toward the Rhine. He spent a night alone in an abandoned gas station with a cache of German grenades and guns, which he took from dead soldiers, watching for a German advance west. He was alone, a listening post, and figured it was a suicide mission. In 1945, the area was littered with dead bodies. The following day, the 9th came thru on its way to Remagen and Berlin."
On December 13, USAF Reserve Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Terri Jorgenson of Piedmont talked about the relationship between the Military and the Media. Terri served as a Space and Missile Warning Officer and a Public Affairs Officer in Air Force Space Command and United States Strategic Command. She focused on the challenges of working with the media in an era where few reporters have military experience.