T-28 Trojan Foundation

L-R:  Jim Roper, Ross Leonard, Darrel Whitcomb, Alan Daines, Lew Hatch, Brian Wages, Ed Gunter, Chuck Hightower, John Swanson and Jim Cochran.

Raven Plaque Dedication
United States Air Force Academy
Colorado Springs, CO
June 5, 2014
click on plaque to enlarge

In Memory

Captain, USAF (Ret.) Alfred G. Platt
"Magnet Ass"  Raven 47
February 4, 1941 - April 17, 2016

J. Fred Guffin
Raven 23/25
October 6, 2016

Lt. Col. Ramon de Arrigunaga
Raven  21
September 10, 2016

Jim Hix 
Raven 25
November 4, 2014 



RAVENS NOT RETURNED

The Vietnam Veteran's Wall search

Photographs, videos and stories have copyrights.  Reproduction in any manner is prohibited.

Sam Deichelman, Raven 45, was the first Raven down.  On September 6, 1968 Sam ferried an O-1 from Bien Hoa South Vietnam to Laos but was never seen again.   He had been assigned this temporary duty after his backseater, Vang Chou had been critically wounded on one of their flights.  Sam had felt responsible and became reckless in his attempts for revenge so the air attache office relieved him from combat. 

Art Cornelius wrote a poem titled "Sam" in honor of his memory. (The Ravens, pg 60-62 & 361)

Vang Chou survived his injuries, survived the war and settled in the U.S. as a refugee.  He was a successful business man and influential in the Merced California  Hmong community.  Vang passed away on May 4, 2016
Hey No Sweat, Raven 25!  In late 1972 as the NVA prepared to launch another major attack against Bouam Loung, the remote mountaintop base deep in the NVA territory, a MIG bombed and strafed the site, killing five and wounding 24, sparkled from the firepower...Darrel Whitcomb, on leave for Christmas, missed the fireworks at Site 32.  He received a phone call from Laos, asking him to return.  Ravens Hal Mischler and Skip Jackson were both dead and a couple of others had been shot down.

Soon after Whitcomb returned, Colonel Moua Cher Pao gave a party at Bouam Loung.  Beneath billowing orange and white parachutes and a sign in large Lao script that read "The Day of Victory Celebration at Bouam Loung 1973," soldiers, pilots, SKY advisors, and civilians gathered to hear Pat Landry from CIA headquarters in Udorn, Genral James Hughes, Commander of 7/13 Air Force at Udorn, and General Vang Pao.  Everyone toasted the victorious defense of Site 32, the Fortress.  There was a ba-sii ceremony for the SKY men and the honored guests.  Daniels, his wrists laced with ba-sii strings, spoke.  Then Vang Pao took the pilots on a tour of the site.  There was an extraordinary stench coming from the bodies on the wires lower down on the mountainsides.  To Whitcomb, it was a grim warning to anyone who thought about taking Site 32.  "To me, it said: "You attack us and this is what will happen to you."

That night there was a party with more speeches, dancing, and drinking.  Nockateng (Chao Pha Khao) pilot Ly Tou told about Whitcomb's heroism, explaining how he had flown low and directed artillery against the enemy - until he was shot down - to save the men in Pressure's unit. (editor’s note: Whitcomb received the Silver Star medal for this mission, page 297-98)  Later in the evening, the Hmong coerced Captain Whitcomb, who was quite shy and by this time quite drunk, to dance with several young Hmong maidens.  He did - much to the delight of the onlookers.  Since few Americans had ever been on the ground at Bouam Loung and since the FAC pilots who flew in its support were usually Hmong, Whitcomb considered his trip to Bouam Loung a special occasion. 

A few days after the party, Whitcomb loaded his aircraft with his personal arsenal.  Into the back he threw an AR-15 with 200 rounds, an M-79 grenade launcher with 40 rounds, and two hand grenades.  In addition, he wore 38 and 45 caliber pistols.  On several occasions when the situation on the ground was desperate, he had flown down to about 100 feet and fired these weapons out the windows at the enemy.  After John Carroll's death, he was determined that if he crashed he would fight it out.  This day, he flew alone.  Since he did not plan to work with friendlies on the ground, he did not need a backseater interpreter.  His targets were far to the north: NVA truck convoys. 

‘I was flying south of Bouam Loung along Route 7, at about 2,000 feet, looking for convoys.  I opened the windows to recon for trucks.  Suddenly I heard shells whooshing by the aircraft.  I looked down.  Along the road I saw a 37mm gun firing at me.  Shells exploded above me as I turned and jinked.  But I couldn’t get away.  He was getting closer and closer.  I needed help.  I called Cricket: ‘I need an air strike.  I’m taking a lot of fire.  I’ve got a gun that won’t let me go.’  I considered rolling in and shooting him with a rocket but in order to do that I would have solved his aiming problems.”

Xiong Ty Lou, flying nearby, heard Whitcomb call Cricket for help.  He radioed Whitcomb.  “Raven 25, I see you.  I see the gun, too.”  Ly Tou headed toward Whitcomb’s position.  “I saw him roll in from the north and hit the gun with two rockets, allowing me to get away,” remembered Whitcomb.  “He saved my life.  A few days later, I saw Ly Tou at Long Chieng.  I shook his hand, hugged him, and thanked him for saving my life.  He smiled and said, ‘Hey no sweat, Raven 25!’”  

– excerpt from “Tragic Mountains” by Jane Hamilton-Merritt pages 301-02 with permission from Darrel Whitcomb.
A Raven and Robin: Reunited 44 years after the Secret War
by Steve Wilson, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF(Ret)

I spoke loudly into the emergency radio: “Mayday, mayday, mayday.  This is Raven 27 and I’m hit and going down.”  I was ten miles behind enemy lines with no parachute and the engine had quit.  And there were 25,000 North Vietnamese Regulars below…not the Viet Cong part-time soldiers but battle hardened, well trained, highly motivated, and very capable NVA regulars.  But let’s back up to the beginning to set the stage. 

I arrived in Pleiku, Vietnam in June 1971.  My job was called a Forward Air Controller or FAC.  I flew the O-2A, a twin engine lightly armed spotter plane.  My job was to locate targets, mark them with a smoke rocket, and direct fighter-bombers onto the target.  But there was very little going on at Pleiku and I became bored. 

There was a mysterious one-page letter in the operations room asking for volunteers for Project Steve Canyon.  The letter didn’t even say where the assignment was or even what you would do.  But previous pilots that served in this assignment had gotten the word back that this assignment was about becoming a Raven across the “fence” (border) in Laos. 

I didn’t have any of the qualifications, but volunteered anyway.  I was accepted after a few weeks.  I found out later there had been lots of pilots killed and they needed to fill cockpits.  I guess I didn’t get the memo about not volunteering in the military.  

For the complete story click here.
From 8mm that my dad, Raven 24, shot as a Forward Air Controller during the Vietnam War. He flew a Cessna O-1 Birddog.  Check the link below for an email from him describing what it was like:
http://webpages.charter.net/tyoberg/F...
Rescue of Raven 11 shot down over Luang Prabang, Laos
Featuring Mike Kelly, Raven 11 and Bill Collier, Air America Pilot
Forward Air Controller Memorial, Dayton OH
Nat'l Museum of the United States Air Force Memorial Park

Ravens: Williams, Roper, Ownby, Whitcomb, Stanford & Hatch.  
click on photo for more information
Nat'l Museum of the USAF  Audio Podcast:
"Call Sign Raven: Fighting the Air War in Laos"  Col. (Ret) Darrel Whitcomb

The Rescue of Bat 21
by Darrel Whitcomb

North American OV-10 Bronco video with Darrel Whitcomb interview


1972 photo:
Raven 25 Darrel Whitcomb and Xiong Ly Tou, Hmong Chao Pha Khao T-28 pilot
"The Raven Forward Air Controllers primarily flew the O-1 Bird Dog's or the Cessna U-17.  A few checked out in the 'cadillac' T-28."  - Ed Gunter,  Ravens.org

"...The fear was the introduction of T-28's might mean the end of the Raven's as a FAC program and the creation of an unruly squadron of Yankee Air Pirates.  But again, the CIA and Vang Pao backed the Ravens, and it was decided to check some of them out in the fighter."  - pg 167 "The Ravens" by  Christopher Robbins
Helen Murphy © 2009-2017   All Rights Reserved
(click on photo above for 1998 Air & Space magazine article)
Ravens of Long Tieng  By Ralph Wetterhahn
Raven's Ed Gunter and Jack Drummond were the featured speakers of Warbirds in Review at EAA AirVenture 2009 for the 60th anniversary celebration of the T-28 organized by Jim Stitt of the Trojan Horsemen, filmed by Helen Murphy:
After Warbirds in Review, the Trojan Horsemen flew Ed Gunter and Jack Drummond in T-28 formation.  This is Jack's inflight video set to warrior musician's Toby Hughes and Chip Dockery's "Delta Dawn:"
Christopher Robbins 11/19/46 - 12/24/12
click on book cover to order from the Raven Store.  Purchases support the Raven Scholarship Program for Hmong college applicants.

Standing, L-R Craig Duehring, Bill Lutz, Ray de Arrigunaga, Chuck Engle (with white tennis cap in hand), "Weird" Harold Mesaris, Park Bunker.  On the ground is Jeff Thompson.  On the engine cowling is A.D. Holt.  Photo taken June 1970 at Long Tieng.  Raven's information provided by Hon. Craig W. Duehring:

Craig W. Duehring, earned the Silver Star, retired as a colonel and went on to become the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.​

Bill  Lutz, went on to command a C-17 wing in the Mississippi Air National Guard, became a judge in Jackson, MS and retired as a Major General.​

Ray de Arrigunaga, former A-26 pilot flying covert missions in South America, earned the Silver Star, retired from the Air Force, earned a Ph.D. and teaches at the University of Miami.

​Chuck Engle, earned the Air Force's 2nd and 3rd highest awards for valor, the Air Force Cross and Silver Star, along with the Purple Heart and was killed before he left Laos. Often called the "finest natural pilot" any of the Ravens had seen.

​"Weird" Harold Mesaris, completed an exceptional tour as a Raven FAC.  He retired from the Air Force as a Captain in the mid 1970s and went on to have a successful career as an aircraft accident investigator. 

Park Bunker, AF Academy graduate, veteran combat pilot, was shot down and executed by the NVA along with his Hmong backseater only a few weeks before we was to return home.​

Jeff Thompson, returned to SEA flying the F-4, earned 4 Distinguished Flying Crosses, retired from the Air Force, earned a Ph.D. and worked for the Air Force as a civilian before retiring.​

A.D. Holt, returned to the war flying A-37's and emerged with 6 Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Purple Heart. His Purple Heart was earned in Laos when he was wounded in three places by ground fire. He  retired from the Air Force to become a business leader and staunch Air Force advocate in Valdosta, Georgia.​

"WE CALLED 'EM TANGOS"​
"Most of these pilots had not flown the T-28 before and they never used the name "Trojan."  Instead they called their D's "Tangos," which is the military alphabet word
for the letter T."​ (excerpt from "Final Tour of Duty"  by Robert Genat)

BuNo 137799 N28YF 
AT-28D Nomad "Lumpy"
Owned and operated by Bob Collins
RAVENS