I was born on September 11, 1934, in Sandston, Virginia, which is now a suburb of Richmond. My family left there when I was two years old, and over the next twenty years, lived in 10 different cities in 4 different states (no, my family was not military; just iterant for many different reasons). During those years, I attended nine different secondary schools and one university. Following my University of South Carolina graduation in 1956 with a BS degree in Geology and as a second lieutenant in the USAF, I proceeded to Lackland AFB, Texas where I started my Air Force career.

During that career, I had 15 different permanent changes of station and also 9 different temporary duty locations (with several TDY tours of duty being 3 months or 6 months long). Most of my tours were primary flying tours during which I logged about 6,500 flight hours in several different aircraft. Highlights of those flying tours included: “nuclear reflex alert” duty overseas; tactical test team leader that certified the C-141 for supply and personnel air delivery; high altitude reconnaissance missions while with the 58th B-57F squadron at Albuquerque, NM; flying participation in the operational test and weapons delivery systems checks of the B-57G at McDill and Eglin AFBs; operational deployment of the B-57G fleet to Ubon, Thailand; and B-57G and F-4D combat missions over Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. I also served on the operations staff at the Tactical Air Warfare Center at Eglin AFB, and my last tour before retirement was as the Director of Ranges, Special Operations and Electronic Warfare at Tactical Air Command Headquarters, Langley AFB, Virginia (finally returning to within a few miles of my birthplace—what a trip!!). During that time I also squeezed in on-site completion of the Squadron Officer School and Air War College.

Although there were many special times and events during those years that I now still live and can tell about, there are but a few that stand out. One of these was a never before attempted, but safely executed, landing of a B-47 aircraft in a 40 knot crosswind without its rudder-elevator power control being operational. (The highest crosswind tested under this aircraft condition was 25 knots. In fact, the recommended action under this condition was to bailout rather than attempt to land. Since my crew and I did not want to bailout into a wintry New England night, our Wing Commander approved a single attempt. If not successful over the threshold, we were to climb to a safe altitude and bailout.)

Another event was a safely executed landing of a B-57G aircraft with an inoperable hydraulic system, and with its bomb bay doors in the open position with 4 incendiary bombs still attached. For those two feats I received the SAC and the PACAF flying safety awards. Of course I had many exciting events occur during combat that created a little “pucker” time and resulted in “gongs” being added to my chest. The “war” stories connected with those flights will have to wait for an in-person rendition.

In addition to those stories, I had another noteworthy happening at Ubon. As the B-57G Wing Tactics and Evaluation Officer I could fly in any of the on-station aircraft types. So I arranged for, and received, an on-site checkout in the F-4D back seat, and flew 16 combat sorties with 2 different fighter squadrons, the Wolf FAC and Wing Tactics pilots. Those missions gave me an added perspective of the famous 8th Tactical Fighter Wing’s war fighting capabilities, which in turn, added to the knowledge I needed to perform my own tactics duties well. Not only that, but I enjoyed the Hell out of it.

But, the favorite thing that happened to me during my tour at Ubon was meeting the love of my life, Ann Marie. She was the Wing Commander’s secretary, who I saw almost daily, and we finally went to dinner one night in February—may have been Valentine’s Day, come to think about it—after we had been there since late September. (On her party suit she had “Pilot Fighter” sewed where “fighter pilot” usually went.) After an on-site courtship that lasted until I redeployed in September, we finally arranged for her transfer to FWB, and subsequent marriage on 2 June 1972 in Tampa, FL.

Charles J. Brown