19 February 2014
Really enjoyed your blog stories. I’m so glad you wrote about Kayak. I probably dropped more ordnance for him than for any other player. You were right, “He never lied.” But, he did tend to omit some things - like 23s and 37s.
He was on the NW PDJ with his men hunkered down in a tree line by a large clearing. He called and asked if I could drop some ordnance on the tree line on the other side of the clearing saying, “If you don’t I’ll never get these guys to move.” When I flew by the tree line target, there were some folks in there shooting at me so I got a couple of F-4s and had them cover the entire tree line. When Kayak and his men started forward, a pretty good shooting war got going. Kayak called and said, “They were right. I was wrong. Get more air.” Some A-1s made the rest of the advance easy. His comment that night, “Thanks.”
He also had a penchant for getting me in trouble. He and his guys had recaptured a LS on the southern end of the PDJ (can’t remember the number). He called and told me the site was now friendly and when I asked confirmed that he’d walked the “runway” and there was no unexploded ordnance. He requested I land and “open” the site for AA. Air America usually declared sites safe/open, not Ravens. But, what the hell, Kayak asked so I landed and walked around. The monsoon was coming and this looked like a place we could put some fuel and rockets and use for Raven ops. I took off, went to AA common and said that the runway at sight ?? was open, occupied by friendlies and that I hadn’t received any significant ground fire.
I hadn’t even gotten back to Alternate before Sandy, our head Raven, got a call from the downtowners telling him to ground me, have me pack up and leave country. Sandy and Clean told them to fuck off and told me to stay at Alternate until the noise level fell off. There wasn’t a damn thing wrong with what I did. There wasn’t any rule against it. But, sort of like landing at Site 32 it was something that offended the downtowners sense of what was “right” and “safe”. I don’t know much about PTSD but the actions of some of the AF guys stationed at Victor gave me flash backs to Viet Nam – same foolishness from folks who didn’t want, and would have been unable, to do our job.
Lots of good men I’ve known have died since those days. The news of Kayak’s death made me cry. I admired and respected him as a superior person and a great combat leader. His death-the nation’s loss. No telling what he might have gone on to do.