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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 1/15/2002 1:50:51 PM EST
My wife wants to tell this story, and she wanted to tell it here, because, as she said, "Those people will appreciate this". It'a about her uncle, who flew F-105's in 'Nam, was shot down, and became one of the few people to have ejected at near-supersonic speeds and live. Barely. I'll turn this over to Celtwife: TIP OF THE SPEAR: This week past the SOF medics met at the Special Operations Medical Assoc. (SOMA) Conference, & again it was an opportunity to meet old friends & colleagues. It was a great success & will continue into the future. One of the highlights of the conference was the address by 1LT(ret) James DeVoss of Grand Rapids, Mich. entitled "Thanks For My Everything". He is an old friend of my undergraduate college days who went to "fly jets" when I went off to Medical School. He joined the USAF & ultimately was assigned to Viet Nam as an F-105 pilot (this was affectionately called The Thud). In June 1969 while flying over North Viet Nam his aircraft was hit by ground fire, disabled & he had to "punch out" in excess of 600 mph. His injuries at this speed were multiple & significant as you can imagine. His left arm was severly fractured & dislocated behind his torso such that he wasn't sure he retained it through the ejection sequence. The windblast broke & severely dislocated his knees & lower legs rendering them useless. His parachute carried him into a bamboo patch & his torso & extremities were impaled by it. Once conscious he found his right hand & arm to be functional & all the training he had was recalled allowing him to key his survival radio & summon help. ...con't...
Link Posted: 1/15/2002 1:52:57 PM EST
con't... In those days, America dedicated a task-force capability to the recovery of our pilots & the pilots flew close to the "edge of the envelope" knowing that this dedicated force was there to bring them home. On this day, the "King-Bird", the "Sandies", the "FAC's" & the "Jolly Green Giants" showed up for him like they had for so many others. The team cleared the area, the helicopter found him & the PJ's deployed down the hoist to get him. They recovered him, rendered necessary aid, put him in the recovery basket, hoisted him aboard the helicopter & took him to the care he required. Once back at the base he was handed over to the hospital folks, then the rescue folks went to ready themselves for the next "Save". After months of medical care, multiple operations, numerous hospitals from Viet Nam, thru Clark AFB to CONUS & ultimately back home Mr. DeVoss' focus was to try walking again & to learn how to use his injured arm with a goal to return to flying & his USAF career. Within the next 5 years he was successful in getting on his feet & out of the leg braces & back to a reasonably normal life. It became apparent though, that his medical retirement would be a permanent requirement & so he went about readjusting to civilian life. He completed his Masters Degree & then was employed by AMWAY Corp. & enjoyed a very successful career. In this past 30 years, he also was a motivational speaker for AMWAY to literally thousands of folks. He told them his story of flying, his rescue, & all the folks along that chain of events who dedicated themselves to his preservation & life--from flying instructors, the SERE instructors, the aircraft & crews of his rescue, the PJ's who hoisted him out of the jungle, the medical techicians, the doctors, the nurses, the VA folks & all those along the way that brought him back & gave him back his life. On this day at SOMA he was able, for the first time, to address folks that are descendents of the rescue tradition & his thanks were sincere, from the heart & touching. He thanked us for his marriage of over 30 years, for his two children & for all his successes. His oldest child is a Ph.D. Professor at Michigan State Univ. & his youngest is finishing his Ph.D. in Immunology at Stanford Univ..
Link Posted: 1/15/2002 1:53:36 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/15/2002 1:55:14 PM EST by Celt]
con't... His one regret was that he had tried in vain to find any of the crewmembers who engineered that save in 1969. He tried for years without success. So, he relished the idea of thanking us in the audience in their place, for we too were dedicated to the motto, "That Others May Live". Little known to him, we had checked with the "PJ Mafia" & asked if we could find anyone from that rescue. They responded with success & we smuggled into the meeting TSgt (ret) Lorenzo Willis from Satellite Beach, Fla.. After Mr. DeVoss finished, we pointed out the real issues of rescues, for the true rewards of a rescue are often lost in the preparation & reconstitution for the next rescue. The ramifications from each rescue are far-reaching & significant. This family & all their accomplishments to date, & in the future with these children, is the legacy of the rescue--it is much more than a "Save". We then asked if TSgt Willis was in the room, & he stood to be recognized. When asked if he was the guy who came down the hoist & got this pilot out of the bamboo he replied, "Yessir, I am". These two men immediately recognized each other even though they hadn't looked into each other's face since June 1969. The reunion was magnificent. TSgt Willis retired in 1973 from the USAF & had settled here in Florida. Heremembered the rescue well as it was one of his last, & he described in detail the state of the injured pilot & his concerns for his rescue. Just to put "frosting on the cake", we just got a note from TSgt Willis, THE RESCUER--it says "Thanks for the best day of my life"--go figure!" Thank you for putting up with my being so wordy, but I just couldn't find the words to cut out.
Link Posted: 1/15/2002 1:58:37 PM EST
Celt: Tell your wife thank you! For me it was an interesting read.
Link Posted: 1/15/2002 2:01:24 PM EST
Originally Posted By warlord: Celt: Tell your wife thank you! For me it was an interesting read.
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Ditto....I really enjoy war rescue stories. I'm waiting for the Scott O'Grady program to come back on the History/Learning Channel so that I can tape it.
Link Posted: 1/15/2002 2:03:09 PM EST
Link Posted: 1/15/2002 2:19:27 PM EST
Originally Posted By Ponyboy:
Originally Posted By warlord: Celt: Tell your wife thank you! For me it was an interesting read.
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Ditto....I really enjoy war rescue stories. I'm waiting for the Scott O'Grady program to come back on the History/Learning Channel so that I can tape it.
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OT: fyi - Capt. O'Grady currently is a NRA board member.
Link Posted: 1/15/2002 2:25:21 PM EST
Link Posted: 1/15/2002 2:27:57 PM EST
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