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December's Memoir

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  • vonbargenr@aol.com
    DECORATION BACKGROUND: When civil strife broke out in the Dominican Republic in April 1965, the United States dispatched troops to protect American lives
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 15, 2005
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      DECORATION

       

      BACKGROUND:

      When civil strife broke out in the Dominican Republic in April 1965, the United States dispatched troops to protect American lives and to prevent a possible Castro-type takeover by Communist elements. Marines were landed on the 28th of  April from ships offshore and two battalions of the 82d Airborne Division and their supporting forces were ordered to move with minimum essential equipment from Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, to Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico, on the 29th of April.

      *****************************************************************

      The phone was ringing in Base Operations as I reported for work that morning at the Air Force Reserve Base at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport. I picked up the handset and heard the voice of the Command Post Officer of Continental Air Command located at Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia . He advised of an emergency situation developing in the Dominican Republic and then directed that we were to launch one of our C-119 aircraft as soon as possible that morning. The crew was to proceed to Pope Air Force Base, adjacent to Fort Bragg in North Carolina. , where they would receive further orders.

       

      I advised my boss and a few phone calls had a flight crew of reservists’ driving to the base. They were airborne in less than two hours after we received the alerting phone call. Before the day was out they had picked up a load of barbed wire from Fort Bragg , carried it to San Isidro Airport in the Dominican Republic , had flown on to Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico and were sleeping on cots in the Base Dental Clinic for their crew rest.

      In the following hours and days most of our aircraft were deployed … other than the airplanes that were in the hangar for periodic maintenance inspections.   Our phone had rung continuously as reservists called in to volunteer for missions to support the airlift. As the week went on, C-130’s were utilized for the daily flights into the combat zone; meanwhile, the older, smaller and slower C-119’s were used to fly the routine cargo missions normally flown by the C-130’s. 

       

      I participated on airlift missions during the crisis. On one sortie we carried cargo to Howard AFB in the Canal Zone . I instructed a student navigator during this mission. He performed the navigation duties as we flew back from Panama to Florida . The route took us very close to the Dominican Republic “Combat Zone” that had been established around the troubled island of Hispaniola.

       

      During flight planning in Panama , I reviewed the route with the pilot, Lt. Col. Howard Dye – who was my boss at Pittsburgh . We had to be careful not to enter the Dominican Republic controlled air space. It would be difficult to determine our position at that point of the flight, as the route was in an area of limited navigation aids. The student navigator would use “Dead Reckoning” and celestial navigation (sun lines) to position the aircraft.

       

      As we approached the controlled air space the student navigator took a celestial observation. I quickly used the navigation radios and was able to fix our position. My quick plot indicated that we had strayed into the controlled airspace. I told Colonel Dye that we were right of course and had entered the Dominican Combat Zone.  He immediately turned the airplane to the left to get back on course.  We proceeded to Florida without further incident.

       

      A few months later I received a small blue box in my mail. It was a medal: The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. The citation read that I had received the decoration for service during the Dominican crisis. But, I had never been to the Dominican Republic ! What was going on?

       

      To comprehend what happened you have to understand Colonel Dye. He was a man with total integrity. He reported our position inside the controlled Dominican Republic airspace to Air Traffic Control and then entered it in the flight records after the mission. Most people would have left the matter unsaid. But not Colonel Dye, he did everything by the book, even if it made him vulnerable to a flight violation. Most of the time, “no good turn goes unpunished”; however, in this case, someone had reviewed the records and submitted the crew for the medal.

       

      And lest you think that he was looking for a medal, well, think again. There was no indication that there would be any award for airlift activity in the Dominican Republic .  Colonel Dye flew thirty-two B-24 combat missions over Europe during World War II. On many occasions he returned to his base in England with engines out and holes in the aircraft. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and many Air Medals; he didn't need another award to prove his heroism. He was a man of honor who lived his life accordingly. Colonel Dye could wear his medal as a testament to his integrity. I, to the contrary, have always referred to my decoration as my “Off-Course Award”. I am probably the only navigator in the Air Force to be so honored!

       

       

       

       

       

      Postscript:

      REQUIREMENTS FOR THE AWARD OF THE ARMED FORCES EXPEDITIONARY MEDAL:

      Degree of Participation:  Service members must be bona fide members of a unit engaged in the operation or meet one or more of the following criteria:

      ·          Be engaged in direct support for 30 consecutive days in the area of operations (or for the full period when an operation is less than 30 days duration) or for 60 nonconsecutive days provided this support involves entering the area of operations.

      ·          Be engaged in actual combat, or duty that is equally as hazardous as combat duty, during the operation with armed opposition, regardless of time in the area. c. Personnel assisting in domestic disturbances involving law enforcement, equal rights demonstrations or property protection.

      ·          Participate as a regularly assigned crew member of an aircraft flying into, out of, within, or over the area in support of the military operations

    • vonbargenr@aol.com
      DECORATION BACKGROUND: When civil strife broke out in the Dominican Republic in April 1965, the United States dispatched troops to protect American lives
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 15, 2005
      • 0 Attachment
        DECORATION

         

        BACKGROUND:

        When civil strife broke out in the Dominican Republic in April 1965, the United States dispatched troops to protect American lives and to prevent a possible Castro-type takeover by Communist elements. Marines were landed on the 28th of  April from ships offshore and two battalions of the 82d Airborne Division and their supporting forces were ordered to move with minimum essential equipment from Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, to Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico, on the 29th of April.

        *****************************************************************

        The phone was ringing in Base Operations as I reported for work that morning at the Air Force Reserve Base at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport. I picked up the handset and heard the voice of the Command Post Officer of Continental Air Command located at Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia . He advised of an emergency situation developing in the Dominican Republic and then directed that we were to launch one of our C-119 aircraft as soon as possible that morning. The crew was to proceed to Pope Air Force Base, adjacent to Fort Bragg in North Carolina. , where they would receive further orders.

         

        I advised my boss and a few phone calls had a flight crew of reservists’ driving to the base. They were airborne in less than two hours after we received the alerting phone call. Before the day was out they had picked up a load of barbed wire from Fort Bragg , carried it to San Isidro Airport in the Dominican Republic , had flown on to Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico and were sleeping on cots in the Base Dental Clinic for their crew rest.

        In the following hours and days most of our aircraft were deployed … other than the airplanes that were in the hangar for periodic maintenance inspections.   Our phone had rung continuously as reservists called in to volunteer for missions to support the airlift. As the week went on, C-130’s were utilized for the daily flights into the combat zone; meanwhile, the older, smaller and slower C-119’s were used to fly the routine cargo missions normally flown by the C-130’s. 

         

        I participated on airlift missions during the crisis. On one sortie we carried cargo to Howard AFB in the Canal Zone . I instructed a student navigator during this mission. He performed the navigation duties as we flew back from Panama to Florida . The route took us very close to the Dominican Republic “Combat Zone” that had been established around the troubled island of Hispaniola.

         

        During flight planning in Panama , I reviewed the route with the pilot, Lt. Col. Howard Dye – who was my boss at Pittsburgh . We had to be careful not to enter the Dominican Republic controlled air space. It would be difficult to determine our position at that point of the flight, as the route was in an area of limited navigation aids. The student navigator would use “Dead Reckoning” and celestial navigation (sun lines) to position the aircraft.

         

        As we approached the controlled air space the student navigator took a celestial observation. I quickly used the navigation radios and was able to fix our position. My quick plot indicated that we had strayed into the controlled airspace. I told Colonel Dye that we were right of course and had entered the Dominican Combat Zone.  He immediately turned the airplane to the left to get back on course.  We proceeded to Florida without further incident.

         

        A few months later I received a small blue box in my mail. It was a medal: The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. The citation read that I had received the decoration for service during the Dominican crisis. But, I had never been to the Dominican Republic ! What was going on?

         

        To comprehend what happened you have to understand Colonel Dye. He was a man with total integrity. He reported our position inside the controlled Dominican Republic airspace to Air Traffic Control and then entered it in the flight records after the mission. Most people would have left the matter unsaid. But not Colonel Dye, he did everything by the book, even if it made him vulnerable to a flight violation. Most of the time, “no good turn goes unpunished”; however, in this case, someone had reviewed the records and submitted the crew for the medal.

         

        And lest you think that he was looking for a medal, well, think again. There was no indication that there would be any award for airlift activity in the Dominican Republic .  Colonel Dye flew thirty-two B-24 combat missions over Europe during World War II. On many occasions he returned to his base in England with engines out and holes in the aircraft. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and many Air Medals; he didn't need another award to prove his heroism. He was a man of honor who lived his life accordingly. Colonel Dye could wear his medal as a testament to his integrity. I, to the contrary, have always referred to my decoration as my “Off-Course Award”. I am probably the only navigator in the Air Force to be so honored!

         

         

         

         

         

        Postscript:

        REQUIREMENTS FOR THE AWARD OF THE ARMED FORCES EXPEDITIONARY MEDAL:

        Degree of Participation:  Service members must be bona fide members of a unit engaged in the operation or meet one or more of the following criteria:

        ·          Be engaged in direct support for 30 consecutive days in the area of operations (or for the full period when an operation is less than 30 days duration) or for 60 nonconsecutive days provided this support involves entering the area of operations.

        ·          Be engaged in actual combat, or duty that is equally as hazardous as combat duty, during the operation with armed opposition, regardless of time in the area. c. Personnel assisting in domestic disturbances involving law enforcement, equal rights demonstrations or property protection.

        ·          Participate as a regularly assigned crew member of an aircraft flying into, out of, within, or over the area in support of the military operations

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