James Boyd – Tualatin Veteran

Posted on March 31, 2017 at 11:48 am

James Boyd

BY DALE POTTS

Tualatin broadcast engineer James Boyd did not have any idea he was going to be drafted when he dropped out of college to take his dream job, working full time for a radio station. He wanted a career in broadcasting since 13 years old. After high school, he studied electronics technology at Central Oregon Community College for a year. Then in early 1965, at age 18, he dropped out of school when he got the opportunity of a lifetime, a job offer at KBND radio in Bend. He said “as I started my career in broadcasting, the war in Vietnam was ramping up at a breakneck pace. I remember reading wire service news stories about Vietnam on the air, stumbling over names I could not pronounce. All the while, not realizing the impact the war would have on me.” About a year later, in early 1966, he was surprised to get a letter from his local Selective Service Board. He was not going to school and not eligible for any type of deferment. He was being drafted. He said, with that letter “my whole life changed in an instant”.

Being drafted then meant a two year Army commitment, serving to meet the needs of the Army. Volunteering involved a three year commitment but you could negotiate your duty with a recruiter. James volunteered, thinking his broadcasting experience qualified him to serve in that field. But the military school for broadcasters was temporarily closed while being relocated. So instead, after finishing basic training, he got eight weeks telephone switchboard training. He entered the Army on February 15, 1966 and six months later, flew to Vietnam for the standard one year tour, assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, Airmobile at Camp Radcliff near An Khe, Binh Dinh Province in the central highlands of South Vietnam. Fortunately, he shared his background with an Army Officer during a stopover on the flight to Vietnam, who helped arrange his assignment to the 1st Cav Public Information Office (PIO) as a Broadcast Specialist.

At the beginning of the war, the military set up a broadcasting network in Saigon called Armed Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN). Programming originated there was networked to small, low power transmitters at each of the division base camps in Vietnam. One of the first announcers was Adrian Cronauer whose daily greeting on air “Good Morning Vietnam” inspired the movie by the same name. Adrian was still on the air when James arrived in-country. Initially, James interviewed unit soldiers using a tape recorder. Those interviews were sent to the soldiers’ radio stations at home where they were widely used. Later, his duties expanded to do local programming. He was a DJ again. using popular music records obtained from Red Cross ladies assigned to the base hospital. “We rotated duty being on air a few days and other days we would be in the forward areas interviewing soldiers and obtaining news stories”.

James explained that being in operational areas was intense. ” For example, a few months after I arrived in-country, I accompanied a platoon, going out by helicopter, for a search and destroy mission. The second day we encountered a small Viet Cong group carrying supplies. There was a 20-minute fire fight. We did not suffer casualties but all of the Viet Cong group was killed. What remains burned into my memory today….is the bodies we checked at the end.” A never ending safety concern was the mortaring of his base camp while there. The Viet Cong were aiming at the more than 100 helicopters on the helipads at the base when the full division was present. “Our living quarters were within a few hundred yards of the helipads. The mortar shells were always too close for comfort. I became accustomed to hearing small arms fire and outgoing artillery at all hours of the day and night. Today gunfire is troubling for me to hear.”

Some 2.7 million Americans served in uniform in Vietnam. Almost all, like James, were raised to be caring, considerate citizens; not warriors trained in war fighting skills. For them the war did not end when they got off the plane on their way home. For far too many, that experience negatively influenced their life, with PTSD disrupting families and jobs, creating unruly behavior, confusion, divorce and unemployment. Also many suffered from Agent Orange ailments. James said that contrary to adverse media coverage, “the care vets get at VA facilities is excellent.” He added “War is an awful thing. Despite all the negatives, I am still proud to have served my country.”

 

Dale Potts
Dale G. Potts
has organized and MC’d Tualatin’s Memorial Day observation for the past 13 years. He is a Navy Vietnam vet, serving as the Public Affairs Officer of the Aircraft Carrier USS Yorktown. After active duty, he remained in the reserves, retiring as a Navy Captain (same rank as an Army Colonel). His civilian career was primarily as the Oregon Public Affairs Officer for IRS. Contact Dale at
vet.dale@gmail.com.

Captain Dale Potts

Severely damaged, the B-17’s aircraft nose cone destroyed by direct hit by German 88 anti-aircraft shell, miraculously made it back to England; Tualatin man’s father received Distinguished Flying Cross as Navigator

Posted on March 2, 2017 at 11:00 am

George Abbot LeDoux

BY DALE POTTS

No one could believe it was still flying as the B-17 Flying Fortress came down onto the runway. It was making unearthly screeching noises as the wind blew through twisted medal and wires. After successfully dropping its bombload onto its Cologne, Germany target on October 15, 1944, the plane’s nose cone section was totally destroyed by a direct hit by a German 88 anti-aircraft shell. The plane’s bombardier, whose battle station was in the nose, had been killed instantly while Navigator Ray LeDoux, working just three feet behind him, was momentarily knocked unconscious against a firewall. The plane had made its way back to its home base, Nuthampstead, England, in that condition. The 398th Bomb Group Memorial Website has all the details of that flight, provided by the crewmembers themselves. Website: www.398th.org.

Flight crews routinely overcame incredible obstacles like this every day. Even when given a few “flak days off”, they were back flying missions when the call came for every available plane for bombing flying missions. A high percentage of these crews had “less airfield landings than takeoffs” due to being shot down, bailing out or ditching in the English Channel. It was not unusual to get fished out of the Channel and be back flying the next day.

Thirty year Tualatin resident, George Abbott LeDoux, whose father was the navigator on that flight, was named after the bombardier George Abbott, who had been killed by the blast. Ray LeDoux and his crewmates found themselves in sub-zero temperatures at five miles high with the wind blasting through the plane, in from the nose and back out through the still open bomb bays. Although stunned and bleeding, Ray concerned because the plane seemed to be in a dive, urgently worked his way up to the cockpit. There he found pilot Larry Delancey and co-pilot Phil Shahlman, struggling to control the aircraft. The pilot had eased out of formation to avoid hitting other planes and to get clear in case they had to parachute out. They descended rapidly to get to a lower altitude because they had lost all oxygen. Soon they were down to 2,000 feet, trying to determine where they were. They knew they had to head West, but concerned about flying into the gun sites of German fighters. The challenge now was to get home. All of Ray’s navigational instruments were out, the maps had been sucked out and only a questionable compass remaining. Fortunately a couple of U.S. P-51 Mustangs showed up and escorted them across Belgium. Delancey explained “we hit the coast right along the Belgium-Holland border. The flight controls and engines seemed to be OK. We might have tried for one of the airfields in France but having no maps made this questionable.” As they reached England, Delancey said LeDoux picked up landmarks and gave course corrections, “taking us directly to our base. It was just a great bit of navigation. Ray just stood there on the flight deck and gave us headings from memory.” Nearing the field, Stahlman let the landing gear down. Delancey explained, without instruments, the landing was strictly by guess and feel. He was concerned that losing control would block the taxi way for returning B-17 squadrons but was able to get the plane to the end of the runway

Delancey was awarded the Silver Star for his “Miraculous feat of flying skill and ability”. He returned to Corvallis to earn a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from OSU. He retired as program manager for the Shrike Missile after a career at the Naval Weapons Center in California. Stahlman finished his tour with this mission and returned home to become a pilot for Eastern Airlines. At his retirement in 1984 he said his final flight with Eastern was “a bit more routine then the one 40 years prior.” George’s father, Ray LeDoux, received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his “extraordinary navigation skills.” The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States Armed Forces who distinguishes himself or herself in support of operations by “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, established in 1918. He navigated his way back to Woodburn where he and the love of his life increased the town’s population by ten. Only one of the nine man crew of that B-17 flight did not return. But he is being remembered every time George Abbott LeDoux’s name is spoken.

Dale Potts

Capt. Dale Potts

Dale G. Potts has organized and MC’d Tualatin’s Memorial Day observation for the past 13 years. He is a Navy Vietnam vet, serving as the Public Affairs Officer of the Aircraft Carrier USS Yorktown. After active duty, he remained in the reserves, retiring as a Navy Captain (same rank as an Army Colonel). His civilian career was primarily as the Oregon Public Affairs Officer for IRS. Contact Dale at vet.dale@gmail.com.

 

Father of Tualatin Man co-piloted B-17 Flying Fortress In European Theater, Survived two air crashes in WWII

Posted on November 3, 2016 at 10:38 am

Bradley Summers

Tualatin’s Heritage Center has Summers’ WWII Memoirs, transcribed as he told his story;

48 pages of fascinating details have been sent to Library of Congress for future generations

BY DALE POTTS

Bradley Summers, the father of Jared Summers who lives on the Tualatin Summers family farm established by his grandfather, John Robert Summers, survived two air crashes while co-piloting B-17 Flying Fortresses in WWII. Jarad, a teacher at Hazelbrook Middle School is the only Industrial arts instructor in the Tualatin-Tigard School District.

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Tualatin Marine, Corporal Barton

Posted on January 14, 2016 at 11:35 am

Corporal Barton

In 1968, America believed that we would easily win the Vietnam war. However, early that year, the Vietnamese announced a seven-day cease-fire for the end of January to celebrate Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. But instead, on January 31, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong military launched the Tet Offensive against major South Vietnam cities. The resulting TV coverage of these fierce battles turned public opinion against the war. It was a shock to learn that the war was not going as well as being told by our military and political leaders.

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