Letters from the War – Thailand 5

John Norvell F4 Backseat

The following excerpts are from  letters that were written to my wife and others during the Vietnam War, while I was stationed in Thailand. Because of the nature of the events, the letters seldom told the entire story to loved ones.  Some things were best left unsaid.  In some instances, I have added to the story to make events clearer than they were in the letters.

24 June 1973: I now have 45 hours in combat; I figure I’ll have 500 by the time I leave here next May. That is if we continue to fly. Combat however is minor, I still am not being paid right due to being assigned here rather than Ubon. I am going to attack them tomorrow and find out what the story is.  If they don’t straighten it out, I may be outside the main gate begging soon.  Ha ha.  13th TFS patch

Oh one last thing, I will be getting a new roommate next month. Ed S. my current one is leaving. He made it through the absolute worst year of the war. Good for Ed.  I wonder who I will get.  Time will tell.


26 June 1973: Today was a day off – after nearly a whole month of flying every day in combat.  Let me repeat that- A DAY OFF.   I just got back from a trip to Khon Kaen (the old Siam Northern capital). It was great to get away from here if only for a day. It made me feel as if I had been gone for 2 weeks.

I spent the day touring near the city. We saw a Buddha that must have been 100 feet high and went up to a big lake near the city and saw a dam there.  Not exciting as tours go, but it was good for me to get off the base.  It is a bit odd to one day be on a bombing mission over Cambodia and the next day on a tour bus, as if I were a tourist from Germany.   The base organizes these tours primarily I think for the enlisted folks, although some officers go.

Another odd thing is to have a maid.  Her name is Dang and she works for me and my roommate for $30 a month each, so she makes $60 on our room.  I don’t know how many rooms she cleans, but that is good pay for a Thai.  The maids clean Dang our Thai maid doing our laundry. the room, shine our boots, do the laundry and take care of us every day.  We can wear the same outfit if we wish as it is always clean, ironed, and folded in the drawer when we get back from flying.

So here I am living in the lap of luxury,  having a maid, and taking tours of exotic places, and the room is air-conditioned, what more can you ask for.

Back to bombing tomorrow.

I hear we may be flying night missions now as we had a day off to rest.  That will be something different.  It is a common belief among flyers that F4s have no lift at night, just kidding.

To be continued


About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in Air Force, American History, Cambodia bombing 1973, Combat, F-4 Phantom II, Fighter Aircraft, Fighter pilot lingo, Fighter pilot slang, Norvell Family History, Thailand, U Dorn RTAFB, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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