Author Archives: jenorv

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.

Bridge and the Art of War

June 1973 turned to July. Most days, everything went as planned: TO-Take Off, rendezvous with the tank, take on gas—we loved the big gas station in the sky—get the target information. Contact the FAC; drop some surprises on the commies, … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, American History, Combat, F-4 Phantom II, Thailand, U Dorn RTAFB, Udorn RTAFB, Veterans | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Some thoughts on combat

From the end of May to 15 August 1973, I  flew combat missions over Cambodia. That was the focus of every day – combat: brief, refuel, bomb, and RTB. Now it was over. The air war had ended by direction … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, Air Force, American History, Combat, F-4 Phantom II, F4 Phantom II, F4 PhantomII, Fighter Aircraft, SEA, Thailand, U Dorn RTAFB, Udorn RTAFB, Vietnam War | 6 Comments

The Brotherhood of Warriors

For the past months, I have been going through all the letters I wrote to my wife from SEA. 16 June 1973:  just when I was getting somewhat settled into my combat routine – we lost one.  An F-4 took … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, Air Force, American History, Mather AFB, Military history, U Dorn RTAFB, Udorn RTAFB, Vietnam War | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

My special love – The F-4 Phantom II

By 2016 I had not thought about flying fighters for a long time. My good friend from Alaska, the former Capt Jim (now Lt Col retired) suggested we meet in Dayton and go through the Air Force Museum.  Jim was … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, 43 TFS, Air Force, Alaska, Alaskan Air Command, American History, Arizona, F-4 Phantom II, F4 Phantom II, F4 PhantomII, Fighter Aircraft, Navigator, Vietnam War | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Homestead or Don’t Drown

In August 1972, immediately after basic survival my wife Bonnie and I were married.  We then went on our honeymoon.    She went to Arizona – my assignment and been changed to Luke AFB, outside Phoenix, and I… Well I … Continue reading

Posted in Air Force, American History, F-4 Phantom II, F4 emergency, F4 PhantomII, Family History, Fighter Aircraft, Survival training | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Rabies Shots

Today Dear Reader I have one word for you: Bats. I sense your confusion. Is this another political commentary, an observation on 2020, or am I giving an insight into my general mental health? Well, no, it’s about the mammal: … Continue reading

Posted in American History, Norvell Family History, NY, NY History, Ontario Co | Tagged , | Leave a comment

At Fairchild 1972

After my graduation from navigator training in July 1972, I went almost immediately to basic survival training. When I got the F-4 aircraft assignment, I knew that this virtually ensured that I would find myself in combat soon.   To … Continue reading

Posted in Air Force, American History, Combat, F-4 Phantom II, F4 emergency, F4 PhantomII, Family History, Fighter Aircraft, Fighter pilot lingo, Fighter pilot slang, Luke AFB, Mather AFB, Navigator, Navigator Training, POW training, SEA, Vietnam War | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Silver Wings at Last

UNT Graduation 3538th NTS  Mather Air Force Base – July 25, 1972 That long ago afternoon at Mather, the Officers Club ballroom filled with family and friends gathered to celebrate the occasion. The wives waited in their finest, ready to … Continue reading

Posted in Air Force, American History, Mather AFB, Navigator, Navigator Training | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts from the Pit

As I completed my time at Luke upgrading into the backseat some thoughts crossed my mind: 1. The Ejection seat was my friend and I took great care to make sure that everything was right. When I stepped in the … Continue reading

Posted in Air Force, Air Force lingo, American History, Arizona, Fighter Aircraft, Fighter pilot lingo, Fighter pilot slang, Navigator, Navigator Training, Tailhook, Vietnam War | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

In the Land of the Brown Bars

In early November 1971  I,  an older captain who had been non rated for nearly four years,  arrived at Mather Air Force Base, outside Sacramento, California, for undergraduate Navigator Training (UNT).    I settled in the BOQ (bachelor officer quarters) … Continue reading

Posted in American History, Mather AFB, Navigator, Navigator Training | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment