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.

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

Flying on “Old Shakey”

After weeks of preparation at Navigator school,  at Mather Air Force Base, we  nav students were set for our first actual airborne mission. Our training aircraft was the twin engine T-29, outfitted with about 12 training stations in the cabin, … Continue reading

Posted in Air Force, Air Force lingo, American History, Navigator, Navigator Training | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

The View from the Pit

Unlike Undergraduate Navigator Training –UNT, the F-4 backseat AKA “The Pit” was a very different world. At nav school, I sat at a table in a classroom, “flew” our practice mission, and did my computations. In the F-4 Sim, I … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, Air Force, Alaska, American History, Arizona, F-4 Phantom II, F4 Phantom II, F4 PhantomII, Family History, Luke AFB, Navigator, SEA, Vietnam War | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Down to the “South 40”

In May 1973,  I checked in, as a new GIB, assigned to the 13 TFS at Udorn RTAFB.   I had come to the war late as a non rated officer who entered Nav School in the fall of 1971.  Now … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, Air Force, Air Force lingo, American History, Cambodia bombing 1973, F-4 Phantom II, F4 emergency, F4 Phantom II, F4 PhantomII, Fighter Aircraft, Fighter pilot lingo, Fighter pilot slang, Thailand, U Dorn RTAFB, Udorn RTAFB, Veterans, Vietnam War | 1 Comment

FUFs, Pecker Pockets, and RCRs

When I graduated from Nav School,  I moved on to the backseat of the F-4 and discovered I had to speak a whole new language. First of all unlike Nav School, we didn’t turn left, we made a port turn, … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, 43 TFS, Air Force, Air Force lingo, Alaska, Alaskan Air Command, American History, Anchorage, Anchorage Alaska, F-4 Phantom II, F4 emergency, F4 Phantom II, F4 PhantomII, Fighter Aircraft, Fighter pilot lingo, Fighter pilot slang, Thailand, U Dorn RTAFB, Udorn RTAFB, Vietnam War | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Decoration Day then and now

70 years ago when I was young we celebrated “Decoration Day.” In those days the term Decoration Day was often used instead of the current term: Memorial Day. This older term has gone out of fashion now. It is a … Continue reading

Posted in American History, American holidays, Combat, NY, NY History, Veterans | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Udorn We Have A Problem

July 22, 1973 started off like any other bombing mission. We did our preflight, routine, strapped in and taxied to the arming area. For this mission we had 18 Mark 82 – 500 pound bombs loaded, a more or less … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, Air Force, Air Force lingo, American History, F-4 Phantom II, F4 emergency, F4 Phantom II, F4 PhantomII, Fighter Aircraft, Thailand, U Dorn RTAFB, Udorn RTAFB | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

In the Pit

Having spent a little more than 1,000 hours as a WSO, I first had no clue what to expect when I left Nav School to upgrade to the backseat of the F4. I actually no clue of what to expect … Continue reading

Posted in Air Force, American History, Bolling AFB, Combat, F-4 Phantom II, F4 emergency, F4 Phantom II, F4 PhantomII, Fighter Aircraft, Hobart College, Thailand | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Care Packages

Care packages are in the news a lot this time of the year. With good reason, the holiday season is one of the worst times for American military men and women serving overseas. It is hard for those who have … Continue reading

Posted in 13 TFS, Air Force, American History, F-4 Phantom II, F4 PhantomII, Fighter Aircraft, Thailand, Udorn RTAFB, Vietnam War | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Strangest Thanksgiving Ever!

Originally posted on An American Family:
Everyone has a mental image of Thanksgiving that is right out of a Norman Rockwell painting: the family around the table, Dad carving the turkey, the children beautifully dressed and smiling. Well not all…

Posted in American History | Leave a comment