Perry’s Blog

Thoughts and notes from Perry Smith

PBS Series on Vietnam War Impressive, Yet Saddening and Incomplete

Is it possible to watch a television series and to be very impressed while being profoundly disappointed? The answer is yes. The Vietnam War, a ten-episode production on PBS, fits this description quite well. This conclusion leads to the next question—should I spend eighteen hours of my valuable time watching this special? My answer is no. If you wish to learn about the Vietnam War and...

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Intercollegiate Sports: Then and Now

The game was a very tight one. Two nationally ranked teams were playing. The score was 4 to 4 with 12 seconds to go in the game. Everyone was anticipating an overtime period. The game was college lacrosse. The date was April, 1956. The location was New Haven, Connecticut and the teams were Yale and West Point. The Yale team was moving the ball towards the Army goal when Army defenseman Ben...

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The Challenges Of A Fighter Pilot—Story Number One

The 555th (Triple Nickel) Fighter Squadron just deployed from its home base in Aviano, Italy to a base in Afghanistan. The pilots will be flying their F-16s on a six-month combat deployment. A full package of maintenance and support personnel will also deploy from Aviano. The squadron commander has asked me to send him lots of flying stories that he will share with those in his unit. I thought...

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Two Flying Stories—Dealing With Emergencies

One of the great challenges of flying fighter aircraft is having responsibility for everyone in your flight. Much of my flying was in formations of two, three or four aircraft. If I was the flight leader and any of the aircraft had an emergency, I had the responsibility to assist. The following is an example. Flying in an air-to-ground exercise over North Carolina, there were three F-100s in my...

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Flying F-4 Fighter Aircraft In Combat

The date was 22 February, 1969. I was flying on the wing of Wayne Pearson. Wayne’s backseater was Mike Heenan. Ron Hintze was, as usual, in my backseat. Wayne rolled in on the target and established a dive angle of about 45 degree (nose down). A few seconds later, my backseater shouted to me on the intercom, “Holy Smoke, Lead is on Fire”. All I could see was a ball of fire and lots of smoke...

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Combat Flying At Night

On a pitch-black night, I rolled my F4 aircraft in on an Anti-Aircraft gun position on the ground. Six positions were shooting in my general direction—I picked out just one to hit. The fiery tracers were flying fast by my canopy—it was the like a Fourth of July fireworks display but it was over central Laos. My quick thought–I am going to get hit for sure. The mission was quite a...

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