Perry’s Blog

Thoughts and notes from Perry Smith

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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The Challenges Of Learning How To Fly

It was 107 degrees on a late August day in 1956 at Marana Air Base in Arizona. Flight school for sixty Air Force second lieutenants had begun. On that day I got my “dollar ride” in the back seat of a T-34 trainer aircraft. The air was very bumpy and I quickly got airsick. On landing the instructor pilot was very blunt. “Lieutenant, some folks can learn to fly and some cannot.” He then walked...

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One of the Army’s Best is About to Face His Greatest Challenge

In 1996, I got a call from a friend who is a historian in North Carolina, Dick Kohn. Professor Kohn suggested that I might be able to help a young Army officer who was completing his Ph.D. studies at the University of North Carolina. Kohn was concerned that Major HR McMaster might soon be in big trouble with the senior leadership in the United States Army. McMaster was about to publish a...

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Augusta’s Polymaths: Connect with Amazing Individuals in our midst

As I continue my efforts to preserve the legacy of Doctor Hervey Cleckley, two synonymous terms keep popping up– Renaissance Man and Polymath. A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. Such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve problems and assist individuals and organizations. Rather than referring to...

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The Power of Persistence: The Mike Rose Story

There is a lovely saying, first expressed by Elbert Hubbard in 1914, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. I prefer a longer phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, set up a lemonade stand and bring joy to your neighborhood by giving free lemonade to all the kids.” Once in a while extremely good results emerge after something very bad occurs. This fact is useful to consider...

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