I was very surprised to see myself on those photos. It was an instant recall when I did see them as I had forgotten I had participated in the karate exhibition we gave at a "Thai fare". The two photos of me were good reminders of those activities. The one photo of Mr. Mead facing the camera sufficiently jogged my memory so that I can honestly say that I did recognize him in that one particular photo. Also, because he had the duties of assisting us with refueling many of our aircraft that was the truth as he and his team pitched in at crucial times when we were over whelmed with so many aircraft that had come down to us from Vientiane, Laos during those moon-soon rains I told you about on the phone as so many of them had to be evacuated down to us and that was had to manage in getting them all refueled on a timely basis. The additional help we got from Mr. Mead's group helped us make our deadlines in reacting quickly to emergency needs we experienced far too frequently to our hot spots up in Laos.
His group also refueled an important c-130 aircraft that would go up to special places and "orbit" in one particular area in south eastern Laos and act as an airborne communicator for any Air America® aircraft flying in those areas. The pilot of that aircraft could also call in help when appropriate as it did one time for me as a passenger in one of our helicopters since all of the Air America® operations staff such as I was, were required to ride up country (to Laos) every calendar quarter for continuing familiarity with the activity going on at the ground below.
We had a helicopter loaded with canned meat for use by the Lao soldiers our special forces had trained them as soldiers at their request, and they were located on a ridge near a road that came down from Vietnam and connected with the Cambodian road that was guarded by hostile Cambodian soldiers who manned a powerful anti-aircraft gun that was always in operation. The Cambodians had killed/murdered over 10 million of their own people who would not cooperate with their communist government, in fact, the did not like anyone foreign even if they were of Asian descent, so it was accurate to say they did not really like anyone at all-just themselves...
In our effort to get that canned meat to feed those Lao soldiers (known as "road watchers"), the weather was against us as it had been a clear day but did cloud up badly so that we had to fly at lower altitudes as the cloud bank kept lowering closer to the ground, as this kept us from seeing where we were. When we finally got back into a space below the clouds, we were visible to the Cambodian gun crew on the ground and they opened fire on us and every 4th round was a "tracer" and designed to be that way so the gunners could see how close they were firing to us and it was only about 20 feet away from us which was far too near for our comfort.
Our pilot called the orbiting c-130 who had been observing what was occurring and was glad we pulled back quickly up into those clouds. Our pilot asked him if had had any friendly aircraft being flown by pilots Air America® had trained for aerial combat and bombardments and he replied that he did and they were 6 former trainer aircraft converted to carry weaponry and he said he would send them down to destroy that anti-aircraft gun manning the Cambodian road. That was good news to us. He then told us he had received word via radio from our friendly base named "pakse" who we had taken on board the load of meat to feed those soldiers but said his American doctor there had a medical emergency he wanted us to handle and they would off load the food to be delivered the next day and for us to hurry back to pakse for us and they would unload our meat and another aircraft would deliver it to our friendly "road watchers" the next day. The medical emergency was a Lao woman in pakse was about to deliver a breach birth baby (dangerous position) and if we got there in time, he U.S. doctor would have us take him and her up to a nearby hospital he had made and staffed with American nurses and he was confident he could succeed in turning the baby around and have a normal birth. We got there in time and the doctor succeeded in his procedure and the birth was normal and healthy for all.
When we were landing back at pakse right after the pilot in the c-130 told us he was directing those armed Lao aircraft to the Cambodian gun below, as we were about to land, we looked over the gun position had been but it had received bombs that exploded and left nothing of them but burning grass as those bombs were napalm and very deadly on anything in the way of them. We had a normal and easy ride as our mission was over for that day and so I was able to get back to Udorn and my family that same evening.
Clearly, without our ground crews and particularly our excellent refuelers, both Thai Air America® employee and U.S. Air Force refuelers helping out as they did, I can see only good and valid reasons why Mr. Mead should be fully welcomed by us to be an associate member as he has requested. I would and do recommend him most highly. I hope I have helped him to "come aboard", once and for all.
And the best of luck to Mr. Mead who was a great help to the Air America® mission and that additional help be got from the U.S. air force and it members in keeping our birds in the air as needed.