CAT/Air America Oral History Interviews
These CAT/Air America Oral History Interviews are part of
The Oral History Project at the Vietnam Center and Archive
Texas Tech University
The following pages contain interview transcripts and audio recordings. In some instances there is one file but not the other.
Vang Bee (RLAF) Vang Bee served in the Royal Laos Air Force as a T-28 pilot. Interview conducted by Roger Warner.
Frank Bonansinga (USN, Air America) Frank Bonansinga entered service as a Midshipman Naval Aviator in 1949. While in the Navy, Frank flew various propeller aircraft and was checked out in a jet before leaving in 1955. After leaving the Navy, Frank went to work with Raytheon where he flew as a test pilot for ten years and was elected into The Society for Experimental and Test Pilots for his work there. Frank left Raytheon in 1965 and served with Air America as a fixed wing pilot. He flew a number of aircraft and missions over Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos from 1965 to 1973. Later he flew in Latin America.
Marius Burke (USMC, Air America) Marius Burke served as a helicopter pilot with the United States Marine Corps from 1958-1963. He then joined Air America and served as a helicopter pilot in Southeast Asia until 1975. Marius was present during the last hours and participated in the evacuation of Saigon in April 1975. The first draft of the transcript of this interview is still being reviewed. Check back soon to view it online.
Robert Caron Robert Caron discusses his experiences as a rotory- and fixed-wing pilot in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Caron also relates his experiences as a helicopter pilot with Air America in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, including his role in the evacuation of Saigon in April 1975.
Tony Durizzi (Air America) (CAT) (SAT) Tony Durizzi flew with Air America, CAT, and SAT from 1960 to 1968. He served in Vientiane from 1960 to 1965 as a Captain on C-46, C-123, Caribou, and T-28. His missions included supply airdrops and other support missions. He then served in Tachikawa, Japan, from 1965-1968, as a Captain of a DC-6, C-46, and DC-4 and later served in Naha, Okinawa as Captain of a P2V-7 (Skyhook). OH0171
Nikki Fillipi (USA, Air America) Nikki Fillipi joined the US Army in 1955 and served in military intelligence. He later attended Army helicopter flight training and served with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam in 1965. While in Vietnam, he participated in the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley and also served in the Mekong Delta supporting ARVN operations. Nikki resigned from the Army in 1966 and joined Air America. He served with Air America in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam from 1967 to 1975 and participated in the evacuation of Saigon in April 1975. This interview covers various aspects of these experiences to include his US Army service, Air America SAR operations, and his service with Air America in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. This interview is ongoing. Please check back to see when the transcript is available.
Larry Fraser (USMC, Air America, Arizona Helicopters, Bird Air, ) Larry Fraser served as a pilot in the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966. He served with HMM 362 in Chu Lai. After leaving the USMC in 1967, Mr. Fraser served with Air America in Udorn Thailand from 1968 to 1973. He later flew for Arizona Helicopters, and Bird Air.
Norman Gardner (USA, CIA) Norm Gardner served with the 5th Special Forces Group near Nha Trang, Republic of Vietnam, from 1965 to 1966. He then went to work for the Central Intelligence Agency and served in Laos.
Leigh Coleman Hotujec (Air America, USAID, DAO/SA-JANAF) Leigh Coleman went to Southeast Asia with her family in 1962. Ben Coleman, Leigh’s father, served as an Air America pilot in Thailand, Taiwan, and Laos. Leigh served as an English teacher with USAID and later worked with the Defense Attaches Office. (This interview is still in progress).
Bill Lair (CIA) Bill Lair served with the Central Intelligence Agency in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam from 1951 to 1980. He established the Paru (The Thai Paramilitary Police Unit) and Paru Jungle Training Facility. The Paru later served as a model for the War in Laos and Paru members served as the primary trainers for the Hmong and other Laotian forces. The interview covers Bill Lair's early life growing up in Texas as well as his experiences as a mortar platoon member in the 3rd Armored Division during WWII. Most of the interview covers events and activities in Southeast Asia. OH0200
James MacFarlane (Air America) (Bird and Son) (CASI) Jim MacFarlane joined the Connecticut Army National Guard in 1958 where he received fixed-wing and rotary wing training. In 1962 he was hired by Air America to fly the DeHavilland DHC-2 (Beaver) in Thailand and Laos. He served with Air America until October 1962 and was then hired by Bird and Son to fly several aircraft to include the Dornier DO-28 (Skyservant). He flew in Thailand and Laos with Bird and Son from 1963 to 1965 and then worked for Continental Air Services, Incorporated, in Vietnam for most of 1966. After leaving CASI in 1966, Jim returned to the US and flew commercial aircraft where his duties included flying men and material to and from Vietnam. OH0208
Ted Mauldin Ted Mauldin served in Vietnam and Laos as a pilot with Air America from 1966 to 1974.
John McRainey (USA) (Air America) (AMR) John McRainey served with the United States Army from 1954 to 1957. After earning his private pilots license, John went to work for Air America and served in South Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Malaysia. He later worked for American Airlines and as a pilot for a private contractor in Latin America. OH0182
Sandra McRainey (Air America) Sandra McRainey lived in Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos when her husband, John McRainey, and their children. This interview talks about their life together and focuses on the experiences of family members of Air America personnel who lived overseas during the Wars in Southeast Asia. OH0181
Judy Porter (Air America, USAID) Judy Porter served in Southeast Asia with her husband Jack Porter. While in Thailand and Laos, Judy engaged in a number of photographic projects involving USAF, USAID, and Air America activities. This interview is complete and is being transcribed. Check back periodically to see the transcript online. Click on Judy's name above to view her other online collections.
Joseph Rosbert Joe Rosbert served with the American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Nationalist Air Force, also known as the "Flying Tigers," and with Civil Air Transpoirt (CAT).
Felix Smith Felix Smith served with the American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Nationalist Air Force, also known as the "Flying Tigers," and with Civil Air Transpoirt (CAT).
Les Strouse (USAF, Air America) Les Strouse served with the United States Air Force until 1964 and worked for Air America in Southeast Asia from 1965 to 1975. This interview is complete and a transcript is available. We conducted this interview over the internet using instant messenger. There is no audio recording, only a transcript.
MacAlan Thompson Mac Thompson served with International Voluntary Services (IVS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Laos from 1966 to 1975.
Ben Van Etten (USA) Ben Van Etten served with the United States Army in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966. After returning to the US and working at Fort Wolters as a helicopter instructor pilot, he went to work for Air America in 1968. He served in Thailand and Laos from 1968 until 1972 flying the H-34.
The Vietnam Center and Archive Oral History Project is interviewing anyone who worked or lived in Southeast Asia in connection with Civil Air Transport and Air America. We would like to interview employees as well as their family members. If you would like to participate in this project, please contact the webmaster at