The Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California is well known for holding one of its well known Living History Events for the general public every month. The topic for their event on July 5th will be the ‘Air War Over Vietnam’, featuring the Cessna L-19 Bird Dog. As usual, the event will feature a speaker panel of distinguished aviation experts, historians and veterans, followed by a question & answer period and then a flight demonstration with the subject aircraft when possible.
Chuck Sweeney, Cdr. U.S.N. (Ret) will describe his personal combat experiences flying the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk over Viet Nam, and the circumstances which led to him receiving three Distinguished Flying Crosses in a single week. He will also discuss the book “On Heroic Wings: Stories of the Distinguished Flying Cross” and the DFC Society.
Commander Sweeney was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and graduated from St. Josephs University. After working for two years in the Defense Industry on the Atomic Powered Bomber at Patuxent River, Maryland he got the urge to fly and Jim Lovell convinced him to become a Navy carrier pilot. Chuck’s first tour was flying S-2E aircraft from the USS Yorktown. He received his MS in Aeronautical Engineering at Monterey, and since they were looking for cannon fodder in Viet Nam, he transitioned to jets, ultimately flying the A-4F with VA-22 from the USS Bon Homme Richard in the Tonkin Gulf. A shore duty tour with VA-127 was shortened 18 months by a quick reaction (10 day notice) deployment with VA-212 as Executive Officer where he was awarded three DFCs in one week while flying strikes in the A-4F against North Viet Nam from the USS Hancock. He ended up with 200 combat missions with his very last mission being a large scale attack against the very heavily defended Than Hoa Bridge which had extracted a heavy toll on aviators. Retiring in 1980 with over 4500 flight hours (2100 in the trusty A-4) and 757 carrier landings (192 at night), Chuck then spent 24 years in the Defense Industry. He worked mainly on advanced programs including missiles, mission planning and satellite imagery at General Dynamics and BAE Systems and finally retired in 2004. He joined the DFC Society in 2001, and since then has been deeply involved with various aspects of the organization including President of the San Diego Lindbergh Chapter as well as being on the National Board of Directors for seven years. He has also helped spearhead the Oral History Program, is heavily involved with the DFC Book and Documentary and has been National President of the DFC Society for the past five years. His vision is to expand/improve the Society and to educate the public about the organization and its great members.
Commander Sweeney’s presentation will include a short video describing the history of the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), which is the highest aviation medal and the fourth highest combat medal awarded by the United States. He will also discuss the Distinguished Flying Cross Society followed by a description of a book published by the DFC Society “On Heroic Wings: Stories of the Distinguished Flying Cross” which is available in the Planes of Fame gift shop and will be available for sale/signing after the presentation. President Bush (41) wrote the Foreword and Jim Lovell did the Introduction; both are members of the DFC Society. Thirty-two major accounts and over 180 vignettes are included with the stories predominately told in the first-person words of the recipient based on their oral history interview.
Christina Olds, the daughter and biographer of Gen. Robin Olds will present: “Fighter Pilot Robin Olds: WWII and Vietnam Triple Ace“, the experiences and memoirs of her father.
Paul Reed, Col. U.S. Army (Ret.) will discuss his experiences flying the Grumman OV-1A Mohawk over Viet Nam.
Both Sweeney and Olds will be signing books after the presentation. The L-19 Bird Dog & OV-1 Mohawk will be on display for the public and the L-19 is expected to perform a flight demonstration. At 12:00 noon, the Membership Sponsored raffle flight will occur in the featured aircraft if possible. Become a member to enter the raffle. All members are eligible to enter the raffle, but you must be present to win.
Click HERE to check the Planes Of Fame list of events for 2014.