Colorado Air National Guard celebrates milestone in its rich heritage at ’68 Call-Up Reunion
By Capt. Kristin Haley and Tech. Sgt. Cheresa D. Theiral, 140th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 05, 2008
Denver -- The 140th Wing of the Colorado Air National commemorated the 40th anniversary Guardsmen' s mobilization following the 1968 Pueblo Crisis in a ceremony at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum Oct. 4.
The '68 Call-Up Reunion recognized the Southeast Asia mobilization and honored the 900 Guardsmen who deployed during that time.
The formal program included speakers such as Maj. Gen H. Michael Edwards, the Adjutant General of Colorado; Maj. Gen. (Retired) John France, former Adjutant General of Colorado and former 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron operations officer mobilized for the 1968 call-up; and General John Michael Loh, former commander of United States Air Force Air Combat Command.
"What an honor and what a privilege it is to be here with my heroes," said Edwards, as he implored upon current COANG members to carry the torch of their forerunners. "You must always remember your past as you look forward to the future, because it's those heroes who set the bar so high for the Colorado Air National Guard."
In addition, Brig. Gen. Trulan A. Eyre, 140th Wing commander, honored the family of Maj. Clyde Seiler, an F-100 pilot who was killed in action, and Maj. Perry Jefferson, an intelligence officer who was missing in action for 39 years. The two members of the 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron were lost while stationed at Phan Rang Air Base, South Vietnam, within three weeks of the unit's return to Buckley Air National Guard base in 1969.
"Perry Jefferson ... he was the ultimate nice guy," said '68 veteran Gene Eddy, an F-100 crew chief. "All our pilots were top notch pilots and they were our friends, all at the same time. When we went over there [Vietnam] we were a team, and we stayed a team."
The reunion also united current Colorado Guardsmen with those involved in the 1968 mobilization and demonstrated that not matter how technology changes, some things will always stay the same - things like operational security, camaraderie and the desire for the latest in electronic gadgets.
"We didn't know we were going to Vietnam until we were in the air," said '68 Call-Up veteran Larry Meis.
"We had some great times," said former Colorado Guardsman Richard Slack. "Everybody kind of sticks together and looks out for each other. Here you're kind of a big family."
"We always had a lot of orders from the guys over in Vietnam to bring them this or that back, like electronics or stuff like that," said Meis, who was assigned to a crew that flew to Hong Kong for parts. "One time I had $10,000 in $10 bills to bring back stuff for the guys, cameras and all that kind of stuff. Prices were good in Hong Kong."
The 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron was the first Air National Guard unit called to combat in the Vietnam conflict.