Sioux City, Iowa --
May 14, 1969
(The following story originally appeared in the June, 1969 issue of the Iowa National Guard’s Hawkeye Newsletter.)
Grandparents, parents, friends, wives, children and babies who have never seen their father started gathering at the Air National Guard hangar at the Sioux City municipal airport about 4 p.m. on 14 May 1969.
The crowd was a sea of bright colors of the new dresses of tiny tots to grandmothers waiting to welcome their loved ones home. They strained their eyes looking to the west for the first glimpse of the F-100 Super Sabre fighter-bombers that had departed Hickam Field in Hawaii about 10 a.m.
Suddenly there was a gasp of “There they are” led by Col. Gordon Young, commanding officer, the first contingent of six planes flew over the runway in formation. There was a hush as they went into a peel-off and landed at 5 second intervals. They were followed at each half hour by other groups until 20 planes had landed.
Two C141 Cargo-Troop carrier planes landed at 8:30 p.m. and 10:12 p.m., bringing the last of the men of the 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron home from a year’s duty at Phu Cat Air Force base in South Vietnam.
It is a unique experience for the returning servicemen. Captain John Haley expressed it by saying, “it’s the Fourth of July, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s and my birthday all in about 15 minutes.”