Pat Hatch's PhotoJournal A blog about photography & other musings…

Fire in Flight – Page 15.

Fig. 29 - Current 50th TAS Patch

Fig. 29 - Current 50th TAS Patch

So in the aftermath of our flight, Major Smith, the guy we rescued at Katum, graciously nominated the entire crew for Silver Stars.  The powers that be didn't see it that way, however, and we were all subsequently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for Valor.  Here is the citation that accompanied the award.

Distinguished Flying Cross Medal

Distinguished Flying Cross

I have often been asked if I thought we deserved the Silver Star.  I really have no idea since I am not familiar with the criteria used for awarding the medals.  So I just accepted the Air Force's judgment.  Perhaps, if we had had these photos, and had been able to present the story in this format, it might have made a difference.  I doubt it.  And I'm fine with that.

Here is the Stars & Stripes article that appeared on July 17th, 1968.  And here a Lockheed ad that appeared in Aviation Week & Space Technology that appears to refer to our shootdown.

30th Reunion

Fig. 30 - 30 Year Anniversary Reunion

Fig. 30 - 30 Year Anniversary Reunion

Upon the advent of the internet, crew members naturally found each other again, and we began discussing the possibility of a 30-year reunion. This is a picture of the crew taken upon their arrival at the airport in Winston-Salem, NC, in June 1968. Here is a letter we received from Mr. William B. Bullock, President of Lockheed Martin, on the occasion of our anniversary.  Left to right, Britt Blaser (CP), Jon "Ghost" Alexander (NAV), Jerry Willard (LM), Joe Basilisco (FM), and Pat Hatch (AC).

40th Reunion

Fig. 31 - 40th Anniversary Reunion

Fig. 31 - 40th Anniversary Reunion

Naturally, we had to do it again, this time at the home of Colonel Jon R. Alexander ("Ghost"), a retired F-4 driver extraordinaire, in The Villages, Florida, in June 2008. Britt was unable to attend this time due to a business commitment, but he promised to be at the 50th reunion in 2018.  Left to right, Joe Basilisco, Pat Hatch, Ghost Alexander, and Jerry Willard.

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  1. Pat- I just stumbled on your story and read it right through. I appreciate your taking the time to write such a compeling piece and deeply thank you for your service to our country.

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