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may/june 2008

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BY JOHN ROWAN
The old adage that “You can’t please all of the people, all of the time” was proven to me again recently. A reader complained about the Mark Jury photos in the last issue. He was upset that the only airman shown was a guy carrying cases of beer and soda. While I am always glad to chide my grunt colleagues over the amenities that we Air Force types were able to acquire, I understand my fellow airman’s gripe. So, in the desire to provide a view of one of our more heroic airman, below is a photo of one of my grammar school buddies, retired Senior Master Sergeant Dennis Richardson.

Dennis RichardsonDennis was recently awarded, forty years late, the Air Force Cross for his service in Vietnam. He was a door gunner on a Jolly Green helicopter in 1968 when he went into Laos to try to retrieve the backseater in a downed F-4. While hovering just above the ground, he came under attack. Manning his M-60, despite being hit with shrapnel in the shoulder, Dennis managed to keep the chopper from being shot down.

The rest of his crew received Silver Stars, but he did not get a medal at the time. A later review of his records uncovered the error. Dennis Richardson is one of approximately seventeen Air Force enlisted personnel to receive the Air Force Cross, which ranks just below the Medal of Honor.

After his active duty, Dennis went on to extensive service in the Air Force Reserve in an air/sea rescue unit on Long Island, N.Y. Congratulations, Dennis. You do us airmen proud.

Congratulations also to another former airman, VVA Vice President Jack Devine, and the members of our Veterans Initiative Task Force who just returned from a follow-up visit to Ukraine to meet with the Russian Vietnam veterans. These visits have proven very useful to our friends at the Pentagon’s Defense Prisoners of War/Missing Personnel Office. Below is a letter from DPMO’s Director, Charles A. Ray, thanking us for the information we obtained from the Ukrainians. Keep up the good work.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Greenville to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary. It should be quite an event. I know that Wes Guidry and the gang and Judy Ballentine and all the folks in South Carolina are getting everything ready for our arrival.

At the last Leadership Conference in Tucson, we called it VVA’s “Summer Camp.” Some people grumbled that was not serious enough. So, this year I want to welcome you to VVA’s Summer School. But, don’t think that this means anyone was left back. I’ll see you there.

 

 

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