(Contact Info: larry at larryblakeley.com)

Important Note: You will need to click this icon to download the free needed to view most of the images on this Web site - just a couple of clicks and you're "good to go." For reasons why - go here.

A listing and access link to all:
song lyrics and mp3 audio files http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/ (all of which are a part of this Web site) can be accessed simply by selecting the "htm" file for the song you want;

poetry http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/poetry.htm;

quotations http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/quotations.htm; and

essays written by Larry Blakeley http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/articles/articles_larry_blakeley.htm,

all of which are used to tell the story in this Web site, can be accessed by going to each respective link set out above.

My son, Larry Blakeley http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/larryblakeley_photos_jpeg.htm manages this Web site.

Major Roy James Blakeley (December 10, 1928 - July 22, 1965) - USAF (KIA)

When I was young my dad would say
Come on son let's go out and play

No matter how hard I try
No matter how many tears I cry
No matter how many years go by
I still can't say goodbye

- "I Still Can't Say Goodbye," Performer: Chet Atkins

MP3 audio file/lyrics http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/still_cant_say_goodbye.htm

For a larger image click on the photograph.

My Father's 20 19 Days in the Republic of Vietnam (July, 1965)

(see notepad found and described at http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/flight_to_clarkAFB.htm confirming the date my father landed at Da Nang Air Base - November 5, 2004)

The last known photograph of my father - JPEG here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/roy_blakeley_harold_alston196507.jpg;

DjVu here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/roy_blakeley_harold_alston196507.djvu

The pilot sitting at the table with my father is 1st Lt. Harold R. Alston and this is a history of how he was identified:

"... I was flying Roy's wing on his fatal combat mission. I also was the first pilot in the squadron to visit with your mother and Roy's parents about the mission when I returned to George AFB after our tour at Da Nang. You should know, that I enjoyed Roy as my Flight Commander and had great respect for him. I deeply share your loss. - Harold Alston, Lt Col, USAF, Retired" - http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/george_436th_fighter_squadron/email_exchange_harold_alston_bob_irwin.htm

I believe that same photograph may have been taken by Captain Walter B. Harris.

The following information was received by Lt. Colonel Harold Alston in an email dated September 1, 2007:

Larry Shassetz died of a heart attack a while back while living in Litchfield Park, AZ. His widow still resides there. John Olson also died in Connecticut where he lived after retiring from the AF. He had cancer. I have not been successful in locating Walt Harris, but suspect he returned to Tennessee.

The following is an excerpt of an email exchange with Lt. Colonel Harold Alston, November 17 - 18, 2004:

"Roy was always 'testing me' in trying to shake me when I was his wingman or in dog fighting. I was always able to hold my own and he treated me with dignity and respect even though I was so junior in rank and was still learning new things from him.

You might be interested to know that after my tour at Da Nang, I went back to Udorn Thailand after only 8 months home. I was then an 'experienced Captain' so I went on the advanced party before the rest of the squadron deployed..

On 30 September 1966 I became the first pilot in the Air Force to fly 100 combat missions over North VietNam. This was later recognized with a brass, engraved tray given to me by Tony LeVier, the Lockheed Test Pilot who was the first person to fly the F-104. I still have it displayed in my study. Of course it has gathered dust just like I have over these many years..." - please refer to the following link for more of this email exchange: "Email Exchange with Harold Alston," November 17, 2004 http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/articles/email_exchange_harold_alston20041117.htm

100 missions over North VietNam in the F-104C by Harold Alston (Capt Harold Alston, 435th TFS, 479th TFW George AFB), first to complete 100 combat missions over North VietNam in the F-104C on September 30, 1966, Udorn Royal Thai Air Base http://www.916-starfighter.de/SEA100.htm, Hubert Peitzmeier 916 German Starfighter Web site http://www.916-starfighter.de/

The following is an excerpt of what Harold Alston wrote in an email to me dated July 10, 2007:

(Journal) Entry for 18 July 1965, Sunday: (This would have been Roy’s 11th mission.) “6th mission. Bomb perfect! We knocked out 2 bunkers, and killed at least 6 VC. Secretary of Defense McNamara visited to day. I was scheduled to be on static display and show him an airplane, but was flying instead. He talked to Major Arriaga, our Operations Officer. It seems good to fly every day. We work as a team. I proved myself to Roy yesterday so I am now his wingman. We have a squadron policy that you need 5 combat missions before you can be a combat flight leader. I have those now so will lead every 6th mission. Shass and Olson are paired together (Larry Shassetz and John Olson) and Jack and Walt (Jack Gale and Walt Harris). Bombs and strafe are really good—much better than at Cuddyback Range. I am going to church today at 1400. There is a small servicemen’s branch organized here. Well, I did not go to church. I fell asleep at 1200 and awoke at 1500. There is a lot of shelling on the hill. Flares also. We have to take a large quinine tablet for malaria each week. Sunday is the day because our Seiko watches have day/date that show Sunday in red. That will be our reminder.”


The following excerpt is from Harold Alston's entry into his daily journal for Thursday, July 22, 1965:

"Tenth mission today. I was originally scheduled as spare, but at the last minute Major Eusebio Arriaga (Operations Officer) took himself off and I replaced him. The target was a VC build-up west of Chu Lai. Our bombs and strafing were good and right on the target. I don’t know how to write the rest. Roy was killed today..." - Journal entry for combat mission on 22 July (Thursday) 1965, Harold R. Alston, 1 Lt, USAF, 436 TFS (F-104C), DaNang AB, South Viet Nam http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/alston_journal_entry19650722.htm

The following response was made by Harold Alston in an email exchange with me on Thursday, September 6, 2007 to my following questions:

"Although your journal doesn’t mention ground fire damage I presume the damage (you) described was a direct result of same. Is that right? And, was possibly the landing gear not functioning?"

regarding the damage done to the aircraft after being informed of the following ground eyewitness account and official investigative report of the accident:

"Larry, why the leading edge flap separated is a mystery to me. It certainly could have been enemy fire. The mission was in bright daylight and none of us saw any fire which would not be surprising considering the sun angle. I think the damage on the fuselage was from being hit by the flap. It may have caused the oil pressure problem or there were other components damaged that were not visible to me. It certainly is also possible the landing gear failed to extend because of compounded problems. Roy had no chance to go around and pull up and eject by that point. I have not heard of a leading edge flap separating from mechanical failure ever before, but I have not researched the problem other than my experience at George, Luke and Cold Lake Air Bases. Thanks for the other reports (ground eyewitness and official investigative report). I had not seen them. Harold"


The following is a letter dated July 27, 2006 from an eyewitness on the ground, Michael E. Holmes (L/Cpl USMC), describing my father's heroism while attempting to make an emergency landing at Chu Lai.

27 Jul 2006
I was on the runway at Chu Lai the day Captain Blakeley crashed.

He reported to the Chu Lai Tower that he had a "dead stick" and no oil pressure.

There was an ammunition dump on his approach.

He could not get the aircraft centered on the runway which ultimately caused his death.

He used power to ensure that he did not land short and hit the ammunition dump.

It is believed that he cut power (several of us heard the power coming off the aircraft) in order to avoid crashing into the Chu Lai tower area. As a result of the lack of power the aircraft's nose probe hit a sand dune and exploded.

This very brave man could have bailed out but instead stayed with the aircraft ensuring no friendly casualties. He has had my respect all of these years and while talking with friends about Vietnam heroes, he is at the top of my list.

From a ground observer of the incident,
Michael E. Holmes
Chu Lai 1965
Hang Dong, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50230


The following is a letter from Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Sgro dated August 4, 1965 containing the results of investigation into the death of my father

- excerpt "After making several low level passes, his aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire."




http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_anthony_sgro19650804.txt (right mouse key, save as)

DjVu Original



Department of Air Force's Morning Report Casualty Accounting dated July 27, 1965 (final report) http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/morning_report_casualty_accounting19650722.djvu


Roy James Blakeley's life here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/major_roy_james_blakeley.htm

Sir John Moore

"But she had refused to change her blood-stained clothes. 'No. Let them see what they have done,' she said." - Jacqueline Kennedy, 2:38 p.m. aboard Air Force One at the swearing in of Lyndon B. Johnson as president http://www.chron.com/content/chronicle/special/jfk/timeline/238.html, 40th Anniversary Timeline Coverage of the Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, as he road on the back of a car waving to Americans as passing past the Dealey Plaza area, Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963, Houston Chronicle, http://www.chron.com/content/chronicle/special/jfk/.


"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

of sun-split clouds,-and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of-wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,

I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air....

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark nor ever eagle flew-

And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God"

- "High Flight" http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/PopTopics/highflight.htm, written by John G. Magee on September 3, 1941, Air Force History Support Office http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/index.htm


July 1, 1998

My father's name, along with others sent into space here http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/overview/microchip/names2b18.html.

"The "Red Death" had long devastated the country... And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death.  He had come like a thief in the night.  And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall.  And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay.  And the flames of the tripods expired.  And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
- "
The Masque of the Red Death," Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven and Other Tales http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/The_Raven_and_Other_Tales.djvu, A Glassbook Classic.



"What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquished one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the Brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripped lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet;
The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."

Ode: Intimations Of Immortality From Recollections Of Early Childhood http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/poetry/odes_imitations_immortality_recollections_childhood.htm

English Romantic Movement with the publication of Lyrical Ballads(1798) in collaboration with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. http://www.online-literature.com/wordsworth/995/



These people are a poor tired looking lot. Wish there was some way we could get out of this & get (save) some face. - July 5, 1965 letter, Roy Blakelely.

A photo of Major Roy James Blakeley http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/roy_blakeley_f104.djvu, standing in front of a F-104C Starfighter.

Lockheed F-104C Starfighter http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/george_436TFS.djvu, with a group of 436th Tactical Fighter Squadron group standing next to a F-104C Starfighter at George Air Force Base, California. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/george_436TFS.djvu, George Air Force Base, California, July 5, 1965 letter.

Here is a listing of (and hyper linking to) the correspondence written by my father after arriving at Da Nang Air Base, Republic of South Vietnam.

June of the year 2004 is the first time I have read them, except the one written to me.

July 4, 1965 - Johnnye Blakeley

July 5, 1965 - James Louis and Violet Blakeley

July 11, 1965 - Johnnye Blakeley

July 12, 1965 - Johnnye Blakeley

July 16, 1965 - Larry Blakeley

July 16, 1965 - David Blakeley

July 16, 1965 - John and Edna Ashton

July 18, 1965 - Johnnye Blakeley

July 19, 1965 - James Louis and Violet Blakeley

Da Nang Air Base, Republic of South Vietnam (1965) http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/da_nang_airbase.djvu


[DjVu original letter and envelope] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_letter_rblakeley19650704.djvu

[HTML] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19650704.htm

[Text] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19650704.txt

July 4, 1965

Dear Johnnye,

Well I finally made it to Da Nang AB, had to stay an extra night at Clark AB in the Philippines.

Boy but it's hot here!! The humidity is high & you really sweat. I spared a flight today & the sweat ran all the way down through the crack of my a_ _!!

I fly two bombing missions tomorrow, both in North Vietnam!! We dropped napalm today for the first time.

Say I need a couple of items - really only one. Send my movie camera & case over by Jack Gale if he hasn't already left. I will take some flicks here!! Another item I have written two checks. One for $25 to the club at Clark AB and one for $20.75 to the Px at Clark for a radio. It's AM/FM and I really like it.

I can get a Brother automatic zig zag sewing machine for $123.00 Model #ZN2-B537. This includes the case. It looks exactly like the one at White Front. The automatic Singer costs $240.00. I can get them in the Px at Clark.

We work 30 days and off 10 back to Formosa. It will be a long 30 days. I will get a chance to go to Hong Kong so will have me a suit made. I may have to write a check now & then, but will keep you advised. If you want to you can deposit a couple of bonds.

What happened to the stock market!!! Called Dean Wittier while I was in Honolulu.

By the way, also tell Jack that recommend he bring walking shorts and have the squadron get some light weight yellow base ball caps. Zeb babes said OK.

Write often.

Kids too!!




say: send me my old fan.

It's in the cabinet above the ice box. Take it to the squadron. They should be leaving the day after you receive this (8th). Tell Jack Gale if he has one to (a fan) bring it.



[DjVu original letter and envelope] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_letter_rblakeley19650705.djvu

[HTML] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19650705.htm

[Text] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19650705.txt

July 5, 1965

Dear Mom & Dad,

Well here I am in Vietnam. The name of the base is Da Nang. It's located 30 miles south of the North Vietnam border. It is really hot here. I am wringing wet when I come back from a mission. Speaking of missions I flew my first combat mission today. Actually I flew two. The morning mission was in North Vietnam & the afternoon mission in South Vietnam. I saw the good "Golf Balls" go by on my mission in North Vietnam. It became quite apparent to me that they were shooting back. I dropped a couple 75# bombs & strafed some barracks.

So much for the war. I already miss Johnnye & the kids. I flew 9,300 miles and 12 in flight refueling's getting here. Landed 3 times in route. My tail was really sore. Ha - think I will ride a transport back & sleep all the way. Hope to get to Hong Kong China on my first off period. We work 30 straight days & off 7. Want to get some gifts for the kids. Will get the girls some oriental clothes. Don't know what I can get Larry. I will go to Saigon in about a month as a duty officer & will stay away from those floating restaurants - Ha.

Wrote Johnnye today to send me my movie camera so will take some pictures of the area.

The people are a poor tired looking lot. Wish there was some way we could get out of this & get some face. 4 days ago they bombed the base & demolished 2 fighting aircraft & a transport. 3-1/2 million dollars!! Well mom that's about it. Write often - miss you & Dad. Brought my bible which you gave me in 1940. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/Extra_Photographs/bible_cover_rblakeley.djvu Will read it as often as I can. See you in October. Tell Dad to not catch all the fish & save some for me & Tincey!!

Well it's 9:30 PM & I see the shells going off in the distance, also can hear them. The Army & Marines go at it every night.

I'm going to drag your boat down to Victorville next summer and Larry & I are going to learn to water ski. Well that's it. Write often & will do likewise.

Your son,


Da Nang Air Force Base damage appearing in the Stars and Stripes here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_Da Nang_damage19650701.djvu

"When night fell, the forces of the Vietnamese government retracted into various brittle defensive points and the small numbers of hard, well-armed Viet Cong roamed at will. ... Furthermore, the destruction of main force units of the Viet Cong yielded little result.  Phoenix-like, new forces arose from the ashes of the old.  The Viet Cong infrastructure was the life-giver to destroyed units through its ability to recruit from among the peasant masses.  At the same time the terrorist apparatus of the infrastructure ensured the neutrality of the Vietnamese peasant.  The ultimate enemy of the Vietnamese government and the Marine Corps was everywhere, yet nowhere. ... The transition from June to July 1965 in Vietnam was sharp and stormy for the Marine Corps.  Early in the morning on 1 July 1965, Viet Cong forces attacked the southern end of the Da Nang Airbase between two fortified static posts...The Viet Cong inflicted moderate damage during the attack and quickly retired after the demolitions thrust. " - Captain Russel H. Stolfi (who in 1967 held a doctor of philosophy degree in history from Stanford University, is Assistant Professor of History at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California), USMCR, Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1968, "U. S. Marine Corps, Civic Action Efforts in Vietnam, March 1965 - March 1966."


- "Rocket Attacks on USAF Bases in Vietnam" (the first page of the document showing the attack of July 1, 1965 on the Da Nang Air Base here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/rocket_attack19650701.djvu.

The full report can be accessed at the Research Division, Organizational History Branch, Air Force Historical Research Agency http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/, The Vietnam section of the Research Division http://www.maxwell.af.mil/au/afhra/wwwroot/vietnam_war/vietnam.html


[DjVu original letter and envelope] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_letter_rblakeley19650711.djvu

[HTML] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19650711.htm

[Text] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19650711.txt

July 11, 1965

Dear Johnnye,

Well the gang arrived today and I have my camera and fan!! Was sure happy to hear that you let Larry go to Texas and he made the trip OK. Bet he really enjoyed it and felt he was a "big" boy. Karen I bet is giving you a fit to go.

Check on the sewing machine to see if the price ($123.00) is cheaper than at White Front. I believe you have the model #. It's the best that Brother makes.

Put down for another $25.00 check for tomorrow. That makes three checks I have written. We were supposed to have received our per diem checks by now but no such luck. They're lost in the mail somewhere. Ha.

There is black and white film in the camera so take some pictures of you and the kids and send them to me. I now have flown 5 combat missions. Got within 5 miles of a Mig but lost him in the weather. Tell Dan that I could sure have used some of the radar the F-4C has!!

First time I go R and R to Formosa or Hong Kong, I will send the kids some things. Karen & Sharon will like the Japanese kimonos.

I have moved to another barrack and I have an "extra" large fan right near me. Ha. The fans are the kind you see in the African movies (overhead). Makes you feel as though you are in the jungle!!

Note the new address - supposed to speed the mail.

Well Darling that's about it. Will write the kids later on. Love you and miss you much.




[DjVu original letter and envelope] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_letter_rblakeley19650712.djvu

[HTML] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19650712.htm

[Text] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19650712.htm

July 12, 1965

Dear Johnnye,

A quick note. I don't have any blank checks. Send me about 10 as soon as possible. It seems as though we will receive hardly no per diem while here but will pick it up when we get home. I will keep you advised as to the checks which I write. You may have to put all the bonds in the bank. We can re-purchase them when I get home.

Flew 4 hours today. No interesting action.

That's it for now. Send the checks pronto.




[DjVu original letter and envelope] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_letter_rblakeley_ashton19650716.djvu

[HTML] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley_ashton19650716.htm

[Text] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley_ashton19650716.txt

July 16, 1965

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Ashton,

Well here I am in Viet Nam. I'm stationed at Da Nang AB. It's located in the northern part of South Vietnam.

I enjoyed flying over. There was only 4 of us. It got got pretty tired sitting in one place though. I in flight refueled 11 times. We landed at Honolulu, Guam and Formosa. I also landed at Clark AB in the Philippines. Saw C_____ island while there.

This place is real hot and humid. We moved from tents to barracks so thing are looking up.

They shelled the place day before I arrived and 40 Viet Cong go on the base and burnt up 5 aircraft. None of the F-104's were hurt. We did lose one F-104 but the pilot was plucked right out of the hands of the Viet Cong.

I fly one mission everyday. I have flown 5 missions within 17 miles of Hanoi, the capitol of North Vietnam. Haven't seen any Mig's as yet but things should start looking up!!

Flew a mission yesterday in support of an Army unit which had been attacked and we were credited with getting "quite a few" enemy types & they are putting me and 3 members of my flight in for an air medal.

On my first mission, I went into North Vietnam and dropped 750# bombs & strafed an Army camp and on my second pull out a 57MM shell passed about 50' off my right wing. It scared the pants right off of me!! I knew then I was in a "real" war!! You never see the troops firing at you but when you go into North Viet Nam they have the radar controlled guns so you see the good flack!!

Guess Johnnye will be driving out. This is, so she said in her last letter. That's it for now. Make Larry mind & will be back to the Good Ole USA in October.


John Lewis and Edna Ashton here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/mema_grandad.djvu. They loved my father as if he was their own son. They were devastated with his death.

John and Edna Ashton in their later years on their 50th wedding anniversary along with their three daughters, Valarie, Doris, and Johnnye here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/ashton_girls_parents.djvu


[DjVu original letter and envelope] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_letter_rblakeley_larry19650716.djvu

[HTML] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley_larry19650716.htm

[Text] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley_larry19650716.txt

July 16, 1965

Dear Larry,

I see you talked mom into letting you go to Texas. Bet it was a real long trip. Received a letter from mom today and she told me you had made the trip OK.

Daddy is stationed at Da Nang Air Base in the northern part of South Viet Nam. It's only 40 miles from the boarder.

I have flown 10 combat sorties against the Viet Cong. I flew five missions in North Viet Nam and five missions in South Viet Nam.

Daddy flew a mission yesterday and they are putting me in for a Medal for it.

You be a good boy and mind the Me Ma & Granddad. Daddy will be home in October and will have a gift for you.




[DjVu typed copy - I have no handwritten original of this letter] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley_david19650716.djvu

HTML http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley_david19650716.htm



July 16, 1965

Dear Dave,

Well here I am at Da Nang Air Base with 17,000 other guys. Flew my 10th combat mission - 10 miles off the end of the runway!! Viet Cong had just finished ambushing a convoy and we were diverted from our original target. Caught about 200 Viet Cong in the open and really "ate" them up. The Marines were taking out casualties & we were striking over their heads. The Marines really appreciated the quick response to their call for "AIR." The Zip 4's were there immediately!!

We are living in a barrack so it's not bad. I sweat off 5#'s on every mission. The temperature is so hot that the cooling system in the aircraft won't cool it down. During flight I drink one canteen of water on each mission.

I arrived here the day after they put the mortar shells on the south end of the field. This place is completely surrounded and infiltrated with Viet Cong. You couldn't pay me to leave the base to go to town!!

My first mission here was a dive bomb and strafe with the Vietnamese Air Force in North Viet Nam. On my second pass a 57MM went by my right wing about 50-100 feet and I became immediately aware that they are playing for keeps here.

We F-104's will have a tough time getting a Mig because our mission is to patrol the Gulf of Tonkin and the Mig's never get more than 60 miles from Hanoi. I have been within 17 miles of Hanoi and 10 miles of the Chinese border. Chased a Mig once and got within 5 miles before he went in to the weather.

Don't know when I'm going to get promoted. Supposed to be today but who knows.

Will be here for another 20 days then will go to Saigon for 5 and Formosa for 5 then back here for a month. We fly one mission everyday. Sometimes it's air to ground (750# bomb and napalm) or Cap mission in the Tonkin Bay. The air to ground is more fun but it's also where you can get your tail shot down. They have lost 25 F-105's so far. We have lost one F-104 and a clipper picked him up OK.

Will be getting into Hong Kong so if you want anything just write. I'm taking movies here so will send them to you when I return to George in middle October. I hope!!

Tell Wanda and kids hello & keep smiling.

Big Brother,



[DjVu original letter and envelope] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_letter_rblakeley19650718.djvu

[HTML] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19650718.htm

[Text] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19650718.txt

July 18, 1965

Dear Johnnye,

Golly another week and I will have been gone a month. Time really slips by.

Hey, drive careful if you go that way and I would plan on taking 3 days en route. I would also have the car greased and oil changed before you leave and prior to returning to George. Park the Taurus in the garage & lock it and it will be alright. I bet it misses me already!!

Well today is Sunday and I flew my eleventh combat mission. The 15th I flew a mission and we lucked out and caught a bunch of Viet Cong out in the open after they had ambushed an American convoy and we killed 175 and Zeb put me, Walt and Larry and Olson in for a medal!! How about that!! I wrote Larry a letter and told him I was here & etc. Also wrote John & Edna a letter.

I talked to Pat Barry this afternoon. He is still at Cannon AFB and he was escorting McNamara on his flight up to here. Flying F-100's. Saw McNamara from a distance.

I also met a 2nd cousin or something like that. He is our flight surgeon. His Dad's brother is married to Lella. You know the one at Gilmer. It was really coincidental. He said he was from Texas and I asked him where in Texas & he said Gilmer & I noticed his last name was Brawley.

Be sure & check on the Brother sewing machine & send the price to me so I can act accordingly.

Well in 20 days I will be going to Kung Kuan (Formosa) for 10 days. Burk's flight left today.

Walt Harris said call Betty sometime. Guess she is not used to this separation business.

Life here is not too miserable. It's damned hot & you are wringing wet when you come down from a mission but the club & quarters is reasonable. Of course there is always the fear of getting shot down but that's the fortune of war. We have been doing air to ground for the last two weeks & wish we would switch to escort for a while. It's hell of a lot safer!! They have lost 25 F-105's so far. They lost their 25th one last week. The bad thing is on air to ground missions we make 2 dive bomb runs & 3 strafe passes but the crazy Viet Cong don't try to hide or get into fox holes, they just shoot at you until they get shot. We pull out 2,000' higher than normal now!!

Be sure and send the picture I will be sending film in with your address on them. Say I have only written the two checks. Received my per diem today & I had (to) borrow $20 from Jack Gale so everything is OK. Take the bonds & savings book with you in case I write some "Heavy" checks and you have to pump more funds into Ft. Sam!!

Well love that's about it. Will write Karen & Sharon later on in the week.

Love you,


I do not know when this letter reached my mother, but could have easily arrived after his death.

Zeb is Major Eusebio Arriaga (AFSN 38463A), Walt is Captain Walter B. Harris (AFSN A02228133), Larry is Captain Larry R. Shassetz (AFSN A03066266), and Olson is Captain John D. Olson (AFSN A03065381), as listed on Special Order 7, dated June 15, 1965 http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/special_order_7_19650615.djvu

What type of aircraft is needed for this type of low-level air support?

Too bad this aircraft wasn't available - instead of using the F-104 Starfighter for low-level ground support - which it was not primarily intended for - the A-10 Warhog here http://www.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=70

"The A-10 and OA-10 Thunderbolt IIs are the first Air Force aircraft specially designed for close air support of ground forces. They are simple, effective and survivable twin-engine jet aircraft that can be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armored vehicles.

The primary mission of the A-10 is to provide day and night close air combat support for friendly land forces and to act as forward air controller (FAC) to coordinate and direct friendly air forces in support of land forces. The A-10 has a secondary mission of supporting search and rescue and Special Forces operations. It also possesses a limited capability to perform certain types of interdiction. All of these missions may take place in a high or low threat environment.

The first production A-10A was delivered to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., in October 1975." - http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/a-10.htm , The Federation of American Scientists http://www.fas.org/main/home.jsp


[DjVu original letter and envelope] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_letter_rblakeley19650719.djvu

[HTML] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19650719.htm

[Text] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19650719.htm

July 19, 1965

Dear Mom & Dad,

Thanks for the mail and the stock report.

It's been another hot week. I have been flying one combat mission each day. I dive bomb and strafe targets as per higher headquarter's instructions. Hope we go back to escort up in North Viet Nam pretty soon as that's where the MIG's are.

Flew an outstanding mission the 15th. We had just got airborne and an Army unit was being ambushed and were pretty well cut up (lost 66 men) and they called us and asked for help. We spotted them and their attackers (Viet Cong) and rolled in on them. We killed 166 in about 10 minutes. The squadron here (436th) put all 4 of us in for an air medal. Will let you know if we get it. It made the papers over here.

How did Dad make out with the Boys?

Some of the guys have gone swimming at the beach. Not me, I won't even go into town. Ha. Someone threw an hand grenade in a cafe downtown the other day & killed 2 Marines.

We have nite artillery shells going off here every nite. The Viet Cong are pretty well surrounding the base from about 10 miles out. I wear a 38 pistol everywhere I go. Will take some pictures and send them to you.

There is 24 officers to a barrack & its supposed to hold 12. We have a house girl which cleans the place and will do your laundry for a small fee. I wear a clean flying suit every day. I wash my own flying suit.

Bet Larry is really enjoying himself in Texas. Wrote him a letter.

That's it for now.

Love you both,


The envelope shows a postmark date of July 20, 1965. This letter was waiting for them after my grandparents returned to Las Vegas after my father's funeral (Las Vegas Sun article). http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/las_vegas_sun1965.djvu

There never was a medal awarded to my father for this engagement.

No, sir, but you can rest assured that Lyndon got his Silver Star for sitting in an airplane

Lyndon Johnson's heroism details


"The presidency has made every man who occupied it, no matter how small, bigger than he was; and no matter how big, not big enough for its demands." - Lyndon Johnson


[DjVu original letter and envelope] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_letter_violet_blakeley19650718.djvu

[HTML] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_violet_blakeley19650718.htm

[Text] http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_violet_blakeley19650718.txt

Sunday Night
July 18, 1965

Dear Roy,

Well how are you on this Sunday evening? You know I haven't figured out if the time is later there or earlier or how many hours difference in the time. Any how it's now 9:45 and this Louis is already in that bed! Ha We have been to all services today. Louis really likes our new pastor, especially since Brother Stringer said he likes to fish. Ha! They visited me the day I got back from Glorieta, New Mexico. They said they were driving down Las Vegas Boulevard and he saw the sign, World Wide Mobile City & said oh let's go see Mrs. Blakeley.

Roy, Reynolds out at the test site have laid off several hundred the past two weeks and two days ago. Louis got laid off, also Doyle across the street. They think it is a ... anyhow will lost only a week or so. Louis and I are going to Colorado & visit David & Wanda for one week, and come back home. In the morning he will go down & sign up for unemployment. Might as well draw that forty a week. But you know hon we called David last night and he's leaving for over seas duty within three weeks or sooner. So I guess it's a good thing we had planned to go see them. You know the outfit he's assigned to is one of these combat-ready units.

Roy you eat regular as possible & get as much rest as you can in order to keep your resistance up. I know you don't have much time to write, but we sure look forward to hearing from you.

Well I made my little talk the other night that I wrote you about at church but I sure got nervous. Ha - several told me I did remarkably well. Anyhow after we all got through with our speeches, and time for the prayer service Brother Stringer said let's remember Mrs. Blakeley's son who is in Viet Nam.

Well this is all for now, and I better get to bed in order to get up early & pack our bags.

We love you lots.

Mom & Dad

This letter was returned as "Deceased: Return to Sender written on the outside of envelope by my father's squadron commander, Major Eusebio Arriaga (AFSN 38463A).

Even though there is no indication of when my Grandmother Violet wrote this in my father's bible that he took with him to Vietnam - I can't help but think, having a letter returned to her in this clearly insensitive manner by her son's own squadron commander, surely had her feeling abandoned and forsaken by her Lord. This is her handwriting on the inside cover of my father's bible here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/Extra_Photographs/bible_job.djvu. Job Chapter 10 dog-eared here - she questions, why? http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/Extra_Photographs/bible_job.djvu

A special song for my precious Grandmother Violet - I Love You, So - May her sweet soul be with my father now. "Spiritual" MP3 audio file/lyrics at http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/johnny_cash/johnny_cash/johnny_cash/spiritual.htm

By Special Order No. 304 dated November 17, 1965 my father's brother, Lt. Colonel David Blakeley, U.S. Army was extracted from going to Vietnam. However, he later went. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/special_orders_304_david.djvu