Member's Stories

    This page contain stories of our members, as told by them,  to share with friends and families.  These stories will represent the amazingly diverse interests and experiences of our members.  If you are a current member, please contact us via the contact page for further information to participate in this effort.

 

CW3(Ret) Jim Richards

I started my military career in the Navy on 10/21/1965. I went to boot camp at Great Lakes and my first assignment  was to  Attack Squadron 72 (VA-72) flying A-4E Skyhawks as a Plane Captain. In Feb. '66 I was transferred to Patrol Squadron 18 (VP-18), flying in the P2V-7 Neptune. While there I completed aircrew training as an Aviation Ordnanceman. In March of '67 I volunteered for Vietnam service with Project TRIM (Naval Air Special Ops) flying in modified P2V-7 aircraft. All ASW gear was removed and the Aero 11A-2 twin M-3 20mm cannons with an  Image Intensifier gun sight was installed in the tail where I flew. After much training we were sent to Cam Ranh Bay Naval Air Facility, South Vietnam. August of '68 Project TRIM was decommissioned and we became Heavy Attack Squadron 21, VAH-21 that same day. I left the squadron in March of '69 and went to the USS F. D. Roosevelt CVA-42 at Mayport, Florida. I was on this great ship until May '69 and then was transferred to the USS John F. Kennedy, CV-67. I took the "Big John" on it's first Med Cruise and left the Navy in October '69. I joined the Navy Reserve program and was recalled to active duty as a TAR (Training/Administration of Reserves) in Feb.'75. I went to refresher training on the P2V-7 and on the P-3A/B Orion patrol plane, then on to Patrol Squadron 94 (VP-94), in New Orleans, LA.  I transferred to Patrol Squadron 69 (VP-69) at Whidbey Island Washington in Jan. of '79. While there I completed certification as Aircrew Trainer on the P-3 Orion. I transferred to Helicopter Attack Light Squadron 4 (HAL-4) (Naval Air Special Ops) at Norfolk, VA in Feb.'81 and flew as Crew Chief and Door Gunner, on the HH-1K helicopter until Sept. '82 when I was accepted in the Army Warrant Officer Flight Program at FT. Rucker, Al. I left the Navy with over 3,000 aircrew flight hours. I graduated from the program in Sept. '83 as a WO-1. My first Army assignment was to "C" Troop, 4/6th Cav, 1st Cav Div, FT. Hood, piloting the UH-1H Huey. In Feb. '84 I was trained in the AH-1 Cobra back at Ft. Rucker. I was then assigned to "C" Troop, 227th Avn Reg, 1st CAV Div, flying both the UH-1 & AH-1. During this time I was involved in many overseas assignments including Honduras, Nicaragua. El Salvador, Panama, and Guatemala. In May of '87 I was transferred to the Army Helicopter Maintenance Officer Training Course at Ft. Eustis, VA. And became a Maintenance Test Pilot on the UH-1H & AH-1. In Sept. '87, I was assigned to the 268th Avn Batt. at Ft. Lewis, Washington flying UH-1H, AH-1  helicopters. In Jan. '89 I was transferred to "C" Troop 1/9h Cav, FT. Lewis, WA. flying the same type aircraft. During this time frame I was an Aviation Liaison Officer during Operation Just Cause on Ancon Hill, Panama. My final assignment was with "C" Company 214th Avn Batt.who flew the CH-47D Chinook helicopters.I retired on Aug.1st 1991 as a CW3 with over 1500 Army flight hours and 26 years of service.After retirement I joined the Washington State patrol as an Inspector and served 5 ½ years with them. I than worked for the Boeing Company as an Aircraft Inspector on the 737/757 aircraft. I left Boeing and went to work as a contract aircraft inspector Airworks Inc and the FAA. These inspections took me all over the 50 states. I than semi retired and worked as an aircraft appraiser and this also took me around the country until 2004 and I finally fully retired. I currently reside in Olympia, WA, with my wife Kathi. I have a daughter Kyla and a son Adam who also live in Olympia, WA.

Col (Ret) Bill Moseley volunteers at the USO Center

As a member of your board of directors and the chapter’s Liaison to the USO, I enjoy volunteering each week at the Shali Center on Joint Base Lewis McChord.  It is very encouraging to see the young men and women that are serving our country today as they drop in to get a sandwich or hot dog from our deli.  On a good day, it’s not unusual for me to make over 100 sandwiches during a 3-hour shift.  It’s fun because I stay connected to the active duty, retired, and military family members.  Since 1966, the USO Northwest has served over 4 million active duty service members, veterans, and their families at centers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Joint Base Lewis McChord. This is one of the four organizations that your MOAA chapter supports annually through your kind and generous donations. The USO Northwest is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that relies solely on the generosity of individuals and organizations like the Olympia Area Chapter of MOAA. With over 300 volunteers, the USO guarantees that your donations go directly to the services and programs benefiting service members and their families. So when thinking about a charitable organization to support, I  ask that you consider expressing your gratitude toward the world’s finest military, its veterans and their families through your generous donation to USO Northwest. If you are ever on McChord AFB, please stop by the USO Center and try one of my famous sandwiches.

COL Howard Lim repatriates American remains from North Korea

In October-November 1999, then-Major Howard Lim headed a team from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (then Joint Task Force Full Accounting)  into North Korea to recover American remains from the Korean War.  The location was in Kujang County, approximately 60 miles northeast of Pyongyang. The American team flew to Pyongyang from Beijing on a Russian-built TU-154 airliner which Lim described as “shaky.”  The first week was in Pyongyang where the team received orientation from their North Korean Army guides.  The Korean philosphy of “Juche” (Self-reliance) was presented as were tours of the war museum and other sites. Finally, the US/North Korean military team traveled some two hours to the recovery site.  The recovery effort used careful archeological procedures to locate any remains. Soil was sifted and sorted to locate any human remains.  Below are the slides COL (Ret) Lim presented to the Olympia MOAA Chapter in June 2017.

My Vietnam Experience 

By Chaplain, Lt Col (Ret) Douglas White 

 

It was June 1969 and I was about to depart for a one year deployment as an Air Force Chaplain to Vietnam where the conflict was still raging.   As I boarded the plane for the long flight to SE Asia, there were two distinctly different emotions boiling inside of me.   First, there was the anticipation of being where the action was and ministering to military men and women in conditions of need and stress.  Second, there was an overwhelming sense of loneliness as I anticipated the long year ahead without wife and children to come home to each evening. 

My assignment was to Cam Rahn Bay Air Force Base on the central coast of South Vietnam. Cam Rahn Bay was a major supply base and point of entry into and out of the war zone.  The Base was located on a peninsula jutting out into Cam Rahn Bay with its connection to the mainland occupied by an Army Post while the outer tip of the peninsula was home to a Navy Supply port.  The Base was considered one of the “safe spots” in the war zone and I had been told they seldom came under any enemy fire.   The Air Force Base with its long international jet capable runways was in the center of the peninsula and considered very secure.   Any sense of security and/or relief I may have felt about being in a protected zone was quickly shattered within hours of my arrival however.  We had landed about 10PM, gone through a rapid processing which included the issuance of a helmet and flak vest and taken to temporary quarters for the night.  Our formal and complete processing would take place the following morning.   At about midnight, the sirens began wailing followed quickly by a series of loud “thumps” or concussions from incoming mortar fire.  Any illusions I had about being in a safe zone quickly evaporated as I huddled under my cot with flak vest and helmet quickly donned and verses from Psalm 91 coursing through my mind.  God’s punctuation mark in my life at this point was a definite and bold exclamation mark! 

The majority of my tour in Vietnam was spent as the senior, and only, Protestant Chaplain on the opposite side of the runways from the main base.   We had a small prefabricated chapel there for the purpose of ministering primarily to the medical evacuation personnel which airlifted the seriously wounded to hospitals outside of the war zone.  I shared living quarters with two pilots on the main side of the base which involved travelling back and forth each day.   Air Force chaplains were not authorized jeeps but I managed to commandeer an abandoned bicycle which became by primary mode of transportation.   The metal shop fabricated a box which was installed on the rear luggage rack and emblazoned with the word “Chaplain” to discourage anyone else from laying claim to it.   The easy accessibility which the bicycle gave me to any area of the base or flight line was a definite assist to my ministry there. 

It was my voluntary custom during the year in Viet Nam to go each Friday and fly with one of the many C-130 and C-7cargo planes which were part of the mission at Cam Rahn Bay.   These cargo planes regularly resupplied the US Army outposts scattered around the countryside.  As a chaplain, I felt it my duty to be “with the men” and use whatever opportunity presented itself to minister an encouraging word.   I was actually issued flight orders as a “celestial navigator” which enabled me to sign onto flights as a crew member rather than vie for the often rare space-available seat.  My presence at Base Operations always evoked invitations from several flight crews to ride with them on that particular day.   One such crew confided that my presence was considered something of a good luck charm.  Surely if the chaplain is on board we won’t be in grave danger they reasoned.  Even though I witnessed much gunfire directed at aircraft I was riding in, I was never on a mission that took a direct hit to the best of my knowledge.   These weekly flights did, in fact, provide many opportunities to minister God’s peace to servicemen in great need.  On many occasions we would do a rapid landing followed by a fast offload of critical fuel or ammunition and then loading of seriously wounded individuals being evacuated back to the hospital or med evac at Cam Rahn Bay.   What a privilege it was to speak words of God’s presence and encouragement to those brave warriors.  At other times, our outbound load would be primarily body bags of those who had given the ultimate sacrifice and my ministry was to the flight crews who had the somber task of transporting these grim reminders of the reality of war.  Eventually I logged in excess of 600 hours of combat flight time and was awarded a Bronze Star Medal which is the highest award available for a noncombatant military member. 

One of the positive and rewarding experiences during the year in Viet Nam was the privilege of visiting an orphanage located near the Base but on the mainland itself.   This entailed a group of 10 or 12 heavily armed volunteer service members driving through unsecured territory to deliver much needed medical supplies and occasional toys or clothing sent from the States.   These trips were always vivid reminders that many of the casualties of the war were innocent children who were often abandoned by fleeing families.   One humorous but gratifying experience was the opportunity to participate in an appreciation meal by the staff of the orphanage.   We provided them with rare laughter as we ate with chopsticks some of the peasant menu items that were often foreign to our taste buds.   One such “delicacy” was something called “nuk mong” which consisted of a thick liquid of fermented fish parts liberally spread over rice and much relished by the Vietnamese.    These visits provided a bittersweet contrast between the inhabitants of the orphanage and my own young children at home in a secure and safe environment with a loving mother. 

The internet was not yet widely available in 1969 and communication with loved ones at home was limited to “snail mail” and the rare opportunity for a brief phone call.    Like many others, I acquired a deck of playing cards and mailed home one card in each weekly letter.  As my deck dwindled in size and my wife Pat’s grew in size, there was a growing anticipation of completing my tour.  I have often felt this was a symbolic representation of the way we should all be looking forward to that grand “homecoming” with our Lord in His timing.  I also recorded cassette tape messages to the family and shed crocodile tears when I listened to the tape that was returned to me from them.  I did have two joyous reunions in Hawaii with my loving wife on the all too brief “Rest and Recuperation” visits available to everyone in the combat zone.   During my twenty years of active duty, there were many temporary duty absences from the family but none as lonely or heart wrenching as that long year in Viet Nam.   I thank God for my wonderful helpmate, Pat, who had never aspired to the office of ministers wife or that of a military chaplain’s wife and yet has always been a Proverbs 31 source of stability and loving presence to our children in their growing up years, and to me as well during our many years of marriage.