Monday, April 9, 2018

Locher and Lodge

Been a bit hectic around Rancho Juvat the past few weeks.  Apparently My Beautiful Daughter (MBD) seems to have found the man of her dreams (MOHD).    Said MOHD happens to have the approval of Mrs Juvat.  I of course had to submit him to extreme verbal questioning about his intentions etc. etc.  before actually consenting.  

OK, OK....About halfway through lunch with small talk and nervous banter, I began to worry that he wasn't going to ask my permission.  So, I said "By the way, the answer is yes."  

A wave of relief washed across his face.

In all honesty, I couldn't be happier for them.  However.....

They want their wedding to be on July 14th.

Of course this year! Why do you ask?

So, we're kinda occupied right now.  This afternoon is venue shoppingUpdate: This appears to be THE venue.  Nice place!

Then there was a small trip to Wisconsin this past week.  Mrs Juvat's Aunt passed away on Good Friday (an appropriate day I suppose) and as she was the last of her generation on Mrs J's side, we went to the funeral.

Arrived in time for the visitation.  The line went out the door.  Merceda had had a good and long life and many, many friends.  that was apparent.  

When we left Austin, it was a balmy 86, arrived in Milwaukee to a blustery 25.

The beloved wife thinks she's going to surprise me with a snowball attack.  Little did she know!
  We enjoyed that cold so much we brought that winter weather back to Texas with us.  Blech!

All of which put me behind the power curve for this week's posting.  As I was pondering subjects, I happened to be looking at the masthead and recognizing the names of all the individuals on board there.  However, there was one who's name I recognized but didn't recall the details of why Sarge might have put him up there.

I knew he'd done something extraordinary during the Vietnam War, because most of my instructors, all Vietnam Vets, would speak of him in hushed, honorary tones.  But, in those days before Google, researching details was a bit more complicated.  
Source

So, I decided that I would do that today.  Majors Bob Lodge and Capt Roger Locher were fighter pilots (yes....Capt Locher was a WSO, but fighter pilot is an attitude, not an AFSC)  in the 555th TFS stationed at Udorn AB Thailand.  The "Triple Nickle" was one of the more famous squadrons in Air Force History.  Specifically trained and manned to be an Air to Air squadron, it would eventually become the first F-15 equipped squadron.  In the Vietnam War, it provided dedicated protection for the strike packages from enemy aircraft.  

Major Lodge was generally accepted as the best fighter pilot in the squadron.  Why, you might ask.  Well, at the time of his death, he had been awarded the Silver Star 5 times, the Distinguished Flying Cross 7 times and the Air Medal 9 times.  Those are not "Attendance" medals, those are received for actual achievement and valor.  His Citations for the Silver Stars and DFC's can be found here. There's a stepper button to cycle between all 12, any one of which would make for a fine posting.
Major Lodge's Decorations.
Given that the Air Force order of merit in Decorations starts from the top, that's an awful lot of additional awards for the ones that really matter.

As I was doing research on this, I came across several good sources.  This one happens to provide a good synopsis of the air war in the later stages of the conflict. 

And, I should have known this would happen.  I had googled Maj Lodge's name and the Call Sign and was clicking through the results when I came across a familiar looking blogsite which provided nice details about his last fight.

So having been pre-empted by our fearless leader (in my defense, well before my tenure here started) and out of time, I must continue.

Something that impressed me more than his flying skills and bravery, was his sense of duty.  Major Lodge was in possession of some very classified information about capabilities of the F-4.  Specifically, its ability to interrogate the identification system the North Vietnamese used to control their fighters.
Source

Unlike US fighter pilots who can generally roam an airspace and attack the enemy in the manner of their choosing, NVN pilots were closely controlled from ground radar operators.  This required a means of tracking their planes via beacons on board.  The US had discovered a way to interrogate those beacons and use them to identify a radar contact as friendly or hostile.    

Theoretically, this would allow for Beyond Visual Range shots.  Nirvana for fighter pilots (especially if you're the only one with this capability).  I say theoretically, because of two reasons.  1) The Aim-7 radar guided missile at the time was not particularly reliable, and 2) ROE was generally restrictive and was not generally authorized after the first pass.  

However, knowledge that we had that capability would have resulted in changes in NVN procedures potentially denying the US that capability.  

Major Lodge understood all that as the unseen pop up Mig-19 cannon fire started hitting his aircraft.  Capt Locher recommended bailing out, Major Lodge gave him permission.  Capt Locher ejected and evaded the North Vietnamese for 23 days before finally being rescued.

Major Lodge stayed with the aircraft until it impacted the ground, thereby denying the North Vietnamese the opportunity to "interview" him about the capability. Honor, Duty, Integrity, Courage.  All attributes I regard highly.

Rest in Peace, Warrior!

30 comments:

  1. Yes indeed, Major Lodge deserves his place in history as a hero.

    (So, will we experience the new Juvat, Wedding Reporter?)

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    1. Given the time line, I don't think I'm going to be able to add Wedding Reporter duties. I'm pretty sure that the chauffeur, check writer and go-fer duties will preclude that.

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  2. Although it was often scoffed at because it was only a day fighter, MIG-19s were nothing to mess with. Best description I ever heard was "The maneuverability of a MIG-15 combined with MIG-21 speed."

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    1. I have actually fought one in the F-4. I can verify the accuracy of that statement. 3 engagements, 1 kill (me) and 2 successful escapes. "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day" was good advice at the time.

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    2. We didn't see many when I was at DaNang 67-68. Most were staging up near the Chinese border and the Lao boys and the Navy often encountered them in the higher Route Packs north of Hanoi. Most of our msns were Hanoi south and southern half of Laos. The MIG-17s & 21s were more than enough, thank you very much .. :)

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    3. My encounter was in more friendly skies, somewhere northwest of Nellis. Fortunately.

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    4. juvat/

      What time period was that? A good friend of mine, Tom Lorden, was once CO of the Aggressor Sq at Nellis.

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    5. Sometime between '81 and '83. We had deployed for a Red Flag. That name sounds vaguely familiar.

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  3. Happy for your daughter and the parental unit. Best wishes to all.

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  4. Somehow I managed to avoid the weddings for daughters detail ...pure luck.
    However, I did participate in one of those “weddings for the century” back when I was still young and reckless.
    I really have no advice.

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    1. I think I'm going to be saying "Yes, Dear!" even more than usual over the next few months. But then I'm already well versed in that statement.

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  5. Fortunately for our parents, when Mrs. Andrew and I decided to get hitched, we put a flat $3K total budget, and nickle and dimed that budget down to $2K. Yes, we had a church wedding, but since it was already decorated (Dec. 20th, so the theme color was green...) and we did a reception at my parent's place and the church's lady auxiliaries did the cooking. Now I see kids who spend half a house payment on a wedding, feeding hordes of people, unlimited bars, really expensive dresses and I don't get it. I wasn't raised poor, but raised money wise. All I wanted to do was get married, the church and reception were for other people, a JP would have sufficed. Oh, well.

    As to your other subject, wow. Duty. Duty not to talk, to keep your lips shut, is truly glorious. I've known quite a few who have kept their mouths shut about certain things, long after the secret's out. Just because someone else blathered doesn't make it right to spill the beans. (Dang it, Dad. You had so many interesting tales to tell, but didn't. I miss you.)

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    1. Just got back from lunch with my wife. Her opening comment was "Sure was easier to get married in '82". Apparently our wedding was very similar to yours. Had quite a few people (two Squadrons were involved Hers and Mine), but held in the early afternoon to minimize the booze costs (which still weren't zero....Fighter Pilots doncha know). But we kept it under 3K with no help from our families (none requested).

      Yeah, I went through that mental process writing this. It was only after seeing the data in black and white on the internet that I mentioned it.

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    2. That second paragraph is what makes you a real man, versus the new generation who blab everything.

      I was just a dependent and knew not to talk about what I saw and overheard. Some of the things... nope, still classified.

      Heck, the PD I worked for had quite a few 'secret squirrel' things going on during my time there, and I still won't talk about it. Kids these days.

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  6. Interesting video of Locher's rescue here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvRcP4go-eg. Evading the enemy for 23 days is amazing. That's about the time you have to plan that wedding! The venue is beautiful and I'm glad you got it. Out here in San Diego most places book up a year in advance, at least for Saturdays. Enjoy the next few months. You'll be busy writing checks.

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    1. Yeah, that took some courage and determination, especially since at one point the bad guys were within 30' of him.

      Given our proximity to Austin, the venue issue is very similar. Fortunately, one of my co-workers has done a bit of wedding coordinating and knew the lingo. She called up this venue and found out it was available, but they had 4 scheduled tours over the weekend. She also found out that the venue would put up a 48 hour hold for a given date. She called up Friday and put the hold on for MBD's desired date. So we've got 7 days to get the signed contract back to them with the first 50% down. Gonna be a lot of bloney samwiches in my foreseeable future.

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    2. My boss set a budget for his first of 4 girls to marry, then blew way through that. Too many invites sent with the expectation that they wouldn't attend (and they did), and the worry that they'll be offended if we don't invite them. He said next time the invite list must be capped.

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    3. Yes, we're trying to come to that agreement also. I'm thinking there will have to be some compromises in the near future.

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    4. Something that really needs to be asked of the intendeds is, what is really important to them? Is it satisfying others or satisfying themselves?

      I have been to weddings where they did a big restaurant or O-Club/NCO-Club/Country Club thing, and had a good time. But the buffet and mingle at my parents' house was much more satisfying to me and mine than anything else. Our wedding planner was us. We were the ones that cleaned and prepped the house (and thanks to my feckless best man who got drunk the day before and didn't do the 2 things he was supposed to, so I had to, being the tux and the flowers.) Considering the issues of finding a rehearsal dinner spot - after all the bitchin and complainin by others, we just said show up or else, we were glad to not have to worry about a wedding dinner venue.

      Long story short, weddings are like what car or house buying should be like. What do I want, vs what can I afford and will it last?

      I am glad we didn't spend too much money as we found better places for the cash.

      Good luck, stay sane, hope you survive the imcoming storm.

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    5. "What do I want, vs what can I afford"? Aye, now there's the question.

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  7. May their marriage be a long and happy one.

    I wonder if it was Capt. Locher who came to the survival school to talk to the students and staff while I was there. As that was several years ago, I no longer remember details, only that he successfully evaded for long period before being rescued.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. Well, 23 days successfully evading inside North Vietnam has to be in the top 1 or 2 evasion stories, so I'm saying the odds are in his favor. That also has to involve some of that "Honor, Duty, Integrity, Courage. All attributes I regard highly." IMHO, of course.

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  8. Did you stay long enough to experience the Winter Mix on Monday? I live 13 miles from where I work, and it took 34 minutes to get to work Monday night.

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    1. No, fortunately. Flew in to Milwaukee Wed afternoon, funeral Thursday in Beloit, drove back to Milwaukee after that was done and flew out Fri morning. Sounds like that was good planning on our part.

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  9. Badger Paw Salute to Major Lodge! It cannot be easy to go with the John Cromwell of the SCULPIN option, but sometimes it must be. Such MEN are to be honored.

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    1. Indeed. Saw another example of that at the MKE airport wirh Capt. Sijan’s F-4. Said a quick prayer as I passed it.

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  10. Good luck with the wedding plans! I'm surprised you haven't already been thrown out...LOL Re Major Lodge, absolutely correct! May he rest in peace!

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    1. yes...well....As someone said about 76 years ago on a small island in the middle of the Pacific, "The issue is in doubt."

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)