Neil McCutchan

September 1961 – October 1961, Basic Training-Lackland AFB, TX.

October 1961 – February 1962, Officers Training School-Medina Aux., TX.

February 1962 – February 1963, UPT – Laredo AFB, TX.

February 1963 – November 1963, Survival & Helicopter school – Stead AFB, NV.

November 1963 – August 1965, Det. 14 EARC, MacDill AFB, FL.

August 1965 – August 1967, TUSLOG Det. 84 Incirlik AB, Turkey.

September 1967 – October 1976, 434th Tactical Airlift Wing Bakalar and Grissom AFB, IN.

I enlisted in the USAF September 1961. After basic at Lackland I went to OTS at Medina Base for 90 days where I was commissioned in Feb. 1962.

UPT was at Laredo AFB, TX after that along with survival and helicopter training at Stead AFB, NV.

After training in the HH-43 I went to MacDill AFB, FL Det. 14 (Nov. 63-Aug. 65). While assigned to MacDill we supported the Gemini space shots at Cape Canaveral. One TDY was to Hattiesburg, MS where we supported the Atomic Energy Commission. We hovered over specific survey points where their test package on the hoist took radiation readings.

Also during that time (Jan. 1965 – May 1965) had a 179 day TDY to Thailand. Initially I went to Takhli for a month then on to Nakhon Phanom for the rest of the tour.

Events during that time. Being the first on one of the first to ditch an HH-43 was unique. Pilot Capt. David Frasier and I were hovering over a deep water channel off MacDill giving those in the back basket pickup experience. While hovering we heard a sound similar to rapid gun fire. David said we were losing power. As co-pilot I issued the call that we were ditching in the bay. As this was being done David was able to get the helicopter over shallower water (6 feet vs. 12 or more feet). The helicopter settled in the water with the co-pilot’s side of the bubble resting on the bottom. It was lucky that the Plexiglass broke and I was just able to ‘walk’ through it on the bottom where I popped the ‘water wings.’ Yes, another ’43 came out to get us but we waved it off as a boat from the base recreational dock was coming out.

During the time at Nakhon Phanom Izzy Feeman, pilot, Jim Rodenburg, co-pilot on the low bird and Warren Davis, pilot on the high bird made a night pickup in Laos. That day Fred Glover and I had gone to a base south of us to take alert. We had a couple of EOD mission that were interesting. We picked up an unexploded bomb that was in Thailand and dropped it in the Mekong River. Then there was the time when a fighter jettisoned some CBU’s over Thailand. We went out with an EOD team to pick them up, put them in one area. After taking off and flying at 5,000’ we watched as they were exploded.

I was assigned to TUSLOG Det. 84, Incirlik, Turkey, August 1965 through August 1967. During this time I had a 90 day TDY to Ethiopia. One of the ‘fun’ events at Incirlik was when we had to fill the cross country square for training. There wasn’t anywhere we could go so we had all the crusader castles plotted and would do a round robin taking our various crewmembers along to take pictures. On my last flight on active duty at Incirlik I was again co-pilot (David Wiest, pilot). I was flying a max performance take off and heard the same sound as I heard when I ditched. Fortunately we weren’t over water so I was able to autorotate to the runway where we landed safely.

The remainder of my USAF career was in the Reserves. I flew with one of two groups in a Tactical Airlift Wing out of Bakalar AB, IN. We flew C-119’s. It was quite different than flying a helicopter. We moved from Bakalar to Grissom AFB, IN. and shortly after that all of the C-119’s were taken, modified as gunships and taken to Vietnam. Our sister group of the wing was activated to go with them. We were assigned U-3’s to fly as an interim. Later we flew O-2’s and A-37A/B’s.

The last of my reserve duty was in North Dakota where I was Academy Liaison Officer and worked with the Civil Air Patrol.

Integrity, Honor, and Respect
Some of the best things cannot be bought, they must be earned

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