50-Years Ago: Homecoming for Air Guard Members in Sioux City

May 14, 2019

Airman homecoming - May 14, 1969/Sioux City, IA
Credit 185th Refueling Wing

On May 14, 1969 members of the Iowa Air National Guard in Sioux City returned from a mission in Vietnam. 

The 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron, a unit of the 185thTactical Fighter Group spent a year at Phu Cat Air Base in South Vietnam.

“They were working hard.  And, these were incredibly complicated close air support in harm’s way.” 

Wing Commander of the 185th Refueling Wing Col. Mark Muckey
Credit 185th Refueling Wing

That’s the new Wing Commander of the 185thRefueling Wing Colonel Mark Muckey who goes over a list of the group’s achievements.

“12 Silver Stars, 35 Distinguished Flying Cross, 30 Bronze Stars, 115 Commendation Medals, plus 300 Air Medals”

Of the 373 airmen in the unit three died, including one pilot killed in action, Warren Brown.

“I waw the smoke and knew he was hit and he was in trouble.”

1Lt Warren Brown killed in Vietnam in July 1968
Credit 185th Refueling Wing

A memorial in front of the Sioux Gateway Airport was re-dedicated in July of 2008, 40-years after Brown’s death.

Brown’s colleague Retired Captain John Haley spoke at the special service.

“We gone from the cornfields to a hot dangerous war.  But, we didn’t have time to think about it because we had to work on our combat missions.”

Captain Haley says the airmen did receive better treatment here than other parts of the United States.

“The people from Siouxland gave us a parade.  And, I talked to a lot of military across the country and no one got a parade.”

A military milestone, of a conflicted conflict, remembered with honor, by the current Commander of the 185th.

“We are very proud of the service of the service they did 50 years ago.  That’s who they were 50 years ago and who we are today.  The same great airmen executing their mission around the globe, said Colonel Mark Muckey, Wing Commander.

When Captain Haley returned from Vietnam 50 years ago he said, “It’s the Fourth of July, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s and my birthday all in about 15 minutes.”  

Homecoming on May 14, 2019
Credit 185th Refueling Wing
Homecoming on May 14, 2019
Credit 185th Refueling Wing

Submitted information by the U.S. Airforce:

At the time of activation, the unit had a strength of 780 Airmen and 80 Officers, and 22 F-100C aircraft. 373 men of the 185th deployed to Phu Cat.

11 May 1968, personnel, ground support equipment and Aircraft parts began to depart Sioux city headed for Phu Cat Air Base, Vietnam. 13 C-141 Star Lifters, left Sioux City on the 11th, 12th, and 13th carrying people and equipment. 14 May 1968 the F-100’s deployed.  

While in Vietnam, pilots of the 174th flew approximately 6,400 missions for a total of 11,500 combat hours. With their F-100 Super Sabres, the pilots flew close air support, and bombing and strafing missions with most of the missions in the northern part I and II corps. 

Col. Leroy Manor, commander of the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing to which the 174th was attached, said the following, “Throughout its combat tour, the 174thmaintained the highest squadron in-commission rate as well as the lowest abort rate in the wing; and at times, was tasked to fly more than its share of the daily operational commitments. During this period, the 174th accomplished more than 10,000 accident-free flying hours. 

Three men of the 185th died, one was a pilot killed in action in Vietnam. 1Lt Warren Brown was killed in action near the A Shau Valley on 14 July 1968. His body was returned for burial in Sioux City on 25 July. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart.  MSgt Gerald E. Krachtovil died at Cannon AFB, New Mexico as a result of a blood clot, and Sgt Harold P. Berg died as a result of an accident at Phu Cat, Vietnam. 

The unit was deactivated on 28 May 1969. During the activation, the men of the 174th and 185th received: 12 Silver Stars, 35 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 30 Bronze Stars, 115 Commendation medals, over 300 Air Medals and 1 Purple Heart.

For a look at the full speech by Retired Captain John Haley click here.