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Play 'Misty' for me

by Joe Donlon

Bio | Email | Follow: @pdxpeacock

Posted on September 12, 2008 at 4:30 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:32 PM

If you like history, you'll love a story we're airing tonight on our 6 o'clock broadcast. We'll look back at a chapter of the Vietnam War, through the eyes of the pilots in a top secret squadron. Their call sign, was simply "Misty."

It was a volunteer group, doing extremely dangerous work. Their official job description - was called "forward air control." They flew into North Vietnam, looking for any military targets moving south. The pilots would then radio in strike pilots to hit the targets.

It was a small, tight knit outfit. In fact, each pilot has a number - based on when they joined the squadron. There were only 157 of them, flying from 1967 to 1970. A staggering number of "Misty" pilots were shot down - nearly 25% of them.

One of those pilots -- was Misty #1, Bud Day. He was the first commander of the squadron, and was shot down in August of 1967. His story, in itself - is incredible. He spent more than 5 years in the so-called Hanoi Hilton. I don't want to spoil the story, but you've heard of his cellmate. A now famous pilot, who was also shot down.

You've probably heard the name of another pilot in the squadron. General Tony McPeak is "Misty 94." McPeak is our former military analyst at KGW, and is currently working for the Obama campaign.

Which is yet another interesting element of this story -- the differing views these pilots share of the political landscape today.

By any measure, this is a remarkable group of men. They went on to become highly decorated officers, astronauts, a Medal of Honor winner, and two men who ran the Air Force (including McPeak during the first Gulf war).

They recently gathered for a reunion -- in Oregon, and we were invited to stop by.

I love these stories. It's always fun to have people take you places - you otherwise couldn't go. And these men - do just that.

Joe Donlon