From 1-5 October 2008, I attended the biennial reunion of the Forward Air Controllers (FACs) of Vietnam. Held in Colorado Springs, CO, this year’s reunion centered around the dedication of a memorial to the FACs at Memorial Park, a place well known to Air Force veterans.
Forward air controllers served as the eyes of the U.S. military in Vietnam, usually piloting slow-moving, propeller-driven airplanes to observe enemy movements in the jungle, and often receiving deadly fire at low altitudes. The FACs are an amazing group of men noted for their bravery in combat, and for their maverick attitude in general. It was a real pleasure to spend several days with them, listening to their stories and getting to know them.
I was especially honored to meet Col. Bud Day, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, who also led the “Misty” FACs (those flying F-100 jets) before being shot down over North Vietnam in 1967. Colonel Day spent the remainder of the war as a POW in various prison camps, and was awarded the Medal of Honor after returning home in 1973. Colonel Day is the most heavily decorated living veteran in the United States.