ADDISON (CBSDFW.COM) – It is rare when man and machine can combine to tell a story.
After nearly 50 years, fate brought two pilots back to the very same airplanes they flew in Vietnam.
Those planes, at Cavanaugh Flight Museum at Addison airport, have as much history to share, as the crew members themselves.
One of the planes, an F4 with the tail number triple 7, was one of four under Drury Callahan’s command in Vietnam.
The F4 became the most recognizable aircraft in the war, and was a big prize for the enemy.
Callahan was flight lead during a bomber escort mission near Hanoi, when triple 7, was hit by a missile just feet away from him.
“As I drew closer to him, I could see the underside of the aircraft was severely damaged,” says Callahan. “The center fuel tank was blown off, big holes in the rear fuselage above the engines.”
Like all F4’s, they often flew low. Well within range of enemy fire, to offer close air support for ground troops.
“If an army unit was in an actual firefight, with the Viet Cong or Vietnamese, and they needed us, then we’d come in and give them close air support,” says Callahan.
Visitors to Cavanaugh will also hear former Army soldier Bob Schrader’s emotional story, of the day he and his crew used a CV2B Caribou plane, to try to rescue a 9-year-old Vietnamese boy, who’d been set on fire by the Viet Cong.
“I remember sitting down and looking at the mother sitting there,” recalls Schrader. “I looked into her eyes, and I knew that she knew that her son was dead. All we could do was sit there and watch the sun set as we flew into Saigon.”
Rare is the chance to hear the story, while touching the piece of history that goes with it.
The opportunity does not last forever, but our gratitude to heroes like Callahan and Schrader will.
Both men volunteer at Cavanaugh Flight Museum at Addison Airport, home to an amazing collection of still flying, vintage war aircraft.
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