Out On A Wing For His Country

In 1955 my brother Gordon Smith Wilson, who was 18 years older than I, graduated High School and joined the United States Air Force.  He left home and began to travel the world.

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Me on the left, Gordon in the middle and my sister Mary on the right. Tucson AZ 1957.
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In March 1965, President Lyndon Johnson made the decision to send U.S. combat forces into battle in Vietnam. My brother was among the first to go. He had achieved the rank of Technical Sergeant and was the Load Master for the C130 cargo plane. His unit would fly supplies and fresh troops into the combat zones and then fly the wounded and dead out. He was very good at his job and could even load a plane in the midst of the jungles without a scale.

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C130 Hercules.

About 2 years into his first tour in Vietnam (He voluntarily served 3 tours) my parents received a letter from the Air Force about Gordon. I remember it so vividly. It was a commendation letter for a heroic act that he had performed. His unit had been flying some wounded soldiers out of a combat zone when their plane was hit in the right side making a hole in the right gas tank. As the gasoline slowly leaked out, the plane began to tip to one side. Knowing they had to distribute some weight to correct this problem my brother, using sacks filled with grain, climbed up inside the right wing and shoved the sacks as far into it as he could. He did this until there was enough weight to level the plane. They were able to fly the aircraft quite a distance until they could safely land it. Gordon’s quick thinking and courage saved many men that day. He was indeed a hero.

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Gordon Smith Wilson Front Row on the left. In Vietnam about 1968.

Over the 3 tours that he completed in Vietnam, Gordon was shot 3 times, Once in each of his legs and once in his shoulder, he was captured by the Vietcong but was able to escape and he was exposed to radiation which left horrendous scars across the bridge of his nose. Through it all, regardless of how anyone back home felt about this war or about those who fought in it, my brother felt he was doing what was needed to be done to protect the Country that he loved.

Gordon Smith Wilson born April 06, 1937, currently living in the Midwest and loving life.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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10 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Vietnam

10 responses to “Out On A Wing For His Country

  1. Very good blog today. Thanks for telling part of your brother’s story.

  2. Valerie,

    This was a wonderful post about your brother. My thanks go out to him for his service.

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/05/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-may-2-2014.html

    Have a fantastic weekend!

  3. Valerie, I really enjoyed reading your brother’s story. Like Jana, I feel grateful for his service and am glad to hear that he is continuing to enjoy his life! Hats off to him!

  4. Valerie, thanks to your brother & those who served with him for their service to our country.

  5. What an amazing and heroic story about your brother. Thanks to him for his service and you for sharing the story.

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