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Here is the content of an email we received recently from JC sharing some of his latest medical issues.
March 6, 2021
My last drive
Well, I guess I should let everyone know a bit about my memory. On Feb. 5th, 2021 while driving I had what some might call a seizure.
In a conversation with my wife, she said I quit responding and still traveling down the highway eyes straight ahead and both hands on the wheel.
Then it was off on the right-hand side into the ditch, off a tree, and into two of the units of a Storage Building complex.
The wife was able to make it out of the wreckage in a short time but tells me it was maybe half an hour before I was to be extracted.
After the hospital visit, we were released with only minor injuries. I have Zero Memories of any of this and the next several hours.
The insurance adjuster said he quit when he reached $35,000 in damages. The car had only 7,000 miles but I got a new one free and clear.
I am now no longer to be behind the wheel, NO MORE DRIVING. And I will tell you that having to have someone to drive you everywhere you have to go is not good.
I am seeing numerous doctors (specialist etc.)
Next I will try and answer any questions. Also I hope you can and will share any of your mission activities here for others to read.
Running Short on Time, we need to preserve our part of history. I was 28 then and will be 83 in June.
And as always, That was the Best Year of my 20 year career because of My Crew (I am the sole survivor), The Aircraft, and The Mission we flew.
Hang in there buddy, you have been thru a lot.
1968/9 was a memorable year for me also, but can’t say it was the best, my tour at Wakannai Air Station was my favorite as a Linguist.
My most harrowing moments are etched in my mind and I live with those quite often.
I do miss those reunions at San Antonio and other venues.
If you're in Bridgeport, TX you can have a free ride anytime. Your compatriots in the 362nd TEWS carried me safely in and out of Pleiku during all of 1969, so I'd be glad to return the favor.
We served for each other and for those on the ground who may have benefited from our efforts. Tom Angstadt
We are coordinating the purchase of an EC-47 Memorial Plaza paver for 362nd TEWS First Sergeant, MSgt Charley Vernon Neely. Here is some information sent by his son, Richard Neely. This was a different squadron than yours and he was a bit after your time, but wondering if you or anyone else reading this Comment ever crossed paths with Charley. He was the First Sergeant at the 362nd TEWS at Pleiku from 1968-1969.
More info from Richard Neely:
My father's career covered 27 years starting from the U.S. Army Air Corps (or Air Force) to the creation of the U..S. Air Force to his retirement in 1969 at Eglin AFB. He served as a tail-gunner on a B-24 with the 8th Air Force in WWII flying 35 missions (awarded the DFC). He served during Korea but to my knowledge never served in-country. While at Altus AFB (KC-135 SAC) he was wearing the Viet Nam Campaign (yellow one) ribbon.
A little about the son Richard:
Leaving Altus AFB we headed over to Walker AFB in Roswell, New Mexico. It was here, much to my parent's dismay, at age 18, I joined the U.S. Naval Reserves (enlisted in the Carlsbad Surface Division).
I attended New Mexico Military Institute for the year after high school graduation - which was a bad academic year for me. Enrolling in Moorhead State College in Moorhead, Minnesota where my maternal grandmother lived. I ran aground and finally, (lacking common sense or whatever) joined the Marines and made "meritorious" Private and went to Recruit Training at MCRD San Diego. Not doing very well in Radar Fire Control Tech school, I married and moved to the 2nd MAW at MCAS Cherry Point, NC where I became an Aviation Electrician. From there, I was caught up in a replacement draft and ended up going to Viet Nam in 1969 (to 1970) to VMFA-115 as an electrician and leaving days after VMFA was moved to Da Nang from Chu Lai.
Genealogy research of my family shows I had a cousin, Army PFC Gordon M. Gunhus, (Kenyon, Minnesota) who was KIA on Easter Sunday in 1970. VMFA-115 marked my departure by having rockets cook off one of the aircraft while parked in the revetments. I have more cousins who served in Viet Nam, but Gordon sticks out like a sore thumb.
Richard (Rick) V. Neely
USMC 1967 - 1989
JC, let us know if you knew of First Sergeant Charley Neely...or if you have stories about any other noted First Sergeant(s) in the TEWS squadrons. Thanks
As you may or may not know but my memory is failing fast and I could not co-ordinate the duties of keeping things together. What I bet you don't know is that Every Morning, Yes, EVERY MORNING while having my coffee I am On The Site looking for your input. We are All getting Older each day. Back then I was 28 and Now 82 and in 6 more weeks will turn 83. Folks when we are Gone who can take our place in this History?
I sincerely hope if you were a part of this, "The EC-47 Mission" that you can add to this and preserve a part of the History and mark and Hold our part of this History. I have been saying now for almost 55 Years, " That was The BEST YEAR of my 20 year career."
And, if you have any comments, PLEASE add them below.
J.C. Wheeler Flight Mech with the 360th and 361st TEWS Sept. 66 to Sept 67.
We were there, so long ago,
To fly our mission, low and slow.
Our mission to others, was unknown,
We flew unarmed, and all alone.
Both day and night, we would fly,
To locate Charlie, so our men won't die.
Of our mission, we dared not speak,
Big ears were listening, the prying sneak.
On each other, we did depend,
So all would come home, in the end.
Yet big guns shooting, from below,
Some would take, someone we know.
When we returned, few would care,
While others cursed, yelling how you dare.
For we were sent, by our nation,
We did our job, without hesitation.
We did our job, We did it well,
So long ago, only now, can we tell.
James C. Wheeler MSgt USAF Retired
The EC-47 Mission
With my memory as it is I just remembered that I better let you know where you can watch numerous Video's that I have posted on U-tube (YouTube) over the past 13 years and yes they are all well worth watching. I assume you know how to get on U-tube (YouTube.com) and then look for the EC-47. I hope you can do this and let me know what you think.
TAKE CARE, J.C.
My question was about one of the EC-47 YouTube video clips you mentioned in your May 4th comments above. This three-and-a-half-minute video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV21IDDRhkI ) features you, Danny Russell, Paul Clever and others speaking about the EC-47 mission and a documentary film you were involved in creating. I have always been interested in whether or not that documentary was ever completed. Thank you.
By: James C. Wheeler (W5IO)
There is this bunch of guys I know,
Who like to talk on the radio.
Around the clock both night and day,
They never run out of something to say.
They talk to each other about this and that,
About problems of the world and how to combat.
New Friendships are born both far and near,
While enjoying this hobby they hold so dear.
They provide the world and our nation,
With a constant flow of information.
From humor to technical the subject may run,
It's all in good taste it's all in good fun.
While old timers tell of how to home brew,
Some sit and talk while sipping a few.
Newcomers join in rather timid at first,
Only to learn they could have done worse.
A wonderful hobby this ham radio game,
Compared to some it may seem rather tame.
Then comes along a need or disaster,
And no others can act any faster.
They load up their gear without hesitation,
And head for the field with emergency stations.
They ask for no pay they cannot accept,
All this is for caring no fees are set.
This is the time when there is no phone,
But because of their hobby you can call home.
Your family assured that you are okay,
Re-enforces the spirit they work this way.
And when it's all over they return to their shack,
Resume their chatter and never look back.
I have received many request to use/duplicate
this poem. Feel free to use it in it's present
form if you credit the origin.
James C. Wheeler (W5OI)
This video run 47 and half minutes. I think this one is correct. J.C.
J.C. Wheeler continues to experience lapses in short-term memory that affect his online communication efforts. This entry, although it appears to be more recent, was first recorded on the original website circa 1998. Use the website Google Search to find the exact quote/date of entry.
J.C. certainly misses doing work on the website, but most of all I believe he misses the way things were more than 20 years ago. I encourage you to please drop him a note at his email [email protected]. He checks it every day.
Here is the text of JC's email from earlier today. Thanks, Tom Nurre
I was reviewing your website in greater depth yesterday and was quite impressed.
Your dedication and ongoing efforts are not only notable but nearly unique. Never
before have I seen an aircraft, a unit, and a mission so well documented -- I
believe that largely because of your efforts, the true story of the EC-47 and its
mission has been preserved and published. My hat is off to you -- an amazing job.
Thomas Van Hare Publisher, 'Historic Wings'