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Douglas A/B-26 Invader

Patrick B Crotty - Master Navigator














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Patrick left a message in the comments section:
My father was an A-26 navigator during
the Vietnam War.

 
 
 
Hi Martin,

Thanks for the note. I know that my father flew A-26's during his first two tours in the beginning stages of the Vietnam War. He was a member of the Air Commandos and was stationed at Bien Hoa and I believe spent some time in Soc Trang and Da Nang. I attached a photo of the Browning 9mm Hi Power Pistol and Holster that was issued to him during this time.

The other photo is from his archives and I believe is a photo of a glass nosed A-26 with a large camera. I know my father worked photo reconnaissance as well as traditional strike missions and spent some time flying back seat of T-28 Trojans and a 4 seat version of the A-1 Skyraider. The Air Force officer in the photograph is not my father and I don't know who it is.

I also posted a link to an article about a pilot my father flew with in SEA and who was subsequently KIA in Vietnam and noted my father was the "best navigator in the air force." My father was rated a master navigator when he retired..I also attached photo of his gravesite for reference of name, rank, etc..


If you think the photos of the firearm and glass nose A-26 have any merit for the website and want to publish them, no worries. I saw some other photo's in my dad's archives but none were aircraft exterior shots and most were interior shots of aircraft with large photo reconnaissance equipment inside them and I could not make out the type of plane.

My father did not make a big deal of his time in SEA. I believe the Vietnam War for him was a very personal experience and he did not seek accolade or credit for his involvement. In his retrospect I think he really hated war and ultimately wound up a pacifist. After he retired from the Air Force he worked as an aeronautical engineer for Lockheed Martin and Boeing and retired from Boeing ca. six years ago. He died two years ago in May during his third open heart surgery.

After retiring from Boeing he took up sport flying and spent most of his time flying in and out of some rickety old airport in Longmont, CO near his home in Denver. I believe this was his therapy and an opportunity to return to his days of flying that I know he enjoyed tremendously. I also attached a photo of myself next to a T-28 Trojan at a local air show and a photo of my dad. I really enjoyed the website looking at the old photos of A-26's. I have not yet seen the aircraft in person and hope to see it flying at an air show or at a museum in the near future.

Best Regards, Patrick Crotty
 
Patrick, thanks for your contribution and I'm so so sorry about your dad.
 
 

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Below is an article about a pilot who flew with patrick's father. They flew together in SEA and was subsequently KIA in Vietnam. He noted that Patricks father was the "best navigator in the air force."

 

Capt Paul R. "WINDY" Windle

KIA Cheo Reo, Vietnam 30 June, 1965

Capt Paul R. "Windy" Windle was one of the original members of Jungle Jim who KIA as a Forward Air Controller(FAC) flying an L-19(O-1E) on 30 June, 1965. He was supporting the Vietnamese Airborne Brigade near the village of Cheo Reo in the province of Darlac, South Vietnam. He was directing an F-100 piloted by Capt Ralph Havens when his aircraft was hit at 11:52 and crashed on a rocky hillside and burst into flames on impact. Army Major Joseph E.Parker, an artillery officer, was flying with Paul to help direct mortar fire that day. Major Parker died in the crash with Paul. Paul was on his 3rd tour in Vietnam when he was killed. At the time of his death Capt Windle was serving as a FAC with the Vietnamese Airborne Brigade. In a letter to his parents, his commander made an interesting note which many of us who served with him felt the same:

"It was only a short time after Windy went to work for the Brigade that various people both Vietnamese and American would stop by and tell me how much they liked Paul and how much help he was to them. When he had to leave a unit for awhile I would receive queries as to how soon could he come back and how badly he was needed. Windy certainly made a lot of friends and earned a lot of respect in a short period of time." All of us who served with Paul knew him as an excellent and respected pilot, one who could be counted on to deliver the goods in face of obstacles. He was well liked by everyone who came in contact with him. We were all proud to be associated with Windy.

President Johnson's letter to Capt Windle's parents stated "Capt Windle was an exceptionally efficient officer who won many friends by his perservance, leadership and the encouragement he gave to his associates." Kansas Senator Bob Dole, the current Republican candidate running for the presidency, stated to his parents: "your comments that Paul could have returned to the states in March of this year, but choose to remain in Vietnam, was symbolic of his devotion and dedication in doing everything possible to save America from Communism."

Near Dodge City in Southwest Kansas lies a small town called Greensburg which has its municipal airport named after Paul Windle. Windle municipal airport is where Paul got his first taste of flying. He received his first flying lessons at this airport. Paul was born on 14 November, 1934 on a farm north of Mullinville, Kansas and attended school both in Mullinville and Greensburg, KS. His brother said that they had enough students in the school to man a 6 man football team which Paul played on. He was the second of four sons all who are still alive today. Paul enlisted in the Air Force on 11 March, 1954 and later that year entered the Aviation Cadet Program. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt in June 1955. In 1956, as a 2nd Lt, he flamed out in a T-33 on takeoff at 300 ft and brought the aircraft safely back. He was commended for his airmanship by the Wing Commander. All of his fellow Aviation Cadets which he were in his flight praised him for his superior airmanship while in flying school. During his final check ride in Aviation Cadets his instructor pilot stated: "he had never had the privilege of riding with a more well-coordinated pilot."

Paul's flying duties were principally with Air Training Command, SAC and TAC. He disliked SAC but loved flying with the Air Commandos. He is remembered by a few who were with him in Vietnam in 1962 with returning a B-26 with slightly bent tips on the prop after returning from Danang. Seemed like he wanted to show the C-123 pilots at Danang the B-26's max performance takeoff capability or something like that. One B-26 pilot commented that with these bent tips on the prop he still flew his mission and returned to Bein Hoa Airbase. In July 1964 a fuel truck ran over him, after late night flying, while he was filling out his flight forms and he was slightly injured. He was in excellent physical shape and that is probably the reason why he wasn't hurt more. He told his family "that it was the closest call he probably ever had considering his tours in Vietnam." His navigators in the B-26 remember him well with his firm determinations and aggressiveness and occasionally doing his own navigation. He told his family that Pat Crotty (one of his navigators in the B-26) was the best navigator in the Air Force.

Paul flew B-26s in his first and second tour in Vietnam and a L-19(O-1E) in his third tour when he was killed. The B-26s were grounded in Feb 1964 because the wings fell off at an air show attended by the press and recorded by them. Because of this Paul was checked out in the A-1E. In Paul's notes he said he had flown the B-26, whose wings fell off, a week before to Nort Calorina for an exercise. He was sent to Vietnam on his third tour to fly the A-1E but was reassigned to the L-19 when he arrived in country. During his 1962 tour in Vietnam he not only attended the RAF jungle survival school in Singapore but also attended the Army Special Forces jump school near Saigon. This was a one week school that Air Commandos could attend to get their parachute wings. It was a good deal until General sweeney (referred to Sweeney Green for his penachment for green signs) found out about and ordered an immediate halt for all Air Force personnel from attending this school in 1962.

Paul never married but was planning to when he was to return from his last tour in Vietnam. He told his family that he didn't want to tie up some girl if he came back as a basket case.

On 17 July, 1965 a team of Air Commandos, lead by Bill Keeler, then a Capt and a Kansan, attended funeral services for Paul in Mullinville, KS. The Air Commando military bearers were Capts John Slauson, Richard Blair, Jr; James Gorhnauer, Richard Fields and Majors Frank Harrison and Clyde Evans. They flew to the funeral in a B-26 and a Skyraider landing at Dodge City, Kansas. According to Leaford Windle they put on an air show before they left which the local folks won't forget.

Paul was qualified in the following aircraft during his career: T-33, B-25, B-26, KC-97(which he disliked), A1E and L-19(O-1E). He had over 3500 flying hours. He flew 232 sorties and 584 hours in the B-26 and 101 missions and 199.5 hours in the O-1E. His military awards included: Silver Star, Purple Heart, eight(8) Air Medals (was eligible for 12 but his family never received the other four since he was killed before he could apply for them), Small Arms, good Conduct, Vietnam National Order and Fifth Class and Gallantry Cross Palm. He was a command pilot and a rated parachutist.

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Regarding the above six shots, Patrick wrote; Dear Martin--Thanks for forwarding this information.  I did make it to Hill AFB to view the A-26, and I attached a few pictures of it.  This particular A-26 was actually used in civilian capacity as a drug smuggling aircraft and was seized by United States Marshals in California...crazy.  I also attached a few pictures of some of the other aircraft my father flew in during his Air Force flying career.  

Douglas A-1 Skyraider (flown in during Vietnam Air Commando period), Boeing B-47 (my father used to fly with nuclear weapons in this aircraft), Boeing B-52 (my father flew in during later stages of Vietnam War and on 8/14/73 one of the last bombing missions of the Vietnam War), last photo of a McDonnell F-101 Voodoo (my father was employed as an aeronautical engineer at McDonnell before joining the Air Force and worked on the air brake for this plane).  Anyways, its a great aircraft museum if you ever get a chance to visit it!

Thanks again,

Patrick Crotty
















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