One of the first military biographical books I read was Thud Ridge by Colonel Jack Broughton. I fell immediately in love with the Republic F105 Thunderchief, known to the men who flew her as a Thud. Later, I became acquainted with Ed Rasimus through his blog, Thunder Tales. Ed was also a Thud pilot in Vietnam and wrote 2 books on his Vietnam service and the Thud, Palace Cobra and When Thunder Rolled. I have them both and they're next on my read list.
The last F105D was withdrawn from USAF service on July 12, 1980.
I have to make a confession here. All you fellow ground pounder guys might want to look away now. I'm looking at you here Dick. You too Sarge.
I love military aircraft. I mean love them. I am in awe of Fighter pilots. If I could have done other than the path I took it would have been to fly fighters. There. I said it.
The 2 jet aircraft I like best are F4s and Thuds with the Thuds number 1 in my book. There's just something about them. They are, for me, the most beautiful aircraft I ever clapped eyes on.
But they're gone now, except in Museums. Right? Not so fast there Skippy.
Ed has a post up over on his site about an effort underway to obtain, refurbish and fly a Thud.
Yeah, I squealed like a 5 year old who just got his first G.I Joe with the Bazooka and live action Walkie Talkie. Talk about a Super Nova of Awesomeness.
A quote from Medal Of Honor recipient Leo Thorsness from his efforts to convince the USAF hits home for me (emphasis mine);
"I closed the meeting mentioning that we Thud aviators did our best for the Air Force and United States - often knowing the odds for Weasels were greater than 50 percent of being shot down at the beginning of the war. I appealed saying that I hope the Air Force would go to bat for us as we Thud drivers did the Air Force in Vietnam."
Please excuse my use of invective here but Fuckin' A! Click the link for Ed's site and go read the whole post.
The chance to see a Thud flying again would not only be a wonderful experience for any flying buff but also for our children. We need to keep out history alive. Especially now, when the current bunch in power are trying so hard to erase all signs American Exceptionalism. And when I say the Thud pilots were exceptional I am of course understating the fact by an order of magnitude.
What can we do? I'm not sure at the moment. Maybe a letter or call to keep the ball rolling. I've offered to do what I can and I know others have as well (Lagniappe's Dad may be an even bigger fighter geek than I am. It's ok though, he's an actual pilot). Ed will let us know what, when and if.
In the meantime I'm going to put this out there to get everyone warmed up and dream of a time when I can take my grandchildren to see a Thud in flight.
"See that plane kids? It was flown by heroes."