MEMORIAL DAY 2014  – Honoring A Fallen Hero

It was two days before my sixth birthday that USAF soldier Sgt.  Thomas E. Fike was killed in Viet Nam on a helicopter piloted by my dad.

The late Thomas Fike, KIA in Vietnam, Dec. 4, 1971

The late Thomas Fike, KIA in Vietnam, Dec. 4, 1971

They were flying over the jungle near Saigon. My dad wrote in a report that they’d seen a “black” something on the ground and immediately began to bank.  Bullets began to hit their aircraft. Sgt.  Fike was killed instantly from all accounts. The more dramatic accounts I will spare you.

A bullet went up thru the floor, between my dad’s legs and up thru the ceiling of Bell Huey 69-6621. My dad does NOT ever talk about this, but we found this book about The Green Hornets, an elite, USAF helicopter group my dad, Fike and the rest of the crew were part of and these two photos are from it.

I didn’t learn about 12.4.71 until my family was headed to Atwater, CA in 1978 when my Grandma Retha Claxton said, “You remember that time your dad got shot down in Viet Nam?”  Uh, “WHAT TIME MY DAD GOT SHOT DOWN!?!?”

Memorial Day 2014

But years later, today, I pay the humblest of respects to Mr. Fike and his family, wherever they may be. Sgt. Fike is in that great Green Hornet Squadron in the Sky. My heart hurts from the thought of what his family lost because of his sacrifice that day. Memorial Day to me is no longer about recovery from putting on music festivals, BBQs or sleeping in late. It’s about sacrifices brought to life like this one.

Here’s a little more about the event:

The loss of Sgt Thomas E Fike.

The loss of Sgt Thomas E Fike.

And another piece.

From The Green Hornets

From The Green Hornets

Many thanks go out to those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms in America. We take this for granted far too often….




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