When I heard “Uplink” over the intercom, I knew two things and hoped two things.
I knew that a missile site had just launched a SAM (surface-to-air missle) at my B-52, and I knew that it would be around 55 seconds before I would know if it would hit us.
I was hoping that I remembered to securely fasten my seat belt so the ejection seat would not leave the plane without me, and I hoped that I switched the right switches to keep the aborted mission from scattering 88 bombs randomly over Vietnam.
I did not think about the college fool who, when seeing me in uniform on campus had asked me how I liked killing babies, and I did not think about my sarcastic response, which now seems too offensive to repeat. Back then, it was a time when you had to make a choice to serve or not serve because of principle — or run. My only disdain was for the runners.
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At that moment, the reasons for the war was were irrelevant. I had more important matters on my mind.
I was there in that B-52 for two reasons. One, I could not justify others being killed or wounded in my place, and two, as long as I was going to be there, I wanted to be as far off the ground as I possible. So I joined up.
By the way, the SAM missed.
Gary Smith, Fresno