Videos and photos courtesy of Gerry and Linda Brassfield/Blue Eagle Video
Evening at the Museum, Aug 21st, 2013
Colonel Raymond J. Merritt, USAF (Ret)
Colonel Merritt entered the US Air Force in late 1950 as an Aviation Cadet, receiving his commission and pilot wings in early 1952 Class 52-B.
He first saw combat during the Korean war, flying 100 combat missions as an F-84 pilot, Returning to the States, he became an instructor in fighter-weapons training at Luke AFB, and later in aerial refueling "Boomer" training at Randolph AFB; refueling from KC-97 crew trainees.
In mid 1964, after F-105 qualification, Col. Merritt was assigned to Kadena AB, Okinawa. As the SEA war commenced, he was again flying combat sorties; this time over North Vietnam. In September 1965, anti aircraft fire disabled his aircraft, forcing him to eject. Once on the ground, he was immediately captured by armed North Vietnamese civilians.
Col. Merritt was declared missing in action (MIA) that day, September 16, 1965. Fourteen months later, his name was mentioned in a Hanoi radio broadcast that confirmed he was alive. His status was changed to a confirmed prisoner of war (POW) and remained as such until his release from Hanoi on February 12, 1973. Col. Merritt spent over 7 ½ years as a POW held in camps including the infamous "Hanoi Hilton", but missed the "Big Show" bombings during Christmas of 1972 as he was then being held at the "Dog Patch Camp" close to the Chinese border.
After release from North Vietnam, the Col. received his medical care at March AFB and took a few months of deserved rest. Col. Merritt continued in the Air Force, completing National Air War College (in residence) and re-qualifying as a fighter pilot in the F-4. Col. Merritt was assigned as Assistant Director of Operations at Bitburg AB, and soon after became acting Director, serving a two year assignment to 17th AF, Sembach AB, Germany.
In the summer of 1978, Col. Merritt was assigned to the A-10 Program Office at Wright Patterson AFB, where he retired in late 1979.
Military Decorations include:
Evening at the Museum, Oct 9th, 2013
Lt. Col. Howard Butcher, USAF (Ret.)
Howard Butcher is a Lt. Colonel, US Air Force –retired, with 2500 flying hours in B-52Fs & Gs as a Radar Navigator (Bombardier) and Navigator and in F-4C, Ds & E model Phantoms as a Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) in US, S.E. Asia, and Europe. Col Butcher flew 66 Vietnam B-52 combat missions including Operation Linebacker II – the Presidentially ordered air strikes on Hanoi and Haiphong, in December 1972. He served on the Hqtrs Tactical Air Command Staff at Langley AFB, Virginia in 1978-81 as well as on the Joint/ Combined Staff in Seoul, Korea as Chief of the Commander's Briefing Team in 1985-86. Col Butcher was a Squadron Commander and Deputy Base Commander at Osan Air Base, Korea. He retired in October 1993.
In private industry since 1994, Howard established his own company, EAST ASIA ASSOCIATES, Inc. providing project management engineering services for Procter & Gamble Manufacturing in Asia, primarily in Korea, Japan and Thailand from 1994 to 2002. Additionally, Howard was a Project Manager for PAE – A Lockheed- Martin Company, in Honduras for Joint Task Force – Bravo for 3 years and at PAE Hqtrs in Los Angeles until 2010. Returning to P&G in 2011, his latest assignments have been in Utah (2011 & 2013) and in North Carolina (2012). Howard and his wife, Astrid, reside in Redlands, California.
Military Decorations Include:
Lt. Col. Howard Butcher gives his presentation, "The Story of Linebacker II," on Oct. 9th at the NAFB Museum's 2nd Evening at the Museum.
Evening at the Musuem, Dec 11th, 2013
COLONEL GARY UNDERWOOD, USAF-RET
Upon college graduation, Colonel Underwood's career began with USAF pilot training. In 1969, he was assigned as a pilot on the C-7A, seeing combat while stationed at Phu Cat Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. In 1970, he was transferred to Norton AFB, 63rd Military Airlift Wing (MAW) and flew the C-141A as an aircraft commander, instructor pilot, and flight examiner. Three years later, he was assigned to Altus AFB Oklahoma as an instructor pilot and later served as the wing executive officer. Leaving Altus in 1977, he was assigned as Air Officer Commanding, 3rd Cadet Squadron, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado. Again, another career move in 1980 took Colonel Underwood to 22nd Air Force, Travis AF B, California, as staff officer and later their Chief, Contingency and Exercise Plans. In 1984, Colonel Underwood became the Chief, Security Assistance, Southeast Asia Division, H.Q., Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), Honolulu, Hawaii. Two year later, he was reassigned as Chief of Protocol, while remaining at HQPACAF.
In 1988, he returned to Norton AFB as the Deputy Base Commander, then Base Commander, 63rd Combat Support Group. In 1989, Norton AFB was identified in the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) actions. In 1992, Colonel Underwood was assigned the duties of Vice Commander then Commander, 63rd MAW through Norton's closure in May 1994.
In May 1994, Colonel Underwood began his civilian career in as Executive Director, Inland Action, Inc. In 1996, he became the Chief of Police, San Bernardino Unified School District Police and retired fourteen years later in 2010. In retirement, he began pursuing his hobbies in photography and traveling which he continues today.
Remaining active in the community, Colonel Underwood is the Chair of the Alta Vista Credit Union and Treasurer of the East Highlands Ranch Home Owners Association. He is also a Board Member and participant with the Foundation for Worldwide Health, Redlands, which is a medical and dental outreach to the homeless and working poor. Currently, he serves as the Director, Highland and Redlands Family History Centers for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Colonel Underwood's Military Honors consist of (in part),