Pat Hatch's PhotoJournal A blog about photography & other musings…

Epilogue

Recently, I came across some additional photos taken by one of my squadron mates at CCK, then Captain Tom Bigelow.  Tom was an AC in the 50th TAS during the time that I was at CCK.  Tom has graciously given permission for me to use these excellent photos.

Shortly after we were shot down at Katum on 25 June 1968, the 50th TAS held its 25th Anniversary reunion at CCK.  My pal, Ernie Gassiott, wrote this history pamphlet of the event.  As I recall, the party was held on a Saturday, 13 July 1968.  I know this because the next day, 14 July, we flew Col. Balch and his wife to Clark AFB as noted in my detailed personal flight log, which I still have today.  Col. Balch was being transferred to the Pentagon, I believe.  Anyway, this was also his going-away party.  I also remember that we were slightly hung over that Sunday morning because of the previous night's festivities.  Hell, we had been celebrating pretty much continuously since the day we got shot down about 2 1/2 weeks before.  Here is the first photo taken at the party:

50th TAS 25th Anniversary Party

The party was held at the CCK O-Club. Check out these guys in the red hats at the bar:

The one-fingered "short" salute!

I'm not sure why we were in our flight suits, it probably was approved by Col. Balch, though. Left to right, then Lt.'s Jon "Ghost" Alexander, Pat Hatch, and Don Bray, a 50th navigator and one of our Taichung roommates. Our copilot, Britt Blaser, had already returned to the States.

The next day was Col. Balch's farewell as squadron commander of the 50th TAS. Of course, my crew was selected to fly him to Clark for obvious reasons. What were they thinking?  Here are the 50th TAS personnel gathered to see Col. Balch and his wife off:

Col. Balch and 50th TAS personnel on CCK ramp.

Col. Balch saying his goodbyes at CCK ramp.

And the slightly unsteady crew standing at the crew entrance door ready to greet their boss:

L to R, Mrs. Balch, Col. Balch, Lt. Hatch, unknown CP, Ghost Alexander, Joe Basilisco, and Jerry Willard.

Col. Balch handing over the squadron.

This was to be my last mission at CCK. I returned with this crew to CCK on 18 July and a few days later was back in the States.

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  1. Hello Pat. I just read Your account of that fateful day & remember it quite well. As You know I was the loadmaster on Homey 303 that Yall brought the tire to. Brings back a lot of memories. As I told You before, Thanks for the tire & God bless all of You guys. John Mayson. 345th TAS

  2. Heros all. Thank you for your service and record of this flight. America is in your debt. I am glad you survived
    Ron


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