US NAVY, VIETNAM, 1968-72
Many Vietnam Era servicemen who served in “support” roles do not think their time and efforts are noteworthy of recognition and respect because they did not serve in “boots on the ground” front line combat situations.
Don Hickman is one such veteran. He served as an Aviation Ordnance man, working as part of a bomb loading crew on the flight deck of a carrier loading A-4F and A-7E supporting American Vietnam ground troops. (There are few jobs more dangerous and stressful than dealing with explosives, on an active carrier flight deck!)
Don Hickman’s home port was Naval Air Station Lemoore located in California. This was the West Coast Master Jet Base supporting the Strike Fighter Wing Pacific Fleet.
Don was trained as an Aviation Ordinanceman attached to the 192nd Attack Squadron that served on both the Oriskany and Kittyhawk carriers. Their mission was direct air support to the Vietnam group troops. Don served three tours in the Vietnam theatre during his enlistment. He joined the VA-192 in 1969 where he worked in a crew reloading alert A-4F Skyhawk attack-bombers and eventually the new A-7E Corsair aircraft. His specific task in the crew was being the “fuze man”.
Durng his last tour at sea began at the outset of the 1972 NVA Easter offensive. “Those were busy days!” His earned the rank of AO3. In the group picture Don provided they were recognized for loading the 15th million pound of ordinance for just the 1971 Kittyhawk cruise alone.
Don lives in Oregon and is retired after working 40 plus years in the elevator trade.