Honoring our Killed In Action Classmates Who
were Forward Air Controllers

Jack DuffyJohn RyderGrant UhlsSkip JacksonTed Hallenbeck

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Remembering Our Own

Class Donation to FAC Memorial     On Tuesday, April 15, 2008 a check for $10,000 from our Class was given to the 2008 Forward Air Controllers Memorial Committee. The donation of Class of 1968 funds was recommended by the 40th Reunion Committee at their third meeting. The recommendation was forwarded to our Class President, Phil Pignataro, who approved the recommendation and released the funds on 17 Mar 2008. It is a contribution of two thousand dollars in honor of each of our five Classmates who were killed-in-action while flying as Forward Air Controllers (FAC): John Duffy, Ted Hallenbeck, Paul Jackson, John Ryder, and Willis (Grant) Uhls.

     The donation became part of the funding to construct the 2008 Forward Air Controllers Memorial at Memorial Park in Colorado Springs. Our donation, the largest one of cash, received by the FAC Memorial Committee, assured that the Memorial was completed and that a Dedication Ceremony on 4 October 2008 worthy of the nearly 300 men was conducted. Thirty US Air Force Academy graduates names are listed on the Memorial.

Memorial Overhead View     The Memorial is on the north side of the Ring of Honor at the 195 ac Memorial Park which is located at 1605 E. Pikes Peak Avenue. Lots of us remember Prospect Lake there. The Forward Air Controller memorial is approximately 6' high, approximately 14' 6" wide and 12" thick. The memorial is of granite with text and graphics engraved into the face of the stone. In addition, a second granite stone, 3' high, 2' wide, and 12" thick is across from the main memorial. This stone honors the Misty Forward Air Controllers who lost their lives in the war in Southeast Asia. The monuments are placed upon a concrete pad measuring approximately 25' in diameter. Two granite benches are placed on the concrete at the base of the memorials.

Bench DesignEach bench is inscribed as indicated in the diagram. The benches are there for people passing through or for those family members that want quiet reflection. The memorial displays quotes from others about FACs, their mission and history. This is the educational aspect regarding FACs to the public. Behind the main pedestal and the name pieces is a spectacular view of Pikes Peak. The location of the memorial is immediately adjacent to the parking lot, which provides easy access to the memorial.

     From Jim Palmer, Chairman, Memorial Committee; "Much of what we are doing is for the families of those whose names are on our Memorial. The Class of 1968 knows what the atmosphere was like in the US during the latter stages of the Vietnam War. Families that lost loved ones received virtually no support from the civilian community when they needed it most. Additionally, 73 FACs were killed flying classified mission outside of South Vietnam—these missions were classified until 1993. These families received little or no specific information from our government during those years, so they have many feelings that can be helped a little by these Memorials, by talking to the FACs that flew with their loved ones, by sharing a common bond with others who experienced the same shattering experiences, and in knowing that their loved ones were heroes. We cannot thank the Class of 1968 enough for your generosity!!" Click here to read the May 8, 2008 thank-you letter to the Class of '68.

     This donation represents lessons even greater than the size of the donation - and these lessons are important for the 21st century Cadets at the Academy. Friendships, camaraderie, and loyalties extend out well beyond graduation. Those of us who shared combat four decades ago still remember and honor those who didn't come home with us. That respect is spread throughout all who served with dedication during the difficult years of the War in Southeast Asia. In a time when much of the media does its best to avoid recognizing the heroism of Americans in combat in Southwest Asia, it's important that our young people see this demonstration of how older Vets honor their fallen comrades in the way American heroes deserve to be honored.

     The Dedication Ceremony occured at 10:00 AM, Friday October 3, 2008. During the FAC Reunion held at the Crown Plaza (aka Sheraton Hotel) and during our 40th Reunion. Medal of Honor recipient, George "Bud" Day, Colonel, USAF (Ret), was the keynote speaker. Over 200 members of the Class of 1968 and their guests attended the dedication ceremony.

Click here for pictures of the dedication ceremony.
Click here for .pdf copy of the dedication ceremony program.
Click here for a .pdf copy of A Brief History of Forward Air Controlling.
Click here for the .pdf Colorado Springs Gazette article on the dedication.

For more pictures and information, please click on the thumbnails below.

PedestalIst Montage2nd Montage3rd Montage
Memorial Briefing SlideshowFinal ConstructionLinks to sites about FACs
Forward Air Controllers Association
OV-10 Bronco.Net
Raven FACs
Rustic FACs
Misty FACs
Thanks to Jimmie H. Butler, '63, Jim Palmer (FAC Assn), Rhip Worrell and Gene Rose for the story information.

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