AC-119 Gunships Mail Call

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Previous Mail Calls 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015,

2016 Mail Call


December 24- Christmas is a time to rejoice and this Christmas Eve members of the AC-119 Gunship Association have another reason to add to that rejoicing.... Gus Sininger continues to move toward a healthy 2017 and for all of us that's a pretty dang good Christmas gift!
He had been battling a serious kidney infection and just underwent a procedure to break up and remove stones in one kidney which went well. They'll do his other kidney Jan 18th as a same-day in & out procedure. Then, one last bout of antibiotics to assure the infection is really GONE.
Gus, Tyler, & LeAnn appreciate the prayers and love sent their way.... they are true Christmas gifts you can keep on giving.

From all of us in the AC-119 Gunship Association....Merry Christmas to all, and a happy, healthy 2017!

December 23 - Charles A Lawburgh, 71st SOS IO took his Final Flight.
Jim Alvis, 71st SOS POC, sadly reports the passing of another 71st SOS member, Charles A Lawburgh, 71st SOS IO, 1968/1969. Lawburgh passed away on Tuesday, December 13, 2016.
Charles Lawburgh, a resident of Milan, Indiana at the time of his passing, enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in the 123rd Naval Construction Battalion in Midway during WWII. Charles was a member of the U.S. Air Force for 25 years and served his country again in Vietnam as an AC-119G Shadow Illuminator Operator with the 71st Special Operations Squadron. Then, from 1971 to 1973 he was enlisted in the Army National Guard. He was the recipient of the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross. He was married to Glenna. Services were December 20, at Hope Baptist Church in Dillsboro IN. Burial was at Craven cemetery in Milan with full Military rites at gravesite. Memorials may be given to the Hope Baptist Church or Gideons International.
Please keep Charles' family and friends in your prayers.

Dec 10 - Great news from Gunship brother Mike Mullen. Mike Mullen notified us that he received a clean bill of health.... He is now CANCER FREE!!!!
Mike and Theresa appreciate all the thoughts & prayers sent their way – they helped!

Also, here's the latest on brother Gus Sininger. He lost his balance and hit his back but no new damage...just sore. Also, his follow-on surgery will now be done by a local doctor who did the procedure while he was in the Air Force, and get this.... his name is Dr. Stinger (no fooling :>). Gus meets him later this week for their first consult together. Lets hope he doesn't slap his hand. Keep those thoughts and prayers coming!

Dec 3 - Former 17th/18th SOS member takes Final Flight.

leroy jackson thumbnail

Leroy Jackson Jr. (U.S. Air Force, retired) of Jacksonville, Fla., formerly of New Jersey, passed away on November 26, 2016. Funeral services were held on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016. Interment was at Rosedale Cemetery, Orange, N.J.
Jackson was a 17th & 18th SOS Shadow & Stinger Gunner, 1968-69 & 1971-72, He is the beloved father of Kristal Langley, Michael, David and Craig Jackson; dear stepfather of Marc-Kee's Langley; brother of the late Donald and the late Kenneth. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.
Please keep Leroy & family in your thoughts and prayers.

Nov 22 - Gus Sininger continues to improve The latest we have is Gus still has a ways to go, with another 10 days of IV antibiotics then a procedure to remove the remaining stones in one kidney. The good news is both kidneys are fully functioning again as he almost lost one to the infection. Gus should be released this week so he can be with family and friends for Thanksgiving, but will go back each day for the IV antibiotics.
Gus will continue to update us when he can. Please keep him, LeeAnn & Tyler in your prayers – they're with Gus every step of the way, as are all of us.
Your Association crew

Nov 15 - At last! Some positive news!!
Gus Sininger is not totally out of the woods but he's improving. The Docs are working to clear out kidney stones and the infections that weakened him are under control. He still has a way to go but when he said "I've been better" he also said "It's better though." He said he is in and out due to the meds & Doc visits so he'll update us when he can.
Gus says he appreciates the prayers & love sent his way and says he feels it :>) Send some more and please include LeeAnn & Tyler – they've both been there every step of the way. We'll keep you posted
Your Association crew

Nov 13 - Greetings! fellow gunship Association members. Our great friend, gunship brother, workhorse and staunch supporter of our Association Gus Sininger was admitted to the hospital.
In a note Gus said..."Just to let you know I'm in the hospital now. I was put in yesterday for equilibrium problems and they checked with my urologist and he said my kidney levels were too high and they want to get that down before my surgery."
Gus can use everyone's thoughts & prayers as he prepares for surgery. We will post an update on Gus as soon as we hear anything.
Your Association crew

Nov 8 - With sadness we report the passing of 71st member Col. USAF, (ret) Boris "Borey" Chaleff on Saturday, October 15. Borey was a Navigator on Al Heuss' crew at Nha Trang.
Col.Chaleff, 93, of Indianapolis, passed away Saturday, October 15, 2016. He was born in Indianapolis on September 6, 1923, to the late Kiril & Fota Chaleff. As a true Hoosier, he graduated from both Ben Davis High School and Butler University. Boris was a true renaissance man and a proud veteran. He flew combat missions in three wars (World War II, Korean conflict & Vietnam), has been awarded too many medals to mention and was in charge of plans, acquisitions and capital expenditures for the Air Force Reserve and retired a full Colonel. He was also a season ticket holder to both the Colts & Pacers, loved jazz, and was a wonderful husband, father & grand father. Boris was extremely passionate about his heritage, and was also President of the Macedonian Patriotic Organization.
He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Betty Chaleff; sons, Carl Chaleff (Darlene) and Robert Chaleff (Julie), brother Steve Chaleff, and four grandchildren; Fritz, Eric, Clay & Brooke Chaleff. Boris's passion for life and gentle nature will be greatly missed. His spirit will continue to be celebrated by everyone he touched.
Boris's celebration of life services were held Friday, October 21, 2016 in St. Stephens Orthodox Church at Crown Hill.
The family suggests contributions be made to the church in Boris's name.
Please keep Betty & family in your thoughts & prayers.

Oct 5 - The AC-119 Gunship Association Looses another brother, IO/FE Bob Johnson
Shadow & Stinger IO/FE Bob Johnson's funeral with Military Honors will be held 10:30 AM on Oct 9th, 2016 at La Veta Cemetery, 300 N. Grand, La Veta, Colorado (about 2 hours South of Colorado Springs.
Kay & family invite you to attend. Please contact Wayne Laessig at if you need more info.

Oct 1 - Another hero takes his final flight....
Marianne Sugg notified us that her husband, Col (Ret) Joseph Sugg, of San Jose CA passed away July 25, 2016.
Joe was an AC-119K Stinger Gunship Commander & MACV Staff Officer during the War in Vietnam. He graduated from the USAF Academy, Class of 1966. A funeral service was held 8 Aug 2016 at the USAFA Cadet Protestant Chapel with full Military Honors followed by burial in the USAFA Cemetery. Please keep Marianne & family in your thoughts & prayers.

July 28 - Another brother has taken his Last Flight: Donald Brogan, 71st SOS IO,
Don Brogan of Crawfordsville passed away on Friday, July 22, 2016. Born in Indiana on December 23, 1940, Don graduated from Bosse High School in Evansville, and on July 2, 1960 married the love of his life, Alice G. (Bever) Brogan.
Don proudly served in the United States Air Force and Air Force Reserve. He worked for the United States Postal service for 25 years. He was recalled to active duty in 1968 - 1969 where he received the Distinguished Flying Cross while serving as an Illuminator Operator in AC-119G Shadow Gunships during the Vietnam War.
He was a member of the Crawfordsville American Legion, VFW, 408, and the Vietnam Veterans of America. He enjoyed wood working, fishing, traveling & spending time with his family.
Funeral Services were held Wednesday, July 27th at Powers-Priebe Funeral Home with Rev. Tami Mussche officiating. Cremation followed the funeral service. Military rites were conducted by the Crawfordsville VFW, American Legion Honor Guard, & the U. S. Air Force.
Please keep Alice & family in your thoughts and prayers.

17th Special Operations squadron loses member -
A note from Larry Fletcher:
Brothers, Two weeks ago I found out that one of my 17th SOS buddies in Fighting C Flight at TSN, Jim Craig, died last fall after years of battling cancer. Capt. Jim and I (Lt) flew together on a number of combat missions. He was my table navigator on some missions; other missions as the NOS. He was a perfectionist; making absolutely (positively) sure of exact locations of friendly troops vs. enemy targets before clearing me to fire during TIC's. We played tennis at TSN (Country Club of Vietnam) when not flying.
He was a Show-Me State boy from Kansas City, Missouri. He loved the F-4; but cherished the Shadow gunships. Jim had many friends.

James S. (Jim) Craig
Age 73, of Derby passed away Sept 19th after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Jim is survived by his wife of 51 years, Lela "Suzanne" (Farmer) Craig, and one son, Jason Craig and by divine intervention and love "Team Cleveland," Michael and Natalie, parents of granddaughters Presley and Kylie. Jim was a devout Christian and a man of unshakable faith in God's mercy. He served as a deacon in the Baptist Church and for over twenty-five years taught an adult Sunday school class at Derby's Pleasantview Baptist Church. He also served as a member of the church's finance committee, chairman of the personnel committee and as a trustee. Jim, a twenty-year military veteran, retired from the Kansas Air National Guard in the grade of lieutenant colonel on April 29, 1987. He served five years as Chief of Safety for the 184th Tactical Fighter Wing at McConnell AFB. Jim enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in October 1966 and was commissioned a second lieutenant on January 4, 1967. He was an F-4 Phantom weapons system officer with more than eleven years in the cockpit while on active duty with the U.S. Air Force in Europe and at mainland USAF installations. He also served as an F-4 weapons system officer with the Kansas Air National Guard. Lt. Col. Craig was a Vietnam War combat veteran, serving as a navigator on a C-119 gunship from May 1970 through April 1971. Among his military decorations were the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm. Following retirement from the Kansas Air National Guard, Jim worked for Boeing Military Airplanes and, later, Boeing's Commercial Airplanes Group in quality improvement from 1987 until his retirement in 2003. Jim served ten years as a member of the Derby City Council and served as council president in 2014. He was an active member of the Derby Kiwanis Club, serving in a number of leadership positions, including president. Jim was born on Dec. 14, 1941 in Louisiana, MO, the only child of Reginald and Jamie Craig. His parents preceded him in death. He attended the University of Missouri at Kansas City and graduated from Baker University, Baldwin, KS in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. He also earned a Master of Arts degree in 1977 from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO in Psychology/Guidance and Counseling. Funeral services were held, Sept 26th at Pleasantview Baptist Church, Derby. Interment was at Derby's Hillcrest Cemetery following the funeral services. Friends may consider memorials to the Wounded Warrior Project, Victory in the Valley, and Serenity Home Health.

June 7, 2016 - the 18th Special Operations Sq and the AC-119 Gunship Association has lost another Brother.

We sadly announce the passing of Robert W. Johnson, 17th and 18th SOS FE/IO. Bob succumbed to a heart attack on May 12 in Las Vegas, NV. His wife Kay called to pass the news to his gunship brothers. Bob was Association Life Member 222. Please pray for Kay and her daughter. There is a planned Memorial Service in Colorado and we will provide more info as we receive it.

June 7, 2016 - Don Hiers has taken his Final Flight.

TSgt Harris "Donnie" Hiers Jr, USAF (Ret), 67, of North Charleston, South Carolina, husband of Mary Jane Hayes Hiers, entered into eternal rest Thursday, May 12, 2016. His funeral service was held May 17, 2016 followed by interment with military honors in Evergreen Christian Church Cemetery, 1701 Bells Highway, Walterboro, SC.

Donnie retired after 23 years with the US Air Force. He was a member of the Church of Christ and Life Member 149 of the AC119 Gunship Association. Donnie enjoyed guns, guitars, golf and fishing.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Mary Jane Hiers; son, Harris "Tripper" Hiers III, both of North Charleston, SC; daughter-in-law, Kellie J. Hiers, granddaughter, Kennedy Hiers both of Summerville, SC; brother, Terry Hiers (Julie) of Loxachatchee, FL, and numerous nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his son, Christopher Shane Hiers.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice of Charleston, 4975 LaCross Road, Suite 200, North Charleston, SC 29406-6531, American Diabetes Association, Inc., 107 West Park Boulevard, Suite 220, Columbia, SC 29210 and/or American Heart Assoc. of SC Memorial Processing Center, 4217 Park Place Court, Glen Allen, VA 23060.

A memorial message may be sent to the family by visiting the website at

May 22, 2016 - Just a note about Jimmy Grant, concerning word on his recent fall. From what I was hearing he was pretty beat up and I certainly didn't expect a call back from him. Lo and behold Jimmy called me the other night. Nothing the the Gunship brotherhood and being old roomies to keep the connection alive. Jimmy is a tough Georgia boy and he took a Nasty fall going into his house. Knocked himself out cold and messed his face up a bit but he says he's still handsome dude. I think he broke his sternum as well. He's in good spirits and still the Jimmy I love to laugh with.
He says he doesn't need any surgery and it will just be a slow healing process. He thanks all the guys and gals who have sent prayers and thoughts his way. Keep them coming as they will speed his recovery along. More later if I hear anything.

Chief Bill

May 14, 2016 - Keep the Hiers family in your prayers and thoughts - Don Hiers had a severe heart attack a few days ago. Mary Hiers says that the doctor's say there isn't anything more they can do for him. They've moved Don to hospice. Mary asks to let his brothers in the AC-119 Association know about Don and asks for your prayers and thoughts. Don was a valuable member of gunship Maintenance with the 71st/17th SOS Shadows, 1969-1970.
More on Don as soon as we recieve word

18th SOS loses two more brothers

Stinger Pilot Hugh Matheson (11-21-32 to 04-17-16) died peacefully in his sleep and was welcomed to heaven on Sunday, April 17, 2016. He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Virginia, his son Rod, and daughters Cindy and Pattie; grandchildren Jesse, Sara, Elizabeth, Tyler, Katherine; and great-grandchildren Ethan, Makena, Cooper, and Deane. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the restoration fund of the Titan Missile Museum, 1580 W. Duval Mine Road, Green Valley, AZ, 8561

Stinger Pilot William "Bill" Rueben Burress, Jr (9-16-35 to 3- 31-16) age 80, passed away March 31, 2016. He was born in Branchville, SC. He retired from the USAF, after 22 years of service. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War as a pilot and a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was preceded in death by daughter Jennifer Burress. Survivors: son, Philip Burress (Lori); grandson, Fletcher Burress; sister Mae Claire Burress; niece Angela Chapman; nephews Howard Rhame Chapman and Ashley Chapman; and first wife Marie Martin and her husband Glenn Martin, with whom he rekindled a friendship with in recent years, based on the love of their children. Memorial contributions have been established with the American Cancer Society, PO Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718.

Our hearts are heavy after hearing of the passing of Royce "Roy" D. Price on February 21, 2016. Roy was a gunner with the18th Special Operations Squadron "Stingers" from 1970-71 and a life member of the AC-119 Gunship Association. Please join us in prayers and thoughts for his wife Kathy and family.

RIP Bobby J. Dixon Sr. We sadly announce the passing of Bobby J Dixon. Bobby was a Gunner on the AC-119G Shadows, 1969-1970. He also flew on the AC-47 Spookys and the AU-23 and AU-24 and Hueys.

Viewing will be Tuesday, Feb 16 at 5 to 8 PM and Wednesday after 11 PM.
A service to celebrate the life of Bobby will be held Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. from Ponders Melrose Chapel, with Rev. Chris Dixon officiating. Bobby Dixon will be laid to rest at Chattanooga National Cemetery, Thursday February 18, 2016 at 10:30 a.m., with Military Honors.

The family will receive friends, Tuesday, February 16, 2016 from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. and from 11:00 a.m. Wednesday February 17, 2016 until the service hour. It's the family request, that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 922 E. Morris St, Dalton, GA 30721.
Funeral arrangements provided by Ponders Melrose Chapel, Dalton, GA. (706) 226-4002

Bobby J. Dixon Sr., age 80, of Chatsworth, GA, went to be with the Lord, Sunday, February 14, 2016. Bobby was born August 24, 1935 in Dalton, GA. He was the son of the late, Melvin Dixon Sr. and Tessie Borders Dixon. He was also preceded in death by his brother, Rev. Melvin Dixon Jr. Bobby was the owner of Ellijay Pawn and Sporting Goods and retired from the United States Air Force after 22 years of service, serving during the Korea and Vietnam conflicts. Bobby was a member of the American Legion Post #167 of Chatsworth, GA and also a member of the VFW.
Bobby Dixon is survived by his wife of 30 years, Carla Dixon; sons, Bobby and Heather Dixon; Bryan Dixon, all of Dalton GA; brothers, Jimmy and Wilma Dixon of Ringgold, GA, Billy Dixon of Dallas, TX and Jack and Gloria Dixon of Dalton, GA.

Our association lost another great man on Monday, January 4. Following are the details and the website with Dale Stickles, (CMSgt, USAF Ret) obituary.

Gentlemen, It is with sadness I report the passing of another 71st SOS member and good friend to many. Dale Stickles passed on Monday, January 4, 2016 in Chino Hills, CA. Dale was 87 years old. Dale was the Flight Engineer on Col. Earl Scott's crew at Phan Rang in the spring of 1969 and stayed on active duty.

via Jim Alvis

Obituary of Owen Stickles

Chino Hills, CA – Owen Dale Stickles, 87, of Chino Hills, CA, formerly of Columbus, IN, died Monday, January 4, 2016 in California.

Born February 16, 1928 in Bedford, he was the son of George and Mary (Smale) Stickles. He married Ruth E. Luttrell on September 2, 1945 and she preceded him in death on April 11, 1992. He was a high school graduate. He started his military career in the U. S. Navy during World War II, he then served in the U. S. Airforce during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He flew with the 71st Special Operations Squadron. He retired from the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve after thirty-seven and one half years of service as a chief Master Sergeant. He received the distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal w/80LC, Combat Readiness Medal w/30LC, AF Good Conduct Medal w/50LC, WW II Victory Medal, Occupation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Viet Nam Service Medal w/2BSS, Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Award, NCO Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon w/10LC, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, RVN Campaign Medal, AF Longevity Service Award Ribbon w/30LC, Armed Forces Reserve Medal. He was a member of Garden City Church of Christ, a member of the American Legion Post in Edinburg, IN where he served as past commander and a member of the Air Force Assoc. After retiring, he volunteered at Hospice of South Central Indiana for 20 years.

Survivors include five grandchildren, Amy (Rick) Malson, of Seymour, Michael Stickles, Jr., of Florida, Susanne (Patrick) Meyer, of California, Katrina Smith, of Texas and Lyndzee Stickles, of Kokomo; eight great grandchildren; four great-great grandchildren; a sister, Carol Taylor, of Bedford and a daughter-in-law, Sara Stickles, of Texas. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, three sons, Owen Dale Stickles, II, Michael D. Stickles and Jerry A. Stickles; a daughter, Judith Ann Stickles; one brother, Ralph Stickles and a companion, Cris Howard, of Columbus.

Funeral services will be conducted at
12:30 pm on Saturday, January 16th
at the Garden City Church of Christ in Columbus, IN
with Pastor Brian Gilroy officiating.

A committal service will take place at 3:30 pm on Saturday, January 16th at the Beech Grove Cemetery in Bedford with military rites by members of the Edinburgh American Legion Color Guard.
Visitation will be from 10:30 am until the hour of service on Saturday, January 16th at the Garden City Church of Christ in Columbus, IN. The family asks that friends consider memorial contributions be made to the Alzheimer's Association or Hospice of South Central Indiana at 2626 East 17th Street, Columbus, IN 47201 or 1-800-841-4938 ext. 8000. Family and friends may express condolences at

We will post any updates as we receive them.

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