Major Roy James Blakeley
(December 10, 1928 - July 22, 1965) - USAF (KIA)
Age at death: 36 years, 7 months, 12 days
This website is a work-in-progress (Contact: Larry Blakeley, larry at larryblakeley.com).
22 July 1965, a Thursday at DaNang Air Base, South Vietnam:
“This was my 10th combat mission. I was originally scheduled to be spare, but at the last minute Major Seb Arriaga took himself off the schedule and I replaced him. The original line-up was John Olson, Lead; Larry Shassetz No.2; Seb Arriage No.3; Jack Gale No.4, Harold Alston as Spare. The change put me in as No.3 and Roy Blakeley as Spare with Seb dropped. We took off as a flight of 4 carrying 2 each MK117, 750 GP bombs and the 20 mm gatling gun.
After take-off Larry Shassetz had a hung landing gear and aborted back to DaNang. Roy took off to replace Shass and joined up with us in the No.2 position, over Chu Lai. Roy was flying the aircraft that I had originally been scheduled in before Seb dropped out.
The target was a VC build-up west of Chu-Lai, South Viet Nam. We dropped the bombs on two successive passes and made one strafe pass. Coming off the strafe pass Roy reported he had lost the left, leading edge flap. I had a tally-ho on Roy so I went into afterburner and joined on him quite quickly. I confirmed the loss of the flap, and some skin torn off the fuselage on the upper, left side. The tail was intact with no damage. After my confirmation of damage to Roy, he reported a loss of oil pressure.
We were in a turn to Chu Lai, about 20 miles east. It was a newly constructed, austere runway of pierced-steel-planking (PSP), built by the Marines. I went to Guard frequency and declared an emergency and that we were inbound for an emergency landing. Roy flew a good pattern for a straight-in landing to the north. I stayed in close formation with him from the time I joined up until about 50 feet above the runway when I slid about 100 feet out, on Roy's right wing. Gale stayed out of the way, wide to the right. Roy did not have his landing gear down so I called, on Guard, to put it down. Nothing happened. I called several more times to ‘Get the gear down, Roy.’ It never happened. Roy landed smoothly on the PSP on his pylon racks. As the aircraft was skidding, it veered to the left slightly, went off the left side of the runway into a sand dune that was about as tall as the refueling probe. The aircraft exploded catastrophically. We probably had approximately 3500 pounds of fuel remaining at the time. I knew immediately Roy could not have survived. Jack and I rejoined on Olson.
John led the three of us back to DaNang where we landed and reported the loss. I felt sick, even though I had seen other aircraft crashes. I respected Roy a lot, he treated me well and had confidence in me from the outset as a new F-104 pilot. I was going to miss our Flight Commander.
The AAA damage to Blakeley’s F-104C (56-0908) after he had expended 750 rounds of 20 mm cannon fire in his strafing pass had knocked out the jet’s hydraulics, preventing landing gear extension.
He was awarded the DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross] posthumously for attempting to recover the aircraft rather than ejecting and risking casualties on the ground.”
- Harold Alston, Lt Col, USAF, Retired
Last photograph taken of my father in July 1965 sitting at a table with then Lt. Harold Alston:
According to the Casualty Report prepared on July 27, 1965, the aircraft "touched down at approximately 1000 feet down the runway, slid for approximately 1,800 feet before going off the runway where the aircraft exploded."
Go figure... this country boy, and more than 58,000 other Americans, ended up dying in a piss-ant country approximately 8,500 miles from the USA pursuant to a flawed American policy dictated by President Lyndon Johnson.
Vietnam War U.S. Military Fatal Casualty Statistics
Ho Chi Minh cautioned the French in 1946: "You can kill 10 of my men for every one I kill of yours, yet even at those odds, you will lose and I will win." But their over-estimation of their military superiority blinded them to taking him seriously. That was a very costly mistake by the French. They should have listened and taken this man seriously, as should have the United States governmental officials, advisors and military big-wigs.
Would Kennedy have fallen into the Vietnam quagmire just as Johnson did? No one can be sure, but I would like to believe that he would have avoided Johnson's massive committment -- even though he had the same advisors as Johnson and the same desire to prevent a Communist takeover.
One would tend to think that knowing the history of a country you're trying to bring to their knees might be beneficial to the decision-making process. Apparently nobody in the decision-making circle did this, or even assigned subordinates to do so for round-table discussion. Johnson definitely didn't have a clue of how his actions were going to go down in history as one of the most costly blunders in American history. He got us in it, was lied to by Robert McNamara and General William Westmoreland, and American men and women paid the ultimate price due to flawed policy decisions. Whenever Johnson finally figured out that he had screwed-up big-time, he lied to the American people.
And, down the rabbit hole they went with their flawed foreign policy strategy as it pertained to Vietnam. And, Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson took the American people down with them. The days of being subjucated by any foreign power was coming to an end.
"'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?' 'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat. 'I don't much care where--,' said Alice. 'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat. '--so long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice added as an explanation. 'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long enough.' (Chapter VI: Pig and Pepper)
... The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. 'Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?' he asked. 'Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, 'and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'" (Chapter XII: Alice's Evidence) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
So, let's start at the beginning with what's been referred to as "the long telegram", an 8,000-word telegram sent by Foreign Service officer, George F. Kennan to the State Department on February 2, 1946 while he was Chargé d’Affaires in Moscow. In it he gave advise on the aggressive nature of Stalin’s post-war foreign policy and how the United States should formulate its foreign policy to Soviet actions in Europe and elsewhere.
To counteract this perceived world-wide threat of the wild-fire spread of communism, Truman adopted the containment policy. In March 1947, Truman outlined this view more definitively in a speech to Congress. The contents of this speech later became known as the ‘Truman Doctrine’, referred to as the official declaration of the Cold War:
“At the present moment in world history, nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one. One way of life is based upon the will of the majority and is distinguished by free institutions, free elections, freedom of speech and religion… The second way of life is based upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections and suppression of personal freedoms. I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.”
The First Indochina War (generally known as the Indochina War in France, and as the Anti-French Resistance War in Vietnam) began in French Indochina on December 19, 1946, and lasted until July 20, 1954.
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