United States Air Force

Service Reflections of CMSGT Daniel Diveney, U.S. Air Force (1954-1974)

August 31, 2022


The following Reflections represents CMSGT Daniel Diveney’s legacy of his military service from 1954 to 1974. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on Togetherweserved.com (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The following Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life. Start recording your own Military Memories HERE.

Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Air Force.

Monocoupe 90

I became interested in aircraft at a very early age because of my dad’s interest and influence. He worked for the American Petroleum Company in Waterloo, Iowa, which contracted to provide aviation gas at the Waterloo, Iowa airport. He also smoked Wings cigarettes, which had a collector card of an airplane with every pack. My older brother and I would quiz each other on aircraft identification while viewing these cards.

My dad took me with him one day when he was servicing aircraft. After he serviced a Monocoupe 90 aircraft, the pilot asked him if he wanted to fly with him. My Dad told him that he couldn’t fly with him because he had other aircraft to service but asked if I could go with him. That was my first airplane ride. That was 1944, and I was 11 years old.

In 1947 my Dad was transferred to Columbus Junction, Iowa, to manage an airport, a filling station, and a liquified petroleum plant. I would help out when I could. I learned to refuel aircraft, check lubrication levels, air tires, move aircraft in and out of hangers and assist in starting aircraft. I also eliminated rodents that burrowed in the grass landing strip and sometimes mowed the landing strip. My Dad had an instructor pilot fly several times a week to instruct flying veterans on the G.I. bill. We had several Aeronca Champion aircraft for that purpose. I got to know many of the pilots and was frequently offered rides and stick time. My Dad asked me not to fly with students; however, I sometimes did.

I remember an incident when I was flying in the front seat of an Aeronca Champion coming in for a landing, and the engine quit short of the runway. We were flying over a cornfield and had to clear a fence. I quickly glanced over the cabin and noticed the fuel primer plunger sticking out. I pushed it in and rotated it to the lock position causing the engine to come to life, which allowed the aircraft to clear the fence at the end of the runway. The pilot said. “You saved our lives.”

When I entered high school, I had already decided to go into the Air Force as a pilot. I talked to my best friend and classmate, Don Walker, about my decision. He also wanted to go into pilot training. We adjusted our curriculums to more math subjects to better our chances for this dream. He and I looked into buying a Curtis GAN2 Standard Jenny bi-wing aircraft (see the picture in the photo album) that had been stored in a farmer’s hanger for many years. It’s a good thing that didn’t work out because it would have cost a fortune to get it flying. Later on, my Dad and Harmon Green bought a surplus L-2 (Taylorcraft) aircraft (see a picture of L-2 in the photo album). Due to work, my Dad had little time to fly. Harmon and I would fly as often as we could. I also had about a two-acre patch of watermelons near the end of the runway. Harmon would taxi the aircraft near the watermelon patch. We would load small (not saleable) melons into the aircraft and go watermelon bombing. Our targets were switch lanterns along the railroad tracks, but we never hit one.

After high school graduation in 1952, Don and I went to the AF recruiter to apply for pilot training. We both failed our physicals. I failed due to deviation in the broken nose, causing interference with oxygen flow while wearing an oxygen mask. We were then offered two choices: food service or security for a two-year enlistment, which we turned down.

In January 1954, we left Conesville, Iowa, a town of 250. We joined the AF for a four-year commitment to see the world and to avoid the military draft. My older brother was drafted two years prior and ended up in Korea in short order. We traveled by bus to the induction center in Des Moines, Iowa (view induction orders in the photo album). We then traveled by slow train to the Basic Military Training Center in San Antonino, TX. I was assigned the group leader for 14 people making this journey. When we got to San Antonino, I realized I was missing several people. I guess they just jumped off the train at one of the many stops.

Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?

My first Jet ride, T-33A

I scored 90 in Electronics during the Air Force Qualification Testing, so the needs of the Air Force placed me into an Electronics field even though I scored 95 in Mechanical.

On March 19, 1954, I completed my basic military training (BMT). I was then scheduled to travel by bus to Keesler AFB, MS (view orders in the photo album). It was a hot day with no air conditioning on the bus. On March 25, 1954, I was assigned to the 3409th Student Squadron for 115 days of instruction in the Airman Electronics Fundamentals course AF30220, C1 31034-C. I was then introduced to kitchen police (KP) until the next phase school start date.

On September 2, 1954, I was assigned to the 3391st Student Squadron and entered into Airborne Electronics Navigation Equipment Repairman course AB30131, CL 08094. This training incorporated the AN/APQ-13 (search/weather/bombing radar), AN/APN-9 {long range navigation, (LORAN)}, SCR-718 (High Altitude Radar Altimeter), AN/APN-12 (Rendezvous Radar), and the AN/APN-1 (Low Altitude Altimeter) systems. On December 11, 1954, I completed this training. On November 15, 1954, I was promoted to A/2C (E-2). I believe that my math background allowed me to excel in the electronic field.

Before my next assignment, I went home on leave. I then traveled by train to Parks AFB, CA, for overseas processing. From Parks AFB, CA, I traveled by bus to Fort Mason, CA. On January 11, 1955, I boarded the United States Navy Ship (USNS), General Hugh J. Gaffey, for a 15-day cruise to Japan. The ship crossed the 180th Meridian/International Date Line on January 20, 1955, headed west for nine more days to Japan (see a picture of the USNS Gaffey and the Domain of the Golden Dragon certificate in My Photo album).

Since the beginning of the Korean War, this was an overseas record shipment of personnel, so the ship bunks were stacked four high and included safety belts to strap in. While on this cruise, my duty was KP. Upon arrival in Yokohama, Japan, the personnel processing and distribution of personnel on the pier took over 6 hours. I was eventually dispatched to board a Japanese train for an all-night trip to Fukuoka City, Kyushu Island, Japan.

I was bused to the 68th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS) at Itazuke AB, Japan, from Fukuoka City train depot. While I was there, I worked on F-86D and T-33A aircraft. I soon discovered that the F-86D and the T-33A did not have any electronic equipment for which I had formal training. I later found that radio navigation and Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) equipment was added to my AF Specialty since I graduated from the formal course. I entered on-the-job training (OJT) and was upgraded to the 5-level repairmen status and promoted to A1C (E-4) in minimal time.

Later in that year, I made Airmen of the Month. For this achievement, I was granted my very first T-33A Jet Ride! At this assignment, I made Staff Sergeant (E-5) in 2 months under three years of service time, was upgraded to 7-level proficiency in record time, and married my wife, Takiko. I extended my tour of duty, allowing me to depart the Air Force on return to the U.S.

On December 15, 1957, my wife and I boarded a USAF C-118 aircraft in Tachikawa AB, Japan, for our return flight home. Due to my wife becoming ill after several hours of flying, after landing, she was directed to the Wake Island Dispensary for clearance for continuation travel to the U.S. I was fearful that she might be quarantined, and let me tell you, Wake Island is not a place you want to be stranded. Nearly all flights in and out of Wake were filled, and I would have to sign up on the space available waiting list to compete for available seats to the U.S.

However, she was cleared to enter the U.S. on a conditional basis, providing that she has a medical evaluation in Hawaii before entering the U.S. The medical assessment in Hawaii was expedited, and we didn’t miss our flight home. Just a little over halfway to the U.S., we flew into very turbulent air, causing the aircraft’s loss of cabin pressurization. We had to fly at a non-pressurized altitude the rest of the way to Travis AFB, CA. Nearly everybody on- board got airsick! We left San Francisco by train to Iowa. When we reached Wyoming, I was informed that I couldn’t sit with my wife while transiting through the state. Because of a state mixed marriage law, we were required to sit one seat apart across Wyoming. In 1957, the AF required personnel to report to the closest base to your home for separation from the A.F.; therefore, I had to report to Chanute AFB, IL.

Another requirement was your spouse had to accompany you to the separation base to get your travel pay. When I reported to billeting at Chanute AFB, the manager would not give me quarters unless I produced a marriage license as a military ID card wasn’t adequate. We, like most people, did not carry our marriage license with us. I, therefore, decided to call the Base Commander. I informed him of my situation and stated that I believed a military wife’s ID card should be an acceptable requirement to give us temporary quarters until my separation from service. He agreed and told me to hand the telephone to the manager, and no other problems were encountered.

After leaving the military, my civilian employment was at J.I. Case Tractor Company Engine Plant in Rock Island, Illinois. After a not-so-interesting job of testing engines coming off the production line on an engine dynamometer for 89 days, I decided to reenlist back into the Air Force. Due to my reenlistment on April 14, 1958 (within 90 days from the separation date), I was allowed to retain my rank of SSGT. When I reenlisted, I volunteered for a Japan assignment to let my wife be close to her family. Due to Air Force priorities, I did not receive the assignment requested but was sent to the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC), Edwards AFB, CA. This turned out to be the assignment I enjoyed the most in my Air Force career. I even found some time to take a few math and electronic courses at Antelope Valley College while at this assignment. I spent the entire 6-year enlistment at Edwards AFB, CA, where I worked on almost every aircraft type in the AF inventory, many special test aircraft, and some Army and Navy test aircraft.

Other notable experiences while on this assignment were: Ronald Regan visiting my Navigational Aids shop when he was Governor of California and teaming up with COL Charles “Chuck” Yeager. He tutored Ms. Jacqueline Cochran when she competed for world records in the F-104A, T-38A, and the F-104G. While teaming up with COL Yeager, my job was to install and maintain the electronics equipment to verify her records. I also installed record verifying electronics equipment in many other USAF aircraft competing for world records. I participated in Operation Rose Petal (Joint US/UK infra-red airborne trials), which required me to install record verifying electronics equipment in a British De Havilland Comet aircraft. I was appointed as the Project Technician for Category II test programs for the C-130B, C-141A, F-5A, T-39A, T-38A, F-4C, and the C-133B aircraft. I drafted and installed numerous prototype modifications in test aircraft. Experiencing desert and sea survival training and maintaining altitude chamber qualifications.

Being on non-crew member flying status required me to fly 4 hours a month to get flight pay, so I was always looking for a flight. One such endeavor got me on a new off the production line C-130B, which was modified with a drag chute for specialized field landing tests. The test plan required the pilot to land this aircraft on a specially prepared mud runway at Yuma proving grounds in Arizona. The pilot made the first landing while deploying the drag chute, reversing the propellers, and applying maximum braking. I believe that the landing roll was less than 300 feet. That was the most deceleration that I have ever experienced, and I elected to get off the aircraft because the pilot was going to make several more of these landings, and one was enough for me.

I would return to the aircraft after the last landing for the flight back to Edwards AFB. On the next landing, I was informed that the pilot might have gotten the aircraft’s nose just a little too high, causing mud to build up just forward of the aft ramp door and pushing the entire ramp door back about 10 inches. After a thorough inspection of the aircraft, the pilot was cleared for a one-time unpressurized flight back to Edwards AFB.

Because a navigator was not assigned to the test program, I frequently flew on the C-133B to exercise the navigator position electronics. The AF lost several C-133A’s with no survivors, which led to installing a special escape chute from the flight deck on the C-133B test aircraft. The aircrew complained when I donned my parachute on the flight deck. My reply was that I would be the first survivor and would tell the accident review board what had happened. Several flights later, I decided that I would not fly on the C-133B aircraft anymore because of several in-flight emergencies. I then looked toward a more reliable aircraft to get my flying time in. After reenlisting in April 1964, I received orders to Vietnam. While I was in Vietnam, my wife, Takiko, went to Japan to visit her mother. My Vietnam tour is covered in the next question.

To read the rest of his story, click.

If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which made a lasting impact on you and, if life-changing, in what way?

B-57 boneyard after 1964 mortar attack

Shortly after I reenlisted on April 13, 1964, I received orders to go to Vietnam. I was assigned to a high-priority F-4C Category II Test Program at the time. Because of being on this test program, I felt safe carrying my accrued leave forward when I reenlisted so that I could take my wife {Takiko) back to Japan to visit her family. I asked for a deferment to use my leave because I would accrue an additional 30 days while I was in Vietnam. Accruing additional leave would put me in a position where I would lose 30 days of leave, which I could have been paid for when I reenlisted. The deferment was disapproved, so I asked for a delay in route, and that too was disapproved. I then asked to be paid for 30 days’ leave, which was also disapproved. A year later, I ended up losing 19 days of leave.

I put my wife on a commercial flight to Japan to visit her family while I was in Vietnam. I then left for Air Commando training at Hurlburt Field, FL, with a follow-on assignment to join the Air Commandos (34th TAC group) at Bien Hoa AB, Vietnam. The group I joined at Hurlburt Field was a composite group of specialized people who introduced the A-1E aircraft into the war effort. At that time, all Air Force personnel going to Vietnam were routed through Clark AB, Philippines. Clark AB was also where your personal records were retained while you were assigned to Vietnam. I spent the 4th of July night on a cot in the Clark AB gymnasium and was put on an aircraft going to Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN, the next day. I spent one night in a tent at Tan Son Nhut AB before being bused to Bien Hoa AB, where I was assigned to the same hooch as the Army Green Berets.

For the Green Berets, staying on base a couple of nights every two weeks was a luxury because they spent most of their time as field advisors to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). When they returned from the field, the dining hall was open to them 24/7 with no restrictions. I would accompany them to cash in on that benefit. You soon got used to getting drummed to sleep every night by outgoing 105 MM howitzer fire.

A couple of weeks after I got to Bien Hoa AB, a departing Navy guy sold me his motorcycle for $40.00. I rode it every place I went until the end of my Vietnam tour. The first day I reported for duty, the avionics superintendent recognized me from the T-38A Category II test program at Edwards AFB CA in 1962. He was the Air Training Command (ATC) representative, and I was the AFFTC representative for the T-38A Test Program. The Tactical Air Navigation System (TACAN) had been a hard system to maintain since its inception. Because the superintendent knew I was very proficient at TACAN repair during the T-38A Test Program, he designated me to perform all TACAN black box repairs for the 34th TAC Group. It took me over a month to repair the accumulated RT-220()/ARN-21 (TACAN) backlog. It was rare for me to declare an RT-220/ARN-21 not repairable to this station (NRTS).

I became well known for my knowledge of TACAN repair and was detailed to teach, without an interpreter, Vietnamese Air Force repairman on TACAN repair. The 34th TAC Group had responsibility for the black box bench check and minor repair of aircraft common components for all USAF aircraft assigned to Bien Hoa AB. When the B-57 bombers were first introduced to Bien Hoa AB, Vietnam, the parent unit at Clark AB would supplement our activity with 60-day temporary duty (TDY) personnel to assist in bench check and repair of components for their aircraft. Soon word got out at Clark AB not to even try to repair any TACAN components coming from Bien Hoa AB. It was recommended they just NRTS them on to Depot level maintenance in the U.S.

Shortly after Halloween midnight on November 1, 1964, the Viet Cong (VC) attacked Bien Hoa AB with 60-80 rounds of 81 MM mortar. This resulted in killing 4 U.S. military and 2 Vietnamese military, wounding 17 U.S. military and 13 Vietnamese military, destroying 5 B-57s, 1 HH-43B Helicopter, 2 O-1Fs, and 3 A1-Hs, damaging 13 other B-57 aircraft, 3 HH-43Bs, 3 A-1Hs, 2 C-47s and seven buildings with the VC escaping unmolested. This was the very first attack on a U.S.-occupied base in Vietnam. Because personal weapons were stored in the armory, we had to form a line in order to have a weapon issued while under attack. To expedite the distribution of weapons, a decision was made to place our weapons card in a collection bucket and then have a weapon tossed to us. I got an AR-15 thrown at me, and it was the very first one I had ever seen. I asked for a carbine and was told to just trade with someone. I couldn’t find anyone with a carbine. We did not have any bunkers for protection or any experienced leadership during the attack. We were just on our own. I laid down in a ditch in the dark, trying to figure out how to load and use the AR-15 carbine. Ten minutes later, a circling C-47 dropped illumination flares. When a flare would burn out, you would pray for another. The flares were a godsend. If not for them, I would have never figured out the mechanics of the AR-15.

The day after the mortar attack, we were detailed to police the ramp for foreign object debris (FOD). I picked up part of an 81 MM mortar round fin assembly with spent primer and discovered it was made in the U.S. in 1945. I have since donated the mortar round to the Missouri National Veterans Memorial in Perryville, MO. View pictures of the mortar round in my photo album. A few days later, we were directed to turn in our weapons. I asked one of my Green Beret hooch mates if he could get me a weapon. Two weeks later, he returned from the field with a U.S. carbine he had taken off of a dead VC. It had a VC emblem burned in the stock. I gave him $20. for the carbine, and I didn’t carry it very long before a guy offered me a brand new Thompson submachine gun in an even trade for the carbine. I carried the Thompson until the end of my tour in Vietnam and then sold it with 1000 rounds of 45 caliber cartridges for $40.00. There was so much criticism about directing us to turn in our personal weapons that a decision was made to place them in gun racks in all of the hooches. This was very short-lived due to drunks getting them out of the racks and shooting up the place. On the next attack threat, they came up very short on weapons returns. The type of aircraft I worked on at Bien Hoa AB was the 0-1F, 0-2, A1-E, U-10, C-47, AC-47, B-57, and U-2A. Most of these aircraft had Vietnamese AF markings until the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

To read the rest of his story, click here.

Did you encounter any situation during your military service when you believed there was a possibility you might not survive? If so, please describe what happened and what was the outcome.

A1E with Vietnamese colors

In 1964/5, the Vietnamese government was very unstable. As I was going to work in December 1964, access to the flight line at Bien Hoa AB was blocked and not permitted. The Vietnamese Army had set up a defensive position with the jeep-mounted M-60 machine gun and rocket launchers at the only access point. We were told to go back to our hooch. We didn’t get directions for several hours. I felt very insecure and wondered if we were going to be overrun. Late that day, we were given directions over the public address system to stay in our hooches. Our missions continued the next day. Continuing COUP’s made a very tense situation during January 1964 to Mid 1965. We were fighting the war with the Vietnamese insignia on our airplanes during most of this time period.

Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which was your least favorite?


The duty station I enjoyed most was Edwards AFB, CA. I worked on nearly every type of aircraft in the Air Force inventory, including some Army and Navy test aircraft. Many of the aircraft were prototype aircraft. Only a limited number were built in competition for production contracts. Some were initial production aircraft for Category II testing, and, after the testing was completed, it was not cost-effective to bring the aircraft up to the current production configuration. Sometimes these aircraft continued in service as chase or support aircraft. Some ended up in a museum or on a static display. Most assignments required a repairman/ technician to be proficient on maybe six different avionic systems. Edwards AFB required you to be proficient on 40 or 50 different systems. Few repairmen were proficient in all of the aircraft types. This was a very challenging assignment.

Basic military training at Lackland AFB, TX, was my least favorite. Military indoctrination was not fun!

From your entire military service, describe any memories you still reflect back on to this day.

Bien Hoa on Fire 1964

While in Vietnam, I asked for 15 days’ leave to travel space available to Japan to see my wife for Christmas. The Commander granted my request and told me I was free to go anytime after December 20, 1964. I contacted an old high schoolmate, Ronald Stewart, who was working transit alert at Tan Son Nhut AB, to see if he knew any flights leaving Vietnam going east. A day later, he called back to tell me he had a seat on a T-39A that was taking a Colonel on emergency leave to Clark AB, the Philippines, the following day. I left Bien Hoa AB on a C-47 the following day for Tan Son Nhut AB and was able to board the T-39A going to Clark AB.

Upon arrival at the Clark AB, the aircraft was met by USAF security personnel asking for passports. I didn’t have a passport. Just six months prior, when I went through Clark AB to go to Vietnam, a passport was not required. Since I didn’t have a passport, the security personnel assumed I was going away without Leave (AWOL) from a war zone and hauled me off to the hoosegow. I gave the Officer in Charge (OIC) my organization’s telephone number so he could verify that I was officially on basket leave. The OIC informed me the telephone was to be used only for official business. I responded this was official business. I didn’t have leave papers because everybody in Vietnam got basket (complimentary ten days) leave for rest and recuperation (R&R). Still, nearly all of them went to either Hong Kong or Australia for R&R.

After my second night in confinement, the OIC came to release me. He had guards take me straight to the passenger terminal to deport me on the next outbound flight. Lucky for me, that flight was going to Taiwan in the direction I wanted to go. I guess the OIC finally made a telephone call to my duty station confirming my leave status. The OIC called ahead to Taiwan to inform them I didn’t have a passport. Security in Taiwan would not even let me off of the aircraft. Good for me, the flight was continuing to Okinawa in the direction I needed to go. When I got to Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan, I went over to Naha AB to see an old AF buddy I knew insecurity. I asked him to call back to my home base and confirm that I was officially on leave. I ask him to draft me a letter stating the same to present it to anyone challenging me on this matter. After he gave me a letter, I didn’t have any more problems with the passage.

It’s Christmas Eve, so I hurried over to the Kadena AB passenger terminal to sign up for a space-available flight to Japan. The only flight going to Japan was a Navy C-117 going to Iwakuni Naval Air Station. Maybe I’ll get to see Takiko for Christmas. The C-117 flight had just brought a USO group from Japan to entertain the troops in Okinawa for Christmas and returned to Japan empty. I signed up for space-available travel on the C-117 aircraft going back to Japan. A while later, the C-117 flight engineer (FE) came to the space available counter and scratched my name off of the space available list. He told the terminal representative he was not taking passengers.

I guess he was just disgruntled because he had to fly on Christmas Eve. The passenger terminal representative told me he didn’t have the authority to remove people from the list and had me re-sign the list. A while later, the FE came again and removed my name. The terminal representative told me he would point out the pilot to me. When the pilot came through, I asked him to allow me to fly with them to Japan. He said, of course, you can, and wanted to know if there was a problem. When I told him what had happened, he immediately had the FE paged and directed “HIM” to re-sign me up for the flight. He also directed the FE to order an in-flight lunch for the rest of the aircraft crew members and me.

About an hour later, we boarded the aircraft and headed for Iwakuni NAS Japan. I was the only passenger. About an hour into the flight, everybody broke out their in-flight lunch meals and started eating. About that time, the pilot came from the flight deck to use the facility in the back of the aircraft. On his return trip to the cockpit, he noticed

I wasn’t eating. He asked me where my lunch was, and I told him I didn’t get one. The pilot asked the FE if he had ordered an in-flight lunch for me as directed, and he replied “no.” The pilot then directed the FE to share his in-flight lunch with me. At that time, I went over and took one of his sandwiches and a tomato juice. 

After the pilot returned to the flight deck, the FE challenged me to a fight when we got on the ground at Iwakuni NAS. After landing, the FE was nowhere to be found. After getting my luggage, I went to the enlisted club to exchange money to buy a train ticket to Fukuoka, Japan, a nearby city where Takiko stayed with her mother. When I was in the money-changing line, the FE appeared in the club unconfrontational. I guess he finally got into the Christmas spirit. After changing money, I left for the train station for a 5-hour train ride to Fukuoka, Japan.

I arrived at Fukuoka at 1:30 a.m. on Christmas Day and was still an hour away from where Takiko was staying. I decided to spend the rest of the night close by at Itazuke AB because I was unfamiliar with the area and only had an address where Takiko stayed. I got up the next morning and hired a taxi to take me to that address. The taxi driver could not find the place. I got a second taxi driver, and he couldn’t find it either. Then I went to the police station, and they could not help. I stayed another night at Itazuke. The next day, I went to the post office several miles away to get the postal carrier to take me to the address, and I was successful. Thank God! I’m already on day 6 of my leave, and I thought that I might run out of leave time and have to return to Vietnam without finding Takiko. I was so hoping it wouldn’t take six days to return to Vietnam.

I spent just three days with Takiko and then started my return trip to Vietnam. I decided to get a commercial flight from Fukuoka, Japan, to Naha AB, Okinawa. The next morning, I found a C-130 ride that was hauling ammunition to Da Nang AB, Vietnam. It was an Air Force Reserve C-130 crew out of Ohio. After take-off and climb out to the assigned altitude, the cargo compartment filled with smoke. The aircrew went through their checklist, and the last thing they did was turn on the vertical stabilizer de-icing. The FE turned the de-icing off, and the smoke cleared. The flight mechanic quickly corrected the problem by tightening a clamp on the deicing ducting that routed exhaust air to the vertical stabilizer for deicing. The insulation around the ducting was smoldering from the hot exhaust air leak.

An hour or so later, we flew into a typhoon. In my opinion, this should have been avoided. When I viewed the radar scope, we could have flown 50 miles to the south and avoided the storm. Flying through hurricanes and typhoons is not that uncommon. We have units in the AF trained to do it on a daily basis. This aircrew didn’t have that training, already experienced an in-flight fire, and was carrying ammunition. It just didn’t make good sense to me to take the risk when it could have been avoided. I overheard the aircrew say this was the first typhoon they had flown through. Later on, there will be more first experiences. This was also their first trip to Vietnam: and, on arrival to Da Nang AB, Vietnam, the pilot performed his first in-country tactical assault approach and landing. That didn’t turn out so well. He landed so hard a hard landing inspection was required. The inspection took several hours, but I decided to stay with this ride. This flight would eventually end at Tan Son Nhut AB, where I could catch a C-47 flight back to Bien Hoa AB.

Half of the ammunition was offloaded at Da Nang, and the other half was to be delivered to Nha Trang AB. When we left Da Nang AB, we picked up another passenger, an Army Major, who got into trouble with the aircrew and ordered off the flight deck. The Major revealed his displeasure with the flight crew when they didn’t climb out to a safe altitude. We flew at 1000’ along the coast from Da Nang AB to Nha Trang AB, where the Army Major got off of the aircraft. The pilot performed his second in-country tactical assault approach and landing this time without incident. The rest of the ammunition was offloaded at Nha Trang AB, and we flew empty to Tan Son Nhut AB via the Delta area at 1000’. It’s no small wonder we didn’t take some ground fire hits flying at that altitude. At that time, C-130 aircraft didn’t have self-sealing fuel tanks.

Like the Army, Major said, “it was not smart to fly so recklessly.” “In Vietnam, you either fly below 500’ or above 5000’.” I arrived at Tan Son Nhut AB in time to catch the last C-47 flight back to Bien Hoa AB. I was in one piece and did not use my full 15 days’ leave.

What professional achievements are you most proud of from your military career?

1964 After the Halloween mortar attack

When I tested for 7-level technician status in my Air Force Speciality Code (AFSC) in 1957, I was informed I had the highest test score in all of Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). It gave me a sense of pride because I hadn’t worked on any of the equipment that was on the test. I must have paid attention during the initial formal training course in 1954 to retain sufficient knowledge to pass the test with a score of 124.

I was awarded an “E” prefix to my AFSC in 1962, designating me as a research and development technician.

I was an honor graduate from the 9-Level course AAR 30100 Air Electronic Systems Supervisor Technician Class 06076 at Keesler AFB, MS. In addition to the final exam, I was required to take 7-level tests for AFSC’s 32870 (radio), 32871 (radar), 32872 (airborne radar), 32873 (electronic countermeasures), and 32874 (integrated systems). Out of a class of 16, two other students and I passed all of the 7-level tests. All 16 students passed the final exam.

I was the only person to be trained on the XB-70A in my AFSC.

I retired Chief Master Sergeant in 20 years, three months, and 19 days of service.

Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or other memorabilia, which one is the most meaningful to you and why?

Technical Sergeants Diveney and Goodman

The most meaningful credit I received was to have several of my subordinates name their children after me. That happened on four different occasions during my career, which indicated to me I was a good role model.

I was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal four times and the Meritorious Service medal two times. The first MSM was the most meaningful because I was the first enlisted person to be awarded the Meritorious Service medal in all of Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service. The award I believe I deserved the most was the Air Force Commendation Medal for my service in Vietnam. During that entire tour, I gave above and beyond and was told I would be recommended for the Air Force Commendation Medal. Not only did I not receive that medal, I believed the recommendation should have been for a Bronze Star Medal or an Airman’s Medal, as most airmen, who accomplished what I did or less, received the Bronze Star Medal for their service in Vietnam.

Read CMSgt Diveney’s AFCOM Medal Citation.

Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?

BG Frank Everest pinning on my Chief Stripes 1973

Col. Franklin Roberts was the individual who impacted me the most in my AF career. He selected me for an assignment that I thoroughly enjoyed, however not at first. Headquarters Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service duty were completely new and different from fieldwork, and I had to grow into the assignment. It meant a lot of TDY’s, briefings, and responding to lots of correspondence. I never drafted one piece of correspondence that I didn’t have a favorable comment from Col Roberts. He was the best rating official I ever had while in the military. Brigadier General Everest was the best Commander I served under. May they both rest in peace!

List the names of old friends you served with, at which locations, and recount what you remember most about them. Indicate those you are already in touch with and those you would like to make contact with.

Dan volunteering for telephone work in Japan in 1956

I have a list of “Best Friends” in each of the Unit Assignments. Many of them are now deceased. I retired in 1974, and it has been so long ago that I’m sorry to say I have forgotten many of their names. Writing my reflections has brought back some of their names, and, as soon as I regain a name, I record the name in Unit Assignments “Best Friends.”

Can you recount a particular incident from your service, which may or may not have been funny at the time, but still makes you laugh?

CH-21B, 51-15854

On January 11, 1955, I boarded the USNS General Hugh J. Gaffey at Fort Mason, CA, for a 15-day cruise to my Japan assignment. It took 8 hours to load the ship because this was the largest troop movement since the beginning of the Korean War. I spent this time confined to the hole of the ship. I positioned myself near an open porthole to see out and get some fresh air. However, I could only see the pier going up and down ever so slightly, which was enough to make me seasick before leaving the pier. With my flying background, I would have bet anyone I would not have gotten seasick.

On November 2, 1955, the 68th FIS deployed to Miho AB, Japan, on exercise operation Cross-Fire. C-119 aircraft were provided to transport troops, spare parts, and ground support equipment for this exercise. Shortly after reaching cruise altitude, a loud explosion occurred, and the cargo compartment filled with fog, which I thought was smoke. I immediately checked my parachute and looked for the exit. The flight mechanic sensed my concern and came to me and explained what had happened. It was a tire blow-out on a C-22A ground power unit, causing condensation to form in the cargo compartment.

Later on, I heard this constant clattering on the fuselage side during this flight, which concerned me. I guess the flight mechanic kept an eye on me because he came to me again to inform me that the clattering was de-icing from the propellers with the ice being thrown against the fuselage. He asked me if this was my first flight in an AF aircraft. I guess that doesn’t require a response, BUT YES!

While stationed at Edwards AFB, CA, I flew on a CH-21 helicopter. I was to check out a prototype installation of a 618S-1 High Frequency (HF) radio system I made on the helicopter supporting the X-15 project. When I transmitted on the HF radio, the antenna coupler caught on fire. The flight mechanic put out the fire, and the pilot initiated an autorotation to get the helicopter on the ground as quickly as possible to evaluate the situation. We discovered hydraulic oil had saturated the HF radio antenna coupler. The hydraulic leak had been repaired before the flight, but the oil-soaked coupler had gone unnoticed. There was no other damage. I then pulled the circuit breakers to make the HF radio system safe, and we continued back to Edwards AFB. A subsequent modification installed a shield to preclude oil from getting onto the antenna coupler.

After the flight, I turned in my parachute to personal equipment and learned I had been issued the wrong parachute for a helicopter flight. I was issued a high-performance parachute that required your body velocity to reach a velocity only achieved in high-performance aircraft to pull the chute open. However, I don’t believe anyone could successfully bailout out a helicopter in autorotation with any parachute.

What profession did you follow after your military service and what are you doing now? if you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?

AN/FSC-78(Defense Satellite Communication Systems)

After Air Force retirement, I worked in the signal department of the Saint Louis Terminal Railroad. When they required me to join the union, I decided to quit. About a year after I retired from the AF, I was hired back at HQ ARRS as a GS-11 civilian. I did the same thing I was doing in the active military, only getting better pay.

In March 1983, the Airborne Weather, Aeromedical Airlift, and Special Operations missions were combined with the Rescue and Recovery missions. They became the 23rd Air Force with alignment under the Military Airlift Command.

In 1986, the 23rd Air Force moved to Hurlburt Field, FL, and became the Special Operations Command. Since I didn’t want to move, I requested promotion and reassignment. April 1986, I was selected for GS-12 by telephone interview for assignment to HQ Air Force Communications Command (AFCC). I was interviewed by Captain Alan K. Hammond, Chief of Radio/Satellite Maintenance Branch, to become his deputy. Captain Hammond was responsible for life cycle logistics management of assigned command microwave/tropospheric scatter radio, base and installation security, ground radio, television/video, and satellite information systems equipment. My main area of responsibility was Satellite Communications. Most of my time was spent along with CMSGT William Lamont providing worldwide Satellite Communications logistic guidance/support to subordinate units. Takiko’s failing health precipitated my retirement in June of 1991 to take care of her. She passed in 1993.

What military associations are you a member of, if any? What specific benefits do you derive from your memberships?

Patriotic Quilt

In March 2018, I met Herbert Heinen at the Trenton, IL post office. He was a fellow USAF veteran. I guess I may have been wearing a cap revealing I was a service veteran because he asked me if I was a Vietnam Veteran. I responded I was and commented I started the Vietnam war. I often respond that way to everyone because the official start date of the war happened while I was there. He invited me to a Vietnam Veteran meeting the following Wednesday.

When we entered the meeting, they were selling raffle tickets for a handmade quilt. I explained I was a guest and not yet a member. I was told everyone could purchase raffle tickets. I purchased six raffle tickets and was told I won the quilt at the next meeting. I introduced myself during the meeting and found out I may have been one of the first in the group to go to Vietnam. I became a life member of the Vietnam Veterans chapter 269 the following month. I really enjoy the meetings and camaraderie of fellow veterans. This group of vets is second to none, always volunteering to help anyone and everyone. Herb Heinen has become one of my very best friends.

In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career? What do you miss most about your time in the service?

Hooch Mates, Vietnam 1964

Many of those visiting our home have commented that I must have been in the military due to my well-organized shop and garage. Four of my brothers did not have organized areas, nor did our Dad., so what these people thought must be true. I miss the military camaraderie; it seemed to be so genuine.

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Air Force?

GEN Bond presenting AF Commendation Medal to Me

Strive to be your absolute best, whatever the task, and you will be rewarded. Continue college courses and volunteer when you can.

In what ways has togetherweserved.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.

Just answering these questions has flooded my mind with many pleasant memories of friends I met along the way. It would be nice to see them again and to know that their life went well.

Boot Camp, Units, Combat Operations

Join Togetherweserved.com to Create a Legacy of Your Service

U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard


Tags: 180th Meridian/International Date Line, 23rd Air Force, 3 A1-Hs, 3391st Student Squadron, 3409th Student Squadron, 34th TAC group, 68th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 68th FIS, A-1E aircraft, A/2C (E-2), Aeronca Champion, Aeronca Champion aircraft, Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service duty, Air Commando training at Hurlburt Field, Air Force, Air Force Commendation medal, Air Force Communications Command (AFCC), Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC), Air Force Qualification Testing, Air Force Speciality Code (AFSC), Airman's Medal, AN/APQ-13, Antelope Valley College, Army of the Republic of Vietnam, B-57 bombers, Basic Military Training Center in San Antonino, Bien Hoa AB, Bronze Star Medal, C-119 aircraft, C-130B, C-133B, C-141A, Chanute AFB, Clark AB gymnasium, CMSgt Diveney's AFCOM Medal Citation, COL Charles “Chuck” Yeager, Columbus Junction, Da Nang AB, Edwards AFB, F-4C, F-4C Category II Test Program, F-5A, F-86D, Green Berets, Gulf of Tonkin incident, HH-43B Helicopter, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF), Iowa, Iwakuni NAS Japan, Keesler AFB, kitchen police, Korea, Korean War, L-2 (Taylorcraft) aircraft, Lackland AFB, Meritorious Service Medal, Missouri National Veterans Memorial in Perryville, Monocoupe 90 aircraft, Naha AB, Navy C-117, O-1Fs, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), Parks AFB, T-33A aircraft, T-38A, T-38A Category II test program, T-39A, Tan Son Nhut AB, Travis AFB, United States Navy Ship, USAF C-118 aircraft, USNS Gaffey, Vietnam veteran, Wake Island Dispensary

1 Comment

  1. Tom Merryman

    Have read and enjoyed your reminisences, Sergeant Diveney! Takes me back to the days when I was in the instrument shop at Clark, 31st ARRSq, under your superintendence. I’m happy to have had the chance to read your story. Best regards!


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