Priest Tends His Flock on the Flight Line
Reflections of Warren R. Smith

I was looking at the "All Gave Some - Some Gave All" and was struck by how many casualties resulted on Fri., Sat., and Sun.

Total casualties   62 = 100.0%
                    Fri.   15 =   24.2%
                    Sat.  10 =   16.1%
                   Sun.  21 =   33.9%

I remember an evening we were called together at the mess hall for an announcement that our chaplain had given up on us.  We were all going to hell and he wasn't going to make the trip with us.  If we need spiritual guidance we could seek the help of a young priest on the USAF side of the field.  I believe our chaplain was a Methodist.  He had a nice little chapel in the compound thanks to the French Foreign Legion and was ready to do battle against the demons of war in his own way.  I remember he had a tape recorder with religious music but always seem to be left at the alter by himself on Sunday.  We heard from him about this pagan behavior and I remember thinking if he turned off his tape recorder, went outside, and looked up he would have seen on most Sundays the whole squadron going on a mission to help someone.  The VC must have thought all Americans took the day of rest seriously and used the opportunity to attack on that day.  If you look at the data the squadron lost almost 40% our people on that day.

The Father on the other side of the field was of a different breed.  I remember one night late I  was feeling pretty much by myself as I was trying to get my plane ready for the next day.  I was under the plane on a creeper when someone rolled under next to me and asked if he could give a hand.  It  was the young Father from the other side of the field. He did give me a hand and we talked later into the night.  I went back to the compound feeling much better about life.  This Father was where he needed to be when planes came back from missions and where his flock did most of their grazing.

His example gave me a great respect for the Catholic Church and the training they gave their priests.  I don't remember ever going to church while at DaNang but he brought the church to us.

Submitted by:
    Warren Smith, former Cpl. USMC