"So, There you have it"
Thomas Tesmar
(Crusader "23")



I've enjoyed reading everyone else's recollections so I thought I would add my own.  I was a slick driver in the 187th and stayed one the whole tour.   I showed up after a bad new years eve party in Oakland Jan 2 1968 and left just before Christmas on the same year.  I logged 1258 hours and never returned to do any more.  I did stay in the Minnesota National Guard and retired a part time W4 after 28 years. 

My very first mission was the hour glass at Katum.  I was Peter Pilot on the maintenance ship and pulled a medevac under fire.  I had a feeling it was going to be a very long year.  My last mission was as Crusader lead on Thanksgiving.  One hell of a way to end a tour.  Al Duneman was my room mate and best friend. I logged 13.5 hours that day and hung up the spurs.  I was one of three ships that went in to get John Fitzgerald and Steve Eckle when
their gunship went down.  I would sure like to know what happened to Steve.

Many of you know that we were told he was killed in the wreckage trying to help John out.   Now his status have been changed from KIA to POW.  it's pretty hard to accept that we left someone on the ground.

I went to my one and only reunion in Philadelphia. There I met up with old Asa Vest again after 25 years.  Asa and I went through basic training, flight school and the 187th together.  It was wonderful to see him and all the other guys again. It was at that reunion that I finally connected up with Al Dunemans wife, daughters, and family.  Al has a daughter, Allison, who was born after he died.  I have since visited his former wife Theresa
(she married another Vietnam Helicopter Pilot) and Allison several times in Colorado Springs.  Allison just had a baby girl last year.  Several things amazed me.   They were not really told what happened to Al.  Also, Al was buried in Minneapolis (my home town area) while I was home on leave en-route to CH-37 Mojave school.   If Id have know, I could have attended the funeral. I visit his grave once in a while.

My greatest contribution to nostalgia is when I painted the roof of the second platoon slick drivers hooch.  If anyone has a picture of the roof with the Huey logo, I'd like to get one. 

I always wondered what happened to the O club wall with all the dollar bills and signatures.   Somebody's got to know.

For excitement I used to total out Hueys.  I remember breaking one in half near Cu Chi on what I termed a hard landing in dust.  It's shocking when the dust settles and you're looking at your tail rotor out the front window. 

I was there for the rocket that hit the showers and the one that hit the bunker.  I'll never forget the smell of those things after they go off. 

I've done a few things with my life since the Crusaders.  I have been married twice, have two daughters and a son that range from 22 to 14.  I was an air traffic controller until Ronald Reagan lost his sense of humor. Now I run my own comfortable consulting business.  I have an airplane and lots of boats.
I'm actually negotiating over the purchase of a helicopter.  I've been pretty happy and able to adjust to adversity since Nov. 27th 1968. 

I travel around a lot on business and like to look in on old army buddies. Don't be surprised if I show up in your home town.  I spent a night with Joe Gorecki in Alabama and Pete Davis in Oregon a while ago.  Pete had the greatest line.  He said "after 25 years of not talking with you, we spend one night together, and I now remember which of my war stories are actually true!"

I still have my Blackhawk and Crusader patches. I was there when we changed the name.   My photo album is pretty sparse, though.  I have three pictures of me and Al Duneman that I cherish, however. 

So there you have it. 

Tom Tesmar
Crusader "23"

1997 - Tom Tesmar


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