Ralph’s Bullet

submitted by: Alva Leon Matheson

Reading stories on the FACNET about real and unreal rocket passes and others about Igloo White (ADSID) missions reminded me of the time I was training a new guy in the Igloo White mission. His name was Ralph Giordano, currently of Goldsboro, North Carolina. He was an Italian-American as his last name suggests.
We were to put in a row of sensors along some forgotten trail in Laos, so we got out there early to find the target, as pinpointing it exactly was the really important thing. While we were doing a low pass to confirm one little item on the target photo – “Bam.” We’d been hit, and I knew it.
I jinked and climbed as much as an O-2A could in the hot jungle, while Ralph yelled, “I’ve been hit in the ass, I’ve been hit in the ass.”
I got up and out of the target area after what seemed like a minor eternity. All the while I was trying to insure that there was no aircraft damage and was trying to calm Ralph down by telling him I didn’t see any blood. Finally, after repeated “Ralphisms” I yelled, “You have not been hit, you’re fine, I don’t see any blood!”
He replied, “Well, my ass sure hurts like hell!”
Since the aircraft didn’t have any detectable problems and Ralph wasn’t really hit, or at least was not bleeding and began, seemingly, to recover his composure, and since the mission came first, I decided to continue.
When we finally got home we briefed the crew chief on the hit. While we were still debriefing the intelligence folks, the crew chief walked in and presented me with a slightly flattened AK-47 bullet. He said it hit right under one of the four “legs” of the right seat. Clearly, the entire force of the impact had been transferred to Ralph’s ass.
I handed it to Ralph, saying, “Let’s cut it in half and put the pieces in sealed plastic cubes.” He said, “Hell no, I want it all!”
“Hey, it was my airplane that took the hit,” I responded.
He said, “Tough shit, it was my ass!”
He won the argument, and I’ll bet he still has the bullet!

Editor’s Note: While this next entry does not specifically apply to our activities as FACs or our participation in the Vietnam festivities, I think it does address how it felt to be the wife of someone so deeply committed to that “jealous mistress”; being a military pilot.

“On Waking”
How many mornings have I wakened to your face
upon the pillow
beside mine?
Some 30 years worth
but for those when jealous skies
stole you from my side
and courted you
with brilliant blues
and whites
and heights
and sunlight
that no earthbound mortal could attempt to equal
or outdo.
How I longed to soar with you and know the thrill
of space
and sky,
to feel akin to birds
and creatures of the air
aloft and free
and seeing all below stretch out as patchwork quilts
with rivers pinned
like first prize ribbons
and roads crisscrossing
like so many seams.
But now the days are earthbound
and filled to overflowing
with the day to day existence
and completing of those dreams
begun so long ago.
I look upon you
as you sleep.
I love to wake
before you do
and steal those secret times
of watching you
in morning stillness
before the world is full awake.
I touch you with my sight
and follow every line
and crevice
in your dear sweet face
and wonder if you dream
of skies
and clouds
and days gone by.

Joyce A. Lipe, June 4, 1987