Personal History

submitted by: Col. Matheson

NKP: Mindless Musings of a Forgotten FAC

I am supremely confident that somewhere in the archives of our Air Force Personnel system or Vietnam historical repositories there is a suggestion that I once “volunteered” for an assignment to the 59th Combat Support Group, 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron, Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, to become a “Nail” FAC. They lie! Even with the intervening years since that suggestion could have possibly been recorded, it is most assuredly a falsified entry. No sane person would have ever volunteered for such a life limiting experience, nor would any sane person have served at a location of such dubious reputation without being under some form of coercion. Stupidity… now, that is a justifiable maybe. But insanity is definitely not something with which I had much familiarity, either by reputation or accusation.

So, when the call for “volunteers” was issued at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, where I was stationed with the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing in mid 1968, it was announced to only a select group of officers in a TOP SECRET briefing. It included a caveat that the urgent requirement was for a job so “hush-hush” that it could not even be discussed until after volunteer statements had been signed and accepted, and yes, I had heard that one before too.

The message included only one significant enticement. “Real” volunteers would be given their preference of assignment by country location. “Fake” volunteers would not have the privilege of that choice, but would answer to the needs of mother Air Force. That simple clarification made things fairly easy I suppose, particularly since the options seemed to be somewhat limited? Yes, I think limited is the right term. There were actually only two (2) geographical locations, and none of the above were for some place other than where I was or Viet Nam.

It was about that time that I realized that being an excess lieutenant in an organization fully staffed with field grade officers, made the likelihood of my NOT becoming a fake volunteer about as remote as Nakhon Phanom was from the rest of civilization, and my chances of winding up in Viet Nam were better than 200% if I did not volunteer for Thailand.. Yes, Sir, I’ll take that “briar patch,” just get me out of STEEL TIGER and away from BARREL ROLL while you are at it, and I’ll try to never complain again. Oh, by the way, what does a “Nail” FAC do? “You’re kidding me, aren’t you?” WTCO!

How did I ever get my mothers little boy into this mess??????

A.L. Matheson
FAC Association Historian