Tag Archives: Bell UH-1F Iroquois

Air Force Cross, Major Leonard A. Gonzales, United States Air Force.

Air Force Cross
Air Force Cross
Lieutenant Colonel Leonard A. Gonzales, U.S. Air Force.

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Major Leonard A. Gonzales (AFSN: 2227075), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as Aircraft Commander of a UH-1F gunship helicopter of the 20th Special Operations Squadron, Nha Trang Air Base, Vietnam, in action near Duc Co, Republic of Vietnam, on the night of 26 – 27 November 1968. On that date, Major Gonzales went to the aid of a six-man Special Forces Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol that was in danger of being overrun by a large, well-armed hostile force. Major Gonzales made continued minigun and rocket passes at treetop level, even after his wingman had been hit. His aggressive attacks sufficiently quelled the hostile fire to allow a transport helicopter to pick up the beleaguered patrol. Through his superb airmanship, aggressiveness, and extraordinary heroism, Major Gonzales reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Action Date: November 26 – 27, 1968

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Rank: Major

Company: 20th Special Operations Squadron

Division: Nha Trang Air Base, Vietnam

For a more detailed account, see:

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Two U.S. Air Force UH-1P Hueys of the 20th Special Operations Squadron, the "Green Hornets." (U.S. Air Force)
Two U.S. Air Force UH-1P Hueys of the 20th Special Operations Squadron, the “Green Hornets.” 65-7929 is closer to camera. The second Huey is 63-13162. Both helicopters are armed with two door-mounted M93 7.65 mm “miniguns” systems: electrically-driven M134 rotary machine guns capable of a 4,000 round-per-minute rate of fire. On each side of 7929 are 7-tube rocket launchers for 2.75-inch (70 mm) FFAR rockets. (Captain Billie Dee Tedford, United States Air Force)
Aviation Cadet Leonard A. Gonzales, 1952. (Santa Maria Times)

Leonardo Armando Gonzales was born 30 August 1929 at San Gabriel, California. He was the youngest of three children of Joaquin Luevanos Gonzales, a salesman, and Aurora Martinez Gonzales. Leonard attended Santa Maria Union High School in Santa Maria, California, graduating 5 June 1947.

Gonzales began his college education at Santa Maria Junior College, where he earned an associate of arts (A.A.) degree. He then transferred to the California Polytechnic College at San Luis Obispo, California.

Gonzales enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, 9 November 1950. Private First Class Gonzales was trained as a radio technician at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. He was then appointed an aviation cadet, 12 March 1952. Gonzales was commissioned a second lieutenant 14 January 1953. He entered B-29 Superfortress Combat Crew Training as an aircraft observer.

Lieutenant and Mrs. Leonard A. Gonzales. The bride is the former Miss Mavi Gonzales. (Santa Maria Times)

On 12 April 1953, Lieutenant Gonzales married Miss Mavi Gonzales, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Refugio Gonzales, at St. Mary’s Church in Santa Maria. They would have six daughters.

After flight training at Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas, and Malden Air Force Base, Missouri, Lieutenant completed his Air Force pilot training at Webb AFB, Big Spring, Texas in August 1954. Lieutenant Gonzales then entered training as a fighter interceptor pilot.

Lieutenant Gonzales served with the 4th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan, from February 1957 to July 1960. The squadron was equipped with the North American F-86D Sabre. Additional duty assignments were to Grifiss Air Force Base, New York, Wiesbaden Air Base, Germany, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

In February 1968, Major Gonzales completed conversion training as a helicopter pilot, and was assigned to the 20th Special Operations Squadron. He was rated a Senior Pilot, with more than flight 4,000 hours

20th Special Operations Squadron UH-1P Hueys refueling at Dak To. (Don Joyce/VHPA.org)

Reassigned to the 4392d Aerospace Support Group at Vandenberg Air Force Base in May 1969, Lieutenant Colonel Gonzales was presented the Air Force Cross by Major General William C. Garland, commander, 1st Strategic Aerospace Division, in a ceremony at Vandenberg, 6 November 1969.

Lieutenant Colonel Gonzales retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1971. In addition to the Air Force Cross, he had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with four oak leaf clusters (five awards), and the Air Medal with ten oak leaf clusters (eleven awards). The Republic of Vietnam had awarded him its Vietnam Cross of Gallantry on two occasions, and the Silver Star with Palm.

Leonard Gonzales had continued his pursuit of higher education. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Maryland; a master of arts degree in education counseling from Chapman College; masters degree in public administration from California State University Bakersfield, and was pursuing a doctorate in economics.

Lieutenant Colonel Leonard A. Gonzales, United States Air Force (Retired), died in Santa Maria, California, 13 March 2017, at the age of 81 years. He was buried at the Santa Maria Cemetery.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

Medal of Honor, Captain James Phillip Fleming, United States Air Force

1st Lieutenant James P. Fleming, U.S. Air Force, 1968. (Gallery of History, Inc.)
1st Lieutenant James P. Fleming, U.S. Air Force, 26 November 1968. This photograph was taken immediately after landing from the Medal of Honor mission. (Gallery of History, Inc.)

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to

CAPTAIN

JAMES PHILLIP FLEMING

AIR FORCE

Rank: Captain
Organization: U.S. Air Force
Division: 20th Special Operations Squadron
Born: 12 March 1943, Sedalia, Mo.
Entered Service At: Pullman, Wash.
Place / Date: Near Duc Co, Republic of Vietnam, 26 November 1968

For service as set forth in the following:

CITATION:

Captain James P. Fleming, U.S. Air Force
Captain James P. Fleming, United States Air Force

“The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Captain [then First Lieutenant] James Phillip Fleming, United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 20th Special Operations Squadron, 14th Special Operations Wing, in action near Duc Co, Republic of Vietnam, on 26 November 1968. Captain Fleming distinguished himself as the Aircraft Commander of a UH-1F transport helicopter. Captain Fleming went to the aid of a six-man special forces long range reconnaissance patrol that was in danger of being overrun by a large, heavily armed hostile force. Despite the knowledge that one helicopter had been downed by intense hostile fire, Captain Fleming descended, and balanced his helicopter on a river bank with the tail boom hanging over open water. The patrol could not penetrate to the landing site and he was forced to withdraw. Dangerously low on fuel, Captain Fleming repeated his original landing maneuver. Disregarding his own safety, he remained in this exposed position. Hostile fire crashed through his windscreen as the patrol boarded his helicopter. Captain Fleming made a successful takeoff through a barrage of hostile fire and recovered safely at a forward base. Captain Fleming’s profound concern for his fellowmen, and at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.”

For a more detailed narrative, see:

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1st Lieutenant Fleming was presented the Medal of Honor by President Richard M. Nixon in a ceremony at The White House, 14 May 1970.

During his military career, Colonel Fleming had also been awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and eight Air Medals. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1996 after thirty years of service.

The UH-1F was originally tasked with supporting Stratgic Air Command missile bases. (U.S. Air Force)
The UH-1F was originally tasked with supporting Strategic Air Command ICBM missile bases. This helicopter, 66-1235, c/n 7311, was sent to The Boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, in 1977. It was later registered as a restricted civil aircraft, VH-LIP, used for aerial firefighting by McDermott Aviation, Queensland, Australia,  (U.S. Air Force)

The Bell UH-1F Iroquois (best known as the “Huey”) was was unique to the U.S. Air Force and was initially intended for missile base support. It used the airframe of the UH-1B (Bell Model 204), combined with the 48-foot-diameter main rotor system, transmission and longer tail boom of the UH-1D (Model 205). The Air Force required that it be re-engined to use the General Electric T58-GE-3 turboshaft engine. This was the same engine used in the Sikorsky HH-3E and commonality was desirable, but the T58 was also much more powerful than the Lycoming T53 engine of the UH-1B and UH-1D. The use of the T58 gave the UH-1F/P the distinctive side exhaust exit that identifies it from other Huey variants.

Two U.S. Air Force UH-1P Hueys of the 20th Special Operations Squadron, the "Green Hornets". (U.S. Air Force)
Two U.S. Air Force UH-1P Hueys of the 20th Special Operations Squadron, the “Green Hornets.” 65-7929 is closer to camera. The second Huey is 63-13162. Both helicopters are armed with two door-mounted M93 7.65 mm “miniguns” systems: electrically-driven M134 rotary machine guns capable of a 4,000 round-per-minute rate of fire. On each side of 7929 are 7-tube rocket launchers for 2.75-inch (70 mm) FFAR rockets. (Captain Billie Dee Tedford, United States Air Force)

119 UH-1Fs were built by the Bell Helicopter Co., Fort Worth, Texas. A single-engine, medium-lift helicopter, it is configured to be operated by a pilot and co-pilot and can carry 10 passengers. The first aircraft, originally designated XH-48A, s/n 63-13141, made its first flight 20 February 1964. The first production UH-1F was delivered to the Air Force 23 September 1964. Twenty UH-1Fs were modified to UH-1P as special operations helicopters.

The fuselage of the UH-1F/UH-1P is 44 feet, 7 inches (13.589 meters) long. With blades turning, the overall length of the helicopter is 57 feet, 1 inch (17.399 meters), and it is 14 feet, 11 inches (4.547 meters) high. The main rotor has a diameter of 48 feet, 0 inches (14.630 meters) and turns counter-clockwise as seen from above. (The advancing blade is on the right.) The tail rotor has a diameter of 8 feet, 6 inches (2.591 meters) and is mounted on the left side of the tail boom in a pusher configuration. It turns counter-clockwise as seen from the helicopter’s left. (The advancing blade is above the tail rotor’s axis of rotation.)

20th Special Operations Squadron UH-1P Hueys refueling at Dak To. (Don Joyce/VHPAP.org)
20th Special Operations Squadron UH-1P Hueys refueling at Đắk Tô, Central Highlands, Vietnam. (Don Joyce)

The UH-1F has an empty weight of 4,403 pounds (1,997.2 kilograms), and its maximum gross weight is 9,000 pounds (4,082.3 kilograms).

The UH-1F is powered by a single General Electric T58-GE-3 turboshaft engine. The T58 is an axial-flow engine with a 10-stage compressor, single combustion chamber and 3-stage turbine (2 high- and 1 low-pressure stages. The high-pressure turbine drives the compressor, with a maximum speed of 26,300 r.p.m. (N1). The low-pressure turbine drives the engine’s output shaft, with a maximum r.p.m. of 19,500 r.p.m. (N2). The T-58-GE-3 is rated at 1,070 shaft horsepower, but is capable of producing 1,325 shaft horsepower. The T58 is 4 feet, 7 inches (1.397 meters) long, 1 foot, 8.2 inches (0.513 meters) in diameter, and weighs 305 pounds (138 kilograms).

The UH-1F/P has a maximum speed of  138 miles per hour (222 kilometers per hour), with a normal cruise speed of 123 miles per hour (198 kilometers per hour). It can lift a 4,000 pound (1,814 kilogram) payload. The helicopter has a service ceiling of 24,830 feet (7,568 meters), can hover out of ground effect (HOGE) at 15,700 feet (4,785 meters) and in ground effect (IGE) at 18,700 feet (5,700 meters). With maximum fuel, its range is 392 miles (631 kilometers).

UH-1F and UN-1P helicopters remained in service with the Air Force until the early 1980s when their mission was taken over by the twin-engine UH-1N (Bell Model 212).

Bell Helicopter Corp. UH-1P Iroquois (converted from UH-1F-BF) serial number 64-15476, marked as 1LT James Fleming’s UH-1P, 64-15492, which he was flying during the action of 26 November 1966. The actual 64-15492 was shot down 13 February 1969. This helicopter is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)
Bell Helicopter Corp. UH-1P Iroquois (converted from UH-1F-BF) serial number 64-15476, marked as 1LT James Fleming’s UH-1F, 64-15492, which he was flying during the action of 26 November 1968. The “Green Hornet” of the 20th Special Operations Squadron is painted on the helicopter’s tail boom. The actual 64-15492 (c/n 7042) was shot down 13 February 1969. This helicopter is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)
Coloenel james P. Fleming, U.S. Air Force (Retired) and Mrs. Fleming.
Colonel James P. Fleming, U.S. Air Force (Retired) and Mrs. Fleming. (MSNBC)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes