Back where it belongs!
Below is a recent TRUE story of two good friends and what one did for the other to remember those wonderful Spectre days
Dale Compton in Vietnam
(on non-fly days, the guys often wore fatigues on
the flight line reloading ammo on the returning aircraft)
A Happy Gunner finally
reunited with his 40MM shell
Photos for this section courtesy of: Jeff Noecker
Facts: The 16th SOS always presented chromed, engraved 40mm shells to the gunners when they were on the verge of going back Stateside. These shells were valued as highly as any award or decoration and were looked upon as an Olympian looks at a gold medal for combat.
Dale's shell was originally presented to him in 1971.
He had his lost or stolen, about 20-30 years ago.
He is the recipient of 5 DFCs and 3 Air Medals. And this without ever submitting a 15 mission AM request form.
Dale was on the crew with Jeff and was working the Vulcans the night the First Lady got hit in Mar 71.
"The endeavor began in Sep 09, 2009 when Jeff received the first letter from Dale. He hadn't seen or heard from him in 39 years but Dale found him on the Spectre Association web site and emailed him in the blind. Jeff got it and responded. Over the course of the next few emails, Dale explained how he'd had his shell lost or stolen some time ago. Jeff secretly looked all over the Internet for a month with no results on finding a replacement shell. He even tried emails to some of the brethren who currently reside in Thailand but still, no joy. It culminated with PJ Cook turning Jeff onto the God of Guns, Bill Walter, who reproduced the shell with the help of some pics that Jeff had sent of his own shell as email attach's."
The following are quotes from Dale's emails AFTER receiving the shell:
1. Opened my package and was struck speechless. In my wildest dreams I would not have thought you could find a BOFORS 40mm shell and have it engraved. You pulled out all the stops and performed a miracle. Never thought I would have one in my possession again.
I can't stop looking at this wonderful piece of art. It’s very professional and so well done. After having opened the package for only just a few minutes, this shell means more than the original because who sent it, the reason you did and the thoughtfulness. I am beyond grateful.
This has already become something to go to war over. For sure, someday I will hug your neck. And yes, that comes from the Macho Cowboy. Hell, I may even hug your neck twice.
Can’t wait for Ellen to see it tonight and tell her the story about having one in the past and how we got one before going home.
2. Ellen made it home from work and after dinner, I showed her the shell and your pictures. She truly was taken back and understands how cool this is.
3. I am still in awe of you pulling off the 40mm shell thing. Amazing
"After 39 years, one remembers his comrades in arms. The loss of that shell bothered me as much as it did Dale. Possibly more so. Our generation came back from Nam under less than heroic circumstances. People spat at us, called us baby killers, threw rotten vegetation at us, and otherwise treated us like lepers. We had very little to remind us of our efforts and in those days, an AC-130 was a little known commodity. We weren't allowed to talk about them (except to each other) and it wasn't very likely that the folks who flew them would ever hook up again. So, for us gunners, all we had that was special, was our decs and our shells. To have one lost or stolen was tantamount to a treasonous act. The bottom line is that anyone who flew those things, deserves to have one of the few "honors" that were available. I saw an injustice and corrected it. I got what I wanted.... Dale's smile."
Thanks so much for hooking me up with Bill. He is one wonderful SOB. To merely call him the God of Guns is to damn with faint praise. After all my years in weapons, he makes me feel like I'm in my first Block of Tech School.
While corresponding with him, it hit me that I may not have made a special request of you. In the unlikely event (sounds like an airliner speech) that Dale should ever contact you about anything, the 40mm shell I'm doing up for him is Top Secret, SIOP, Noforn, etc. He's not to know of it. He mentioned that he recently joined the Spectre Association.
I received the shell from Bill on 2 Jan and Dale got it on the 6th.
"I want to thank you for helping me out with this project, PJ. If not for you, I would never have found Bill, and Dale would never have seen the results of everyone's efforts. This is definitely a story with a happy ending, made possible by a group of guys who are indeed, a brotherhood. Again many thanks."
THIS IS WHAT BEING A SPECTRE IS ALL ABOUT! YOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Do you have Spectre-Related story you would like to share? Please email them to us and we'll put them on this page so that others can see them. Thanks.