I did almost die in Vietnam, well, I almost killed myself on a mission. It was up in Laos where we always had good targets to hit. I was feeling pretty cocky about my bomb-dropping ability and my “fighter piloting” in general. This day we were in a flight of four and I think I was the lead plane. The FAC gave us the briefing. It was so good, it was like listening to the Lord’s Prayer. According to him, this was the target that would end the war and we could all go home, at least that is how he made it sound. His briefing was so good, I could almost see the headlines about how we had struck the final blow for freedom. The target was supposed to be a supply storage area where, he assured us, we would get secondary explosions. Most targets were trees as far as we could see so the possibility of secondary explosions was a real treat for us. We were to make our run in from the north to the south. The target area was at the base of a cliff about 800 feet high so we were to make our run pulling off above the cliff. I rolled in, adjusted my aim, still not just right so I adjusted again and released 4 X 750 pound bombs. Now a side note here: When you drop bombs, they have to fall for a couple seconds to gain separation from the airplane before they are actually armed. This prevents a bomb from prematurely going off right after it leaves your airplane. We also had minimum pull-out altitudes that kept you from flying through the shrapnel of an exploding bomb and knocking yourself out of the sky. As I started my pull-off I realized I had done too much “adjusting” and was dangerously close to the ground. I looked up to see the horizon above my canopy and trees just off the wingtips. I pulled for all I was worth. The F-100 is stressed for 7 g’s and we normally used about 4 g’s to recover from a bombing pass, but I pulled over 9 g’s to avoid hitting the ground. I even said, “Jerry, you have killed yourself.” Well, pulling that many g’s had the effect of draining the blood from my eyes so I grayed out, meaning I was conscious but could not see. When you ease up on the g’s your eyesight returns and when mine did I saw that I was pointed straight up, but still alive.
"War Stories and Other Lies" by Jerry Key is available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel and iTunes. There is even an electronic version for less than $10. This makes a great gift to anyone who served in the military or is interested in what life has taught me.