"My father was a career air force officer so that was my first inclination and of course because Vietnam was going on, I basically was interested in going into the Air Force and flying and being involved in the conflict, and so that's how I began."
Vic Reid grew up being exposed to all things military. So, when he came of age during the Vietnam conflict, it was only natural that he join up and do his part.
He went off to navigator school in the Air Force and became a low light-level television operator. He flew 43 missions aboard an AC-130 Spectre Gunship, but on Father's Day, June 18, 1972, he was awakened from sleeping to fill-in on a mission that was taking place that night.
"We were flying about 8,000 feet, and we had acquired a target that looked like a truck that was sitting out in the open, which was a little unusual. And when we rolled up on the target, acquired it, and started the fire, we started receiving accurate triple A being fired at us. We broke out of our pattern and came back in and re-acquired the target, and just as we had got set up in our orbit, we had an SA-7, 'strella' missle fired at us at our 6:00 position, it came like a streak up to the airplane and hit us in the number 3 engine, and the engine departed, and the wing shortly after..."
"...I thought I was dying or free falling, so I pulled the D-ring on my parachute and it opened, and unfortunately, the risers were wrapped to the canopy, so I had to bicycle the risers, and then the canopy fully opened right before I went through the trees into the jungle, and I did a great tree landing..."
In the darkness, Reid unhooked from his parachute and hurried off into the night to find a place to hide until he could be rescued.
"It wasn't until daybreak, when the sun started coming up that I noticed that I wasn't in a very good hiding place, so I found a better one, underneath a log that was on another slope. Had a lot of vegetation over the top of it, and I just kind of tunneled underneath it, and then I could stick the antenna from my radio up through the branches and everything to make contact."
Reid spent over 24 hours hiding in the Vietnamese jungle waiting for rescue helicopters, which means he had plenty of time to think.
"I did a lot of praying. A lot of reflection went on during that night. It was where I kind of was thinking back to a lot of things I learned during Sunday School that helped me get through that night."
And although Vic Reid did a lot of things according to protocol, there were many factors that could have made the outcome of his situation a lot different.
"There are a lot of things I could have done wrong and I would have been captured or shot, but I just kind of shut those out. I was very fortunate. Unfortunately, 12 of my crew members were not fortunate."
Vic Reid was rescued, along with 2 other members of his crew that survived, on the morning of June 19th, 1972.
"You know, I was thinking about how this is a miracle and I've thought about that a lot that my faith was reaffirmed because faith is the key to miracles and so ever since that time, it's changed my life. It's really kind of awesome responsibility to be able to talk about it and not forget those who died."
For Voices of Veterans, I'm Tom Turbiville.
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