Mattos Mail Bag!

Posted on 4 Comments
Mattos Mail Bag!

Hello all,

I only became aware today , March 29, is the National Vietnam War Veterans Day day of observance that began in 1974.
Thank you for your service.

National Vietnam War Veterans Day is observed every year on March 29 and is a way to thank and honor our nation’s Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice.
There are 5 objectives with Vietnam Commemoration and the other four are:

  • Highlight the service of our Armed Forces and support organizations during the war
  • Pay tribute to wartime contributions at home by American citizens
  • Highlight technology, science and medical advances made during the war
  • Recognize contributions by our Allies

Thank you,

Ernie Alcantar
PBA President

4 Thoughts on “Mattos Mail Bag!

    1. Leroy,
      I never experienced combat during my USAF YEARS 1968-1972; however, those years are seared into my brain. I attended Air Force Tech School at Chanute AFB and learned all about the B-52. All but 2 of us in my graduating class went to the Strategic Air Command in U-Tapao, Thailand. I was fortunate enough to get Assigned to Travis AFB, Military Airlift Command, with upgrade training to the C-141-A Starlifter. I did the rest of my tour at Travis and Hickam AFB. I know this sounds like a ‘Cake-Walk’, through the turmoil of the Vietnam experience, but it wasn’t. My Wing and specifically my Squadron brought the G.I’s who were inquired or killed back to America in our cargo bays.

      Most every day I saw, spoke to and wished luck to, G.I.’s who filled our Terminal at TAFB before they boarded the Contract Carrier, Trans-America Airlines, to Vietnam. Many of those that I wished luck to came back in Aluminum Caskets, or on MediVac only flights, to our ramp at Travis AFB aboard our C-141s . The Air Force did their best to put Amputee-Only patients on specific flights back to ‘The World’. On each aluminum casket, of the fallen, was a hard plastic tube with a screw on cap which contained basic information on the remains within. My Team was curious at times and we would unscrew the tubes and read about the person within. I can tell you that most of those documents that we read were identifying the remains as having US Serial Numbers. A US Serial Number was given to those who were Drafted into the Military. It was always a somber time for us when reviewing the documents. (Over 59,000 Military Deaths in Vietnam)

      I teach flying, now, at the Livermore Airport and one of my fellow pilot’s, Bruce, builds kit airplanes. He lost both legs in Vietnam during his tour as a Marine Pilot. I was in Bruce’s’ hangar some years back and I mentioned to him that I crewed on C-141s out of Travis in the early 70’s. He looked me directly in the eyes and said, “John, I may have been on one of your Amputee flights back to Travis’. We stop talking and just stared at each other as both our eyes filled.

      War sucks no matter how you experience it; it just stays in your brain. God Bless those who answered the call either volunteering or accepting the Draft. May we give all our Veterans the utmost Respect.

      Please remember our late Officer Frank Keffer, my fellow Narco Surveillance Pilot, who was awarded the Silver Star for his action in combat. I can’t tell you just what Frank did to earn one of the highest metals because he never mentioned it to me or any of the Team of Pilots. It was only after his passing that I became aware of his Silver Star. What a Great & Humble Man!


  1. During the Vietnam War era, my thoughts were constantly aware of the sacrifices taking place by our brave heroes, both at home and on the battlefront. As with my parents and World War II, the Viet Nam War was a constant presence in the lives of our was the backdrop to our every day existence.
    My heart aches for those who never
    returned home or were forever
    changed by their experience. There is a
    special place in my heart for all of the
    men and women, Military and Civilian
    who served their Country.
    Thank You All.

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