A Minnesota PBS Initiative
A Mission Close to Xépôn
Chuck Burin flew Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Jets for the U.S. Marines Corps during the Vietnam War. He says that in his flight training, "I got jets when everyone else was getting helicopters, so I feel that I lucked out that way." He began his service in March of 1966 escorting helicopters, supporting troops on the ground, and flying on a number of bombing missions, a third of which were in Laos.
One particular mission stands out in Chuck's mind. He was asked to distribute big bundles of leaflets via plane over an area in Laos, only realizing after the fact that he was only 5 km from an extremely dangerous place during the war called Xépôn.
After those missions, he served with the 3rd Marines Division on a ground tour and returned back to the States to become a flight instructor. "I met my wife. It was a l long courtship of 17 days before we got married," he jokes. "We're coming up on our 50th anniversary." 3” reel-to-reel tapes were how they kept in touch.
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It's gratifying to know that there are people out there who recognize what you did.
He recalls a time when he was in Duck, NC and he was wearing a Vietnam veteran hat with a bronco on it. A waitress told him that a gentleman would like to buy him a drink. The gentleman turned to his grandchildren that were wit him and said, "You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for guys like this who came out to the field to find us and help us if we were under attack and pull us out of the area.”
He was touched by this interaction, saying "It's gratifying to know that there are people out there who recognize what you did."
Story Themes: A-4 Skyhawks, F-4 Jet Fighter, Family, Hostage Evacuation, Laos, Love, OV-10 Bronco Association, Pilot, Sepon, Tchepone, Video, Xépôn