The majority of us want to find a reason to gripe and justify feel like crap on a Monday. I was feeling sour and struggled to find a decent topic myself. Rooting around in the chaos known as my vehicle; I spied a sticky note with an idea that I had passed over last week. This idea was the Major Buang Ly story.
I wanted to use his story to inspire us and sure as hell remember that your shitty day doesn’t exactly “equal” up to the worst of someone else’s life.
Just imagine that you are on the losing end of a war and the barbarians are at the gate. You are watching reportedly honorable soldiers and military members fleeing. Chaos is abounding, no one was planning for the best.
Aircraft were flying to nearby foreign countries, anywhere where they can find refuge. It is 1975 and the end is coming fast for the Vietnam War. A winner is moving toward the platform. The second-place participants were running for the exits. (You might remember the helicopters taking off from the embassy roof, among other notable snapshots in history).
Plenty of military members, specific pilots were finding anywhere to go, and this included aircraft carriers. And the best example; the USS Midway was steaming in bound from the Philippines to aid in evacuating US personnel, servicemembers, and as many friendly forces as possible. (This was in support of Operation Frequent Wind. Off topic but interesting is that this ship was in the middle of a maintenance period and did not have a complete ships company onboard).
Many people remember seeing archived footage of various uniformed personnel pushing aircraft over the side of ships. (Never mind the pilots that ditched in the water and swam to the ship). But many of us didn’t see one of the biggest displays of balls ever, Major Buang Ly’s Cessna 0-1 Bird dog landing.
Major Buang Ly passed over the ship many times, seeing the flight deck fouled with helicopters. The Major dropped a note, finally getting in touch with someone on the flight deck. Personnel go to town shoving helicopters in the water. The little plane made another pass and finally did his best to land. (He didn’t have much more time before he was going to have to ditch). The ships captain, Larry Chambers, made the decision to remove the arresting wire that most planes used. This allowed Buang Ly to land, with ships crew cheering as he landed.
This within itself is impressive but the thing that I left out on purpose was the fact that his plane was loaded with his entire family, seven people in total. This plane is and was tiny. Way outside of operational specs. The sheer balls.
His tenacity inspired the crew to pool money together for his family. The ships captain had him escorted to the bridge for a congratulations regarding his piloting.
I wanted to leave out the fact that his family ended up in the US/west and the Bird Dog that he piloted is now in the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. But it was a great point to include.
This heart warming story should remind you of the following:
You bitch about waiting for a flight at an airport overnight, but this guy made a carrier landing after being shot at, with family in tow.