AUSTIN (KXAN) — Memorial Day weekend served as a time for Manchaca VFW Post 3377 to see their beloved fighter jet restored.
The post’s pride and joy is a real F-4 Phantom used in the Vietnam War, but it needed some TLC, especially a coat of paint.
That was the cue for their local Home Depot to step in, donating the manpower and paint to get the job done. The project was finished just in time for the holiday.
The Phantom was a workhorse for the Air Force, especially in Vietnam, and the plane on display at Post 3377 saw action there from 1969 to 1974.
Retired Mayor Jim Linville was the navigator on a Phantom for 200 missions and the post’s plane brings back memories.
“Good memories,” he said. “I was in the back seat of an F-4 starting out and that’s what made me want to take flight training.”
“I was lucky,” Linville said. “I never took any combat damage except for a few chips. It was a good plane and had a good ejection seat. If you did get hit you could get out of it and that’s how a lot of guys got recovered.”
Flight crews were not the only ones who loved the F-4. Ground crews enjoyed working on them too. Retired Master Sergeant Walter Bishop worked on the plane for nearly a dozen years.
“We had an operation called BOLO,” Bishop recalled. “The whole wing — 28 planes — took off. When they came back, they did not lose an airplane and they knocked down seven Communist MIGs.”
“It was a sturdy plane,” he added. “We had a lot of respect for it.”
The men and women who served were pretty sturdy too.