Episode 990 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will take a look at how a town in Texas is treating a special Vietnam Veteran. That special veteran is a McDonnell Douglas F-4D that flew with the famed 8th Fighter Wing “Wolf Pack” during the Vietnam War. The history behind the jet fighter and its current situation was covered in a story by Alicia Inns that was broadcast on KXAN NBC-TV of Austin, Texas titled: Bastrop community rallies to restore Vietnam War fighter jet.
The McDonnell Douglas F-4D-31-MC Phantom II 66-8768 that today sits outside the American Legion Post 533 in Bastrop was built at the McDonnell Douglas plant in St. Louis, MO in 1966. From there it went straight to Vietnam where it took part in the War and still to this day bears scars from the conflict.
After serving in Air Force units around the world it came home to the former Bergstrom AFB at Austin for its last assignment with the 924th Tactical Fighter Group. The air base closed in 1993 and the Air Force did not need F-4 66-8768 anymore. Dennis Walter, veteran and former crew chief with the 924th Tactical Fighter Group decided to take action to save this valiant war horse from the metal shredder.
Walter, a resident of Bastrop, approached the American Legion Post 533 in Bastrop about the possibility of it becoming the new home for the special Vietnam Veteran. The Post accepted the offer and in 1996 Walter towed the airplane down Highway 71 to its new home.
For more than twenty years the F-4 has sat next to the American Legion hall reminding its citizens of the service all Vietnam Veterans rendered to their country. Unfortunately the ravages of time and weather have caused the special Vietnam Veteran to show its age.
The community has decided to restore the aircraft to its former impressive appearance. They put Herman Fabela, an aircraft mechanic in charge of the task. It is estimated the job will require an investment of $20,000.
Donations are requested and can be made at the First National Bank of Bastrop in the “Special F-4 Account.” The bank’s phone number is 512-321-2561.
For more information see episode 990.