FTA1 Reunion Over Hanoi mounted print 25 inches x 16 inches (64cm x 41cm) by Philip West. Buy now online at Flying Tigers.
Col. Ken Cordier and Col. Bob Buckey were classmates in high school and college in Akron, Ohio. After college, they both became USAF fighter pilots, and although the two school chums never served together, their careers took separate yet parallel paths – until December 1966. On 2nd December 1966, then Cap. Ken Cordier and his back-seat pilot 1st Lt Mike Lane, were flying with the 559th TFS out of Cam Ranh Bay when they were shot down and captured 85 miles NW of Hanoi. They were to languish in North Vietnamese prisons for the next six years, first listed as MIA, then years later as POWs. Linebacker II was the code-name of the bombing offensive designed to force the North Vietnamese to agree to a ceasefire and peace accord. It was during the Linebacker II bombing campaign of December 1972 that then Maj. Bob Buckey and his back-seater, Capt Dan Tibbets, flew over Hanoi with the 555 TFS out of Udorn, Thailand. Their mission was to provide MIG-CAP for the B-52 bombers which were delivering punishing blows to the communist regimes capital city. On the ground, Ken was unaware that his old friend was a part of that campaign which would result in gaining his and the other POWs freedom after enduring long years of torture and deprivation. Bob, on the other hand, had known for years that Ken was a POW. So, every time he flew Downtown, Bob thought about Ken down there locked up in the infamous Hanoi Hilton and wondered when they would meet again. The bombing campaign had the desired effect and the North Vietnamese signed the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973. Shortly thereafter, Operation Homecoming brought the POWs home to family, friends and freedom. Six months after his release, at a class reunion in Akron, Ken and Bob met and had a great time comparing war stories and resuming their old friendship. The image shows Maj. Bob Buckey as he pulls his F-4E Phantom II away from the Hanoi Hilton.