37 MM Bar Rail
Ike Derrick was a Captain, front seater, passed over for Major, who was approaching a hundred missions over North Vietnam and a ticket home. Ike was arguably the nicest, most popular guy in the 14th. His high spirits, ready smile and good cheer accounted in great part for the high morale of the 14th TRSq. When the Majors list came out in 1969, Ike was on it. The night before the Majors promotion party, Ike in true aviator fashion, was celebrating his promotion at the O'club bar. He was standing at the bar, with his foot on the bar rail, when a squadron member (who shall forever remain nameless) grabbed him, lifted him up, and turned him around. It was an expression of pure joy at Ike having made Major. The squadron member said "Ike, I'm so happy for you, you old S.O.B.!!" Unfortunately when Ike was turned, his foot slipped between the bar rail and the bar and the turn broke Ikes ankle. It was a compound fracture and Ikes ankle bone was protruding through his jungle boot. As it turns out the ankle is one of the most serious bones to brake and Ike was scheduled to be Air Evaced to Clark AFB early in the morning after the promotion party.
The next evening, the night of the promotion party, the entire 14th assembled in the front hall of the Udorn Hospital, while Ike was wheeled out in his bed to say Sawadee to the guys. Numerous bottles of champagne were consumed, and before the squadron was thrown out of the hospital, the C.O. asked if there was anything Ike wanted. Ike responded by saying that when Ralph Findly (The 432nd DCO) was shot down over Dong Hoi and recovered, he was presented with a 37mm shell casing. Well Ike would sure like to have a piece of that damned bar rail.
The squadron was then asked to leave the hospital so
adjourned to the club and the promotion party. Entertainment was furnished at
the club in a large area adjoining the bar. At 2100 hrs, in the middle of the
show, the entire 14th left their seats and went to the bar. The bar of course
was deserted, as everyone else was watching the entertainment. And there was
only one bartender who we proceeded to drive crazy. The bar was L shaped, and
most of the squadron members assembled at the corner of the bar. If you listened
real closely, you could hear a hack saw at work. When the two foot section of
the bar and two uprights that held the bar rail, were removed, the squadron
promptly returned to the promotion party and the entertainment. No one caught on
to what had just taken place. The bar rail and two uprights were sent to town
the next day where they were mounted on red velvet and framed. A brass plaque
was mounted under the frame and the engraving said
Shot down by this 37mm Bar
at UDORN RTAFB
16 May 1969
The whole enchilada was sent to Ike at Clark, and I heard that it now hangs over his fireplace. The entire operation went so smoothly that two weeks later one of our guys in the 14th was telling a 555th Jock about it. The Jock didn't believe it until he walked over the the short end of the bar and discovered the missing section of the rail. He thought it was so Sierra Hotel that he proceeded to rip up the remainder of the bar rail.
Copyright Amos Parker