White Rectangle

Nevada Air National Guard Base Hosts 50th Anniversary Reception for Misty Forward Air Controllers

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Paula Macomber
  • 152nd Airlift Wing

The 152nd Airlift Wing, known as the High Rollers, at the Nevada Air National Guard Base in Reno played host to an historic event on Friday, September 15, 2023, as they commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Misty Forward Air Controllers (Misty FACs or Mistys). Organized by retired Maj. Gen. Ronald J. “RJ” Bath, the reception served as a tribute to the courageous Airmen who flew missions over North Vietnam between June 15, 1967, and May 19, 1970.

From the Misty FAC website’s ‘unofficial history’ section: The Misty FACs played a pivotal role during a tumultuous period in history, and their valor has not been forgotten. “Misty” was the radio callsign used by the F-100F Fast Forward Air Controllers (Fast FACs) during the Vietnam War. There were 157 pilots officially assigned to fly missions over North Vietnam.

The choice of Reno as the location for this significant milestone was not incidental. The Mistys decided on this venue in recognition of the final year of the National Championship Reno Air Races, adding an extra layer of meaning to the event.

The High Rollers took pride in hosting this reception as a testament to the enduring legacy of these brave Airmen. Members of the 152nd Airlift Wing were able to speak with and socialize with these legends of the Misty FAC group.

Many of the “Mistys” went on to have notable military and aviation careers, in attendance at the reunion were many of these gentlemen:

Retired United States Air Force (USAF) Gen. Ron Fogleman, Former Chief of Staff-Air Force (Misty #86)
Retired USAF Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd, Former Director of the Air National Guard (Misty #34)
Retired USAF Brig. Gen. Rosie Detwiler (Misty #67)
Retired USAF Col. Jonesy Jones (Misty #25)
Retired USAF Col. Lanny Lancaster (Misty #44)
Retired USAF Col. Charlie Neel (Misty #22)
Retired USAF Col. PK Robinson (Misty #45)
Retired USAF Col. Dave Skilling (Misty #104)
Retired USAF Col. Jere Wallace (Misty #23)
Retired USAF Lt. Col. Vince Cattolica (Misty #150)
Retired USAF Lt. Col. Wells Jackson (Misty #50)
Retired USAF Lt. Col. Hog Piner (Misty #33)
Retired USAF Lt. Col. Dick Rutan, world-renowned test pilot (Misty #40)
Retired USAF Capt. Dean Echenberg (Misty#1)
Retired USAF Capt. James E. Mack (Misty #24)
Retired USAF Capt. Chuck Shaheen (Misty #52)
Retired USAF Mario Peraldo (Misty #124)

Distinguished attendees at the reception included prominent figures from the military and aviation world:

Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry, The Adjutant General, State of Nevada
Retired USAF Gen. Greg “Speedy” Martin, former commander of USAFE and of Air Force Materiel Command
Retired USAF Lt. Gen. David Deptula, former Director of Air Force Intelligence and Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Power Studies
Retired Maj. Gen. Ron J. Bath, former USAF Strategic Planner and former USAF Director of 2005-2006 Quadrennial Defense Review
Retired Maj. Gen. Steven Lepper, former Deputy Judge Advocate General
Retired Maj. Gen. John Molini, former commander of the Nevada Air National Guard and former 152nd TRW Wing Commander
Retired USAF Brig. Gen. William Burks, former Adjutant General, State of Nevada
Retired Col. Mario Peraldo, a life-long Nevadan who now lives and farms in Fallon

“In the end, we’re really just representative of all the units and of all of those men and women who ended up fighting that war,” Gen. Ron Fogleman, Former United States Air Force Chief of Staff, said. “While the Mistys are a really tight group of men, we really don’t think we are anything special. If you ever hear Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd, the former Director of the Air National Guard, ever talk about it, he’d say that if anyone ever would come up to ask a Misty if they were a hero, he’d say, ‘No, I wasn’t a hero, but I flew with men who were.’”

The event, held on the grounds of the Nevada Air National Guard Base, brought together these veterans, leaders, and aviation enthusiasts, offering an emotional moment to reflect on the sacrifices and dedication of the Misty Forward Air Controllers.

The stark difference in the reception of Vietnam veterans upon their return home compared to the warm embrace and support extended to veterans today is a testament to the evolving appreciation for those who have served our nation.

Fogelman said, “I think the United States is very fortunate to have the military services they have and as you know, for basically for the last 50 years it’s been an all-volunteer force – so the young men and women of America have stepped up and come forward to defend the nation and as a result of that, there’s been a change in the attitude and support. Things like the Nevada Military Support Alliance--these entities are representative of the appreciation for those people who served. It does your heart good to see those young men and women who are serving being recognized. I don’t think any of us that came back, I know that I wasn’t expecting parades or fly-overs—I just wanted to come home and spend time with my family.”

The Mistys plan to have another reunion in two years at the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.