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Lessons with Vietnam Highest Scoring ACE Chuck DeBellevue

Lessons with Vietnam Highest Scoring Ace Chuck DeBellevue

Welcome to all my listeners out there to the 81st episode of the Lessons from the Cockpit podcast I am your host Mark Hasara and I’m a veteran of four Wars, an initial Cadre member of the kc-135 weapons school, and curriculum director at National Defense University’s Joint Combined Warfighter School

One of the great experiences of hosting this show and being a member of the Red River Valley Association is being in contact with these Vietnam heroes. Today we are talking to one of my childhood heroes! Air Force Colonel Chuck DeBellevue was the highest scoring Ace of the Vietnam War, destroying six MiGs while flying F-4 Phantoms in the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, the famous Triple Nickel. On today’s show Chuck’s going to talk about not only knocking down MiGs, but flying Forward Air Control missions and going after nasty air defense sites. Wait till you hear about him getting hit by an 85 or 100 mm shell!

This episode of the Lessons from the Cockpit show is brought to you and financially supported by Wall Pilot, custom aviation art for the walls of your home, office, or hanger. These are highly detailed and exhaustively researched profiles of famous aircraft printed on vinyl in four, six, and 8 ft lengths you can peel off and stick to walls or any flat surface. The vinyl prints are even waterproof, a good friend has his unit patches on the rear window of his truck for over a year. So go to Wall Pilot and order a couple of our 144 Ready-to-Print graphics. If there’s a favorite airplane you want your name on, from a particular unit, with a cool weapons load, fill out the custom request form on the website at

Chuck talked about flying a famous F-4D Phantom II now on display in the quad at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. This is the famous F-4D tail number 463 Chuck flew on several of his MiG CAP missions, equipped with the Combat Tree IFF interrogation system, and some super-duper engines. F-4D tail 463 had a great crew chief in Staff Sergeant Reggie Taylor, keeping 463 in top shape.

Two of Chuck’s kills with then Captain Steve Ritchie in the front seat were accomplished in a 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron F-4E deployed from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Here is a cool picture of Chuck and Steve just after landing from the MIGCAP mission with all of the external tanks punched off! This version of the Phantom has the 20mm Vulcan Cannon in the nose.

This F-105G Wild Weasel was assigned to the 17th Wild Weasel Squadron flying out of Korat Royal Thai Air Base and accompanied every package into North Vietnam, particularly going anywhere in Route Pack 6 and the Hanoi and Haiphong area. This F-105G Wild Weasel tail number 320 has the distinction of three North Vietnamese MiGs destroyed, one by Vulcan cannon, one by AIM-9 Sidewinder, and supposedly a MiG-17 when the pilot punched off the centerline multiple ejector bomb rack!

This F-4E Phantom II flew with the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron, carrying Surface-to-Air Missile and Suppression of Enemy Air Defense missions. F-4Es flew as the wingmen with the F-105F/G Weasels launching an anti-radiation missile at the radar, and F-4Es dropping CBU-52 cluster bombs to destroy remnants of the site.

This and previous episodes of the Lessons from the Cockpit show can be listened to and downloaded from the podcast website at Lessons from the All episodes can be found there with the show notes.

Episodes are also found on my YouTube channel @markhasara. Become a member of our All Ranks Club, a coin-holding member of our All Ranks Club, and every member who joins will get unpublished chapters from my book Tanker Pilot and the history of air refueling.

There were 31 chapters unpublished I will send to everyone who joins the All Ranks Club monthly for $8, or yearly for $80. Paying members of the All Ranks Club also receive some of the cool graphics we are making, 7 inch profiles you can stick on water bottles, walls, or even your vehicle. All Ranks Club members will also have a one to two hour Zoom meeting with me to just talk aviation. Go by to join.

Next week we meet another Vietnam MiG destroyer Captain John Markle, who flew in formations with Chuck DeBellevue. We look forward to talking to you next week on the Lessons from the Cockpit show.

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