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The Nimrods


 “The secretive world of military ‘special operations’ is filled with men and women whose dedication, self-sacrifice, and heroism on behalf of their country is seldom acknowledged in public. The thing about the Air Commandos is that you don’t need them very often.  But when you do, you tend to need them very badly.”
                                                                                        Michael E. Haas, Col, USAF, Retired
                                                                                                          Author, Apollo's Warriors
Nimrod was a Biblical figure -- the great-grandson of Noah. He was a haughty king who declared himself a "mighty one in the earth," founded the great city of Babylon, and presided over the construction of the mythical Tower of Babel. Nimrod was also a renowned hunter whose game of choice was not animals but men.  His name became synonymous with a skilled hunter.

“And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord . . .“

--Genesis 10:8,9
A-26 “Fly By Knights” Patch
All members of the 609th Air Commando (later Special Operations) Squadron wore the patch on their flightsuits.
"Unofficial" 603rd Air Commando Squadron Patch
"Project Big Eagle"
This was our "unoffical" Big Eagle Patch. It never was adopted, but we wore it anyway and no one ever said anything.
Photo courtesy of Randy Ryman, Project Big Eagle - 1966











 606th Air Commando Squadron Patch
7th AirForce Patch
Photo of the initial PCS+ Nimrods
February 1967
L-R Standing:  Willie Hughes, Harold Cooper, Russ Barney, Gene Kiefer, Jack Krause,Sully Johnson, Stan Hack, Larry Gilbert, John Telford, Jim Whipps, and Charlie Phinizy
L-R Kneeling:  John McCanilies, George Matthews, Frank Smiley, Bruce Jensen, Frank Barber, and Fred Moomau
Photo taken after the loss of Dwight Campbell and Bob Sholl - KIA 22 Feb 1967
+ PCS = Permanemt Change of Station 
Group Photo of the 606th ACS
L-R Back Row:  Jim McCleskey, Don Maxwell, Bob Bakken, John Simons, Kack Krause, Doug Hawkins, Benny Heathman, Carlos Cruz, and Bryant Murray
L-R Front Row:  Col. Aderholt, Howard Farmer, Bill Potter, Pete Casella, George Matthews, Tom Owens, Davis, Roger Fleshman, and Fred Moomau
Cruz and Potter later KIA in Dec 1967 in Steel Tiger
Group Photo of the 609th SOS Nimrods at NKP RTAFB
(Photo: Charles Vogler collection)





Group Photo of the 609th SOS Nimrods at NKP RTAFB
(Photo: Jim Sizemore collection)
Colonel Harry C. "Heinie" Aderholt

"Air Commando One"


(Photo: Michael DeHaan collection)


A blunt, outspoken, profane man ... the consumate leader and flyer.  Took command of the 606th Air Commando Squadron at Nakhon Phanom in December 1966 and molded it into a wing with control and supervision over Thailand based special air warfare operations.  He loved the challenge and loved his men ... gave new meaning to the slogan "Lead, follow, or get out of the way."  His 56th Air Commando Wing's combat record was unexcelled.






 Brigadier General Harry C. "Heinie" Aderholt

"Air Commando One"

1920 - 2010

56th Special Operations Wing - Change of Command
October 1969
609th Special Operations Squadron Nimrods
Group-photo of the surviving 609th SOS Nimrods 2003 Reunion, Hurlburt Field, Ft. Walton Beach FL
Photo by Al Shortt
609th Special Operations Squadron Nimrods
Group-photo of the surviving 609th SOS Nimrods 2005 Reunion, Hurlburt Field, Ft. Walton Beach, FL
 Photo by Al Shortt

609th Special Operations Squadron Nimrods
Group-photo of the surviving 609th SOS Nimrods 2007 Reunion, Hurlburt Field, Ft. Walton Beach, FL
 Photo by Al Shortt
609th Special Operations Squadron Nimrods
Group-photo of the surviving 609th SOS Nimrods 2011 Reunion, Hurlburt Field, Ft. Walton Beach, FL
Photo by Al Shortt
A/B-26 Memorial at Hurlburt Field
Honoring A/B-26 Aircrews Lost in Combat
Major Carlos Rafael Cruz, Pilot
1966 to 1967
KIA 29 December 1967
Then Capt. Carlos Cruz, pilot; Capt. William Potter, navigator; and SSgt. Paul Foster, aerial gunner were among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos.




Captain Carlos Cruz, Pilot at NKP
Captain William J. Potter, Jr., Navigator
KIA 29 December 1967
On 29 Dec 1967 A-26A tail number 64-17641 launched from NKP for a night mission along the trail. The crew was attacking a convoy about 35 miles southwest of Khe Sanh when, on its fourth pass, it was hit by 37mm AAA fire and crashed in flames.
Captain William (Bill) Potter, Navigator at NKP
Senior Master Sergeant Paul Leonard Foster, Aerial Gunner
KIA 29 December 1967
Memorial to Major Carlos Rafael Cruz, Lt. Col. William J. Potter and SMS Paul L. Foster
 Photo courtesy of Roxanne Wells-Layton, August 2006
Colonel Joe Kittinger, Jr., Pilot at NKP
Led the first eight A-26s across the Pacific Ocean landing at NKP in Northern Thailand in 1966.  He volunteered for three combat tours in Vietnam and served as commander of the famous 555th "Triple Nickel" Tactical Fighter Squadron flying F-4s. After shooting down a MiG-21 in aerial combat, he himself was shot down on May 11, 1972 and spent 11 months as a prisoner of war. Kittinger subsequently continued his career and retired as a colonel in 1978.
Captain Joe Kittinger - Project Excelsior
August 16, 1960
His claim to fame came not from flying, but from falling, almost 20 miles straight down. On the way, he became the first man to exceed the speed of sound -- without a plane.
As jet aircraft flew higher and faster, the Air Force became increasingly concerned with the hazards faced by flight crews ejecting from these high performance aircraft. Project Excelsior was established in 1958 to study and solve these high altitude escape problems.

Colonel Joe Kittinger at 2005 Reunion
Captain Jim (Lee) McLeskey, Nimrod Pilot (R)  with Colonel Heine Aderholt (L) at NKP
Major George Matthews (L) and Captain John Telford (R)
Photo 1967
Major George Matthews, Nimrod Pilot at NKP
Dec 1966 to October 1967
Major George Matthews at 2007 Nimrod Reunion
Story of Lee's bailout from his wounded A-26 after being struck by 37MM anti-aircraft fire over the Ho Chi Minh Trail
Captain Fred Moomau at NKP
Fred Moomau at 2005 Nimrod Reunion
Fred Moomau (L) and George Matthews (R) visit "Special K" with Jim Reynolds (C) in Ft. Worth
Lieutenant Maurice Bourne - Farm Gate Navigator


Major Tom Wickstrom Sitting just aft the bomb bay in an A-26


He innovated the use of the Starlight scope to observe NVA truck traffic moving below a fully blacked out and undetectable A-26 flying overhead. The harness was a thoughtful touch, as the observer was required to extend his upper torso out over open bomb bay doors to get a good view of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Major Tom Wickstrom at NKP
November 1967
Lt. Col. Tom Wickstrom (L) and Captain Paul Marschalk (R) at 1993 Reunion in Destin, FL
Lt. Col. Tom Wickstrom, Nimrod Pilot at 2005 Reunion
Our Foundation's Inspiration for "Operation Final Flight"
(told us about the existence of IF 679 "Special K"
8 May1929 - 1 March 2010
Capt. Roger Graham, Navigator (left) and Maj. Bobby "Pappy" Sears, Pilot (right) at NKP
Colonel Roger D. Graham, Nimrod Navigator at 2007 Reunion
Author of "The Nimrods"
Flew 182 Missions on the Trail
Captain Mike Packard at NKP with A-26
Photo early 1968
Major Jim Fitzgerald, Nimrod Pilot
Photo February 1969





Major John Callanan, Nimrod Navigator
KIA 11 March 1969 with Captain Neil Monette, Pilot.
Crashed at NKP due to undercarriage problems and fuel starvation
Photo 1968
Major John Callanan, Nimrod Navigator
In front of Nimrod Hooch
Photo 1968
Lt. Colonel James (Jim) W. Widdis Jr.,  Nimrod Pilot
KIA 23 March1969
March 23,1969, an A-26A departed NKP on a combat mission with a crew consisting of Capt. James W. Widdis jr., pilot, and Capt. Robert C. Davis, navigator. As the two were about 15 miles west of Ban Karai Pass, the aircraft was struck by hostile fire.

No parachutes were seen and no beepers were heard, but the opportunity existed for the two to safely eject, and they were listed as "Missing In Action". Davis was determined presumed dead in 1975 and Widdis in 1978. During the period they were listed missing, Widdis was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and Davis to Major.  The remains of both men were included in a group remains identification October 1996.


Major Robert (Bob) C. Davis, Nimrod Navigator
KIA 23 March1969
Capt. Frank Nelson, Nimrod Navigator
Flew some 185 missions
Photo May 1968
Frank Nelson, Nimrod Navigator at 2007 Reunion

Batman and Robin 
TA-670 with Pilot Al "Batman" Shortt (right) and Navigator Larry "Robin" Counts (left) with their Easter Napalm Presents
(The undersides of the underwing ordinance were often painted black to avoid compromise of the camouflage.)


Loran (Larry) Gierhart - Nimrod Navigator




1st Lieutenant Mike Hickly (left) and 2nd Lieutenant  Dave Talbert (right)
Nimrod Navigators, NKP - 1969


1st Lieutenant Edward M. (Mike) Hickly and TA-653

Nimrod Navigator, NKP - 1969


Major Jack Mauldin and TA-651 "Mighty Mouse"
Nimrod Pilot (1968-69)




Capt. Jack Bright, Nimrod Pilot
Photo February 1969
Jack Bright at the 2011 "Special K" reunion
in Ft. Worth, TX
Pilot Jay Norton (at left) and Navigator Tom Bronson
teamed up to fly the Counter Invader in 1968.


Nimrod Pilot Jay Norton at 2005 Reunion


Captain Nolan Schmidt and TA-651 "Mighty Mouse"

Nimrod Navigator at NKP


Colonel Nolan Schmidt at 2005 Reunion
Major Lee Griffin, Nimrod Pilot at NKP
Photo February 1969
Major Lee Griffin at 2005 Reunion
Our Foundation's Treasurer
Nimrod Pilot at NKP
Nimrod Pilot Lt.Tim Black (right) and his Navigator Capt. Bruce "Gus" Gustafson (left)
(Circa 1969)
Nimrods Tim Black (Pilot) and Bruce Gustafson (his Navigator)
2005 Reunion
Tim and Gus in the cockpit of IF 679 ... in their usual positions!!! 
Nimrod Pete Bowman with GunSight Pipper on Lanyard
2005 Reunion
Captain Don Maxwell, Navigator at NKP
Major Don Maxwell, Navigator
2005 Reunion
Ken Spring (Nimrod Pilot)
2005 Reunion
Captain Leon Poteet (Navigator) (L) and Captain Paul Marschalk (Pilot) (R) at 1993 Nimrod reunion in Destin, FL
The "F-4" song
Written by Captain Paul "Hulk" Marschalk and Captain Leon "Crazy" Poteet
Written on the on the back of the A-26 Squadron Deactivation memo.
(See Tribute Tab to view)
*Click on photo for enlarged view
Captain Leon "Crazy" Poteet, Navigator
2005 Reunion
Captain Paul "Hulk" Marschalk, Pilot
155 Missions on the Trail
Photo at 2005 Reunion
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by order of the President of the United States for heroism while participating in aerial flight
Captain Paul Marschalk reading the names of the Nimrods who passed away since the 1993 reunion 
Photo courtesy of Major Al Shortt - 1993 Nimrod Reunion
Captain Paul Marschalk dumping the ice bucket over his head at the 2009 Nimrod dinner
A tradition he started years ago.  We didn't know that night that sadly it would be Paul's last time...
Photo by Maj. Al Shortt
Captain Paul "Hulk" Marschalk
4 March 1939 - 31 January 2013 
Paul loved to fly and was a pilot for over 50 years with more than 21,000 flight hours. Paul was hired as a pilot for Pacific Southwest Airlines, which in 1988 merged with US Airways.  In his retirement years, he enjoyed flying his own 1940 Boeing Stearman bi-plane.
Honor Guard for Captain Paul "Hulk" Marschalk
Pictures from Paul's Military Honors Committal Service at Fort Rosecrans, Point Loma, San Diego California
Tuesday February 26, 2013.
Flag Folding Ceremony
It was truly a pilot's day - blue skies and visibility for miles and miles. 
Flag Presentation to Elizabeth Marschalk Feric (Ante)
Paul's daughter
Paul's Urn
TA 649 "Sweet Therese" in boneyard at Davis Monthan
(named after his wife by Capt. Paul "Hulk" Marschalk)
Captain Paul Marshcalk and the gear door from TA 660
Gear Door from TA-660 
Hanging in Paul Marschalk's Residence Hooch
Captain Paul "Hulk" Marschalk (Nimrod Pilot)
and his Flight Suit Patch

Captain Paul "Hulk" Marschalk (Nimrod Pilot) and
his Navigator Captain Leon "Crazy" Poteet visit IF 679 "Special K"
Over 300 Nimrod Mission between them 




Paul and Leon - Just like old times with IF 679.JPG


Paul Marschalk and Leon Poteet
Just like old times!
Major Ken Yancey, Nimrod Pilot at NKP
217 Missions on the Trail
Photo February 1969
Major Ken Yancey at 2007 Reunion
Major Charles (Charlie) Vogler
201 Missions on the Trail
Nimrod Pilot at NKP
Sept 1968 - Aug 1969
Awarded Silver Star
Major Charles (Charlie) Vogler and TA-651 "Mighty Mouse"
(named after his summer home Mouse Island on Squam Lake, Center Harbor, NH)

 Photo NKP (1968-1969)
Green House Canopy Remains from TA-651 "Mighty Mouse" - only 9"x16" section left !!! 
Struck by AA during strike over the Trail
Lt. Col. Bob Stout (left), Major Jim Fitzgerald (center) and Major Charlie Vogler (right)
Celebrating Major Vogler's 201st and Final Mission in NKP
Navigator Rusty Arbiet (L) and Pilot Charlie Vogler (R) enjoying some recreation time at NKP
October 1968
(Photo courtesy of Jay Norton)


Lt. Colonel Charles (Charlie) Vogler
30 June 1931 - 4 March 2000



Major Michael W. Michelsen

Nimrod Navigator at NKP



MSgt. Lindsey Jackson at NKP
(the man who kept the planes flying)
(Circa 1966)


MSgt. Lindsey Jackson at 2007 Nimrod Reunion
MSgt. Lindsey Jackson at 2011 "Special K" reunion
in Ft. Worth, TX
Sgt. Larry Frye at NKP
(Crew Chief on TA-652, TA-653, and TA-646)
Major Al "Batman" Shortt
Photo 1968

Major Al "Batman" Shortt
With "Funny Bombs"


Major Al "Batman" Shortt and Captain Paul "Hulk" Marschalk manage to find time for Monties Ice Cream Parlor and a cold Singha - downtown NKP
Photo - 1969




Major Al "Batman" Shortt
2005 Reunion
Al Shortt - October 2009
Major James Elmo Sizemore - Nimrod Pilot
11 October 1930 - 08 July 1969
 Lost with his Navigator Major Howard Andre in an unsurvivable crash when their plane (TA 646) struck a karst outcropping in the Plaine des Jarres (PDJ) after coming off a strafing run against ground troops.  The last Nimrods to perish in SEA.

Major James Sizemore and TA-644
Photo NKP (1969)



Major Howard Andre, Nimrod Navigator
Photo 1968/69
KIA 8 July 1969 with Major James Sizemore
Photo February 1969


Captain Norm Wolf

Nimrod Navigator (1968-1969)