May 20, 2015
Major Tom Byrne, USAF (Ret.)...
Tom will be recounting stories of Operation Linebacker II, sharing what he saw and heard from the cockpit of a KC-135 he was flying out of Thailand.
From December 18th through December 29th, 1972 USAF, USN and USMC aircraft engaged in Operation Linebacker II which utilized massive B-52 airstrikes in and around Hanoi and Haiphong. Eleven days of around the clock strikes (except on Christmas Day) resulted in the North Vietnam government agreeing to peace accords to effectively end a war of over ten years.
B-52 crews flew 741 night sorties while other aircraft flew thousands of combat missions over the extremely heavily defended air space to support the effectiveness of the Stratofortresses in inflicting what Richard Nixon referred to as “maximum damage.” KC-135 Stratotanker crews flew 1,312 missions and conducted over 4,500 midair refueling operations in this country’s largest bombing campaign since WWII.
After receiving his Air Force Wings in September 1969, Tom flew the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker and was assigned to the 379th Bomb Wing at Wurtsmith AFB, Oscoda, Michigan. Tom flew over 100 combat missions in Southeast Asia from U-Tapao, Thailand during the Vietnam War. He also provided aerial refueling and navigation (before GPS) on numerous flights of USAF Tactical aircraft across the Pacific to their bases in Thailand. As with most of our speakers, Tom has more stories than time permits but he will be sharing some of his best, including bringing home a crippled USAF F-4 Phantom. If Tom seems familiar to you, it’s because he made a previous appearance as guest speaker in May 2013. In this encore appearance he will share further details about Linebacker II and other stories.
About Tom Byrne
Tom was born and raised in Bemidji, Minnesota and attended college on an Air Force ROTC scholarship. He received a BA Degree in Political Science in May 1968 and was simultaneously commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He began Air Force flight training in September 1968 at Webb AFB, Texas and completed KC-135 transition training at Castle AFB, Atwater, California in February 1969. Tom left active duty June 1973 to attend law school in California and subsequently passed bar exams in Minnesota, California and Florida. While living in Florida, he worked as a government contract attorney for Honeywell’s Avionics Division, which was then a major subcontractor on the Space Shuttle and the “black” Stealth Fighter programs. He was also in the active reserves assigned to Air Force Systems Command at Patrick AFB, Cape Canaveral, Florida, where he was promoted to Major. Tom moved to California in 1980 to practice civil law. Because of scheduling conflicts, he had to leave the active reserves after 10 years service. He retired from the inactive reserves in November 1992. He currently resides in Santa Rosa, where he continues to practice law. He has two sons. The oldest is an electrical contractor teaching solar installation at Santa Rosa Junior College.
Location:Mesa Beverage Company, Inc.
3200 N. Laughlin Road. Santa Rosa, CA
Directions: From Santa Rosa, take Highway 101 North and exit at Airport Blvd. Turn left on Laughlin Road toward the museum. The Mesa building is located on the left side of the street a couple hundred yards past the museum.