The 21st Reconnaissance Airplane Company "Black Aces"
The 21st RAC was activated at Fort Lewis, WA for the purpose of equipping and training
the unit for overseas movement to Vietnam. The 21st served in Vietnam starting in
1967 ultimately with platoons at the DaNang Air Base and
Chu Lai until in 1971 when the base at Chu Lai was devasted by
Typhoo Hester. The first major combat operation of the Vietnam
war was over the air bases at Chu Lai and DaNang in 1965.
history of the 21st is interesting and impressive and truly worth knowing.
The unit was authorized twenty four O-1 aircraft "Bird Dogs" for performance of
its assigned missions of Aerial Surveillance, Radio Relay, Artillery Adjustment
and Forward Air Control.
During the course of the Vietnam War, 469 O-1 Bird Dogs were lost to all causes.
The USAF lost 178, the USMC lost seven, and 284 were lost from the U.S. Army, South
Vietnamese Forces, and clandestine operators. Three Bird Dogs were lost to enemy
surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).
I proudly served with the 21st at Chu Lai from 1968 to 1969. My name is Gerry Granatowski and I was known as "Connecticut
Granny". Granny was short for my last name and I'm from Guilford, Connecticut. I arrived
in country in about April and I was an SP/4 and shortly afterward promoted to SP/5.
I was made a platoon leader and I was a fixed wing airframe and engine repairman
Bird Dogs and the crew chief on our U6-A De Havilland Beaver. I was amoung
the very first replacements to the original members of the 21st.
It has been over 40 years since my days in the service and I decided to pull out
my Vietnam photo slides of my time at Chu Lai. The slides were taken with a 110
format camera so the quality of the images is not great. However, from those old
images I did manage to put some names to faces and to recall times I shared with
some great guys. So I thought I'd do my best with Photoshop and make the slides
digital and to share them on line.
Some of the guys I recall are Don E. Cook from Louisville, KY, Bud Delany from West
"By God" Virginia, "Hank" from Chicago, IL, Starks from California, Texeria from
Fall River, MA, Gaines from Chattanooga, TN, Thorton from Mississippi and "Pineapple"
from Hawaii. All the faces are still familiar, but after so many years many of the
names are lost to me.
I hope that some of the photos and music spark a memory for others and that you
enjoy the slide show and music videos. Please read the Comments section. You
may find the name of someone who you once knew or you may want to post a comment
yourself for others to read.
Thanks for taking an interest in this website and please take the time to thank
members of the military for their service whenever you can.