William L. Jankowski
U. S. A. F.
Foreward Air Controller

His Air Force career spanned thirty years and two wars. Born in Blue Island, Illinois, Bill was attending graduate school when he learned he was about to be drafted. He joined the Air Force and went to Officer Training School in October of 1969. Bill trained on the F-100, learning air to surface and air to air combat. He went through Jungle Survival School in the Philippines, and then arrived in South Vietnam in January of 1972. Attached to the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron, he was stationed at Da Nang Air Base where he flew O-2 aircraft on 115 sorties in six months, averaging about five a week. He often flew five hours a day in both morning and afternoon missions. On one he witnessed a pilot parachuting down near enemy lines. Bill circled, while plotting the position, and called in a rescue operation. The incident formed the basis of a movie with Gene Hackman and Danny Glover. "Danny Glover was me," he recalls, chuckling. Bill also worked at Quang Tri as an Air Liaison Officer advising the South Vietnamese army on the use of American air power. He was still flying, however, and his plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile. Bill ejected and landed near an American-led ARVN unit, and began moving with them. The unit walked into an ambush, where this pilot found himself in a middle of a firefight on the ground. They were finally rescued, and Bill returned to Da Nang. Because he could request reassignment after that episode, he requested the Twenty-Second TASS (Tactical Air Support Squadron) at Wheeler Air Force Base in Hawaii. Later he served at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin. Bill left active duty in February of 1977 and took a position as Chief of Standardization Evaluation with the Air National Guard in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1984 he was assigned as an A-10 flight instructor with the Forty-Sixth Tactical Fighter Training Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base. Some of his students served in Desert Storm in 1991. He was again switched to B-52s, recalled to active duty, and flew B-52s in Operation Iraqi Freedom.