John C. Dalton
U. S. A. F.
C-130 Pilot, 99th Bomb Wing

Colonel Dalton, today a resident of Longview, Texas, was born in Guilford County, North Carolina, but grew up in Liberty, a "very small town," he says, where his father was the town doctor. His mother was a registered nurse. There were four children of the couple: a daughter and three boys, of which Dalton was middle. When he was five, the family moved to Asheboro, county seat of Randolph County, North Carolina, where a hospital was located. Dalton met Martha Garner when they were "nine or ten". He graduated from high school in 1957 and enrolled in North Carolina State University, where he entered ROTC. In January of 1962 he both graduated and was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force, and reported to active duty in April that year. Meanwhile, he married Martha Garner on 20 November 1960. (They would have two children, Pam and Linda.) Dalton entered pilot training at Craig Air Force Base in Selma, Alabama, where he flew T-37s and T-33s. In 1963 he earned his wings and then went to combat crew training in B-52s in Merced, California at Castle Air Force Base. The couple's second child was born when he was sent to Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas. By the time he was assigned to Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts, he knew he was going to Vietnam. Believing he would pull one tour of duty in the war zone, he completed six. Dalton served in the war zone in tours from 1867 to 1970 and in 1972 and 1973. His tours there were TDY (temporary duty) and he was attached to either the 8th Air Force Provincial or, he believes, with 17th Air Division, 43rd Strategical Wing at Guam, and the 307th at U-Tapao. Nearly all his missions were flown from Guam. When a new base at U-Tapao, Thailand opened, a few of his flights originated from there. Missions to Vietnam from Guam meant 12 hours, with re-fueling over the Philippines on the trip to the war zone. Flight time from U-Tapao was cut to about "four or four-and-a-half hours," he remarks. He also flew "thirty to thirty-five" missions from Okinawa. Dalton's missions took him over South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. He completed 40 missions over North Vietnam. Some of those included the Linebacker II Operation in December 1972 after the North Vietnamese left the peace talks. "There was a `threat' to get them back to the table or suffer the consequences. The consequences were Linebacker II. It was an intense bombing campaign over Hanoi and Haiphong. We lost a total of 15 aircraft, some crewmembers were killed, some were POWs, some were rescued. There were several other airplanes that were shot up but made it back to safety," he recalls. One mission was a close call for him, from enemy fire that damaged the aircraft. He made it back to base very low on fuel. Those missions included a four-hour pre-take off session with briefings and a meal. After the mission, came one hour of debriefing. The "workday" lasted about 17 hours, in flying from Guam. After the war, one tour he enjoyed was the National Emergency Airborne Command Post (NEACAP) at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Its aircraft is nicknamed Doomsday Machine. "It was a presidential support aircraft," he recalls. "We were an emergency aircraft backup to Air Force One if the president's aircraft ever had any problems." In all, he flew 361 combat missions, and logged 2,350 hours of combat time. He also was awarded a Silver Star. After the Vietnam missions, he was assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana, where he worked as a SAC evaluator, specifically as a combat crew evaluator as part of 1st Combat Evaluation Group. Stationed at Barksdale. Colonel Dalton retired on 30 April 1990. "I enjoyed every bit of it," he remarks of military life. "When I got ready to retire and looked back, I said, `Boy, it's been a great life. I'd like to stay a little longer, but my time is here.' And so we went ahead and retired." He and Martha built a log house on 15 acres near Longview where he has enjoyed gardening. Martha passed away. On 25 March 2000 he married Barbara Jeanne Austin, who has two children, Nathaniel and Catherine.