Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Oral History Interview with James K. Overman

Wisconsin Veterans Museum

 

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´╗┐DERKS: First thing I want you to do is to say and spell your name.

OVERMAN: James King Overman, O V E R M A N.

DERKS: Now how did James K. Overman decide to have a military career.

OVERMAN: My dad is a national hero. He is buried at Arlington. He was the last surviving member of the Argon Forest Lost Battalion. He took it upon himself as a father to introduce us to many things, especially aviation. Because in World War 1 they had those little Spades, the open cockpit, and the long--and by the way that is one of my favorite saying when I say good by to another pilot. We don't say "Take it easy!", we say "Keep your scarf out of the rudder.". So, my dad introduced my brother and myself to aviation. He made us model airplanes 00:01:00with a kit that you could even buy in those days. But then he would let us make our own. Where you lay down the side of the fuselage and glue and put that paper over it. Spray it with water. It would tighten up. And you could throw them and they actually flew. So, the love for aviation was started by my dad and encouraged by my mother many, many years ago.

DERKS: And where did you grow up?

OVERMAN: In Delafield, Wisconsin. Which is due west of Milwaukee, about 25 miles. St. John's Military Academy, which I attended.

DERKS: And when did you join the military.

OVERMAN: I graduated from high school in 1950 and I was going to Carrol College that fall. Well, if you remember, and you probably won't, you are not old enough, all of us the class of 50' and 51' received a 1A draft notice. Uncle Sam wants us. They call that the Draft. I received it in the mail. My brother was 00:02:00already in the Air Corps which had changed its name to Air Force. So, I called him on the phone and what I could do about this. He said "If you enlist with dad they can't touch you." And I was leaving in 10 days. We went to the Air Force recruiting office. I enlisted. And he said "Let me see that draft notice.". He tore it in half. And he was going to throw it away, but my dad said "No, I want to keep that." And their I had by security. Now the funny thing that happened later in life when I realized we had a waiting period to get in. I enlisted in 51' right after Christmas, and a waiting list to get in this new Air Force. Must pretty popular, was the thinking then. And my dad didn't know any different. All of my class mates and other people through out the United States of America were doing the same thing. That was our way of dodging the draft. You are looking at 00:03:00a draft dodger who retired an officer in the United States Air Force.

DERKS: And you were dodging because you didn't want to go to Korea?

OVERMAN: I didn't want to sit in a fox hole. I wanted to fly an airplane. I had that instilled with me--you weren't listening to me when I said younger.

DERKS: Not only did you want to fly an airplane, you wanted to fly one of those new fangled jets.

OVERMAN: They weren't even existed then. They were all prop.

DERKS: And how long did you wait?

OVERMAN: I finally got in March, 52' as an enlister person. And by the way I will go into it right now. When you go in as an enlisted person. Not from ROTC, not from an Academy like West Point, Annapolis, etc., and you retire an officer. 00:04:00Out of due respect. NCO's, non commissioned officers who see you later in life, they pick up on it right away. You are a mustang. That's what we are that came in as an enlisted man and got a commission through Aviation Cadets, in my case. And they respect those type of officers because we wore the tools, sort of speak.

DERKS: And who respects that?

OVERMAN: Non commissioned officers which are your staff sergeants, tech sergeants on up.

DERKS: Because you are one of them?

OVERMAN: Yes. Absolutely.

DERKS: So, how did that happen? How did you get into pilot school?

OVERMAN: Well, my first sergeant asked me if I was interested in being a pilot. I just had gotten their and I was A & E Mechanic, which I loved doing. And yes, there were 13 of us that took the exam, and we all passed. And we qualified for pilot, radar observer, etc., etc., All of us. When were finally called for pilot 00:05:00school, I went to Good Fellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. And that's the experience I was talking about earlier with some friends about what happened to me their about being Indian. Being an Indian in Delafield, Wisconsin, away from any reservation sort of speak, was never a problem. And my dad would not let it be a problem because he was married to a 100 percent Oneida. The first day of pilot training. As a group you go down to the building and they you break off into four. Because there are four students to one instructor. And you go to the table and stand at attention and wait to meet your instructor. As you could see on that picture that I showed you that's in color, when I was a cadet, that's the time it was. We were standing at attention and this lanky kind of loose guy walks up and he said "Where are you from?" And I just happened to be the one he was talking to. And I was always taught. "Delafield, Wisconsin". No, 00:06:00no, no. What the hell are you? I said "My dad is from Germany and my mother is 100 percent Native American." I want to tell you something, Indian. There are no Indians who are going to fly my fucking airplanes. Wow, my dream was to take anything to get that brown bar. And to be a pilot. And this guy is insulting me. And for once in my life time I knew enough to keep quiet because the goal was bigger than this dummy. My very first ride I got a pink slip. Which is a failure. Almost impossible to do. Second ride pink slip. Third ride pink slip. Well those grades go into a supervisor. He is not just a guy, it goes into his operation officer. On my fourth ride he gives me a pink slip. He said "I got you up for elimination.". And he laughed at me. I wanted to really do something with 00:07:00this guy but he was bigger that I was, but, the goal. The next day we got their and I was ready for elimination ride because I was going to be flying with a different instructor who was going to evaluate me to kick me out, or keep me in the program. Everything I did that day, on that ride is probably the best day I've ever had in aviation. Every loop, every Emeliman, everything was perfect. And the reason I could say that later in my career I was an instructor. And I know what to look for. And to see how natural a guy is. Well this check pilot after the emeliman said "Let's go in and land;" I thought Oh! Man I thought I was going to be washed out. How can they do this to me? So, I said "If this is my last flight buddy," He sits in the back seat and I had a little rear view 00:08:00mirror right here where I could see him. I really racked that thing around me because I was never going to have another chance. And I brought it into traffic and when I came to the pitch we would normally did this in a 60 degree bank. I laid the stick over. Went to 90 degrees and pulled it back. It actually shuddered. And rolled out and the darned runway supposed to be over their. It was right under me. Which means my turn to final had to be pretty steep also. Looked in the mirror he was just watching. As were on final, he says "When you land" He said, "I want you to pull off over there in that exit." Yes sir! I did one of those landings that rarely happened in your life. You heard about 'grease jobs", so it was really a nice landing. This was a rare event. It was called a roller. Which means as you get near the runway the airplane is closing on the ground so slowly that the wheels start rolling and you are down. That happened 00:09:00with him on my check ride for my elimination. So, he said "Pull off." So, I did. I stopped and I looked in the rear-view mirror. And he undoes his shoulder harnesses, and I said to myself "I gave you my best shot." And if you get physical with me, I am going to be an aviation cadet who is going to hit you back, Captain. As he got off, he came off on the wing, patted me on the shoulder. "You are cleared for solo. We will talk over your future when you get down. I want you to fly close traffic and make one landing. Congratulations!" Oh, my god! I couldn't believe it. Wow, so I started taxing out to the runway and I want you to remember this. I want to go back in time right now. You asked me how I got interested in flying. David and myself would drive our bikes to Waukesha, Wisconsin when were eleven and twelve, and all day Saturday we would 00:10:00watch these little Piper Cubs take off. And some of the pilots would wave at us. Some of them were two and they would both wave at us. And that was really neat because those were the airplanes we were making. And they were flying and some day we will be doing that. OK, back to I am on the runway. Ready for my first solo take off. I put the coal to it. I am rolling down the middle of the runway which I always did right down the center line. I am getting the speed and oh, he is still on the controls. I was thinking of that other instructor, and he used to ride the controls on me. I looked in the rear-view mirror and the seat was empty. My god, I am alone. So, I pulled back on the stick, and as I got airborne, I looked down the landing gear to raise it, and right down there on the road was little kid on a bicycle waiving. Oh man, that was better than ever. Now remember he told me to stay in close traffic. I went, climbed straight ahead and left the gear down. I went to cross wind and to down wind and all by buddies 00:11:00that were glad I was making it. What in the hell was he doing? And the instructor was thinking maybe I made a mistake, and that guy was right. And as I got on the base and turned around to land. I was about 500 feet high, but I did it deliberately because the gear was still down. And the shot a red flare at me. It was the first time it had ever been shot. Many came later by the way. But this came up to tell me to go around, you are too high. So, I put the coal to it. I got the gear and the flaps up and I dove a little bit to see if that kid was still there and he was. And he was waving! So, you know what I did? Bam, bam bam with the stick. Like this wave. Then I pulled it up into traffic, came in and landed. I am very proud of that moment, and I think about it all the time. I've always been full of hell!

DERKS: They were sorry they let you go.

OVERMAN: No, they were glad I was gone. I refused to wear a hat later in my 00:12:00career. As we go towards graduation my dad, being what he was in the Army and my mother being the Native American, they came to our graduation. Like the parents of all of these guys. We were all going to be mustangs. And you hear about so many tried and so many washed out. There was only one that washed out that I remember. We all made it. But that day of the wings and the bar, Oh! Like your degree when you got--did you get your masters?

DERKS: No. I have my bachelors.

OVERMAN: Then you know that feeling, it was just. And this is it. And that started me on, put me right here today. Total love, total love of flying.

DERKS: Did you ever get to have words with the guy who tried to wash you out?

OVERMAN: I didn't tell you that. The reason he was, he was my check pilot giving me--but before he told me this would be you elimination ride and four of us, he 00:13:00said "Cavanaugh will not be here any more. He was RIFED." We didn't know what the hell RIF means. It was "Reduction in Force". The Korean War was not slowing down, but it was slower than it was when I first enlisted. And they had to cut the force and he was one of the guys he cut. Yes! But I would like to run into him again? I got to be a naughty boy and go to hell to run into him again. I don't know if I want to take that route or not. And that started me doing my thing. My immediate assignment was to, my next goal was to get into the fighter version of multi engine because that's what I was in. I did not qualify for single engine, and I should of but I didn't. So, the next fastest airplane was the B-26. It had two engines, one pilot. And that was why I wanted that one. 00:14:00Because I could be by myself. I had a navigator sitting in the right seat and one way in the back that ran the trace camera. We went immediately to Korea. We checked out as a crew and many great times in that airplane. I had a Captain who was maybe ten years older that I was fly in the back with me one time. He was a navigator. And I knew that he had washed out of pilot school. And we flew with heated flying suits because we were in Korea and it was during the winter time and it was very cold. And he kept on giving me a hard time. And I said "You are forgetting one thing. I am only a Lieutenant, you are a Captain. But I am the aircraft commander. So, get off my ass, sir." And he kept it up. I opened up the bomb doors. When you open up the bomb doors a gush of that outside air comes into that back end where he was. And I damn near froze him to death. And he 00:15:00refused to fly with me again. And the Ops Officer chewed me out. But I never had any trouble with him again.

DERKS: I think all this trouble had something to do with you?

OVERMAN: I was looking for it. Yeah, that's true. Can you sing songs on this? No, I don't want to sing 'cause they are all naughty. But fighter pilots have some good songs.

DERKS: Just think about that great granddaughter at her school.

OVERMAN: Well, you are going to cut this out anyway. Butch is good at that cutting.

DERKS: Korea, what was that like?

OVERMAN: Korea, it was a total, better than that. On the way over their we had to go to Tokyo for three days. Ant that's why this is only make believe. And all those stories I heard about the Japanese females were this way, that's not true. And I found that out on my own. And that's really where we all went to the bar, of 00:16:00course. We all drank a lot. And I had enough. I want to go outside for a walk. So, I went out the door. And this guy came up to me and said "Do you want to see a show?". No. "Would you like to meet a lady?". Yeah, I would. So, I met the lady in this nice room, and did my thing. And went back and they were still drinking at the bar. And when we all came out of the bar a guy on the other side, "Would you guys like to see a show?". Yeah! We go up these stairs and he pulls back the tatami and down there was that same broad but with another guy. I was the show two hours ago. How embarrassing. We all get introduced to that stuff different ways. It was better than in the back seat of a car, I will tell you that.

DERKS: And you don't know what kind of reviews you got?

OVERMAN: No. No. I was real quiet about being the preflight to that thing. And 00:17:00then we were in Korea and we flew together and I had my experiences their. I got to be an instructor in Lubbock, Texas. I was maturing and not so much the town drunk. I was an alcoholic until about 20 years ago. I am still an alcoholic, but I stopped drinking. And putting my skills back to work without being braggadocios or drunk all the time. I had a flight check as an instructor. I did well in the instructor school. But then I had a flight check in which the pilots have to go through instrument check and then a transition check. Which is landing. An instrument check is instruments. And the guy who gave me the check ride was my Ops Officer. And he said "That was a great job. That's the best flight I had in a long time." He said "Do you know what IPIS is?". No sir. 00:18:00Instrument Pilot Instructor School. I pick one pilot from this whole base. Maybe there is 200 of them. That are instructor pilots have more experience than you do, less experience than you do. Most of them are Lieutenants and Captains. And he said "What would you think about going to IPIS?". What will it do for me? Just to be picked to go to that school is a tremendous honor, Lieutenant. Yeah, I would like too. So, I got serious about it. I went to the school. And then the instructors in that school, we taught other instructors how to be an instructor. That's why it is IPIS. I wanted to be number one in my class. And I was now with guys who were with Strategic Air Command, Tactical Air Command, MAC, and Military Airlift Command. All 30 of us from all over the world. I hit the books. 00:19:00I went out of my way to do what I had been teaching on instruments. And I graduated number one. When I came back to Reese Air Force base in Lubbock, Texas--

DERKS: [[Loud noise]] What was that?

OVERMAN: I don't know. My Ops Officer met me at airplane--not me. Ready? The Ops Officer said "You got some bad news for us." I said "What do you mean 'for us', paleface?". He said, "Well, when you go to IPIS, if they request the top student to be one of their instructors, we can't keep you. You are going to IPIS as instructor!" WOW, that would be like picking the Super Bowl starting line up. And I was just picked to be the quarterback. That's how big it was in the Air 00:20:00Force aviation world. I wasn't married yet. But I fell right into that. And every six weeks we would have students from all over the world. Americans that were doing there best on there base and their commander sent them there so I could teach them how to-- And I wrote a chapter in one of the instrument manuals on instrument flying. And really cruising. You know Tiger Woods may have reached his peak when he was 31, etc. Well in my aviation career I was just, and this is not hubris, perfect. But I was turning out students that were perfect also. So, I used a different concept than, I always didn't follow instructions, I wanted to bend them a little bit. And I got by with it because of my position.

OVERMAN: Example. You know John Kennedy son got killed in an aircraft accident. 00:21:00That could have been avoided so easy. When he took off from where ever it was on the east coast. The overcast clouds weren't what you think they are level with the surface of the earth. They were like this. Well after he took off [[loud noise]].

DERKS: What in the world were we talking about?

OVERMAN: We were talking about IPIS school. It was about time for me to leave that. I had been there six years. And met all kinds of people, world wide, including a Vietnamese. Which was just fantastic.

DERKS: A Vietnamese pilot?

OVERMAN: Yeah. When Van Baugh [phonetic], BA. At that time the most popular in 00:22:00the pilot in the Vietnamese Air Force retired in Los Angles, and they went to the Air Force Academy in Vietnam together. But this guy came to this country and he learned to fly in France. Helicopters. When he came to San Antonio, Texas, Randolph Air Force Base, he went to the language school. And he learned to speak English by watching TV. He could already speak Russian, Chinese, French, Vietnamese, and now he was picking up on English. And if you were talking right now you would never know he was Vietnamese, that's how sharp he was.

DERKS: Now when was this, were are we now?

OVERMAN: We are in 1963. OK. I am an instructor at that IPIS school.

DERKS: So we are training him?

OVERMAN: We certainly are. It's called MDAP. Military Dependant Assistance 00:23:00Program. Federally funded. And we did other nations. Denmark, etc. Not only was he fluent when I first met him, I asked him how much flying time he had, because we didn't have his transcript yet. And he said, "I have 90 hours in a helicopter." You've never flown a prop driven or jet aircraft? "No, sir." I have met two natural pilots in my life, two with all the thousands I flew with. This was my first experience. When we put him in the seat of a two engine prop airplane, because that's he was going back there for. And he took off, it was like the autopilot was on. There were no criticism of anything. One thing you look for, their is a needle and ball. You look for the ball to stay right in the center. Which shows coordination. The ball never moved once. On everything we had him do. We had him do maneuvers that a seasoned pilot can't do. Practiced 00:24:00for twenty years. It was perfect. And he graduated of course, best student we ever had.

DERKS: How does that happen?

OVERMAN: I don't know. I don't know. It was just like why is a natural swing baseball player? Why is Tiger Woods so good? It is just one of those things in aviation, too. But the story about him. I will say it real fast. He went back to Vietnam. That war got bigger. And you know we got involved in '65. And in late '64 we had troops over their. And my Squadron Commander called me in and said, "Do you remember Ba?". I said "Yeah, what happened?". He said, "He is fine, but I want you to read this article.". And he gave me the article which was in the Air Force Times. And it's talking about the 21 lives that he saved in this canyon. Because he went back to flying helicopters. He was in a canyon near Pleiku and it was right on down about a 1000 feet. No lights. It's just a jungle slopes that deep. And we had some Special Forces down their that were being shot 00:25:00at a lower level. He lowered that helicopter down. Remember the attitude instrument flying I told you about. That's what he did because you can't see the horizon and it's dark. His lights are off so they won't see him. He comes on down. He sat it on the ground. He got out and helped load the guys that were wounded and the guys that were dead on his helicopter. And flew straight up in the complete dark out of their. Landed at Taun San Oot. Saved a bunch of lives. Got the highest honor Vietnam could give him, etc. When he was being interviewed by Life Magazine, he said, "We got out that night because of a guy by the name of Jim OVERMAN." Out of the clear blue sky. And my commander is saying read that article. Wow, That's Ba, he was that good. I go out of their that night because of Jim Overman! Holy Cow! He gave me credit for that whole rescue. And all he did was fly attitude instrument flying. And he later escaped by going to Laos. 00:26:00Because his wife was French in Laos. And I don't know where he is now.

DERKS: Probably in Milwaukee.

Overman: Probably. And some place their. And by the way if see a Hmong. And you hear deer hunters in Wisconsin say that this Hmong did so and so. Baloney. Just remember World War 2 and the French underground. The French underground saved our downed pilots. That's what the Hmong did in Laos for our downed pilots, but bigger. When they were caught they would kill the whole family after. They would put the leader and his wife by their thumbs, hanging them. And they had pigs run around like we have dogs in the house. And they would slit their stomach. There innards would fall down and the pigs would start eating before they died. That's what they did to those people. And for me to be a Green Bay, Wisconsin, and to hear for somebody to call a Hmong a "slope", I come unglued. And it happened in 00:27:00a McDonalds recently. This woman was talking about this slope who wasn't fast enough. Why do we hire those people? And you had about three of four orders, and he was Hmong. And I said "Stop right there, everybody in this store please listen to me right now because I've got to educate you on something. This person is a Hmong. He was invited over here by our government and thanking him for how they saved lives in North Vietnam and in Laos. Downed pilots, which I am. And this broad--" And she was about 55 or 60 years old. Fat. And she was putting this guy down for being a "slope". Which is not a term for Hmong at all. It's a term for Vietnamese. I got an applause and that lady right their walked out. But I stick up for the Hmongs. They are very bright people. And one the brightest stories. When Bush took over his second term. Up in the audience sitting next to 00:28:00Barbara was this oriental lady. And she was a Captain at West Point with a lot of medals on. And Bush took time out and he said, "I want the audience to look at Barbara, and recognize this lady, who is from Laos. When she came over here five years ago. This is one year before she got in West Point. She couldn't speak English. She learned English. And she was graduating number one in her class at West Point. Higher grades than Douglas MacArthur. Yes! You don't judge a book by its cover, Obama.

DERKS: Now they are motivated, they are sharp.

OVERMAN: Great people. They are family people. Like Latinos, family, they study together.

00:29:00

DERKS: And they don't speak English. The generation that came over here because they insist on speaking.

OVERMAN: Those men, are the heroes. They are real heroes. I had to get of IPS because I had six years. Viet Nam was heavy. I applied for F-4Cs but I didn't have enough jet time. But they said would you accept a C-130? I didn't even know what it was. It's a four engine turboprop and people who fly it like it. It's got hydraulic boost and it's a jet engine. Yeah! So, I went to school. Did pretty well in school. And I went to NaHa Air Base, Okinawa. This is in May of 1965. Everybody there had been there a while. And I was one of the new guys. I 00:30:00checked out real fast. And the Squadron Commander was a fast burner at West Point, which means he's going to be a General someday. He made Major below zone, Lt. Col. below zone. And bird Col. And he had something like 14 years in the Military, which is very, very fast. The minimum time in grade is two years, so he did it all up. He recognized my IPIS. Again, helped me out with who I identified me as being different than those other aircraft commanders. And he said, "I've got a special project that's just starting. Would you be interested in it?" I said, "What is it?" He said, "HALO". I said, "What's HALO?" High altitude, low open. You know, sky divers. Our Green Berets. "Oh, my gosh I would love to, but I don't have to jump out?" "No, no, no, you will be flying them as a team. And we will brief you on the mission later." I want to get right to the 00:31:00later because it is just a small part of

[Break in video]

OVERMAN: This guy the eagle feather and he's an Oneida. Oh my God, I--choked up like mad with that one. So, I volunteer to go back.

DERKS: Wait, hang on. Good, we're good. Ok.

OVERMAN: Ok, where were we before that?

DERKS: Yea, you were finishing that--

OVERMAN: Oh halo OK, halo. High Altitude, Low Open, was about 10 or 12 thousand feet and they're using in South Vietnam, uh, to surprise the enemy behind the lines a [unintelligible]? C47 or even a 130, would have them jump off the ramp and Special Forces, green berets, really macho guys, like rangers, like the seals. But somebody had the idea, you know we have to monitor the traffic on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and on Route 1 up to Vinh and up to Hanoi, and the Haflong Harbor, we have to physically do it, because the little things, they were dropping down to pick up the radio signal; they were finding them and cutting 00:32:00the power. The idea was that if we fly high enough with a 130, they'll think it's an airliner. And we go up the coast, with the wind coming from out of the east, we'll be off the coast maybe 50 miles, and we'll send out a stick of 6. And those 6 people will freefall from 30,000 feet [The A-Model surface ceiling is 26,000]. But we nurse that baby up to 30. And we were just hanging there. And when they dove [we're all on oxygen from 10,000 feet on up, at night, dark], they all had on the top of their helmets kind of a tunnel here, and they had a flashing light inside that you could only see if you were above them. You can't see it from the ground at all. When we got up there, it was time to drop, and we were near that city of Vinh, the one I was having my haircut. Off they went the tail end, and we've got pictures of it, because I wanted to see how they went off the tailgate, and our loadmaster filmed it for me. And they'd dive off that 00:33:00tailgate like they're going into a swimming pool. And they freefall all the way down the 2500 feet at night. And when you're outside looking at what you just dropped, it was like a string of diamonds going down and doing this, as they were changing the routes so they wouldn't be detected by--At 2500 feet if they can't see their gage, they pop the chute or it pops automatically for it. They get down next to the road, they get their parachute, they, uh, get it wrapped up. They go to their pre-designated point, they sit on the ground and the get on the radio, and if their code name was "Tanto", "Tanto 1". Which means: I'm fine, I'm secure and I'm ready to monitor traffic. All six of them checked in. How do you get them out of there? Well, well known to all of our military and all of 00:34:00our politicians, was an outfit called "Jolly Green Giant". And by the way, you should interview a guy by the name of John Nussbaum. He was a "Jolly Green Giant" para-rescue guy. He's got the Silver Star and he's a very good friend of mine. His wife ran for the Congress, up here. Uh, [unintelligible] And I was on her team. Uh, "Jolly Green Giant" was recognized worldwide as having that, uh, assistance at [unintelligible]? In Thailand to pick up downed pilots in North Vietnam and in Laos. That was their mission. That was only part of their mission. Because every six days, they would fly out straight across southern Laos, right over the town of Chiphone, out to the water, and then stay right on the deck, as they were getting up to close in on that downed pilot, because they knew where he was. And they'd pick up the downed pilots. Well they also picked 00:35:00up special mission, not downed pilots, they picked up the halo people that we had strung along that road. And this is really a sad story for me; I had to go home in February of '71, early, and with the Red Cross, and all the green berets found out that "Tanto" was going home. They had a crash party for me. And they presented me something that I never expected, because I thought he was gone. One of the times that "Jolly Green" went in to pick up these six, [the team leader was a good friend of mine, because I knew him and when we trained, we were--I even let him fly the airplane one time as we went down.] They couldn't find him. They sent in another team and they found his body. He was beheaded. And his green beret was on his body. I have on my fireplace at home right now, a green beret. That's what they did to them when they caught him. So, those were the 00:36:00things I did in [C13]--Train?

DERKS: He's not done. Hang on. Ok I'm rolling again.

OVERMAN: The procedure for the Jolly Green to pick up a downed pilot is, is, was still a secret until he worked for CNN. And he found out that Jolly Green used gas, not to kill, to stun and penetrate. And that's why I want you to meet John Nussbaum. [unintelligible] Out in Naykan Phanam would start to rescue. When a 00:37:00pilot was down, if I was a wingman, I would back off, so their enemy wouldn't know that we were circling right over. I would back off and start to strike. When [unintelligible] was notified, they launched two A1E's, a proctor of an airplane, because it's slower, and they can stay on target longer. They would come in and they knew exactly where that pilot was underneath the 100 foot canopy of those big trees. And they'd fly on each side of him and release a gas. And that gas was, I don't know the name of it, but I will when I hear it. That gas, if you were a enemy with a rifle, waiting to shoot that helicopter down that they knew was coming, what it does was work on your, all your, that you breath with in your brain. And you're frozen. You cannot move, and all you can do is watch that damned helicopter lure the penetrator, pick up that downed 00:38:00pilot, and take off. And about 30 minutes after they first got in on the sides, it's often, they got nobody to shoot at. That's how the Green Giant works on a rescue. However, you don't always get that gas down through the trees, to get those guys, and at the sides, and they shoot at the helicopter. The Jolly Green Organization is a heaviest, highest decorated air force, you have ever to fly in any war. And it's not only the pilots that get the awards, it's that guy on the penetrator, that is wide open. And not only wide-open, they try to get as low to the trees as they can so he can get cover going down through the trees. But when he's, you know how heavy branches are-have you ever cut a tree down?-but he's gotta penetrate down below; he's gotta get to that downed pilot, either put him 00:39:00on there, or he climbs on you and up. One of his best friends has the Silver Star and two purple hearts, because it happened to him twice. As they were going up, these guys were becoming unethicized; they were shooting at the helicopter. And it was so bad, they notified the guy in the penetrator "We gotta go now!". Well they were still in the trees. And they drug them through the trees. Broke their arms, their legs but they got them out of there. And that's the kind of guy John is.

DERKS: Who?

OVERMAN: Great guy. Nussbaum. You've got to interview him.

DERKS: So, tell me about your introduction to the C130.

OVERMAN: Well that would, the first C130 was what I was telling you, I was in school. And that part of my tour in Vietnam was over, except for blind bat. I didn't tell you that. In '65, uh, June, I had just gotten home, I threw my 00:40:00clothes in the washing machine, and the phone rang, and my wife and kids were glad to see me. "You're gonna have to go back. They wanna try something new and you're the only one that's been close up there." I said, "I'll go." I volunteered, because I wanted to make [care of]?? Before I retire. This will show. What we did, we were night forward air controllers. And you guys should remember this the rest of your day, if Republicans have this problem with Rolling Thunder? What do you think Rolling Thunder is? I'll answer that right now. Most people that weren't there, or these guys on their Harley Davidson motorcycles that go to Washington DC? On Veteran's Day, they think it's the sounds of the bombs of the B52, and if you've ever been on the jungle floor, you'd know what rolling thunder is. Hog wash! I wanted to say something else. I 00:41:00wanted to say "Horse Shit!" It was a code--

DERKS: Go ahead.

OVERMAN: I don't like to say it twice in a row. It was a code word when your duty come out that night. You were waiting for your order to see where you were gonna go. Rolling Thunder, you were going up north! Now it excited you because you were going to the, to the big dance, but you knew in that big lumbering thing, "what the hell I'm going to be doing?" And you will be briefed, uh, when you finish your briefing, you will be briefed by a special officer. What we had to do was brief with the, uh, Canberra air force pilots flying on British Canberra in '65. That was the attack from the air to the ground at night. And we provided the light with a Mark 24 flare. It put out 2 million candle power for about 2 minutes. And each one of those damned things, I don't even wanna tell you what they cost. The parachute that let them come down was 20 feet! Was a 00:42:0020-foot parachute. So, when released that up in the C130, forget the winds, it would come down and give these pilots light. And they could see at night just--Our job was to [unintelligible]] right from the DMZ north to Vinh and turn around and come back. It was a quite a distance. They didn't know that they were being watched at night, because this was the first mission. And I had two B57s up behind me. What they were doing at a higher altitude because that way their air speed wouldn't be so critical, and they kept me in sight because we had blue lights in our wings-they called them formation lights-and they were way up there and they could see where I was going and we had constant communications with them. I said, "One and two, check in, we're bingo," which means we just crossed the DMZ. We're with the--As we go up the road, maybe 10 minutes, you see little bitty lights. Have you ever seen these little bitty bugs that turn their light 00:43:00on at night? What do you call them?

DERKS: Lightning bugs.

OVERMAN: Yea, lightning bugs. It looked like lightning bugs up there straight ahead, and I said, "Nat is that road off our nose?" "Yes, it is." "Those were headlights with trucks coming down!" "Ooh yes! We've got a target!" "Where?" I said, "About 4 miles, is that right Nat, yea, 4 miles, and the lights are on." He said, "I got them." I said, "Don't do anything. Follow me. We'll take over." And I'm indicating 300 knots now. And I have to slow it down so we can open the ramp and get those chutes, those parachute flares in the chute. And there's six of them, across. And we got one guy doing it. So, I slow it down to 150. It occurred to open the door. He would only open it about this far, and he put him in. Now these little blinking lights still don't see us. We're about over them and it's perfect. Because as I get over them, I said, "Dropping". And what they're doing is orbiting up above me waiting, until that flare goes off. And 00:44:00one goes first, number two goes second. This is our very first mission in the North Vietnam. The first one. As we dropped the flares, the loadmaster says, "Clear", I would rack into a right bank, about 60 degrees of bank, and go over here, and I was over the water, you know, the water out there. Bay Tonkin I'd be over there going downwind, and they were up there. One would say, "I'm in" and roll like this, almost vertical and come down under the flares and see the trucks and drop a 500 pounder. Well I'm sitting here and running a strike from the rice seat, where normally where the co-pilot sits, and I'm watching it. And it was like watching a World War II movie in color! Live! Wow! You missed--And the second one got the lead truck and blew it up. Oh my God is this great! Uh, we got a couple seconds before we gotta turn back in. Two, where are you? No 00:45:00answer. Lead says, "Two, blind bat wants [that was our call sign, blind bat], answer. No answer. I said, I'll pull back over. I'll give you some more light one, and we'll try to contact tomorrow FM radio. Because we had procedures for that. Lost. Lost, to this day we don't know where he was. A front seat and a back seat that I flight-planned with that afternoon. They were gone. They sent a B66 in the next morning with flares to take pictures of the whole area. Nothing. If they get hit by something up there, because there's nothing to find, or went in the water. They got vertigo. You know that attitude in flying thing? Because they didn't have a horizon. We lost the mission on my very first mission. And the air force, or the United States of America's first night mission in [ours air-crafted matter.]??

DERKS: And that was in '65?

OVERMAN: Just as, June of '65. Just coincidence that these things have happened. I have all the stuff with me by the way. Uh, so that was my effort as '67 came 00:46:00up. In the meantime, my family got to Okinawa and we had, when I was home we had good times with the kids and we had a maid, who could not speak English. She could not, but she spoke Japanese. And when we came back from Okinawa, my two oldest kids couldn't speak English. Think of that one! [Speaks in Japanese] My kids can still speak Japanese also. Pronunciation perfect because they learned from the maid. The wife that I had, that I divorced, was always playing the slot machines and doing her thing as often our wives do. Bridge and all that kind of stuff. And she let this maid raise the kids. So, I come back and I'm just out to the bone yard, because I didn't make colonel. I'm a high-school graduate. And I'm a major. Really an achievement, and you call it luck if you want to. So, 00:47:00they send you to bone yard which will make the air force base in Sacramento, California.

DERKS: What's a bone yard?

OVERMAN: You aren't gonna get promoted. You got two years to go and we'll let you have a good time here. That's a bone yard. I didn't want that. I called down to military assignments, classified assignments. I said, " What do you have? I want out of here. I want to get back over there." And they said, "Well, we got, have you ever heard of the AC130?" I said, "No, we gotta gunship? "Yea" "That's what I want!" This guy said, "Well come on down, I'll show ya, we'll brief ya on everything. So, one of my very best friends, Kenny Wilson, who flew 130s with me also-he's a pilot, he said, "Where ya going?" I said, " I'm going down to Randolph to get me an assignment." " Well, good luck! Get out of here. You're gonna retire, like I am. Neither one of us is going to make colonel." I got down there. Went over my efficiency reports. They were high enough. I walked into 00:48:00this guy's office and he said, "You're really lucky. Why did you call down here?" I said, "I just wanted out of [unintelligible]?" I said, uh, but I told Ken "Ken Wilson! Do you know Ken?" I said, "Yeah, he's a good friend of mine." "He was my pilot!" "Oh no kidding." I didn't think anything of it. Ok, now you're going to have to leave in six weeks. You're going to have to get re-qualified in Houston. Then we'll send you right over to Upon, Thailand. Great! We're going to go through gunnery school. You'll get OJT Gunnery School. "Ok, fine" I went home and I couldn't wait to call that son of a bitch, Kenny Wilson to tell him. And guess what? He knew this guy was in charge of classified assignments-his old navigator! He took my assignment. On Wednesday I get a call from MPC Military Personnel Center. "Your assignment is gonna be delayed." Which meant to me one more efficiency report, and if it's a good one, I'll make colonel! No sweat, I'll extend over there if I have to. "Who got the 00:49:00assignment?" He said, "Ken Wilson." "You're kidding! Yeah, that was done to me. He's passed away since then. We had a meeting, about, oh 3 years before I left Sacramento, and he said "I gotta talk to you, Jim" he said " I wanna apologize." I said, "Forget it. I'm not looking back. I got other things to do. And I'm not looking back. I know what happened." He got over there. He got there in time to get an ER. He made colonel. I didn't make it. And that's the end of that story. But now it's back to the gunship. You wanted to hear something about that. Our assignment was to destroy trucks on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, because now it is too dangerous. There's a term "permissive environment". Means you have to be in an area, because of your geometry is what it's called, the circle that you fly. You're only at 8,500 feet above the terrain. So, to raise 2,000 you're at 10,500 feet. Permissive environment means 37 millimeter with this I.O. that 00:50:00you've interviewed. If he sees it in time, he can tell me to brake to the right and it'll go right on by, and I go back into the firing circle. He will tell me "No threat" depending on the I.O., they had different gages, and some would really stick all of our neck out. And it came close. And I told you about the one where the smoke actually came in the cockpit. From the charge behind.

DERKS: No, you didn't. Tell me on camera.

OVERMAN: You sat underneath the [unintelligible]?

DERKS: First of all, tell me what an I.O. is.

OVERMAN: "Illuminator. Operator." The gunship business is a take off from the C47 puff the magic dragon. Well the 130, because it's bigger, and it was going to be flying in Vietnam above rifle fires. You could actually turn this great big luminaire that was on the back ramp down on the jungle without flares. 00:51:00Cheaper, etc.. And no, you wouldn't lose an aircraft. So, they called that position which was new on a 130, I.O. Illuminator operator. They held that title after we went into the real war and we used the 105 hour to the 40 millimeter to 20 millimeter to kill trucks. Now its position was to keep us safe. Like homeland defense, only on the ramp. That's really what it was. The one that came close, and I..

DERKS: Tell me how you did that.

OVERMAN: Well, the aircraft is going, let's say this way [points to his left]. He is on the tail of the airplane, laying on the ramp, looking directly back and down. Half of his body, if this is a ramp right here [he's laying on there] he is down about like this [demonstrates] so that he can see up ahead and off to the sides, and his call would be to my 2 o'clock. In other words, if I'm in the 00:52:00pilot seat, 2:00 is right there [points out to his right]. Nine o'clock is right there [points]. Underneath I can't see it, inaccurate. Well this one we had, his name was Humphrey, and he's 6'2''; he's black, was a, his depth perception was perfect 'cause he never lost an aircraft and never took a hit. They came so close; they went between the prop on this side in the crew entrance door. And all of that, the cordite that gets around up there, the smoke, that sends it up came into the cockpit. And I looked up through the glass 'cause I'm in the left bank and by the way, if you look at a triple A after it's passed right over your head, you see the back of them and they're red and they're going away from you, and when they have traveled 19,132 feet, they self-explode, and it looks like flack. They're self-exploding. They're point-detonating to hit you and to throw 00:53:00off the flack and shoot you down, but if they miss, they'll self-detonate so they don't kill their own people and start forest fires, etc. And I saw all five of them. One, two, three, four, five. My god, Humph, we gotta talk. [laughs] And I ran into him later on in my career as a CIA pilot when I was in Africa. Fantastic guy, he's still alive and he still comes to our reunions. Terrific. Uh.

DERKS: Tell me about, tell me more about the AC130, the armament.

OVERMAN: Aft, is a 105 howitzer, and it was put on the airplane because, uh, the bad guys: the Russians and the Chinese, said let's use some tanks. [puts on glasses] My god, all the trucks were sending down there. By the way we revolutionized air to ground warfare. The specter concept. We, revolutionized, 00:54:00because it was so accurate. The equipment on the airplane, forget the operator for a minute, and forget me, the aircraft commander, was so, so good in the war in Kuwait, they showed you a bomb going down the chimney. That's what we were doing in 1970! With lowlight television, infrared and black crow. I could be flying over Green Bay in a total dark night, and using lowlight television and it would look like high noon. That's how good that stuff was. The computer would zero in on my car parked out there, and it wouldn't hit this window in the hotel, it would hit my car's front windshield. That's how accurate it was. The infrared. We use infrared when we weren't working on a target that we knew had petro on board. When it blew up, the heat would block out the [unintelligible] 00:55:00on infrared. So, it's a good anti-personnel weapon, where the guys on the ground need some assistance. The black crow was the most magic of all, and they never figured it out. The Vietnamese, the Chinese or the Russians. The black crow measured the spark plug gap on the diesel engine in the truck, and made it look exactly like a truck on the sensor's operators. We would fly in a thunderstorm or a complete overcast, where we couldn't see the ground and they couldn't see up to shoot at us, and zap a truck right through the clouds. We get that red flash. Yes! Off from black crow. And that's still kept a fairly good secret. We measure the spark plug gap. And zero in on them. 105 howitzer when you hit a tank with a 105 howitzer, the round is just like a police round, anti-police 00:56:00rounds that the bad guys have, where they pierce the vest and then go off. The 105 howitzer had that same make-up, that when it pierced the top and center of the tank, it would go off inside. The tank would go flat, and along with that, something as big as the tank, I've also killed elephants. But they're carrying a lot of shit, so don't pull this--you're-at-the-circus-with-your-grandson stuff on me. That fucking elephant could give supplies to the bad guys. And they looked beautiful on them, black and white. But they're just one blob, red spot when it's done. Of heat. Then maybe the [mahoot]?? was giving them the ride.

DERKS: At one point, you said something about you were shooting? You, personally?

OVERMAN: I shot everyI was the only guy to push the trigger.

DERKS: And, and that was the howitzer?

OVERMAN: 105 howitzer was in the back on a track. The recoil, it would sound 00:57:00like this. WHO! That's about the sound, with all the noises going on around you. And as far as you in the cockpit, it would do this to you. [sways]. A 40 millimeter would be [sways less], and 20's were just loud, it's a [gatling] like ERR! And all those 20 millimeters, a [gatlinga]??

DERKS: And when you say, you were the one that shot, that triggered everything?

OVERMAN: OK. The system was this: When you're flying over enemy territory, the sensors [lowlight television, infrared, black crow] were immediately looking for trucks, however they look for them. And they would go to the navigator or the "folko", a flight patrol officer, and say, "Folko I have a mover." That was signal to me, to say which one I want to use. Well if it was a clear night, and we weren't worried about them having petro, let's use infrared. I.R. please. The 00:58:00flight engineer would say, "I.R. is in the gun sight." That would let the I.R. operator know, you know how kids go into an arcade and they play a video game, he was playing a video game right now. Literally. And he was, depending on how smooth the pilot is, how quick his actions are, he had the hold his cross hairs on that truck, ok? This was fed into the computer. I immediately go into my gun sight, which was right there, I have control of the airplane. The guy in the right seat does one thing: he has the power to keep my air spade, because I can't watch the air spade and, the flight engineer that was just between us has to monitor all the gages. We have to shut down all that stuff. So, I'm into the gun sight, and my hairline is the center one. His little hair line is up here, 00:59:00let's say at 2:00. I have to superimpose them, right on top of each other, before I push the trigger, which is right in the yoke. A push of my thumb. So, anytime you were in a circle, any heading you hold, [this was the hardest part to teach a guy that really wanted to be a jock right away] you already have your correction in. Any heading you hold when you're inside the circle will get you out to [geromtry]??. And to be smooth, you think of that, and you just hold what you got, and you'll get out there, and these little [pippers]?? will start coming together. And as soon as they get with them, whatever coincidence, I would select two. And by the way, that's very low. Really, the steady guy versus [demonstrates] Ok? But not only me, but a good instrument pilot can do that. When they would get to two, there's little lights all the way around the outside of the gun sight to remind me, "You're in coincidence" In other words, "you're 01:00:00right on; he's holding on; the computer's ready--Push the trigger, dummy!" You push the trigger, and you selected before that, by the way you told the engineer, "Give me a 40!" Or "give me a 20, because he's moving." If the truck was moving, use 20s. It was like a shotgun with deer. If you got [birg]?? shot at it, when you shoot at them, you got a better chance of hitting them, 'cause they're moving, or it'll scare them and they'll stop. Once they stop, then you ask for the 40. And with those lights out and the pippers super imposed, and I push that trigger, in about 2.5 seconds, that truck is gone. What do I see 8,500 feet away? A big flash, and if it had petro onboard, orange fire. Oh my god, I have with me, by the way you guys can pull this up on your computer, and I'm saying it out loud so that somebody hearing this now will do it. Uh, I hope I 01:01:00brought it with me. Yes, I did. This is for you, Mick. And I put it so that you can't throw it on the desk and spill coffee on it, like all you civilians do with important stuff. Let me read it to you--It won't take that long. his is an award for one of my DFCs. I've got three. [reads] "The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Major James K. Overman for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight, uh, in an AC130 gunship as aircraft commander in Laos, on the twentieth of March 1970. On that date, while on a night armed reconnaissance mission, his actions led the damage or destruction of 11, [remember that number, 'cause we're 01:02:00going to add some up here, 11, uh,] supply vehicles, and the ignition of 9, [add that one that's 20], secondary fires, and 12 secondary explosions." That's 32 trucks, I just killed by pushing that trigger! And by the way it's a teamwork, it's like a football player trying to get into the end zone in a super bowl game, and they got six inches to go. Everybody on that line participated in this. Ok? [reads on] "Putting his concern for personal safety in the face of 436 rounds"--I'm going to get this squared away right now: another pilot air force, especially a fighter pilot, navy pilots, and marine pilots, "how the hell do you know there were 436 rounds?" Well one of the cameras we have on that big fucking 01:03:00airplane is a trace camera. And when ityou asked what the I.O. does? Five rounds inaccurate. Navigator logs five. Five rounds inaccurate. Five. Throughout the night, it was 436, because when you get down and get debriefed by intelligence, when they're doing that film, they're counting up also and it's 436. You got that? There's no fudging around there. That's so exciting and so much fun. "of hostile and inaccurate fire, he succeeded in destroying large, [this is a good part], large amounts of supplies, ammunitions, destined for use against friendly forces. The professional competence, aerial skill and devotion to duty displayed by Major Overman reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air 01:04:00Force." YES! And you're standing there in front of that general. That's for you guys. But anyways--the--here's what--uh, you can do--the camera's running right? Distinguished Flying Cross Society.

[Break in video]

OVERMAN: I talked about earlier, uh, Richard Nixon which I haven't touched on yet cause one 'o the best things I want you to hear. I am an assassin. And I became an assassin because of the President of the United States. Kerry trying to tell the whole world what he done when he was running for President and all the Republicans said "Oh he's all baloney. We don't do that. I'll show you we did." But here's one, uh, that I walked into. Kenny Wilson, that took my assignment, but I got this one too because I got there in time for it. By verse of authority vested in President of the United States of the command chief of the armed force of the United States, I have today awarded the Presidency unit citation air force for extraordinary heroism to the sixteen special operations 01:05:00squads of the United States Air Force. The sixty special squader Pacific Air force is save itself by extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in South East Asia from December of '69 to March of '70. I got there in February. During this period members of the 60 special off squadron flew more than 580 combat stories resulting in the destruction of more than 1,300 trucks, damaged over 560 other trucks, and over 3,000 secondary fires and explosion. Despite interget hostile air defenses, unchartered mountain terrain and intimate weather, the crew members of this squadron nightly risked their lives to deny the enemy free movement, dah dah, dah dah, dah. Signed Richard M. Nixon.

OVERMAN: That's here. That's--

DERKS: And who was he?

OVERMAN: I think he was republican.

OVERMAN: Uh--

01:06:00

DERKS: Did, was there--any AC 130s lost?

OVERMAN: Four.

OVERMAN: A very--emotional moment for me recently--trying to make colonel when you're not flying, you take a side job. And mine was Chief of Scheduling. And I had been there maybe one or two months, and I knew every gunner, every by name and I put their name up there [using hand to gesture], and I really, to this day, I print everything [using hand to gesture] and are really neat, really, and--Did you have that done up there? Why am I _____________ . Did you do that, sir? Yeah, yeah--I did. Sometimes I'd make a real tall [____________] where they'd look straight and I'd have the little "L" down here so they [chuckles]. But I was Chief of Schedulin' and I was getting ready to go on my first R & R of many R & R to bank on, 'cause we had to have some break after flying every night 01:07:00and all of this. About four in the afternoon, I had to schedule, uh--and I got a call from Intel.--"We're goin' to change the mission of the Super Chick, which was the first one of ????[ howitzer. To Plain Jane, you want to readjust that crew?" "Yeah." by virtue of me moving your name down here and Sergeant Antona, I'm using him too much, I put another name in, etcetera, right on down the line. Pilot, co-pilot. And I'd have my crew that I'd turn in. It was a crew of thirteen. We left on a shuttle to Bangkok that night at six. We were well on our way to being drunk in the Air wan Royal Air wan hotel in downtown Bangkok. One of the air force jocks came to me and he's a first lieutenant. He says, "Sir can I talk to you, a minute?" "Yeah--Want to join us." " No, but you're sure not 01:08:00going to like I have to tell you." [Deep sigh]. Specter 5-6 is down. [tearing up]. Oh my god it affected all of us, but me especially because I put those names on that crew. I said, "Any survivors?" Nobody got off. Oh my god. Our four days was, was--I couldn't wait to get back. And I have that info too. Uh--I finally got up enough nerve, to go to the, the Vietnam Wall. And when you go to Washington, I took the metro there, I got off, I was all by myself, I had a backpack, and I walked to the Vietnam Wall and it was 6:15 in the morning, and a lady, about my age, was in shorts and really lively, "Can I help you, sir?" And 01:09:00I was dressed in skivvies. I said "Yes, I'd like to look up a crew." She said, "Do you know what day they were shot down?" I said "I sure do." So, she went behind the coc--the counter [using hand to gesture] and typed stuff, and she said was the aircraft commander's name Brooks? [touches face, getting emotional]. I said, yeah, "William Jay." [crying]. "Yeah." [voice trembling]. She said, "Why don't you come with me, sir? I'll show you where they are." So, we walked from that little shack that's out front down about, you know how they're put on that wall, don't you? By the day they were killed. Oh, about six--six of those panels. And she says, "They're up there high. Do you see 'em? Look at about the seventh row." [using hand to point] "Dammit. Dammit." There they were, just like I put 'em up on the board. Oh my god. Can I have you do your--[uses hand to gesture]. I have that plan. She went over on her own about, oh--50 yards away where she had a ladder. We were the only ones there. She 01:10:00dragged that ladder. "I could'd done that." "No I want you to just--And I want you to just hold the ladder." And she has that paper thing that she etches over? I got the whole thing in a roll of that crew. By the way, it's one of my treasures with that green beret. And she etched them all off and she came down, and we hugged. What a moment. How many people. I knew twelve of those guys personally and schedule 'em. Me. Quite a day. Uh--When I finally rotated from the gunships, I knew I wasn't going to make colonel. I had a distinguished record, and that don't count. Now it's to where, what's your professional background. I could have went to the Air War College and I didn't want to fly. I didn't' want to do any of that shit. That's, was--always that way. I was cocky, arrogant, humorous--whatever you want to call it, and I refused to wear a hat. I 01:11:00had two star generals, colonels, etcetera, "Major, where's your hat?" "I don't wear a hat." "Why not?" "I'm Native American and you know how they wear all of those feathers? Give me some feathers and I'll wear them." Sober I would tell a general that without saluting him. So, everybody knew Tonto. I did that deliberately. And to this day, I get kidded about not wearing a hat. Now I wear one all the time to cover my bald spot [rubs head with hand and laughs]. But you've got one on front, you've got to pull it down over your eyes. You're growing so fast you're growing right through your hair. [laughs] Mick. [laughs]

DERKS: Leave me alone. [everybody laughs]

OVERMAN: So--

DERKS: Pick on me some more. It's alright.

OVERMAN: Oh, hey hey hey. [laughs] I've gotta divert the attention over there cause I don't wanna--cause some of that stuff doesn't make me cry and I'm not crying, I'm just. I'm emotional. I really am. Uh--When that part of it was over, and, oh gosh I shoulda brought it. --My daughter's a writer. She writes for a 01:12:00magazine in Los Angeles. She wrote a thing on Veteran's Day about her father, me. And it says in so many words, I was only twelve years old at the time and I knew he was going off--to war. But I had no idea that, like that neighbor up the street, [clear's throat, tearing up], their daddy didn't come home. That coulda been my father. [gestures with hand]. Oh shit. Great, great privilege to have a daughter that can write like that. Uh, I was minding my own business, but I had to get an income for my family. And to do that, I was a salesman and I loved it immediately cause I was getting---does anybody have a napkin so I can--[reaching down] I'll use this, yeah. [wipes his nose].

01:13:00

DERKS: I don't ask him to wipe his face with that now.

OVERMAN: I was demonstrating. I sold chemicals, and I was demonstrating.

DERKS: You've better to put that down there and we'll--[referring to napkin]

OVERMAN: In Naha

DERKS: Let's put your, pick your glasses up. I need to see you take those off and put 'em on a few times, just ta.

OVERMAN: Ok.

DERKS: Just so we--

OVERMAN: That's why you do it. It's just right on your nose. Uh--And I was told how to demonstrate, and one of the chemicals we had for cleaning the toilets, was, you squirted underneath the lid [uses hand to gesture] and, the uh, solvent would go down. And the ring that's left in the hotel, they have to get it out of there. And they use, everything. Pumice stone and--I said, "Do you have a penny on you, maid?" I was talking to the maid or the purchasing agent. "Yeah I got one." And they always had dirty pennies. I would pour the stuff in my hand, take 01:14:00the penny halfway [using hand to gesture], and say, and the bottom half was just like a brand new one. Oh my god, will it do [pointing]. Sure, watch. I'd get on my knees, I'd squirt it around, and that was crap from somebody I didn't even know. But I liked what I was doing and I was enthusiastic about it, and dumb, and I'd take my finger and go round and round. "Oh my god it's gone!" We want--ho, how many cases can we have? I said, you've got as many as you want. They thought it was 24, but just 48 today. When I finished my first day of training with this trainer that came all the way out to Chicago to teach me how to sell, we were driving from Cuba City, was the name of--it's the town. How did you like today? I said I really enjoyed it. I like it. He said, "We'll you made more money today than I bet you made in a month in the air force." I said, "How much'd we make?" "You made $2300." I said "You're kidding!" [raising voice and 01:15:00leaning forward]. Yeah, so that--was real easy to do. Uh--That career ended in a very--in a little bitty town south of uh, oh gosh, I'll think of it in a minute. I was on my knees making that same demonstration. The maid said that the room next door that was attached was clear. I was on my knees doing the same thing that I just did with you, and I looked up, and this guy was looking down at me, and he was about ten years younger than I was. And I said "you'd never believe I'm an ex fire pilot and an ex-officer, would you?" And he shook his head and he said. "I don't believe it." The maid said, "I'm sorry, sir. You're supposed to be all checked out already." He said "I wasn't, I was down the road and I came back to get my suitcase, but I wanted to talk to you" and he was pointing right at me [using hand to gesture]. I knew at that moment I could never sell a chemical again. I just knew it. He said I want you to take my card and call me 01:16:00tonight. I want to talk to you. I've never seen enthusiasm like that before, for a fucking chemical. He took's suitcase and off he went. And I got the card and he was the Western Region Manager for GT Esel[?????]. Not light bulbs, lighting maintenance contracts [using hands to gesture]. I sold a contract with Safeway Grocery stores nationwide. Me. And guys'd been trying ten years. Once again, a simple way to go at it, I made it down to one store and I compared electrical prices. I told 'em instantly cause I'm good at math and numbers, I knew how many kilowatts an hour they were using. I was gonna put a low energy lamp up there. And he talked payback and return on investment. "This--Me taking care of your lights at Oakland where your headquarters is will safe you"1,300" a month. It 01:17:00pays for itself in four months. That's called return on investment, I think" And the guy [using hand to gesture] "B counters C--yeah, that's what it's called. Now how can you prove that?" I said "You know Joe whatever his name was, he works at PG and E--"Yeah. He's a--they play golf together." "Can you give him a call and come back and tell him what I just told you?" "Yeah." The guy was big and fat and he was shaking. He said "Is your name Jim Overman." I said "yeah." He said "Anything he's telling you he's right on." And I got the whole contract. Bam! Just like that. And I'm doing something right now in modern time, which I want to give you a card so you'll now [digging through pockets]. I'm a very wealthy man, you know, but I pay my bills pretty much on time. I'm only gonna give one [handing card to DERKS]. See what that is? It's a bald eagle. That is at our Veteran's Park. The wingspan is ten feet and it cost $130,000. I make 30% 01:18:00on every one of those I sell. I was doing my--I had a booth in San Diego, cause I'm ahead of the game now and I've been successful with Indian tribes. I was in San Diego, and my guys that were there to be color guard had to check to see, "Oh my god that is his booth." They don't believe anything I say. But anyway, that morning before they got there.

DERKS: But if you heard your story would you believe it?

OVERMAN: No.

DERKS: Ok.

OVERMAN: This guy comes walking down with two other guys and I'm busy giving a presentation on that eagle--what it does and why--and, uh, I see these three guys and they're looking. Cause we had a three foot one right here. Just beautiful. Gold beak and--They went over and dropped their cards in our fishbowl. And I kept on going, the day went by, we went out to dinner that night. The next morning I got to open it up. And here comes this guy in a white, 01:19:00I call it a dress to piss him off, but it's the way that an Emear dresses. His wife, his thing on his head with the black. That's distinguishing them because I worked in Saudi Arabia for two and a half years. I said, "My gosh sir, good morning." He said, "Do you remember me Jim?" I said, "How did you know my last name---my first name? He said "Your last name is Overman, correct?" "Yes." "I was in here yesterday." I said, "I do not remember." He said," Well I didn't have this on. I was with two other gentleman." "Oh yeah, I was busy then." "Yeah, you were giving your presentation on the eagle. Can you come with me? I want to show you something." "Yeah." As we were walking out of the booth, Mike Curstis was on that card, is the world renown bronze eagle sculptor. Presidents, when they retire they ask him to make their eagle. And he likes me and he gave me this offer and we hit it off, except he's a fucking Republican. That's in 01:20:00a--So, anyway, I said, "Mike, he wants to really talk to you." He said, "Jim, he said, if it's anything to do, you come with me." "Yeah, we'll go down and see what you got." We went over to his booth and he's from the United Arab Emirates. Do you know anything about that? There's something like nine countries, one of them is Dubai. He does all the designing for all the hotels. K? Multi-trillionaire. Nice and really friendly. Calling me by my first name and say, "Mike, I'm friendly with Jim yesterday cause I liked what he said yesterday selling your eagle." So, we get to it and there were two guys in there in their white dresses and the black [uses hand to gesture]. Well I got, we got a little coffee klutz going here. "We've got to ask you a question, Can you read blueprints." I said I can't, Mike I said, can you? Cause I didn't know. He said, yeah, I can read 'em. So, they lay these blueprints out, about, just about as 01:21:00big as I told ya [using hand to gesture]. Laying flat on the table, and right up the right hand, it had in vertical letters, registration. I said that's the lobby of a hotel. "Very good." Tell me what this little circle is right in the middle. By the this is 100 feet. A registration desk 100 feet long for Dubai. I said "I don't have a club, Mike?" Mike says "I don't have a clue." That's your 40 foot eagle. When can you deliver? [leaning forward towards camera]. Now if I make the, uh--30% of of 136, and that's only 10 foot, you can do that math. When, uh, Mike heard that story, he just totally wilted me. He said "Sir, whatever your name is, I won't do above 20 feet--because I lose the quality. I spend a lot of time on these things. It's his whole life. He's been doing it for 35 years. Every little feather you can see on an eagle, you can see those little 01:22:00barbs that go out, he does that on the sculpture and nobody else does. when you magnify the size of 'em to 40, all of that is away, it's just like the back of your hand. He said "I won't do one for you. It can be done and it's done in a machine. You take a wand over this one that we had there on display, and it copies all of it and puts it in a databank. You go to a foundry and you can an eagle just like it. What size? 40 feet. But when it reproduces it's flat. It doesn't have the detail. So, that guy was very sharp. And he says to one of his guys in Arabic. And he comes back and he says "We have a deal for you." Could you make it in two pieces? Cause that's 20 foot and 20 feet. Cause the line right here [using hand to gesture] could be cut. He said, "I..I would hesitate to say what it's cost." I said, "I won't. Yeah, he can do it."--Cause I was adding up pretty damn quickly. So, that's what we're going to do. [using hand to gesture]. We're gonna cut it in half and we're going to ship it over there. He's 01:23:00going to pay for it. Mike and his team, which is me, my lady friend, my oldest daughter [chuckles] all first class, you're going to be over to Dubai in June for this 40 foot eagle that Mike has to go to put together.

DERKS: And the film crew?

OVERMAN: Huh? Oh I forgot their names? They weren't very friendly when I was up there fucking around with the light. [chuckles]. Oh I remember that guy that's [using finger to point]. I remember the Republican. That's why--that's why I didn't give him a card. Oh and to go along with that--and we're not on film now, right?

DERKS: Yes we are.

OVERMAN: Ohhh. In an Olive Garden, oh maybe--two months ago, I'm sitting with my lady friend, another guy and his wife, and this really striking young guy with the white shirt on and the black slacks that do work--a waiter. He's speaking in French and I said "vous parlez fran├žais?" He came over and he asked me how much 01:24:00I knew. I said very little. But..you, you speak very..You speak English very well too. Can I ask you where you're from? He said "Yes sir, Algiers." I said "Algiers? You not only speak French. You speak Arabic." Because I want this guy to go with us. And while we're dealing with all those Arabs, he looks like a white guy. They don't know he speaks--we want to know what they're saying in Arabic. That's what I'm thinking about instantly. And Barb says, "Oh my god. What are you going to do now?" I said, never mind, just listen. His name is--Hyphen. His dad is an Adashay. And he's going to the University of Wisconsin to get his Master's degree and his girlfriend works in Green Bay. And part time he know the manager at Olive Garden and that's what he's doing there. I said, "Would you be interested in going to, UAE?" " Which country?" "Dubai. But I got a question before you answer." He said "Ok sir, what's that?" The place is crowded. "Why do all you Arabs write backwards?" He said "Sir, we don't write 01:25:00backwards, you do." We made instant friends that day and he's going to go with us as our interpreter but we're not going to advertise it. He's gonna be on our team cause we want to know what they're saying behind our back. So, I have no idea how much money is involved but no, I won't share a fucking guy with you guys.

DERKS: But we've got this all on tape. [everyone laughs]

OVERMAN: I know. And you just got my answer.

DERKS: We're gonna want to rethink this.

OVERMAN: Talk to Mike. [laughs] Go ahead. Call Mike and see what he says. [Puts his glasses back on]. The only--there's a better answer to that too because I found out from him that they're coming over here to Las Vegas in January, but I won't do it unless I can take Hyphen with us. But that's another story. I'll keep you informed.

DERKS: We need to get back to Vietnam now.

OVERMAN: Ok. Where were we? We were gunship. I'm done, right?

DERKS: Uh tell me about--

OVERMAN: Oh no, I gotta tell you

DERKS: Tell me about Africa.

OVERMAN: No. I want to--before I get to it. Because this is why I am a disabled Veteran. I haven't been wounded. I have PTSD. And had it been not for my lady 01:26:00friend from Madison, I don't know if I would have ever discovered it. Cause when I go to bed at night, with or without a sleeping pill, Boom! Seven hours, I'm gone. "You have sure been doing some weird things." This is about three years ago. "You jumped over me and jumped on the chair. And went like a raving madman. I didn't understand a word you said." "You're kidding." "Let's put the tape recorder on tonight." And sure enough, you know what that is? The advanced stages of PTSD or early stages of PTSD. I didn't know it. I've never intended to get a freebie from something I got coming. Until somebody said, "do you know what PTSD is worth to you?" "You'll have to see the State of Wisconsin psychiatrist. You'll have to see the psychiatrist on the reservation. But if you get qualified, that 30% is $356 dollars. Not very much at all. Tax free, the 01:27:00rest of your life. As you appeal it, which they all do. They all appeal they get an entry of 30% and they appeal it, and it jumps to 70% which is $1800 a month. When you get full 100%, it's $2696 a month and I think it's going up 10-15%. Tax free, the rest of your life. I am a veteran, I have PTSD and I have it coming, regardless of what my other income is, I have it coming. You know what I'm doing with that money right now? Seriously. I gave my brand new Honda Accord, I gave it away, seriously, to the woman who does my e-mail. She runs the education center at the res. If you ever send me e-mail, she's getting the e-mail. If you Major Tonto Sir [ yahoo.com, It's going to her and then she calls me and I come pick it up. We have security on this eagle in this park. They're kicking it 01:28:00around, kicking it around. The tribe's never going to approve that much. It's too much money. I said I'll buy it. I paid for the whole fucking thing. They want a new clubhouse for the VFW. I said I'll buy that too. Well they're starting to let me. Let's kick it back at this new business committee and see what they'll do. So, they said "We've gotta do something." They're going to give $600,000 to us, the veterans. Cletus, by the way, Cletus in charge of our new VFW club. But I originally was going to pay for that fucking thing. Now I'm not doing that to get a pat on the back. I'm doing that because my dad was that way with the VFW. There's nobody better than VFW and every extra penny he had, he'd donate it to whatever the hell they'd done with their money in those days. And that's they way I feel. Pisses my family off.

DERKS: What do you think the, is--uh--specifically what do you think the cause 01:29:00of the PTSD was?

OVERMAN: I'm gonna tell you right now. I'm gonna tell you right now--Do you remember me saying that Mister Nixon and Kissinger made me an assassin? They didn't only make me an assassin. They made my whole crew that night assassins. Plural. We did our briefing and we were going to a real interesting area that night, again. And we went over to our club, and we always'd get something to eat, fast. Nothin' too much to eat or you get tired before your mission is over. And they listed people who'd go to their NCO club, and I'd pick 'em up with our crew bus and we'd go out to the airplane. As we were going to get our crew bus this jeep draws up and it's a captain. An army captain. And around his should is this thing that he's a general's aid. He said "are you Major Overman?" I said "Yes sir. Don't you salute majors?" "Yes sir." And he gave me his salute and he said "I have a message and I apologize." A WestPoint Graduate. Picked for a fast 01:30:00burner by the way. "Ahh. General Clay would like to speak with you." I said " You're talking about four star General Clay in charge of the CC??? "Yes I am. He's waiting for you in the Intel room." I said, "Can you tell me what it's about?" "Bring your navigator and your co-pilot with you. Cause this will be a volunteer thing." We run and we're already briefed for our mission that night. He walks in and we walk in and he looks right me and he said, "4,000 known North Vietnamese have overtaken the town of Scown and we want you to level it. How do you feel about that?" I says, "Sir, My name is Jim Overman. I know what your name is. I know all about you." "I know his name, Herb Blayhok, and I know the navigators name. I'm giving you an opportunity here, and if you wanna take it, I'll get another crew." And the navigator said "What about ROG, Rules of 01:31:00Engagement?" "I want you to ignore everything and do exactly what I said. Don't' be asking me any more questions." Really stern and no nice guy horseshit at all. And those stars were gettin' bigger and bigger. Remember I told you I want to make colonel. Excellent opportunity for me. They follow the leader. I said I volunteer. Herb Blayhawk wasn't sure. The navigator was--didn't want to go. So, bringed it up again. And all I did was look at Herb and he said, "I'll go." I looked over to the navigator and he shook his head cause he knew we were going to be leveling Pagodas. He was a evangelical Christian Republican. What the hell was he doing flying, destroying life instead of saving life. That asshole. You know what I mean about those folks? "Ok" he said. "Your crew's being briefed right now and you'll be using some new ammo. You're in a permissive environment. Do you remember me using that term earlier? You can go down to 3500 feet cause 01:32:00none of their small arms can reach your altitude. And have your gunners take off their vests and enjoy the show." That's the way he talked to me. We got out to the airplane and my lead gunner was a master sergeant. Come up, saluted me, said "Sir, we've never been briefed. We want to know what you what you said we're going. He turned around and some guys were going [cheering gesture]. They were all for it. He said the CIA was out here lonesome lamblea and we didn't know anything about it, do you?" I said "Yeah, it's phosphor. And what it does, it's going to go through the roof of their shacks and when it gets inside, it goes off. And anybody in there burns. It centers there. "We won't have a problem with that." I said, "Then let's go." We got in the airplane and going down there. It was a macho thing, we couldn't wait to begin. By the way, we discussed it with the general, how he wanted us to start--on the outside and move to the core or 01:33:00start in the middle and move out. We started on the outside and moved in. The cheering and the yelling and remember tape--not only the video tape of the strike itself, but the cockpit tape is all at Maxwell Air force Base in Montgomery Alabama of that mission. There were pagodas involved. There were fires involved. It was so exciting and so destructive, what we were doing. We forgot what we were doing. We were killing 4,000 known bad guys. And that kept us going and kept us focused. The nasses were getting low on fuel and engineers were, "how much fuel do we have left?" He said "about an hour." "We're not too far from Totson. Give 'em a call and tell 'em we're going to stay on this target 'cause we're not finished yet." That's what I said. You can hear my voice loud 01:34:00and clear. We went over to Totson, landed there waiting. Of course, they put us on a separate part of their ramp 'cause they thought we needed more ammo and they had more of that phosphorate. We didn't need any more ammo. They filled up the airplane and by now the sun was just coming up. When we took off and turned toward Phnom Penh, Cambodia--the capital, you can the black smoke. We didn't need any navigator to get us back in geometry [gestures with hand]. We finished off a few more buildings that were downtown. The, uh, infrared operate said we have some people in the water swimming away to the other shore. I said, ok, give me the 20s--20 millimeter. The gat-thing gun. Got 'em all. Got 'em al. It starting to sink in because there's no more to do and what we volunteered or is complete. We head back towards Ubon Air base, Thailand, where we flew out of the 8th tack firewing. We get a call from the tower because we were overdue. Member 01:35:00I went in and --That wasn't logged into it. He just wanted us t do our thing and get back so he could take that film, go down to Saigon, put it on a 141, and send it to the Pentagon and give it to Kissinger and Nixon. That's how closed society we were in. The tower said, "uh--I have a senior officer that would like to ask you a question." and we were about 50 miles out. "I have to know how you did." And you can hear my voice say, "We got 'em all." In that tone of voice 'cause I was choking up while I said it. He didn't say thank you, nothing. We landed in traffic. We land and when we pull off the god damn jeep that he was in came up and followed and he's going like this [gestures with his hand]. The son of the bitch wanted us to shut down an area we don't shut down on, because we got that ammo and we got a lot of other stuff that can't block up, so the fires can't get through their express way. So, we went right to the 130 ramp which 01:36:00pissed him off. The ground crew got on the headset and said he's coming right up on the aircraft, I think No, he wants to know where the camera compartment is. I said, "Show him." So, with the camera compartment he got in the jeep and took off. And there was a T39 waiting. Off they went to Saigon. They were gone. No thank you, nothing. He was pissed because we were late. What I started realizing on these things in bed with my lady friend, three to five years ago, when those 4,000 known North Vietnamese were in the town of Scown, and they dove into those houses for cover, what do you think was in those houses? We didn't kill 4,000. We killed at least 10,000. Women, children and men. We destroyed--we destroyed 01:37:00their background by leveling their pagodas listening to this General Clay. And now when I realize that, I have a hell of a time of it. And I'm a prime example of PTSD. Highs and lows. You've seen a little bit of it earlier when I break up. I break up a lot easier now than I used to. So, I have PTSD - post traumatic stress syndrome.

[Break in video]

I was being filmed in Los Angeles for that trilogy I told you about, where I was the warrior. And this director of Fox Studios who was doing the filming, said, "Uh, do you know anybody that can help you get that information from Axel Air force Base?" I said, "Well, there's a wall up, and I've tried, and I don't have-I had a top-secret clearance, but it expires after you get out. And you no 01:38:00longer have a need to know." "Uh, I know a retired general in this area." " What kind of general?" I said four star. He was chief of uh shape or whatever it was in Europe, and I wrote his ER for him when he came over to Naho, Okinawa when I was flying halo, etc. He was one of the return of the cockpit wester pointers on the fast burner. He said, "Is he in this area?" I got his cell phone number with me. I did have a cell phone then, so he said, "When you call him can I monitor the call?" I said, "I don't care." So, I give him a call and he answered the phone. And I said, "Jim." He said, "You don't have to tell me, Jim Overman. How the hell are you?" Now this is a guy who I was in almost 15 years after I got out, but he remembered me way back to 1965 when I checked him out in a 130. And he was a general's aide coming back to the cockpit. He had just got his master's degree in astrophysics. "Oh my god you're married!" God, I remember that voice. 01:39:00He said, "Let me tell you what happened. I was going through the Air War College when I was still a bull. Bull colonel. And they were showing us this mission that happened at Skoun, and he's telling the story for the Christ sake and he doesn' know that these other guys are on the--And he said "I heard your voice. I knew immediately it was you." He said, "That must be really be weighing heavy." I said, "Jim, that's why I want to see you. Man come on over. Where are you? And I told him, Republican by the way, really staunch republican. Gives big. His name is James E Dalton. D-A-L-T-O-N. Class of 54 Unites States Military Academy. He said, "Come on over. He said, "I will, I'll try to help you." I said, "There's somebody else monitoring the call and they're filming a documentary. Do you mind if they come along?" "No bring em over." So, we go to this area. One of the people knew where all these high-class people who have retired lived on the 01:40:00side of the hill, overlooking the ocean. "Oh my god. That's--prime territory. It was a gated community. So, the guy driving goes up and he said, "uh I'm coming here to see James E. Dalton." And said, "What's your name?" And he gave him name. And he rang Jim and Jim said, "I don't know him. See if there's a James Overman." "Yeah, that's me." "Go ahead." We went to his house. I remember how high a rank he is. He's like Wes Clark is now. That was Jim Dalton. He's standing out in front of this spacious mansion waiting to see me. And when we got inside in this beautiful house, he said, "Before we do any talking, I want you to know something. That guy is the best pilot in the air force." Now he was say--I didn't ask him to say that. I hadn't seen him in years. That was a real compliment from a 4-Star General that I used to fly with. Long story short, we walked out of there and he promised 'em that he would try. I called him back 01:41:00about a month later he said "Jim," he said, "it's complicated. I'm not backing off on a promise. I'll keep trying, but I don't think they're going to release it." I said, " I don't want any reward on it." I still didn't know about PTSD then. I just wanted to satisfy them. "It's down there, and its all I can say. I'm not keeping anything from you. And how to get it, I have no idea. But I've got an idea." Nixon was famous for taping everything that period of time in his office. If I can get somebody who could get to the--what do you call the readings, not the tape itself, but the readings?

DERKS: The transcripts?

OVERMAN: The transcripts! And study those transcripts and give him that date in 1970, in December, I bet you you could find that tape and you could hear the son of a bitch saying, "Call Clay and take care of that situation. They got those damn gunships or whatever. Somebody will wanna take it." I'll bet you those are 01:42:00the words they use. Fuckin' around with me and my crew, forever. That's the thing that rings my bell.

DERKS: Tell me again about your co-pilot.

OVERMAN: Herman Blayhock. His brother played football for the Dallas Cowboys--a defensive back. We were more than friends. He, uh, he's a mustang, like I am, and he got his commission. I checked him out on a specter gunship. His wife and my wife were friends. Not good friends but were friends. And we just followed each other around. He was behind me a little bit in rank because he was a master sergeant when he finally got admitted piloting school. So, he had less experience as a pilot than I did. He didn't even want to talk to me. His wife told me on the telephone, "Jim don't call here anymore. He's gone." I said, "He's not passed away. No, but he's gone in his mind." He said PTSD is helpin' 01:43:00us out, but he can't stop drinking. He's my age, 75. A physical specimen, when he was a younger man. Boy we'd get into a fight at the bar, and he'd clean up my mess. In a bar, yassars club, officer and a gentleman, they fucked up when they just got me. [laughs]. I'm living proof.

DERKS: That's a lot to carry. How old were you when you flew that mission?

OVERMAN: I retired when I was 39, which was 72. This happened in 7--37. I went 01:44:00to one reunion. Saw two of the guys and they were--Humphries was the one that I told you about. And, they use reunion as an excuse to get drunk. And I'm an alcoholic who doesn't want to drink anymore, so I've avoided everyone since then.

DERKS: So, they're all carrying on it?

OVERMAN: Oh yeah. That's only one crew, but we don't know. Now Kerry,

DERKS: Leaving without that?

OVERMAN: Kerry was just like that, only a smaller version. Only a smaller version. And those damn people swift boating, they had no idea what he went through. I think he had two silver stars, Kerry. You don't get those for nothing, even if you know the admiral of the fleet. You don't--

DERKS: Bronze.

OVERMAN: Silver.

DERKS: Silver.

OVERMAN: Would you like to bet on that please?

DERKS: $1,000 bucks.

OVERMAN: We do assassinate. We do. Special forces, by the way, just recently, in 01:45:00the past couple days, Syria, special ops mission. And to get A Qaeda? No. no. To start a little frickus, in a country that is not letting us do that Syria, because john McCain is so far behind in, it'll look like he's the type of guy that can handle that situation. What they've done skill some women and children. And I'm saying its because of politics. I really am. McCain is the worst guy they can have. He's a three-dollar bill. I told you about him earlier. What he did the the prisoner of war, was terrible, terrible.

DERKS: Tell me, um, how long were you in Vietnam?

OVERMAN: What's--Well, three years.

DERKS: Were you there and back and there and back?

OVERMAN: I was at Naha airbase Okinawa. And for three years I was TDY for as 01:46:00much as 90 days at a time. I was credited for three tours. I think it's more than--60 days for one. And I had three or four of them.

DERKS: And was all that time flying the--

OVERMAN: The, the plane, no, the plane 130. I did not get into the super job, the gunship, until 70.

DERKS: Now is specter also called "Spooky?"

OVERMAN: No. That's the difference between, what kind of car do you drive?

DERKS: Subaru.

OVERMAN: That's the difference between your Subaru and my car. I have an Acura. That has a telephone and a GPS in it. Everything. 40 grand car and your Subaru cost 20, right?

OVERMAN: Which is which? [Derks laughs] No, no I mean--with Spooky. Are you kid--I wouldn't have a Subaru in my garage. [laughs]. Even if you washed it.

01:47:00

Derks: So, the spooky--

OVERMAN: The Spooky was the onset of that concept of firing from the air, stable instead of a fire coming in at 450 knots he has to go faster to really to get shot down and just dropping his stuff like the B17s did, from way up here but they gave him more bombs to drop. No, Specter AC 130 gunship has revolutionized air to ground warfare. And why they're using helicopters now gunships, is suicide for those helicopters, cause they can be shot down by anybody.

DERKS: But they're still using specter in Afghanistan.

OVERMAN: Oh, they're, they're still over there. They are. And they--do things. They survey. You know since the surge, ok, the American people think putting all those extra troops over there has really caused us to be like we are right now. 01:48:00No. [shakes his head]. Special ops AC 130s up at 10,000 feet and they don't have to bank anymore, they just shoot at level flight. They go, let's say the highway is route 1 between um Baghdad and wherever. They have a, a, uh--curfew on everybody after 10 o'clock. Anybody on those road or on the side of the roads are destroyed. So, if you destroy those guys planting the mines, they can't put any mines in there, and it looks like the fucking war in the surge is working. It's all done by the 16th SOS. That thing I gave you is a 16 SOS.

DERKS: So, how do they do that flying low ones? Computerize the guns target?

OVERMAN: How do they do it by shooting level flight??? We, our guns were fixed, 01:49:00but we used 28 degrees of bank and that geometry, plus what the bullet actually does it, goes--When it hits the ground it's going almost vertical. All of that and the--yeah but what they do is they do it from level fight now, rather than in a bank. I think they shot further out too. Magnificent system, but very dangerous.

OVERMAN: I got one last thing I want to show you that happened.

DERKS: And with all our fire power we couldn't defeat them?

OVERMAN: No we didn't win the Vietnam either.

DERKS: No that's what I mean.

OVERMAN: By the way, you know McCain, and I mean this about McCain, he has said many, many times I know how to win wars. Well, let me tell you something about McCain. His first challenge with the enemy, he got shot down. He lost that battle. Then they put him in jail, which is the POW. He lost that one too for five years. What the hell does he know about--how to win? Come on!

01:50:00

DERKS: Who are you gonna vote for?

OVERMAN: Huh?--God is this guy your boss?

OVERMAN: Ohhh. Uh. This was said to me when the United States Air Force Memorial opened up, and I thought it was this one cause I wasn't there. I was out doing; my glasses were where? You picked em up--

DERKS: You're like my wife--Where'd you put 'em Jim?

OVERMAN: I got em. Did you see my Mick in my pocket? [Mick laughs]. I have on the cover of the right page. I had to put that there. Then I thought this friend I have in Washington DC, I was, uh, a fundraiser for--oh we were nationwide. And that's how I got to know pretty big shots in the democratic party. Uh, he sent me this, and I thought it was just because I couldn't be there at the dedicated. 01:51:00I'll show you in a second. But inside of it, is a picture. This is in the, uh, at Ohio that big air-- See that aircraft number? 630--That's a specter gunship. You can see the 220-millimeter canons here. Okay? And it says, the AC 138 is displayed at the National Museum at the USA of Port of [unintelligible]/ It bears the name "Angel of Death." We had that painted right up there. Two six-barrel 20-millimeter canons. Two 7.62 millimeters. -- By the way that's what Spooky the Magic Dragon had. --Just some big deer rifle, when he a gatly gun. And I had tracers on it where you can see it firing. Every fifth round you can see. Uhh--machine guns, two forty-millimeter bulford guns and a stabilized 01:52:00tracking set, a vehicle ignition sensor forward looking infrared, a beao tracking radar and a search light. That's when they used the IO eliminator operator. This was in now in a museum, and I said, "Well you know what, I flew that airplane." "Jim Overman, you're always bullshitting." I got out my records, and this for you, it says at the top left-hand corner "Prepared on the 9th of July 1970. Overman James K. My social security card don't use that number 'cause I'll know it was you. Uh, as of 30 June of 1970. Now, when you go down this column, uh, where the heck is it? Mission symbols. Any O1A mission, is a mission in Laos or North Vietnam. This is not down south Vietnam. That was different 01:53:00war. This is where all the prisoner of war came from, ok? This is O1A missions, and when you get down to this state, on the sixth month of 24th, AC 130, here's the aircraft number, 630, this 630, the aircraft commander was major James K. Overman.

DERKS: And who's he?

OVERMAN: You're goin' to get know him a lot better. You get this film out to the right people, for the Christ sake, I'll even join the Republican Party. Uh, uhhh, let's see. There's a another one 630. 630. Here is what's interesting and here's why, uh, I've got 18 air medals. The average air medal for people that went over there and flew up north or flew in Laos is six. I've got 18. 18. 17 01:54:00oak leaf clusters. Right here you'll see that I have combat hours. Now this is O1A in North Vietnam or in Laos. 635 hours. Average mission was about four and a half hours. Do the math. I got, what, 170 that come out to in missions?

Cameraman: Somethin' like that.

OVERMAN: Average guy got 100 he went home.

DERKS: Wow your social security number is low--

OVERMAN: Yeah, don't use it though. Goddamit. I wish I'd never given you it. Anyway, I've got, I'll, I'll, I'll tape, not tape. I will highlight this thing for you, whatever you wanna do with it.

DERKS: Let me just scan it?

OVERMAN: Oh yeah. Can you do it now?

DERKS: Yeah.

OVERMAN: Ok. There's another one I want to show you then. On page 119. Cause 01:55:00this goes back to Korea. Remember I told you I could do anything in that airplane? Oh, I gotta to tell you that joke. You know these grave rays that I worked with? They were so daring. One of em, led the nation of Russia and was close to 'em for freefall time. He got something like 20 hours and 10 minutes freefall time. That's time after it leaves the airplane.

DERKS: 20 hours.

OVERMAN: Yeah. And when I had that surprise thing, my mother was dying and I had to go back and they gave me that green beret. "Major, can I call you Jim just before you leave, cause we won't see each other again. He was a master star [???]. I said "Absolutely." "Cause you know what I am." I said, "Yeah. You're a fucking mustang." "Ok. Fucker." [laughs]. " I've got a joke for you, and I hope you can pick up on it. I can do anything with my body when I'm freefalling, that you can do in an airplane except one thing." I said, " And what's that?" he said 01:56:00"climb." [laughs]. You know gravity is pulling him down. He can't go back up. You caught it. Thank you Mik for [laughs]--I've gotta find that 119 thing. Or that B26. No that's on 119, so I need 106. This was the sweetest airplane, right there. Jim Overman flew--oh I didn't tell you this! Oh, for the Christ sake! I might have it. Let me try to find it, ok? Let me just--oh ma oh man oh man. This was 214. You don't need 24, do you? Ok--

DERKS: You didn't have to prove any of this to us.

01:57:00

OVERMAN: I know. But I'm looking for something that's really--here it. My dad is buried at Arlington on the East Coast. World War I Lost Battalion, Argon Force. Last surviving member. I've got the west coast covered in the state of California, on a monument that was designed recognizing three million California veterans since World War I. There are 7--72 images on this thing I'm going to show you, and I one of em. Now that's a real feat, and real luck. Here's the monument and it goes up 32 feet. Here's the picture, and that's me. See that good looking guy there? It looks just like that good looking guy behind me? He's--we're real close. That's me when I first, remember I told you two 01:58:00navigators, and pissed off that guy in the back? Got him so cold. [laughs]. That's me. Now get this down into, where the hell is it? And you will see, this--when you're standing down here looking up at the monument, I am life size at about twenty feet off the ground, forever. And I didn't even use that word "forever." I take my grandson to see it after the big ceremony we had. And he looked up there and he says, "Grandpa, you're up there forever!" He's thirty years old he takes all his buddies by to see it. But anyway, that's the crew. That's me individually, and here's--here's the monument over here. There's a little kiosk, and when you go over there and you push up air force, and you push up James K. Overran and push a button, boom, the picture jumps up, and this is what you'll see. Right there and I've got a copy of that. Man, you guys are 01:59:00talking to a fuckin' wheel. You didn't even know it. I saved it all of this and am I'm glad it's on film. You watch. Bush's gonna say. After you left, they checked the film, and it didn't work. Here is what you're looking at on that, uh, kiosk wherever that guy's standing. Yeah, ok. Right, there is this. But my picture is not next to it. That--uh, the reason this bio is written this way, in our culture, when you present an eagle feather to one of our veterans who has a background, you have to read it off.

DERKS: Tell me. So we have it on--

OVERMAN: Oh--

DERKS: Don't tell him.

OVERMAN: He won't remember it anyway.

DERKS: He's not worth it.

OVERMAN: He won't remember it anyway.

CAMERA MAN: Tell me.

OVERMAN: Oh god--

OVERMAN: The reason that format is set that way, I started many years ago 02:00:00because I had to read fast. I didn't have glasses then. And I didn't realize it was my eyes etcetera. And it has to tell what he did from moment one until when he got out. And if you go right down the dam thing, it says, James K. Overman, a Native American of the Iroquois nation Oneida tribe of Wisconsin and my role number, he, enlisted in United States Air Force in March of 52, to answer your question. Received his commission as a Second lieutenant. yes! [raises fist], excuse me, and graduate from pilot training 14 April of 54. Pilot of B26 Aircraft sd in Korea and Japan. Oh my god! I told you about it forget those women. It's just like it is at home cookin'. I instructed student pilots at Lubbock, Texas, as you come down instructor of advanced pilots at Waco and San Antonio. That's the IPIS I told you about. Had three combat tours in Vietnam--65, 67, 70 and 71. Pilot of C130 and AC130 gunship. As aircraft 02:01:00commander and instructor pilot, earned three distinguished flying crosses, 18 air medals, the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism with his unit 60 SOS. Retired on 1 April of 1972 as a major, and the back of this thing is what I wanted you to see. The women from the tribe, we got a big--hotel that we own in downtown Sacramento at 15th and L. Oh its big! It's a residence center and I think its 30 stories. All of them are big suites. Well, they came out during the construction of it, "Well let's go see where that Overman is. He's been talking about it. I wasn't talking at all. People asked me questions and I'd tell em. But I don't just say one sentence. I say three paragraphs. So, they go there, and I'm just home on leave. And they say, "Would you mind coming down and showing us this monumental?" Well, this Kathy Hughes, our director, she was reading this right there and going on down and yeah yeah yeah. So what? I said 02:02:00right here. It says, "next page." And when you go to the next page. "He is a Native American Oneida of Iroquois Nation," and she goes "Yes!" because I as a Native American. Class.

DERKS: That was on the net page?

OVERMAN: Yeah. that's on the next page, 'cause it starts out with "he." So, if you want this stuff you can have it. If not, I somebody to give it to that will appreciate it. [laughs]

DERKS: Um, if there's somebody you want to give it to, I can scan this. If you don't really have somebody you want to give it to.

Overman: You know, if I was a younger man what I'd say to you right now? I want to be the Director of Veterans Affairs for the state of Wisconsin. Give that to the governor please. He knows me by the way.

DERKS: Ok.

Overman: No no. I don't want to. I'm too old for that shit. Don't want it 02:03:00anymore. But that's the way, you know Barbara? His wife

DERKS: Yeah.

Overman: What of you think of her?

DERKS: Uh, I don't know her well enough to think of her.

Overman: I know her well enough to say this. On Friday night, were the color guard for Kerry. She introduced him on the loudspeaker, and I'd never seen her before, and to me, "Wow!" That would be my target if I was only 73 but I'm 75, Well I was younger than 73 then. But anyway, I liked her appearance. I liked her appearance. The next day we had another thing with Kerry at the Railroad Museum. We got there at nine when we were supposed to, but Kerry was late--talking at a breakfast someplace. So, there are three thousand people seated and the floor's wood and everybody's real quiet, just like all you white guys are before church starts. That's the time to really get attention. Now I don't want to tell you 02:04:00how I do that, but that's the time you get attention. [laughs]. I tape all my confessions, and then you push the button and play it out loud. Frank was that you? [laughs] It's quiet, and the crowd is there, and we the veterans are just standing along the side of this big museum and nobody's doing anything. And I said to Cliff Doxitr, "what's this?" She's just getting off the stage checking her notes, and she's going clickity click with her really high heels and stunning body. "Jim don't embarrass us again because I embarrassed them so many times at different places." I said, without even hearing them, I said, "Lieutenant governor." She stops and everybody in the audience I talk pretty loud their faces started looking this way. "I have never had a hug from a 02:05:00lieutenant governor." Clickity clickity, clickity click right over to me. And they all stood up and cheered, and you know all these guys that said don't do it? They stood up for their hug all the way down the line to our female officer. Yes! [laughs] You only pass this one time, Butch, wherever you are.

DERKS: You know the governor doesn't appoint the secretary.

Overman: No no. I, I--

DERKS: The board does now.

Overman: But I--if I wanted something, always went to the head. I don't like to go to number two. I I learned that in marketing. There's nothing worse, when I was in Savanya, didn't go in for--what was the contract for? It was big--Via Payla shoes. They're in--uh, Kansas. Topeka Kansas. I flew into Kansas City cause I on the telephone I set up the appointment. And I go for the kill. I 02:06:00don't waste any time and I don't have any respect for his position or his fancy stuff and his coffee and his good-looking secretary out there. I'm in there to get a signature. When I went in there and told him what I had to say, he said "You're getting a little bit of gut?" I said "No you're too far behind. And this isn't a--cut it now and catch on. You are wasting with your 660 locations; you're wasting $5,220 dollars a day on your utility bills by not listening to me."" What?" "You can--can you repeat the numbers back again?" He couldn't, so I said em over again. He called in this, whatchmacallit just like Safeway groceries then. He said "He's speaking right sir. We've worked this out." I said, "See. We can have that all today. All you have to do is sign right down here." I didn't even open my addasahay case. I had a contract for all of his 620 02:07:00locations. He went right on down. "Where do I sign?" I said, "right there." I was in there five minutes and I had all 660 of em.

DERKS: They have commercials like that now.

Overman: Now do you know, how many stores Via Payless shoe store has? 3600. He asked for the order. That's what your getting paid to do. You don't--"oh is that a nice picture. Is that your wife, wow?"

DERKS: I have one more question for you.

Overman: The answer's no.

DERKS: Were you a natural pilot?

Overman: No. I worked hard at it. I was good, but I worked hard at it. The other on--oh I didn't tell you about the other one. The second [sighs]. Another one of the phone calls that got me over to Africa. I worked with Southern Air Transport because of a phone call made to me, and I had a business in town--lighting. And 02:08:00it was my friend, a flight engineer, that I was sergeants with before, and he saw my rise and sure was jealous and all that stuff, but a good friend. He's still alive today. "Hey Jim, you wanna go to Africa?" "Oh god I'm gong through a divorce." "Well this will get rid of a lot of it, but you'll make some real money." "I said how much?" "$15,000 a month, tax free." " Where do I go?" "Angola, Africa. You'll be flying diesel fuel to diamond mines." I said, " Are you sober?" He said, "You bet I am, but I've got to them an answer and they'll fill you in. They'll be calling you from someplace in England. [sighs]. And you're going to have to say yes or no. And they're going to get a passport for you and your working visa to get into Angola from Paris. They're gonna fly you from Sacramento to Chicago and from Chicago direct to Paris. You'll have about 02:09:00two hours on the ground and you go to Angola on a 747 and, you'll be there. I said "Ho--what do I need to check out? Well with your background and the history you got with em, probably two or three rides and you'll be the, boss. I said "What will you do with all that money? I can't send that home. My ex-wife will jump on it." "We've got that figured out for you also. Most of us are divorced. We take our check, we go to London on a trip that we pay for ourselves, and we get a credit Swiss. You ever heard of credit Swiss, k--account, and they have to film you and they have to get a recording of your voice while your talking, ok? And you have to have $50,000 to open up the account. The company will send your check to credit Swiss, which is in, uh, Denmark denkar denamr--home base. See I'm lost for words right now. And this is PTSD. This is not Alzheimers. Uhh, and 02:10:00you're account will be opened.

DERKS: In Copenhagen?

OVERMAN: Uh--No, no that's Denmark. No its not there. It's in--[

DERKS: Switzerland? Bern?

OVERMAN: No. Name some more. Say it again--No. Hmmm. [sighs].

DERKS: Anyway.

OVERMAN: That'll be bother me. Where in Swiss--Swiss--Switzerland--But anyway your check will go there and this, I'm going to teach you now on your camera. This I wish you would cut out when you get a chance--

[Interview Ends]