Profile in Courage
KIA Cheo Reo, Vietnam 30 June, 1965
Capt Paul R. "Windy" Windle was one of the original members of Jungle Jim who KIA as a Forward Air Controller(FAC) flying an L-19(O-1E) on 30 June, 1965. He was supporting the Vietnamese Airborne Brigade near the village of Cheo Reo in the province of Darlac, South Vietnam. He was directing an F-100 piloted by Capt Ralph Havens when his aircraft was hit at 11:52 and crashed on a rocky hillside and burst into flames on impact. Army Major Joseph E.Parker, an artillery officer, was flying with Paul to help direct mortar fire that day. Major Parker died in the crash with Paul. Paul was on his 3rd tour in Vietnam when he was killed. At the time of his death Capt Windle was serving as a FAC with the Vietnamese Airborne Brigade. In a letter to his parents, his commander made an interesting note which many of us who served with him felt the same:
"It was only a short time after Windy went to work for the Brigade that various people both
Vietnamese and American would stop by and tell me how much they liked Paul and how much
help he was to them. When he had to leave a unit for awhile I would receive queries as to how
soon could he come back and how badly he was needed. Windy certainly made a lot of friends
and earned a lot of respect in a short period of time." All of us who served with Paul knew him as
an excellent and respected pilot, one who could be counted on to deliver the goods in face of
obstacles. He was well liked by everyone who came in contact with him. We were all proud to
be associated with Windy.
President Johnson's letter to Capt Windle's parents stated "Capt Windle was an exceptionally
efficient officer who won many friends by his perservance, leadership and the encouragement he
gave to his associates." Kansas Senator Bob Dole, the current Republican candidate running for
the presidency, stated to his parents: "your comments that Paul could have returned to the states
in March of this year, but choose to remain in Vietnam, was symbolic of his devotion and
dedication in doing everything possible to save America from Communism."
Near Dodge City in Southwest Kansas lies a small town called Greensburg which has its municipal airport named after Paul Windle. Windle municipal airport is where Paul got his first taste of flying. He received his first flying lessons at this airport. Paul was born on 14 November, 1934 on a farm north of Mullinville, Kansas and attended school both in Mullinville and Greensburg, KS. His brother said that they had enough students in the school to man a 6 man football team which Paul played on. He was the second of four sons all who are still alive today. Paul enlisted in the Air Force on 11 March, 1954 and later that year entered the Aviation Cadet Program. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt in June 1955. In 1956, as a 2nd Lt, he flamed out in a T-33 on takeoff at 300 ft and brought the aircraft safely back. He was commended for his airmanship by the Wing Commander. All of his fellow Aviation Cadets which he were in his flight praised him for his superior airmanship while in flying school. During his final check ride in Aviation Cadets his instructor pilot stated: "he had never had the privilege of riding with a more well-coordinated pilot."
Paul's flying duties were principally with Air Training Command, SAC and TAC. He disliked
SAC but loved flying with the Air Commandos. He is remembered by a few who were with him
in Vietnam in 1962 with returning a B-26 with slightly bent tips on the prop after returning from
Danang. Seemed like he wanted to show the C-123 pilots at Danang the B-26's max performance
takeoff capability or something like that. One B-26 pilot commented that with these bent tips on
the prop he still flew his mission and returned to Bein Hoa Airbase. In July 1964 a fuel truck ran
over him, after late night flying, while he was filling out his flight forms and he was slightly
injured. He was in excellent physical shape and that is probably the reason why he wasn't hurt
more. He told his family "that it was the closest call he probably ever had considering his tours in
Vietnam." His navigators in the B-26 remember him well with his firm determinations and
aggressiveness and occasionally doing his own navigation. He told his family that Pat Crotty(one
of his navigators in the B-26) was the best navigator in the Air Force.
Paul flew B-26s in his first and second tour in Vietnam and a L-19(O-1E) in his third tour when
he was killed. The B-26s were grounded in Feb 1964 because the wings fell off at an air show
attended by the press and recorded by them. Because of this Paul was checked out in the A-1E.
In Paul's notes he said he had flown the B-26, whose wings fell off, a week before to Nort
Calorina for an exercise. He was sent to Vietnam on his third tour to fly the A-1E but was
reassigned to the L-19 when he arrived in country. During his 1962 tour in Vietnam he not only
attended the RAF jungle survival school in Singapore but also attended the Army Special Forces
jump school near Saigon. This was a one week school that Air Commandos could attend to get
their parachute wings. It was a good deal until General sweeney(referred to Sweeney Green for
his penachment for green signs) found out about and ordered an immediate halt for all Air Force
personnel from attending this school in 1962.
Paul never married but was planning to when he was to return from his last tour in Vietnam. He
told his family that he didn't want to tie up some girl if he came back as a basket case.
On 17 July, 1965 a team of Air Commandos, lead by Bill Keeler, then a Capt and a Kansan,
attended funeral services for Paul in Mullinville, KS. The Air Commando military bearers were
Capts John Slauson, Richard Blair, Jr; James Gorhnauer, Richard Fields and Majors Frank
Harrison and Clyde Evans. They flew to the funeral in a B-26 and a Skyraider landing at Dodge
City, Kansas. According to Leaford Windle they put on an air show before they left which the
local folks won't forget.
Paul was qualified in the following aircraft during his career: T-33, B-25, B-26, KC-97(which he
disliked), A1E and L-19(O-1E). He had over 3500 flying hours. He flew 232 sorties and 584
hours in the B-26 and 101 missions and 199.5 hours in the O-1E. His military awards included:
Silver Star, Purple Heart, eight(8) Air Medals(was eligible for 12 but his family never received the
other four since he was killed before he could apply for them), Small Arms, good Conduct,
Vietnam National Order and Fifth Class and Gallantry Cross Palm. He was a command pilot and
a rated parachutist.
Paul is survived by three brothers who would be glad to hear from those that knew and flew with
Paul. They are:
Leaford Windle Warren Windle George Windle
1205 N. Mesa Rd 4205 Ponderosa Ave PO Box 770784
Belen, NM 87002 Albuquerque, NM 87110 Edge River, AK
Tel 505-864-7671 505-881-6299 99577
Contributing to this article were Bill Keeler, Myrna Cody, Leaford & Warren Windle and
numerous family papers, pictures letters etc.