Military Order of the Purple Heart

Texas Capital Chapter 1919 Austin, Texas



United States Air Force


23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron




Patriot, Chapter 1919

 USAF, Vietnam


In 1970 Colonel Pat McCaslin was transferred to Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, where he flew an OB-10 light attack plane. He was the commander of a flight supporting Operation Prairie Fire, which, when needed, grew up to 2 CH-53 helicopters and 4 A-1E Skyraiders in addition to his own aircraft. The group was responsible for inserting and extracting special forces ground troops from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. “I can’t remember any of my missions that weren’t done under enemy fire,” he said. “We later found out the enemy knew about our missions in advance because our people discovered a saboteur back at headquarters leaking information to the enemy.”


Once, when on assignment over Laos, a bullet crashed through McCaslin’s cockpit, into his head and blew glass into his seat. “That’s how I got a Purple Heart,” he said.


But one mission in particular haunts him to this day.


“We got a call in May of 1971 from a unit of 3 Americans and 7-8 Vietnamese operatives called Recon Team, Alaska,” he said. “They were in an area close to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) and called in a Prairie Fire Emergency – the highest level of urgency.”


McCaslin was 30 miles south and made an all-out effort to reach the men, desperately calling for backup. But, as he neared the extraction zone and heard different voices take over after the preceding man died, the American voices disappeared one by one. By the time he arrived, the voices ceased and only one Vietnamese survived.


“I felt helpless, like watching my own son getting run over by a car,” he said, visibly emotional.


Colonel Pat McCaslin received 2 Silver Stars, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses and a Purple Heart when flying in Vietnam.

Pat McCaslin and his wife Jeanette live in Sun City, Georgetown, Texas. Pat is a member of The Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 1919, and we proudly salutes
Patriot Pat McCaslin.

Patriot Pat McCaslin was the Guest of Honor for the 2016 Wings Over South Texas Air Show





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