Author to Discuss Famed Vietnam War Rescue at Jalonick Lecture

Darrel Whitcomb

Darrel Whitcomb

On April 2, 1972, Air Force Lt. Col. Iceal “Gene” Hambleton’s electronic warfare plane was shot down, forcing him to parachute into the middle of a North Vietnamese invasion force. This incident prompted the largest rescue effort of the Vietnam War, a dangerous and costly operation involving U.S. airmen, soldiers, sailors and Navy SEALs.

Author and retired U.S. Air Force Col. Darrel Whitcomb will explore this complex Vietnam War rescue during the 2016 George W. Jalonick III and Dorothy Cockrell Jalonick Memorial Distinguished Lecture at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 11, in the Jonsson Performance Hall. The free lecture is open to the public, but registration is required.

Whitcomb’s discussion will be based on his book, The Rescue of Bat 21.

“The rescue operation itself proves to be of great interest, even more than 40 years later,” said Paul Oelkrug, coordinator of the Special Collections Department at UT Dallas. “Mr. Whitcomb’s depth of knowledge on the subject provides great insight into this Vietnam War controversy.”

Whitcomb is a 1969 Air Force Academy graduate who served three tours in Southeast Asia as a cargo pilot and forward air controller, including six months supporting indigenous forces in Laos via the then-covert “Ravens” program. He later transferred to the Air Force Reserve to continue flying and training. He was awarded a Silver Star and two Distinguished Flying Crosses for his service. After he retired from the Air Force Reserve, he spent four years as an international pilot for Delta Air Lines. Over the course of his career, he logged more than 16,000 flying hours, 2,000 of which were in combat.

An avid writer of aviation, military, rescue and personnel recovery history, Whitcomb has published four books and more than 60 articles.

The annual Jalonick Lecture, hosted by the Eugene McDermott Library’s Special Collections Department, was established to inform and enlighten the public about the history of flight by bringing aviation specialists to the Dallas community.

For more information, call 972-883-4951.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].