Hostile Skies – the F-105 in Vietnam with Gary Barnhill

In honor of Veterans Day, The Costa Mesa Historical Society presents its annual salute to our veterans with U.S. Air Force Captain Gary Barnhill on Sunday, November 17, 2019.

Captain Gary Barnhill, illustrious Air Force pilot whose missions included hazardous and challenging F-105 missions over North Vietnam in the highest threat air environment of the entire Viet Nam War, will share his presentation “Downtown, everything is waiting for you” from Petula Clark’s 1964 hit song. “Downtown”  referred metaphorically to Hanoi.  “Everything is Waiting for You” was the pilot’s gallows humor for the SAM missiles and Anti-Aircraft Artillery that greeted each entry into North Vietnam airspace. He will briefly describe flying the high-accident-rate F-100C in Europe circa 1958 and sitting Nuclear Alert as a still maturing young lad of 22. The main topic is flying the F-105 Thunderchief in 1965 during Rolling Thunder; the air campaign to bomb targets in North Vietnam, which lasted until late 1969.  He will “take you along” on an aerial refueling episode with an extremely unusual ending.  He will also “take you along” on an interesting Hunter Killer “Experimental” mission to find and destroy a SAM missile, which up to that time, had never been accomplished. After 11 years in USAF, there was a brief flirtation with CIA, a career with Trans World Airlines, air show pilot, and founder of a B-747 pilot leasing firm.

Decorations & Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal.2nd AD, Good Conduct Medal, Armed Forces expeditionary Medal w/star, Vietnam Svc Medal, Armed Forces Longevity Svc Award w/OLC, Armed Forces Reserve Medal

Mr. Barnhill belongs to the Freedom Committee of Orange County ( whose members speak to high school students and civic groups to bring “living history” into the classroom and instill a sense of patriotism in future generations. 

Bring a friend and join us to hear this “from the cockpit” narrative of the war in the sky! 

Seating is limited, for RESERVATIONS call (949) 631-5918.    Doors open at 2:00, program at 2:30. Free admission and refreshments. We are located at 1870 Anaheim Ave. northwest corner of the Lions Park complex.Visit   or go to facebook/costa mesa historical society for more information.

Note: Due to construction, entry to parking lot must be made from Anaheim Ave.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Ron ("Mac") McDonald

    Very belated in reply…so sorry but just alerted to this here in Indiana where I’m retired and sorry to have missed it. Am a personal friend of Capt Barnhill and during days long past when I used to live/work in Costa Mesa, we used to meet at his house in Newport for half-day motorcycle rides to breakfast or lunch somewhere south or east. Was honored to learn of/hear personal accounts of many of Gary’s flying experiences both military and civilian, and he was so good to my sons who were always captivated and inspired by his exploits and in his presence. One son went on to become an army chopper pilot. We’ve lost all contact so will try and look him up…a solid guy and great patriot.

    1. Program Director

      thank you for your kind comment Ron. we will pass it on to Gary.

  2. Ron McDonald

    Thank you. Not having any success contacting Gary…I don’t do social media he may not, either. Please, also pass on my name and phone/e-mail. Thank you.

    Ron McDonald

    1. Program Director

      hi Ron, i have forwarded your contact information to him.

      1. Jack

        Hiya, Just an Aussie 21 year old that saw Gary’s excerpt from “Thud Pilots”.
        Was just wanting to complement Gary and say how I’d like to be a cool cucumber like him someday.
        If you could pass that on, cheers.

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