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Lawrence Chandler Herdman
Larry Herdman and I were in the same F-100D squadron (509th FBS, Skull and Rose) at Langley AFB, VA. In the Fall of '57 the entire squadron was deployed to Landsthul AB, Germany for a 6 month TDY. We were the first F-100Ds in Europe and we were there to develop and test procedures for fighter bomber units to stand alert loaded for Nuc delivery. We had assigned targets and had to develop routes and folders for a low-low-high profile to be flown if the balloon went up. Our planes were parked in covered revetments and we pulled 15 min alert from facilities next to the airplanes. When not on alert we would scramble to get on the flying schedule. One of the missions we got to fly was practice lo-level all over S. Germany with no altitude restrictions. We always flew as a 2 ship because 90% of the time we had to make an IFR recovery at the end of the mission, and loss of radio or nav equipment was always a possibility so the second airplane provided redundancy.
On the day of the accident, Larry was flying wing on another 1st Lt. for a lo-level mission. Normal position for the wingman during VFR lo-level was "loose route", high and behind the lead aircraft who was concentrating on the planned navigation. When it was obvious the flight could no longer stay VFR the wingman had to close to close formation and the lead was to climb to the minimum altitude indicated on the route planning for the leg they were on. Witnesses on the ground and the accident report indicated that both aircraft were climbing through a heavy snow shower when they contacted the ground simultaneously in a pine forest south of Stuttgart.
Larry was a fine pilot, very well liked by all in the squadron. We were the "green beans" when it came to flying experience in the squadron but we were all equals when it came time to pull alert. In the squadron we were also all in the same boat, away from home and family for 6 months and there was no war. This made for a closer group of pilots than we had before the deployment. The loss of two from our group was felt deeply by all. The squadron completed the TDY with no further losses, only to learn as we were preparing to go home that our Wing (405th) of 3 squadrons was being deactivated.
1 March 2007