Anderegg flew 127 missions for the Air Force in the Vietnam War
Editor’s note: This article is part of The Inter-Mountain’s Unsung Heroes series for 2018, which features veterans in our area sharing first-hand accounts of their military service.
BUCKHANNON — A Buckhannon native reflected on 27 years of actively serving in the United States Air Force, which included his time stationed at 16-plus military bases and thousands of hours spent amongst the clouds.
Born in Buckhannon in 1932, Charles Anderegg, 86, relocated with his family to Morgantown and graduated from University High School. While attending West Virginia University, Anderegg participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program all four years of schooling; an initial step toward an extensive military career.
“That required me to go into the service upon graduation, which I did,” he said.
Anderegg enlisted in the military in 1952 at the age of 20. He pursued his interest in flying planes, completing flight school in 13 months.
During the first phase of flight school, Anderegg recalls flying T-6s, which were the basic trainer planes in World War II, he said.
After seven months, Anderegg was transferred to Bryan, Texas, where he flew T-28s and T-33s, and on Nov. 15, 1953 he received his “wings.”
Following flight school, Anderegg headed to Moody Air Force Base in Georgia for roughly five months.
“I was taking advanced instrument flying and also checked out fighter aircraft – an F-94C, which was an all-weather fighter,” he said.
Following his time at Moody Air Force Base, Anderegg’s first assignment was to travel to Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts, where he was stationed for a year and a half.
Anderegg would then be stationed at Thule Air Force Base in northern Greenland for roughly one year.
“There were about 10,000 troops there and a fighter squadron, and I was in the fighter squadron, and at that time I was flying F-89s, and we were committed there if the Russians came across the poles. We were trying to protect the country from them,” he recalled. “But, that never happened. Thank goodness.”
After his time in Greenland, Anderegg was stationed in New Castle, Delaware, until the base deactivated after a year and a half. He then returned back to the Otis Air Force Base.
“At Otis we were there another year and a half approximately and we were deactivated and the squadron was transferred to Roswell, New Mexico at Walker Air Force Base,” he explained.
After an enjoyable year at Roswell, Anderegg and his squadron bought homes with the hope to settle for a period of time.
“Once again the squadron was closed down after one year, and at that time I was transferred to Davis Monthan Air Force Base — the 15th fighter squadron,” he said. “I was there for four years flying the F-101B, which was a pretty good airplane.”
However, Anderegg recalls that “the 101 aircraft was replaced by the F-4.”
“Most of the pilots who were there were retained there. Prior to that time I had become a safety officer and they would not let me stay. They transferred me to Montana, and I loved Montana,” he said. “I was the division safety officer there, but I also was assigned to the 29th Fighter Intercept Squadron, and I still flew F-101s as an assigned pilot.”
Following two years in the Treasure State, Anderegg was again transferred in 1966, this time to Germany. There he was assigned to the Operational Readiness Inspection Unit, a team under the command of the Inspector General.
“Our task was to evaluate all tact fighter wings in Europe,” he explained. “Which was a pretty good job, but we were gone about 10 days, two weeks out and about the same period of time and then back on the road again. We were all over Europe, pretty much where ever there were fighter aircrafts stationed.”
Anderegg spent three years in Germany, went to George Air Force Base in California for nine months, and was then assigned for active duty in Vietnam.
“I was flying out of Korat, Thailand, and I was flying the F-4E model, which was a great airplane,” he said, noting the F-4E was the latest model during that time.
From 1969-1970, Anderegg flew 127 missions while serving in the Vietnam War.
While in Vietnam, Anderegg had many close calls, but thankfully was never injured, saying “the good Lord was apparently there helping me.”
“It was a lot calmer than it was a couple years earlier, but we did an awful lot of bombing, both just regular 500-pound bombs, napalm and much strafing was used while fighting against the North Vietnamese,” Anderegg recalled, adding that a lot of bombings occurred in Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam.
Anderegg recalled his efficiency of strafing and targeting with napalm.
“I was pretty good, I think, myself,” he said. “Flying was so easy to me, and I loved doing it.”
Reflecting on his time in Vietnam, Anderegg recounts losing several crews.
“My roommate — him and his back-seater were killed, I guess, they disappeared and never showed,” he said. “That happened a lot whether it was an accident, a shoot down or not, we don’t know, but we still had several people killed in Vietnam, I guess maybe a few from accidents, but mostly combat losses.”
At the end of 1970, Anderegg returned to the United States to Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. Anderegg stayed at Bolling Air Force Base for four years until he was transferred to Andrews Air Force Base, where he stayed until his retirement in 1979. While at both Bolling and Andrews, Anderegg flew T-39 aircraft, carrying VIPs, which consisted of senior officers and political personnel.
By the time Anderegg retired with the rank of Lt. Colonel from the military in 1979. He had accrued several decorations and medals, including two Distinguished Flying Cross awards and eight air medals.
With nearly three decades of active military service, Anderegg acquired the discipline and sense of respect that becomes second nature for military personnel. He now cherishes the camaraderie that is created in a unit.
“You meet a lot of good friends. You acquire a feeling for these people that you trusted and you respect them a lot for what they do because without a team you’re no good,” he said.
After his 27 years of flying experience in the military, Anderegg flew another 15 years as a civilian pilot. With a total of 42 years of flying, Anderegg has spent more than 13,000 hours in the air.
As a civilian, Anderegg was chief pilot for Liggett Myers Tobacco Company for roughly four years. He would then go on to fly for two other aviation companies. Anderegg spent his last eight years of flying as a pilot for a “very wealthy family.”
“It was a pretty nice job. I flew a lot,” he said.
At the age of 62, Anderegg retired from flying. He currently resides in Buckhannon with his wife Libby and is the father of two children, who reside out-of-state.