Central Texas Heroes: Don Schreiber

Veteran Don Schreiber

WACO, Texas (KWTX) Shakespeare wrote "my soul is in the sky" in a Midsummer Night's Dream.

For one Central Texas Air Force veteran it was a lifelong reality.

Colonel Don Schreiber turned his military service into a career.

Don Schreiber started flying missions over North Vietnam in September 1967.

He was just embarking on his 100 mission tour when he faced one of the most intense battles of his life.

They were looking for POWs and finding out who was responsible for bombing the Russian embassy in Hanoi.

The Phantom jet pilot flew directly into combat north of Hanoi.

"Those shells, they explode and they're huge. You see all the flack over the place, you keep going, there's nothing you can do. Keep flying, hope they miss," he said.

But they did not miss the plane carrying his squadron commander Vern Liggin and another man.

"A missile came up and it comes fast, really fast, and hit the tail pipe of Vern and Dave's aircraft. So I'm watching this thing and it hits the tail and blows up," he explained.

The plane went down but both men survived and became prisoners of war, something Liggin had experienced before.

"A POW in the Korean War, and ended up being a roommate of John McCain in the Hanoi Hilton," Schreiber

But Schreiber was still in the air.

"Twelve missiles were shot at our flight, first one hit them and 11 others came at me. I was dodging things and I was doing crazy maneuvers, and I was doing what was natural, there was nothing systematic about it at all," he said.

He escaped and survived but many did not.

Seven U.S. planes went down that week.

"It was a tough time, lost a lot of guys," he told us.

It was one battle in a military career that spanned decades.

After serving in Vietnam he was stationed around the world and ended up flying missions over Cuba and the Middle East.

A total of 28 years in the military.

"I enjoyed what I was doing, I felt like I was doing something good for our country," Schreiber said.

And he was committed succeeding on every mission even when he knew he was flying into danger.

"I knew if I didn't complete the mission and do what I was supposed to do, my friend would have to do it," Schreiber said, "I was not gonna' sacrifice someone else's life because I'm a chicken, and that was the bottom line. "