Central Texas Heroes: Jimmie Hanes

Courtesy image: Jimmie Hanes, Jr.

WACO, Texas (KWTX) He flew 107 combat missions during Vietnam and logged more than 3,600 flying hours during his 29 years in the Air Force.

Many Central Texans may know Colonel Jimmie W. Hanes, Junior from his time at the Waco Municipal Airport, but he shared his combat experiences with us in Central Texas Heroes.

Hanes grew up with the rumble of planes in his ears and the sight of them in his gleaming eyes near Wright Patterson Air Force base in Ohio.

And one day it clicked, that was the life for him too.

"I went to the Air Force and said 'can I fly an airplane?' They said sure!"

It was 1963.

Hanes trained be navigator and he was stationed at bases all over the country including the once operational Connally Air Force base north of Waco.

That's when he met his wife.

But he knew it was inevitable that he'd have to go overseas.

"Four months after we were married I volunteered to go to Vietnam because I knew we were going to have to go sometime," Hanes said.

In 1967 he was stationed at the Royal Thai Air Base in Takhli, Thailand, but flew into Vietnam for his sophisticated missions as part of a tactical electronic warfare squadron.

B-66 Planes like his would fly with fighter planes and use technology to cloak them from the enemy.

"The primary job with the two of us together was to block enemy radar so these guys could come in basically radar free, that the enemy couldn't see them," Hanes said.

But crews on those planes had no way of defending themselves and had to fly with armed planes while on missions.

And while he was alright it wasn't the same story for others.

"We did lose B-66's to other airplanes," Hanes told us.

After 107 missions he returned home in August 1967 and was surprised by the negative feedback.

"Pretty tough, pretty tough. Vietnam veterans were not well-respected," he told us, "it was pretty upsetting, it really was."

But he stayed with his military career for a total of 29 years.

And even after three decades of service and an upsetting response from other Americans because of it, that same loyalty that moved him to become a member of the military is still as strong as ever.

Hanes told us, "I'd go back in tomorrow if I thought I could do anything."