Capt. Dick Diller, author of Firefly, A Skyraider’s Story About America’s Secret War Over Laos, will offer a presentation and book-signing at Veterans Memorial Hall, 211 N. Main St., downtown Rockford, at 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 8.
Diller will have autographed copies of his book for sale. It is the only book to be written about night flying over Laos.
Diller was born and raised in Princeton, Illinois. He was president of the Princeton High School class of 1959. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1963 with a finance degree and received a USAF commission from ROTC.
Diller has flown Air Force planes including T-37, T-38, F-102, F-106, T-33 and A-1 Skyraider. Prior to A-1s, he flew F-106s in the 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, based at Dover AFB, Delaware. The 95th had air defense responsibility for the mid-Atlantic Coast from about New York City to Norfolk, including Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. He flew 203 missions in Southeast Asia — mostly at night.
With 653 hours of combat time, including 118 as an IP, he has earned a Distinguished Flying Cross and 10 Air Medals. Only one other Air Force pilot flew both the F-106 and the A-1 who was not a career officer.
Upon retiring from the Air Force, Diller flew 29 years for Delta Air Lines. At the end of his career, he was flying as a captain on the 767ER (Extended Range) from New York JFK Airport to Europe.
The U.S. government fought a secret war over Laos as part of the effort in the Vietnam era, and USAF operations were a big part of it. Diller flew 203 missions over Laos, mostly at night. Diller has a map and pictures of Laos, and at the Nov. 8 event, he will explain how targets were found at night, the different types of missions in northern Laos and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and why we supported one side of what was essentially a civil war.
From the Nov. 5-11, 2014, issue