Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Archives

Bernard Fipp Oral History Edit


OHP 056


  • October 9, 2014 (Creation)


  • 39 Sheets (Part)
  • 8 Files (Part)

Agent Links



  • Scope and Contents


  • Scope and Contents

    Bernard Fipp began his interview by discussing his early life in San Diego, California. He then explained his decision to join the Coast Guard in 1963, after graduating from the University of Oregon in 1962. Fipp then stated that he finished his active duty in the Coast Guard, decided to join the Navy, and trained at Pensacola in 1965, under the AOC Program (Aviation Officer Candidate Program). He discussed pilot training in detail, recounting his experiences flying T-34Bs at Saufley Field, T-2s in Meridian, Mississippi, and T-2s in Pensacola, for air-to-air gun training and carrier qualifications. Fipp also described his training at Kingsville, Texas, where he received his wings in June of 1966, and after explaining the different levels of training, he discussed his preference for serving in an East Coast attack squadron. Fipp then continued, stating that he was stationed at NAS Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, where he became familiarized with the A-4, and that he was later assigned to VA-34, which was preparing to deploy to Vietnam. He then discussed the trip to Vietnam, which involved an intense transit through the Suez Canal. The interview then shifted toward a discussion of Fipp’s bunkroom, 0111, known as Triple Sticks. Fipp noted that he lived in this room with squadron mates Ben Heald, Jim Van Liere, and Brian Walker, and that the room became “infamous.” Fipp also discussed the origins of the journal kept by the men in Triple Sticks, which would eventually become the book "Triple Sticks." After discussing some additional events that occurred in their bunkroom, Fipp began explaining the two types of combat missions the squadron had flown. He first discussed road reconnaissance missions, which involved two to four planes searching for targets of opportunity on the ground during daytime hours. If no targets were found, the pilots were told to drop their bombs on assigned bridges. The second type of combat mission that Fipp discussed was an Alpha Strike. Fipp explained how these missions were executed, from the number of aircraft involved and the role of each type of aircraft to their approach to the target. He also discussed the radars, anti-aircraft guns, and SAMs used by the North Vietnamese, as well as the countermeasures and maneuvers used by the pilots to protect themselves. Fipp then discussed two members of VA-34 who became prisoners of war, Ed Martin and Denny Key. He also noted that Air Wing 10 was known as the Quiet Air Wing due to their limited radio chatter, and that he thought the air wing was highly disciplined, an attribute that resulted in fewer losses (percentage wise) than other air wings. Fipp then discussed his past and present feeling regarding the Vietnam War, which led to a discussion regarding rules of engagement. The interview then ended with Fipp describing his post Navy life. He stated that his five years in the Navy were a maturing experience for him, and that he would not have been as successful in the rest of his life had it not been for those experiences. He then described how he met his wife, his brief time flying for United Airlines, becoming involved in commercial real estate, and owning a Chevrolet dealership, before retiring and spending time travelling with his wife and visiting his four children and 12 grandchildren.