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HGU-2A/P  558th TFS VN 1969


This helmet belonged to 1st Lt John Caicchiolo, a 558th TFS F-4C Phantom backseater based in Vietnam 1969. Call sign of the 558th TFS was “Hammers”; Tail code: XT.

The 558th TFS was part of the 12th TFW, toghether wit 557th and 559th TFS. The Wing was based at Cam Ranh AB on the coast of South Vietnam just South of Nah Trang.


The squadron flew mainly air to ground support over South Vietnam and Laos. During his tour, 1st Lt Caicchiolo was teamed most of the time with his pilot Capt Walt Smialek, flying F-4C S/N 64-816 nicknamed “Punkin Bug”.

Both returned to CONUS in March 1970 after their 12 months tour.

This HGU-2/P was apparently painted at CRB paint shop using standard USAF camouflage colors. It is believed that the red star present on the visor cover was displayed following an episode when the F-4C crewed by 1st Lt Caicchiolo (pilot unknown) had a brief close encounter with a MiG, but the action is not recorded nor confirmed to our knowledge.


Capt W.Smialek (R) and 1st Lt J.Caicchiolo at Cam Ranh AB, Vietnam, in 1969.

 (photo courtesy J.Caicchiolo and W.Smialek)

1st Lt Caicchiolo in front of F4C “Sweet Sue” at Cam Ranh in early 1969. Note the still unpainted helmet.

(photo courtesy J.Caicchiolo)

F-4C S/N 64-816 flown by Capt Smialek and 1st Lt Caicchiolo in 1969.

This A/C is now displayed at The Citadel Military College in Charleston, NC under the nickname “Annette”.

(Profile courtesy of A. and W.Smialek)

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