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In June 1968, I was among a group of despondent U.S. Air Force lieutenants hanging around the operations desk at the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Phu Cat Air Base in South Vietnam. One of our friends had spread himself and his airplane over a quarter mile of rice paddy that morning. The most likely cause of the tragedy was that he’d stared a second too long at the target on his second low-angle pass. Nevertheless, he was dead, we were dejected and facing a reality, given this man’s suddenly changed status, that we had not seriously considered.