The Story Behind "One More Roll"
By Capt Jerry Coffee USN Ret.
One day sometime in 1969 there was an air raid on Hanoi. Although we were supposed to get under our concrete "beds" I stood on mine peering through the bars on the window and into the sky. Into my view came four Air Force F-105s in perfect echelon formation as they pitched up to commence their bombing run. The air around them was filled with flak bursts and SAM missile trails. One after the other they rolled into their dives, but as number four rolled in there was a very close burst and the plane began trailing vapor as if it had been hit. With the others it disappeared from my view, but I immediately began to pray for number four. That evening, in my tiny cell, I composed "One More Roll," my mind on number four the whole time.
On New Year's Eve 1969, Captain Tom Storey, USAF and I were in the Stardust section of Hoa Lo (wa-low) Prison. I whispered the toast I had composed, in my head, under the door to Tom. Tom was enthralled, and despite the risk of terrible punishment, insisted that I repeat it several more times until he had it committed to memory. He then promised me that when the time came, and we were again free men, he would give the toast at the first Dining-In he attended.
After being released in 1973, Tom was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy. During that same year the Academy hosted the Annual Conference for General Officers which included an official "Dining In" where the jovial clinking of glasses accompanied all the traditional speeches and toasts.
When it was Tom's turn, remembering his promise so many years earlier, he proposed my "One More Roll."
[Webmaster's Note: Capt. Coffee earned his Navy wings in 1959, then served three years in VFP-62 flying photo Crusaders from USS Saratoga and from NAS Cecil Field. During this tour he received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his low-level photos of Cuban missile sites during the Cuban missile crisis. He then served three years in RVAH-3, training pilots in the RA-5C Vigilante, and then deployed to Vietnam with RVAH-13 aboard USS Kitty Hawk. In February of 1966 his Vigi was shot down over North Vietnam, and he was held as a POW for the next seven years.]
Created on ... February 05, 2010