Gunnels served in the USAF
Published 5:33 pm Friday, December 6, 2019
Michael David Gunnels attended Andalusia Schools and completed requirements for his High School diploma after he enlisted in the Air Force in 1966.
Mike had plans to go into the ministry after completing his military service.
After arriving in Vietnam, Mike sent his family a tape of the first sermon he had preached to his fellow service members.
He was practicing, what he hoped he would be doing after ministerial training.
Mike was assigned to radar shop, 35th Avionics Maintenance Squadron, TFW [Phan
Rang Air Base in S. Vietnam.
A friend of Mike’s wrote that on the night of Sep. 26, 1969,
they were working the midnight shift in the radar shop.
An Australian B-57 Canberra
bomber was sitting on the flight line needing some work done one its radar, the plane was sitting on jacks so that it “thinks” that it is flying.
The transportation van dropped Mike off at the revetment where they plane was located.
Mike was warned to stay away from the front of the plane until the bomb loaders had finished uploading bombs into the plane and checking the 20 mm cannons [part of their job].
The van had only gone a short distance when they heard 3 fast explosions.
The safeties on the guns were still off as the bomb crew worked to check them out and they had gone off when Mike walked
in front of the plane. Mike’s friends quickly returned to find him lying on his side, going
in circles. A high explosive incendiary shell had hit Mike in the right shoulder, right above
his flak vest. Mike lived a few hours but died around 4 a.m.
Mike’s mother, Mrs. Dorothy Wilson was notified of his death. His funeral was held on
Oct. 3, 1969 at the First Baptist Church with Rev. Harrell Cushing officiating.
Sources: Virtual Vietnam Wall, The Andalusia Star News,
and the book, “Airman’s Odyssey” by Lt.Col, James D Lawrence.