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Book about Vietnam-era ‘sky cops’ presented to 12th Security Forces Squadron

By Robert Goetz | Wingspread staff writer | Oct. 5, 2007

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Thousands of Air Force security policemen served their country during the Vietnam War, but their stories of valor and dedication to duty have not received widespread attention. 

This week a veteran "sky cop" presented the 12th Security Forces Squadron here and the Security Forces Museum at Lackland Air Force Base with copies of a book he hopes will shed more light on some of the unsung heroes of that chapter in American history. 

Titled "Security Police Vietnam and Thailand War Stories," the book tells the stories of 28 combat air policemen who detailed the "good times and bad times" of their tours of duty in the two Southeast Asian countries, said William "Pete" Piazza. 

Mr. Piazza is a retired senior master sergeant whose own stories come from his assignments with the 12th Air Police Squadron at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base in 1966 and the 12th Security Police Squadron at Phu Cat AB from 1970 to 1971. 

Piazza said the book was compiled and published by Jackie Kays, an ex-security policeman whose conversations with other former sky cops planted the seeds of the project. 

"This book is a salute to the combat air policemen's valor and dedication to duty," he said. 

Mr. Piazza said profits from the book will go to the coffers of the Vietnam Security Police Association, an organization of Vietnam War veterans who served in Vietnam or Thailand from 1960 to 1975 as air/security policemen or augmentees.
The book's stories help set their record straight, said Mr. Piazza. 

"The Army and Marine guys thought all we did was fly airplanes, but we were the only ground troops in the Air Force," he said. "No base in Vietnam was ever overrun while the sky cops were on duty. This book tells the other security forces of today, 'Here is the history and heritage you need to know about.'" 

Mr. Piazza said intelligence reports of the North Vietnamese Army indicated they had little regard for the Air Force air combat policemen, until they actually tried to penetrate an air base. 

He said security forces are showing their character in Iraq as well. 

"The security forces are doing a lot more than people think," he said. "Some people think they guard the base and the Army takes care of the outside. Air Force cops have always had to do it on their own." 

The introduction to the book contrasts the duties of the security police in the States and those in Vietnam and Thailand during the Vietnam era. 

In the States, the security police were responsible for the security of the base, the aircraft and all the personnel stationed there. 

But in Vietnam and Thailand, the policeman had to become, overnight, a combat soldier working in a deadly environment. Base security was their primary duty. They manned access control gates, observation towers, defense bunkers and listening posts and conducted perimeter patrols, according to the book. 

Mr. Piazza, a 28-year veteran who now lives in Del City, Okla., is also attending this week's Air Force Security Police Association national meeting in San Antonio and is making plans for a reunion of the Cobra Flight of the 12th and 37th Security Police Squadrons here in 2010. 

"Security Police Vietnam and Thailand War Stories" is available on www.lulu.com.