More detail on this person: Retired Air Force
Lt. Col. Earl Aman, a San Antonian involved in the
famed "Pardo's push" over the flak-strewn sky of
North Vietnam 31 years ago, died here Thursday.
He was 60.
Aman, who had been confined to his bed and wheelchair the past four years as he slowly succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, fell into a coma Sunday after suffering a stroke or heart attack.
The illness, known as Lou Gehrig's disease, left Aman able to move only his right thumb during the last nine months of his life.
Services are scheduled Monday at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
A memorial will be conducted later at Randolph AFB.
"He could still smile and move his eyes, and even though he couldn't speak (he) still had personality and a sense of humor," said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Charlie Brame of San Antonio, an airline pilot.
"It never ceased to amaze me that a guy in his position could have a personality and a sense of humor, but he kept it up until the end," Brame said.
Aman was sending jokes to friends via computer voice synthesizer from his bed at a nursing home only hours before suffering the seizure, his wife, Lucy, said.
But he talked little of the desperate, daredevil flying feat that fellow F-4 "Phantom" crewman Bob Houghton said now is a legend.
Houghton vividly recalled a fateful decision by retired Lt. Col. Bob Pardo to save him and Aman after their F-4 was hit by enemy flak over a Hanoi-area steel mill March 10, 1967.
Pardo and weapons control officer Steve Wayne nudged their flak- ravaged F-4 under the tailhook of Aman and Houghton's powerless plane, then "pushed" the crippled craft 58 miles into Laos.
Tailhooks were common on F-4s, which were used by the Air Force and Navy.
Aman and Houghton bailed out over an enemy-infested village, eluded capture and later were rescued, as were Pardo and Wayne.
The pilots were accused of "mismanaging" fuel by superiors, but eventually received Silver Stars for their aerial exploits.
The "push" of a plane had been done only once before, during the Korean War, Houghton said.
Brame called Aman "a genuine American hero," while Lucy Aman said "he answered the call" to fight an unpopular war, leaving his family behind in order to do his duty.
San Antonio Express-News (TX) - Friday, October 16, 1998
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