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Fat, Dumb, and Happy in Hostile Territory

Heroes Remember

Fat, Dumb, and Happy in Hostile Territory

The one mission that, that I got a bit of notoriety for and my, my, my tactical call sign is "Hawnski", which is obviously a take off on my last name and, and I got that in, I think 1973, when I spent about 15 minutes inadvertently on the East German side of the, of the border and, obviously there were people over there who were quite unfriendly, and I had frankly screwed up, and spent about 15 minutes over there fat, dumb and happy at about 5,000 feet, not trying to hide from anybody. We had an inkling of where I was, climbed about 20,000 feet to come home, didn't realize I was across, actually across the border. In retrospect, I found out that, you know, I had, was being chased out by, by some Russian. Some Russian MIGs was intercepted on our side of the border by some American Phantoms, and they chased me home and, you know, it was a bit amusing at the time because, you know, it worked. I mean, had they, had of been caught by the, by the Russians, and had they been able to, I mean they would have shot me down and, you know, things might have turned out differently, but, but it turned out OK and, you know, we laugh about it and I picked up a, a call sign out of it. A couple of people actually lost their jobs because the Russians had not seen me coming, even though I was not hiding, and our own folks had not seen me coming back. It was a civil defence radar that actually picked me up coming out, not the air defence radars. I'm sorry, it was the civil control radar that picked me up coming out, not the air defence radars. So in a stupid kind of a way I did serve a purpose because I exposed some, some flaws that were then, then corrected. I'm not sure what the Russians did about their flaws on the other side, but we didn't, we didn't ask. Interviewer: So when you had come off that, that mission, can I think that there might be an investigation? Oh, yeah, oh, yeah, I mean if... Interviewer: And a lot of questioning? Well, I didn't, I saw the Phantoms when they, when they jumped me near Frankfurt and I just, you know went fast and I basically ran away and I didn't realize that they were going supersonic, which you weren't supposed to do except in an emergency over Europe at that time, because of the sonic booms, that they had chased me home supersonic and they caught me at the just as I was pitching out to, to land, and when they, when they did that, and coincidentally the, the Phantoms were, were from Hawn Air force Base in Germany, which I thought was fairly ironic. But when they caught me at initial, then I realized that probably where I'd been was not where I thought I'd been, so I landed and I had, I had a, a navigation fix from one of our nav-aids that said, you know electronically where I'd been and I overlayed that over a map and said "OK, I think there's gonna been some, some trouble here." And the next phone call was from Main Operations Centre that said you know, "Where were you just now?" and I said "Well, I was here" and they said "OK, that's not a good thing" and I said "Yep, I understand". So, there was an investigation and, and like I said, some heads rolled in the air defence community. Actually, they were American heads, not, not ours. Like I said, I don't know what the Russians did. I did pick up what was called a "reproof" for, for negligence in mission planning, which was quite justified. It's the, it's the kind of thing that goes on your record for a year and then, and then disappears. It's a, you know it's not a permanent scar versus something said, you know, "You screwed up. Don't, don't do that again.

Mr. Hawn recalls accidentally flying into East German airspace while stationed in West Germany, and explains the repercussions that followed.

Laurie Hawn

Mr. Hawn was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1947. After finishing High School, Mr. Hawn opted to join the Air Force in order to further his education, with an ultimate goal of becoming a pilot. At the age of 18, Mr. Hawn flew for the first time, and by the age of 19 he became a flight instructor. First with T-Birds (T33's), then with Starfighters (CF104's). After instructing for 5 years in Cold Lake, Alberta, in April 1972, Mr. Hawn accepted a 3 ½ year posting with NATO in West Germany. After finishing his tour in West Germany, Mr. Hawn returned to flight instructing in Cold Lake, but was regularly posted to West Germany for a few weeks at a time. In 1988, Mr. Hawn was made Commanding Officer of 416 squadron. He held the position for 2 years, relinquishing it only weeks before the start of the first Gulf War, having only just stepped down, Mr. Hawn severely disappointed when he was not chosen to accompany the squadron when posted to Iraq. After a 30 year career, Mr. Hawn retired from the service. He now resides in Edmonton, Alberta, with his wife and family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Laurie Hawn
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Peacekeeping/Peacemaking in West Germany
Air Force

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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