In Memoriam

Russel Earl Voris

A Missouri fighter-bomber pilot, Lt. Russel E. Voris, 23, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul T. Voris of Jefferson City, died in combat in Cambodia on 24 June 1970. The Air Force informed his parents that Voris crashed after his plane was struck by hostile gunfire. Voris was a 1968 graduate of the Air Force Academy, and ranked 18 in his class. He was born at Buffalo, Mo., and attended high school at Cameron, Mo. Voris had been in Vietnam three months and had completed 75 air missions. He is also survived by a brother, and a sister, Mrs. Judy McElwain.

Remembering Russ --

Russ Voris was my wingman the day he went down. We were on an unusual mission in that the FAC was another A-37 out of our wing (3rd TFW)...7th AF had asked us if we could do a "semi-fast" FAC mission cause the F-4 guys and the regular FACs were so over tasked...Cambodia was taking up a lot of we put together a cadre and starting doing these sorts of sorties. We got scrambled off alert late in the day and sent up into NE Cambodia near the southern Laos border, just east of the Mekong. One of our A-37 FACs had seen some gun emplacements that needed to be knocked out...that was our target. I made the first pass and came off the target...after doing the obligatory jinking I looked back just as Russ was delivering and about that time saw his jet explode...first reaction was shock, then aw s--t...I thought he had gone in with the jet but then I heard a beeper on guard...never saw him get out but somehow he had time to pull the handles and eject. Now there was hope. I sent the FAC high to start coordinating with the rescue folks and started an orbit low trying to find a chute or well as thinking I needed to hold the bad guys at bay if they were trying to get to Russ before we did. There was lots of smoke and haze plus the bad guys started shooting at me a lot more. Finally saw Russ's chute lying on a narrow "road" and what appeared to be Russ still at the end of it...he wasn't moving and wasn't talking to me on the rescue occurred to me that since he got out under very adverse conditions he may be unconscious. I had strafe left so I made a few passes firing on either side of Russ's location just to let the bad guys know I was still a threat and to hopefully keep their distance...trying buy us some time. We finally got a chopper in the target area and they landed on this small sliver of a road and got him in the chopper...once that happened I had to bug out cause I was on fumes . Confirmed with the rescue folks that he was alive but seriously injured. They were headed for an Army camp back across the border that had medical care. That was the last time I talked with them. Once I got back to Bien Hoa I was met by my boss who said Russ had died en route to this camp. He apparently had some pretty massive wounds..the mere fact he was alive when they got to him was a small miracle.

Steve Mish


I am writing to thank you for your comments about Russel Voris which you posted on the AFA Class of 1968 web site. I visit the site from time to time. I married one of Russel’s first cousins and knew him from the family events I attended before his death. Russel took me under his wing somewhat when I was in Air Force basic training at Lackland in 1969 and he was at Randolph (I think) flying T-38’s. I got very ill with mono at the end of basic training and Russel came over and talked my T.I. into letting him take me off base a couple of times for some R and R. I will never forget it. He was taking care of me because I was his cousin’s boyfriend! My future wife came on a visit with his family and we went to Padre Island for a weekend. I guess I saw him one or two times after that before he went to Bien Hoa in 1970. I was stationed at Altus AFB, OK when he died. I see his mom several times a year , and his sister and brother at least once or twice a year. I have often wondered about the details of his last day on earth, so your comments helped. I was stationed with a flight surgeon, Jose Martinez, who was at Bien Hoa at the time and he gave me some brief details back in the early 70’s. I also communicated with Robert Barton and John Lamb several years ago through the A-37 Association. I retired from the Air Force Reserve in 2004 with 26 years service and I am a civil service employee with the Medical Group at Whiteman AFB. It’s hard to believe that Russel and his classmates are 61-62 years old, but I have to believe it because I just turned 60! He will always be 23 years old to me. I looked up to him even though he was only two years older than me. I spoke of him at my retirement ceremony because I wanted to pay tribute to my hero.

Thanks for staying near Russel so he could come home. Thanks for your service. Thanks for being there.



Ode To The Commander
Russell Earl Voris

The Class of 1968 yearbook says Russ was from "Buffalo Chip" Missouri and his biggest adjustment at the Academy was having to wear shoes every day. He loved that homespun image and who can forget the visual he created of a cow and a flat rock for the sound of a heavy thunderstorm.

In order to talk about Russ and USAFA Lacrosse in the 60's I will need to tell a little about the team and myself. For the most part we were high school football players who needed another outlet for our physical energy since we may have been a little smaller or a step slower than the NCAA Division I football players.

In my case I had done intramural football, boxing and lacrosse before Russ Murray asked me to join the Lacrosse Club. That's when I met Russ. Since he was an attack guy and I was a defenseman, I can't remember whether we met through a slap check, poke check or cross body block but I'm pretty sure I didn't help him up.

We also met Combat Kelly and learned the joy of interval running - one whistle run, two whistles walk. I think " Frenchie" Crotteau is still running somewhere because practice wasn't over until nobody could run and we'd have to tell him to stop.

During the Junior year transfer Russ & I ended up in Friendly First Squadron where Gene Lupia handed out nicknames. I became the Elf and unfortunately we were sophomoric before Seinfeld and there are only a few words that rhyme with Voris or Dolores.

We roomed together during Lacrosse season our Junior and Senior years. We were the "Odd Couple" before Neil Simon penned his play.

Russ was a Bible Belt Baptist and went to church every Sunday - I had joined Usher Flight as a doolie so I didn't have to march to church or run to breakfast.

Russ didn't drink - I spent a few Sundays with the hangover flight in the back pews.

Russ was our Squadron Commander - I was our Athletic Officer.

Russ was an All-American - I drove the bus to breakfast when I wasn't supposed to.

Russ was always nice - I was Mr. Vice.

Russ drove a GTO - I drove a Porsche.

Russ graduated #1 in his major with a 3.6 GPA - I was glad they had a curve that supported a 2.5.

God's mysterious ways continued when we were assigned to the same pilot training class, 70B, at Randolph AFB, TX. Russ volunteered to room with me again. He kept our illegal breakfast skillet shiny clean since a day didn't start without bacon and eggs.

Russ studied on Friday nights and I continued my search for the perfect Scotch Whiskey.

John Carson asked us to escort two young ladies to the Officers Club one night during pilot training. When they arrived it was obvious they were too young to be there but it was too late to send them home. When the party was over Russ offered to drive every one home but I insisted on going alone. My date's boyfriend met us at the door with four of his friends. Russ was still up when I got home and took me to the Emergency Room for my stitches.

He stood up at my wedding.

Russ finished first or second in the pilot training class and took an A-37 to Vietnam.

My orbital floor fracture held me back a few months but I took an OV-10 to Vietnam.

When I got to the Phillipines we had a mandatory Intelligence briefing. As I scanned the information on the walls of the room I found a grease pencil board with Russell E. Voris at the top. I knew he had a Distinguished Flying Cross before I ever got to the war!! Then I saw the title - KIA.

I knew then as I know today that when Russ turned for that final shot he was still going for the upper right hand corner.

Russ wasn't just my friend - He was my brother.

Mike Cryer
Lacrosse Memorial Service in March 1999

Click here to see the entry on the Virtual Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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