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"The biggest danger was avoiding collision with the immense amount of traffic." (Video Interview, 16:27)

   Daniel Leonard DiBono, Jr.
Image of Daniel Leonard DiBono, Jr.
Daniel DiBono [2009]
War: Persian Gulf War, 1991
Branch: Navy
Unit: VQ-2 (Fleet Reconnaissance Squadron)
Service Location: Guam (Mariana Islands); Rota, Spain; Bahrain, Kuwait; Liberia; Souda Bay, Crete
Rank: Lieutenant
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Daniel DiBono, a graduate of the Naval Academy, began his aviation career as a helicopter pilot, then switched to fixed wing craft. During Operation Desert Shield, he flew reconnaissance missions, then in Operation Desert Storm bombing sorties amid heavy traffic and anti-aircraft fire. Billeted in a five-star hotel in Bahrain during the war, he enjoyed the accommodations but not the restrictions that confined him largely to that building. He also enforced the no-fly zone over Iraq, and flew missions over the Balkans before retiring with 20 years of service--10 years active, 10 years Reserve--behind him.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
»Complete Interview 
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
Always wanted to attend the Naval Academy for the unique fraternity and Naval service; eyes were good and he chose aviation; Academy presenting challenges to him, especially being dyslexic. (03:25) Began flying helicopters, but discovered his body type was not suited to the craft; assigned to recon aircraft in Guam, then off to Spain to fly EP-3E; never had to train in Corpus Christi, where most pilots of those recon aircraft went. (03:48) Did enjoy flying helicopters; more flexible, kinds of things you do involve more maneuvering; he did enjoy flying fixed wing over various islands in the Pacific. (02:02)
In January 1990, went to Bahrain to fly recon in Operation Desert Shield; had come back from a ski trip right after New Year's to discover what his assignment was; put up in a five-star hotel in Bahrain; about five days later, air war began and he started flying in combat mode; heavy air traffic was more of a danger, though he was shot at from anti-aircraft platforms in the Gulf; painted radar sites symbols on the side of plane to mark sites spotted; not much resistance from enemy aircraft. (07:36) After Gulf War, detaching to a new base on Crete; flying missions over Northern Iraq for northern watch, then flew mission for the Balkans; assigned to shore duty, job in reserves; passed over; retiring after 20 years. (01:51) Living in a luxury hotel while serving in the war, but confined to the hotel except to go to the compound or American support unit; had to exercise in hotel gym; some phone communication with home; got only two meals from hotel, mission timing could make you miss one; snuck out to get some running in; not much in the way of recreation; at end of war, lockdown was lifted; bought perfume oil and rugs as gifts. (06:45)
Never hit by any fire; people at lower altitude were in more danger; British Tornado squadron lost considerable number of aircraft and pilots; two SCUD missile attack alerts; on the first, took off from airport before anything happened, the other time they had just got back to the hotel, sat watching it miss them. (03:03) Effect military has had on his life: going to Academy teaches perseverance, values to hold on to; understand how to adjust to changing careers; expanded his view of world. (02:57) 

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  October 26, 2011
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