U.S. Air Force
Frank “Fuzzy” Furr Jr., had an aspiration to fly and was looking for something thrilling, adventurous and fun to do. So, he joined the military. Upon graduating from North Carolina State ROTC program, he completed pilot training at Craig AFB in Alabama. For the next four years he flew F102 Delta Dagger’s in Texas and then in Germany where he learned the finer points of flying interceptor missions and the basics of air-to- air combat.
It was inevitable that Furr would be sent to Vietnam, so he volunteered before receiving orders. The Air Force offered him a job as a combat forward air controller flying the high-end OV10 Bronco. “It was a great airplane: two-seater, high-wing with great visibility,” said Furr. For the next four months, he flew over the Ho Chin Min Trail leading insertions and extractions for long-range reconnaissance patrols. Some missions required the OV10 pilot to coordinate gunships and close air support while working with his back-seater, a Special Forces soldier, who communicated with teams on the ground.
During a night operation, Furr was overseeing helicopters coming in for a hot extraction with A1 Skyraiders laying down cover. The choppers had ladders slung underneath and while hovering; team members strapped themselves in and hung on while the choppers flew back to base because there was not a safe zone available to set down and reposition. “In this harrowing mission” said Furr, “There wasn’t a single guy that wasn’t wounded on that team, but we got them all out.”
After Vietnam, Furr was assigned to fly B52 bombers; however, at 5’6” in height, he was disqualified. As he was about to be sent to fly tankers, Furr received last-minute orders that rerouted him to fly for a new project—the U2 spy plane program. This program conducted secret high-altitude reconnaissance flights for intelligence gathering, surveillance, and listening to the world in real-time. The Air Force and the CIA were the only two groups flying for the U2 program.
When Furr completed active flying, he remained in the intelligence operations side of the military. He commanded the U2 and the SR-71 programs, running the reconnaissance side of the nuclear war plan. Furr retired after 27 years of a very