Former Navy pilot recounts combat over North Vietnam in 1972 during program at IVH

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY Retired Navy Commander Curtis Dose describes a military aircraft during a presentation at the Iowa Veterans Home Friday. Dose graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1967. He flew combat missions in a F-4 Phantom during the Vietnam War.

Dozens of notable active duty military members and veterans have been to the Iowa Veterans Home Malloy Leisure Resource Center, but Navy Commander Curt Dose will stand out in the memories of approximately 75 attendees who heard and watched a dramatic presentation Friday.

Dose, who resides in San Diego, Calif., presented a white-knuckle generating and at times harrowing video filmed in real-time.

The first segment was of a reconnaissance mission over then-North Vietnamese military installations. That was followed by his combat with North Vietnamese fighter pilots over that country on May 10, 1972.

Dose shot down one North Vietnamese pilot flying a Russian-made MiG-21. The footage was reminiscent of scenes from the popular and critically acclaimed “Top Gun” and “Top Gun Maverick” films.

Fittingly, Dose had trained at Miramar, Calif., site of “Top Gun.”

“It (May 10, 1972) was the ‘bloodiest’ day of combat during that war,” Dose said. “As part of warfare we had to kill people, and there were people prepared to kill us. We were there to stop communism, and we did.”

Dose and his fellow aviators had launched from Navy aircraft carriers on both missions. During the reconnaissance and combat Dose had to evade heavy anti-aircraft fire and surface-to-air-missiles (SAMs).

“The SAMs resembled flying telephone poles,” he said.

Dose narrated the video with precise details, despite the missions having taken place nearly 52 years ago. His narrative, and scenes from video drew “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd, made up of residents, staff and state officials.

Dose was awarded a prestigious Silver Star medal for the combat mission. His father — a Navy pilot who flew combat missions in World War II and shot down a Japanese Zero — pinned the Silver Star on his son’s chest.

“We may have been the only father-son combination with aerial kills,” Dose said.

Years after the war ended, Dose and other American aviators met with their-once enemy pilots and interpreters. Dose said several of the former North Vietnamese pilots had witnessed the combat on May 10, 1972.

They were taxiing out on a runway from an airfield near Hanoi — the capital of North Vietnam — as Dose’s air battle was raging.

Dose also met the family of the pilot he had killed, and the group visited the military cemetery where he was buried.

“They were proud of their son,” he said. “To be selected for pilot training and then be certified as one was a significant accomplishment. I was treated with honor and respect by them.”

A street was named in Dose’s honor near the family’s residence. After Dose’s program, he candidly answered many questions and patiently listened to comments from the audience.

One resident — a Navy veteran who also served in Vietnam — said he had worked on simulators which aviators like Dose used to enhance actual training exercises.

Dose commended the man for his work and its critical importance. Dose said he had seen “Top Gun” and “Top Gun Maverick” and enjoyed both.

“I liked “Top Gun Maverick” the best,” he said. “Both films captured the soul of what it means to be a Naval aviator.”

“Top Gun Maverick” was directed by Joseph Kosinski, who graduated from Marshalltown High School. Before his introduction, Dose made a point to shake hands with every veteran seated in the audience, as well as IVH staff and others.

Kara Warme, Dose’s daughter who resides in rural Story County with her family, introduced her father before his presentation. She, too, took time to meet and greet those seated in the audience.

Warme is running for the Republican nomination to represent District 26 in the Iowa Senate. The seat is currently held by Sen. Jeff Edler (R-State Center), a two-termer who announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election.

Warme will be opposed by fellow Republican Gannon Hedrick of McCallsburg in the June primary. So far, Mike Wolfe of Maxwell is the lone Democrat who has filed paperwork to run. The Democratic and Republican primary winners will face off in the November general election.

Warme emphasized her conservative beliefs and experience in brief remarks following her father’s program.

“I will work for continued tax relief for Iowans, as I believe it has helped the economy,” she said. “I also want to improve education … we have slipped over the years in that area.”

In campaign promotional material she handed out to residents before the program, the candidate and mother of two daughters said she is committed to “always value life,” “defend the Second Amendment,” “protect girls’ sports” and “serve, listen and lead.”

This is the second political contest for Warme. In 2022, she unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Story County Board of Supervisors.

“Growing up in a military family, I know the value of sacrifice and duty to country,” she told the veterans.

“Please vote for Kara,” said Dose, as he hugged his daughter at the conclusion of the event.


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