On 13 May 68 the following
units were activated and assigned to the 838th Air Division(TAC),
Forbes AFB, KS, with duty at Bakalar AFB.
930th Group Headquarters
|| Col. Joe
930th Consol. Acft. Mtc. Sqdn.
|| L/Col. Donald
930th Aerial Port Squadron
|| Capt. C.
71st Tactical Airlift Squadron
|| L/Col. Wm.
The 930th Tactical Airlift
Group was mobilized with strength as follows:
Ordered to A/D 13 May 68
30-60 day delays granted
TDY, Basic Trng, Lackland AFB
Delays granted were principally
to teachers, college students, and farmers. One airman was granted
exemption from active duty for extreme personal hardship.
Shortly after activation, TAC
Movement Order 11 was received on 14 May 68 for transfer of the
unit to Lockbourne AFB, Ohio. An Operation Plan was prepared
and 930th TAG Operations Order 1-68 (1 Jun 68) directed the activated
units to commence a PCS move from Bakalar AFB, Indiana to Lockbourne
AFB, Ohio on 1 Jun 68 and to close NLT 30 Jun 68. An advance
party (ADVON) of one officer and 3 NCOs was to report to Lockbourne
AFB on 1 Jun 68. The ADVON party was composed of Lt Col. Harman
Hatton, CMSgt Marshall Pickett, CMSgt Walter Fritsche, and MSgt
The 930th TAG was reorganized
into the 71st Air Commando Squadron, L/Col. James E. Pyle, Commander,
on 17 Jun 68 and moved to Lockbourne AFB Ohio. All personnel were
in place and functioning from Lockbourne AFB on 21 Jun 68. The
movement of material was completed on 28 Jun 68, in accordance
with the 930th TAG Plan, and in compliance with with TACM 400-5.
About 270,000 pounds of material with a stated value of approximately
three million dollars was moved in organization aircraft. No
outside assistance was required or requested. The 930th Supply
Squadron Commander, L/Col. Jack Priddy, although not called to
active duty, spent a total of three weeks with the unit assisting
in preparation of the Movement Plan, insuring proper and orderly
transfer of accountability, etc. His action was indicative of
the fine spirit of cooperation and the excellent working relationship
the unit experienced with all the people of Bakalar AFB.
the period 13 May 68 through 17 May 68 at Bakalar AFB, the unit:
- a. Reviewed all personnel
records for completeness, and prepared equipment for move to
- b. Supported TAC levied airlift
missions and supported upgrade training in all areas.
- c. Airlifted personnel and
material from Bakalar AFB to Lockbourne AFB.
On 8 Jul 68 the 71st Air Commando
Squadron was redesignated the 71st Special Operations Squadron
- Parent unit, 1st Special Operations Wing, England AFB, LA.
While at Lockbourne AFB the 71st SOS was supported by Headquarters,
840th Combat Support Group (TAC).
The first training class in
the AC-119G gunship for Southeast Asia duty was accepted by the
4413th Combat Crew Training Squadron (CCTS) on 3 Jul 68. Most
of the 71st's personnel were experienced and qualified in C-119G
crew and support positions, so the training stressed equipment
and procedures peculiar to the AC-119G gunship. The C-119Gs of
the 71st SOS were gradually sent to the Fairchild-Hiller plant
in St. Augustine, FL for modification to AC-119G gunships, or
to other units as replacements for their commitment to the modification
When the 71st Tactical Airlift
Squadron was recalled, the C-119G aircraft crew consisted of
(2) Pilots, one (1) Navigator, one (1) Flight Engineer, and one
(1) Loadmaster. The AC-119G aircraft crew required two (2) Pilots,
two (2) Navigators (one Navigator operated the Night Observation
Sight), one (1) Flight Engineer, two (2) Gunners, and one (1)
Illuminator Operator. Loadmasters cross-trained as Illuminator
Operators. Volunteers from other Reserve Units were accepted
to fill vacancies and the Air Staff ordered men from various
Air Force sources to fully man the 71st SOS, which was scheduled
to depart for Southeast Asia on 27 July 68. Delays in departure
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Gunship III (AC-119G) program was beset with many problems which
caused delays in the deployment of the 71st SOS.
- a. Procurement of the electronic
components and guns not on schedule.
- b. Difficulties with Fairchild-Hiller
on certain items at the outset of the modification program; the
smoke evacuation system being a case in point. Survival of aircraft
and crew was at stake if a magnesium flare ignited in the aircraft.
The fire would fill the plane with blinding, choking smoke, impairing
vision and movement. The Air Force specified that to be safe,
a smoke removal system had to clear the smoke in ten seconds.
- c. Production delays stretched
time for readying support equipment and refining supply procedures.
- d. During March 1968, the
President announced a new ceiling of Southeast Asia increases,
known as Program 6 and disclosed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff
on April 6. It did not provide for the spaces CINCPAC asked for
to support the AC-119Gs.
- e. Delay in completion of
base support facilities in South Vietnam.
- f. General Nazzaro, Commander
in Chief, Pacific Air Forces, notified General McConnel, Chief
of Staff, on Sept. 25, 1968, that the enemy's stepped-up infiltration
and attacks on populated areas and military installations proved
the need for two AC-119G squadrons. However, by reason of manpower
ceilings and possible disruptive effects of a short-term AC-119G
deployment, CINCPACAF, recommended;
- 1. Retention of two AC-47
- 2. Holding the 71st Special
Operations Squadron in the United States,
- 3. Earliest possible deployment
of the AC-119K Gunship III squadron.
- g. Even more serious was the
AC-119G aircraft's failure to reach Air Force profile standards.
The AC-119G had to sustain a 200 foot-per-minute rate of climb
with one engine feathered during hot day conditions at a gross
weight of 62,000 pounds.
TAC received the first AC-119G
on 9 Jun 68, and instantly began limited flight testing. Equipment
problems and delays developed. Test personnel saw that the AC-119G's
combat configuration would go over the 62,000 pound weight limit,
forcing a cutback in fuel load and in turn loiter time. The final
test report recommended that AFLC conduct a weight reduction
program. On 11 Jul 68, General Gabriel P. Disoway, TAC Commander,
reported to the Air Force Chief of Staff: "We are in agreement
that the AC-119G as presently configured will not provide the
desired SEA combat capability. We strongly recommend the deployment
be delayed until deficiencies are corrected."
Air Force headquarters directed
a conference be convened "to discuss alternatives for improving
the aircraft performance in order to meet mission requirements."
Air Force headquarters asked (1) WRAMA to identify nonessential
items for removal to reduce the AC-119Gs weight. (2) PACAF and
Seventh Air Force to review mission requirements and recommend
removal of specific equipment items and/or reduction of the 200
foot-per-minute rate of climb standard, and (3) TAC to brief
results of the AC-119G's Category III test and suggest any improvements.
On 26 July 68, WRAMA hosted
a two day AC-119G weight reduction and performance improvement
conference. In attendance were representatives from Headquarters
USAF, PACAF, TAC, AFLC, Seventh Air Force, and Fairchild-Hiller.
The conferees determined the G model's total weight when ready
for take-off was 66,282 pounds, 3,350 pounds in excess. After
lengthy discussions, more than thirty items were listed for removal,
weighing a total of 3,277 pounds. The conferees believed that
PACAF and the Seventh Air Force need ed to adopt the weight reduction
recommendation and at the same time relax the single engine climb
rate standard from 200 feet to 100 feet-per-minute. The Air Force
headquarters pondered these recommendations, then let PACAF know
that the SEA mission profile could be met by adopting the weight
reduction recommendation together with lowering the single engine
rate-of-climb standard to 100 feet-per-minute. Air Force headquarters
stressed that the lower standard of performance afforded "adequate
operational safety." The AC-119G would be given a pilot
operated jettisonable flare launcher. Jettisoning the launcher
in an emergency would boost the single engine rate-of-climb to
around 150 feet-per-minute. On 15 August 68, PACAF replied that
it would lower the rate-of-climb criterion to 100 feet-per-minute.
The Air Force looked for the
best way to accomplish the weight reduction program. On 24 Aug
68, WRAMA suggested the aircraft be cycled through the contractor's
St. Augustine plant. The Air Staff accepted the plan , and Fairchild-Hiller
was contracted to rework the AC-119G aircraft weight reduction.
On 11 Oct 68, the Air Force
officially accepted the last AC-119G as it ended modification.
On the other hand, only the first aircraft had gone through all
test phases and begun its weight reduction at Fairchild-Hiller's
St. Augustine plant. Debate over the headroom spaces and the
AC-119G deployment extended into November. Air Force Headquarters
rejected PACAF's recommendation for holding the 71st SOS in the
United States. ° PACAF then reported it would allow deployment
of the AC-119Gs.
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Deputy Defense Secretary Nitze
approved the deployment of the 71st Special Operations Squadron
to South Vietnam on 27 Nov 68.
at Lockbourne AFB during the period 17 Jun 68 until deployment
to SEA in December 68, The Unit:
- a. Progressed through the
4413th Combat Crew Training Squadron's program and was considered
ready for the combat theater commitment.
- b. All flying personnel completed
the Basic Survival School course at Fairchild AFB, Wash.
- c. Flew support missions levied
by higher headquarters:
- 1. Tactical Air Command
- 2. Special Operations Forces
- 3. 1st Special Operations
- Type of Missions
- 1. Airborne Support (Pope
- 2. Combat Cover (Egli n AFB)
- 3. C-119G delivery to Fairchild-Hiller
and other Reserve Units.
- 4. AC-119G pick-up at Fairchild-Hiller.
- 5. Chute tests (Wright-Patterson
- 6. Squadron Support
- d. Aircrew training:
- 1. Combat Aircrew Training
- 4413th CCTS (40 hours)
- 2. Continuation Training -
- a. Four flights per month
per crew (4 hours each, dry fire)
- b. One live fire mission per
crew prior to deployment
- c. Basic Survival School
- d. FTD - Clinton County AFB
- e. Flight Simulator (Bakalar
- f. Physiological Training
- e. GMT (Lockbourne AFB)
- 1. Accident Prevention
- 2. Articles of UCMJ
- 3. Code of Conduct
- 4. Disaster Actions
- 5. First Aid
- 6. Security
- 7. Calisthenics - 5 BX
- 8. .38 caliber handgun
- 9. M-16 rifles
- 10. M-148 launcher
- 11. Com Sec
- f. Maintenance Support
- 1. Maintained C-119G aircraft
until exchanged for AC-119Gs, including standard and phase inspections.
- 2. Received and performed
acceptance checks on 18 AC-119G aircraft. Numerous discrepancies
were found including incorrect wiring of A1C-10 interphone on
first 11 aircraft; 80% of engine fuel and oil hoses and 60% of
wing fuel hoses required replacement; five engines had to be
replaced because they exceeded the 900 hours criteria specified
by PACAF; twelve main gear tires received from factory were worn
to minimum standard, requiring replacement; some tires had flat
spots; phase inspections as performed at IRAN facility did not
comply with TO; safety wires were missing; spark plugs had not
been reconditioned. Our AFTO 64 Forms reflected many other discrepancies.
Also some TOs and wiring diagrams on special equipment were missing.
- 3. Maintained AC-119G aircraft.
- 4. Performed miscellaneous
inspections of aircraft equipment as required.
- 5. Continuous maintenance
During the tour at Lockbourne
AFB, the 71st SOS received several distinguished visitors. The
purpose of the visits was to inspect and be briefed on the status
of the unit.
August, 1968: General William
W. Momeyer and his staff. General Momeyer had been Commander
of the 7th Air Force, PACAF, and had just assumed command of
the Tactical Air Command.
November, 1968: Major General
Tom E. Marchbanks, Chief of Air Force Reserve; Major General
Rollin B. Moore, Jr., AFRES Commander; Colonel O. M. Bixby, Commander
840th Combat Support Group (TAC), Lockbourne AFB, Ohio; Colonel
A. S. Pouliot, Commander 1st Special Operations Wing, England,
Thirty (30) Officers and sixty
(60) Enlisted Personnel of the original three hundred thirty
seven (337) personnel recalled did not deploy to South Vietnam
with the 71st SOS:
- a. OVERAGE - (no position
on Unit Manning Document) - 19 Colonel Joe T. Pound reassigned
to the 317th(?) Tactical Airlift Wing, then to the Pentagon.
Colonel Mason D. Cloyd reassigned to the Pentagon. Twelve reassigned
to other active units. Five (5) released from active duty and
returned to reserve status.
- b. MEDICAL - released from
active duty - 7
- c. REASSIGNED - to helicopter
squadron - 2
- d. OTHER - 2 (One (1) returned
to flying status too late to take part in training; One (1) ineligible
for reassignment to SEA unless volunteer status.)
- a. OVERAGE - (no position
on Unit Manning Document) - 35 All assigned to other active duty
- b. MEDICAL - released from
active duty - 6
- c. HARDSHIP - discharge approved
- d. HUMANITARIAN - 4 (two (2)
reassigned to other active duty units, two (2) still pending
at time of deployment.)
- e. LACK OF RETAINABILITY -
8 (reassigned to other active duty units on base until discharged.)
- f. Had requested release from
reserve assignment prior to recall. Released - 1
- g. Exercised option to decline
deployment due to brother being scheduled to go with squadron
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TO SOUTH VIETNAM
The 71st SOS received the Movement
Order to deploy to South Vietnam on 27 Nov 1968. The 71st SOS
was to ferry eighteen (18) AC-119G aircraft to Nha Trang, South
Vietnam via McClellan AFB, California; McChord AFB, Washington;
Elmendorf AFB,Alaska; Adak; Midway; Wake; Guam; and Clark AB,
Philippines. (The guns and mounts had been removed and a 500
gallon rubberized fuel tank had been installed for extra fuel
load. The guns and mounts would be shipped to Nha Trang so as
to arrive at the same time as the aircraft.) Each aircraft would
be manned with a crew of: Pilot, Co-Pilot, Navigator, Flight
Engineer, and Crew Engineer. (Note: There was no enroute support
team or enroute support kit - both were needed as experience
proved - Personnel on enroute bases were not familiar with the
AC-119G aircraft, therefore enroute support was poor. The 71st
SOS sent maintenance teams to Tinker AFB and Wake AB to make
All other 71st SOS personnel
(258) and unit equipment (338,000 pounds) was to be airlifted
from Lockbourne AFB, Ohio to Nha Trang, South Vietnam, on three
(3) C-141 (MAC) aircraft via Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, and Yokoda
AB, Japan. Flights were to depart 10 Dec 68, 22 Dec 68, and 10
Jan 69. The first flight included unit equipment and an advance
party (ADVON) with L/Col. Donald L. Beyl in charge. They arrived
at Nha Trang 12 Dec 68 and immediately started making arrangements
for arrival of the main force of 71st SOS personnel. The second
flight was made up of mostly personnel, including the Commander,
Operations Scheduler, Administrative personnel, other crew members
and maintenance personnel. Some unit equipment was included.
The flight arrived at Nha Trang 24 Dec 68. All crew members,
except the Commander whose presence was required at Nha Trang
until his staff was in place, remained aboard and continued on
to Clark AB, Philippines, to attend the PACAF Jungle Survival
School (referred to as 'snake school'). Jungle Survival Training
was a PACAF requirement before flying combat missions in the
Vietnam theater. The Commander attended 'snake school' with other
arriving crew members. The third flight with the balance of unit
equipment and personnel arrived at Nha Trang by mid Jan 69 as
scheduled, thanks to the excellent supervision of Maj. Duane
C. Oberg, Squadron Mobility and Administrative Officer.
The first two AC-119G aircraft
departed Lockbourne AFB on 5 Dec 68; two aircraft 10 Dec 68;
and then as the aircraft became available from the weight reduction
program at the Fairchild-Hiller plant in St. Augustine, Florida.
The last aircraft departed St. Augustine on 29 Jan 69. Two (2)
AC-119G aircraft arrived at Nha Trang on 27 Dec 68 with a total
of four (4) AC-119Gs arriving by 31 Dec 68. By the first of March,
all eighteen (18) AC-119G aircraft of the 71st SOS had arrived
in the combat theater.
As the aircraft ferrying crews
arrived, they were immediately sent to the Jungle Survival School
at Clark AB, Philippines. This was made possible through the
special efforts of L/Col. Boris C. Chaleff. L/Col. Chaleff, the
Acting Operations Officer/Operations Scheduler, was in the first
group (from the second C-141 airlift) to attend the 'snake school'.
He established a valuable working relationship with M/Sgt. Berry,
NCOIC of the Survival School. L/Col. Chaleff explained the high
precedence rating of "Combat Hornet", the method of
arrival of aircraft and crews, and the immediate requirement
to fly fragged missions. M/Sgt. Berry allowed the 71st SOS to
send crews to the Survival School without the required waiting
period. A phone call from L/Col. Chaleff at anytime was acceptable.
(The 71st SOS showed its appreciation by sending jungle combat
boots and jungle fatigues to Survival School personnel.) Gaining
timely admission to the Jungle Survival School was critical to
our mission and it became almost routine. The remainder of the
problem was getting in-country flight reservations for the aircrews
from Nha Trang to Saigon and on to Clark AB. The airmen in the
71st Operations Section spent an inordinate amount of time on
a highly inefficient telephone system making the necessary travel
arrangements. This was another example of the Reservists performing
beyond the call of duty and outside of the system in order to
get the job done.
As the AC-119G aircraft arrived
at Nha Trang, maintenance personnel set to work removing the
special ferrying fuel tanks, reinstalled and adjusted the miniguns,
and in general got the aircraft operationally ready. This proved
a stiffer job than expected as some of the aircraft and numerous
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71st SOS (call sign "Shadow") was assigned to
the 14th Special Operations Wing at Nha Trang, and would operate
out of three locations:
- NHA TRANG AB - 71st SOS Headquarters and Flight
A with five (5) aircraft
- Commander: L/Col. James E.
- Opns. Officer: L/Col. Warren
- PHAN RANG AB - Flight B with six (6) aircraft.
- Commander: L/Col. William
- Opns. Officer: L/Col. Earl
- TAN SON NHUT AB - Flight C with five (5) aircraft
- Commander: L/Col. Donald F.
- Opns. Officer: L/Col. Robert
Nha Trang AB, headquarters
of the 14th SOW, would serve as the main support base and have
two (2) sp °are aircraft. All major inspections would be
done at Nha Trang. When an aircraft at Flight B or Flight C was
due for an inspection, one of the spare aircraft was flown to
the forward location and exchanged for the aircraft in need of
The first AC-119G Shadow combat
missions were flown out of Nha Trang AB on 5 Jan 69. An evaluation
team analyzed the Shadow gunship's performance (5 Jan to 8 Mar
69) in Combat Air Patrol for Base and Hamlet Defense, Interdiction,
Armed Reconnaissance, Forward Air Control, and Close Air Support
missions. The evaluation report revealed the weapon system performed
all missions satisfactorily except Forward Air Controlling. The
aircraft was rather slow, hard to maneuver, and vulnerable to
enemy fire - not well suited to the Forward Air Control role.
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Shadow AC-119G had five (5) main systems:
- a. The night observation device
- b. Four (4) side firing 7.62
mm miniguns(3/6,000 RPM)
- c. Semiautomatic flare launcher
- d. Fire control system
- e. Illuminator (million candlepower)
All except the illuminator
demonstrated acceptable reliability and effective operation.
The illuminator worked well until maintenance problems made it
unreliable. (Maintenance problems were less and less in time,
and the illuminator eventually proved to be a very valuable system.)
The miniguns were very effective in close air support, however
were of limited value against vehicular traffic. Lack of an all-weather
capability crippled its operation in fog and haze. The evaluators
recommended the aircraft not be used in a high threat environment.
Throughout the combat evaluation,
the bulk of the targets (371 of 589) turned up during harrassment-and-interdiction
type missions. Such missions commonly grew out of armed reconnaissance
operations. A Shadow gunship was assigned to patrol a "Box"
- an area bound by precise coordinates. (Many of the boxes were
located west of the cities of Kontum and Pleiku where Cambodia,
Laos, and South Vietnam converged.)
Shadow navigated to and within
the box area by TACAN, with ground radar backup. Shadow kept
a terrain clearance of 500 feet as it pressed an unrestricted
search for the target with the night observation device or visually
by means of the flares or illuminator. When a target was identified,
the gunship plotted the coordinates and called the controlling
agency for clearance to fire. (Often it dropped Mk-6 flares (marker
logs) to pinpoint the target's position.) Upon receipt of firing
clearance, Shadow would climb to 3,500 feet, usually selected
a semi-automatic firing mode, banked into the left orbit, and
fired. Sometimes the gunship dropped flares to illuminate the
area and operated one or two guns, often at a slow rate (3,000
The evaluators had less trouble
in assessing the results of the close air support missions. The
Shadow used its illuminator and flares many times to assist troops-in-contact(TIC)
with the enemy. Shadow attacks in the course of the combat evaluations
recorded noteworthy statistics, including six enemy killed and
another 184 estimated killed. They silenced five .50 caliber
gun positions and destroyed or damaged thirty-one trucks. Many
secondary explosions triggered by attacks on ammunition fuel
dumps, vehicles, and base camps were confirmed. At the end of
the evaluation, the Shadow AC-119Gs had reported eighty-six instances
of ground fire but suffered only one aircraft hit from an unknown
type of small arms weapon. No injuries and only slight damage
to the right wing tip. Shadow maintained an operational readiness
rate of 78.8 % over the evaluation period.
All through the evaluation
period, more aircraft and crews arrived, proceeded to "snake
school" and returned to immediately start the in-theater
combat training check-out. To expedite combat crew checkout,
14th SOW "instructor pilots" worked with several selected
71st SOS pilots so as to certify them as "instructor pilots".
Two of the 71st SOS IPs, Major Benjamin McPherson and Capt. Marvin
Evans, contacted the Squadron Scheduler and volunteered to fly
until "fatigued". Major McPherson flew fourteen nights
straight and Capt. Evans flew seventeen nights straight before
taking a night off. This extra effort on their part helped immensely
toward complete squadron crew checkout.
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71ST SOS GAINED COMBAT-READY STATUS (C-1) ON 11 MAR 69.
As air crews became combat-ready,
the forward locations were activated. Tan Son Nhut (flight C)
was the first forward location to be activated in January, 1969.
On the eve of deployment of Flight C to the Tan Son Nhut AB,
the designated Wing airlift support programed to airlift the
flight C support equipment and ground personnel was cancelled
due to a higher priority mission. Colonel Ginn, 14th SOW Deputy
Chief for Operations, stated several key personnel were working
on the problem and were getting nowhere through channels. 71st
SOS Squadron Scheduler, L/Col. Chaleff, personally contacted
several Sergeants on base that had airlift connections and by
phone they made arrangements to divert sufficient aircraft capability
to accomplish the move as originally planned. This initiative
by the Reserves to "get the job done" by whatever means
required was commended by Colonel Ginn. This accomplishment enabled
the Tan Son Nhut Flight C to fly its first fragged mission as
The forward location, Phan
Rang (Flight B), was in place and flying missions by 15 Feb 69.
All three locations flew three fragged missions each night, the
first taking off at 6:30pm with the second and third taking off
at two to three hour intervals. Each mission flew until released
by the sector command - release depending on enemy action in
the sector. Missions varied from one to three sorties of approximately
four hours plus each. (Refueling was done at the nearest base
The crews of the 71st SOS got
their greatest satisfaction from successfully defending friendly
ground troops in danger of being overrun by an enemy force. But
Shadow brought a new dimension to the use of the gunships in
With its night-sight equipment,
automatic flare launcher, and million candlepower searchlight,
the AC-119G truly lived up to the 71st's motto, "Deny Him
the Dark". It searches for troop concentration, interdicts
the enemy's supply routes and also uses its unique capabilities
in unusual and highly helpful ways.
Damaged aircraft have been
shown a clearing where a safe landing could be made; night ground
repairs of machinery and equipment have been made possible by
Shadow's light; the light was even used to illuminate an area
where doctors were performing a delicate operation o Ñn
a wounded Vietnamese soldier.
The compound had lost its electrical
power while under heavy attack by the Viet Cong. A call for help
was answered by the Shadow which was supporting the Vietnamese
in their efforts to clear the enemy out of the besieged village.
For more than 30 minutes the pilot maintained the aircraft in
a disciplined circular pattern, disregarding the extreme vulnerability
to enemy ground fire. Finally the operation was over - the soldier
would survive. L/Col. Burl G. Campbell piloted the Shadow during
its mission of mercy. His crew consisted of Capt. John L. Parish,
Co-Pilot; L/Col. James H. Kirke and Major Harold R. Crawford,
Navigators; M/Sgt. Ronald E. Wheeler, Flight Engineer; S/Sgt.
Robert C. Johnson, Illuminator Operator; and Sgts. Robert Baum
and James R. Boyd, Aerial Gunners.
to top of page
were many interesting and satisfying missions by Shadow crews,
"Thanks Shadow. If it
hadn't been for you, we never would have held old Charley back".
These words from a friendly Army unit on the ground were heard
"Shadow scared the the
fight out of six enemy soldiers following three nights of action
against their unit 35 miles north of Ban Me Thout. The six rallied
to the side of the government rather than face any more of the
accurate firepower from the miniguns of the AC-119G Shadow gunship.
On the night of 9-10 May 69,
L/Col. Earl Scott, aircraft commander of Shadow 62, was operating
in a sector and in contact an Army of the Republic of Vietnam
ground force. He was advised by the sector command post to evacuate
the area as an "Arc Light" mission (B-52 bombing mission)
was scheduled for that area shortly.
He immediately advised them
of the friendly troops in the area, but was again ordered out
of the area as they didn't show any friendlies in that area,
and the "Arc Light" mission was proceeding. L/Col.
Scott refused to leave the area and after many verbal exchanges,
the "Arc Light" mission was diverted to its secondary
L/Col. Scott and his crew received
a Letter of Appreciation from General George S. Brown, Commander,
7th Air Force (PACAF); also from Colonel William K. Bush, Commander,
and Colonel William H. Ginn, Deputy Commander for Operations,
14th Special Operations Wing (PACAF), which read in part:
"When placed in a unique
situation, Lt. Col. Scott and his crew did not respond routinely.
They instead, properly analyzed the danger to friendly ground
forces and make the fact known. At the risk of censure, they
persisted until corrective action was taken. The validity of
their judgement has since been established and there can be little
doubt that a potentially tragic situation was averted."
The above mentioned Letters
of Appreciation along with letters from Lt. Col. Pyle, Commander,
71st SOS, and Lt. Col. William E. Long, B Flight Commander, 71st
SOS, were forwarded to Lt. Col. Scott.
The 71st Special Operations
Squadron, made up of mostly Reserve personnel, arrived in Vietnam
among skepticism and opposition but it didn't take long for the
aircrew experience level and professionalism, along with the
superb maintenance capability of the Reserves to change everyone's
opinion. The officers and men of the 14th Special Operations
Wing were extremely pleased with the dedication and capability
of the members of the 71st SOS.
Colonel William K. Bush, Commander
of the 14th SOW highly praised the men of the 71st SOS: "I
am proud to have the 71st SOS as a part of this Wing. This former
reserve unit has done an outstanding job and is performing a
vital mission here in Vietnam."
According to the parent 14th
SOW history, the 71st SOS "left an impressive record of
accomplishments during its active duty period in Southeast Asia."
The 71st SOS Operational Record in Southeast Asia:
- 1,209 Fragged Missions
- 1,516 Sorties
- 14,555,150 Rounds of 7.62mm
- 10,281 Flares dropped
- 6,251 Combat hours flown
- 682 Confirmed hostiles killed
by air (1,104 probables)
- 43 Vehicles confirmed destroyed
The 71st SOS never lost an
outpost it was defending, and helped save many patrols needing
help. The greatest achievement was NOT A SINGLE FATALITY, and
NOT AN AIRCRAFT LOST during the tour.
Only six aircraft received
any kind of battle damage in the air. Five suffered minor small
arms fire damage. the sixth was the most serious, being struck
by rounds of 12.7 mm fire which put 19 holes in the aft part
of the fuselage and caused minor wounds, lacerations in neck
and back to an active duty gunner augmenting the basic reserve
crew. Two other aircraft of the 71st SOS received damage on the
ground, but neither was disabling. One aircraft received minor
damage when Nha Trang Flight A was hit by six rounds of 75 mm
recoilless rifle fire. The other aircraft was hit by ricocheting
mortar fragments at Phan Rang flight B, but it took off 90 minutes
later in defense of the base. Although no significant damage
was done, all three sites, Nha Trang, Phan Rang, and Tan Son
Nhut shared in eight other ground attacks during the Squadron's
tour in Vietnam.
Five Reservists extended their
tour in Vietnam: MSgt. Dale Stickles, MSgt. Herb Weaver, SSgt.
George Dragoo, SSgt. Len Swallom and SSgt. Hector Trevino.
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members of the 71st SOS received the following decorations:
- 751 Air Medals
- 143 Distinguished Flying Crosses
- 18 Bronze Stars
- 47 Air Force Commendation
- 2 Purple Hearts (minor injuries)
The 71st SOS, being the
only Air Force Reserve Unit in the combat area, received many
distinguished visitors to inspect and be briefed on mission accomplishments:
April, 1969 - Air Reserve Forces
Policy Committee; Dr. T. C. Marrs, M/Gen. Curtis, M/Gen. Gifford,
M/Gen. Potts, M/Gen. Price, and Colonel Paris.
May, 1969 - M/Gen. Tom E. Marchbanks,
Jr., Chief Air Force Reserve, Hq. USAF; Col. Benjamin S. Catlin,
III, Chief of Staff, Air Force Reserve; Colonel Milton E. Mitler,
Chief, Liaison and Information Div., Air Force Reserve; Lt. Col.
Donald L. Peck, Assistant Chief, Operations and Training, Air
Dr. Robert C. Seamons, Jr.,
U.S. Air Force Secretary and party.
General George S. Brown, Commander,
7th Air Force.
71st SOS participated in a non-combat mission during their tour.
The Cau Da elementary School, set high on a hillside above the
Bay of Nha Trang, was in danger of sliding down the hill due
to soil erosion. As soon as the Squadron was asked to help, a
call went out for volunteers. Between 20 and 30 men volunteered
to go out to the school during their free time and help any way
they could. Plans were quickly drawn up to build a supporting
wall and fill in behind it. Construction was begun at once. Rock
was broken up at a nearby quarry and hauled to the school. Using
cement mixed on site., 71st SOS volunteers and villagers began
assembling the wall. A nearby unit of the South Vietnamese Navy
also helped. With the main wall completed, the 71st men moved
their efforts to a diversionary wall that would halt any erosion
in the future. Also a stairway down the hill was constructed
to make it easier for the children to get to school. It was a
very satisfying "civic action project'.
The 71st SOS left Nha Trang
AB on 5 Jun 69 via three (MAC) C-141 aircraft. (The 18 AC-119G
gunships were reassigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron.)
M/Gen. Royal N. Butler, 7th
Air Force Commander observed: "They've come in from civilian
live, worked into a new weapons system, brought it into the country,
and have done a tremendous job since they've been here."
The three C-141 aircraft arrived
at Bakalar AFB, Columbus, IN on Friday, 6 Jun 69 to a great welcome
from family, relatives, and friends - including Columbus Mayor
Eret Kline, Indiana Governor Edgar Whitcomb, and Colonel Alfred
Verhulst, Vice Commander, Air Force Reserve. Governor Whitcomb
presented each man a Service
Recognition Certificate from the State of Indiana - the first
time Indiana had ever done this. After a free weekend, the 71st
SOS returned to base for processing and normal duty until released
from active duty on 18 Jun 69. Deactivation ceremonies on 17
Jun 69 was climaxed by a Squadron review. Many VIPs arrived for
the deactivation ceremonies:
- M/Gen. Marchbanks . . . .
. . . . . Pentagon
- Col. (Governor) Whitcomb .
. . . Indiana
- Col. Mitler
- Col. Ecklund
- Col. Cloyd
- M/Gen. Moore . . . . . . .
. . . . . . Robins AFB
- Col. Verhulst
- B/Gen. Cardinas . . . . .
. . . . . . . Eglin AFB
- B/Gen. Barron
- Col. Haegelin
- Col. Mailloux
- Col. Davidson . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . Bergstrom AFB
- Col. Haynsworth
- Col. Biven . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . Selfridge AFB
- Capt. Bailey
As of 19 Jun 69, the 71st SOS
reverted to Reserve Status and continued their training at Bakalar
AFB through December 1969, when it was reassigned to Grissom
AFB, Peru, Indiana.
On 16 Jul 1969, Department
of the Air Force Special Order GB-468, paragraph 4, awarded The
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious
achievement in support of operations during the period 19 Dec
68 - 30 Apr 69.
The 71st SOS also received
the Presidential Unit Citation Award for the period 19 Dec 68
- 30 Jun 69.
The 71st SOS was awarded The
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross With Palm for 14 Feb 69 -
4 Jun 69.
The 71st Special Operations
Squadron performed its mission in an outstanding, professional
manner. All members of the 71st SOS can and should be proud of
their performance. I am proud to have been the Commander of such
a great group of men. I wish to say THANKS to all members of
the 71st SOS for their outstanding performance.
It is only natural that when
talking about the Squadron's performance, we think first of the
crew members and their missions. However, let's not forget the
work required in getting those missions ready, or the every day
administrative duties. A special THANKS to the personnel in the
- (Headquarters and all Flights)
- Maintenance (all)
- L/Col. James E. Pyle
- 71st Special Operations Squadron
- 17 Jun 68 - 18 Jun 69
Colonel Pyle, Commander, and L/Col. Johnson, Operations Officer,
as representatives of the 71st SOS, were invited to attend a
meeting on 16 Dec 69, with all other recalled representatives,
for "Reserve Recognition Day" at the White House with
They also attended a luncheon
for all Air Force Reserve representatives at the Bolling AFB
Officer Club, hosted by the Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Robert
C. Seamans, Jr., and General John D. Ryan, Chief of Staff.
Day, 16 Dec 1969
L. to R. Maj. Gen. Tom E. Marchbanks, Jr.,
Chief Air Force Reserve, Hq. USAF; Gen. John D. Ryan, Chief of
Staff, USAF; Colonel James E. Pyle, Commander, 71st Special Operations
of the Fixed Wing Gunships | AC-119G
Successor units of the 71st SOS