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When ground fire was encountered

the escort aircraft would provide suf- ficient fire support to permit the cell to withdraw, and then disengage. Strafing was the most accurate response and could be brought to bear against a hos- tile position very quickly. CBU attacks were also effective, but care had to be taken when delivering the high yield bomblets near friendly forces. M-47 bombs were excellent to use against defensive gun positions because they provided smoke and fire screen cover to support withdrawal from the hostile area. If the distance between the cell and enemy was insufficient for a safe bomb delivery, the hostile fire would be suppressed by strafing the observed position. As a last resort we could drop our external tanks, if they still contained fuel, near the hostile positions and then ignite them by strafing. I flew several early morning day-

time missions that involved escorting helicopters delivering Laotian road watch teams to a mountainous area south of the Ban Lo Boy ford where Route 565 crossed from North Vietnam into Laos. One of these missions, flown with Tom Deken in late June, still stands out in my memory because of the secondary target that we struck while returning to NKP. During the mission we joined up with two Udorn-based helicopters south of NKP and escorted them to a small airport to pick up a Laotian road watch team. We escorted the helicopters to an LZ on a small mountain south of the Ban Lo Boy ford where one team was dropped off and another picked up for return. The mission went as planned and briefed, with no hostile fire received.

After being released

from our escort duties, we reported our mission results to the command center at Vientiane, Laos. The command center then tasked us to fly to an area approxi- mately 45 miles east of NKP near Na Hi and see if we could see signs of NVA troop movements that had been reported by Laotian ground teams observing the area. We arrived over the area and immediately received sporadic 14.5mm and 37mm anti-aircraft fire through the tree canopy below us. Tom requested autho- rization from the Vientiane command center to strike the area. The command center issued us a Royal Laotian Air Force (RLAF) mission task number and we set up to attack the target. Tom quickly briefed that we would make 3 passes with each of us approaching the target from opposite directions, and we would change each of our follow-on target approaches 90 degrees. We first dropped our M-47 bombs at the anti- aircraft gun positions, then delivered CBU bomblets in an X-crossing pattern between the four M-47 impact points. We next dropped our napalm on the edges of the CBU smoke and strafed the tar- get area on each pass. Our whole attack sequence lasted about eight minutes. We departed the area reporting to Vientiane the time that we had struck the target, the types of ordnance used, the probable destruction of two 14.5 mm and one 37

NKP AT-28D loaded with 2 guns, 4 MK-82s, and 2 M-47 PWP bombs on a day-time strike mission.

mm anti-aircraft guns, and the numer- ous secondary explosions we observed. We returned to NKP, debriefed our mis- sion to intelligence, and went into crew rest to be ready for the night mission to come. It would be almost six weeks before

a Laotian ground reconnaissance team would revisit the target area and provide observed results of that mission through the operations reporting (Oprep) system. With only two AT-28Ds being at the right place and time, we had inflicted signifi- cant losses to an NVA regiment moving through Laos.

Night Armed

Reconnaissance Missions Night attack missions were always

tasked and flown as single-ship armed reconnaissance sorties. Night sor- ties were configured with various combinations of weapons described in the foregoing AT-28D fighter-bomber

AT-28D in evening combat dress. NKP AT-28D loaded and prepared for a night sortie. Aircraft configuration includes: two .50 Caliber machine guns (wing pod flaring), two BLU-10A napalm bombs (inboard stations), two SUU-25 flare dispensers (center stations) and two M-47 bombs (outboard stations).


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