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the tasked period. Other less traveled routes were given random coverage. If no vehicles were observed during the armed reconnaissance portion of the flight over the assigned route segment, a pre¬selected truck park or storage area was assigned as the alternate target and struck before recovery to NKP. On these hunter-killer missions

the FAC took off 30 minutes prior to the AT-28D and was positioned over the assigned route segment by the NKP MSQ-77 radar which tracked the portable radar beacon installed on the O-1F. TACAN was the primary AT-28D navigation aid with the NKP Ground Controlled Intercept (GCI) radar site being used to help find the FAC aircraft during periods of bad weather. To com- plete rendezvous with the FAC during good weather conditions the AT-28D homed in on the FAC aircraft’s UHF tone using the ARA-25 until visual con- tact could be made. The AT-28D joined the O-1F in the target area 1000 feet above the O-1F, because the shielded navigation lights on the O-1F could only be seen from above the aircraft. Once joined up in the target area the FAC began reporting truck traffic he was observing through the starlight scope. (Note: The O-1F aircraft carried a crew of two. The back seat observer would be hooked to the aircraft with a strap and literally hang “waist-up” out the window and used a starlight scope to observe truck traffic or storage area activity.) The AT-28D pilot would posi- tion for an attack pattern that would keep him at a safe distance from the FAC dur- ing weapons delivery and recovery. If moon and natural starlight were not suf- ficient to illuminate terrain features and trucks in the star light scope, the FAC aircraft observer would drop a ground marking flare which would burn about 40 minutes and could be seen for about 15 miles. This marking flare would pro- vide a point of reference from which target location could be described and attack operations could be oriented. FAC vehicle reports included

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direction of travel, number, interval and separation, and specific location rela- tive to identifiable terrain characteristics so the attack pilot could easily identify both the target and terrain/route features surrounding the target(s). About 30 sec- onds prior to flare release by the FAC, the AT-28D began descending from his perch position, using a 360° turn or a 90/270° pattern, to set up a head-on attack situation on the first pass, when- ever possible. The FAC would start climbing after the AT-28D descended through his altitude and reported clear. When required the FAC fired a smoke rocket to help the attack pilot pinpoint target location. The attack pilot first tried to make a disabling pass using .50 caliber machine guns or CBU-14 bom- blets within one minute of flare ignition to catch the trucks before they could escape the flare lighted area or into a near-by road side truck park. Strafing from a head-on to quartering approach would normally assure hits on the driver compartment, engine and fuel tanks. CBU releases during the strafe recovery would inflict further damage and burn the target if fuel tanks had been ruptured. Napalm or white phosphorous bombs were used to assure total target destruc- tion. Flares were released as needed to keep the target(s) illuminated during the attack passes. Attack patterns and target approaches were adjusted to neutral- ize enemy defensive positions and to avoid the mountainous Karst formations which paralleled the roads and rivers. When possible the attack pilot tried to stop or bottle up convoys by destroying the lead or trail vehicles at route points where passage was difficult and traf- fic was slowed. Additional fire support would be diverted into the target area by the airborne command center when nec- essary to complete destruction of a large number of trucks. Every one of the combat missions I

flew from NKP turned out to be different from the planned format once I crossed the Mekong River. Although most of the missions, especially hunter-killer team


missions, proceeded as planned until target contact was made, tactics in the target area would change once the team received anti-aircraft fire or the target moved off the road.

Flying with “Air Commando One”

Brig Gen Harry C. ‘Heinie’ Aderholt In late August 1967 I had the honor

of flying with then Colonel Harry C. “Heinie” Aderholt on a night mission. I must start by saying that everyone who ever knew Col Aderholt at NKP will attest to him being a “hands on” leader who involved himself with every aspect of 56th ACW operations. He was avail- able and visible to wing personnel in their work places and he worked tire- lessly to improve the working and living conditions on the base. People who were close to him will tell you that he did not need much sleep and he monitored air operations and base support activities day and night. He believed in the wing’s mission and was the leading advocate for expanding its combat role into night interdiction operations. If anything unusual occurred on base it was a good bet that he was present providing his brand of active leadership and wisdom. He was liked by the people who worked for him and they were at ease in his pres- ence. He took every loss hard and spent

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