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many years after his retirement account- ing for airmen he lost and helping Laos’ native Hmong people through the Air Commando Association’s McCoskrie Threshold Foundation he helped found. He truly was “Air Commando One”. On this particular August night he


was in the wing intelligence and opera- tions section observing aircrew mission preparation activities because early post- mission reports indicated the 56th ACW was having a busy and successful night on the trail. He listened in on my mis- sion intelligence briefing and observed my flight preparation and subsequent briefing with the FAC who would be part of our assigned hunter-killer team that morning. After completing mission preparation I went to the Officers Club for dinner and then went to the squadron to pick up my flight gear and proceeded to the flight line. I completed the aircraft forms review and talked to the crew chief about the flawless aircraft status and high drag asymmetric munitions load: two flat nosed M-35 fire bombs hung on the inboard stations, a SUU-25 flare pod and external fuel tank loaded on the center stations, and two CBU-14 dispensers loaded on the outboard sta- tions. During my pre-flight walk around of the aircraft Col Aderholt arrived and told me he would be flying with me on the mission. Although I was surprised that he had decided to fly with me that evening, I was not uneasy with his pres- ence because I had about five months experience flying these night missions as both a pilot and instructor pilot. After briefing him on the aircraft status and weapons load, I gave him a short air- crew briefing on emergency and bail out procedures should we be hit by anti- aircraft fire. We strapped in and I started the aircraft, taxied to the arming area and made an on-time takeoff. Shortly after crossing the Mekong River we observed some 37mm anti-aircraft fire from a site south of our flight path that I referred to as “Check Point Charlie”, because the site seemed to always fire a harmless volley of 37mm rounds toward


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us early morning flyers to let us know he was still awake and we did not want to come his way. Approximately 20 min- utes later we joined up with the FAC at our assigned route check point and received his target briefing. After about 15 minutes the FAC located some trucks moving along the road, described their position, confirmed our visual contact with the targets and cleared us to attack. It was a dark, star lit night with


only a few scattered clouds which did not prohibit a discernible horizon, so I elected to make the first attack from a shallow dive without flare illumination. I positioned the aircraft to meet the small con- voy head on and when in range I started firing the machine guns at the visible headlights and dropped CBU when I passed over them dur- ing the pull off. We immediately received anti- aircraft fire from two directions and I released two flares as we climbed to position the aircraft for a steep dive angle from which we would drop our M-35 cluster fire bombs. The convoy stretched along the road for about one quarter mile and we made a bomb delivery pass at each end of the convoy, released a second set of flares to keep the area illuminated and turned the remaining truck targets back to the FAC, who was already coordinating with the airborne command center for another attack aircraft. The whole sequence of events lasted approximately ten minutes. We received sporadic anti-aircraft fire throughout most of our attack sequence, but it was aimless and harmless because the gunners were blinded by the bright flare light and could not see us as we


maneuvered to keep the flares between them and our position. Colonel Aderholt was quiet except


for one “get the b-------” comment as we rolled in on our first attack pass, and very helpful calling out the two directions from which we were receiv- ing anti-aircraft fire. He confirmed four trucks were burning or stopped on our final bomb delivery pass and told me that some trucks appeared to have driven off the road into the trees. We made several circles above the FAC while waiting for a near-by, redirected A-26K


to arrive, and retained our unexpended machine gun ammunition to help the FAC escape from the area if needed. The A-26K arrived in about five minutes and we watched his first two attacks on the remaining targets before we departed for recovery at NKP. After landing Colonel Aderholt


and I debriefed maintenance and intel- ligence personnel and listened to some debriefing results from other areas along different segments of the trail. During breakfast Colonel Aderholt asked me where I would like for my next assign- ment to be when I departed NKP. I told him that I wanted to return to jet fighters and go to the 20th TFW in the United Kingdom, an assignment that I was head- ing to before being diverted to Southeast


Fall 2011 │ AIR COMMANDO JOURNAL │ 27


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