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combat sorties to support Laotian army units in central Laos and operated train- ing sites at various Thai air bases to help train Laotian and Thai AT-28D pilots to fly night attack missions. The squadron was assigned to the 56th ACW. Under its newly formed parent wing the 606th ACS would continue to support AT-28D combat crew training for Laotian and Thai pilots, but its NKP-based pilots would primarily fly night-time air strikes to support Steel Tiger and Tiger Hound air interdiction operations on roads and rivers in Laos and on the Ho Chi Minh trail. During early March 1967, the 606th ACS lost two of its AT-28D air- craft and pilots, leaving it short-handed and unable to meet the increased night interdiction taskings it was receiving from 7th Air Force. In an effort to rem- edy the situation quickly, the squadron commander put a special request into the personnel system that resulted in my short notice move from FAC and ALO duties with the 2-4ID near Pleiku, South Vietnam, to the AT-28D and the 606th ACS at NKP. I flew my 77th and last FAC combat


mission on March 29, 1967. The bri- gade was repositioning some battalion elements to support Operation Francis Marion in the central highlands of South Vietnam. On 30 March the Division ALO, Lieutenant Colonel Dwight Hillis, told me to return to Pleiku AB to receive orders for a new assignment. I arrived at the Pleiku AB early the next morning and received orders to report to NKP as soon as possible. I had heard about the secret air wars that NKP units were fly- ing in Laos from 1st ACS pilots stationed at Pleiku, and told the personnel officer that I would like to remain with my cur- rent US Army unit rather than go fly as a FAC in O-1s at NKP. The personnel officer told me that I had been selected by name for the new assignment and I would not be flying O-1s. A special sup- plement to my orders instructed me to travel light: two flight suits with flight helmet and boots, two changes of civil- ian clothes, and my personal care kit. I was to travel in civilian clothes and would depart Pleiku AB that afternoon on a C-123 going to Nha Trang AB. I decided to leave some personal items at Pleiku that I would catch up with later.


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I flew to Don Muang AB, Bangkok,


Thailand that afternoon on a C-130 and was told I would be met by a represen- tative of the 606th ACS and continue to NKP later that evening. My con- tact turned out to be Colonel Harry C. “Heinie” Aderholt, who would become the 56th ACW Commander when the wing officially stood up on April 8, 1967.


Col Aderholt introduced himself


and said we would be flying to NKP in about an hour. We went to the flight line and boarded a U-10 aircraft and flew to NKP, arriving just before midnight. We were picked up by a jeep and I was taken to the Bachelor Officer Quarters (BOQ). Col Aderholt told me to get some sleep and he would meet me the next morn- ing for breakfast at the base’s Officers Club which was next door to the BOQ trailers. It had been a long two days and I was exhausted. Still, I had difficulty sleeping that night, even in one of the air conditioned trailers that were pro- vided for aircrews at NKP. In less than 72 hours I had gone from sleeping on a hard cot in a tent that was surrounded by sand bags inside the 2nd Brigade’s base camp perimeter to an air conditioned trailer with a bed having a mattress and pillow. I was eager to learn about my new unit’s mission and was awake very early the next morning. I met Col Aderholt at the Officers


Club the next morning where he introduced me to my new squadron commander, Lt Col Joe Price, Jr, who told me about 606th ACS, its mission and what I would be doing. After break- fast I went to the squadron and started the in-processing routine. At about noon I met Capt Tom Deken, who had been an Air Commando all his career and flown both the A-1E and AT-28D in a previous Southeast Asia tour. Tom was one of the squadron’s instructor pilots and its weapons officer. He would men- tor me through an accelerated aircraft qualification and 56th ACW mission orientation program. I spent the next two days reading the AT-28D flight manual and reviewing aircraft systems operations “hands on” with ground maintenance personnel. Tom and I took our first flight together on 4 April after which he told Col Aderholt and Lt Col


NOAH E. LOY, Brigadier General, USAF (Retired)


Price that I was highly experienced in the T-28 and qualified to fly the aircraft. It had only been 12 months since I had last flown the T-28 as an instructor pilot in the Military Assistance Program at Randolph AFB, Texas and I had not lost my basic T-28 flying skills or general aircraft knowledge. I qualified in all the necessary


weapon events in two flights. During the next week I studied maps of Laotian terrain, intelligence reports, monitored weapons loading and arming proce- dures, and observed mission debriefings of pilots returning from night attack missions. I flew my first two night combat missions from NKP on 14 and 15 April with Tom, and he certified me for AT-28D pilot and FAC duties on 16 April. I was also designated an instruc- tor and maintenance functional check flight (FCF) pilot for the remainder of my tour at NKP. My 1300 hours expe- rience as a T-28 Military Assistance Program (MAP) instructor pilot, com- bined with my F-100 weapons training and O-1 FAC experience with the Army helped make my accelerated in-theater aircraft qualification possible and suc- cessful. I was proud to have become an Air Commando and a Zorro. During the next eight months I


would fly 162 combat sorties respond- ing to Steel Tiger/Tiger Hound taskings in the AT-28D, with 139 of those sorties flown at night. Of the night sorties 31 were flown in the two southern air strike areas referred to as Route Packages 1


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