For the rest of any of these stories, click on the story’s blue headline.
The 221st Attacks Can Tho Airfield Jim Browning It’s a little known fact that pilots from 221st attacked Can Tho airfield on two occasions. Probably because no one wanted to own up to doing it Instance one: This happened sometime around September 1967. Maj. Rau and Capt Larsen somehow obtained two of the wing mounted M60 machinegun kits from somewhere, probably the 199th. The gun kits were installed on two of the 2d platoon’s aircraft and of course everyone wanted a chance to try them out. There was one small problem in that no one was really trained in how to maintain an M60. The crew chiefs took them apart, cleaned them and put them back together as best they knew how. One small problem. The sear in an M60 can go in two ways but only one way is the correct way. If it is put in wrong
After much procrastination, I have decided to set some of my experiences as a FAC in Viet Nam down on paper and tell some of my stories. The title reflects the nickname that I earned early in my tour and is one of the funnier stories that will follow. I didn't keep a diary or a real logbook during my tour; so much of what I write is from memories that are over thirty years old. As much as I like to embellish stories, I will do my best to keep these to just the facts. My story isn't any different from any of those of my many friends and fellow aviators. I had a job that needed to be done and I did it. While I was over there and for many years afterwards, I really believed that I was pretty good at what I did. These days,
Bird Dogs on the Silver Screen by Mark Cardwell Ever spent a night channel surfing and happened up on an old war movie that's good enough to make you put the remote control down for just a minute? Better yet, have you ever been watching that movie and recognized the familiar shape of a Bird Dog on the screen? It's rare but it does happen. Here are a few you can keep an eye out for: The Amazing Colossal Man AIP/1957 In this "B" quality science fiction movie, the hero is exposed to the effects of an atomic blast. Unfortunately, it causes him to grow, and grow. Everything grows except his sense of humor. He finally wanders away from the Army compound that he calls home in a very bad mood. Understandably, the Army wants him back and dispatches various search parties into the Nevada desert to find him.
Messing with Forward Air Controllers Written by: James C. Harton Jr. jhbio.htm Used by permission One of the best things about being in the gun platoon was the sense of superiority we felt over all things living. I mean, you take the age of each individual flying in a light fire team, add them up, and then divide by the amount of rockets aboard both ships, the rounds of 7.62 and 40 mm, and then subdivide by the pounds of fuel; and the sum result is the average age of maturity aboard the aircraft. And then, the rules we lived by didn't particularly cause a certain conservative lifestyle. Let's see... Rule 1: You can have all the ammo you want. Rule 2: The vast areas that you will fly over are considered your domain, where you are free to kill and burn as you want. Rule 3: The two aircraft together
Information about the Hilllard Wilbanks Foundation and the Medal of Honor Citation can be found by clicking here FAC Colleagues, Tue, 31 Jul 2001 08:06:09 - 0400 Email to IBDA: Thanks to the 01 Birddog association for your being their to honor Captain Hilliard A. Wilbanks. The family, memorial committee, and community. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for making the dedication come alive in his honor. Even when it looked as if the weather was going to make it impossible to land in Cornelia, out of the clouds came three Birddogs and then a few hours later a fourth broke through and landed, we all are thankful for your commitment and great skills. It is great to know that such a great group of people are so committed. Thanks again for making this dedication such a success. It is estimated that there were between 700 to 1000 people there,
Medal of Honor by Jimmie H. Butler, Colonel, USAF, Ret. Part of the Bird Dog’s heritage includes the award of the Medal of Honor (posthumously) to Captain Hilliard A.Wilbanks. His heroism is discussed in the following excerpts from Air Force Heroes in Vietnam, by Major Donald K. Schneider, Airpower Research Institute, Air War College, Maxwell AFB, AL, 1979. This discussion of FACs covers the more traditional missions flown by the pilots of the four FAC squadrons stationed in South Vietnam (in contrast to the missions flown over the Ho Chi Minh Trail by pilots of the 23rd TASS stationed at Nakhon Phanom RTAFB, Thailand.) In ten months, Captain Wilbanks had flown 488 missions in South Vietnam compared to 240 missions I logged in about the same period of time while flying out of NKP. FACs flying Bird Dogs in Southeast Asia established a heroic tradition of doing whatever it took to
THE DELTA ADVISOR IV Can Tho, Vietnam March, 1969 FAC "Eyes" of Air Support - LEADS BOMBERS TO TARGET ALL SYSTEMS Go - Checking his overhead controls and radio frequencies, Major James M. Kraft, Phong Dinh Province Air Liaison Officer, completes the preflight inspection of his Cessna 0-1 reconnaissance aircraft. (IV Corps PIO Photo) CAN THO - The "eyes" of the powerful fighter bombers that swoop down on Viet Cong encampments in the Delta to unleash their destructive ordnance are the Forward Air Controllers (FAC's). These experienced USAF pilots locate, identify and mark the air targets from altitudes barely out of small arms fire range in tiny, one engine 0-1 Bird Dogs. One such USAF pilot is Major James M. Kraft from Strongsville, Ohio. Operating from the Phong Dinh Province Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) in Can Tho, he doubles as the Province Air Liaison Officer (ALO) providing air
Naming the Birddog - Jack Swayze, Cessna Employee On a bright sunny day in September of 1951, Jack E. Swayze was proclaimed the winner of the Cessna L-19 naming contest. His winning entry was emblazoned on the nose of the L-19 that shared the podium with Jack, General Mark Clark, Duane Wallace and a host of other dignitaries that came together to celebrate the naming of the BIRDDOG. Jack received $200 in cash and a one-week paid vacation for his winning entry. A company pilot flew Jack and his wife Alice in a Cessna 195 to Chicago for a visit with family and friends. A week later they were picked up at the airport and flown back to Wichita. Jack retired from Cessna almost forty years later as a photographer. His love of photography carried over into a professional photography business in the Wichita area. Jack suffer a debilitating
FISHING FOR FLAGS On graduating from flight school in July 1967 I was assigned to the 199th RAC, diagnosis an O-1 unit operating in the Delta of Viet Nam. The standard procedure was to assign one or two pilots and aircraft to each province to provide aviation support as needed by the Province Chief/Senior Military Advisor. The thought was that by having the pilot fly in one designated area daily he would become much better at recognizing movements and buildups that may otherwise go unnoticed. This setup allowed the pilot much leeway in setting the tempo and manner in which he went about his daily routine. I took advantage of this to flex my new wings and investigate some new techniques in bringing this war to a successful conclusion. My area covered the Northwest corner of the Delta bordered on the South by the Mekong River and by Cambodia
30 Oct. 2000 Letter of Appreciation Dear International Bird Dog Association, FAC "HOMECOMING" REUNION - 2000, held 21-24 Sep 00, is now history, and what magnificent party it was! The Forward Air Controller (FAC) Memorial Committee and everyone involved with this historic event would like to acknowledge and thank you for your contribution. If you were able to join us at the reunion, you know what a huge success it was. For those who couldn't make it, we're sorry you missed a great party and a wonderful FAC Memorial Dedication Ceremony. We hope that someday soon you'll have the opportunity to visit Hurlburt's Air Park and see the memorial that your donation helped make possible. Over 700 FACs, friends and family members attended the reunion, but many more, including base and community dignitaries, gathered to view the unveiling of the beautiful granite memorial. The stirring words of dedication by
13 May 2000 Does anyone remember this story? If so, please let me or Jim know who it was and what all happened. It was around July or August of 69. Another crew chief and I were up in Dong Ha pulling the normal maintenance on a couple of Bird dogs. All that night the base had been taking mortar fire from north of the river (North Viet Nam). The pilots had finished their missions for the day and were over at the Marine Officers Club drinking . As the night went on this pesky little NVA wasn't going to let anybody rest. Just as we were dozing off to sleep a couple of pilots rousted us out of bed and told us to get a plane ready because they were going after the offending troublemaker who was putting a damper on their party. The only problem was that