Category Archives: Vietnam

Golf Outing

By lex, on November 14th, 2011

Few things are as uninteresting to the non-golfer – or to the avid golfer, for that matter – than the details of someone else’s day on the links. I will spare you, therefore, the story of my thunderous drives, precision wedges and deft putting strokes, the ones that took me to the relatively pedestrian score of 84 (with two penalty strokes on 17 for an out-of-b0unds tee shot that veered wildly left and I’m practically certain that a flaw in the wind took it).

Not even going to mention it.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carriers, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, History, Lex, Naval Aviation, Naval History, Neptunus Lex, Vietnam

So Far, A Balanced Documentary

Vietnam

 

I was among the last of the draftees to be inducted during Vietnam.

September, 1972, which was the 2nd to last group to be drafted. December was the last group.

I can remember getting up at 04:00 with my father taking taking me to the pickup point for the bus to take us to the induction center in Oakland.   Those of us going had to wade though 100s of protesters all chanting that we didn’t have to go.

But we went.

In a bit of bureaucratic irony the Army ended up sending me to Germany, but for the intervening 45 years (this month) I’ve had my own thoughts on the subject.

I believe that this is a subject that will forever divide my generation, the effects which are still around today.

It is a subject that has been difficult not to politicize, so I started watching the Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam with some trepidation.

Having just finished the 2nd episode, I have to say so far I have been pleasantly surprised.

Episode 1 dealt with the end of WW2, the French trying to reassert their rule in the area, and the rise of the Viet Minh.

Episode 2 tonight took us through 1963, and the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem. At the age of 13, I remembered the circumstances, but I got a lot of background added this evening.

If you can see it, I’d recommend it.

I’ll be interested how they cover the Tet offensive in 1968.

So far the program seems to present the history in an objective manner.

On your PBS station.

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ROE

I’m ten years older than Lex was, and Vietnam to me is still on my mind.

I remember something he said in one of his posts, about a time he was playing golf at Miramar with a retired Naval Aviator who served in Vietnam .

His partner  said that around the beginning of the war in Vietnam everyone was gung-ho (which is I believe a military expression Claire Chenault and his pilots brought back from China)

Towards the end of the war with so many targets determined off limits those who flew through some of the heaviest and most dangerous AAA just wanted to finish their tour and go home. Many of them died doing this. Dying from targets that could have been destroyed.

Our military has always had some form of Rules of Engagement but it seems since WW2 it has been overly restrictive. The civilians control the political side while the military controls, obviously, the battlefield side.

Truman was right in that the civilians – and President in particular – are in charge. But was MacArthur right in wanting to take  the war to the Chinese? Truman was worried, obviously, about starting WW3.

Should Truman have given MacArthur more freedom?

After all, 60 some years later there has never been a truce signed and we are still worried about the North Koreans. Now we are worried about them having nukes. Would we be doing this today if MacArthur had captured Prongyang and secured Korea from the Yalu River?

(For that matter let’s speculate how the Cold War would have been different had Patton gone to Berlin. On the positive side I have read that some historians consider one of the reasons Truman dropped the Bomb on Japan was to keep the Russians out of Japan. Imagine a partitioned Japan, like Germany,  for 60 years.)

What made me think of this was just seeing a movie on Netflix, Hyena Road. It is  a Canadian film from a Canadian perspective on the war in Afghanistan, but I doubt that it was much different from American units.

Two of the main characters are an intelligence officer who is back at Begram and a sniper team. The sniper is constantly radioing back to headquarters asking for permission to shoot a target. The intelligence officer sees “the bigger picture” and the sniper wants to shoot an obvious belligerent.

Where’s the balance?

It’s an open question.

 

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Filed under Perspective, Politics, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Vietnam

USS Ranger Flight Ops Off Vietnam 1972

From the good old days. The heart aches for the variety of aircraft on the flight deck in those days (ok I wasn’t born in ’72 but still).

 

 

 

 

SPOILER ALERT: Yeah, you can have that Viggie trap at the end. That quite frankly scared me a little and gave me a few gray hairs.

h/t to Comm Jam for the Facebook post.

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Filed under Airplanes, Are we having fun yet?, Carriers, Flying, Good Ships, Good Stuff, Naval Aviation, Navy, Vietnam

USAF MiG-21F-13s at Tonopah.

Before you read on if you haven’t been in-briefed on Have Doughnut go read.

MiG-21f-13 "Fishbed-C". Image credit Wikipedia.

MiG-21f-13 “Fishbed-C”. Image credit Wikipedia.

Have Doughnut was the combat evaluation of the Soviet-built MIG-21F-13 (NATO codenamed) “Fishbed-C.” The F-13 version of the -21 is an early version of the ubiquitous MiG-21 family. It was the first short range day fighter version of the -21 to be placed in mass production and was the first variant to use the K-13 air-to-air-missile. The -21F13 was also in service with the North Vietnamese Air Force and saw regular combat against USAF and USN combat aircraft in-theater.

Constant Peg was a training program that took Have Doughnut a step further an under the auspicies of the 4477th Test and Evaluation Force. The “Red Eagles” as they became known, equipped with the MiG-21F-13,  provided a somewhat formalized training environment, for both USAF and USN fighter pilots that saw the MiG as the primary threat aircraft.

From the Wikipedia page:

By the late 1970s, United States MiG operations were undergoing another change. In the late 1960s, the MiG-17 and MiG-21F were still frontline aircraft. A decade later, they had been superseded by later-model MiG-21s and new aircraft, such as the MiG-23. Fortunately, a new source of supply of Soviet aircraft became available, Egypt. In the mid-1970s, relations between Egypt and the Soviet Union had become strained, and Soviet advisers were ordered out. The Soviets had provided the Egyptian air force with MiGs since the mid-1950s. Now, with their traditional source out of the picture, the Egyptians began looking west. They turned to United States companies for parts to support their late-model MiG-21s and MiG-23s. Very soon, a deal was made. According to one account, two MiG-23 fighter bombers were given to the United States by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. The planes were disassembled and shipped from Egypt to Edwards Air Force Base. They were then transferred initially to Groom Lake for reassembly and study.[2]

In 1987, the U.S. Air Force bought 12 new Shenyang F-7Bs from China for use in the Constant Peg program. At the same time, it retired the remaining MiG-21F-13 Fishbeds acquired from Indonesia.[citation needed][3]

The United States operated MiGs received special designations. There was the practical problem of what to call the aircraft. This was solved by giving them numbers in the Century Series. The MiG-21s and Shenyang F-7Bs were called the “YF-110” (the original designation for the USAF F-4C), while the MiG-23s were called the “YF-113”.[2]

The focus of Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) limited the use of the fighter as a tool with which to train the front line tactical fighter pilots.[1] Air Force Systems Command recruited its pilots from the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, who were usually graduates from either the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards or the Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Tactical Air Command selected its pilots primarily from the ranks of the Weapons School graduates at Nellis AFB.[1]

The 4477th began as the 4477th Test and Evaluation Flight (4477 TEF), which began 17 July 1979. The name was later changed to the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron (4477 TES) in 1980. The 4477th began with three MiGs: two MiG-17Fs and a MiG-21 loaned by Israel, who had captured them from the Syrian Air Force and Iraqi Air Force. Later, it added MiG-21s from the Indonesian Air Force.

Here are some newer photos of those MiG-21F-13s at the Tonopah Test Range sporting Soviet Air Force markings and cavorting about the Tonopah Test Range, probably in the 1970s.

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Several of these photos are probably in Steve Davies “Red Eagles” and Gail Peck’s “America’s Secret MiG Squadrons.” According to both of these books, after the aircraft reached the end of their useful lives, they mysteriously appeared at several museums throughout the United States. Reportedly, as the aircraft were dropped off, curators were told not to ask any questions about the aircraft.

If you haven’t read either “Red Eagles” or “America’s Secret MiG Squadrons” you should. You’ll get more information than what you read on the Wikipedia page.

Apparently, I have a cutaway drawing of the -21F-13 so if you’re wondering what it looks like under the skin, here ya go:

mig21f13

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Filed under Air Force, Airplanes, Naval Aviation, Navy, Red Flag, Tomcats Forever, USAF, Vietnam

Cmdr. Charles Beauchesne: Flying the A-6 Intruder Over North Vietnam.

blog1 Ever wonder what it was like to fly the Tadpole A-6 Intruder over Route Pack 6 (yes, I know TF-77 had RPs 2,3,4, and 6B)? Commander Charles Beauchesne gave an interesting hour long lecture at the San Diego Air and Space Museum on what it was like to fly and fight the A-6 over North Vietnam. You’ll get the skinny on the tactics, weapons and, most interestingly you’ll learn how evade the SA-2 Guideline surface to air missile.

BTW, if you aren’t subscribed to the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Youtube channel, you’re really missing out. They have a lot of very interesting content.

Also, our very own xbradtc‘s father is an A-6 aviator.

UPDATE: Image courtesy of Pete Weman Art. My apologizes for not including that earlier.

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Filed under Airplanes, Flying, History, Naval Aviation, Navy, Vietnam

VFP-63 Patches

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I’ve got an extensive collection of patches, mostly VF patches. As I’ve learned more about the history of NAVAIR, I’ve come to appreciate that colorful history reflected in patches.

Here are pics of some I’ve seen from VFP-63. VFP-63 was established in 1962 and did a WESTPAC deployment in July I that year. They made numerous deployments to WESTPAC and Vietnam till disestablishment in June of 1982. They operated the RF-8 Crusader and were known as “The Eyes of The Fleet.”

Here are some patches from -63s various deployments. Warning, some of these are pretty salty but that’s what makes them interesting 🙂

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Filed under Airplanes, Flying, History, Naval Aviation, Navy, Uncategorized, Vietnam