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F-105 SAM Kill

Posted by Jolly on August 7, 2015


Grumpy Forwarded the following true story about the first attack in history on a Surface to Air Missile (SAM) site.  The video is an animation, but does a great job telling the story.  These were brave Americans flying Thuds very low and close to their work.   

27 July, 2015

To my friends and family,

 Fifty years ago on July the 27th 48 F-105 Drivers based at Korat Royal Thai Air Base and Takhli RTAB in Thailand were tasked to attack the Soviet Surface To Air sites near the Hanoi area in North Vietnam.  It was not the best of days.  The link to the video next under was the result of two individuals who were determined to finally tell the story with an animated account of that fateful day.  It is to these two men, John MacCay  and Vic Vizcarra that the credit goes. Vic was on the mission and John, who did all the animation, was a GCI officer on a Navy ship in the Gulf.

Now regarding the video - There are now several new books on "Our  Air War" during Vietnam.  I have read most of them.  Most, the majority, were not written by men of that era.  My take is that the best of them got 80% of the story 75% right. The two seminal books on our Air War, in my opinion, were and are Thud Ridge by Jack Broughton (RIP) and Pak Six by Gene Basel (RIP). My appraisal of this video is that it was created by two men who were of that 'era'.  I believe they got 95% of the story 98% right.  The detail is amazing.  Every aircraft number is perfectly matched with the pilot and call sign.  The noise of the engines, guns firing, afterburner lights, the interaction with our crew chiefs and the unique banshee whistle of the Thud in the break for landing are all there.  For those of us who flew that venerable, magnificent aircraft in the war this video instantly snapped us back to that day.  To those moments. To those long and deeply buried feelings.  To who we were at an age when “We shared the incommunicable experience of war, we felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top. In our youth our hearts were touched with fire.”  Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

At the time I was in 12 Squadron - the Yellow Noses in the video (yellow band around the nose of the Thud just behind the pointed black radar dome on the nose).  Our Squadron put up 12 Thuds (affectionate name for the F-105).  Three flights of four.  Lt. Col. Reed, our squadron commander, was the only squadron commander to fly on the mission.  He was and ace in WW II - four Germans and one Jap.  He had a third of his stomach removed three months prior to the mission.  He went.  He led from the front! Of those twelve pilot's from our squadron, we lost two.  Percy became a POW.  Frank was rescued.  Captain Chuck Horner was also on that mission.  Major General Horner was my boss twenty years later when I retired in June of 1985.  He stood by my side at my last official retreat  at the Flag pole after officiating at my retirement ceremony. He was General Schwarzkopf's Air Component Commander in Desert Storm.

The video speaks for itself. If, however, you are interested in more of the personal, and political, side of this mission, I have included links very last under you may wish to read after watching the video.  But for now you may be interested in the fact that the first USAF mission into North Vietnam was on 2 March of 1965, about five month before this mission.  Our losses up to the 27th of July were around 30 F105s.  As far as pilot losses went, the men flew 100 missions into North Vietnam to complete their tour. Missions into Laos, South Vietnam and Cambodia did not count (not a typo). About two thirds of us would be downed by bullets, missiles or Migs.  The bullets of all calibers took the greatest toll.  Of those who were downed about one third were rescued, and a third killed or captured. If the pilot were rescued he returned to the cockpit if physically able. Several of my friends were downed twice.  We lost three F-105s during our first mission into North Vietnam on the 2nd of March of '65.  On that day there were 495 F-105Ds (the single seater) in the world.  By the end of 1969 we had lost ~ 372 of them in the war.  Little did those who lived through this mission on the 27th know that there would be seven and a half more years yet to go.  And they/we went up there every single day the weather would allow, and when President Johnson was not calling bombing halts into North Vietnam  so they could replenish their missiles, Migs and ammunition of all calibers.  Again, not a typo.

Full disclosure on my part:  I was not on this/the mission.  My turn would come 13 days later on the 9th of August when I joined my flight leader Bill Hosmer (also on the 27th flight) when he led twelve of us to another SAM site.   This time we flew in three flights of four.  Two flights would dive bomb from different headings and one would attack from naught feet with the munitions you will see in this film.  I was # 2 in that flight.  Our ingress was over the same target area as the first strike on the 27th.  We suffered no losses.  That SAM sight was also vacant.  Seven years later I was working a rescue attempt of a downed F-111 pilot on December the 27th of 1972 during Linebacker II.  This time in an A-7D about fifteen miles south of the targets of 27 July, '65.  Note: All the single seat F-105s were withdrawn from the war in 1970 as the fleet had suffered 80% attrition.

Access to the video is easy.  Just 'click' on the Silver F-105s and you will be taken to the beginning of the video.  Then, just 'click' on the 'start' triangle.  For those of that era, a 'Kleenex Alert' is highly recommended.  For all, use the biggest screen you can.  My son is able to watch it on his large wide screen TV.  If you try it on an iPhone it will probably stop several times due to buffering.  You will appreciate it more in a quiet environment where you can give it the undisturbed attention it deserves. If you take a drink now and again, I suggest you have one at the ready.  No.  Strike that.  More than one.  If you are not a drinker, you may want/need to make an exception.



Thud Driver - Dick Jonas


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Posted by Gullskegger on
This is awesome, Jolly. Thanks for posting it. I actually know 2 of the gents on this mission and they were around when I was growing up. Hats off to you all.
Posted by Ingo on
Great video and an even better story. I appreciate and respect the tradition of courage, professionalism and sacrifice passed down by the Thud drivers of that era to all of us who followed.
Posted by Plug on
As a USMC RIO I am amazed at the USAF dedication to completing a mission. I guess anybody in a fighter aircraft does what is necessary. I am afraid there are no fighter pilots anymore.........or soon won't be
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