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War Stories

Teamwork Pays Off For Army Air Force



Vol 2 - No 40 - 9 Oct 1967

A relatively minor incident during a 25th Inf Div operation demonstrates the effectiveness of U.S. Army-Air Force teamwork.

A Long Range Reconnaissance Team (LRRP) has been secretly dropped on one of the likely infiltration routes the enemy is apt to utilize if pressured too much. They’ve been stealthily moving in "Charlie" territory and have pinpointed a large base camp, the shelter and training area for a large VC unit.

The LRRP has spent a harrowing night a scant 20 yards from the base camp, observing over l00 VC. Having pinpointed the enemy concentration, LRRP proceeds to the pick-up zone. An Air Force Forward Air Controller (FAC) is flying his O1-E "bird-dog" aircraft overhead monitoring the LRRP's progress. The monotonous drone of the engine is interrupted by the LRRP commander's urgent “whisper" over the radio: "Hello FAC, we have a four man VC ambush between us and our extraction zone. They’re about 50 meters from us; I don't think they have us spotted." The FAC relays the message to the LRRP's unit commander.

Moments later the LRRP commander, a young army captain, once an aviator and now a volunteer for this special mission again radios the FAC: "That ambush will have to be wiped out if we're to be extracted as planned. They’re sitting where the north-south trail intersects the southern edge of our recovery clearing." The message is relayed and word comes back for the LRRP to pull back approximately 200 meters and for the FAC to call for an immediate air strike.

Minutes later, with the LRRP some 200 meters to the southwest of the ambush site, two USAF F-5 fighter-bomber aircraft check in with FAC. "Tiger O-1" flight exchanges its mission number and ordnance information for the target description. The FAC explains: "Your target is a VC ambush three miles to the south of our present position. The ambush is located in that finger-like clearing, where the trail intersects the south side of the clearing." Tiger lead acknowledges: "Rog FAC, we have the target in sight. You’re cleared to mark it any time - we're ready to work." The FAC continues: "The friendly patrol is some 200 meters to the southwest of the ambush. They’ll not be marking their position for obvious reasons. Standby one while I talk with ole 'Whispering Smith' down there.

"Switching radios the FAC calls the LRRP commander: "Have your men taken cover?" "Rog FAC, we’re ready - go to it!" whispers the LRRP commander. "Sounds good, FAC; happy hunting - we'll let you know what it looks like from our vantage point." "OK troops, but be sure to keep your heads down," warns the FAC.

"Hello Tigers," the FAC calls the fighters, "Ready to roll in for my mark, do you have me in sight? " "Rog, FAC, you're cleared to mark, and Tiger O-1 is rolling in with two bombs." The FAC's smoke rocket finds its mark only two seconds before Tiger O-1 drops two perfect bombs directly on the ambush site. "Two on the money lead!" the FAC confirms."Number two, lay yours down the trail." "Rog, two is rolling in," "Cleared in, I have you in sight," the FAC replies."Beautiful, that should take care of anybody trying to 'deedee' down the trail!" After three more deadly passes, the FAC asks Tiger02, "Feel pretty good about dropping those low drag 500's that close to the friendlies?" "No sweat, FAC; am I cleared in? " says the pilot of the F-5 perched to roll in on a dive bombing pass. "Rog, you're cleared in, I have you in sight," radios the FAC."One bomb away - and - right on target! Beautiful two you're cleared to do that three more times." "Rog FAC, rolling in from the north again," replies Tiger 02. "You're cleared in -one bomb away - and - bingo; on the money again! You’re doing better with those low drags than most of the 'jocks' are doing with their high drags. Keep it up!" "Rog - in from the north," repeats Tiger 02. "Cleared in - how ‘bout that shack again (direct hit) - must be your day;" exclaims the FAC. After the fourth perfect bomb, the FAC radios, “That should do the trick, hold high and dry while I confer with ole 'Whispering Smith' down there." "Rog- Tigers high and dry," chime the fighter pilots.

"How did it look to you from your angle?" the FAC asks the LRRP commander. "FAC, my observer says those four Charlies were wandering to and fro on the trail when that first drop occurred - looks like you wiped them out. We’ll be exploiting that strike in minute for their weapons, but take four body count right now. I’ll give you further results later. Sure nice to have you guys around when we're in pinch." The FAC replies, "Glad to be of assistance, See you this afternoon."

Switching radios, the FAC calls Tiger O-1 flight: "Hello Tigers, this is your FAC with the BDA, ready to copy?" "Rog, go ahead, “Tiger O-1 cuts in. The FAC continues "your target coordinates were XT- ; on target at 1130, off target at 1140, 100 per cent ordnance in the target area,100 per cent target coverage and four KIA body count. Those troops down there really appreciate your work. Outstanding ordnance delivery, especially those bombs, 02; best I've seen in a long while." The flight leader returns, "Roger FAC, enjoyed working with you; see you at the O-Club bar at Bravo Hotel. Tigers, let's go button five."

Later after a daring extraction covered by split second coverage from Army gunships, artillery and USAF fighters, the LRRP commander has an informal chat with the FAC. "We found four of them pretty badly mangled; never knew what hit them. We found one of their weapons. Sure glad those jet jockeys were hitting on the money today. It would have been curtains for us had they missed." The FAC confides, "Believe me, we’re always glad to help you out; hope to work with you again soon."