Chapter 3

Single-Seat, Single-Engine

I had now completed nearly three months of my combat tour in the A-1 Skyraider. During this period I had flown 33 combat missions worth 100.8 combat flying hours. With 167.1 total hours in the A-1, I guess the "powers that be" decided I could be entrusted with the single-seat models of the Super Spad, the A-1H and A-1J.

This was a significant milestone, since it also meant that I would begin my "Sandy" checkout. Search and Rescue (SAR) was the most demanding and dangerous mission flown by the Skyraider during this timeframe. It was also potentially the most rewarding.




 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 27 Jan 34 2.8

103.6 A-1H 135257

My journal entry for 27 Jan 1972

[Hobo 23] Barrel Roll strike with Col [Jack] Robinson... "Supermarket" load... Col R. always got H's for his strikes... As I recall, my bombs were not super... 020/17/96.


As I read my journal entry for the 27th of January, 1972, I am amazed that I made no reference to the fact that this was my first combat mission in the A-1H. This was a noteworthy since the entire flying schedule was now available to me, once I got my Sandy checkout.

Colonel Jack Robinson was the wing commander of the 56th Special Operations Wing (parent organization of the 1st SOS) at this time. He naturally picked his missions on the flying schedule and the squadron schedulers did the rest. I'm sure my wealth of experience flying with LtCol Barbena, the squadron commander, made me the obvious choice!

The "Supermarket" load was one which had a little of everything. There was both "hard" and "soft" ordnance that allowed us to be effective against most any type target we might have encountered. The two Mk-82s we carried on this load were the hard ordnance that would be effective against hard targets such as bunkers or gun emplacements. The majority of the load was characterized as soft ordnance which meant it could be used relatively close to friendly forces. This included 2.75" FFAR, CBU-22 and 25, and Mk-47 white phosphorus bombs. And, oh yes, there were both 20 mm and 7.62mm gun rounds.

TACAN station channel 96 was on Skyline Ridge and was the only TACAN channel we could receive at low elevations in the "barrel". The strike on this mission was unremarkable.

Col Robinson was on his second A-1 tour, he previously had served as squadron commander for one of the A-1 squadrons. He was also noted for his tour as Thunderbird lead when the team flew the F-100 Super Saber.






 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 29 Jan 35 2.3

105.9 A-1G 132528

My journal entry for 29 Jan 1972

[Hobo 23] Sandy wingman check ride as #2 chasing [Lt. Glen] Priebe with [Major] Jim Harding in my right seat... Priebe stayed low and pressed... North of Sam Thong.


This was a "check" ride although no paperwork was filled out to that effect, at least none that I ever saw. Jim Harding was the squadron ops officer and apparently wanted to see how his lieutenants were doing in the air. Jim was on his second tour, his first was as a FAC the O-1 Bird Dog. He was destined to become the 1st SOS commander later in his tour.

Sam Thong was a village north of Long Tieng and south of the PDJ. It was also the site of LS 20. This village with its karst surrounded airfield was sited along a clear flowing mountain stream which never failed to catch my eye as I flew overhead.







 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 31 Jan 36 4.3

110.2 A-1J 142021

My journal entry for 31 Jan 1972

[Sandy 02] First Sandy ride as 2 with [Capt Randy] Jayne... Tango Orbit (Barrel Roll)... Strike in marginal weather at 096/55/96 with Raven 52.


It didn't take long to get on the Sandy schedule after my last ride with the ops officer. I must have done OK.

This mission consisted of a lengthy Sandy orbit, followed by an airstrike south of the PDJ. The weather was dicey and we most likely got in, did our thing, and headed for home. There was no BDA mentioned in my log.

Basically, each days flying schedule consisted of two pairs of A-1 single-seaters (H or J) on SAR alert. The morning pair would "hot" cock their aircraft at first light (sunrise) and remain on 15 minute alert status until mid-morning when they would launch for an additional airborne alert period to cover the morning fighter missions in northern Laos and North Vietnam. The Linebacker campaign had not yet begun, but air-to-air and reconnaissance sorties were still being flown. Once the air activity diminished, the SAR command and control headquarters, through their mouthpiece King, would release the Sandys for a strike prior to their RTB to NKP. The afternoon pair of Sandy pilots would cock their aircraft so as to assume SAR alert once the airborne Sandys were released to strike. They would repeat the ground alert / airborne alert scenario

During my one year tour, this same process was repeated at FOLs in Southeast Asia. At any given time, we had two Sandys on alert at DaNang and either Ubon or Bien Hoa. The Ubon FOL shifted to Bien Hoa in early 1972 in response to increased communist activity in the tri-border area of Cambodia, Laos, and South Vietnam and AnLoc, SVN.







 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 4 Feb 37 2.8

113.0 A-1G 132528

My first journal entry for 4 Feb 1972

[Hobo 41 with Maj Don "Major,Major" Milner] Heavy Hook scramble to destroy a downed Cobra west of Ashau Valley... Hit it with soft ordnance with little visible effect... Worked with Mike 85.

 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 4 Feb 38 2.2

115.2 A-1G 132528

My second journal entry for 4 Feb 1972

[Hobo 41 with Maj Don "Major,Major" Milner] Loaded up 6 Mk-82s apiece at DaNang to destroy the UH-1H... Had some difficulty relocating the target in marginal weather, but did find it... Dropped in pairs on my first pass, then singles (five passes)... Hit real close on a couple of passes, rolling it over... Major, Major also got close on one.

I was back on the Hobo schedule again after my first Sandy ride, but somehow it didn't seem so bad, now that I knew both options were open for me. It helped to keep one sharp.

Apparently there was a real need to destroy this Army helicopter. There is conflicting information in my journal as in two places it is referenced as a Cobra, but I also refer to a UH-1H which is a Huey. I would suspect it was the latter as it was a mission relating to team insertion. I will check with my 1998 Army sources to try and sort this out.

This was an interesting demonstration of the limited effect our soft ordnance load had on some targets. I suspect we were anticipating the chopper to erupt in a huge ball of fire as we dropped a total of 8 canisters of CBU-25, 4 canisters of CBU-22, 4 pods of LAU-3 HE rockets, 4 pods of LAU-68 WP rockets, and 4 Mk-47 white phosphorus bombs on it. TO say nothing of the 20mm and 7.62 mm strafe. A little embarrassing now that I thing about it. See ordnance descriptions here.

We dropped into DaNang to get a "bigger hammer." The total of 12 Mk-82s we dropped next would do the trick, we were certain of that. After some delay caused by the marginal weather, we rendezvoused again with Mike 85, an O-2 FAC out of DaNang, and attacked the target once more. Again, there were no noticeable secondary explosions, but since we rolled it over a few times, it certainly wouldn't ever fly again, but perhaps the important equipment on board did survive? We'll never know.






 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 8 Feb 39 3.5

118.7 A-1E 133857

My journal entry for 8 Feb 1972

[Hobo 21 as wingman] MedEvac/TIC at the CD pad on Skyline Ridge


This sortie took me back up in the Barrel on a Hobo mission near LS 98 at Long Tieng. The bad guys were making a push to take Skyline Ridge which overlooks the strategic base at Long Tieng. The Charlie Delta pad was a helicopter landing pad on the top of the ridge. The friendlies there were in contact with the the enemy and we were used in an effort to hold them off.

A TIC was significant for us since it meant that guys were dying down there on the ground, so we sucked it up and did what we could to help out. If a TIC was declared by the FAC, it meant that you would not be unduly criticized if you came home with holes in your aircraft. Of course, there was a balance between letting it all hang out a using some common sense. It was easy to get caught up in the emotion of the moment, and consequently do something stupid.

During the time I was at NKP, a TIC meant more to the fast movers than for us, since we were usually down low any way. Several of the F-4 wings had artificial restrictions on their pilots where they could not go below 5,000 feet AGL unless a TIC was declared. This restriction was intended to prevent unnecessary battle damage from small arms fire. Since they were definitely more vulnerable if hit, it probably made sense. The net result however, was that their weapons delivery accuracy definitely suffered because of it.






 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 14 Feb 40 2.4

121.1 A-1H 139803

My journal entry for 14 Feb 1972

[Hobo 45 as wingman in an H] Strike north of Skyline [Ridge]... DS weather... Supermarket load


Since flying time alone to Skyline ridge and back to NKP was on the order of nearly two hours in the A-1, this was a short mission. We normally spent most of our time going and coming - and orbiting, waiting for something to happen.

Today's mission was back to the Skyline Ridge area north of Long Tieng. There certainly must have been a communist push on since the weather was marginal for air strikes. Usually the only tactical air that was available during weather like this was from either the Hobos or the T-28s out of Udorn. DS means Delta Sierra.

We had a mixed bag of ordnance for this mission which meant we could handle most any kind of target. Our normal targets in this area were actual troops on the ground, or gun emplacements. Either way, we normally drew lots of small arms fire - especially when we worked low under an overcast. We were in the small arms envelope the entire time.

On a mission like this, we normally would make about a half dozen passes each, which seems like a lot until you consider that we had 12 external stations carrying ordnance plus a minigun and four 20 mm cannons. A typical strike of this nature may have gone like this.

First pass - LAU-3 HE (high explosive) rockets, ripple fire both pods, total of 38 rockets, from stations 6-7
Second pass - CBU-25 pairs from stations 1-12
Third pass - AN-M1A4 frag clusters, pairs from stations 2-11
Fourth pass - AN-M1A4 frag clusters, pairs from stations 3-10
Fifth pass - LAU-68 WP (white phosphorus) rockets, ripple fire both pods, total 14 rockets, from stations 5-8
Sixth pass - M-47A4, white phosphorus bombs, pairs from stations 4-9

Switchology 101 (Refer to A-1H Armament Panel Diagram) [return here with 'Back' button on browser]

The 20 mm cannons and mini guns were set up to fire as soon as we crossed the "fence," in this case, the Mekong River north of NKP which was the border between Thailand and Laos. (See T.O. TidBits for procedures) All that was necessary to fire the guns was to place the 'Master Arm' switch to Arm and squeeze the trigger for the 20s or press the 'Inner Stations' release button (top button on the stick) for the minigun.

Switchology for each pass listed above was:

Master Arm Switch - Arm prior to first roll in.

First pass, LAU-3 Rockets - Gun sight Reticle to appropriate setting; 'Outer Stations' selector switch, station 6-7; 'Rockets/Bombs' switch to Rockets; 'Outer Stations Hold' switch to Hold; and the 'Intervalometer Selector Switch' to Interval (single/ripple switch at rear of LAU-3 set to single); 'Release per Second' selector to 5.

After roll in, fire a few 20mm rounds (trigger) to keep the enemies' heads down, fire a burst from the minigun ('Inner Stations' button on stick) to get a feel for where the rockets will go, press and hold the 'Outer Station Release' button on stick until the rockets stop firing. On pull off, reach down and move the 'Rockets/Bombs' switch to Bombs, and pickle once more to discard the now empty LAU-3 dispensers.

Second pass, CBU-25 Cluster Bombs- Gun sight Reticle to appropriate setting; 'Outer Stations' selector switch, station 1-12; 'Rockets/Bombs' switch to Rockets; 'Outer Stations Hold' switch to Hold; and the 'Intervalometer Selector Switch' to Interval (single/ripple switch at rear of SUU-14 dispenser set to single); 'Release per Second' selector to 5.

After roll in, fire a few 20mm rounds (trigger) to keep the enemies' heads down, press and hold the 'Outer Station Release' button on stick until the CBUs stop coming out. On pull off, reach down and move the 'Rockets/Bombs' switch to Bombs, and pickle once more to discard the now empty SUU-14 dispensers.

Third pass, AN-M1A4 Frag Clusters - Gun sight Reticle to appropriate setting; 'Outer Stations' selector switch, station 2-11; 'Rockets/Bombs' switch to Bombs; 'Outer Stations Hold' switch to Hold; and the 'Intervalometer Selector Switch' to Single Pulse .

After roll in, fire a few 20mm rounds (trigger) to keep the enemies' heads down, press and release the 'Outer Station Release' button on stick to release frag clusters.

Fourth pass, AN-M1A4 Frag Clusters - Gun sight Reticle to appropriate setting; 'Outer Stations' selector switch, station 3-10; 'Rockets/Bombs' switch to Bombs; 'Outer Stations Hold' switch to Hold; and the 'Intervalometer Selector Switch' to Single Pulse .

After roll in, fire a few 20mm rounds (trigger) to keep the enemies' heads down, press and release the 'Outer Station Release' button on stick to release frag clusters.

Fifth pass, LAU-68 Rockets - Gun sight Reticle to appropriate setting; 'Outer Stations' selector switch, station 5-8; 'Rockets/Bombs' switch to Rockets; 'Outer Stations Hold' switch to Hold; and the 'Intervalometer Selector Switch' to Interval (single/ripple switch at rear of LAU-3 set to single); 'Release per Second' selector to 5.

After roll in, fire a burst from the minigun ('Inner Stations' button on stick) to get a feel for where the rockets will go, then press and hold the 'Outer Station Release' button on stick until the rockets stop firing. (NOTE: The LAU-68 pods were refillable so they were not bombed off on the pull off like the LAU-3 pods were)

Sixth (and last) pass, M-47A4 Smoke Bombs - Gun sight Reticle to appropriate setting; 'Outer Stations' selector switch, station 4-9; 'Rockets/Bombs' switch to Bombs; 'Outer Stations Hold' switch to Hold; and the 'Intervalometer Selector Switch' to Single Pulse .

After roll in, fire a few 20mm rounds (trigger) to keep the enemies' heads down, press and release the 'Outer Station Release' button on stick to release smoke bombs.

It did get busy at times!






 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 15 Feb 41 3.9

125.0 A-1E(-5) 135215

My journal entry for 15 Feb 1972

[Hobo 21 in a 'single sticker' E model as wingman with Lt Mike 'Big Dumb' Rutschow] Strike at LS 140 high on a mt. peak south of the PDJ... Two adjacent hard sites, one bad, one good... pretty good bombs.


I was back in the E model again and back in the "Barrel". Flew on the wing of one of the 'old head' lieutenants in the squadron. Many may consider 'old head' and 'lieutenant' to be a contradiction of terms that should not be used in the same sentence, but one grew up fast in that environment. Many of the best pilots in the squadron were lieutenants as they were every bit as competent as those of other rank. Now before I get carried away, let me also say that there were also some shaky ones. But that was the job of the scheduler... to not put a man, regardless of rank or position, where he would put others in the flight at risk.

Since it was back in the 'Fat Face' again, it meant back to the left hand tactical wheel and left hand roll-ins due to the severely limited visibility out the right side of the cockpit. When in the left seat of the E, we could just barely see the right wingtip out the right side and could see no farther aft than the three o'clock position out the right side. Of course anything below the horizon was also hidden from view out the right side, so we went left.

Out the left side, we could see back to approximately the 7 o'clock position and down to about 45 degrees below the horizon. That meant we could see directly below us by banking left about 45 degrees. (To see directly below the aircraft out the right side would take a 90 degree bank.) Since maintaining visual contact (tally ho) with the other A-1 and the FAC were of primary importance in the target area, we flew left hand patterns. Though not tactically sound and very predictable, we had no real choice in the matter.

The tactical wheel pattern was one in which the wingman flew a trail position about 120 degrees further around the circle and at a different altitude than the lead. The difference in altitude was important since it gave the gunners a more difficult problem than one which had both aircraft coming in from the same direction and altitude.It also allowed the wingman the freedom to vary the run in angle on the target, if the tactical situation allowed it.

The FAC would normally run us in parallel to the friendly lines. This was because the largest error when dropping ordnance from an aircraft was long or short error rather than left or right error. This was because it was relatively easy to line up the target correctly in azimuth, but the decision of when to release the bombs was difficult. For every set of release parameters, there was a sight setting which was only valid if the preplanned release altitude, dive angle, and airspeed were achieved.

The target for this mission was a mountain top hard site that was the source of enemy mortar fire on a friendly position located on an adjacent peak. The peaks in this part of Laos are about 6,000 feet so I'm sure this made out task more difficult. Normally the best accuracy was achieved by steep dive angles, but the high target elevation forced us down to probably 20 to 30 degrees of dive. Apparently I solved the 'bombing geometry' problem OK as I made a note of good bombs.

Mike Rutschow was a farm boy from Wisconsin who gave the impression of being, well a slow boy from the farm. The name 'Big Dumb' was one that the older senior guys used for him, I don't recalling him anything but Mike. The reason for this was that I was a slightly more sophisticated farm boy from Minnesota, but even a slight difference in sophistication can make a big difference when it came time to assign nick names.







 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 17 Feb 42 4.1

129.1 A-1H 134609

My journal entry for 17 Feb 1972

[Sandy 02] Strike with Jim H... 035/20/96... 1 truck destroyed... Don't remember seeing the truck.


I was back on the Sandy schedule on a 'Tango' orbit in the Barrel Roll with Maj Jim Harding as Sandy 01... Relatively long mission which included a SAR orbit followed by an airstrike on the southern part of the PDJ west of LS 22, Xieng Khoung which was mostly bad guy country at this time. As I recall, we used to call this 'Z ville' and it was not a good place.

This area was criss-crossed with roads, and in former times, LS-22 was in friendly control. The aircraft I flew on this mission was A-1H 134609 with tail code TC. This Skyraider had previously been assigned to the to the 22nd SOS Zorros and had tail code 'TS'. This aircraft was crash landed at a lima site on the PDJ sometime in December of 1969 after being hit by enemy ground fire. We are currently in the process of trying to find out who landed her and which lima site it was. The fact that I was flying A-1H 134609 on 17 Feb 1972, confirms Bob Arnau's story regarding the recovery of this aircraft.






 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 19 Feb 43 4.2

133.3 A-1J 142021

My journal entry for 19 Feb 1972

[Sandy 02] Strike after 'T' [Sandy] Orbit with Maj CV Miller... Worked with Telstar [ at LS -32]... TIC... gross corrections from ground FAC... i.e., good bombs, now move it 400 meters to the north!... 10 probable KBA.


This was another Sandy orbit on the morning Sandy schedule. Major Craig 'CV' Miller was A flight commander in the 1st SOS. He was an easy going, well-respected flight lead and I was eager to learn from him.

We flew our SAR orbit, then got released from Sandy alert and hooked up with Telstar for an airstrike at his position near Lima Site 32. LS-32 was at Bouam Long in the high country northeast of the PDJ. Telstar was in contact with the enemy and he knew a good thing when he saw it.

We found it curious that although we were told that the bombs were good, we still received major corrections for our ordnance delivery. For a fast mover dropping from high altitudes at much higher airspeeds than the A-1, a correction of 400 meters was not too unusual. For the A-1, it was like switching to a whole new target area! More typically, corrections between passes were less than 100 meters, usually given in 10 meter increments. In this case, what was most likely occurring was that we were hitting more than one target.






 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 20 Feb 44 1.1

134.4 A-1H 134551

My first journal entry for 20 Feb 1972

[Carboy 55] A/C del to Ubon.


 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 20 Feb 45 1.0

135.4 A-1H 139803

My second journal entry for 20 Feb 1972

[Carboy 51] Rtn to NKP from Ubon

These sorties were in support of the Sandy alert FOL at Ubon RTAFB to the south. These sorties were logged as O2A (combat support) as opposed to O1A for normal combat sorties. The interesting thing is that they were at night. Apparently there was a problem with A-1H 139803 that would not allow it to fly Sandy alert so I brought down A-1H 134551 as a replacement. The return trip to NKP was that same evening.







 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 22 Feb 46 3.3

138.7 A-1E 132643

My journal entry for 22 Feb 1972

[Hobo 21 as wingman with Mike Rutschow] MedEvac to LS 140... no strike.

This was another trip the the 'Barrel Roll' on Mike Rutschow's wing. Ironically, Mike and I had visited the Lima Site 140 area a few days prior on the 15th of February. This time we were up there to cover choppers that were evacuating wounded and shuttling supplies to those unlucky few who remained behind to hold the site.






 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 25 Feb 47 1.8

140.5 A-1H 137597

My first journal entry for 25 Feb 1972

[Carboy 33] A/C delivery to IRAN at Bangkok... Super mission flying an H with no pylons... Made a high (?) speed, low pass at Korat .

 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 25 Feb 48 1.6

142.1 A-1H 137616

My first journal entry for 25 Feb 1972

[Carboy 33] RTB to NKP... low level part way.

These two missions came under the "good deal" heading. The A-1 depot level maintenance facility in Thailand was at Don Muang Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. This airport was a dual civilian/military airdrome and housed both the international airport and a military field that had among other things a large repair facility for the A-1 Skyraiders. Officially. this facility was known as IRAN (Inspect and Replace As Necessary).

Periodic major inspections were accomplished at this facility where they would first strip all the paint off the aircraft, then disassemble the aircraft to the point here key components could be inspected. Once the aircraft was reassembled, a new coat of paint would be applied, and it would be ready to go back to NKP. There are photos of Skyraiders in the IRAN facility in the center photos section of this book.

The good part of this mission was first of all, no one would shoot at you, but more important, the aircraft were clean. All weapons pylons were removed in addition to the four 20mm M-3 cannons. The performance was astonishing compared to the fully loaded version which we flew in combat. The empty aircraft with full internal fuel weighed in at just about 15,000 pounds as compared with a nominal 23,000 pounds for an average combat loaded Skyraider.

There was no holding her back when the brakes were released for takeoff. The Spad leapt into the air and quickly accelerated to well above 170 knots for climb out for a 26/46 climb (2600 RPM/46 MAP (manifold pressure)). Once I leveled off at about 12,000 feet. I reduced the power to the normal settings we used for combat of 2200 RPM and reduced the throttle to target MAP and the aircraft accelerated to 210 knots! This was a real sports car!

Korat Airbase was directly between NKP and Bangkok. In fact, the runway alignment was the same as the course for Bangkok. I had been briefed by other pilots that had made this run that Korat tower welcomed "low approaches." I contacted the tower and began my descent. As I started down, I added power to make sure I wouldn't slow down. At about ten miles, I was still at about 2,500 feet so I eased it on down to the proper altitude of about 200 feet. By now I had the power full in and called missed approach. As I reached mid-field I keyed the mike and said, "Boom-boom". That was the best impression I could do for a sonic boom over the fast mover base where F-4s and F-105s were stationed. I probably was going all of 275 knots for the low pass. Not bad for a Spad.

The flight home was more of the same. I flew the newly painted A-1H 137-616 to a point west of NKP where I delayed for a while to burn down some fuel, and to put the clean H through its paces. I set up for some simple aerobatics and was continually impressed at the performance. Soon, it was time to land so I reluctantly took it back to NKP and handed it over to maintenance so they could once again turn it into a 140 knot flying machine.

Both these sorties were considered "combat support" and were flown under a mission code of O2A as opposed to O1A for combat. It was certainly a nice break from the rigors of actual combat.






 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 26 Feb 49 3.4

145.5 A-1E(-5) 135206

My journal entry for 26 Feb 1972

[Hobo 43] Strike in Barrel Roll... Supermarket load.

A forgettable mission to the Barrel Roll. I have no recollection of this mission and also did not record the flight leader's name.


 Long Tieng and L-98 with Skyline Ridge in cloud shadow in the background.

(Photo taken from an A-1 by Lt Mike Cahill)








 Date  Mission # Sortie Length  Total A-1 Time  Total Combat Time  Aircraft
 4 Mar 50 3.7

149.2 A-1E(-5) 135215

My journal entry for 4 Mar 1972

[Hobo 45] BR mission with Roadhouse... Took 215 even though it failed the pre-takeoff mag check... L 249... Good strike; 3 KBA, 3 bunkers destroyed, 1 large fire... excellent bombs... Rough engine on RTB... Shouldn't have taken it.

This mission was up in the 'Barrel' and I was a wingman with Capt. James (Jim/Red/Roadhouse) Clevenger. It proved to be an eventful mission.

One of the many aircraft checks we did prior to takeoff was the ignition and power check which was step 9 of a lengthy pre-takeoff engine check prior to takeoff. It checked whether or not both magnetos were operating correctly. This aircraft did not pass the check, but I elected to take it anyway. I don't remember the exact readings now, but my log entry is clear in that it did not pass. More than likely the RPM dropped more than the allowable 75 RPM from stabilized RPM on one of the two magnetos. Nevertheless, I went with it.

The mission was to an area that I have recorded as L 249. Problem is, I cannot now find reference to this location. I do recall that it began as a helicopter escort to extract wounded from a friendly position that was under siege by the enemy. The weather precluded this operation so we were released to find a target.

We found a situation that welcomed out assistance. My log entry that the ordnance was excellent was an indication that everything was going right on the strike. The results were commendable and the siege was broken.

On the way home the engine began to run rough but I don't recall if we declared an emergency or not. I imagine I did.

This mission got written up for an Air Medal which was approved. It was not the reward which I deserved for taking an aircraft that should not have been flown in the first place. The feeling of invincibility was beginning to creep in which I should have recognized at the time.