The List 5014 TGB
Today in Naval History
1794 The first officers of the U.S. Navy under the new United States Constitution are appointed: John Barry, Samuel Nicholson, Silas Talbot, Joshua Barney, Richard Dale, and Thomas Truxtun. They are also asked to supervise the construction of new ships.
1917 USS Jupiter (AC 3), which transports the First Naval Aeronautical Detachment, arrives at Pauillac, France prior to World War I. The men are commanded by Lt. Kenneth Whiting. Offloading is completed by June 10. USS Jupiter (AC 1) is later converted into the Navys first aircraft carrier USS Langley (CV 1).
1944 USS Puffer (SS 268) attacks a Japanese convoy in the Sulu Sea and sinks underway replenishment vessel Ashizuri and oiler Takasaki while also damaging tanker No.2 Hishi Maru, north-east of Borneo. Also on this date, USS Shark (SS 314) sinks Japanese transport Tamahime Maru and army transport Takaoka Maru west of the Mariana Islands.
1945 A typhoon hits while Task Group 38.1 and Task Group 30.8 are off the coast of Okinawa. Task Group 38.1 passes through the eye of the storm at 7 a.m. that morning. Hurricane force winds of 70 knots (80.5 miles per hour), with gusts up to 100 knots (115 per hour) damage almost every ship in the task groups.
2013 USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3) is launched in Mobile, Ala. The Joint High Speed Vessel is a non-combatant transport operated by Military Sealift Command.
Thanks to CHINFO
• Today's national headlines include coverage of the President's participation in the 75th anniversary of D-Day in London and the Trump administration approved two nuclear deals to Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi killing.
• During a ceremony commemorating the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Midway aboard USS Chung-Hoon, the 50-star Union Jack was hoisted for the first time since 2002 reports Stars and Stripes. "Your role in the United States Navy is vital. The job you are doing right now will contribute to the overall success or failure in the challenges facing our generation. That's the reminder of the Union Jack and the lesson that the Battle of Midway teaches us," said Capt. Joseph Naman.
• A Russian Su-35 fighter made an "irresponsible" intercept of a Navy P-8A over the Mediterranean Sea reports USNI News. The intercept was "determined to be unsafe due to the SU-35 conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk," said a statement by the 6th Fleet.
• Jane's Navy International reports that the Ship Self Defense System Integrated Combat System for USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) completed its final developmental test.
Today in History June 5
Members of the First Crusade witness an eclipse of the moon and interpret it as a sign they will recapture Jerusalem.
Ferdinand, the Duke of Alba, crushes the Calvinist insurrection in Ghent.
Henry IV's army defeats the Spanish at the Battle of Fontaine-Francaise.
American settlers in New England massacre a Pequot Indian village.
Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier make the first public balloon flight.
The U.S. Congress prohibits citizens from serving in any foreign armed forces.
Athens falls to Ottoman forces.
Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes the first installment of Uncle Tom's Cabin in The National Era.
U.S. Army troops in the Four creeks region of California, head back to quarters, officially ending the Tule River War. Fighting, however, will continue for a few more years.
The Confederate raider CSS Alabama captures the Talisman in the Mid-Atlantic.
The Republican National Convention, the first major political party convention to include blacks, commences.
Wild woman of the west Myra Maybelle Shirley marries Sam Starr even though records show she was already married to Bruce Younger.
British troops under Lord Roberts seize Pretoria from the Boers.
The German army begins its offensive in Southern France.
The first B-29 bombing raid strikes the Japanese rail line in Bangkok, Thailand.
Secretary of State George C. Marshall outlines "The Marshall Plan," a program intended to assist European nations, including former enemies, to rebuild their economies.
Premier Nikita Khrushchev denounces Josef Stalin to the Soviet Communist Party Congress.
The Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Syria and Jordan begins.
Sirhan Sirhan shoots Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy after Kennedy's victory in the pivotal California primary election.
Doris A. Davis becomes the first African-American woman to govern a city in a major metropolitan area when she is elected mayor of Compton, California.
Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan dies at age 93. Reagan was the 40th president of the United States.
Luck and Guts: The Heroes of Midway
If not for men like Wade McClusky, the Battle of Midway could have been another Japanese victory.
June 4, 2019, 12:18 AM
Wade McClusky (Wikimedia Commons)
The Battle of Midway began 77 years ago, today. This anniversary (if that, indeed, is the right word) will be noted but not so lavishly as the one in two days time, in remembrance of D-Day. These were both great and decisive American victories and should be remembered and honored as long as there is a United States of America. Not so much, however, because they saved the nation. The U.S. would almost certainly have survived defeat at Midway and a repulse in Normandy. The "what-if" scenarios around either case — or both, for that matter — make for interesting speculation. But while the world may have looked a lot different if the Japanese had won at Midway and the Germans had pushed Eisenhower's troops back into the sea in France, there were still two broad oceans protecting the American homeland where the nation could employ its enormous industrial capacity to rearm and reorganize before getting back into the fight.
And, then, there was the bomb. A repulse in France might have meant, more than anything else, that Berlin would have been the first city leveled by a nuclear device.
Still, the victories at Midway and in Normandy were decisive and heroic. Also exceedingly "American" in character. It is impossible to read about them, these generations later, without recognizing that and feeling proud. If, that is, you are a patriot which, sadly, is not true of everyone living in the United States these days.
Consider Midway, first, and leave D-Day for later, by two days on the calendar:
The U.S. Navy had apparently been decisively crushed by the Japanese surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. Almost every battleship in the fleet had been sunk or catastrophically damaged.
But this defeat had also illuminated a truth and a path to victory. The U.S. battleships had been sunk by bombs and torpedoes dropped from airplanes flown off aircraft carriers. These were now the capital ships of navies. Battleships would, from now on, serve as escorts for the carriers. If at all.
Six months after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. had only three carriers available to counter a Japanese attack on Midway. It might have been just two except for the American way with tools and capacity to improvise. The carrier Yorktown had been badly damaged in the battle of the Coral Sea and was expected to require several months in dry dock before it would be ready to conduct flight operations again.
Admiral Chester Nimitz, who was in command of what was left of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific, told the people in his repair yards, "I want that ship ready to go to sea in 48 hours." American welders and machinists swarmed over the broken Yorktown, like a pit crew at Daytona. They worked around the clock, sometimes pulling so much electrical power that the lights in Honolulu flickered and went dim. And they got it done.
The Yorktown left Pearl Harbor in time — just barely — to join the battle. Its last.
The two other carriers — Hornet and Enterprise — were already on station, waiting to ambush four Japanese carriers. The Americans knew they were coming, having broken the Japanese codes enough that they could read some radio traffic.
It was a distinct advantage but one that might not have been sufficient to overcome the Japanese superiority in numbers, experience, and, above all, equipment. Their planes were better than those flown by the U.S. Navy.
The American torpedo planes were relics. They were slow, not especially maneuverable, and they could not take much punishment. Other than that …
Still, they launched and they attacked. One squadron of fifteen planes from each of the carriers. Torpedo squadron eight, off the Hornet, found the Japanese fleet when the squadron commander, John Waldren, trusted his instincts over the information he'd been given in briefings on the location of the Japanese fleet. It was borderline insubordination — in a very American sort of way — and Waldren might have been court martialed for it.
If he had survived.
He received, instead, a posthumous Navy Cross for leading his squadron to the Japanese fleet and pressing the attack. The squadron scored no hits and all of its fifteen planes were shot down. One pilot survived. None of the gunners.
Neither of the other torpedo squadrons scored a hit. Of the 45 of the torpedo planes launched from the three American carriers, four survived the battle.
And yet … they had attacked from very low altitude in order to launch their torpedos. The covering Japanese Zeros — which might have been the finest fighter planes in the world at the time — had come down low to engage and slaughter the American torpedo planes.
Leaving the upper sky unguarded and the Japanese carriers vulnerable to American dive bombers.
But it was an opportunity that might have been lost. The dive bomber squadron from the Hornet never found the Japanese fleet. And the squadrons from the Enterprise might not have except for the initiative and decision making of another junior officer.
Lieutenant Commander Wade McClusky had been searching for the Japanese fleet in the area where, according to his briefing, it should have been. But when he looked down from some 20,000 feet, the only thing he saw was empty ocean. He conducted a search, according to doctrine, and succeed only in burning more fuel. To the point where it would soon be either a) head back to the Enterprise or b) ditch.
Meanwhile, the Japanese could launch their own attack, against the three American carriers which might even have been recovering planes at the time and woefully vulnerable. The battle of Midway would, then, have been another Japanese victory. The U.S. would likely have been forced to abandon Hawaii.
It would be months, even years, before it could be retaken. More months and years before the ring of islands defending Japan could be breached. Still more before Japan, itself, could be invaded and conquered.
A lot depended on what one fairly junior naval aviator decided to do with the time and fuel he had left. Wade McClusky had to make a decision. What course would take him to the Japanese fleet? It was all on him.
He made a call and you could say he played a hunch. An informed hunch but still, if it had come up wrong …
He had spotted a single Japanese ship on the wide surface of the Pacific. It was a destroyer and judging by the distinct white wake, it was making speed.
To where and for what? McCluskey thought.
To wherever the Japanese fleet was, in order to rejoin it, he reasoned.
Using the V of the ship's wake as though it were the point of a compass needle, McCluskey changed course. A few minutes later he and the dive bombers he led were in the wide, unguarded skies over the Japanese fleet.
The dive bomber squadron from the Yorktown arrived at almost exactly this time. The Americans attacked and the Japanese lost three fleet carriers and the initiative in the Pacific in a span of five minutes. There is nothing else like it in the history of warfare.
In the next hours of the battle, the remaining Japanese carrier was sunk as was the Yorktown.
Admiral Raymond Spruance handled his fleet both boldly and steadily. He was aggressive when he needed to be and prudent when he had to be. The workers in the yard who had made it possible for the Yorktown to take part in the fight played a big role in the victory. As, certainly, did the code breakers. And then, there were those bold decisions, made in the moment, by Waldren and McClusky, recalling the way that Chamberlain saved the situation at Little Round Top.
America seems to find people like them when they are most desperately needed.
And, one thinks, it isn't by accident..
Thanks to THE Bear
COMMANDO HUNT and ROLLING THUNDER REMEMBERED… WEEK EIGHTEEN of the HUNT… 10-16 MARCH 1969…
COMMEMORATING THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY of the VIETNAM WAR…1961-1973… AND THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY…
LEST WE FORGET… 6 June 1944… Great armies, navies and air forces of many nations came together in furious combat at Normandy, France to battle for the future of the world. More than 450,000 human beings woud perish in the Battle of Normandy that followed the historic landings on D-Day. About 2,500 American warriors fell on D-Day and nearly 10,000 would be killed in action in the first weeks in Normandy. Among the 110,000 war fighters buried in the 27 war cemeteries are 9,386 Americans who gave "the last full measure" for our country and the world. WE REMEMBER, with respect, admiration and appreciation on this 75th ANNIVERSARY of D-Day…They were our countrymen, neighbors, fathers, uncles, brothers and inspiration… They rest in peace glory gained, duty done.
LEST WE FORGET… "WAR IS A KILLING BUSINESS" and the week ending 8 March 1969 was a week of killing with the lives of 338 American warriors taken on the battlefields of Southeast Asia. The Vietcong claimed they killed 786 Americns while the Allies claimed a body count of 4,063 Vietcong and North Vietnamese killed. Total American KIA in the war (1961-1973) reached 32,712. American rotary airwing aircraft losses were reported at 2,430. Peace negotiation progress was nil. PRESIDENT D.D. EISENHOWER, April 1957: "The hope of the world is that wisdom can arrest conflict between brothers. I believe that war is the deadly havest of arrogant and unreasoning minds."… WE REMEMBER…
Good Morning. It's Monday, 3 June 2019. Humble Host remembers the Vietnam War and WEEK EIGHTEEN of COMMANDO HUNT I — 10-16 March 1969…
I. HEADLINES from the OGDEN STANDARD-EXAMINER (somebody misplaced The New York Times film for early March 1969)…
A. THE WAR… (10 Feb) DEATH IN VIETNAM–REBELS KILL 30 FROM AMBUSH… (AP) "Hundreds of enemy troops ambushed about 300 South Vietnamese paratroopers killing 30 of the government soldiers and wounding 105 in a two-day battle that was still going on late today…The savage battle was one of five major fights reported in the past 24 hours–at three points near the Cambodian border and in the north and south of Saigon. The dead included 31 Americans and at least 127 Vietcong and North Vietnamese. The Viet Cong also shelled more than 35 towns and allied bases during the night as the enemy's spring offensive continued in its third week. U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin R. Laird told newsmen as he left Saigon after a four-day visit that the offensive is a 'calculated escalation of the war.' But he said it 'has not been successfull' and the rocket attacks which have been made on Saigon were not significant.'"… (11 Mar) REDS RAIN SHELLS INTO SIXTY BASES AND TOWN–Battles Rage–Critical Time Period Ahead–Bases Alerted… "…Officials said the increased action signaled the start of the third phase of the spring offensive the enemy launched Feb. 23."… (12 Mar) REDS REDUCE ATTACKS–New Wave Expected… "The Vietcong's rocket and mortar attacks dropped off sharply but American officers said it might only be a pause in the enemy's 18-day-old spring offensive…. Five more ground fights Tuesday were reported, resulting in the deaths of 126 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese and 10 Americans."… (13 Mar) TWO WEEK VIETCONG OFFENSIVE CLAIMS 786 AMERICAN LIVES–4,063 Communists Killed… "…The weekly casualty report issued today said 336 Americans died in action during the week of March 2-8… this was 117 less than the 453 Americans reported killed during the first week of the spring offensive but it was double the losses the same time last year… 10,876 of the enemy were killed in the first two weeks of the offensive… The U.S. command also announced 1,694 Americans were wounded last week, compared with 2,993 the previous week…. (AT THIS POINT IN THE WAR AMERICAN WOUNDED IN ACTION: 206,182, plus 1,321 WERE REPORTED CAPTURED OR MISSING.)… (14 Mar) REDS ATTACK TWICE NEAR DEMILITARIZED ZONE… "North Vietnamese troops attacked twice along the southern edge of the DMZ Thursday killing 18 South Vietnamese and six U.S. Marines… only four enemy soldiers were killed…Fighting appeared to have slackened elsewhere around the country."… (15 Mar) BIG RED BARRAGE POUNDS 70 SOUTH VIETNAM TARGETS–Allied Forces Repulse Two Sharp Enemy Attacks… "… heaviest enemy shellings since the offensive began three weeks ago. They came a few hours after President Nixon underscored a warning that the United States will retaliate if the communist command goes too far. 'I will not warn again,' Nixon said in Washington."… (16 Mar) 5 ENEMY ROCKETS EXPLODE IN SAIGON–Light Casualties Reported–Attack Is Fifth On Capital in 21 Days–U.S. Silent On Attack…
B. PEACE TALKS IN PARIS AT A STANDSTILL… Humble Host turns to a DREW PEARSON column on 11 March that provides an excellent snapshot of where the negotiations are going–or not…
NIXON MAY HAVE MISSED THE BOAT ON EARLY PEACE IN S.E. ASIA… I quote…
"Chief tragedy regarding the Paris peace talks and the recent bombing of Saigon is that President Nixon may have missed the boat regarding an early peace in Southeast Asia.
"Both career diplomats and Pentagon strategists who have no axe to grind concerning Democratic or Republican politics feel that Nixon has been too cautious, too bogged down with paperwork, too slow to move and too much concerned with Europe rather than the theater of war where an average of 200 American boys have been killed every week, with the number rising to 453 in the past week
"A a result, he has ignored for seven weeks the opportunity to carry on private talks with the North Vietnamese in Paris. This was an extremely inportant period, not merely because 200 American lives were being lost weekly, but because the North Vietnamese may have interpreted Nixon's failure to talk as a rebuff, and started the attacks on Saigon as their answer to a new President who has been known as a hawk.
"Cyrus Vance, the former under secretary of defense who served as No. 2 negotiator with Ambassador Averell Harriman in Paris, has recently returned to Washington and has given senators important inside information regarding Vietnam. Vance had remained in Paris at the request of President Nixon in order to help the peace talks get off to a good start under the new administrtion. Vance is a New York lawyer and non-political government official, who after he retired from the Pentagon, came back to serve in various emergency crises, including the Detroit race riots. In Paris, despite an ailing back, Vance slept in his office during one crucial period last October because of the Washington-Paris time difference, in order to be on the telephone from Washington during the early morning hours from 3 a.m. on–which was about the time the State Department got busy with Vietnam problems.
"Vance pays tribute to Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Harriman's successor, as an able, dedicated diplomat. He has reported that, though Lodge has been a hawk in the past, and a close friend of the military leaders of South Vietnam, this may make him a more effective negotiator. Lodge is being very careful to be nonpartisan, neither a hawk or dove, and is anxious to carry out instructions from Washington right down the line.
"The trouble is, however, that Lodge has received no instructions from President Nixon regarding the all-important questions of private talks with the North Vietnamese. Lodge and Nixon conferred in Paris last week but, so far a can be ascertain, no green light was given Lodge even then to go ahead with private peace talks with the North Vietnamese and the United States negotiating team of Harriman and Vance this was the most fruitful way to proceed. Some progress was made in December by private talks on the controversial type of table to be used in Paris.
TWO REASONS… "Since that time, however, there have been no private talks and no progress whatsoever, for two reasons: (1) The South Vietnamese were stalling until January 20 when their friend Richard Nixon, hitherto a hawk, would become President. (Humble Host asks: Was Nixon colluding with Thieu prior to election?). (2) Since January 20, Ambassador Lodge has had no instructions from the new President to proceed with private talks.
Meanwhile, American career diplomats point out that the North Vietnamese are probably escalating the war in order to demonstrate their strength to a new and hawkish President who has not accepted their willingness to talk privately. The importance of private talks cannot be overestimated, according to experienced diplomats who have sat in on them. During the three-month period last fall when the United States and North Vietnamese were sparring in Paris, there were about 20 coffee breaks when American and North Vietnamese delegates talked off the record about the future."… End Pearson quote…
C. THE REST OF THE OGDEN STANDARD-EXAMINER HEADLINES… (10 March) APOLLO'S 9 LANDING MAY BE SHIFTED…"With stormy weather buffeting their planned Atlantic landing area, the Apollo 9 astronauts received word today they might have to shift their splashdown to calmer seas. Air Force Colonels James A. McDivitt and David R. Scott and civilian Russell L. Schweickart then turned space age weathermen to report on conditions in the landing zone over a wide area."… EGYPTIAN CHIEF OF STAFF KILLED AT FRONT… "Egypt gave its armed forces chief of staff a hero's funeral today. Israel claimed one of its tank gunners killed him with a direct hit during a three-hour, 25-minute battle Sunday across the Suez Canal."… GOLD PRICES STILL RISING–NO EMERGENCY…(UP TO $43.75 FROM $43.40)… JAMES EARL RAY PLEADS GUILTY–Gets 99-Years In King Assassination… (11 March) FRANCE HIT BY STRIKES–Nation Paralyzed…"French workers went on a 24-hour strike today to pressure the government for substantial wage increases–a demand that helped bring a new rush for gold throughout Eutrope… MARTIN LUTHER KING"s WIDOW SAYS 'OTHERS INVOLVED'… CAMPUS UNREST SPREADS TO JUNIOR, SENIOR HIGH SCHOOLS… "Student revolt is no longer limited to college students."… SNOW AND SEVERE COLD NUMB NATION…"Much of the nation resembled an icebox today to the misery of the Northeast."… (12 March) APOLLO 9 ADDS EXTRA ORBIT–Will Splash Down Thursday–Landing Zone Changes To Avoid Rough Seas… FRENCH CRISIS–Sabateurs Derail 3 Trains... NAVY BRASS RAKES BUCHER SURRENDER… NIXON HOSTS CONGRESS AT WHITE HOUSE… "President Nixon, with fond memories of his own days on Capitol Hill, opens his home tonight for the second in a series of black-tie receptions for members of Congress and their spouses."… WIDOW FINALLY ACCEPTS MEDAL FOR HUSBAND…"A widow refused for months to accept a Medal of Honor awarded to her husband for bravery in Vietnam, then consented to receive it only in secret."… FOUR PILOTS RELEASED IN CAMBODIA–Sihanouk Releases Airmen After Letter From Nixon"… (13 Mar) APOLLO 9 CREW LANDS SAFELY–Flight Passes Lunar Tests–Trio Makes Pinpoint Landing–Flight Rings Up Space Firsts… WARNINGS OF SPRING FLOODS ISSUED FOR MOST OF THE WEST… (14 March) NIXON WARNS REDS–OKAYS MODIFICATION OF SENTINEL SYSTEM–Network Will Safeguard Missiles and Bombers… SENATE RATIFIES NUCLEAR TREATY… "The Senate, afer more than eight months delay due to the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia and the U.S. election, has passed the controversial nuclear nonproliferation treaty."… (15 March) SINO-SOVIET BORDER BATTLE FLARES ANEW–Charges Fly… "Bloody fighting between Red Chinese and Soviet troops erupted on a tiny island along their frontier Friday and today for the second time in two weeks. And for the second time, each side accused the other of starting the trouble. The Chinese declared the new fighting was 'continuing and expanding.'… (16 March) THE MIDEAST OUTLOOK: MILITARY BALANCE OF POWER VIEWED AS UNCHANGED SINCE THE 1967 WAR… CONFLICT MOUNTS ON SENTINEL PLAN IN TWO SENATE UNITS–Armed Services Committee In Jurisdiction Fight With Foreign Relations Panel–Hearings Overlapped–Nixon Modified Missile Net Intensifies Disagreement and Rivalry of Groups… SOVIET AND CHINESE RESUME FIGHTING OVER ISLE IN RIVER–Peking Says Russians Were Driven Off–Charges Shelling of Manchuria–Protests Are Traded–Moscow Disclaiming Desire to Fan Dispute Discloses Meeting At the Border…NIXON PANEL EXPECTED TO URGE SHELVING OF SUPERSONIC PLANE… CREW OF U.S.S. NEW JERSEY NEARING END OF VIETNAM TOUR–Still Eager For Action…
II. AIRCRAFT LOSSES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA: 10-16 MARCH 1969… References include Chris Hobson's VIETNAM AIR LOSSES. During the week ending 16 March the United States lost eight fixed wing aircraft and four of our aviators made their last flight.
(1) On 10 March an F-100D Super Sabre of the 612th TFS and 37th TFW out of Phu Cat was downed on a close air support mission 25 miles west of Nha Trang. It was the sixth F-100 out of Phu Cat lost in less than three months. CAPTAIN ARTHUR WILLIAM COFER was killed while making his third attack on enemy bunkers and buildings. The aircraft was hit by ground fire in the dive and CAPTAIN COFER was not seen to escape his aircraft as it flew nto the ground. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery and rests in peace, glory gained and duty done…
(2) On 10 March an A-26A Invader of the 609th SOS and 56th SOW out of Nakhon Phanom went down in the landing pattern while addressing a landing gear indication problem. After a successful COMMANDO HUNT mission hitting targets on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the Invader crashed due to fuel exhaustion killing both CAPTAIN NEAL E. MONETTE and MAJOR JOHN V. CALLANAN. When the port engine failed while the aircraft was making a low pass for a visual check of the landing gear by ground crew, the aircraft rolled and flew into the ground. CAPTAIN MONETTE is buried at Live Oak Memorial Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina. MAJOR CALANAN is buried at Tulocoy Cemetery in Napa, California. Fate is the hunter and flying is unmercifully unforgiving of human error, an axiom every aviator accepts when he staps on an aircraft… There are no easy days; this was a sad one for the 609th…
(3) On 10 March an F-4D of the 435th TFS and 8th TFW out of Ubon was lost on a COMMANDO HUNT mission to strike a POL target 25 miles southwest of the Ban Karai Pass. On the fifth pass on the target the Phantom was hit by ground fire. LCOL CARTER PURVIS LUNA and the WSO CAPTAIN ALDIS P. RUTYNA turned westward to clear the target area but were forced to eject within a few miles of the hostile area on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Both aviators were on the ground safely but surrounded by enemy troops immediately. LCOL LUNA was killed or captured. CAPTAIN RUTYNA evaded briefly–he spent nearly three hours on the ground– but became surrounded by North Vietnamese troops. He called the SAR strike aircraft down to attack the enemy troops at his position and as the dust and smoke cleared the always intrepid SAR helo guys make the pickup. CAPTAIN RUTYNA escaped to fly another day. LCOL LUNA, who was on the ground and in contact with the SAR aircfraft, was never heard or seen again. He was initially listed as missing but when the Operation Homecoming head count was complete in March 1973, his status was changed to "declared dead/body not recovered." Current status is "presumed killed in action." He is remembered with a stone marker in Arlington National Cemetery…. Left behind, but remembered with admiration.
LCOL LUNA is also remembered, as are all Vietnam troops who gave their all, on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, with several "Remembrances" left on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund "The Wall of Faces."… http://vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces … Try it… get the home page then type in the name of the fallen warrior you seek to remember with a note of remembrance…
The virtual Wall of Faces features a page dedicated to honoring and remembering every person whose name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. In an effort to further preserve the legacy of those who sacrificed all in Vietnam, VVMF is committed to finding a photo to go with each of the …
(4) On 10 March an O-2E of the 22nd TASS and 504th TASG out of Binh Thuy was lost in an accident due to pilot error. Both aboard survived to fly and FAC again, with bruised pride…
(5) On 13 March an F-4B of the VF-114 Aardvarks embarked in USS Kitty Hawk was lost on a Combat Air Patrol mission when the trottle for the port engine stuck at 100% leading to a flameout and subsequent loss of control requiring both pilot E.I. BRAZIL and RIO LTJG K.J. ODEN to eject. They were rescued by helicopter to fly and CAP again…
(6) On 14 March an F-100C of the 174th TFS and 37th TFW out of Phu Cat was downed by ground fire attacking a road intersection 15 miles from the base. 1LT C.J. GREWELL was making his second pass when hit by automatic weapon fire forcing him to eject in the target area. An Army helicopter made the rescue.
(7) On 15 March a B-57B Canberra of the 8th TBS and 35th TFW out of Phan Rang flown by LCOL E.TIDDY and MAJOR MICHAEL A. De SOUSA was hit and damaged by ground fire attacking a North Vietnamese rocket site near the Ashau Valley. The aircraft was successfully flown back to Phan Rang but flamed out in the landing pattern and was crash landed destroying the aircraft. Both aviators survived to go again…
(8) On 15 March an A-1H of the 602nd SOS and 56th SOW out of Nakhon Phanom was lost on an aborted takeoff. The pilot escaped the Spad unharmed before it exploded and burned.
III. PACIFIC AIR FORCES SOUTHEAST ASIA AIR OPERATIONS SUMMARY… From the PACAF Archives with thanks to the Historical Research Agency's BARRY SPINK, Archivist, and TAMMY HORTON… Humble Host is grateful for the thousands of pages of documentation covering the period of COMMANDO HUNT, and all Sooutheast Asia air operations by allied forces for the years of 1969 and 1970. Every RTR/CH post will carry a page or two of these summaries of air operations. Here is the initial post from the PACAF summary of operations for February 1969…
"Unfavorable weather conditions restricted tactical reconnaissance activities in North Vietnam to 11 days during February. Photographs obtained gave evidence of a reduction in the use of Quang Ke (located on the North Vietnamese coast just a bit north of Dong Hoi) as a port, the continued construction of connecting roads from Route 1036 into Laos, and large well supplied storage areas. Indications are that truck, boat, and rail activity in the southern portion of North Vietnam is decreasing from the surge immediately after the bombing pause (Nov 68).
"Air operations in Laos were primarily directed against enemy supply movements and in defense of Laotian government positions in Military Regions II and IV. Total sorties flown in Laos were down 10% from January as a result of poor operational weather. USAF attack sorties decreased 12%. Pilots and road watch teams sighted 13,808 vehicles in Laos. Average daily sightings increased 6% to 493. 947 attack sorties were flown in Barrel Roll (Northern Laos), 23% below last month's 1226. Poor weather and a restriction on air strikes north and east of Sam Neua allowed an unimpeded flow of enemy supplies into the Sam Nuea area. USAF attack sorties in Steel Tiger, including COMMANDO HUNT decreased 10%. Operation Search has been inititated in Steel Tiger using FAC, reconnaissance and strike resources for rapid detection and strike of perishable targets. 60% of Steel Tiger sorties were concentrated in the COMMANDO HUNT area.
"In-country battle intensity remained at a low level during the first 20 days of February. On 21 and 22 February an increasing number of enemy movements were detected. Early on the morning of the 23rd it was evident that a new enemy offensive was beginning. During the period 23 to 28 February, casualties ran high on both sides. The enemy versus friendly KIA ratio was 6.09:1 as compared with the previous week's to 6:1. Although the number of initiated attacks decreased after 26 February, there was no indication the spring offensive was finished. Corresponding to the increased ground activity, the daily average number of in-country USAF attack sorties from 23 thru 28 February was 20% above the daily average for the previous 22 days. Although total attack sorties decreased 9.2% during February, increases were reported in all 4 destruction areas.
"1,659 B-52 Arc Light sorties were flown in Southeast Asia during February. The 618 sorties flown in Laos were expended from an area just north of Mugia Pass southward to the Ashau Valley. 77.7% of the 1,041 South Vietnam sorties were in III Corps along Saigon invasion routes. Southeast Asia Combat Skyspot (Milky) sorties decreased 28.8% from the January level.
"75 allied aircraft were lost to enemy action during February. The February combat loss rate declined 42.4% from the January rate. No losses were experienced in North Vietnam. 19 aircraft were destroyed and at least 39 damaged on the ground during attacks against allied air bases/airfields and forward operating locations. Preliminary reports indicate there were 32 rocket/mortar shellings of 16 allied air bases/airfields during the lst week of February.
"There were no SAM firings and no MIG engagements or losses reported this month.
"The enemy's spring offensive in South Vietnam is indicative of his tremendous efforts to infiltrate large quantities of equipment and supplies into South Vietnam despite the increased air interdiction program in Laos."
SUMMARY–ROLLING THUNDER PROGRAM–FEBRUARY 1969 (All Ops over North Vietnam continued to be referred to as Rolling Thunder Ops…)
"Reconnaissance activities in NVN were restricted due to unfavorable weather conditions during February. There was only one NVN reaction to reconnaissance overflight. The enemy's resupply effort appears to be tapering off. A new supply route between RP I and SVN is developing. February tactical recce efforts were restricted to 11 days. There were 363 sorties scheduled and 93 flown. The AF scheduled 193 and flew 60, the Navy 66 and 8, the Marines 104 and 25. All sorties were flown during daylight hours. In addition to those flown, the Army OV-1s flew SLAR missions for coverage along the coastal area south of 18-degrees. The OV-1s flew a total of 146 missions out-of-country. The number flown along the NVN coast is undiscernible at this time from those of other areas.
"There was only one enemy reaction to reconnaissance overflight. On 19 February a Marine RF-4 escorted by one F-4 received light, randon and inaccurate 57mm fire while flying over the extreme southeast portion of NVN. Neither aircraft received damage. No escort aircraft expended ordnance in February.
"The coastal plain of RP I had slightly more favorable weather than did the mountain areas. The coast weather was favorable 31% of thee time, marginal 7% and unfavorable 62%, whereas the mountainous weather was favorable 25% of the time marginal 3% and unfavorable 72%. In spite of the poor weanter limiting successful target cover days to 11 days, photo coverage of the major lines of communication and other prime areas of interest were obtained. These photos gave evidence of a great reduction in the use of Quang Khe as a port, the continued construction of connecting roads from Route 1036 in RP I west of the DMZ into Laos and south to connect with Route 925, and large well supplied storage areas throughout the panhandle area of NVN.
"Since the bombing pause Quang Khe ( just north of Dong Hoi) has been used as an off-loading port for coastal and ocean watercraft bringing supplies from the north. During the November-January period the port was congested with boats and disembarking activity. However, the area been virtually abandoned since 9 February with only small watercraft identified since that date. For some time the enemy has been extending road route 1036 south towards the NVN-Laos-SVN tri-border area. In early February, construction activity noted on a road extending northward from the Laotian route 925. This new construction apparently to join with Route 1036 and when completed will provide the fourth major mountain pass entry into the Laotian panhandle (the others: Nape, Mugia and Ban Karai Pass). This new route, when completed, will provide the enemy with the shortest distance from NVN into SVN as it skirts along the western edge of the DMZ. Although Quang Khe is being little used, other means of resupply have resulted in large quantities of supplies appearing throughout the panhandle area. Road route 15, rail route 7 and water route 9 provide parallel LOC from Vinh south toward the DMZ. A large transshipment point has been established near Linh Lac Thuong. These LOCs have provided means to build up supply storages.
"Truck and watercraft sightings per recce mission declined in February. The average number of trucks sighted per recce mission has averaged 48.2% for the Nov-Jan period with a high in December and a downward trend to 29.6 in Feb. Watercraft sightings averaged 25.7 per recce mission flown in Feb. This is down from a high of 48.4 in Jan. Truck sightings by all sources declined to 3,275 in Feb from 5,960 in January. This decline has been continuous since Dec when 8,133 were reported. Route 15 (Vinh to Mugia Pass) continues to have the heaviest load of trucks, accounting for more than any other route segment. (Humble Host knew this segment of Route 15 as "Happy Valley." It was the most lucrative of all armed recce hunting grounds in RP II). Watercraft sightings in Feb were the lowest they have been for some time, only 713. This is down from the 2,844 in January and 2,191 in January.
"Most of the reduction in sightings was due to the few number of recce sorties flown; the average sightings per mission tends to have a smoothing effect on the figures. However, even with the averaging of sorties, indications are that truck, boar and rail activity in the southern portion of NVN is decreasing from the high activity immmediately after the November bombing halt."
THE ANATOMY OF A MOMENTOUS DECISION…
By early March 1969 a covert–secret–plan for the U.S. Strateegic Air Command to conduct a sustained bombing campaign against targets in Cambodia was on the shelf and ready to go. It was called OPERATION MENU. The initial strikes were the BREAKFAST PLAN.
"THE IDES OF MARCH"… 15 MARCH… A date that was "notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts."… On 15 March 1969 President Nixon had had enough. He inherited a peace process from Lyndon Johnson founded on a nebulus "understanding" with the North Vietnamese that in exchange for the United States ceasing the bombing of North Vietnam–OPERATION ROLLING THUNDER– The North Vietnamese would cease rocket and mortar attacks on the urban areas of South Vietnam and back-off from using the DMZ as a sanctuary for offensive operations. The enemy never complied. Nixon repeatedly threatened to restart ROLLING THUNDER if the enemy continued to attack Saigon and the civilian centers of South Vietnam, as well as using the DMZ to support combat operations.
On the afternoon of 15 March Nixon made three phone calls to Henry Kissinger, his advisor on national security affairs, in which he ordered three directives. The BREAKFAST PLAN and the bombing of the North Vietnamese sanctuaries in Cambodia was ACTIVATED. IMHO, this was a more important date in the history of the Vietnam War than the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, the PIERCE ARROW strikes in August 1964, and the retaliatory strikes on North Vietnam targets of FLAMING DART in February 1965. The commencement of OPERATION MENU, the BREAKFAST strikes, and the sustained bombing of Cambodia (18 March 1969 into 1973) was as important a date in history as the commencement of OPERATION ROLLING THUNDER on 2 March 1965.
The following is clipped from Volume VI of FOREIGN RELATIONS UNITED STATES, 1969-1976, Pages 120-125. On page 120 is a footnote: "Prior to issuing this directive Kissinger received three phone calls…. on March 15, ordering these actions. The language in the first three directives is almost verbatim from the President's brusque orders. The transcript notes of the last phone call of 3:45 p.m. read: 'President said everything that will fly is to get over to North Vietnam. President said there will be no appeal from that, either. He will let them know who is boss around here.'…
Document 39. MEMORANDUM for the RECORD dated 15 March 1969… Subject: March 16 Rocket Attack on Saigon…
"The following directives were issued by the President at 1545, March 15, as a result of the most recent rocket attack on Saigon:
- The President ordered the immediate implementation of the Breakfast Plan (TOT–Tuesday morning, Saigon time; Monday afternoon, Washington time).
- The Department of State (and Ambassadors Lodge and Bunker) to be notified only after the point of no return in the implementation of the Plan.
- Appropriate Government agencies and their field representatives are to be instructed that they will make no comment on the recent rocket attack on Saigon. (The President wishes to personally sign such a directive.)
- The President directed the following additional military measures: a. Maximum possible aerial reconnaissance of North Vvietnam; b. Increased Naval activity in international waters adjacent to North Vietnam."…. Signed: Richard Nixon
Document 40. MEMORANDUM FROM the PRESIDENT's ASSISTANT for NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS (Kissinger) to PRESIDENT NIXON… 16 March 1969
Humble Host includes this originally Top Secret/Sensitive document in its entirety due to the historical importance of OPERATION MENU– the bombing of Cambodia– for the next 14 months… and then some…
SUBJECT… BREAKFAST PLAN to strike enemy Base Area 353 (to be followed by Lunch (609), Dinner (352), Snack (351), Dessert (706), and Supper (740) …
I. MAJOR POLITICAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL REASONS FOR ACTION: A. Failure to take action in response to Saigon/Hue shellings–especially after repeated Presidential warnings–would appear to Hanoi as a demonstration of weakness…B. Failure to act would encourage Hanoi to use shellings and other military pressures in an effort to force major concessions at the Paris negotiations… C. The GVN will be more willing to agree to private talks, and less suspicious about our statements on the conditions for a bombing halt. Indeed, the Thieu/Bunker conversation is likely to be sticky if we respond to the latest shelling of Saigon with a request to initiate private talks…. D. Retaliatory action, if combined with a proposal for private talks, will serve as a signal to the Soviets of the Administration's determination to end the war. It would be a signal that things may get out of hand.
II. ARGUMENTS AGAINST… A. Domestic critics of the Vietnam War could seize on this to renew attacks on war and pressure for quick U.S. withdrawal… B. Hanoi could try to buttress domestic critics with attacks aimed at gaining large U.S. casualties… C. Could start escalatory cycle.
III. SOME POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF BREAKFAST PLAN… A. Minimum Possible Consequences…Proforma Cambodian protest… B. Larger Possible Consequences… 1. If attack on COSVN is formally announced as 'appropriate response' major protest by Cambodia is probable, cutting off prospect of resuming diplomatic relations for the present (NVN will probably try to pressure Shianouk on this point.)…2. Soviets could feel compelled, probably under Hanoi pressure to register strong protest which might affect our other talks with them…. 3. Hanoi will feel compelled to retaliate, should our public statements indicate the action is retaliatory.
A. Basic Plan of Attack… 1. NVN military concentrations in the DMZ will be attacked 12 hours prior to BREAKFAST PLAN. This attack, in response to currently well publicized NVN buildup in the DMZ, will be acknowledges as the 'appropriate response' to the shelling of Saigon and Hue. This woulod have the following advantages: a. it would indicate a response; b. it would divert public attention; c. it would therefore enable Cambodia to play down the BREAKFAST PLAN and; d. it would still show restraint… 2. BREAKFAST PLAN will be treated as a routine military operation within the framework of current military actions in Cambodian territory and mot publicly or in any messages identified as a retaliatory action against the shelling of Saigon and Hue. Hanoi is likely to recognize the action as our response, without a public statement. Any public statement identifying it as a retaliatory action, on the other hand, would be more likely to induce retaliatory actions by Hanoi, a major protest by Cambodia, a Soviet protest, and major domestic criticism in the press… 3. The military action will be combined with an effort in Paris to initiate private talks…
B. Press Scenario… 1. The attacks on the DMZ will be publicly announced with no additional comment. If the press asks whether these attacks are the 'appropriate response' mentioned by the President, the spokesman will state that the press has drawn the wrong conclusions…. 2. BREAKFAST PLAN would be announced routinely by Saigon as a normal B-52 operation against targets along the Cambodian border. The targets would not be specifically identified… 3. Press briefing and backgrounders would in no way directly identify the action as the 'appropriate response' to the Saigon/Hue shellings… 4. All press queries would be referred to the Saigon spokesman who will neither affirm nor deny reports of attacks on Cambodia but state that this is under investigation. With respect to any attacks against Cambodia, we will take the same public position of 'no comment' as in the case of bombing attacks on Laos, with the additional statement that reports of such attacks are under investigation…. 5. If the Cambodians protest publicly, we will state publicly that we are investigating the Cambodian protest…. 6. At no point will attacks against Cambodia be officially denied. When we reply to a Cambodian protest, we will state that we have apologized and have offered compensation.
C. Diplomatic Scenario… 1. On March 18, Ambassador Bunker will inform President Thieu privately about DMZ strike and BREAKFAST PLAN and seek Thieu's immediate agreement to the initiation of private talks on this basis…. 2. On March 18, following Thieu's agreement, Ambassador Lodge will be authorized to initiate a request immediately for private talks with the North Vietnamese…. 3. If Cambodia makes a normal routine protest, we will agree to investigate and subsequently confirm that the raid took place in Cambodian territory, apologize and offer compensation…. 4. If Cambodia makes a major protest, we will acknowledge responsibility, offer compensation, explain that incidents along the Cambodian border occur due to the extensive VC use of military exploitation of Cambodian territory, apologize, and offer compensation…. 5. If the Soviet Union privately makes a major protest against our action, we will point out the military reasons for the action, the fact that both Saigon and Hue were shelled after full warning, that more provocative options were available but not undertaken, and that we would now like to get down to serious negotiations and have initiated a request for private talks as suggested by them." End Doc. 40
The history of OPERATION MENU is an important lesson for the times we live in… READ AT…
Operation Menu was the codename of a covert United States Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombing campaign conducted in eastern Cambodia from 18 March 1969 until 26 May 1970 as part of both the Vietnam War and the Cambodian Civil War.The targets of these attacks were sanctuaries and Base Areas of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN — commonly referred to during the Vietnam War as the North ...
IV. HUMBLE HOST END NOTE… Two superb books on the Vietnam War are on the current best seller lists and most strongly recommended for summer reading. Stephen Coonts and Barrett Tillman have teamed up to write the story of the almost indestructible bridge at Thanh Hoa. The title of the fast and fun read is DRAGON's JAW. It is a fast, fun read. Four and a Half stars. The other best seller is Captain Dan Pedersen's TOP GUN: An American Story. Dan was in at the very start and stand-up of the now famous "center of excellence" for fighter pilot training. This is a great story, smoothly told, that goes well with a cool drink, a little shade, and a comfortable lounger… Four stars…
Finally. Google TASK FORCE OMEGA and spend a little time surfing ( "Database Search") through the bios of the hundreds of brothers-in-arms who are still missing on the battlefields and in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Start with the story of COLONEL of Marines DONALD GILBERT COOK, who was captured in 1964 and never came home. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (posthumously) and in May 1997 a Navy guided missile cruiser was christened the USS DONALD G. COOK, DDG-75, in his honor… TASK FORCE OMEGA is where you go to remember the warriors we "left behind."… The Vietnam Wall of Faces is another– all 58,200 who perished–killed in action– in the Vietnam war are set up for your "Remembrance."…
WELCOME to TASK FORCE OMEGA . Task Force Omega, Inc. is a non-profit, tax-exempt POW / MIA organization dedicated to the full accounting and return of all prisoners of war and those missing in action during the defense of our country.
The virtual Wall of Faces features a page dedicated to honoring and remembering every person whose name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. In an effort to further preserve the legacy of those who sacrificed all in Vietnam, VVMF is committed to finding a photo to go with each of the […]
Lest we forget… Bear