The List 5123 TGB
I hope that your week has been going well
Today in Naval History
1863 Sailors from the Union screw steam gunboat Tahoma and side-wheel steamer Adela board the blockade runners Scottish Chief and Kate Dale at Old Tampa Bay, Fla. and destroy them. During the battle, five of the landing party are killed, 10 are wounded and five are taken prisoner. This mission also diverts the real attention from the shelling of Tampa, Fla.
1918 German submarine U-155 torpedoes and sinks the freighter S.S. Lucia in the Atlantic. Despite being rigged with buoyancy boxes to render her virtually unsinkable, a torpedo penetrates the engine room, killing two men and sinking her the next day. USS Fairfax (DD 93) rescues her crew and transfers them to armored cruiser No. 5 USS Huntington.
1922 The Vought VE-7SF, piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Virgil C. Griffin, makes the Navys first carrier takeoff from USS Langley (CV 1), anchored in York River, Va.
1941 Before the United States' entry into World War II, German submarine U-568 torpedoes and damages USS Kearny (DD 432) near Iceland, killing 11 and injuring 22.
1942 USS Trigger (SS 237) sinks the Japanese freighter Holland Maru near the mouth of Bungo Strait off Kyushu, Japan. Lost in action with all hands later in the war, Trigger receives 11 battle stars for her World War II service and the Presidential Unit Citation for her fifth, sixth, and seventh war patrols.
1943 USS Tarpon (SS 175) sinks German auxiliary cruiser Michel (Schiffe No. 28) off Chichi Jima, Bonin Islands.
1944 Naval forces land Army rangers on islands at the entrance to Leyte Gulf in preparation for landing operations on Leyte Island.
1962 Operation Blue Moon—low-level reconnaissance flights over Cuba to help verify Soviet military deployments to that country—becomes operational. VFP-62 initially prepares ten photo variant RF-8A Crusaders with aerial cameras for high-speed, low-level photo missions, and places four of the jets on four-hour alert at NAS Cecil Field, FL, but subsequently shifts the Crusaders to NAS Key West, FL.
1986 Aboard USS America (CV 66), Lt. Cmdr. Barry D. Gabler of VFP-206, the Navy's last photoreconnaissance squadron, makes the final catapult takeoff and carrier landing of an F-8 Crusader.
1989 An earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale devastates northern California killing 62 people. HM-15 Detachment 3, HC-1, and HC-11 Detachment conduct lifts of food, water, and relief materials to the heavily damaged areas from ammunition ship Flint (AE 32) and fast combat support ship Kansas City (AOE 3). Amphibious assault ship Peleliu (LHA 5) provides food and shelter to 300 homeless earthquake victims.
Thanks to CHINFO
• The Wall Street Journal reports that Turkey rejected a U.S. call for a cease-fire in Syria.
• Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer named future DDG 134 in honor of U.S. Navy Hospitalman John E. Kilmer.
• The Navy concluded sea trials on the future Miguel Keith after a 2018 shipyard accident damaged the Expeditionary Sea Base., reports USNI News.
• NBC reports the Marine Corps announced one of six Marines in WWII Iwo Jima flag raising photo was misidentified.
Today in History October 17
The Sixth Crusade ends when an Egyptian-Khwarismian force almost annihilates the Frankish army at Gaza.
Henry VIII of England strips Thomas Wolsey of his office for failing to secure an annulment of his marriage.
English forces defeat the Scots under David II during the Battle of Neville's Cross, Scotland.
Maine and Plymouth are incorporated in Massachusetts.
British Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne surrenders 5,000 men at Saratoga, N.Y.
Napoleon Bonaparte arrives at the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he has been banished by the Allies.
Composer and pianist Frederic Chopin dies in Paris of tuberculosis at the age of 39.
General Ulysses S. Grant is named overall Union Commander of the West.
Brigadier General Alfred Terry meets with Sitting Bull in Canada to discuss the Indians' return to the United States.
Zeppelin LII explodes over London, killing 28.
Due to rising anti-Semitism and anti-intellectualism in Hitler's Germany, Albert Einstein immigrates to the United States. He makes his new home in Princeton, N.J.
The U.S. destroyer Kearney is damaged by a German U-boat torpedo off Iceland; 11 Americans are killed.
The nuclear power station Calder Hall is opened in Britain. Calder Hall is the first nuclear station to feed an appreciable amount of power into a civilian network.
Peace talks between Pathet Lao and Royal Lao government begin in Vietnam.
The worst earthquake in 82 years strikes San Francisco bay area minutes before the start of a World Series game there. The earthquake registers 6.9 on the Richter scale--67 are killed and damage is estimated at $10 billion.
Dmitry Kholodov, a Russian journalist, assassinated while investigating corruption in the armed forces; his murkier began a series of killings of journalists in Russia.
Rehavam Ze'evi, Israeli tourism minister and founder of the right-wing Moledet party, assassinated by a member of the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); he was the first Israeli minister ever assassinated.
Taipei 101 is completed in Taipei, becoming the world's tallest high-rise.
Thanks to Chuck
I ran into a friend from college that was a B-52 pilot and he had a ton of missions over the north down by the DMZ. He made every one of those over Hanoi and Haiphong over the Christmas of 1972. He was pretty fed up with what the brass was telling them about having to stay wings level so the EW gear would be effective. The only time he was wings level was when he was dropping his bombs.
A B-52 BOMB RUN Op OVER HANOI... GREAT READ....
Got this from a friend who is in the 91st. SRW. Assn.
Nightmare up North – B-52s Over Hanoi in Linebacker II
By Paul Novak
Truly it was "one of the most awesome armadas ever assembled," as Major Bill Stocker, in command of the lead B-52, later described it. The roar could be heard and vibrations felt 10 miles away when our 78 giant bombers went to full throttle on all eight turbojet engines, one after the other, over 2½ hours, and took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
Thousands of observers cheered the spectacular sight – the complex choreography of the largest launch of B-52s ever undertaken. The 26 three-ship cells of aircraft moved from 5 miles of walled-in, fortified parking areas and taxiways into position on the runway. The spectators included the crew of a Russian trawler off the coast of Guam.
Forty-two additional US bombers left later from the U-Tapao airfield in Thailand. We were all headed for Hanoi and the port city of Haiphong. The trawler's crew radioed Hanoi and gave the North Vietnamese hours of advance notice that the BUFFs (Big Ugly Fat Fellows) were on their way. The date was Dec. 26, 1972. All 120 Boeing B-52s plus dozens of Air Force, Navy and Marine support aircraft would reach their targets and drop thousands of tons of ordnance over a 15-minute period.
Some of us would not return.
I was an Air Force captain and the navigator of a six-man crew from Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts that included aircraft commander Captain Richard "Dick" Purinton, co-pilot Captain Malcolm "Mac" McNeill, radar navigator and bombardier Lt. Col. Jean Beaudoin, electronic warfare officer Major Bob Dickens and tail gunner Master Sgt. Calvin Creasser.
We were one of the lucky teams that made it "over the fence," safely out of enemy territory after hitting our target. The December 26 flight, part of Operation Linebacker II, which began December 18, was our second mission over the enemy's capital city and our third in North Vietnam.
Most Heavily Defended City
In 1972 Hanoi was considered the most heavily defended city in the world, protected by layers of air defense and the sheer massed quantity of Soviet-made supersonic surface-to-air missiles and MiG fighter aircraft. In previous air campaigns over North Vietnam – Rolling Thunder in the mid-1960s and Linebacker I in mid-1972 – the US military command had not allowed B-52s to attack Hanoi's air defenses.
The North Vietnamese used early-warning radar with a range of about 170 miles to spot incoming B-52s. The located target was handed off to fire-control radar that directed the SAMs and at about 40 miles provided more refined data on the position, altitude and speed of the arriving aircraft. Soviet-built MiG-17s, -19s and the technologically advanced -21s, strong competition for American fighters, were launched against the bombers to "pace" them and report altitude and speed to the SAM operators.
B-52s confronted the SAM threat with electronic countermeasures, such as jammers that created an "electronic cloud" over enemy radar and thus covered the aircraft's specific location. Flying in three-ship cells maximized this effect, hiding all three aircraft.
As the lead navigator, or "Nav," of our three-ship formation, I had to get those aircraft to the target within 30 seconds of our scheduled drop time in a coordinated attack with the 117 lumbering giants in the other cells.
We were coasting into Qui Nhon, South Vietnam, after a five-hour leg from Andersen and an air-to-air refueling over the Philippines, when I called out to Purinton, "Pilot, Nav, right to 3-4-0," giving our intended heading in compass degrees. The only sound in the aircraft was the comforting roar of the engines.
It was also my job to advise the crew of action points – entering the threat zone, the initial point of the bomb run and the time to target: "Crew, Nav, we're 25 minutes south of the Gulf of Tonkin, about one hour to the target." Those updates ensured that the items on the bomb-run checklists would be completed. Each crewmember performed critical tasks at designated points along the flight route. Missing one of these in hostile territory could prove fatal.
I was stationed on the windowless lower deck along with Beaudoin, a gray-haired Frenchman. As our radar navigator – "Radar" or just RN during flight – Beaudoin had to direct the rendezvous with the Boeing KC-135 air-to-air refueling tanker, prepare the bombing system, locate the precise aiming point for our target and release our 54,000 pounds of ordnance.
Trouble Over the Gulf
"Pilot, Nav, we've got a problem down here." My navigation position counters, which showed our latitude and longitude, had failed. The counters were continually updated by the radar navigator, who gets latitude and longitude figures by locating a known radar return on the ground and placing a set of electronic crosshairs on it, much like an arcade video game.
"Nav, Pilot, what's your plan?" Purinton asked.
"We have the radar. We'll go range and bearing since I can't use the counters." This meant I would have to manually identify ground returns from my 5-inch radarscope. Then I would plot their range and bearing from the aircraft on my chart in order to initiate turns and call action points.
"You want No. 2 to take over navigation for the cell?" was the pilot's logical question. I wanted to remain as the lead navigator. I was trained to work without the counters and knew I could. We were 10 minutes from hostile territory.
"No problem. I can get us to the target," I replied. We were entering unfamiliar territory, and I realized it would be a challenge to identify radar returns. Many of the ground landmarks were built of wood, which does not reflect radar. This was, in fact, a big problem.
"Rog, copy," was the pilot's only response. He understood the situation and trusted us to get the job done. For the first time, a knot formed in my stomach.
"Crew, Nav, we're over water and into the Gulf of Tonkin." This first warning of hostile territory alerted everyone to keep a sharp eye as we made our way toward the coast of North Vietnam.
"Pilot, Nav, left to 2-9-0. Crew, seven minutes to next turn. We're 60 miles from the coast. Seventeen minutes to target."
I instructed electronic warfare officer Dickens to watch for SAMs, even though I knew he was already focused on that activity: "EW, Nav, threat area at the turn."
"Crew, EW, I have launch on two: 1 o'clock and 9 o'clock. No uplink." An "uplink" meant the North Vietnamese ground radar was sending guidance signals to the missile. No uplink was good news for us. That meant it would be easier to dodge the two missiles.
"Pilot, Nav, right to 3-5-5. Crew, 20 miles from coast-in. RN let's get the checklists done."
We were 70 miles from Hanoi. "I've got a SAM!" Purinton called.
"EW has uplink."
SAMs suddenly came at us like an angry swarm of bees. We were told later that more than 200 of them were fired at the seven waves of B-52s that night. Our bombers couldn't run from them. We cruised at 450 mph; the SAM at 2,400 mph.
But no one panicked. When we realized we hadn't been hit, we instantly went back to work and got ready to unleash total destruction on the Van Dien vehicle depot, 18 miles south of Hanoi.
"Crew, guns," called tail gunner Creasser, who sat 140 feet behind the rest of us. "I have aircraft at 7 o'clock, tracking."
The tail gunner, manning four .50-caliber machine guns, each with 600 rounds of ammunition, used radar to track and target hostile aircraft. But the plane Creasser spotted this time turned out to be a friendly escort, a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II.
Our small tables on the lower deck were covered with maps, navigation plotters, checklists, stopwatches and a variety of other navigation equipment. Amid the mess, the radar navigator and I methodically kept the aircraft on time and on course for the bomb run to Hanoi.
"RN, Nav, confirm that return is Thai Binh," a city about 70 miles from Hanoi.
Beaudoin set the radar range at 100 miles, and Hanoi popped up at our 11 o'clock position, right where it should be. I stared at it for a moment wondering what was in store for us, certain that I didn't want to know the answer.
"You're right, Nav. It's Thai Binh."
"Pilot, Nav, left to 3-2-0. Crew, seven minutes to target. Radar, bomb run checklist."
The interphone chatter crescendoed as we neared the target. The co-pilot, gunner and pilot called out SAM launches and clock positions. The electronic warfare officer confirmed SAM reports and told us whether missiles had locked on to us. Beaudoin and I reported navigation points, times to target and the action points that alerted other crewmembers to the tasks they needed to perform. It was the organized chaos verbalized by a B-52 combat crew at war. Each crew member knew what needed to be done and accomplished it.
One might think fear would lurk about or even dominate the thoughts of a combat flight crew facing possible death or capture and torture. But it didn't. Perhaps the training, the necessity of getting a job done or the frenetic activity pushed such thoughts aside. I don't really know. I honestly don't remember feeling afraid. And in talking later with other crewmembers, I learned that fear had no home on that aircraft.
In six minutes our three-ship cell of B-52s was scheduled to unload 162,000 pounds of explosives on the vehicle depot, rendering it unusable to the North Vietnamese. To reach the target, we had to go through "wall-to-wall SAMs every step of the way," as one crew member said.
We started the bomb run with our three aircraft arranged in an offset triangle, separated by 1 mile of distance and 500 feet of altitude. The formation was crucial to obtain that "jamming" effect on enemy radar, which enhanced our chances of survival.
The radar navigator placed the electronic crosshairs on our aiming point for the target.
"Nav, confirm aim point," Beaudoin said.
I studied my radarscope for 10 seconds and replied, "Rog, that's it."
"Pilot, RN, center the PDI." The pilot direction indicator was a steering needle on Purinton's instrument panel tied into the bomb system. When the indicator was centered, the aircraft was aimed directly at the target.
Beaudoin and I worked our way through the checklist for releasing the bombs. The arming sequence did not start until a wire was automatically pulled from each bomb as it left the racks.
Dickens interrupted: "Crew, EW, multiple SAM launch, 12 o'clock."
"Pilots searching," co-pilot McNeill announced. Then "Bingo, have what looks like two, no, three, coming up from our 12 o'clock."
"Uplink!" replied the electronic warfare officer.
"EW, co-pilot, two tracking across."
The two missiles were moving across the pilot's line of sight and going away from us. The bad news was the third missile.
"Third one still has uplink."
"Damn, comin' straight at us," McNeill yelled the bone-chilling words.
"Crew, starting combat turns," Purinton said.
He put the aircraft into a series of steep banked turns left and right, a tactic meant to break the missile's lock on our aircraft. The turns also diminished the effectiveness of our electronic countermeasures, but the decision, with a missile headed straight for us, was easy for the pilot to make.
"EW dispensing chaff," Dickens said, referring to aluminum foil-like material ejected to fool the enemy radar and divert the missile.
In the midst of this, the radar navigator and I finished our checklist and concentrated solely on the target, just 90 seconds away.
"I'll need it straight and level at 30 seconds to go, Pilot."
This was essential so the bombing gyro would stabilize before the weapons were released. Without stability, the bombs could be tossed anywhere.
"Rog," was all Purinton had time to say. I could hear the strain in his voice. Maneuvering the steep turns was like driving a loaded cement truck with no power steering, no automatic transmission and no brakes.
"Lost uplink," called the electronic warfare officer, his voice at a lower pitch. The missile missed us and wandered upward.
"Pilot, 60 seconds to target, straight and level, center the PDI," the radar navigator calmly requested.
"Rog, straight and level, PDI centered."
"Crew, Nav, 30 seconds to target."
I counted down. "Twenty seconds to target," speaking rather calmly, I thought.
"SAM launch dead ahead," called the electronic warfare officer.
"Searching," one of the pilots said to no one in particular.
"Bingo, have it. Looks like it could hit us right between the eyes."
A SAM traveling at 2,400 mph would take about 10 more seconds to reach the aircraft. At bombs away, it would hit the aircraft.
This time we couldn't execute combat turns to get out of the way. Our aircraft was a sitting duck.
"Ten seconds. Bomb doors open."
We didn't open the doors earlier because that would have created a bigger radar target for SAMs.
"EW dispensing chaff."
"Missile still tracking visually," McNeill said.
"Crew, prepare for bailout," Purinton announced, as calmly as a bus driver announces the next street.
"At bombs away, I'm gonna bend the fuselage" – put the aircraft into an almost impossibly steep turn.
"Five seconds," from the radar navigator.
"Holy Mother..." someone pleaded. (Maybe it was me....I don't remember.)
"Bombs away," Beaudoin said.
The aircraft shuddered as all the weapons departed simultaneously. The severe turn yanked me to the right, and the ejection seat shoulder straps burned into my skin through the flight suit.
Where was it? The bailout light? Where was it? Oh yeah, look up, Paul. My mind was doing things my body couldn't comprehend. All in the flash of an instant. Nav bails out first. How can we get this far and then get blown out of the sky? Ejection D-ring, find it, find it, gotta find it... there. Keep your elbows in. Brace your back. All galloping through my mind.
Not us. Why us? Stay with me, God. Tighten your seatbelt. Already did that. A voice. There's a voice. Foggy. Not making sense. A voice....
An explosion. A brilliant flash. The airplane vibrated and rocked from side to side. The SAM detonated far enough away that there was no damage.
"Crew, Pilot, keep your eyes open. We're not out of it yet."
What did the voice mean, keep my eyes open? How could I if I was dead?
"Nav, Pilot, heading?"
Heading... Heading... Nav... yeah... that's me... must not be dead... Heading...
"Crew, Radar, bomb doors closed."
What seemed like minutes of agony flashed by so quickly that no one noticed my slight hesitation responding.
"Left 2-6-0," I heard myself say.
"Everybody OK?" Purinton polled the crew and got a positive response.
We may have avoided the SAM because of the pilot's extreme hard turn, but we also surmised that the missile missed us because it never achieved uplink. If it had, the electronic warfare officer would have detected the signals. The SAM must have been launched visually, without radar guidance from the ground, as a desperation salvo.
Later... Over the Fence
"Crew, Nav, out of the threat area," I announced. We could finally relax.
The pilot made his call to the airborne mission commander: "Over the fence with three."
As we turned south, the aircraft was silent. No interphone chatter, no activity. It was as if we had entered a different dimension – peaceful and quiet. The adrenaline left my body, and I sagged in my ejection seat. It was then that it all hit me: what we did, the danger and the magnitude of it. We were all drained.
At our debriefing we learned that two B-52s had been shot down. Two friends of mine weren't coming back. I had played golf with one of them 36 hours earlier. That made it personal. Before, it was a mission – a dangerous one –but it was a thing, a possibility, not the death of a golfing buddy you just had a pitcher of beer and a pizza with at the officers club.
Dick Purinton and I glanced at each other but never spoke of it. We couldn't do that. There were more missions to fly. "Guys, let's hit the roach coach and get a couple chili dogs," he offered. "I'll buy."
So we did... and he did... and everything was back to normal, at least until we launched again for Hanoi.
Four months after the Christmas bombings, Purinton was diagnosed with leukemia at his flight physical. He died in June 1974 – a true hero. The man's skill flying this nation's frontline strategic bomber saved my life.
Paul Novak, a decorated former B-52 navigator who teaches creative writing at an adult extension of Arizona State University in Phoenix, wrote about B-52 crews in his anthology, Into Hostile Skies.
Thanks to Rob
Donating Blood in Scotland
A wealthy Arab Sheik was admitted to hospital for heart surgery, but prior to the surgery, the doctors needed to store his type of blood in case the need arose.
As the gentleman had a rare type of blood, it couldn't be found locally, so, the call went out. Finally a Scotsman was located who had a similar blood type.
The Scot willingly donated his blood for the Arab. After the surgery, the Arab sent the Scotsman in appreciation for giving his blood, a new BMW, 5 carats of diamonds, and $50,000 dollars.
A couple of days later, once again, the Arab had to go through a corrective surgery. The hospital telephoned the Scotsman who was more than happy to donate more of his blood again.
After the second surgery, the Arab sent the Scotsman a thank-you card and a box of Black Magic chocolates.
The Scotsman was shocked that the Arab did not reciprocate his kind gesture as he had before. He phoned the Arab and asked him: "I thought you would be generous again, that you would give me another BMW, diamonds and money ... but you only gave me a thank-you card and a box of chocolates."
To this the Arab replied: "Aye laddie, but I have Scottish blood in ma veins now."