Thursday, November 7, 2019

The List 5135

The List 5135 TGB

To All,

I hope that you all had a great weekend



Today in Naval History

November 4

1923 Lt. Alford J. Williams, flying an R2C-1 equipped with a Curtiss D-12 engine, raises the world speed record to 266.59 mph at Mitchel Field, Long Island, N.Y., beating the record set by Lt. Harold J. Brow only two days before.

1955 Gioconda R. Saraneiro becomes the first appointed female captain in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps. Initially appointed a lieutenant junior grade in the WAVES during World War II in 1943, she left the Navy to teach and start a private practice. She returned to the Navy in 1949 and retired in June 1966. Capt. Saraneiro died in 1983.

1966 Eight men are killed when a flash fire erupts in a storage compartment containing paint, oil, and hydraulic fluid four decks below the hangar deck aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA 42) while the ship launches strikes from the South China Sea over North Vietnam.

1967 Landing craft from USS Navarro (APA 215) rescues 43 men from British SS Habib Marikar, which ran aground on a reef at Lincoln Island in the Tonkin Gulf.

1971 USS Nathanael Greene (SSBN 636) launches a Poseidon C-3 Missile in the first surface launch of the weapon.

Thanks to CHINFO

Executive Summary:

• Multiple outlets noted China benefitted from U.S. leadership absence during Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) annual East Asia Summit in Thailand.

• Navy Times reported on the first graduating class of warrant officers (W1) after the Navy phased out the rank in 1975.

• USS John S. McCain skipper Cmdr. Ryan Easterday stated that the destroyer performed “exceptionally well” in its first sea trials since the 2017 collision, reports Stars and Stripes.

2016 Today in History November 4


Umar of Arabia is assassinated at Medina and is succeeded as caliph by Uthman.


Christopher Columbus discovers Guadeloupe during his second expedition.


William III and Mary of England wed on William's birthday.


Following the Russian capture of Berlin, Frederick II of Prussia defeats the Austrians at the Battle of Torgau.


General Arthur St. Clair, governor of Northwest Territory, is badly defeated by a large Indian army near Fort Wayne.


Congress agrees to pay a yearly tribute to Tripoli, considering it the only way to protect U.S. shipping.


Abraham Lincoln marries Mary Todd in Springfield, Ill.


Florence Nightingale and her nurses arrive in the Crimea.


From the main Confederate Army at Chattanooga, Tennessee, Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's troops are sent northeast to besiege Knoxville.


Austria signs an armistice with the Allies.


The U.S. Postmaster General orders all homes to get mailboxes or relinquish delivery of mail.


The entrance to King Tut's tomb is discovered.


Calvin Coolidge is elected 30th president of the United States.


Nellie Tayloe Ross and Miriam Ferguson are elected first and second women governors (Wyoming and Texas).


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is established.


General Dwight D. Eisenhower is elected 34th president of the United States.


Russian troops attack Budapest, Hungary.


At the American Embassy in Teheran, Iran, 90 people, including 63 Americans, are taken hostage by militant student followers of Ayatollah Khomeini. The students demand the return of Shah Mohammad Reza Pablavi, who is undergoing medical treatment in New York City.


Ronald Reagan is elected the 40th president of the United States.


Carol Moseley Braun becomes the first African American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.


Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated at a peace rally in Tel Aviv.


Senator Barack Obama of Illinois elected 44th president of the United States, the first African American to hold that position.


Thanks to THE Bear -


November 3, 2019Bear Taylor


LEST WE FORGET… The NEW YORK TIMES, Friday, August 15, 1969… “…In five days of the new fighting, more than 300 allied soldiers–about 115 of them Americans–are reported to have been killed. Enemy losses have been put at about 2,000.”… THREE QUOTES snipped from an essay by Harold P. Ford found in the CIA Library… JCS CHAIRMAN ADMIRAL ARTHUR RADFORD in 1954: “From the point of view of the United States, with reference to the Far East as a whole, Indochina is devoid of decisive military objectives, and the allocation of more than token U.S. armed forces to the area would be a serious diversion of limited U.S. capabilities.”…. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT STRANGE McNAMARA in 1962: “To introduce white forces–U.S. forces–in large numbers there (Vietnam) today, while it might have an initial favorable military impact, it would almost certainly lead to adverse political and in the long run adverse military consequences.”… TWENTY-THREE YEARS LATER, and after taking a beating and surrendering in a twelve-year war in Southeast Asia that took the lives of 58,200 American servicemen, ROBERT McNAMARA wrote in his 1995 memoir, IN RETROSPECT: “We were wrong. Terribly wrong.”…

Humble Host enumerates the eleven lessons Mr. McNamara left behind for the education of our statesmen, military brass, congress and educators to put in practice starting in 1995 in the End Note to this post. Sadly, the lessons of the Vietnam war–the original “Endless War” (along with the unresolved Korean War of 68 years)– have meant very little to those among us who profit from “endless wars” as they sit in positions of power in our government. Who will step forward to “put an end to America’s endless wars?”…..

Good Morning. It is Monday, 4 November 2019. Humble Host remembers the fortieth week of the interdiction campaign in Southeast Asia called COMMANDO HUNT.

I. HEAD LINES FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES for 11 to 17 August 1969…

A. THE WAR… (11 August) 19 MARINES KILLED AS ENEMY STORMS TWO BASES IN DMZ… “North Vietnamese troops attacked two United States marine bases along the demilitarized zone with grenades and dynamite bombs yesterday, inflicting the heaviest losses in the area in five and a half months. Nineteen marines were killed and 80 were wounded in sharp fighting in the two camps 1,500-yards apart. Seventeen enemy bodies were found inside the perimeter of one camp partly overrun by the North Vietnamee.”… (12 Aug) FOE ATTACKS 100 CENTERS ACROSS SOUTH VIETNAM–Enemy Drive Indicated…”…attacked with mortars, rockets and charges… Saigon, Danang and Hue were among the targets. Also hit were three provincial and district capitals near the Cambodian border north of Saigon…. Evidence has been captured recently by the allies that indicates that the enemy planned a new offensive in the next month or so.”… (13 Aug) 1,450 OF FOE DEAD IN HEAVY FIGHTING, ALLIES DECLARE–U.S. and Allies Losses Are Put at 197–Action Eases Overnight… “… 1,450 North Vietnamese and Vietcong soldiers were killed during the last 24 hours in the heaviest fighting in South Vietnam in three months. The sources also said that about 90 Americans and 107 South Vietnamese were killed when enemy forces attacked 150 allied bases and towns yesterday. Five hundred Americans and 371 South Vietnamese troops were reported wounded… The action dropped off over night.”… (14 Aug) ALLIED OFFENSIVE OPENS IN VIETNAM–Troops Seeking Enemy Units That Battered Camps Early In The Week… “A wide counteroffensive has been mounted against the enemy units that shelled and assaulted more than 200 allied positions earlier this week. Casualty figures for the first three-and-a-half days of fighting are incomplete.”… FIGHTING NEAR DANANG… “Fighting raged in abandoned rice paddies 18 miles southwest of Danang yesterday…Marines killed 213 of the enemy in the last two days.”… 2,700 MORE MARINES DEPART FROM SOUTH FOR HOME… (15 Aug) ENEMY DRIVE MAY EFFECT NIXON DECISION ON PULLOUT OF TROOPS… “A White House spokesman said today that the increased level of enemy initiated fighting in South Vietnam might influence President Nixon’s decision on the possibility of a second major withdrawal of American troops later this month.”… “the spokesman, Mr. Ron Ziegler, said: ‘…needless to say, enemy initiated activity bears upon the Administration’s thinking and the President’s thinking as he, on a day to day basis, evaluates the situation in Vietnam. I could say again that of the criteria for which the decision on further troop replacements will be made in South Vietnam, which all of you are familiar, the level of enemy activity is one of those criteria.'” (The other two criteria were: The ability of the South Vietnamese to take over the burden of the fighting and progress at the paris peace talks.)… ALLIED AIDES SAY FOE’S DRIVE IS ON–Expect Campaign to Last For at Least Several Weeks… “…the campaign would consist of distinctive high and low points of activity over several weeks… In five days of the new fighting more than 300 allied soldiers–about 115 of them Americans–are reported to have been killed. Enemy losses have been put at about 2,000… By contrast 96 Americans, 225 Vietnamese and 2,214 enemy soldiers were reported to have been killed in the last seven days of the lull. The American toll was the lowest for a week in two years.”… (16 Aug) 96 VIETCONG LISTED DEAD IN BATTLES NEAR CAMBODIA… “United States troops supported by helicopter gunships killed 96 guerrillas in heavy fighting near the Cambodian border…At least one American was reported killed and 17 were listed as wounded in the fighting…One American helicopter was downed bringing to 1,259 the number of U.S. helicopters shot down over South Vietnam since January 1, 1961.”… B-52’s PRESS ATTACK NEAR CAMBODIA LINE… “American troops fought a two-hour battle with North Vietnamese units near the Cambodian border in Tayninh Province early today as B-52 bombers kept up a heavy bombardment of the area northwest of Saigon… The B-52 strike came within three miles of the morning’s fighting.”…

B. THE PARIS PEACE TALKS… (16 Aug) WORDS OF WAR… “Last Thursday (14 Aug) the peace negotiators in Paris met for the 30th time, and for the first time since the outbreak of renewed fighting in Vietnam. Each side was quick to blame the other for the intensification of the war. Henry Caboit Lodge, chief United States delegate, declared that the new Communist offensive showed that the enemy was ‘not prepared for genuine negotiations.’ And, he added, the actions on the battlefield were matched by bellicose talk at the peace table by the Communist delegates, talks he described as ‘words of war.’ The Communists replied that the new fighting showed that the Vietnamese people were exercising their ‘sacred right of self-defenses’ against ‘American aggression.'”…

C. THE REST OF The NEW YORK TIMES Head Lines… (11 Aug) APOLLO 11 ASTRONAUTS OUT OF QUARANTINE–REJOINING FAMILIES–No Moon Germs Found–Men In Good Condition… “The three Apollo 11 astronauts, pronounced free of any lunar contamination, were released from the quarantine quarters in which they had lived since they returned from their moon-landing flight last month. Neil A. Armstrong, the civilian commander, and Colonel Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. and Colonel Michael Collins of the Air Force walked out of the Lunar Receiving Laboratory here in Houston this evening.”… ISRAELIS DAMAGE KEY JORDAN CANAL–Jets Strike Despite Agreement For Restraint In Area… SECRETARY OF STATE ROGERS IS ENDING PACIFIC TOUR–He Stresses Shift In Asia Policy… “…a new policy and style of United States diplomacy in Asia and the Pacific. The policy enunciated by Mr. Rogers included a vigorous approach to obtain more conciliatory relations with Communist China, which he hopes will set the tone an accommodation when conditions become more propitious.”… (12 Aug) NIXON SPELLS OUT WELFARE PLANS–Policy Under Fire–National Council On Hunger Says End of Food Stamps Would Harm the Poor–Congress Gets The Details–President Orders Shift In Poverty Agency’s Work–Senator Nelson Critical… PEKING REPORTS ON RIVER ACCORD–Brief Account Of Pact With Soviet Omits Polemics… CZECHOSLOVAKIA PRELATES APPEAL FOR CALM–Regime Publicizes Call On Eve of Invasion Anniversary… NEGRO AND WHITE MARINES CLASH IN HAWAII–Sixteen Hurt–Also a Clash At Fort Bragg… (13 Aug) JOB TRAINING PLAN IS GIVEN BY NIXON–He Acts To Spur Enrollment In The Varous Programs Through State Offices… SOUTH CAROLINIAN HAYNESWORTH SEEN IN LINE FOR SUPREME COURT–Federal Judge Said To Be Considered… MOON CREW SAYS MISSION CAN LEAD TO GOOD ON EARTH–Astronauts At News Parley Suggest Landing Shows Way To Solve Problems… AUTOPSY IS ASKED ON MISS KOPECHNE–Prosecutor Wants Exhumation For Kennedy Inquest–Senator Kennedy Statement Challenged… (14 Aug) SOVIET AND CHINA FIGHT NEW BATTLES IN CENTRAL ASIA–Outbreak Appears The Most Serious Since Clashes On Ussuri River In March–Protests Are Traded–Each Charges Intrusion And Says The Other Fired First–2 Chinese Captured… SURGING CROWDS FILL THE STREETS OF NEW YORK TO WELCOME THE APOLLO 11 ASTRONAUTS–Nixon Is Host In Los Angles At a State Dinner For Three Men–From Coast-To-Coast A joyous Welcome For Astronauts… DUBLIN URGES U.N. TO ACT IN ULSTER–Seeks Peace Force In Riots–London Rebuffs Plea… ISRAELI JETS RAID JORDAN AND EGYPT– Air Strikes Follow Artillery And Mortar Exchanges… McGOVERN CONSIDERS 1972 RACE–Convinced Kennedy Won’t Run… (15 Aug) BRITISH AIRLIFTING TROOPS TO ULSTER–Four Die In Riots–600 Will Join Compatriots Who Helped To Restore Quiet In Londonderry– Slum Area Sealed Off–Rioting Out of Control There For 48 Hours When Belfast Requested Intervention… PRAGUE MOBILIZES ARMY AND MILITIA–Forces To Assist Police On Invasion Anniversary... U.S. ASKS CAUTION BY U.N. IN MIDEAST–Urges Security Council Avoid Haste In Apportioning Blame… LE JUENE COMMANDANT WORRIED OVER GROWING RACIAL TENSION AT BASE… (16 Aug) U.S.-THAI ACCORD ON TROOPS ALLOWS LAOS OPERATIONS–Provisions of 1965 Pact For Use Of American Forces Are Also Discussed… 200,000 THRONGING TO ROCK FESTIVAL–Jam Roads in Upstate New York (WOODSTOCK)… DESTROYER EVANS BLAMED IN COLLISION AT SEA–But U.S.-Australian Board Says Aussie Carrier Signals Added Confusion… MARINE CHIEF VOWS TO END RACIAL RIFT… DUBLIN CALLS UP RESERVES AS A PEACEKEEPING FORCE–British Soldiers In Belfast Move Against Rioters–Death Toll Rises To 6... RED CHINA CHARGES SOVIET IS MOBILIZING–Warns Its People Again Of War… AUTOPSY HEARING SET IN SENATOR KENNEDY CASE… (17 Aug) SHOTS AND FIRES PLAGUE BELFAST FOR THIRD NIGHT–Two More Catholics Die–Blaze Engulfs Textile Mill and Plastics Factory–But Capital Is Quiet–British Troops On Patrol… 300,000 CAMP OUT IN SEA OF MUD AT FOLK-ROCK FAIR AT WOODSTOCK… CONGRESS BALKS AT DRAFT REFORM–Movement At Impasse As Summer Recess Begins… A JUBILANT HOUSTON PARADE HONORS THE APOLLO 11 ASTRONAUTS–Finale Of Celebrations In Nation…

II. COMMANDO HUNT II (APRIL-NOVEMBER 1969) The following is clipped from the on-line diary of 1LT SMOKEY GREENE, USAF, RAVEN 42… The Ravens worked Northern Laos but this clip from a day in the life of a FAC in the north is close akin that of thier brothers in the COMMANDO HUNT area of southern Laos. This is from 1LT GREENE”S “A RAVEN CHRONICLE: TALES FROM NEVERLAND”… (Long Tieng, July 1969-February 1970)… I quote 1LT GREENE…

“Good Times August-October 1969…

“Despite not keeping a journal I could construct a rough framework of my flying activities each month of my tour by comparing the computer printouts from AF flight records with my BDA book entries.

“Day-to-Day Flight Ops…

“I can’t recall if there was a formal flying schedule posted assigning pilots to tail numbers and takeoff times. There no doubt was… takeoffs were staggered about 45 minutes and provided between two and four Ravens airborne depending on level of activity…Certainly after the first wave it was a bit of a free-for-all and we were wherever the action was and stayed on station as long as needed. From time to time there were defined air-ground operations with actual typed out FRAGs (fragmentary orders) listing fighters and TOTs (Time on Target), but most of the time we seemed to be kind of on our own to grab an airplane for the day and go out and patrol our area–check in with ground troops and look for targets under workable weather. My BDA book indicates a pattern of working in a particular place for a day or two, then moving on. When the ground troops had no close targets we conducted VR (visual recce) along the main routes for enemy troop movements and supply convoys–occasionally hitting the jackpot. During the first month or two of my tour the ground situation was relatively benign. Good spring/summer weather enabled a lot of accurate bombing of enemy positions so the friendly forces were preparing for a seasonal offensive. We would soon have friendly troops on the Plain De Jars and the various hilltops to the north and east of the PDJ would be manned with troops to observe and obstruct enemy forces attempting to approach on the main roads from Vietnam through Ban Ban Valley.

“Other sources cover the strategy and major shifts in battle lines over the pivotal year of 1969 in much more authoritative detail than I can since I was a bit player in this drama, but my overall impression was that our summer offensive (About Face) was very successful, but the territorial gains could not be sustained against the influx of determined regular North Vietnamese reinforcements and reduced U.S. air power effectiveness as the fall and winter weather moved in. I saw by my BDA book that my strikes followed a general geographical pattern beginning in the PDJ area in August and September, then reaching further north and east in November, then returning back toward the PDJ in December and January.

“Ravens got airborne with a basic plan–usually to make the rounds of the sites to see how they fared overnight. This became critical after November when all sites were under increasing enemy pressure. Three or four Ravens would typically be flying around talking to FAGs at the various sites and looking for good targets and airstrike weather. We would share this information with each other on our discrete frequency or we would hear other Ravens talking to Cricket (Airborne Battlefield Coordination, Command and Control) and know who was where and what action they had going on. This allowed us to self-coordinate and cover the area efficiently. If the weather was dodgy we also monitored and position-reported on Air America VHF common frequency to minimize potential for midair collision with the many fixed-wings and helicopters flying between sites–often in the clouds. So there was a lot of radio chatter if all three of our radios were in use. Even if we could not provide fighter support, we tried to cover the area calling in to obtain situation reports and provide encouragement to the guys on the ground manning the remote sites.”

To Be Continued in next post…

III. AIRCRAFT LOSSES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA: 11-17 AUGUST 1969… References include Chris Hobson’s updated VIETNAM AIR LOSSES available on line at … During the week ending 17 August six fixed wing aircraft were lost and three valiant aviators perished in battle…

(1) On 12 August an F-8J of the VF-53 Iron Angels embarked in USS Bon Homme Richard piloted by LT D. MANLOVE was lost on a BARCAP over the Gulf of Tonkin when the Crusader’s engine failed. LT MANLOVE ejected safely and was recovered to fly and fight again…

(2) On 13 August an A-4E Skyhawk of the VA-144 Road Runners embarked in USS Bonnie Dick had insufficient speed off the catapult and stalled causing the pilot to eject. He was recovered safely by the carrier based helo. A discussion with the catapult officer followed… I suspect…

(3) On 14 August an O-1G Bird Dog FAC of the 22nd TASS and 504th TASG out of Binh Thuy piloted by CAPTAIN KENNETH J. HAMRICK was shot down 40 miles southwest of Saigon while supporting the 5th Special Forces. CAPTAIN HAMRICK was killed in the crash of the aircraft. His body was recovered and returned to his homeland for burial at Mountain View Cemetery, Marlinton, West Virginia.

(4) On 14 August a U-10D Psywar Aircraft of the 5th SOS and 14th SOW out of Nha Trang and operating out of Bien Hoa, piloted by 1LT ROGER DAVID BROWN, was downed by ground fire on a night ferry flight. 1LT BROWN attempted to make an emergency landing at Bien Hoa but the aircraft crashed killing the young solo pilot… 1LT BROWN rests in peace at Arlington National Cemetery with the nation’s Heroes.

(5) On 15 August an A-4F Skyhawk of the VA-195 Dambusters embarked in USS Oriskany blew a main mount tire on the catapult shot. On recovery the main landing gear collapsed and strike damage to the aircraft resulted. The pilot survived…

(6) On 15 August an F-100D Super Sabre of the 531st TFS and 3rd TFW out of Bien Hoa piloted by CAPTAIN HUMBERTO ROBLES HERNANDEZ crashed on takeoff after assuming an abnormally nose-high attitude leading to a stall and crash. CAPTAIN HERNANDEZ attempted an ejection but his parachute was a streamer and he died in his ejection seat as it crashed into the runway. CAPTAIN HERNANDEZ is buried at City of Mesa Cemetery, Mesa, Arizona…

IV. HUMBLE HOST END NOTE… Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara came clean in his biography IN RETROSPECT, written in 1995, with his admission: “We were wrong, terribly wrong.”… He left behind a set of lessons for the education (to be learned from history) of those who follow… Humble Host quotes the abbreviated form of eleven of those lessons that Harold P. Ford of the National Intelligence Council enumerates in his CIA essay–read at:

Ford writes: “McNamara’s greatest tribute to CIA, if indirectly, are the lessons of Vietnam he draws at the end of In Retrospect. Many of the 11 lessons he enumerates echo certain cautions that for a long time CIA (and other US intelligence) officers tried unsuccessfully to get through to him and his colleagues.”… In abbreviated form here, the lessons for the United States he lists are:

We misjudged the geopolitical intentions of the Viet Cong, the DRV, China, and the USSR, and exaggerated the dangers to the US of their actions.

We viewed the people and and leaders of South Vietnam in our own experience.

We underestimated the power of nationalism to motivate a people to fight and die for their beliefs and values.

We were profoundly ignorant of the history, culture, and politics of the people of the area.

We failed to recognize the limitations of modern, high-tech military equipment, forces and doctrine.

We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank discussion and debate on the pros and cons of becoming involved in large-scale military engagement in Southeast Asia.

We did not explain fully what was happening and why we were doing what we did. We failed to maintain national unity.

We failed to recognize that neither our people nor our leaders are omniscient. We do not have the God-given right to shape every nation in our own image or as we choose.

We erred in taking unilateral military action not supported by multinational forces and the international community.

We failed to recognize that in international affairs there may be problems for which there are no immediate solutions.

We failed to organize the top echelons of the executive branch to deal effectively with the extraordinarily complex range of issues at hand.

In addition to these eleven lessons, Mr. Ford offers nine lessons from the CIA experience in Vietnam for those who specialize in intelligence as professionals…Please refer to the citation above for the full range of his comments. Two suit this post. In one, the analyst suggests: “There was no substitute for being immersed in the history, politics, and society of a region, in this case Indochina. The best analytic records were generally registered by those officers who had considerable such exposure.”… The second is his stinger: “In sum, at least in the view of the author, the essence of Mr. McNamara’s Vietnam policymaking and of America’s fate in that war was captured years ago by a former West Pointer and former CIA Veteran Chief of Station, Peer DeSilva: ‘(McNamara) simply had no comprehension of how the war should be handled….Fundementally we lost because we were arrogant, prideful, and dumb.'”…

History is the teacher. Many of the lessons from the Vietnam war have been identified here. Not lessons learned. My any measure these lessons remain ignored and unlearned fifty years later… Our nation remains “arrogant, prideful, and dumb.”…

Lest we forget… Bear


Rolling Thunder: After More Than 25 Years, Closure at Last

November 4, 2019

August 19, 1969
Body not recovered
Robert Norman Smith
MAG-11, 1ST MAW, III MAF (Flying VMFA 542 F4B with Capt Flanigan)
United States Marine Corps
Trucksville, Pennsylvania
September 20, 1926 to March 05, 1979
(Incident Date August 19, 1969)
ROBERT N SMITH is on the Wall at Panel 19W Line 074
Body not recovered Hostile, died while missing
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Memorial Section I

SYNOPSIS: On August 19, 1969, Lt.Col. Robert N. Smith, pilot, and Capt. John N.
Flanigan, radar intercept officer, departed Da Nang in their F4B Phantom
fighter/bomber jet aircraft to fly escort on a photo reconnaissance mission
just north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

Smith's aircraft made one run over the target, and then he and the other
aircraft separated and were supposed to rendezvous for a second run. Smith
never returned for the second run, and contact was never established with Smith
or his backseater.

It was never determined whether Smith's aircraft was shot down or crashed
because of a malfunction. However, the area in which they were last seen, about
5 miles east of the city of Vinh Linh in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam,
was relatively heavily defended. The U.S. believes there is a high degree of
probability that the enemy knew what happened to Smith and Flanigan.

Smith and Flanigan were not among the prisoners of war that were released in
1973. High ranking U.S. officials admit their dismay that "hundreds" of
suspected American prisoners of war did not return.

Alarmingly, evidence continues to mount that Americans were left as prisoners
in Southeast Asia and continue to be held today. Unlike "MIAs" from other wars,
most of the nearly 2500 men and women who remain missing in Southeast Asia can
be accounted for. Smith and Flanigan could be among them. Isn't it time we
brought our men home?

In 1993 and 1995, joint U.S. and Vietnamese teams investigated and excavated
a crash site in Hai Phong Province. Local villagers reported that remains
had previously recovered and turned over to higher authorities. They also
turned over bone fragments found near the crash site.
On August 19, 1969, Flanigan and his pilot were flying an F-4B as escort for
a photo recon mission over North Vietnam. They lost contact with other
aircraft in their flight, and never made it back to their base at Danang,
South Vietnam. In 1989, the Vietnamese gov. repatriated remains believed to
be those of Flanigan. Four subsequent joint US and Vietnamese
investigations were able to locate their crash site in Quang Binh Province.
The site was excavated in 1995 where aircraft wreckage, aircrew related
items, and personnel effects were located, but NO human remains were found.
The remains of Flanigan turned over by the Vietnamese were positively
identified and Mitochondrial DNA testing was used to confirm the

A story of a downed pilot, his daughter and the ring that brought peace of mind.

Robin Smith’s father disappeared in Vietnam during the summer of 1969, and his daughter went to look for him—26 years after Lt. Col. Robert N. Smith, a Marine pilot, dropped from the sky north of the Demilitarized Zone. Robin Smith did not find his remains, but a few months later she learned that an official dig at the crash site found something that would give her more than just memories to hold on to: his Naval Academy ring.

Smith told her story at the National POW/MIA Recognition Day, Sept. 20, 2013 (coincidentally the birthday of her father, born in 1926). At that event, she was presented with another memento from the colonel’s life: a “Naval Aviator Certificate” issued in 1952 to Robert N. Smith. The certificate, which the family had lost years earlier, was found at a hotel in Livonia, Mich., by a truck driver from the Chicago area.

The trucker contacted the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Elgin, Ill., to see if the VFW could return the certificate to the pilot’s family. The Elgin post then contacted Marine officials at the Pentagon and in Quantico, Va. The Marines got in touch with Robin Smith.

She spoke briefly about the search for her father at the POW/MIA ceremony and earlier had provided a more detailed account on the website of photographer Dick Swanson, who covered the war for Life magazine.

Robert Smith, in an F-4B Phantom with Radar Intercept Officer Captain John Flanigan, was last seen escorting a photo reconnaissance plane on Aug. 19, 1969, at about noon. Marines told his family in Athens, Ohio, that he had been reported missing in action. They didn’t offer many specifics, recalled Robin Smith, who was a freshman at Ohio University then. The family assumed he was shot down but prayed he was still alive, perhaps as a POW—a hope dashed when Smith did not walk out with the prisoners released at the war’s end in 1973.

It seemed likely that Colonel Smith was dead, but no one could be sure. A family in limbo longed for proof that would provide closure.

About 20 years later, the Vietnamese gave American officials in Hanoi a skull and part of an arm bone tagged as the remains of Captain Flanigan. Based on that information, teams of American and Vietnamese investigators traveled several times to a remote village in the central part of the country. People in the village, Phu Thuy, said they saw the Phantom shot down and one man eject from the plane.

The parachuter was Flanigan, who landed in a tree and died from his wounds a few hours later. He was buried along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The day after the Phantom went down, villagers found the destroyed plane in the jungle. They noticed an odor that smelled like burning flesh and figured the pilot died in the crash.

The investigators’ findings reached the Smith family in 1992. Robin Smith decided to go to Phu Thuy and talk with the villagers herself—and to document the journey on film. Smith’s husband, CBS News correspondent Bill Plante, and a CBS crew went with her.

The group arrived in Hanoi on April 2, 1995. During their two weeks in Vietnam, they toured the infamous Hanoi Hilton, the prison Robin Smith once saw not as a torture chamber but as a place where her father might be found alive.

In Phu Thuy, Smith and the CBS crew searched for villagers who would know exactly what occurred in 1969. One day they went to the site where Flanigan had been buried, and the next day a former North Vietnamese soldier took them on a nearly three-hour walk through the jungle to the crash site, where he and other militiamen had looked for the second crewman decades ago. When Smith arrived at the site, she saw that chunks of the plane had been carried off, but pieces of flight-suit fabric, leather and life vest material were still visible. She could now go home knowing where her father died.

About three months later, back in the United States, Smith got a call from an American in Hanoi. A team of Americans and Vietnamese had been doing an official dig of the Phantom’s crash site, looking for any evidence that could conclusively prove Robert Smith had died there.

The diggers had found a ring. Engraved on it was “Annapolis, class of ’48” and a name: Robert Norman Smith.

Robin Smith told the crowd at the POW/MIA Recognition Day that the ring is “a sacrament to my family” and added: “This is why all those efforts to dig those crash sites, to find that information, to give families closure means so much.”


Thanks to Mud

The Battle of Midway 1942: Told from the Japanese Perspective

The movie is to be released on next Friday. It has gotten great reviews. Many already know the entire story, but for perhaps those who've forgotten most of it and those too young to be familiar, this will be a reminder of USA's all time greatest naval victory. I'd forgotten how many aircraft and crews we'd sacrificed to win this battle. Before Midway it was all Japanese victory in the Pacific. Afterwards they were always on the defense.

This video is presented from the Japanese standpoint. As I recall, we had broken a Japanese code, knew of the Japanese strategy, and ambushed them at Midway. I'm sorry this was not herein mentioned, but of course the Japanese did not know this.

You might enjoy watching this full screen before seeing the film which is said to be quite accurate.

The Battle of Midway 1942: Told from the Japanese Perspective (1/2) - YouTube


Thanks to Rob

Interesting re: al-Baghdadi

Radical Islamic terror leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of the barbaric Islamic State, was taken down thanks to a Kurdish spy, a secret blood test… and a dirty pair of underwear.

According to NBC News, a pair of soiled underwear was part of the evidence provided to U.S. forces to prove al-Baghdadi’s location.

The underwear was smuggled out of the ISIS compound by a Kurdish informant, who also provided key details on the Islamic terror leader’s hideout.

President Donald Trump watched the raid in real-time via a video link as U.S. soldiers blasted into the hideout and sent the most-wanted militant running for his life like a coward. He died by committing suicide while cowering behind children.

The daring raid was the culmination of years of steady intelligence-gathering work — and 48 hours of hurry-up planning once Washington got word that al-Baghdadi would be at a compound in northwestern Syria. In the end, al-Baghdadi faced American justice thanks to the steel nerve of pro-U.S. spies, the courage of American troops… and some sweaty underwear.

The night unfolded with methodical precision and unexpected turns. This reconstruction is based on the first-blush accounts of Trump and other administration officials eager to share the details of how the U.S. snared its top target, as well observations from startled villagers who had no idea al-Baghdadi was in their midst.

Events developed quickly once the White House learned on Thursday there was “a high probability” that al-Baghdadi would be at an Idlib province compound.

By Friday, Trump had military options on his desk.

By Saturday morning, the administration, at last, had “actionable intelligence” it could exploit.

There was no hint of that interior drama as Trump headed to Camp David on Friday night to celebrate the 10th wedding anniversary of daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Then he was off to Virginia on a brisk fall Saturday for a round at one of his golf courses.

He teed off with Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, in town for the World Series, and Sens. Lindsey Graham and David Perdue.

Trump got back to the White House at 4:18 p.m. By 5 p.m., he was in a suit in the Situation Room in the basement of the West Wing to monitor the raid. One official said they monitored the operation with real-time imagery.

They named it after Kayla Mueller, an American humanitarian worker that was kidnapped, raped, and killed by al-Baghdadi.

Moments after the White House team had gathered, U.S. aircraft, mostly twin-rotor CH-47 helicopters, took off from Al-Asad air base in western Iraq.

Within hours, al-Baghdadi was dead.

The first inkling that something was afoot came when villagers saw helicopters swooping low.

“We went out in the balcony to see and they started shooting, with automatic rifles. So we went inside and hid,” said an unidentified villager. Next came a large explosion — Trump said soldiers blasted a hole in the side of a building because they feared the entrance might have been booby-trapped.. Al-Baghdadi fled into a network of underground bunkers and tunnels that snaked through the compound.

The Islamic terror leader wore a suicide vest and dragged along three children as he fled “crying and whimpering and screaming” from the American troops.

Trump, happy to play up the drama, said that as U.S. troops and their dogs closed in, the Islamic terrorist died like a coward.

“He reached the end of the tunnel, as our dogs chased him down,” Trump said. “He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children.”

Al-Baghdadi’s body was mutilated in the blast, and the tunnel caved in on him. To get to his corpse, troops had to dig through debris.

“There wasn’t much left,” Trump said, “but there are still substantial pieces that they brought back.”

That’s when the military raid turned into a forensics operation — and the special forces had come prepared.

They had brought along samples of al-Baghdadi’s DNA.

The soldiers who conducted the raid thought the man who fled looked like al-Baghdadi, but that wasn’t enough. Various accounts had heralded his death in the past, only for him to surface yet again.

This time there could be no doubt.

Lab technicians conducted an onsite DNA test to make sure and within 15 minutes of his death, positively identified the target.

“It was him,” Trump said.

Al-Baghdadi’s body wasn’t all they retrieved.

Trump said U.S. troops remained in the compound for about two hours after al-Baghdadi’s death and recovered highly sensitive material about the Islamic State group, including information about its future plans.

After the American troops left, U.S. fighter jets fired six rockets at the house, leveling it.

All thanks to a pair of dirty undies.

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