Wednesday, November 13, 2019

TheList 5142

The List 5142 TGB

To All,

I hope that your week has started well.



This Day in Naval History

Nov. 12

1912—Lt. Theodore Ellyson makes the first successful launch of an airplane (A-3) by catapult at the Washington Navy Yard.

1940—Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Harold R. Stark, submits the memorandum to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox with four war plans if the United States enters World War II. Stark recommends the fourth war plan, "Plan Dog," calling for a strong offensive in the Atlantic and defense in the Pacific.

1942—The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal begins with Japanese air attacks on U.S. ships bringing reinforcements to the embattled island. Over the next four days, Japan loses the battleships Hiei and Kirishima, heavy cruiser Kinugasa, three destroyers and many valuable transports. Two U.S. light cruisers, Atlanta and Juneau, and seven destroyers are sunk. Japan's losses weaken their ability to strengthen their garrison on Guadalcanal, enabling the U.S. to shift from the defensive to the offensive in this campaign.

1942—Lt. Cmdr. Bruce McCandless displays superb initiative by assuming command of the USS San Francisco (CA 38) during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal after all other personnel on the navigating and signal bridges were rendered unconscious, killed, or wounded. McCandless boldly continues to engage the enemy, leading the San Francisco to victory. He is later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

1943—President Franklin D. Roosevelt embarks on USS Iowa (BB 61) to attend the Allied conferences at Tehran, Iran, and Cairo.

1943—PB4Y-1 (VB-103) sinks German submarine U-508 in the Bay of Biscay. Prior to this, U-508 sank 14 Allied vessels, including the American merchant SS Nathaniel Hawthorne Nov. 7, 1942.

Thanks to CHINFO

Executive Summary:

• CNO Adm. Mike Gilday discussed the meaning of Veterans Day and the importance of the Navy's mission in a CNN op-ed.

• According to the IAEA, Iran has carried out its threat to enrich uranium at its Fordow nuclear site, multiple outlets report.

• The New York Times reports that the submarine USS Grayback was discovered off the coast of Okinawa by the Lost 52 Project 75 years after being lost.

Today in History November 12


King Canute of Norway dies.


Suspicious of the intentions of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales, English King Edward I resolves to invade Wales.


The first flying-trapeze circus act is performed by Jules Leotard at the Circus Napoleon.


Confederate General James Longstreet arrives at Loudon, Tennessee, to assist the attack on Union General Ambrose Burnside's troops at Knoxville.


Mount Vesuvius erupts.


The Lebaudy brothers of France set an air-travel distance record of 34 miles in a dirigible.


Adolf Hitler is arrested for his attempted German coup.


Canada is admitted to the League of Nations.


The ocean liner Vestris sinks off the Virginia cape with 328 aboard, killing 111.


Mexico agrees to compensate the United States for land seizures.


Madame Lillian Evanti and Mary Cardwell Dawson establish the National Negro Opera Company.


U.S. fighters wipe out a Japanese convoy near Leyte, consisting of six destroyers, four transports and 8,000 troops.


The German battleship Tirpitz is sunk in a Norwegian fjord.


Hikedi Tojo, Japanese prime minister, and seven others are sentenced to hang by an international tribunal.


The U.S. Eighth Army in Korea is ordered to cease offensive operations and begin an active defense.


The satellite Discoverer XVII is launched into orbit from California's Vandenberg AFB.


The U.S. Supreme Court voids an Arkansas law banning the teaching of evolution in public schools.


President Richard Nixon announces the withdrawal of about 45,000 U.S. troops from Vietnam by February.


Boris Yeltsin is fired as head of Moscow's Communist Party for criticizing the slow pace of reform.


Crown Prince Akihito is formally installed as Emperor Akihito of Japan.


Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, publishes a formal proposal for the creation of the World Wide Web.


A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747 collides with a Kazakh Illyushin II-76 cargo plane near New Delhi, killing 349. It is the deadliest mid-air collision to date (2013) and third-deadliest aircraft accident.


Ramzi Yousef convicted of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.


The first Italians to die in the Iraq War are among 23 fatalities from a suicide bomb attack on an Italian police base in Nasiriya, iraq.


Shanghai Transrapid sets a new world speed record (311 mph or 501 kph) for commercial railway systems


Thanks to THE Bear


November 10, 2019Bear Taylor


Happy 244th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps… (See Humble Host Stinger)…

LEST WE FORGET… The NEW YORK TIMES, Friday, 22 August 1969… "U.S. BATTLE DEATHS RISE TO 244–Highest for a Week in Two Months… The sharp upsurge in fighting in South Vietnam last week left 244 Americans dead, the highest weekly toll of battlefield deaths in almost two months."… Quoted from an unknown source: "Poor is the country that has no heroes, but beggared is that people who, having them, forgets"…

Good Morning. It is 11 November 2019 and a day for the nation's Veterans. Humble Host also remembers WEEK FORTY-ONE of the campaign to throttle down North Vietnamese vehicular traffic on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos during the Vietnam war. It was called OPERATION COMMANDO HUNT…

I. HEADLINES FROM The NEW YORK TIMES for 18 through 24 August 1969…

A. U.S. AND WORLD NEWS… (18 August) HURRICANE CAMILLE STUNS MISSISSIPPI COAST AS 200,000 FLEE–Gulfport Area Hit By Winds of 150-MPH–Refugees Jam Shelters–Tides Flood Highways–Food and Water Run Short–Power Fails and Heavy Damage Is Predicted… BELFAST REJECTS A COALITION ROLE–Criticizes Dublin–Reforms In Civil Rights For Catholics Will Proceed– U.S. COPTER CARRYING 3 DOWNED IN NORTH KOREA–U.S. Says Pilot Radioed He Was Disoriented On Training Flight… (19 Aug) HURRICANE CAMILLE DEAD AT 101–TOLL MAY GROW–Thousands Left Homeless In 3 States Along Coast–Fires Out Of Control–Nixon Aids Mississippi–Storm Heads Northwest… C.E. HAYNESWORTH NAMED TO SUPREME COURT BY NIXON–U.S. Appelate Judge Chosen For Vacancy Created By Resignation Of Abe Fortas–Senate Approval Seen… NORTH KOREA SAYS WAR CAN ERUPT AT ANY TIME–Senior Military Official Tells French Visitor of Danger of Conflict With U.S…. KOREA REDS DELAY PARLEY ON U.S. COPTER— Reject U.N. Commands Bid For Truce Unit Talks Today...I.R.A. REPORTS UNITS IN ACTION IN ULSTER… (20 Aug) STORM TOLL 170–A LUXURY PROJECT YIELDS 23 BODIES–Limited Martial Law Set By Mississippi Governor–Fear For More Deaths… BRITISH TAKE OVER ULSTER'S SECURITY–Also Pledge Discrimination Against Catholic Minority Will End…POLICE IN PRAGUE BREAKUP A RALLY ASSAULTING THE SOVIET–Unrests Starts After Husak Warns Against Disorders On Anniversary of Soviet Invasion–Tear Gas Fills Square–Young Demonstrators Yell 'Gestapo' as Many of Them Are Beaten In Schuffle… A YEAR LATER CZECHS FIND MANY OF GAINS GONE–Economy Slips While Infighting Occupies Party Leaders… (21 Aug) MISSISSIPPI FACES EPIDEMIC AFTER HURRICANE–Governor Says Death Toll Is 200-Plus–Guardsmen Ordered to Halt Looters–Remnants of CAMILLE Cause Severe Flooding In Virginia Mountains Killing 30… CZECH ARMY STOPS ANTI-SOVIET RIOTS MARKING ANNIVERSARY OF INVASION–Police and Soldiers Battle Protesters In Prague–Firing Erupts Briefly… SOVIETS DEPLOYING BIG FLEET ABROAD–Pentagon Reports Record Of 125 Ships Deployed… (22 Aug) PROTEST IN PRAGUE SUPPRESSED ANEW–Soviet Tanks Enter City–Tear Gas Is Used Again–Transit System and Stores Boycotted as 'Symbol of Mourning'… U.S. ARMED FORCES CUT 100,000 BY LAIRD–Budget Trimmed–Secretary Sees The Nixon 'Readiness Weakened $1.5-Billion Slashed–Congress Drive Cited: Pressure Against Spending And U.S. Economic Need Called Reason For Move… (23 Aug) U.S. AND THAILAND AGREE TO TALK TROOP REDUCTIONS–Bangkok Reporting Pressure For Talks Out Of Pique Over Dispute On Full Aid Plan ("Quid pro quo"???)… 76 sHIPS RETIRED BY NAVY CUTBACK–Toll To Reach 11 In Year–Manpower Reduction Is Placed At72,000... (24 Aug) PRESIDENT DEFERS A DECISION ON A CUT IN VIETNAM FORCE–White House Says Fighting Initiated By Enemy Is Cause For Delay–Peace Talks A Factor… PREMIER IN SAIGON RESIGNS TO ALLOW A BROADENED REGIME–Weeks of Maneuvering End–Victory For Thieu Seen In Humong's Departure… VIRGINIA FLOODS RECEDE–Death Toll May Be 100… PROTESTANT FORCE IN ULSTER CURBED–British Gesture To Catholics Involves Calling In Arms… U.S. OFFICIALS SAY BIG RIOTS IN COUNTRY ARE OVER–Large City Negro Leaders Now Oppose Violence–But Racial Tensions Remain…

B. THE WAR IN VIETNAM… (19 Aug) AMERICANS CLASH TWICE WITH STRONG NORTH VIETNAMESE FORCE NEAR DANANG… Heavy fighting broke out yesterday near the South China Sea south of Danang. Soldiers of the Americal Division clashed twice with strong North Vietnamese forces…143 enemy soldiersw were killed and American casualties were 13 wounded and 45 injured… The second enggement began shortly after noon…and went on into the night. That action centered three miles north of the first clash and enemy causalties were listed at 91 enemy killed while 9 Americans died and 27 were wounded… Elsewhere, the United States command, wary of a reported enemy plan to commemorate Vietnam's uprising against the French with battlefield victories, sent 11 waves of B-52s to bomb enemy positions in a border province between Cambodia and Saigon…where an estimated 12,000 North Vietnamese soldiers swere operating."… Yesterday was the 24th anniversary of the start of the Vietnamese revolt against the French in 1945."… (20 Aug) G.I.'S REINFORCED IN BITTER BATTLE–600 Go To Aid Two Units In Clash Near Danang… (21 Aug) FIGHTING FLARES NEAR DANANG–Four Day Enemy Death Toll Put At 218… American casualties were put at 16 killed and 66 wounded."… (22 Aug) ENEMY IS BEING SOUGHT… "The effort to find the enemy is being pushed particularly hard at present. Almost every plane, helicopter and foot soldier available is on the go trying to forestall attacks that captured documents and prisoners say are planned. Allied commanders insist that this tactic does not constitute an effort to win the war, as W. Averrel Harriman, the former chief of the United Sates delegation at the Paris peace talks, charged this week. The commanders maintain that they are practicing nothing more than 'protective reaction.' They conceded, however, that battlefield tactics have changed over the last several months. The changes, they say, enabled Secretary of State William D. Rogers to report that the recent battlefield lull was partly because United States troops had eased pressure on the enemy. The commanders are reluctant to discuss the precise nature of the changes. However, field operations indicate that the allies are using more air and artillery strikes and fewer troops. The results have included a drop in the number of men killed on both sides. Planes and shells cannot substitute for infantry. Allied generals say they developed the new firepower tactic after they were ordered to conserve the lives of men in every reasonable manner. A High Commander: 'My orders on finding and fixing and destroying the enemy have not changed. I'm doing basically the same things today that I was doing several months ago. But I'm using as much firepower as possible to save G.I. lives.'"… BATTLE CONTINUES NEAR DANANG… "North Vietnamese troops clung to their bunker positions south of Danang early today despite a pounding by United States artillery, napalm and the fire of American infantrymen…. Reports from the battlefield 31 miles south of Danang said that 1,000 to 1,500 troops, identified as North Vietnamese regulars, appeared to be determined to make a stand against more than 1,200 allied troops…more than 400 enemy troops had been killed since tthe battle began Sunday. They gave United States casualties as at least 27 killed and 150 wounded."… U.S. BATTLE DEATHS RISE TO 244–Highest For One Week In 2-Months… "… 477 South Vietnamese and 3,798 enemy soldiers were killed during the week ending 17 August."… (23 Aug) BATTLE NEAR DANANG RAGES INTO SIXTH DAY… "…From miles of interlocking bunkers about 30 miles south of the city, enemy troops are holding back United States infantrymen despite a pounding by artillery and waves of fighter-bombers… (24 Aug) U.S. SOLDIERS NEAR DANANG REACH DOWNED COPTER AFTER CAPTURING HILL–Find 6 Bodies After Seizing Hill South of Danang… "American infantrymen reached a downed United States command helicopter early today and reported that they had found six bodies in the initail search of the wreckage… the dead included Associated Press photographer Oliver Noonan… More than 500 enemy troops were killed in fighting that began last Sunday…American losses have been estimated at 35 to 40 killed and more than 160 wounded."…

B. PEACE TALKS IN PARIS… (22 Aug) U.S. IN PARIS BIDS FOE PULL BACK TOO–Insists Again On Response To Withdrawal Initiatives–Demand Is Rebuffed by North Vietnam… "The United States delegation insisted more strongly than ever today in Paris that North Vietnam must respond to United States troop withdrawals with troop withdrawals of their own. ' We will not agree to unilateral allied withdrawal; Philip C. Habib, the acting head of the United States delegation, declared at the 31st plenary session of the Vietnam peace talks. 'The withdrawal of our forces must be linked to the withdrawal of North Vietnamese forces.' Mr. Habib's forceful language failed to move either delegation representing North Vietnam or the one speaking for the provisional government of South Vietnam, the governmental structure established by the National Liberation Front, or Vietcong."… (24 Aug) THIEU PICKS KHIEM, A CLOSE ASSOCIATE, AS SAIGON PREMIER–Selection Of General Implies President Is Not Ready To Change Policies…

II. COMMANDO HUNT II (April-November 1969) The following is clipped from the on-line diary of 1LT 'SMOKEY' GREENE, USAF, RAVEN 42 and continues his tales from his FAC experience in Laos in the Fall of 1969… I quote:

LANDING SITE-46 (Edward M. Kennedy International)

"When we had time we would fly out to some of the sites to spend a little time on the ground with case officers, and I was struck by the remoteness of some of these sites. One that comes to mind is LS-46, well south and east of the Plain des Jars about 30 miles due south of the Fish's Mouth, kind of out there in the middle of nowhere. There nust have been an infiltration route for enemy forces nearby to justify placing a (CIA?) case officer at the site. Early in my tour the case officers sometimes stayed on their sites for extended periods. Later, as enemy pressure increased, the case officers were usually flown home to a base to spend the night and then return to the site the next morning. LS-46 … we called it 'Edward M. Kennedy International' in memory of the Chappaquiddick incident… required a pilot make a careful approach and landing in the O-1, which was not really a STOL aircraft. The relatively short dirt strip at LS-46 climbed up the slope of a mound of huge ground in the midst of a beautiful little valley. The pilot had to set up a straight-in approach, milk a little flap to control speed, plunk the bird on the first few feet of the strip, and let the bird slow as it climbed up the fairly steep hill. From short final the pilot was committed to land and if too fast or too high, the bird would roll over the top of the hill and over the cliff at the top end of the strip. The departure was a little sporty too. The aircraft would roll down the short downhill strip gathering just enough speed to stagger off the end and descend into the valley where you could then accelerate to climb speed. It was a bit of a test of flying skill so several of us used to go there just to say we'd done it.

"I went in to LS-46 a number of times and spent some pleasant time with the friendly case officer whose call sign was Swamp Rat… I have a photo in my collection, a photo he must have taken of me offering a snack to a curious water buffalo that hung around the site. These were the 'good days' when we were succeeding militarily, the weather was pleasant, and the case officers were relaxed. We felt safe on the ground in these remote sites and had spare time to enjoy the stark beauty of the countryside. That would change soon.


"During the second half of my tour the military situation began to turn around. The NVA poured into Laos in strength and the weather deteriorated with the approach of winter. The gains of 'Operation About Face' were increasingly threatened. In early November I was checked out in the T-28 by 'Water Pump' Instructor Pilots at Udorn. My Air Force flight records reflect a lot more time and sorties in that checkout (5 sorties and 8.7 hours) than I remember. My recollection is we did a pattern ride, an instrument ride in the back seat under the hood, and a range ride to show me the guns and rockets. I recall the ground school was a 30-minute chat with an IP over a glass of whiskey and then we retired to the Holiday Inn for a rubdown. I guess it was adequate and I had a ball flying the T-28 for the next three months… me and Mike Byers (were) the only T-2-qualified guys at the site to fly our two birds–sweet….


"In late November we were trying to disrupt the enemy rice supply by attacking the harvested stacks of rice in Ban Ban Valley and another small rice growing area about ten miles north of Ban Ban. We learned that rice was a difficult target. You could bomb the stacks and scatter the rice, but we learned they would collect the scattered undamaged grains. We considered some kind of poison but settled on napalm as the most practical means. The problem was the rice was in well-defended areas and finned napalm dropped from a dive just plopped in a small fire as opposed to the impressive splash you got when unfinned nape was dropped from a low level pass.

"So on Thanksgiving Day 1969 about 1430 in the afternoon I was directing a flight of Skyraiders (Zorro 52 and 53) with napalm against stacks of rice in the center of Ban Ban Valley. They were dive-bombing from fairly high altitude and the results were poor. I wanted them to try low-level delivery and decided to show them that there was no AAA in the area. I set up for a low pass from north to south trying to have a dramatic effect by having my shadow closely approach my airplane. I recall I even dropped a little flap. As I was about to transmit, 'See, no problem,' there was a problem.

"About the time I heard the 12.7 open fire from about 300 yards east of me, the round entered the left side of the O-1 engine cowling, blew off part of cylinder head, and continued out the right cowling, leaving an impressive exit wound. Oil immediately began siphoning along the side of the fuselage. I hope I didn't whimper over the radio but I probably did. I was about 10 miles east of Phu Nok Kok, Black Lion's hilltop stronghold, so my first instinct was to climb and head east. I asked the A-1s to tag along, which they did, no doubt chuckling to themselves about my foolish stunt. I was not chuckling. But the Bird Dog was behaving very well considering the abuse she had suffered. I was intently scanning the few engine instruments for a sign of impending doom and saw none. I continued to climb and cruise southwest toward and then over the PDJ and finally Skyline and home, the Skyraiders a reassuring presence throughout my anxious trip."…

For more of Smoky Greene's captivating adventures as Raven 42… try

III. AIRCRAFT LOSSES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA: 18-24 AUGUST 1969… References include Chris Hobson's monumental study and history of the Vietnam air war, VIETNAM AIR LOSSES, which is now available on-line at During the week ending 24 August six American fixed wing aircraft were downed and five aviators killed in the service of our country…They are remembered here, fifty years after their sacrifice…

(1) On 18 August an RF-4C of the 16th TRS and 460th TRW out of Tan Son Nhut crashed shortly after takeoff. Both aviators ( WOLF and RICHARDSON) successfully ejected and were rescued.

(2) On 19 August a Marine F-4B of the VMFA-542 Bengals and MAG-11 crewed by LCOL ROBERT NORMAN SMITH and CAPTAIN JOHN NORLEE FLANAGAN was downed over North Vietnam while escorting a photographic mission about 12 miles north of the DMZ. The Phantom and photo bird made one successful pass and were to have rendezvoused for a second pass but LCOL SMITH and CAPTAIN FLANAGAN failed to show. They were presumed to have been shot down by ground fire and perished in the crash since there were no beepers, voice calls or parachutes heard/observed in the incident. The remains of CAPTAIN FLANAGAN, turned over to the Air Force in 1989 were positively identified in June 1997 after two expeditions by DPAA in 1993 and 1995 uncovered additional items and remains for DNA testing. LCOL SMITH's remains were never recovered but the full story –one for the ages– is worth the read. MIGHTY THUNDER's post of 4 November, one week ago, on this website is a rerun of a story originally published in the June 2014 issue of VIETNAM(THAT POST IS PASTED BELOW - Dutch). COLONEL SMITH is memorialized with a marker in Arlington National Cemetery. MAJOR FLANAGAN is buried at Oaklawn Cemetery, Winter Haven, Florida…

(3) On the night of 19 August a second Marine F-4B was lost. The Phantom was from the VMFA-115 Silver Eagles and MAG-13 out of Chu Lai. 1LT JAMES RICHARD BOHLIG and CAPTAIN RICHARD THOMAS MORRISEY had completed a TPQ-10 radar bombing mission near North Vietnam and were returning to Danang when they diappeared at sea. The location of the loss was thought to be 28 miles northeast of Chu Lai and 60 miles southeast of Danang over the South China Sea. An extensive SAR effort failed to find either aviator or wreckage of the F-4… 1LT BOHLIG and CAPTAIN MORRISEY are memorialized at the Courts of The Missing in Honolulu, Hawaii, and at Arlington National Cemetery. However,they both remain where they fell on the battlefield fifty years ago, left behind…

(4) On 21 August an unidentified pilot was killed at the controls of a YQU-22A out of Nakhon Phanom after suffering an engine failure over Thailand… This 50 year void in the record needs filling… this reported incident is not included in the AIRPAC Air Ops Summary for August 1969…

(5) On 22 August an O-1E Bird Dog was struck from the inventory after being dropped by an CH-47 Chinook following an attempt to retrieve the aircraft from a Landing Site.

(6) On 23 August an F-100D of the 612nd TFS and 35th TFW, Call Sign Bobcat 82 out of Phan Rang piloted by CAPTAIN D. M. WANLESS was part of a flight dropping napalm on Vietcong food crops (rice?) about 55 miles southwest of the airbase when hit by the blast of one of his own napalm drops and became engulfed in flames. The damaged Super Sabre cleared the target area and the intrepid aviator ejected at low level to be rescued by an Army helicopter, a wiser warrior for the experience…

IV. HUMBLE HOST END NOTE… One of the best Vietnam war websites is that of CHERRIESWRITER. Humble Host found a story about the intense fighting ongoing fifty years ago in August 1969 worthy of your time. Google CHERRIES WRITER–VIETNAM WAR STORIES for the home page. Punch in posts from November 2016, there are five… select "DEATH VALLEY: REMEMBERING AUGUST 20, 1969." Meet Rocky Bleier at war… or just go here…

HUMBLE HOST STINGER– for our Marine Brothers, a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of FDR, who said: "The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marines."

Lest we forget… Bear

 Lt. Col. Robert N. Smith
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."


This Day in Aviation History" brought to you by the Daedalians Airpower Blog Update. To subscribe to this weekly email, go to

Nov. 10, 1988

The Air Force revealed the F–117 stealth fighter to the public for the first time. Manufactured by Lockheed, the F–117 could evade most radar detection with its radical shape and radar-absorbent surface

Nov. 11, 1956

The first flight of the world's first supersonic bomber, the Convair B-58 Hustler, is made.

Nov. 12, 1981

Space shuttle Columbia on mission STS-2 launched from John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on Nov. 12, 1981, and returned to Edwards AFB, California, on Nov. 14. The two astronauts, Navy Capt. Richard H. Truly and Air Force Col. Joe H. Engle, became the first men to fly into and return from space in a previously used spacecraft. Retired Vice Adm. Truly is a Daedalian Life Member. Engle retired as a major general.

Nov. 13, 1957

A Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, piloted by Gen. Curtis LeMay, set a new distance nonstop record, flying 6,350 miles from Westover AFB, Massachusetts, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The KC-135's return trip set a new speed record, Buenos Aires to Washington, D.C., over 5,200 miles in 11 hours, 5 minutes.

Nov. 14, 1924

The chiefs of the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics and the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery agreed on qualifications for flight surgeons that included a three-month course at the Army's school of aviation medicine and three months of satisfactory service with a naval aviation command before receiving the designation. The requirement that qualified medical officers make flights in aircraft was limited to emergencies and the desire of the officers.

Nov. 15, 1967

Air Force Maj. Michael James Adams was killed in the crash of the number three North American Aviation X-15 hypersonic research rocketplane, 56-6672. Flight 191 of the X-15 program was Adams' seventh flight in the rocketplane. It was the 56-6672's 65th flight. The flight plan called for 79 seconds of engine burn, accelerating the X-15 to Mach 5.10 while climbing to 250,000 feet. Adams' wife, Freida, and his mother, Georgia Adams, were visiting in the NASA control room at Edwards Air Force Base. This was the only pilot fatality of the entire 199-flight X-15 program. Major Adams was posthumously awarded the wings of an astronaut. He was buried at Mulhearn Memorial Park in Monroe, Louisiana. To learn more about him, click HERE.

Nov. 16, 2006

Air Force Special Operations Command received its first CV-22 at Hurlburt Field, Florida. Army Gen. Doug Brown, commander of the United States Special Operations Command, conducted the arrival ceremony.


Monday morning Humor from Al


Submitted by Mike Ryan:

I AM A VETERAN by Andrea Christensen Brett

You may not know me the first time we meet

I'm just another you see on the street

But I am the reason you walk and breathe free

I am the reason for your liberty


I work in the local factory all day

I own the restaurant just down the way

I sell you insurance, I start your IV

I've got the best-looking grandkids you'll ever see

I'm your grocer, your banker

Your child's schoolteacher

I'm your plumber, your barber

Your family's preacher

But there's part of me you don't know very well

Just listen a moment, I've a story to tell


I joined the service while still in my teens

I traded my prom dress for camouflage greens

I'm the first in my family to do something like this

I followed my father, like he followed his

Defying my fears and hiding my doubt

I married my sweetheart before I shipped out

I missed Christmas, then Easter

The birth of my son

But I knew I was doing what had to be done

I served on the battlefront, I served on the base

I bound up the wounded

And begged for God's grace

I gave orders to fire, I followed commands

I marched into conflict in far distant lands

In the jungle, the desert, on mountains and shores

In bunkers, in tents, on dank earthen floors

While I fought on the ground, in the air, on the sea

My family and friends were home praying for me

For the land of the free and the home of the brave

I faced my demons in foxholes and caves

Then one dreaded day, without drummer or fife

I lost an arm, my buddy lost his life

I came home and moved on

But forever was changed

The perils of war in my memory remained

I don't really say much, I don't feel like I can

But I left home a child, and came home a man

There are thousands like me

Thousands more who are gone

But their legacy lives as time marches on

White crosses in rows

And names carved in queue

Remind us of what these brave souls had to do

I'm part of a fellowship, a strong mighty band

Of each man and each woman

Who has served this great land

And when Old Glory waves

I stand proud, I stand tall

I helped keep her flying over you, over all


Submitted by Dave Harris:

Military friendships are ordinarily based on certain foundations:


A sarcastic and depraved ability to laugh at anything and everything

Common experiences of high adrenaline situations

A dislike of superficial people

The ability to meet again after years apart, having had no contact, and carry on exactly where you left off


Sam Elliot relates the story of WWII Sgt Ray Lambert at

Submitted by Skip Leonard:

A powerful tribute to our generation of Vietnam veterans narrated by Sam Elliot at

Submitted by Jim McDevitt:

"Most of us, most of the time, lie in a blissful ignorance of what a small, elite, heroic group of Americans are doing for us night and day. As we speak, all over the globe, American sailors and submariners and aviators are doing something very dangerous. People say, 'Well, it can't be too dangerous because there are no wrecks.' But the reason we don't have more accidents is that these are superb professionals; the fact that they master the dangers does not mean that the dangers aren't real.

Right now, somewhere around the world, young men are landing high-performance jet aircraft on the pitching decks of aircraft carriers—at night! You can't pay people to do that; they do it out of love of country, of adventure, of the challenge. We all benefit from it, and the very fact that we don't have to think about it tells you how superbly they're doing their job—living on the edge of danger so the rest of us need not think about, let alone experience, danger"

--George Will

Submitted by Mark Logan:

A wonderful interview of a child and a veteran at

The story of a veteran who is trong with a positive attitude at

Submitted by Bob King:

A great story of a Vietnam veteran at

Submitted by John Hudson:

Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"

"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.

"I packed your parachute," the man replied.

Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude.

The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!"

Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."

Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a bib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor."

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of

the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now, Plumb asks his audiences, "Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. He also points out that he needed many kinds

of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory — he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.

Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason.

As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes. I am sending you this as my way of thanking you for your part in packing my parachute. And I hope you will send it on to those who have helped pack yours!

Sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding jokes to us without writing a word. Maybe this

could explain it! When you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch, guess what you do? You forward jokes. And to let you know that you are still remembered, you are still important, you are still loved, you are still cared for, guess what you get? A forwarded joke.

So, my friend, next time when you get a joke, don't think that you've been sent just another forwarded joke, but that you've been thought of today and your friend on the other end of your computer wanted to send you a smile — just helping you pack your parachute.

My deep gratitude to my shipmates and all who served,



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