Takhli Royal Thai AFB 1972-74 Page One.  Go here for Page Two.  Photos copyright Sgt. Bert Marshall 
Takhli RTAFB
Message Board here.

Click a picture to see a larger view.  Push F11 to expand your view.  If you served in Thailand, drop me an email.

 Dear Bert , Thanks for helping me with some info on your "Monsoon" Hootch. For my model club I built that as well as a pilot hooch and the original Takhli Officer's club. It's part of a diorama commemorating the USAF's air war in SEA, where I also feature some building from the Bien Hoa air base in South Vietnam.  I had to simplify the slats a bit, but otherwise, it's as close as I can get it without blue prints. My model club is celebrating 70 years of the USAF  and my part is the Vietnam Era. I also have a Hangar and some revetments. Thanks again for helping me with my questions as well with posting the cool photos that inspired me so much. Kind regards, Alex Germany

67-0111/67-0094 Collision - Mike Grandchamp

F-111A 67-077  

The American Forces Thailand Network 
Tim Wheeler 1973
Property Ray Cadd Tim Wheeler
Property Ray Cadd Property Ray Cadd Property Ray Cadd Property Ray Cadd Property Ray Cadd Property Ray Cadd Property Ray Cadd
Property Ray Cadd
Property Ray Cadd  

I WAS STATIONED  AUGUST ’72 TO AUGUST ‘73 366TH MMS and then 6280TH MMS  loaded and hauled bb's for F4’S & F111’S. LOOKING FOR AMARNDO PARA CALIFORNIA & JESSE FOX FLORIDA [email protected] Photos brought back memories. SGT AL VANDERHOOF

Medic (SSGT) stationed at Takhli June 72 – July 73. Arrived as part of the first 2000 PCS when the base reopened. Initially 366th TFW with F-4 then 474th TFW with F-111. Finally 6280th Combat Support Group. Live in Turner Maine and oddly there is a fellow who is local and was in medical supply at the same time. Sawat Dee AlC Alfred Cichon, USAF Ret

Hey Bert, I've been reminiscing through your words and photos, of my time spent at Takhli, a truly otherworldly place. I was TDY Sept. through Nov. 72. I was from 12 AF HQ (Bergstrom), but served there with a dozen guys from the 474 TFW, Nellis in support of Operation Linebacker. We operated the flight line ES85 Armament Recording facility that processed imagery from our F111 sorties. I didn't know this dedicated crew of technicians before meeting them several hours  before deployment to our top secret destination. I lost touch with them after our brief time together there. They knew me as Captain Doug... (Whitfield). They were top notch! Our supply sergeant, "Ski" made some "trades" for lobster tails for our Thanksgiving feast. Dieter was our lead tech who and was crucial to our successful mission there. I sure wish I could find Ski (last name ended in "ski") and Dieter (first name)! Doug Whitfield

I was assigned to Takhli as an air traffic controller. I was a member of the 2083 Comm Squadron. We were located on the east side of the runway. The SO dog handlers were frequently cooling off in our break room. I arrived from Korat in 1973 and left in July 74. I now suffer with Parkinson's caused I believe from herbicides used at Takhli. Any others out there. Stan

Magnus Thomasson: Hey, thanks for nice foto and good story on your homepage, I am in Thailand and I always been interested the US troops in Thailand during the Vietnam War, and my Thai wife is coming from Chai Nat close to Takhli and here neighbor was working on the base, so now she is maybe 80 years old l think her nickname is (Lingee) don't know were in the base she work. My self is from Sweden and I been in the army to, and do 5 mission, 2 Lebanon 2 Bosnian 1 Kosovo. Best regards former soldier

F-105 Fighter Bombers at Takhli RTAFB, Thailand - Captain Jerry L. Jones

Bob Martin - KC-135 pilot, Ret Capt  Abilene, TX  -  Something just happened to trigger my thoughts about Young Tiger missions. Went to U-Tapao in June 67 and in July the bosses sent us to Takhli for a two week stint to see how it was to work out flying out WITH the fighters. Looked up Takhli on the internet and saw a different site from yours about Takhli. Very interesting.  What I was impressed with was a picture of the flight line with some tankers in the background. We tanker jocks almost always get passed over on pictures and stories. We're not as thrilling as bombers and fighters. Don't get me wrong, we got along great with the fighter jocks in the air and at the club. My first 3 month stint was in tents, no air conditioning of course in U-Tapao. The bomber guys got the air conditioned trailers. We did have barracks at Takhli. Then 3 months in 1969, 5 months in 70, 3 months in 71. I think I only crossed the fence once to pick up a fighter, 1969.  I felt bad for the fighter jocks, knowing all the restrictions they had on fighting the war. Nothing but  politics. Anyway, following is my tale about Takhli that I like to tell my boys and grandkids.

July 1967 -  Takhli Air Base, Thailand

 We were assigned to the fighter base at Takli for two weeks. The idea was to see if it was better to have us fly out of the same base as the fighters. We would take off before the fighters and then they would take off and we would fly together over to the "fence" (Mekong River separating north east Laos from North Viet Nam), refuel and then wait for the fighters to return to our rendezvous point.  One day some bad weather started coming in on the way back and the controller had the fighters land first while we waited at 28,000 feet over the field. When it was our turn they called us, and said were on downwind and get ready to make a dogleg turn to the right for landing. I looked at LtCol Caste and told him what the tower said. I called back to the controller and said we're at 28,000 feet. He said "roger- start decent for landing". In other words, they wanted us to go for a landing like the fighters do. So, Caste pulled the power back to idle, put up the speed brakes, dropped the gear and nosed over to come in for a landing. We had no time to run the decent and landing check lists. I quickly calculated the landing weight and speed. What a decent! We never touched the throttles again until we started to taxi off the runway. The controllers never did that again.

 Gregory Soccio - Soccio1 AT verizon.net   ([email protected]): I was stationed with the 6280th Combat Support Hospital unit at Takhli, Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand from October/November 1973 through August 1974. I am looking for any service members who served at Takhli and would be willing to write a "buddy letter" describing your memory of the base layout and any memory of herbicide spraying inside the base perimeter. Specifically the proximity of the clinic to the perimeter of the base (approximately 100 meters) as well as the location of the NCO hootches (approximately 150 meters) from the west perimeter. I would appreciate any assistance that you could give.

Gary Schuld USAF 1970-1974
My name is Gary Schuld from Cleveland, Ohio. I too served in Takhli RTAFB, Thailand in 1973, on 179 day TDY from Clark AFB , Philippines. I was there during the Cambodia bombing campaign supporting this mission of the F-111 Roadrunners as an A-57150 Fire Protection Specialist/Airborne firefighter - HH43-B (Pedro). I was there for the last bombing mission over Cambodia, as we all received a black and white copy of the photo showing the aircraft pilot and crew chief. Do you remember the fully loaded F-111 with either 24 M-82's or 84's took crashed on takeoff?
That was a hairy night. My favorite photo is that taken on the helicopter pad, looking out the window of Pedro at the side view of the Fire Department. Not sure how, but I would love to be able to obtain a copy of that picture if possible. Pedro only remained in service for a short while before being deactivated and all airborne fighters were returned back to the crash station.

With that said I have been fighting peripherial neuropathy and a large left upper thigh tumor which I believe were a result from Agent Orange exposure while stationed at Takhli. I have been working with a VSO in filing a claim with the VA. My representative stated pictures would help with my claim. Although I have a photo album, I don't have a picture showing the flight line tower in conjunction with the fire station. Although I have used Goggle maps, an overhead clearer picture showing the tower, fire station and runway is what I'm in need of. Need a picture to show the base perimeter as it would relate to where I worked. This the VA states would validate the drift zone of Agent Orange when used to spray the base perimeter. Finally do you happen to recall the F-111 Squadron and the Civil Engineering Squadron #'s? It was a long time ago, memory is not as sharp as it was. Thank you. Anyhow I know its a long shot. Great web site and pictures.
 

Air Force Vet: I was TDY from Homestead AFB, FL from Apr to Jul. I was with the 31st Combat Support Group. My AFSC was 64530/64550. I was an A1C at the time, low man on the totem pole, so it was volunteer time. Either I volunteered willingly or unwillingly, I still did it. Hahaha. After the third week of on and off of nights, I was put on nights until I left in Jul. There was a Tech Sgt, a Sgt and me on nights. Not only did I have to process the requests, but had to find it in the warehouse and then go with the driver to deliver it and get the paperwork signed. There are times when I miss riding in that little white Datsun truck on the access roads to the shops on the flight line. Well, gotta go for now. Stay in touch. If we don't take care of each other, who will. Certainly not the VA!

Terry A. Brandner: Bert, I just found your website and thought that I would add to it. By now I don't remember a lot of the bases as I am about 65 years old now. I was stationed in Da Nang, Vietnam in about March or May 1972, the went PCS to Takhli, Thailand until March or May 1973 (I do know that I was there for exactly 1 year to the day). I was in the 366th TFW (MMS) Gunfighters Squadron as a Munitions Maintenance Tech. I started out in the bomb buildup area, then spent the rest of my time in Line delivery, taking munitions out to the F-4's. then F 105 Thuds, and then F-111's. A lot of crazy times. I enjoyed traveling through and seeing Thailand (also Bangkok and Pattaya Beach). I see John Gresko sent one in May 2011, I probably worked with him at some point. Thanks for the website, I usually don't share.

I found an interesting story on the Takhli, Thailand message board on the F-111 crash in 1973. I was there, on the opposite end of the taxi way, by my self, and so I inserted this story of my own. When I came back, I have never mentioned much of anything that I did or went on, just stayed private, and with 3 marriages. I was tired of the haters and liars. But I did use this incident to file for PTSD, and was granted in just a couple of months, which I was grateful. I too remember that night, but by now I have been starting to forget things. I was in the 366th TFW in the bomb dump. My job was working as line delivery on the night shift. I had picked up 2 trailers of 500lb bomb from the line delivery trailer parking area and started out through the jungle to the flight line. I just pulled out onto the “Taxi Way” a little ways, towards the jet parking area, when I was watching an F-111 taking off. It got about 20 ft. (I think, by now) off the runway when it tilted up and the engines cut (I thought all these years that it had a flame out, until I just read the story). The F-111 came crashing down about center of the runways and the pilot and weapons officer got out. The Security Police had their special vehicle there and I believed scooped them up. I had jumped from my vehicle with the 2 trailers of bombs and jumped into the drainage ditch for cover and watch the show. The firetruck started in but the windshield blew in and they retreated. My radio was in the vehicle.

When there was a lull in the explosions and action I scrambled out of there in my vehicle with the 2 trailers back to the line deliver area. I contacted control and was told that all flights were cancelled for the rest of the morning. Scared the crap out of me, being by myself with 2 trailers of bombs, radio inside the vehicle, but came out unharmed. I was also worried about any critters in the drainage ditch with me and some flying debris, I was really close to the action. Nobody but Control knew that I was out there on that end of the runway, they kept calling me. I just recently put in and was approved for PTSD using this incident as was remarkable that I had the right date. It only took a couple of months from putting in for PTSD to seeing the
psychologist to being approved, even though PTSD had been in my records for years. So, if anyone needs to use this also to help out with their disabilities.

Reading the story in the bulletin board and the story by Jim Traywick helped. First time I have ever mentioned it. I don’t really talk much about what happened.

Terry A. Brandner 1972-1973 P.S. Thank you for your website, and what you are doing.

Sgt. Mark A Armitage: Hi Bert, Your name is a real blast from the past. Recently seen photos on your site that were posted by Ray Cadd. I was able to track him down thru Facebook. We just had about an hour phone conversation. Haven't seen or heard from him in 44 years. Ray & me were Hootch Mates in Hootch #1143, when we were on base. My name is Mark A Armitage, Ohio. I had come from Nellis with the 474th AGE Shop to Takhli assigned to the 366th. I arrived at Takhli early 8/72. Was the nite time Jammer man for the 366th from 8/72-11/72. After 11/1/72 MSGT William Smith selected me to stay on at Takhli with the 6280th for maintenance for the 150 light-all units that rimmed the base. That's when I met & became friends with Cadd. I know we hung out at one time or another. Ray sent me a photo & I remember you. I had been to his bungalow numerous times. Remember the Yak that was always under his bungalow. Anyway Bert thanks for the time you spend with all that You do. Ray was very pleased that we were able to hook up. I left Takhli in Feb/72 in a med evac plane. I never returned.
 

Ray Lance: I was with the F-111’s 72 - 73. I was a Bom/Nav troop. Your pictures bring back great memories. I loved the time I spent there. I was also with the F-111’s at Korat. My name is Ray Lance. Thanks for posting your pics. 

Hi, I was a with the 366TH Supply which became the6280TH from Aug 72 to Sep 74. Worked outside receiving for awhile then moved to storage & issue. From there the CES supply pt., then back to receiving. Base Closing got orders for Japan. Your pictures bring back times that will always be with those who were there. Joseph Munch

Great Memories....Thanks!!! I was there in 72 - 73 with the 474th F-111’s. I was a Bom/nav troop. I remember the TFR system was a pain in the --- to get it tuned in for the terrain and weather. Great pics brought back some wonderful memories. I remember a restaurant downtown that I believe was winni’s or something like that. It was in a compound area. A local girl I took out a couple of times took me there. Being from a small town in Texas, Takhli was a culture shock but I loved every minute of it. I still have a photo album that I got at the BX and it still has all of my photo memories of that year. Of all the places I saw during my AF career Takhli is still #1. Thanks again!!!!!!

My name is Berkley Williams. I was stationed there for one year. Made many trips to the Blue Sky Bar on the strip from 1969-1970 . I worked security (Cobra Flight) I lost all of my photos. But yours brought back many memories. Thank You!

I was assigned to the 401 tfw from England afb, Louisiana, and tidy to Takhli from dec 1964 to March 1965. I was in MMS, we had a total of one crew, four(4) f100 that flew from there and we helped cannon afb, nm recover their f100s from their initial rotation thru Clark ab, pi in the early months of 1965. It seems as if history has passed by the missions of England AFB at Takhli during its tdy rotations. Maybe the time was and still mission secret, but I hate that the 401st never got credit for any missions in and from Takhli. Happy flying, long live the Huns! Msgt. J.g. Cundiff

I was a Security Policeman at Takhli from Sept. 73 to Aug 74..........Assigned B Flight (Swings). I'm in contact with 2 others from B flight (Wayne Thompson and Ron Daniels) and 1 from A Flight (Days) Steve Perkins..........We lived in the Hooch area......Got there as a A1C and left as a Buck Sgt........I finished up my 20 and retired as a TSgt SP..........Still have fond memories of Takhli.......Nice to see your pictures.......We are on Takhli's Facebook page........I remember our Flight Chiefs as being MSgt Royal and TSgt Simon...........Have a duty roster for posting, a lot of pictures, and a lot of teakwood items....still use a Thailand Wallet today.....Brought home a dozen of them. Elephant Leather............Well, you take care..... Al Kral, USAF Ret.

The pictures posted on your site...WOW stationed there Sept 72 to 73 with 366th CES firefighter/rescue...f-4s to f-111s what a ride.. we where busy.. loved the town and the people...ate more meals downtown then on the yard.. do you remember the the restaurant on the small pond hidden behind town?? we must have crossed because I heard of the budha statue also from some guys on the yard.. anyway thanks for posting lost most of my pictures over time and moving. James Dudley

My name is David Sudduth, I was tdy to Takhli RTAFB in 66 early 67, the VA is denying me any compensation from herbicide exposure. I was in P O L, refueling aircraft, I remember it was said the temp was 140 in the shade, The VA finds no records showing when and for how long I was there. There is a Record from the USAF stating they knew I had boots on the ground at Takhli . I am looking for any help I can find. If this email address is still good I wish you the best and hope to hear from you.
Thanks  A1st class David D Sudduth   dsddth  at  mcloudteleco.com

Hello Bert, My name is Altus Menifee and I was a part of the 474th Tactical Fighter Wing (Deployed) equipped with F-111s arrived at Takhli on Temporary Duty from Nellis Air Force Base Nevada on 27 September 1972.through March 1973. All F-111As of the 474th carried the tail code NA. From Takhli, the 474th participated in Operation Linebacker II when the United States resumed the large scale bombing of North Vietnam.
I worked in Base supply ordering millions of parts to keep those F-4's & F-111's in the sky.Although i felt like we were getting our butts kicked on a daily basis.I used to walk over to the flight line and look at some of the returning phantoms.......Damn.....We worked 12-16 hour shifts -6 days per week.I notice you had photos taken from the Avionics Bldg.I worked in a small Bldg on the flight line " The front read " ZERO DEFFECTS" .Do you remember that building? Your photos of the hooches ,mamasan, downtown haha....I rented a $ 5 per month bungalo downtown from a papasan ,much like the one in your photos.I spent my time hanging with the wonderful Thai people. I usually traveled alone and got in too all sorts of adventure lol often found myself across the tracks......that's a whole chapter in itself.
Especially liked movie night downtown,enjoying those awesome karate flicks.... Classics.....and then catching a Kick boxing match,,,Crazy!!! I used to hang at the One & One Bar on the Strip.My nickname was Dang and I used to give a couple of 6-7 year olds a Baht for food,they called me Super-Baht .Never forget that...Too much fun....!!! Your photos bring back so many memories.Thanks for posting. Take Good Care,Altus altusmenifee @ gmail.com
 

Hi! This is Bob Smith in Tonganoxie, Kansas. About 20 miles west of Kansas City. I was at Takhli from Jul 73 to Jul 74 in the SPS Squadron. I was working law enforcement and then transferred to security. Since I went to a 81 mortar school prior to going to Thailand, they put me in alternate CSC. Great Job! Air conditioned, no heat, no humidity. I used to go to the Pink Restaurant with a Gerald Grieves all of the time. The owners invited me and Gerald to their daughters wedding. It was tremendous. I saw a photo of you at a bunker. Was that the Charlie 42 machine gun bunker? If I can find them I have a bunch of photos of Takhli. I will send them to you if you would like. I typed in Pink Restaurant Takhli, Thailand and your segment came up. I remember their was a SSgt Studdard that married a Thai girl and retired in Takhli. Wonder if he is still there, or even alive? Bob

I was in Takhli from Mar '73 to Mar '74 worked in the photo recon trailers behind the snack bar, just outside the gate onto the flightline's west side. Favorite bar, the F4, loved the "Black Hornets" band. I remember the breaded cutlets at The Pink restaurant, weekends at Takhli Gardens (pg 1, pic 25, was there maybe?), monkey ball soup, rat-on-a-stick, the enterprising Thai that opened a
pizza place in Takhli... looking thru your photos, enjoying the views and memories, appreciate that so many of us remember and kept some photos. Thanks for the memories Allan Erickson (E4, served 10/70 - 10/74)

I was part of Advon group that reopened Takhli in early 1972 so we could bring a group of fighters out of DaNang. We were the 49thTFW out of Holloman AFB, NM. Think they were either 366th Gunfighters or 499th. Eventually I think they ended up at Mountain Home, ID. It was a mess when we arrived but activated very quickly for Rolling Thunder ops. Seems like forever ago. Retired 1995. Thanks for the pics, they are good to show my children, all grown now. George Parker

I was there from May thru November of 1972 coming over with the 366 AMS from DaNang.  I was an Avionics Maintenance Officer and helped out some with the Drug and Alcohol Office. I truly loved Thailand and always wanted to return.  I met a Thai girl who worked in the HQ squadron, or wherever we went to get admin support and we became very good friends.  She wasn't a bar girl and my experiences with her and her family gave me a love for Thailand that I have never lost.  I am now married to a Thai women whose dad drove a truck for the AF at Udorn.  Small world......  We have a home in Hua Hin, 200km south of Bangkok, and run a small hotel as well.  I wish that I found find where Thasana went to after the base closed.  I wrote her for a couple of years, but time and distance took its toll.  I became a high school teacher and have taught for DoDDs for the past
33 years in Germany Perhaps I will make a blog of my adventures in Vietnam and Thailand also.  I have many pictures also.  Thanks
for sharing the pictures and if anyone knew my girl friend Thasana maybe you can drop me a like. Tom Richards  

Thanks for sharing these - they brought back many memories.  I was deployed there in 1968 with the F-111 Combat Lancer Team from Nellis AFB, NV. - Larry Dean

Dear Bert Marshall, This is the daughter of a medic in the same Thai air force base that served from 1970-74. The reason why I am emailing you is because unfortunately my father has died and my family is appealing the supreme court ruling of agent orange, which we believe is the cause of his death. We have appealed nearly three time and denied. My father spontaneously had cancer in his bones, lungs and brain. Months after realizing what was wrong, we were told he only had a few months to live since the cancer had developed to stage 4 cancer, lethal. It was his words and stories that told us to go to the VA and do our research. Suddenly after five months he had died. We had already started to file paperwork to the VA before his death. My father's name is Reginald Braswell. He served at 6280 USAF hospital. Takhli RTAFB, Thailand. This is the department he was apart of, AFSC 90250. If you don't know him, but if you think you know someone who served along with him in any of those places or within the time period, please email me back. He was 54, when he died leaving two daughters ages 13 and 11. His now widowed wife, was 48. That was in 2006. I am his eldest daughter and wish very much to learn more about his time and service in Thailand.  Please email me back.

I just saw your pictures on the internet......awesome......brought back a lot of memories. I was there from Sept. 73 to Aug. 74. Assigned to the 6280th SPS...air base defense Cops...lived in the Hooch area. I rode in that 706 armored vehicle...thanks for the memories.  Al Kral USAF Retired, TSgt 71-91

Hey Bert Thanks for sharing the pics of Takhli. I was there Jan 73 to Feb 74 assigned to the 366 USAF Disp which was re-designated as the 6280 USAF Hospital.. I ran the on base VD clinic and did the town patrols with the Thai Public Health.. Also worked a lot of the medcap visits to the surrounding area.. I have great memories of Takhli and am actually going back to Thailand next month for a couple of weeks. Thanks again for sharing. Don Forgie

Hi Bert. Saw your pictures and Man, do they bring back memories. When I saw that hooch, I asked myself...did I really sleep in there. How time flies. I was in the CBPO from Feb 74 until we closed the place. Thanks for the memories. Robert

- Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express permission by the author.

F-111A Losses while at Takhli RTAFB

28 Mar 68

66-0022

Omaha 77

Lt Col H E MacCann
Capt DL Graham
Mission Target: Chanh Hoa (also reported as Banh Hoa) Truck park

Weapons Load: 12 M117C 750lbs bombs plus 1 x AIM-9 Sidewinder.

According to the official report of Combat Lancer operations, the flight left Takhli RTAFB at 0403 local time and proceeded normally until a point west of Mu Ghai Pass on the border between Laos and North Vietnam at about 1000 feet AGL.  There it was observed to orbit for about 20 minutes and then turn west.  The presumption was that they suffered a radio problem and were not able to contact Alley Cat ABCCC for permission to enter North Vietnam and then turned southwest to return to base or reach a suitable divert base.  Invert radio at Nakhom Phenom (NKP) in Eastern Thailand was tracking the flight and observed it to cross back into Thailand and head southwest.  The last radar contact with Omaha 77 was at about 0530 local on a heading of 190 degrees at a distance of 15 miles from TACAN Channel 89 at NKP.   Subsequent to this, the flight could not be contacted by radio.  The flight was declared overdue at 0730 and a SAR effort begun but no crash site was found and the crew was declared MIA.  No crash site has ever been located despite several air and ground searches by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting and the cause of the loss has never been determined..  The MIA/POW database lists the crash site as the target area, but all investigative efforts have suggested that it went down in Thailand.  Maj. MacCann’s status was changed from MIA with a presumptive finding of death 1978.  He had been promoted to Lt. Col and the Col during the period he was MIA.  His name can be found on the Vietnam War Memorial on Panel 46E. Line 57.  Capt, Graham’s status was changed from MIA to KIA in 1974.  His name can be found on Panel 46E, Line 54.
 

30 Mar 68
66-0017

Hotrod 76

Maj AA Alexander

Capt JV Hodges
This aircraft crashed in Thailand enroute to a combat mission to North Vietnam. Its two-man crew escaped injury when they ejected in the cockpit module. They crew thought they had landed in Laos and began to escape and evade.  They believed that they were under enemy fire when the M61 ammunition in the wreck 'cooked off’. They were found later in Thailand, only a short distance from the module and were picked up by helicopter. The wreckage was recovered and taken to Takhli RTAFB.  Initial suspicion was that the crash was caused by a tube of sealant left in the aircraft from manufacture lodging in the control linkage, but subsequent Investigation revealed that the cause of the crash was a structural failure of an actuating valve in the stabilator system.  Fleet wide inspections showed 42 other aircraft with the same defect.

Apr 22, 1968.
66-0024

Tailbone 78

Lt Cmdr DL Cooley (USN)

Lt Col ED Palmgren 

Mission Target: Mi Le Highway Ferry

Weapons Load: 12 M117R 750lbs bombs plus one AIM-9B Sidewinder.
.
Tailbone 78 departed Takhli at 1904 local time.  Their last radio contact was with Alleycat ABCC at 1959 local time when the aircraft was handed off to Water Boy ABCC and cleared to attack the target.  At that time it was about 10 miles from the target and still in Laotian airspace.   There was no post-strike radio call and the aircraft and crew were declared missing.  After a four day search effort with no results, the crew was declared MIA.   Lt. Cmdr “Spade” Cooley (USN) was promoted to Commander (O-5 rank) while in MIA status but his status was changed to KIA in Jan, 1978.  His name can be found on the Vietnam Memorial Wall on panel 51E / Line29.  Lt Col “Lucky” Palmgren was promoted to Col while in MIA status and his status changed to KIA in Jul, 1973.  His name can be found on the Vietnam Memorial Wall on panel 51E / Line 29.

In 1992 a crash site was located near the target coordinates for Tailbone 78 based on analysis of North Vietnamese records.  During two site visits a JTF-FA team received testimony from a number of local residents and former members of the local militia who claimed to have shot down an F-111 in 1968.  Excavation of the site turned up aircraft parts that were associated with an F111.  Based on witness statements and the material recovered, the JTF-FA report concluded that the site could be associated with Tailbone 78, but no remains were located and nothing was recovered that might help determine the definitive identification of the wreckage nor the cause of the crash.

Operation LINEBACKER I and II 1972-73 - Vietnam, South East Asia,

In 1972, in the face of North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam, the US returned to bombing the North in an attempt to slow the movement of supplies and troop reinforcements.  The 474th TFW with its F-111A aircraft were deployed again to Takhli RTAFB in September to provide night, bad weather strike capabilities.  Linebacker I turned into Linebacker II in late December when, in light of the refusal of the North Vietnamese to honestly negotiate the end of the war, President Nixon unleashed an all-out bombing campaign (including the use of B-52s against targets in North Vietnam) of targets previously spared from attack by very stringent rules of engagement.  This effort resulted in the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in January, 1973 and the return of all Prisoners of War.  The F-111s flew over 4000 missions and proved its capabilities.  

Date

Tail Number

Call sign

Aircraft Commander

WSO

POW/MIA Ref number

Sep 28, 1972

67-0078

Ranger 23

Maj William Clare Coltman (Bill)

1 Lt Robert Arthur Brett Jr (Lefty)

1929

Oct 16, 1972

67-0066

Coach 33

Capt James Allen Hockridge (Jim)

1 Lt Allen Upton Graham (Al)

1939

Nov 07, 1972

67-0063

Whaler 57

Maj Robert Mack Brown

Maj Robert David Morrissey

1945

Nov 21, 1972

67-0092

Burger 54

Capt Ronald Dean Stafford

Capt Charles Joseph Caffarelli

1948

Dec 18, 1972

67-0099

Snug 40

Lt Col Ronald Jack Ward   (Ron)  

Maj James Richard McElvain (Jim)

1952

Dec 22, 1972

67-0068

Jackal 33

Capt Robert David Sponeybarger (Bob)

1 Lt William Wallace Wilson (Bill)

1966

Sep 28, 1972
67-0078

Ranger 23
Maj WC Coltman
1Lt RA Brett Jr

Maj Coltman (a Combat Lancer veteran) and Lt Brett disappeared while on a strike mission against the Yen Son Military Storage Facility located SE of Yen Bai in Route Package V.  Ranger 23 departed Takhli RTAFB at 2015 and the last radio contact was at 2141.  The last radar contact occurred at 2145 as the aircraft approached the Laotian border.  At that time the pilot was deviating from his programmed track to avoid thunderstorms.  No further radio or radar contact was made with Ranger 23, and at approximately 0115 (local) the aircraft was declared missing when the time of fuel exhaustion was reached and a search initiated.

On 29 September, after Ranger 23's loss had been officially announced by the US, Radio Hanoi reported that their forces had shot down an F-111 in Yen Bai Province.  No elaborative narrative or photography was produced to substantiate this claim.   After an extensive photographic and visual search of large parts of Laos and North Vietnam with no clues or information developed, the loss was officially reported as in the vicinity of Yen Bai which is west of Hanoi and both Maj Coltman and Lt Brett were declared MIA.  The status was changed to KIA in for Major Coltman in 1978 and for Lt Brett and 1979.  In their interim, Maj Coltman was promoted to Lt Col and then Col and Lt Brett was promoted to Captain.  Their names can be found on the Vietnam War Memorial wall on panel W1 / Line 82.

In 1998 the JTF-FA identified and investigated a crash site in Norther Laos that seemed to contain F-111 debris.  Three more field missions were conducted and in 2000 human remains were recovered from the site and transferred to the US for forensic identification.  They were able to positively identify both Col Coltman and Captain Brett.  Their remains were returned to their families and both were interred in Section 60 at Arlington Cemetery in 2002. 


Oct 16, 1972
67-0066 

Coach 33

Capt JA. Hockridge
1Lt AU Graham

Coach 33 departed Takhli RTAFB at 2252 local time for a strike against the Dai Loi Railroad Bridge on the northwest rail line in Route Pack 5.  They carried a weapons load of four Mk-84 2000 pound bombs.  These were the preferred weapon for attacking targets such as railroad bridges, but required a climb to approximately 1000 feet for release to ensure the aircraft escaped the blast.  This increased the aircraft’s vulnerability to ground defence weapons.  The last radar contact occurred at 2339 while Coach 33 was approximately 50 nautical miles from the Laos/NVN boarder.  They were scheduled to begin descent to TFR attitude approximately 5 minutes later. At 0007, Coach 27, another F-111 striking a different target in the same general area heard Coach 33 in in what seemed to be a normal contact an unknown agency.  Nothing more was heard from Coach 33 and they were declared missing at 0153.  Shortly after this, an infrared-equipped RF-4 was launched to fly the planned profile in an attempt to locate a crash site.  Nothing was found from this or other SAR efforts that would provide clues to the disappearance.

  On October 17th, after the loss had been reported by the US, Hanoi released a report claiming that they had shot down and F-111 in the vicinity of the target on the night of October 16th and provided photos of the ID cards of both Hockridge and Graham as well as photographs and motion picture film of wreckage purported to be of their aircraft.  They reported that both pilots had been killed in the crash.  The status of both pilots remained as MIA until in 1977 the NVN government returned remains of several US pilots killed in from crash incidents.  Based on forensic tests, both Capt Hockridge and Lt. Graham were positively identified and their status changed to KIA.  Graham had been promoted to Captain during this period in MIA status.  A JTF-FA site visit was conducted in 1995 to the reported location of the crash site, but no aircraft wreckage or other material was found although the testimony of local citizens seemed to correlate it with the crash of Coach 33.  Captain Upton was interred in Arlington National Cemetery in Section 11 and Capt. Graham was buried at the Maple Hill Cemetery in Phillips County, Arkansas. Their names can be found on the Vietnam Memorial Wall on panel W1, line 82.

 
Nov 07, 1972
67-0063

Whaler 57

Maj RM Brown
Maj RD Morrissey

The target for Whaler 57 was the Lon Son Highway Ferry/Ford complex on Route 101B.  This was located on the east coast in Route Pack 1, about 9 miles north of the DMZ.  They departed Takhli RTAFB  at 0219 local time.  The last radar contact was by Invert GCI at 0258 and the last radio contact was with Moonbeam ABCCC at 0306, which was approximately 7 minutes before the established time on target, when Major Brown reported the mission progressing normally.  When no further contact the aircraft and crew could be made they were reported missing and a search effort initiated but no information was developed to indicate the fate of the aircraft or the crew.  In 1977 the status of both men was changed from MIA to KIA.  In the intervening time both were promoted to Lt Col.

In 1991 documents and artifacts related to the loss of Whaler 57 were examined by JTF-FA researchers working at the Quang Bihn Provincial Museum.  These included a military identification card for Maj Brown and reports that they had been shot down by Vietnamese forces.  In 1992 a site team visited a reported crash site in Quang Bihn Province and based on the location and type of wreckage examined, tentatively identified it as the site of the crash of Whaler 57. Later that same year a US research team at the Central Army Museum in Hanoi found wartime photographs and documents relating to the “7/11/1972” shoot down of an American F-111 in Quang Bihn Province.  An aircraft data plate was found with the material that bore the serial number of 66-0063.

In 1995, a joint US Vietnamese team investigated the site in Quang Bihn and recovered fragments of wreckage that they determined were associated with an F-111 and which provided evidence that the ejection module was still attached to the aircraft at the time of the crash.  They also recovered a single bone fragment which was sent to the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii for testing.   Forensic science technology at the time did not permit identification of the sample available.  By 2011 the technology had improved and the sample was tested again and positively identified as belonging to Maj Brown.  Although no remains of Maj Morrissey were identified, the evidence of the severity of the crash and that the escape module was still attached to the aircraft at the time of the crash led them to conclude that he also died at this location.

In 2011, the remains of Lt Col Robert M Brown were interred in Section H of Arlington National Cemetery.  His name, along with that of Lt Col Morrissey can be found on the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Panel W1, line 90.

 
Nov 21, 1972
67-0092

Burger 54

Capt. DD Stafford
Capt CJ Caffarelli

Burger 54 was a night mission against Co Giang Trans-shipment Point on Route 101, about 8.5 miles northwest of Quang Khe, NVN.  Their exit route after the attack was to be east over the Gulf of Tonkin.  They departed Takhli RTAFB at 0152 local time and with a scheduled time over target of 0252.  The last known radio contact with Burger 54 was at 0245 while they were still over Laos.  When the crew did not initiate the post-attack radio calls, a search was started and at 0522 local when their fuel would have been exhausted, the aircraft and crew were declared missing.  On November 23, a Radio Hanoi broadcast reported that early morning of November 21st, militia forces in the Bo Tranch District of Quang Bihn Province shot down and F-111 aircraft that then crashed in the water about 3 kilometres off shore.  They reported neither any ejection nor any information on the fate of the crew.  Over the next few days, wreckage later identified as from an F-111 washed up on the beaches north of Danang, SVN which is south of the reported location of the crash.  This was later identified as being from 67-0092 and provided evidence that the ejection module was still in the aircraft at the time of the crash and that the impact with the water was violent.

Based on this information, both Captain Stafford and Captain Caffarelli were reported as KIA as of the date of the loss.  Their names are listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Panel W1, lines 91 (Caffarelli) and 92 (Stafford).

In 1989, a JTF-FA team visited Hai Trach Village to interview a witness who claimed to have observed the crash of an F-111 in this time frame.  He put the crash site about 1500 meters NW of the village.  He reported that he did not see any crew members eject from the aircraft, but reported that the aircraft wreckage including a parachute was recovered from the water.  The witness did not observe or hear anything about the remains of the pilots or any personal effects associated with the incident.  Nothing more definitive has been learned despite several searches of NVN records and museum artifacts.


Dec 18, 1972
67-0099

Snub 40

Lt Col RJ Ward
Maj JR McElvain

Snub 40 was a mission targeted against the Hanoi International Radio complex with a scheduled time on target of 2053.  The crew made a radio call at 2054 reporting “off target”.  At 2100, it was reported that the crew told Moonbeam ABCCC that they were “feet wet”, which was their planned exit route from the target, however subsequent analysis of the taped communications did not clearly determine whether they were actually over the water or were just stating their intention to get there.  Nothing more was heard from the crew and they were declared missing and a search effort launched both over land and over water.  There was nothing found to indicate the location of the aircraft or the crew, but based on the information available, it was concluded that the aircraft had crashed into the sea. 

A radio report was monitored from a SAM battalion in the Haiphong area making reference to the shoot down of an unidentified US aircraft at approximately 2100 local time.  The only other US aircraft lost in the area was a B-52, but that occurred earlier in the evening, so this report appears to correlate to Snub 40.

In the 1990s, JTF-FA search teams visited several Vietnamese museums and archives looking for information on this loss.  They found several references to shooting down an F-111 on this date, with speculation that it had crashed at sea off shore from the Thai Bihn Province, south of Haiphong but nothing more definitive was found. No information had been recorded that suggested that it had crashed on land.  Interviews with potential witnesses in the area reiterated that an F-111 had been shot down, but had crashed at sea and no wreckage or remains were found.  No attempt was made by the local villagers go out to the site due to the presence of US Navy  off shore and a belief that the waters had been mined by the US.  The JTF-FA conclusion was that these reports correlated to the loss of Snub 40 and they reluctantly declared that the remains Lt Col Ward and Maj Ward were unrecoverable.

Lt Col Ward was promoted to Col and Maj McElvain was promoted to Lt Col while they were in MIA status, but that status was terminated in 1978 when a presumptive finding of death was made for both men by the USAF.  Their names can be found on the Vietnam Memorial Wall on panel W1, lines 95 (Ward) and 94 (McElvain).

 
Dec 22, 1972
67-0068 

Jackal 33 (Sometimes spelled Jackel)

Capt RD Sponeybarger
Lt WW Wilson

Jackal 33 was on a mission to attack port facilities in the Hanoi area with a load of 12 Mk-82 bombs.  Following the strike they were hit by enemy fire.  They had to shut down the right engine but were trying to get out of the area when the aircraft lost hydraulic pressure and the flight controls no longer responded.  They ejected and landed approximately 17 miles west of Hanoi.  Moonbeam ABCCC heard the emergency beacon at 2212 local time.  The capsule landed on an incline and they were said to have had trouble getting out, but both were unhurt.  They decided to split up to improve their chances of escaping and evading until a rescue attempt could be made. Unfortunately, Sponeybarger was captured on Dec 24th and became a POW.  Wilson continued to evade capture until after several days of delay due to weather, a rescue attempt was made on the 27th.  As the rescue helicopter neared Wilson, he was blown off his feet by the downwash and ground fire wounded the helicopter co-pilot and damaged the aircraft.  The rescue effort was aborted.  After two more days of evading capture, Wilson was captured while attempting to reach some supplies that had been dropped to him, and he also became a POW.  Both Sponeybarger and Wilson were released from captivity in March, 1973 and returned to US custody on the last of the evacuation flights for former POWs from Hanoi.  (For more details of these rescue attempts, See “The Non-Rescue of Jackel 33 during Linebacker II” by Darrel Whitcomb in the Winter, 2018 issue of Air Power History magazine and The Shoot Down, Evasion, Attempted Rescue and Capture of Jackel-33B by Jon Couch.  )

 

For several years following the end of the air war in Vietnam, reports circulated that there was an F-111 escape capsule stored at the Moscow Aviation Institute.  An investigation by the FBI in 1993 concluded that it was most likely the capsule from Jackal 33 and had been disassembled for technical analysis.

 

After the termination of Linebacker II, the F-111s continued to fly combat missions into Laos and Cambodia.  Two addition aircraft were lost during this period.

 

Mar 14, 1973
67-0072
During take-off roll at Takhli RTAFB, Thailand, a pin in the main landing gear failed and the aircraft slid off the runway and caught fire.  The crew escaped and were uninjured but the aircraft was destroyed when the bombs cooked off in the fire.

 

Jun 16, 1973
67-0111
 The aircraft crashed in Cambodia following a mid-air collision with 67-0094.  The crew ejected successfully and were rescued.  67-0094 lost approximately 5 feet of its wing but landed safely at Udorn RTAFB, Thailand.

The F-111 served in a number of combat operations during its time in service. There have been 13 combat related losses with 18 crew members killed of which 10 whose remains have never been found. The following descriptions of F-111 Combat losses are drawn from a myriad of sources. The Library of Congress has copies of many original messages and reports that provide contemporaneous accounts of the events surrounding each loss and subsequent Joint Task Force – Full Accountability (JTF-FA) research, site visits and crash site excavations. They can be found at www.loc.gov and by searching using either a crew members name, the tail number of the aircraft or the MIA/POW REFNO. Other information comes from the Vietnam Memorial wall website and the archives of Arlington National Cemetery. There are many other resources available on the internet that contain details not presented here, including a great deal of conjecture and speculation that has developed over the years as people have tried to determine an explanation for the many cases of “unknown” aircraft and crew member losses. The narratives presented here attempt to stick to documented facts based on official documents. (info contributed by Rick Sine)


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