Feb. 1, 2006
Perspectives on Khobar Towers

Editor in Chief Robert Dudney says in his November editorial [“The Shadow of Khobar Towers,” p. 2] that the Clinton Administration “appeased” Iran after the Khobar Towers bombing. But doing nothing is not appeasement. By definition, appeasement requires pacifying a country by giving in to specific demands—you know, such as when the Reagan Administration sold arms to Iran in exchange for hostages. Some of those arms undoubtedly ended up in the hands of Iranian terrorists. That means US troops were put in direct danger from weapons sold to the enemy by our own Reagan White House. I’m sure that situation wasn’t lost on the troops, either. In fact, I’m surprised the arms-for-hostages scandal wasn’t the first thing Dudney thought of when he went to write an editorial about the dangers of appeasing Iran.

Scott Kraus

Pocatello, Idaho

Thank you for this editorial. I am in complete agreement with you, and I suspect that [more than] 90 percent of all Air Force officers also agree. General Fogleman and Brigadier General Schwalier were two outstanding officers, and it is unfortunate that the President Clinton-Secretary Cohen spineless style of management caused us to lose them. It is probably politically incorrect for you to speak your mind on this and, therefore, your having the courage to do so is a breath of fresh air.

I feel a renewed commitment to the Air Force Association.

Col. Roy Miller,

USAFR (Ret.)


More on Bud Day

Thank you for your outstanding article, “The Strength of Bud Day,” in the December 2005 issue [p. 50]. It brought back many memories of a flight with Colonel Day on an F-4 Wild Weasel training sortie at Clark AB, Philippines, on Oct. 27, 1989. I was the commander of the 90th Tactical Fighter Squadron and Colonel Day’s son, George Jr., was an F-4G electronic warfare officer in the unit. We invited Colonel Day to speak at a dining-out and were able to persuade PACAF to authorize him to fly a two-ship tactical mission to the Crow Valley range with his son on our wing.

Day’s 4,500 hours of fighter time (he called the cockpit his office) were readily apparent after takeoff. He flew most of the sortie from the rear cockpit of the F-4E, flew down initial, pitched out, and landed the jet. He was truly a fighter pilot’s fighter pilot. Day said the chance to fly with his son was one of the high points of his life. He was extremely proud of George Jr. (George later went to pilot training and the F-16.)

Colonel Day’s presentation at our dining-out was an inspiration to all present. I’ll always remember him saying, “I wasn’t a hero; I was just doing my job.” He certainly changed the way I looked at life and our responsibility to this great nation of ours.

Col. Bill Walters,

USAF (Ret.)

Maitland, Fla.

Just received my December issue and was thrilled with the article on Bud Day.

As a Misty, [I know that] the entire group holds our Bud in the highest esteem. He is a genuine American hero.

I first met Bud in a barbershop in Morocco back in 1959, just a few months after he punched out of an F-84 and his chute failed to open, but he survived the fall into a hedgerow—a little-known aspect of his remarkable career in fighters.

Lt. Col. Jack Doub,

USAF (Ret.)

Valdosta, Ga.

Red Tails

Regarding “The Red Tail of Courage” in the December issue [p. 76], I’ve always had a soft spot for those heroes, the Tuskegee fighter pilots who served so honorably in the Italian Theater, as I did. My 61 missions as a pilot of B-25s were in the year of 1944.

I note that you named Capt. Roscoe Brown who shot down two enemy planes in early 1945. It would be nice to mention the other fighter pilots who shot down the other 109 German planes, perhaps by name and the number of kills.

Henry D. Moore

Grand Rapids, Mich.

Ho Chi Minh Trail: Take Two

John Correll’s piece “The Ho Chi Minh Trail” (November, p. 62) brought back graphic memories for me as an AC-130 gunship pilot in Southeast Asia during the 1970-72 time frame. I witnessed several higher headquarters staff visits to our AC-130 squadron for the purpose of challenging gunship truck kill claims and to dispute the capabilities of the AC-130 weapon system. These weapons experts simply could not accept the fact that lumbering old C-130/C-119 transports, equipped with side-firing cannons and unique sensor systems, could detect enemy truck convoys transiting the myriad of road networks in Laos, let alone, with pinpoint accuracy, reduce them to scrap metal in a matter of minutes. Once these skeptics saw the airplane and viewed combat videotapes depicting spectacular battle damage to enemy vehicular traffic, they became reluctant believers. Although most doubters were convinced that gunships were detecting and attacking legitimate truck targets, there still was ongoing debate as to the numbers destroyed vs. damaged.

Mr. Correll points out the Air Force reported 46,000 trucks destroyed or damaged over the four-year period of Commando Hunt campaigns from 1968 to 1972, of which a large percentage were attributed to gunships. Without North Vietnamese transportation officials’ verification as to how many trucks they had and the number actually lost, to include how many their mechanics restored to service, the Air Force reported numbers remain the official record. The more relevant question for those who continue to disparage gunship [bomb damage assessment] numbers should be to assess to what degree gunship interdiction missions helped deter the enemy’s ability to move men and war materials into South Vietnam. Arguably, Washington critics became obsessed with a truck kill bean count and disregarded the obvious—that being, regardless whether trucks were destroyed or damaged, in either case those vehicles were prevented from moving war supplies south at the time.

At the outset of the 1971-72 Commando Hunt campaign, 7th Air Force published clear and concise criteria to evaluate gunship BDA. For a truck to be considered destroyed by either 40 mm or 20 mm ordnance, it must either blow up or incur a sustained fire. The AC-130 unit had its own facility where BDA videotapes of each mission were reviewed and evaluated to ensure aircrew claims met the destroyed or damaged criteria. The damaged or destroyed issue became somewhat of a moot point during this time as well with the introduction of the 105 mm howitzer on newer model AC-130s. Used as a direct fire weapon, the 105 produced devastating results on trucks and armor which ended the haggling over BDA.

The bottom line is that gunships were a major factor at interdicting NVN infiltration activity. But trying to stop literally thousands of enemy trucks from transiting the myriad of road networks in Laos was an effort in futility. Gunships teamed with fighter escorts went out night after night and made the NVN pay dearly for moving war supplies south. We all knew those trucks should have been destroyed on the very ships that delivered them to Haiphong Harbor.

The “Fabulous Four Engine Fighter” of the Vietnam era, re-equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry, remains a vital element in supporting our ground forces engaged in combat worldwide.

Jim Kyle


More on Allocating Guard Assets

Continuing the thoughts of Lt. Col. John Walmsley in the December 2005 issue of Air Force Magazine [See “Letters: Differing Total Force Views,” p. 4.]: The idea of “state-based/controlled” strategic air combat and mobility units makes no sense anymore, if it ever did. Governors arguing over assets like A-10s, F-16s, KC-135s, and C-141s is incredible—they can’t use them. I would even argue that Tacair is problematic at the state level. What they can use are more US Army assets—military police, helicopter-based rescue and recovery teams, and supply and transportation units—as they have been. The idea of the National Guard should not extend to Air Force assets, which I think belong in the AFRC. I watched the Air Guard leaders making their case in regards to BRAC, and how hard it is to relocate Guard people, which of course is true but the wrong argument. I agree with Walmsley and that we should seriously consider making them a part of the AFRC and be the direct resources of ACC and AMC. We can provide governors what they truly need of the Guard (and USAR) in times of great need, as well as provide additional units and training for what DOD seems likely to have great need of in the future. This doesn’t preclude, of course, Air Force assets being provided to work a disaster. It’s always been a team effort.

Col. Robert E. Smith Jr.,

USAFR (Ret.)

Highlands, N.C.

Many members of the Air National Guard (ANG) agree with your editorial “Battle Damage From the QDR” [January, p. 2]. You continue to overlook a source of funds for airpower, for which you make such a strong case.The “battle damage” from BRAC on the ANG has turned intended savings into actual loss of airpower and high future costs. Further it has reduced the state-community-Congress based linkage, thereby demising the Congressional funding for personnel and equipment for the Total Force, so effective in the past and supported by the Air Force Association.

Brig. Gen. William W. Spruance,

USAF (Ret.)

Las Vegas

Why F-22s Are Necessary

D.W. Roberts clearly shows a lack of knowledge of air warfare. [See “Letters: Negative on New Fighters,” December, p. 5.] I need only refer him to (1) Recent training exercises with the Air Force of India with their Russian Su-27. Our F-15[s] could barely manage a one-to-one “kill” ratio. (2) In the first few months of World War ll, the Japanese “Zero” killed hundreds of our well-trained pilots in planes that were no match for the Zero. With today’s long lead time for new fighters, Mr. Roberts should reconsider his position, or once again our pilots may pay for this error in judgment.

Bill E. Powell

Surprise, Ariz.

Examples of Leadership

Thanks for printing General Fogleman’s 1997 farewell statement. [See “The Keeper File: Fogleman’s Farewell,” December, p. 8.] He was a class act in every respect, including his decision to step aside quietly. I was a member of the AMC staff when Fogleman took command. It would be fair to say that the coming of another fighter general to take over the mobility force was viewed with some concern. The concerns were unfounded, as we learned during a meeting on the afternoon of his first day in command. He’d done his homework, told us some things we didn’t know about ourselves, and quickly earned the respect that only a real leader gets from this subordinates. He became Chief of Staff at a time of unprecedented change in the Air Force and did a tremendous job of sorting things out. He represented the very best of what an Air Force senior leader should be. I hope you’ll be able to do an in-depth article on General Fogleman in a future issue. His approach to leadership is worthy of study.

Col. Michael R. Gallagher,

USAF (Ret.)

Sacramento, Calif.

Airplane Snatchers

[In reference to the] December issue, p. 46, “Flashback: The Airplane Snatchers,” the civilian contractor partner on the project to pick up airplanes was All American Engineering Co. (AAE) of Wilmington, Del. As a matter of fact, AAE designed the Model 80C winch used and performed the installation in the B-17.

This particular “pick-up” project was one of many based upon the “Air Mail Pick-up” system developed by AAE in the late 1930s and 1940s. The systems were based on using “cable” (or “line”) dynamics and especially designed energy attenuating winches to reduce the initial loads when picking up an object using an aircraft in flight.

This same type of system utilizing AAE designed winches, and in most cases aircraft installations, was used to snatch CG-4 gliders into the air in World War II and is the basis for the air-to air recovery systems in the JC130B parachute recovery system (Corona Project), the HC130H Air Recovery System (Air Rescue Service), and the CH3-C Mid-Air Recovery Systems (MARS) used to recover reconnaissance drones in Vietnam and elsewhere!

It has been estimated that over 30,000 aerial recoveries were made by the JC130B system from 1961 until 1986, and the same amount by the CH3-C systems from 1965 until 1986.

So although the “Airplane Snatcher” system didn’t advance, the concept did!

G. Robert Veazey Sr.

Former Manager of Aerial

Recovery Systems

All American Engineering Co.

Wilmington, Del.

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