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"Where do we get such men?"
There was a program on the History Channel several days ago about Air
Force missions in Vietnam called "suicide missions". They interviewed many of
the personnel involved. They were lone F-114 flights with pilot and radarmen
called "weasels" and "bears". (we loved to give nicknames in the AF). The
idea was to fly a mission directly into enemy territory until detected by
enemy radar. We had radar interception equipment on board that would give the
location of the enemy radar. The plane would then fly directly toward the
radar facility which we knew would be protected by a "sams" missile site. The
F-114 was armed and the objective was to find and take out the radar and the
As the plane got close to the target the enemy sams would be fired at
close range. Close enough that there was very little chance the attacker
could avoid being hit. But the pilots were good and developed a strategy that
often times worked. They would put their plane into a steep dive at the last
minute as the sams came close so that the sams would nose down to follow.
They would then pull up abruptly and the sams would hopefully miss. Worked
about half the time. A very high percentage of these crews were killed or
taken prisoner. You want to talk about heroes, these kids were heroes, burned
toast or not.
The reason this was interesting to me is that we were doing the same
thing during the Korean War, a little less sophisticated perhaps. We would
send an F-84 into Russia or China until they were detected by enemy radar. In
those days the enemy would "scramble" We were monitoring their radar and we
could tell when it was time for our man to turn around and "haul ass".
Sometimes he made it.
The strange thing to me is I haven't read anything yet of this happening
during the Korean War or before Vietnam. Maybe Joe wrote about it. You can
bet I'm getting "Korea, the Untold Story of the War".