Description of the 71st Activation and Mission
by Lt. Col. James E. Pyle, Commander, 71st SOS

13 May 68 - 17 May 68, Bakalar AFB | AC-119G Deployment Problems | Lockbourne AFB, 17 Jun 68
Deployment to South Vietnam | 71st SOS Bases in Vietnam | Shadow AC-119G Combat Systems
71ST SOS Combat-Ready - 11 MAR 69 | Missions by Shadow Crews | 71st SOS Decorations
Non-Combat Mission - Cau Da elementary School

Air Force Reserve Active Duty Tour, 1968/1969

The 434th Tactical Airlift Wing(Continental Air Command) received notice on 11 Apr 68 that the 930th Tactical Airlift Group would be called up for twenty-four months active service with the Tactical Air Command on 13 May 68.

On 8 May 68 the following units were released from recall:

    a. 930th Supply Squadron
    b. 930th Combat Support Squadron
    c. 930th Communications Squadron
    d. 930th Tactical Airlift Group Hospital

On 13 May 68 the following units were activated and assigned to the 838th Air Division(TAC), Forbes AFB, KS, with duty at Bakalar AFB.
 a. 930th Group Headquarters  Col. Joe T. Pound
 b. 930th Consol. Acft. Mtc. Sqdn.  L/Col. Donald L. Beyl
 c. 930th Aerial Port Squadron  Capt. C. S. Richardson
 d. 71st Tactical Airlift Squadron  L/Col. Wm. L. Horrell

The 930th Tactical Airlift Group was mobilized with strength as follows:



 a. Ordered to A/D 13 May 68



 b. 30-60 day delays granted



 c. TDY, Basic Trng, Lackland AFB



 d. Totals




Delays granted were principally to teachers, college students, and farmers. One airman was granted exemption from active duty for extreme personal hardship.

Shortly after activation, TAC Movement Order 11 was received on 14 May 68 for transfer of the unit to Lockbourne AFB, Ohio. An Operation Plan was prepared and 930th TAG Operations Order 1-68 (1 Jun 68) directed the activated units to commence a PCS move from Bakalar AFB, Indiana to Lockbourne AFB, Ohio on 1 Jun 68 and to close NLT 30 Jun 68. An advance party (ADVON) of one officer and 3 NCOs was to report to Lockbourne AFB on 1 Jun 68. The ADVON party was composed of Lt Col. Harman Hatton, CMSgt Marshall Pickett, CMSgt Walter Fritsche, and MSgt Dale Stickles.

The 930th TAG was reorganized into the 71st Air Commando Squadron, L/Col. James E. Pyle, Commander, on 17 Jun 68 and moved to Lockbourne AFB Ohio. All personnel were in place and functioning from Lockbourne AFB on 21 Jun 68. The movement of material was completed on 28 Jun 68, in accordance with the 930th TAG Plan, and in compliance with with TACM 400-5. About 270,000 pounds of material with a stated value of approximately three million dollars was moved in organization aircraft. No outside assistance was required or requested. The 930th Supply Squadron Commander, L/Col. Jack Priddy, although not called to active duty, spent a total of three weeks with the unit assisting in preparation of the Movement Plan, insuring proper and orderly transfer of accountability, etc. His action was indicative of the fine spirit of cooperation and the excellent working relationship the unit experienced with all the people of Bakalar AFB.

During the period 13 May 68 through 17 May 68 at Bakalar AFB, the unit:

a. Reviewed all personnel records for completeness, and prepared equipment for move to LAFB.
b. Supported TAC levied airlift missions and supported upgrade training in all areas.
c. Airlifted personnel and material from Bakalar AFB to Lockbourne AFB.

On 8 Jul 68 the 71st Air Commando Squadron was redesignated the 71st Special Operations Squadron - Parent unit, 1st Special Operations Wing, England AFB, LA. While at Lockbourne AFB the 71st SOS was supported by Headquarters, 840th Combat Support Group (TAC).

The first training class in the AC-119G gunship for Southeast Asia duty was accepted by the 4413th Combat Crew Training Squadron (CCTS) on 3 Jul 68. Most of the 71st's personnel were experienced and qualified in C-119G crew and support positions, so the training stressed equipment and procedures peculiar to the AC-119G gunship. The C-119Gs of the 71st SOS were gradually sent to the Fairchild-Hiller plant in St. Augustine, FL for modification to AC-119G gunships, or to other units as replacements for their commitment to the modification program.

When the 71st Tactical Airlift Squadron was recalled, the C-119G aircraft crew consisted of (2) Pilots, one (1) Navigator, one (1) Flight Engineer, and one (1) Loadmaster. The AC-119G aircraft crew required two (2) Pilots, two (2) Navigators (one Navigator operated the Night Observation Sight), one (1) Flight Engineer, two (2) Gunners, and one (1) Illuminator Operator. Loadmasters cross-trained as Illuminator Operators. Volunteers from other Reserve Units were accepted to fill vacancies and the Air Staff ordered men from various Air Force sources to fully man the 71st SOS, which was scheduled to depart for Southeast Asia on 27 July 68. Delays in departure ensued however.

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The Gunship III (AC-119G) program was beset with many problems which caused delays in the deployment of the 71st SOS.

a. Procurement of the electronic components and guns not on schedule.
b. Difficulties with Fairchild-Hiller on certain items at the outset of the modification program; the smoke evacuation system being a case in point. Survival of aircraft and crew was at stake if a magnesium flare ignited in the aircraft. The fire would fill the plane with blinding, choking smoke, impairing vision and movement. The Air Force specified that to be safe, a smoke removal system had to clear the smoke in ten seconds.
c. Production delays stretched time for readying support equipment and refining supply procedures.
d. During March 1968, the President announced a new ceiling of Southeast Asia increases, known as Program 6 and disclosed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on April 6. It did not provide for the spaces CINCPAC asked for to support the AC-119Gs.
e. Delay in completion of base support facilities in South Vietnam.
f. General Nazzaro, Commander in Chief, Pacific Air Forces, notified General McConnel, Chief of Staff, on Sept. 25, 1968, that the enemy's stepped-up infiltration and attacks on populated areas and military installations proved the need for two AC-119G squadrons. However, by reason of manpower ceilings and possible disruptive effects of a short-term AC-119G deployment, CINCPACAF, recommended;
1. Retention of two AC-47 squadrons,
2. Holding the 71st Special Operations Squadron in the United States,
3. Earliest possible deployment of the AC-119K Gunship III squadron.
g. Even more serious was the AC-119G aircraft's failure to reach Air Force profile standards. The AC-119G had to sustain a 200 foot-per-minute rate of climb with one engine feathered during hot day conditions at a gross weight of 62,000 pounds.

TAC received the first AC-119G on 9 Jun 68, and instantly began limited flight testing. Equipment problems and delays developed. Test personnel saw that the AC-119G's combat configuration would go over the 62,000 pound weight limit, forcing a cutback in fuel load and in turn loiter time. The final test report recommended that AFLC conduct a weight reduction program. On 11 Jul 68, General Gabriel P. Disoway, TAC Commander, reported to the Air Force Chief of Staff: "We are in agreement that the AC-119G as presently configured will not provide the desired SEA combat capability. We strongly recommend the deployment be delayed until deficiencies are corrected."

Air Force headquarters directed a conference be convened "to discuss alternatives for improving the aircraft performance in order to meet mission requirements." Air Force headquarters asked (1) WRAMA to identify nonessential items for removal to reduce the AC-119Gs weight. (2) PACAF and Seventh Air Force to review mission requirements and recommend removal of specific equipment items and/or reduction of the 200 foot-per-minute rate of climb standard, and (3) TAC to brief results of the AC-119G's Category III test and suggest any improvements.

On 26 July 68, WRAMA hosted a two day AC-119G weight reduction and performance improvement conference. In attendance were representatives from Headquarters USAF, PACAF, TAC, AFLC, Seventh Air Force, and Fairchild-Hiller. The conferees determined the G model's total weight when ready for take-off was 66,282 pounds, 3,350 pounds in excess. After lengthy discussions, more than thirty items were listed for removal, weighing a total of 3,277 pounds. The conferees believed that PACAF and the Seventh Air Force need ed to adopt the weight reduction recommendation and at the same time relax the single engine climb rate standard from 200 feet to 100 feet-per-minute. The Air Force headquarters pondered these recommendations, then let PACAF know that the SEA mission profile could be met by adopting the weight reduction recommendation together with lowering the single engine rate-of-climb standard to 100 feet-per-minute. Air Force headquarters stressed that the lower standard of performance afforded "adequate operational safety." The AC-119G would be given a pilot operated jettisonable flare launcher. Jettisoning the launcher in an emergency would boost the single engine rate-of-climb to around 150 feet-per-minute. On 15 August 68, PACAF replied that it would lower the rate-of-climb criterion to 100 feet-per-minute.

The Air Force looked for the best way to accomplish the weight reduction program. On 24 Aug 68, WRAMA suggested the aircraft be cycled through the contractor's St. Augustine plant. The Air Staff accepted the plan , and Fairchild-Hiller was contracted to rework the AC-119G aircraft weight reduction.

On 11 Oct 68, the Air Force officially accepted the last AC-119G as it ended modification. On the other hand, only the first aircraft had gone through all test phases and begun its weight reduction at Fairchild-Hiller's St. Augustine plant. Debate over the headroom spaces and the AC-119G deployment extended into November. Air Force Headquarters rejected PACAF's recommendation for holding the 71st SOS in the United States. ° PACAF then reported it would allow deployment of the AC-119Gs.

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Deputy Defense Secretary Nitze approved the deployment of the 71st Special Operations Squadron to South Vietnam on 27 Nov 68.

While at Lockbourne AFB during the period 17 Jun 68 until deployment to SEA in December 68, The Unit:

a. Progressed through the 4413th Combat Crew Training Squadron's program and was considered ready for the combat theater commitment.
b. All flying personnel completed the Basic Survival School course at Fairchild AFB, Wash.
c. Flew support missions levied by higher headquarters:
1. Tactical Air Command
2. Special Operations Forces
3. 1st Special Operations Wing
Type of Missions
1. Airborne Support (Pope AFB)
2. Combat Cover (Egli n AFB)
3. C-119G delivery to Fairchild-Hiller and other Reserve Units.
4. AC-119G pick-up at Fairchild-Hiller.
5. Chute tests (Wright-Patterson AFB)
6. Squadron Support
d. Aircrew training:
1. Combat Aircrew Training - 4413th CCTS (40 hours)
2. Continuation Training - all crews
a. Four flights per month per crew (4 hours each, dry fire)
b. One live fire mission per crew prior to deployment
c. Basic Survival School
d. FTD - Clinton County AFB
e. Flight Simulator (Bakalar AFB)
f. Physiological Training (Grissom AFB)
e. GMT (Lockbourne AFB)
1. Accident Prevention
2. Articles of UCMJ
3. Code of Conduct
4. Disaster Actions
5. First Aid
6. Security
7. Calisthenics - 5 BX
8. .38 caliber handgun
9. M-16 rifles
10. M-148 launcher
11. Com Sec
f. Maintenance Support
1. Maintained C-119G aircraft until exchanged for AC-119Gs, including standard and phase inspections.
2. Received and performed acceptance checks on 18 AC-119G aircraft. Numerous discrepancies were found including incorrect wiring of A1C-10 interphone on first 11 aircraft; 80% of engine fuel and oil hoses and 60% of wing fuel hoses required replacement; five engines had to be replaced because they exceeded the 900 hours criteria specified by PACAF; twelve main gear tires received from factory were worn to minimum standard, requiring replacement; some tires had flat spots; phase inspections as performed at IRAN facility did not comply with TO; safety wires were missing; spark plugs had not been reconditioned. Our AFTO 64 Forms reflected many other discrepancies. Also some TOs and wiring diagrams on special equipment were missing.
3. Maintained AC-119G aircraft.
4. Performed miscellaneous inspections of aircraft equipment as required.
5. Continuous maintenance training.

During the tour at Lockbourne AFB, the 71st SOS received several distinguished visitors. The purpose of the visits was to inspect and be briefed on the status of the unit.

August, 1968: General William W. Momeyer and his staff. General Momeyer had been Commander of the 7th Air Force, PACAF, and had just assumed command of the Tactical Air Command.

November, 1968: Major General Tom E. Marchbanks, Chief of Air Force Reserve; Major General Rollin B. Moore, Jr., AFRES Commander; Colonel O. M. Bixby, Commander 840th Combat Support Group (TAC), Lockbourne AFB, Ohio; Colonel A. S. Pouliot, Commander 1st Special Operations Wing, England, AFB, Louisiana.

Thirty (30) Officers and sixty (60) Enlisted Personnel of the original three hundred thirty seven (337) personnel recalled did not deploy to South Vietnam with the 71st SOS:


a. OVERAGE - (no position on Unit Manning Document) - 19 Colonel Joe T. Pound reassigned to the 317th(?) Tactical Airlift Wing, then to the Pentagon. Colonel Mason D. Cloyd reassigned to the Pentagon. Twelve reassigned to other active units. Five (5) released from active duty and returned to reserve status.
b. MEDICAL - released from active duty - 7
c. REASSIGNED - to helicopter squadron - 2
d. OTHER - 2 (One (1) returned to flying status too late to take part in training; One (1) ineligible for reassignment to SEA unless volunteer status.)


a. OVERAGE - (no position on Unit Manning Document) - 35 All assigned to other active duty units.
b. MEDICAL - released from active duty - 6
c. HARDSHIP - discharge approved - 3
d. HUMANITARIAN - 4 (two (2) reassigned to other active duty units, two (2) still pending at time of deployment.)
e. LACK OF RETAINABILITY - 8 (reassigned to other active duty units on base until discharged.)
f. Had requested release from reserve assignment prior to recall. Released - 1
g. Exercised option to decline deployment due to brother being scheduled to go with squadron - 3

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The 71st SOS received the Movement Order to deploy to South Vietnam on 27 Nov 1968. The 71st SOS was to ferry eighteen (18) AC-119G aircraft to Nha Trang, South Vietnam via McClellan AFB, California; McChord AFB, Washington; Elmendorf AFB,Alaska; Adak; Midway; Wake; Guam; and Clark AB, Philippines. (The guns and mounts had been removed and a 500 gallon rubberized fuel tank had been installed for extra fuel load. The guns and mounts would be shipped to Nha Trang so as to arrive at the same time as the aircraft.) Each aircraft would be manned with a crew of: Pilot, Co-Pilot, Navigator, Flight Engineer, and Crew Engineer. (Note: There was no enroute support team or enroute support kit - both were needed as experience proved - Personnel on enroute bases were not familiar with the AC-119G aircraft, therefore enroute support was poor. The 71st SOS sent maintenance teams to Tinker AFB and Wake AB to make engine changes.)

All other 71st SOS personnel (258) and unit equipment (338,000 pounds) was to be airlifted from Lockbourne AFB, Ohio to Nha Trang, South Vietnam, on three (3) C-141 (MAC) aircraft via Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, and Yokoda AB, Japan. Flights were to depart 10 Dec 68, 22 Dec 68, and 10 Jan 69. The first flight included unit equipment and an advance party (ADVON) with L/Col. Donald L. Beyl in charge. They arrived at Nha Trang 12 Dec 68 and immediately started making arrangements for arrival of the main force of 71st SOS personnel. The second flight was made up of mostly personnel, including the Commander, Operations Scheduler, Administrative personnel, other crew members and maintenance personnel. Some unit equipment was included. The flight arrived at Nha Trang 24 Dec 68. All crew members, except the Commander whose presence was required at Nha Trang until his staff was in place, remained aboard and continued on to Clark AB, Philippines, to attend the PACAF Jungle Survival School (referred to as 'snake school'). Jungle Survival Training was a PACAF requirement before flying combat missions in the Vietnam theater. The Commander attended 'snake school' with other arriving crew members. The third flight with the balance of unit equipment and personnel arrived at Nha Trang by mid Jan 69 as scheduled, thanks to the excellent supervision of Maj. Duane C. Oberg, Squadron Mobility and Administrative Officer.

The first two AC-119G aircraft departed Lockbourne AFB on 5 Dec 68; two aircraft 10 Dec 68; and then as the aircraft became available from the weight reduction program at the Fairchild-Hiller plant in St. Augustine, Florida. The last aircraft departed St. Augustine on 29 Jan 69. Two (2) AC-119G aircraft arrived at Nha Trang on 27 Dec 68 with a total of four (4) AC-119Gs arriving by 31 Dec 68. By the first of March, all eighteen (18) AC-119G aircraft of the 71st SOS had arrived in the combat theater.

As the aircraft ferrying crews arrived, they were immediately sent to the Jungle Survival School at Clark AB, Philippines. This was made possible through the special efforts of L/Col. Boris C. Chaleff. L/Col. Chaleff, the Acting Operations Officer/Operations Scheduler, was in the first group (from the second C-141 airlift) to attend the 'snake school'. He established a valuable working relationship with M/Sgt. Berry, NCOIC of the Survival School. L/Col. Chaleff explained the high precedence rating of "Combat Hornet", the method of arrival of aircraft and crews, and the immediate requirement to fly fragged missions. M/Sgt. Berry allowed the 71st SOS to send crews to the Survival School without the required waiting period. A phone call from L/Col. Chaleff at anytime was acceptable. (The 71st SOS showed its appreciation by sending jungle combat boots and jungle fatigues to Survival School personnel.) Gaining timely admission to the Jungle Survival School was critical to our mission and it became almost routine. The remainder of the problem was getting in-country flight reservations for the aircrews from Nha Trang to Saigon and on to Clark AB. The airmen in the 71st Operations Section spent an inordinate amount of time on a highly inefficient telephone system making the necessary travel arrangements. This was another example of the Reservists performing beyond the call of duty and outside of the system in order to get the job done.

As the AC-119G aircraft arrived at Nha Trang, maintenance personnel set to work removing the special ferrying fuel tanks, reinstalled and adjusted the miniguns, and in general got the aircraft operationally ready. This proved a stiffer job than expected as some of the aircraft and numerous maintenance write-ups.

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The 71st SOS (call sign "Shadow") was assigned to the 14th Special Operations Wing at Nha Trang, and would operate out of three locations:

NHA TRANG AB - 71st SOS Headquarters and Flight A with five (5) aircraft
Commander: L/Col. James E. Pyle
Opns. Officer: L/Col. Warren L. Johnson
PHAN RANG AB - Flight B with six (6) aircraft.
Commander: L/Col. William E. Long
Opns. Officer: L/Col. Earl W. Scott
TAN SON NHUT AB - Flight C with five (5) aircraft
Commander: L/Col. Donald F. Beyl
Opns. Officer: L/Col. Robert S. Mulgrew

Nha Trang AB, headquarters of the 14th SOW, would serve as the main support base and have two (2) sp °are aircraft. All major inspections would be done at Nha Trang. When an aircraft at Flight B or Flight C was due for an inspection, one of the spare aircraft was flown to the forward location and exchanged for the aircraft in need of an inspection.

The first AC-119G Shadow combat missions were flown out of Nha Trang AB on 5 Jan 69. An evaluation team analyzed the Shadow gunship's performance (5 Jan to 8 Mar 69) in Combat Air Patrol for Base and Hamlet Defense, Interdiction, Armed Reconnaissance, Forward Air Control, and Close Air Support missions. The evaluation report revealed the weapon system performed all missions satisfactorily except Forward Air Controlling. The aircraft was rather slow, hard to maneuver, and vulnerable to enemy fire - not well suited to the Forward Air Control role.

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The Shadow AC-119G had five (5) main systems:
a. The night observation device
b. Four (4) side firing 7.62 mm miniguns(3/6,000 RPM)
c. Semiautomatic flare launcher
d. Fire control system
e. Illuminator (million candlepower)

All except the illuminator demonstrated acceptable reliability and effective operation. The illuminator worked well until maintenance problems made it unreliable. (Maintenance problems were less and less in time, and the illuminator eventually proved to be a very valuable system.) The miniguns were very effective in close air support, however were of limited value against vehicular traffic. Lack of an all-weather capability crippled its operation in fog and haze. The evaluators recommended the aircraft not be used in a high threat environment.

Throughout the combat evaluation, the bulk of the targets (371 of 589) turned up during harrassment-and-interdiction type missions. Such missions commonly grew out of armed reconnaissance operations. A Shadow gunship was assigned to patrol a "Box" - an area bound by precise coordinates. (Many of the boxes were located west of the cities of Kontum and Pleiku where Cambodia, Laos, and South Vietnam converged.)

Shadow navigated to and within the box area by TACAN, with ground radar backup. Shadow kept a terrain clearance of 500 feet as it pressed an unrestricted search for the target with the night observation device or visually by means of the flares or illuminator. When a target was identified, the gunship plotted the coordinates and called the controlling agency for clearance to fire. (Often it dropped Mk-6 flares (marker logs) to pinpoint the target's position.) Upon receipt of firing clearance, Shadow would climb to 3,500 feet, usually selected a semi-automatic firing mode, banked into the left orbit, and fired. Sometimes the gunship dropped flares to illuminate the area and operated one or two guns, often at a slow rate (3,000 rounds-per-minute).

The evaluators had less trouble in assessing the results of the close air support missions. The Shadow used its illuminator and flares many times to assist troops-in-contact(TIC) with the enemy. Shadow attacks in the course of the combat evaluations recorded noteworthy statistics, including six enemy killed and another 184 estimated killed. They silenced five .50 caliber gun positions and destroyed or damaged thirty-one trucks. Many secondary explosions triggered by attacks on ammunition fuel dumps, vehicles, and base camps were confirmed. At the end of the evaluation, the Shadow AC-119Gs had reported eighty-six instances of ground fire but suffered only one aircraft hit from an unknown type of small arms weapon. No injuries and only slight damage to the right wing tip. Shadow maintained an operational readiness rate of 78.8 % over the evaluation period.

All through the evaluation period, more aircraft and crews arrived, proceeded to "snake school" and returned to immediately start the in-theater combat training check-out. To expedite combat crew checkout, 14th SOW "instructor pilots" worked with several selected 71st SOS pilots so as to certify them as "instructor pilots". Two of the 71st SOS IPs, Major Benjamin McPherson and Capt. Marvin Evans, contacted the Squadron Scheduler and volunteered to fly until "fatigued". Major McPherson flew fourteen nights straight and Capt. Evans flew seventeen nights straight before taking a night off. This extra effort on their part helped immensely toward complete squadron crew checkout.

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As air crews became combat-ready, the forward locations were activated. Tan Son Nhut (flight C) was the first forward location to be activated in January, 1969. On the eve of deployment of Flight C to the Tan Son Nhut AB, the designated Wing airlift support programed to airlift the flight C support equipment and ground personnel was cancelled due to a higher priority mission. Colonel Ginn, 14th SOW Deputy Chief for Operations, stated several key personnel were working on the problem and were getting nowhere through channels. 71st SOS Squadron Scheduler, L/Col. Chaleff, personally contacted several Sergeants on base that had airlift connections and by phone they made arrangements to divert sufficient aircraft capability to accomplish the move as originally planned. This initiative by the Reserves to "get the job done" by whatever means required was commended by Colonel Ginn. This accomplishment enabled the Tan Son Nhut Flight C to fly its first fragged mission as scheduled.

The forward location, Phan Rang (Flight B), was in place and flying missions by 15 Feb 69. All three locations flew three fragged missions each night, the first taking off at 6:30pm with the second and third taking off at two to three hour intervals. Each mission flew until released by the sector command - release depending on enemy action in the sector. Missions varied from one to three sorties of approximately four hours plus each. (Refueling was done at the nearest base in sector.)

The crews of the 71st SOS got their greatest satisfaction from successfully defending friendly ground troops in danger of being overrun by an enemy force. But Shadow brought a new dimension to the use of the gunships in Vietnam.

With its night-sight equipment, automatic flare launcher, and million candlepower searchlight, the AC-119G truly lived up to the 71st's motto, "Deny Him the Dark". It searches for troop concentration, interdicts the enemy's supply routes and also uses its unique capabilities in unusual and highly helpful ways.

Damaged aircraft have been shown a clearing where a safe landing could be made; night ground repairs of machinery and equipment have been made possible by Shadow's light; the light was even used to illuminate an area where doctors were performing a delicate operation o Ñn a wounded Vietnamese soldier.

The compound had lost its electrical power while under heavy attack by the Viet Cong. A call for help was answered by the Shadow which was supporting the Vietnamese in their efforts to clear the enemy out of the besieged village. For more than 30 minutes the pilot maintained the aircraft in a disciplined circular pattern, disregarding the extreme vulnerability to enemy ground fire. Finally the operation was over - the soldier would survive. L/Col. Burl G. Campbell piloted the Shadow during its mission of mercy. His crew consisted of Capt. John L. Parish, Co-Pilot; L/Col. James H. Kirke and Major Harold R. Crawford, Navigators; M/Sgt. Ronald E. Wheeler, Flight Engineer; S/Sgt. Robert C. Johnson, Illuminator Operator; and Sgts. Robert Baum and James R. Boyd, Aerial Gunners.

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There were many interesting and satisfying missions by Shadow crews, such as:

"Thanks Shadow. If it hadn't been for you, we never would have held old Charley back". These words from a friendly Army unit on the ground were heard often.

"Shadow scared the the fight out of six enemy soldiers following three nights of action against their unit 35 miles north of Ban Me Thout. The six rallied to the side of the government rather than face any more of the accurate firepower from the miniguns of the AC-119G Shadow gunship.

On the night of 9-10 May 69, L/Col. Earl Scott, aircraft commander of Shadow 62, was operating in a sector and in contact an Army of the Republic of Vietnam ground force. He was advised by the sector command post to evacuate the area as an "Arc Light" mission (B-52 bombing mission) was scheduled for that area shortly.

He immediately advised them of the friendly troops in the area, but was again ordered out of the area as they didn't show any friendlies in that area, and the "Arc Light" mission was proceeding. L/Col. Scott refused to leave the area and after many verbal exchanges, the "Arc Light" mission was diverted to its secondary target.

L/Col. Scott and his crew received a Letter of Appreciation from General George S. Brown, Commander, 7th Air Force (PACAF); also from Colonel William K. Bush, Commander, and Colonel William H. Ginn, Deputy Commander for Operations, 14th Special Operations Wing (PACAF), which read in part:

"When placed in a unique situation, Lt. Col. Scott and his crew did not respond routinely. They instead, properly analyzed the danger to friendly ground forces and make the fact known. At the risk of censure, they persisted until corrective action was taken. The validity of their judgement has since been established and there can be little doubt that a potentially tragic situation was averted."

The above mentioned Letters of Appreciation along with letters from Lt. Col. Pyle, Commander, 71st SOS, and Lt. Col. William E. Long, B Flight Commander, 71st SOS, were forwarded to Lt. Col. Scott.

The 71st Special Operations Squadron, made up of mostly Reserve personnel, arrived in Vietnam among skepticism and opposition but it didn't take long for the aircrew experience level and professionalism, along with the superb maintenance capability of the Reserves to change everyone's opinion. The officers and men of the 14th Special Operations Wing were extremely pleased with the dedication and capability of the members of the 71st SOS.

Colonel William K. Bush, Commander of the 14th SOW highly praised the men of the 71st SOS: "I am proud to have the 71st SOS as a part of this Wing. This former reserve unit has done an outstanding job and is performing a vital mission here in Vietnam."

According to the parent 14th SOW history, the 71st SOS "left an impressive record of accomplishments during its active duty period in Southeast Asia." The 71st SOS Operational Record in Southeast Asia:

1,209 Fragged Missions
1,516 Sorties
14,555,150 Rounds of 7.62mm ammunition expended
10,281 Flares dropped
6,251 Combat hours flown
682 Confirmed hostiles killed by air (1,104 probables)
43 Vehicles confirmed destroyed (8 probables)

The 71st SOS never lost an outpost it was defending, and helped save many patrols needing help. The greatest achievement was NOT A SINGLE FATALITY, and NOT AN AIRCRAFT LOST during the tour.

Only six aircraft received any kind of battle damage in the air. Five suffered minor small arms fire damage. the sixth was the most serious, being struck by rounds of 12.7 mm fire which put 19 holes in the aft part of the fuselage and caused minor wounds, lacerations in neck and back to an active duty gunner augmenting the basic reserve crew. Two other aircraft of the 71st SOS received damage on the ground, but neither was disabling. One aircraft received minor damage when Nha Trang Flight A was hit by six rounds of 75 mm recoilless rifle fire. The other aircraft was hit by ricocheting mortar fragments at Phan Rang flight B, but it took off 90 minutes later in defense of the base. Although no significant damage was done, all three sites, Nha Trang, Phan Rang, and Tan Son Nhut shared in eight other ground attacks during the Squadron's tour in Vietnam.

Five Reservists extended their tour in Vietnam: MSgt. Dale Stickles, MSgt. Herb Weaver, SSgt. George Dragoo, SSgt. Len Swallom and SSgt. Hector Trevino.

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The members of the 71st SOS received the following decorations:

751 Air Medals
143 Distinguished Flying Crosses
18 Bronze Stars
47 Air Force Commendation Medals
2 Purple Hearts (minor injuries)

The 71st SOS, being the only Air Force Reserve Unit in the combat area, received many distinguished visitors to inspect and be briefed on mission accomplishments:

April, 1969 - Air Reserve Forces Policy Committee; Dr. T. C. Marrs, M/Gen. Curtis, M/Gen. Gifford, M/Gen. Potts, M/Gen. Price, and Colonel Paris.

May, 1969 - M/Gen. Tom E. Marchbanks, Jr., Chief Air Force Reserve, Hq. USAF; Col. Benjamin S. Catlin, III, Chief of Staff, Air Force Reserve; Colonel Milton E. Mitler, Chief, Liaison and Information Div., Air Force Reserve; Lt. Col. Donald L. Peck, Assistant Chief, Operations and Training, Air Force Reserve.

Dr. Robert C. Seamons, Jr., U.S. Air Force Secretary and party.

General George S. Brown, Commander, 7th Air Force.

The 71st SOS participated in a non-combat mission during their tour. The Cau Da elementary School, set high on a hillside above the Bay of Nha Trang, was in danger of sliding down the hill due to soil erosion. As soon as the Squadron was asked to help, a call went out for volunteers. Between 20 and 30 men volunteered to go out to the school during their free time and help any way they could. Plans were quickly drawn up to build a supporting wall and fill in behind it. Construction was begun at once. Rock was broken up at a nearby quarry and hauled to the school. Using cement mixed on site., 71st SOS volunteers and villagers began assembling the wall. A nearby unit of the South Vietnamese Navy also helped. With the main wall completed, the 71st men moved their efforts to a diversionary wall that would halt any erosion in the future. Also a stairway down the hill was constructed to make it easier for the children to get to school. It was a very satisfying "civic action project'.

The 71st SOS left Nha Trang AB on 5 Jun 69 via three (MAC) C-141 aircraft. (The 18 AC-119G gunships were reassigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron.)

M/Gen. Royal N. Butler, 7th Air Force Commander observed: "They've come in from civilian live, worked into a new weapons system, brought it into the country, and have done a tremendous job since they've been here."

The three C-141 aircraft arrived at Bakalar AFB, Columbus, IN on Friday, 6 Jun 69 to a great welcome from family, relatives, and friends - including Columbus Mayor Eret Kline, Indiana Governor Edgar Whitcomb, and Colonel Alfred Verhulst, Vice Commander, Air Force Reserve. Governor Whitcomb presented each man a Service Recognition Certificate from the State of Indiana - the first time Indiana had ever done this. After a free weekend, the 71st SOS returned to base for processing and normal duty until released from active duty on 18 Jun 69. Deactivation ceremonies on 17 Jun 69 was climaxed by a Squadron review. Many VIPs arrived for the deactivation ceremonies:


M/Gen. Marchbanks . . . . . . . . . Pentagon
Col. (Governor) Whitcomb . . . . Indiana
Col. Mitler
Col. Ecklund
Col. Cloyd
M/Gen. Moore . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robins AFB
Col. Verhulst
B/Gen. Cardinas . . . . . . . . . . . . Eglin AFB
B/Gen. Barron
Col. Haegelin
Col. Mailloux
Col. Davidson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bergstrom AFB
Col. Haynsworth
Col. Biven . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Selfridge AFB
Capt. Bailey

As of 19 Jun 69, the 71st SOS reverted to Reserve Status and continued their training at Bakalar AFB through December 1969, when it was reassigned to Grissom AFB, Peru, Indiana.

On 16 Jul 1969, Department of the Air Force Special Order GB-468, paragraph 4, awarded The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious achievement in support of operations during the period 19 Dec 68 - 30 Apr 69.

The 71st SOS also received the Presidential Unit Citation Award for the period 19 Dec 68 - 30 Jun 69.

The 71st SOS was awarded The Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross With Palm for 14 Feb 69 - 4 Jun 69.

The 71st Special Operations Squadron performed its mission in an outstanding, professional manner. All members of the 71st SOS can and should be proud of their performance. I am proud to have been the Commander of such a great group of men. I wish to say THANKS to all members of the 71st SOS for their outstanding performance.

It is only natural that when talking about the Squadron's performance, we think first of the crew members and their missions. However, let's not forget the work required in getting those missions ready, or the every day administrative duties. A special THANKS to the personnel in the following areas:

(Headquarters and all Flights)
Maintenance (all)
L/Col. James E. Pyle
71st Special Operations Squadron
17 Jun 68 - 18 Jun 69

Colonel Pyle, Commander, and L/Col. Johnson, Operations Officer, as representatives of the 71st SOS, were invited to attend a meeting on 16 Dec 69, with all other recalled representatives, for "Reserve Recognition Day" at the White House with President Nixon.

They also attended a luncheon for all Air Force Reserve representatives at the Bolling AFB Officer Club, hosted by the Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Robert C. Seamans, Jr., and General John D. Ryan, Chief of Staff.

Reserve Recognition Day, 16 Dec 1969

L. to R. Maj. Gen. Tom E. Marchbanks, Jr., Chief Air Force Reserve, Hq. USAF; Gen. John D. Ryan, Chief of Staff, USAF; Colonel James E. Pyle, Commander, 71st Special Operations Squadron

Development of the Fixed Wing Gunships | AC-119G Successor units of the 71st SOS

Selection and Activation Chronology of the 71st 

Detailed Activation Description, by Col. James E. Pyle

Development of the "Shadow" Graphic, by Phil Bender

Development of the "Shadow" Calling Card by Al Reynolds

Lineage of the 71st | Flight Crew Roster, Mar 1969 | 71st SOS Mission in Review

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