Monday, October 19, 2009

Oct. 20, 1966

US aviation forces suffered a bad day in Southeast Asia on this day. One incident shows with clarity the lengths to which Search and Rescue efforts for downed aircrew would go.

F-4C 63-7518, 433TS 8TFW, was lost during an attack on a truck park in southern Laos. The crew, Maj. Breckenridge and Lt. Merrick, were able to eject about 10 miles south of the target.

HH-3C 65-12778, 38ARRS, flown by Maj. Youngblood was hit repeatedly by automatic weapons fire while trying to hoist one of the Phantom's crew aboard. It crashlanded about a mile away, with no casualties. The crew and the Phantom pilot were picked up under heavy fire by a second HH-3C, which then found and picked up the second Phantom crewman. The downed HH-3C helo was destroyed to keep it from falling into enemy hands.

A-1E 52-132410, 602ACS 14ACW, was lost to enemy fire while involved in covering efforts during the rescue of the Phantom's crew. The pilot, Capt. Wagener, did not make it out of the aircraft before it crashed, and died on the scene.

In other action:

A-4C 147775, VA-172 USS Roosevelt, was lost on an armed recon mission over North vietnam. The pilot, Lt. Purrington, successfully ejected and was captured.

A-4C 148592, VA-153 USS Constellation, was shot down after dropping its bombs on a railway bridge in North Vietnam. The pilot, Lt. Edwards, rode his aircraft down and was killed on impact.

F-104C 56-0918, 435TFS 8TFW. Another Stafigther lost during the type's miserable SEA performance, Capt. Tofferi's jet was shot down by automatic weapons fire while on an armed recon mission in northern Laos. He did not eject, and was killed.

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