Monday, April 6, 2020

An interesting day

Busy week, surprisingly.  The builders were making good progress on the house until called away to another project.



I believe that guy's name was Noah and needed an Ark on fairly short notice.  All the animals seemed to go with them for some reason.  We've had at least 10" of rain this past week.  Field is quite green...and soft.  Other than some of the Tyvek being torn down, the house seemed to weather (get it?) the storm quite well.



MBD had me working a project for her church.  She asked for a database for them to use to track help requests and volunteers to deal with members of the congregation who are stuck at home and needing assistance.  So...been a busy few weeks, even though I haven't been off Rancho Juvat very often.

Regarding the current BS,  I have but one question.  What conditions are the Powers that Be looking for to indicate that the crisis has passed and we should be going back to work/school/whatever?  I don't think the bastiges have a clue.

So...before I get my blood pressure to elevated, I'm going to switch gears on this post and pull out an old, but reliable topic.





Last month I was running through my usual morning list of Blogs to get caught up on things both earth shattering as well as mundane.  One of those is "This Day in Aviation".  (As an aside as I went to the site to copy the URL for the link, the featured article for today (Sunday) was of a Hawker Hunter flying under the London Bridge.  Hmmm, now why would anyone want to fly under a bridge? ;-)

Stay on Target, juvat!

¡Mantente en el objetivo, sí, oh Matusalén de los sargentos de la Fuerza Aérea! 

In any case, the date was March 10th.  The first article under this date featured this picture.


I recognized the man as Captain John R. "Bob" Pardo of the infamous Pardo's Push, which I had talked about the month before, and Sarge had covered back at the dawn of time.  OK, I thought, so that Push was on March 10th, let's see what else happened on that date.


Typically, Mr Swope will have several different postings for a given date in different years.  This one had three for the very same date.  In fact, all three postings covered different aspects of the same mission, the attack on the Thai Nguyen Steel Mill in North Vietnam in 1967.  This target was considered to be one of the most valuable targets in North Vietnam.  Which meant that many strikes were sent against it, but also that it was extremely well protected.

And as Capt Pardo's story indicates, losses were taken.  Even though all four crew members involved in the "Push" survived, both aircraft were lost.  While the F-4's were making their way out of the target area, a following flight of F-105's begin their attack.
Source

Captain Max Brestel is #3 in a fourship of Thuds also bombing the plant.  As they begin their roll in to the target, they are attacked by two MiG-21s.  Capt Brestel aggressively turns into the MiGs and they break off their attack.  Capt Brestel then continues his roll in and delivers his ordnance.
Source

As they're egressing the area, they notice a flight of MiG 17's below them.  Capt Brestel's flight lead begins to engage them, but as the movie says "Bastards have brothers!" and two more MiG-17's engage him.  Capt Brestel calls for his lead to break, closes to 300' and shoots the MiG down.  He then continues his attack on the second MiG, again closes to 300' before opening fire.  Although he did not see the aircraft crash, he did notice severe damage while shooting.  He repositions, but a SAM has been fired at him, so Lead decides caution is the better part of valor and leads the flight out of the area.

OK, from a fighter pilot's perspective, that took some guts.  First, the MiG 17 can out turn a Thud no matter what, so engaging them is a risky proposition.  Second, the Thud is not built for Air to Air, so wouldn't have had a lead computing gunsight.  So an accurate gunshot would be extremely difficult.  Unless you're within 300'.  At combat speeds, 300' takes about 1/2 second to cover.  You're not likely to miss, but avoiding the debris would be difficult.

However, there's the ancient fighter pilot saying "I'd rather be lucky than good!"  Turns out that Capt Brestel had the first double kill of the Vietnam War.  And the aircraft he was flying scored another confirmed kill a little later that year.

The third story on this date revolves around Capt Merlyn Dethlefsen. Capt Dethlefsen is flying #3 in a flight of 4 F-105G Wild Weasels.  Because their mission is Suppresion of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD...you know the military and acronyms), they will be in the lead of the package ("First in, Last out" is the Wild Weasel motto).

According to the Source, this actually is Capt Dethlefsen
As they approach the target area, Capt Dethlefsen's flight lead, Lt Col Everson, is shot down.  He and his WSO are captured and spend several years under the kind care of the North Vietnamese.  (I've met Col Everson, he and my Dad were assigned to Nellis together.) His wingman is also badly damaged and leaves the area.

Capt Dethlefsen takes lead of the flight, although his aircraft has taken battle damage and begins to work the problem.  Avoiding an attack from a MiG by flying INTO antiaircraft fire. he attacks a SAM site destroying it.  Continuing to attack sites, he is attacked again by a MiG, but evades it.  Attacking still another SAM site with bombs and strafing, he destroys that one also.  At that point, out of weapons and low on gas, he egresses the target area and returns home.

Capt Dethlefsen received the Medal of Honor for this mission. His WSO (Capt Kevin Gilroy) received the Air Force Cross.

Source


As well they should.

Three amazing tales of bravery and self sacrifice occurring on the same mission, all entirely different circumstances yet all the same.  They came of age in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.  Guys like these were my flight leads and IPs while I was "growing up".   I'm proud to have known them and learned from them.  They made me who I am.  I'm proud to have been a member of the brotherhood. Even  if "unblooded".


 Colonel Dethlefsen's Citation:


Maj. Dethlefsen was 1 of a flight of F-105 aircraft engaged in a fire suppression mission designed to destroy a key antiaircraft defensive complex containing surface-to-air missiles (SAM), an exceptionally heavy concentration of antiaircraft artillery, and other automatic weapons.

The defensive network was situated to dominate the approach and provide protection to an important North Vietnam industrial center that was scheduled to be attacked by fighter bombers immediately after the strike by Maj. Dethlefsen's flight.
In the initial attack on the defensive complex the lead aircraft was crippled, and Maj. Dethlefsen's aircraft was extensively damaged by the intense enemy fire. Realizing that the success of the impending fighter bomber attack on the center now depended on his ability to effectively suppress the defensive fire, Maj. Dethlefsen ignored the enemy's overwhelming firepower and the damage to his aircraft and pressed his attack.
Despite a continuing hail of antiaircraft fire, deadly surface-to-air missiles, and counterattacks by MIG interceptors, Maj. Dethlefsen flew repeated close range strikes to silence the enemy defensive positions with bombs and cannon fire.
His action in rendering ineffective the defensive SAM and antiaircraft artillery sites enabled the ensuing fighter bombers to strike successfully the important industrial target without loss or damage to their aircraft, thereby appreciably reducing the enemy's ability to provide essential war material.
Maj. Dethlefsen's consummate skill and selfless dedication to this significant mission were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

Colonel Dethlefsen  retired from the Air Force in 1977 and passed away of natural causes in 1987 at age 53.

Rest in Peace, Warrior!

As a side note, 10 March seems to be a special kind of Day.  On 10 Mar, 1966, Major Bernie Fisher also flew the mission for which he received the Medal of Honor.  Interesting!

23 comments:

  1. You got 10, we got 2. South Texas, south of SA isn't in the rain belt.

    Good stuff today. I had a 105 on my ceiling when I was a kid. I thought I'd caressed one at Kelly, but it looks like that is a swing wing. My finger prints are all over the B-58 there... There is a Dart there? Wow, I gotta go see that one next.

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    1. I started building models when I was in 3rd grade. Dad was stationed at Ent AFB in C Springs. We weren't near a base, so models were a bit sparse. When he got transferred to Webb, we lived on base. I started mowing lawns, so was "rich" and the BX was a short walk away. So models were much more available and ceiling space became sparse. The F-105 was my favorite at the time.

      There is a Thud at Lackland. This should take you there. It's not on the parade field, but further to the southwest near the B-52. There is a Lawn Dart on the parade field along with an Eagle and SR-71.

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  2. House is coming along nicely I see, Oh antiguo guerrero de los cielos.

    The guys who went Downtown have always been my heroes. The Thud drivers were a special breed.

    Great post águila gris! 😉

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    1. Thanks. One of those linked posts talked about Thud losses. I knew they had been heavy, but 40% of the fleet of Thuds were lost in the war. 334 in combat and an additional 65 in related accidents. That's a lot of iron.

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    2. To put that in another perspective here's an excerpt from "When Thunder Rolled":

      As I'm unpacking the next morning in our room, Bill Ricks brings a small book out of his dresser. It's his journal. He kept a very brief calendar for the six months we've been at Korat, each day simply marking down the losses of F-105s. Simple lines, entered in a table, but each one indicates a change in a man's life. Some are rescues, some are deaths, and some are imprisonments. Some of the lines mean that there are widows and orphans somewhere back home. Some mean years of pain and loneliness that lie ahead for friends and families. Each tiny black mark in the diary has a story behind it. Bill counts them up, slowly turning the pages. He turns to me and announces that we've lost more than 100 percent of the airplanes assigned to Korat. We've lost a whole wing, four squadrons worth of F-105s in just six months. The flow of replacements has kept us in operation, but the magnitude of the numbers is stunning. We look at each other and say nothing.

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    3. And yet, ifonly Republic had had the same mindset as in WWII, or the Fairchild designers of the A-10, it would've been a much better plane. The the D's were much better than the A's. But, I guess the mindset was 'nuclear strike aircraft', so survivability and redundancy were pretty much afterthoughts partially rectified after a number of accidents. But high-speed, low-altitude, it was hard to beat, even for a MiG-21. But it wasn't cut out to be a conventional bomber. That's one of the many things I don't understand. When my mother and I and my baby twin brothers flew into Guam in a C-121 Constellation in 1966, we got held up for 45 minutes in a holding pattern as B-52's were returning from tactical strikes in S. Vietnam. Why in God's name were we using tactical USAF and USN bombers and attack planes to hit strategic targets in the North while strategic bombers (and others) were used to hit tactical targets in the South? That's the kind of idiocy that makes one (almost) consider John Birch-style conspiracy theories, except that Occam's razor always applies. Never under-estimate the power of stupidity. But what I'm seeing now of what amounts to a national lock-down makes me wonder -- "We can't let China get hurt worse than us, can we??!!" Sigh. And I'm in multiple prime risk groups for this. Though I suspect that when antibody tests are widely available, I think I might already have had this in December, February, or March. I think the last 2 were the flu, but who knows. n I almost went to the doctor on the last one, it was so bad, but it got better (somewhat) the morning I was going to go if nothing had changed. 75% of my sick time has been used this year, though. I'd rather be flying Route Pack 6 in a Thud if I didn't have a wife to worry about!!!

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  3. That’s some kinda engineering you have on that roof.

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    1. Well, this is what it will sort of look like when complete. The Garage will be on the left side of the house instead of by the Master Bedroom. But it does show the roof work.

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  4. Weird on your house that they didn't put the roof on and dry it in before siding it. Must have been due to availability of siding crew vs roofing crew or something.

    Is the steep pitch of the roof so you have attic space, or just so you can shed water in all it's varied forms more easily?



    Ever since reading "Thud Ridge" I have been fascinated with the F-105. Such a big beautiful graceful fast plane, a true shame that so many were lost fighting in an environment it really wasn't designed for. Dangit. And then when retired the government killed every last one, ripping it's heart out, or at least the engine out. Bastiges.

    So many stories of the Air War over Vietnam are unknown because it was an unpopular war (well, the US's side at least) with teachers in the school system when I was growing up. Which sucks. Too many lies, too many falsehoods told about so many great men.

    Thanks for bringing up these great fliers.

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    1. I think you're right, Beans, on the scheduling. As to the pitch, the plan does allow for a bonus room upstairs. We elected not to use that option. Mostly to reduce cost, but also...stairs...getting older...bad knees...didn't want one of those elevator chairs...

      Got to fly a mission with an F-105G while at Moody. A little Wild Weaseling on Eglin's range. We were tossing Pave Spike LGB's at targets ID'd by the Weasel (Georgia ANG). On egress, we're in an vee formation, and the bad guys are trying to chase us down. I made the mistake of asking the Weasel to push it up a bit. That was the last time I saw him. Thing was FAST!!!!

      Ras's first book "When Thunder Rolled" is also very good. Details his first tour in Vietnam in the Thud. Highly recommended.

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    2. Very good book. So was the book about his F-4 tour. Man could write like he flew.

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    3. As to single stories, I've read some blogs where the author built a multi-level 'Border Castle.' And then lived in it, for years, and discovered that not putting a lift in and stairs and bad knees and bad backs totally sucks.

      Of course, you could buy a 'cargo lift' like they use on houses along the Gulf, you know, to lift supplies to the actual house, that is 10-15' above ground level. They aren't elevators. Only for cargo. No one will ride on it, promise...

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    4. I've got all three of his books (as I suspect you do also). He was a very intelligent and well spoken man. If you did your best (aka his definition of a Fighter Pilot which I adopted) he was your friend. If you were a Shoe Clerk, He was your worst nightmare. Promoted to Major 4 (maybe 5) years below the zone, he retired as a Major. I got to see him one last time before he passed. In the bar at the Hangar Hotel here in town. It was a reunion of his Thud Squadron. He was standing in the middle of the room, hands in the air retelling some war story. The rest of the squadron was joining in with stories of their own. I meta few of them during my career. It was good to see them again.

      Damn, I miss that man.

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  5. What indications that the crisis has passed? None, just hope, which isn't a strategy, and is actually false hope being given to the masses when leadership should still be talking about staying the course. Maybe in 2 weeks we'll have an indication that new infections are going down, but nothing yet (and probably not in 2 weeks...). This sucks.

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    1. Actually, symptomatic cases are down, all across the board, except in NYC, because NYC.

      Cases identified by testing include an awful lot of people who have been previously diagnosed with not-flu starting back in December. You know, the one that just hung on for weeks and weeks and spiked low temps only but was just a crudfest? That one. And all the asymptomatic 'carriers' who are being found in the population by testing large groups, like cops or medical personnel.

      I want to see a graph of Cases broken down by 'Infected, hospitalized,' 'Infected, hospitalized, used ventilator,' 'Infected, shelter-in-place,' 'Tested due to previous illness, tested positive,' 'Asymptomatic but showing antibodies,' and 'Tests Administered,' and 'Not tested, but identified by symptoms.' Day by day. Chart also deaths directly linked to Corona-chan and recovered.

      Total number identified says nothing. It's the breakdown by categories that will really tell everyone what is happening.

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    2. I have been a bit suspicious of all these goings on for quite a while - coming from a medical family (wife and son and best friend are all good docs) we are all skeptical. Was reading another blog that made a good point (sorry I can't remember which blog) - namely, that as a society (and as individuals) we are always balancing risk and benefit. Automobiles are deadly contraptions, with thousands dying every year. But we don't stop driving because of those thousands of deaths due to the benefit cars provide. In a normal flu season, again we lose thousands of lives, yet we haven't shut down the economy until this season's novel Kung Flu virus because we see the benefit of the economy open and the resultant savings of lives by keeping it open. Granted some of the loss of life from the shutdown may be longer term due to it inducing more chronic, less acute problems, such as loss of jobs leading to poor nutrition, no longer being able to afford medical care, having to postpone surgeries that would have uncovered more serious problems, that sort of thing. As a society, we don't really have the luxury of following policies that take the stance of "If it saves only one life, it's worth it." Granted if that one life was mine or a loved one, maybe I'd feel differently, but I don't think I would.

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    3. Good points gents. Stats are very useful, but they've been selectively used to scare the hell out of us. NYC has it bad, as do New Orleans and Miami, but these can be somewhat credited to the NY subways and Mardi Gras. And NYC has home-field advantage when it comes to the news. If we use all the stats broken down as you've stated, this virus may not be worth the worldwide economic collapse. At some point people will have to pay for food, even if they have rent forgiveness. I'd like to see at least some reopening of the world soon, although not sure what soon is.

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  6. The Thud was a neat plane. There were no slots out of my UPT class; I think they were already moving to the Guard and Reserves. The Wild Weasel version held on for a while after.

    Your house seems to be coming along at a normal pace. We had the same problem with specialty crews being called away. They will fill that attic with airconditioning ducting and vents. If I may make a suggestion, my supervisor let me put flooring up in the attic area so that we would have a good storage area; it was done before any ducting or vents went in.

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    1. If you do make a platform in the attic, put it up on runners above the bottom of the frame, thus giving you 7" or so of space below your deck for them to put extra insulation in.

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    2. This builder, the same that built my house, uses 12 inch or bigger beams across the attic; I saw them in earlier pictures. BTW, Juvat, they don't normally insulate the garage. I did my own walls and still need to get insulation blown into the attic. Naturally you can pay to have them do it. 😀

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    3. Bill, good info, thanks. I need to check, but I believe my supervisor said there was going to be "some" flooring up there. And there are big beams up there as you said.

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    4. They put some flooring in my attic too; it was mainly for the AC system. I added about 8 sheets for an additional 200+ sq ft of storage space.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)