700320 The Rescue of Wolf 06 Part Two - following on from Zerocinco's AAR

YANKEE AIR PIRATE - AAR

602nd SOS
Cowboy - (4) A-1H Skyraider
TOT: - 0700
Flight Time: - 55 Minutes

"OK listen up, we know that Wolf-06 is down in the vicinity of the Mu Gia Pass in Laos. The pilot and backseater are out and on the ground. The area is enemy controlled and their presence, along with their heavy guns, will make rescue difficult. We must begin an effort to secure the crash site, or at least protect our downed men until we can open a corridor for the rescue chopper."

Our heavily laden Skyraiders are packing rockets, smoke, napalm, cluster munitions and Mk81s, along with 20mm for the four-Mk39s. Our mission is to get into the zone and suppress those guns. We leave Nakhon Phanom at dawn.

The Skyraiders landing lights illuminate the taxiway as each aircraft moves onto the active and accelerates into the darkness. Cowboy flight is soon joined by other Skyraiders on ingress, forming an impressive force as we fly on into the rising sun.

"The YAP guys have further improved the flight-model, this is the best ever Skyraider. It has weight, it doesn't bob and it is rock-solid. Each one is also carrying individual nose-artwork!"

The ingress of over twenty minutes does not drag. I know what we are flying into and I go over every procedure that I will have to perform automatically and every pitfall and tiny detail that will take your life in a second if you don't stay on it, or if you run out of luck - Here's the rescue site...

We have a beeper straight away! A Spad has augured in, I hope he got out. This rescue will become a bloody tussle of wills as both sides throw in everything they have.

Situational awareness 101 - Aircraft ahead are striking and marking the guns, explosions and marking smoke light the scenery; I can see an M1939 and a 51Cal gun-pit. I saw one of those 51Cals take out a Spooky some time ago, so I decide to deliver my CBUs right down their throats. Following an oblique approach and a late break I'm looking down the barrels of that 51Cal and the Spad is so perfectly aligned I give them the 20mm as well, hosing and bombing the pit and its occupants to fiery destruction.

Bank off the target, just in case some other smart-ass has you in their sights, and crank it around for the second gun. The M1939 is covered and well hidden. Another dive-bombing pass gives him some rockets for starters, my Mk81s as a main course, and 20mm for dessert. As I pull-out the whole emplacement, and much of the immediate area, is just a smoking hole. I climb back to altitude above potential small arms fire and join the other Spads circling the zone.

"The AI fly and fight very well, the AI Spads are also dropping real low around the steep sides of the pass, cranking it over and circling back, so that you feel part of a coordinated strike."

The Skyraider teams work hard to identify the enemy movement and positions. We mark with smoke and then follow up by strafing or rocketing the NVA. Some unfortunates take our cluster bombs. Then there is the napalm, blooming orange death across the valley, we work and work...

Finally, after flying on station for over twenty minutes, I am 'Winchester', all ammo expended. The sun is well up now and its time to RTB. I cruise back to NKP and let my heart-beat settle down before entering the traffic pattern and setting 'Blind Faith II' gratefully back on 'Terra Firma.'

"With this mission the YAP guys really demonstrate their affection for the Skyraider and its important role in the Vietnam War. Every aspect of the Spad is vividly realized, I was stunned."