Combat SAR Operations

Combat SAR SAR Pix LBJ Support USS Evans Special M-60 Carrier Ops UnRep Misc Ops

Introduction

The fleet's search and rescue forces saved many American aviators from death or captivity. From 6 June 1964 to 1 November 1968, 458 of the 912 naval air crewmen downed as a result of combat or non-combat operations in North Vietnam, Laos, or at sea were recovered. While the retrieval of aviators from crash sites on land, when at all possible, took somewhat longer, the rescue at sea usually occurred within 20 to 30 minutes of the aircraft loss. The effort was not without cost, however, for 26 men were killed, wounded, missing, or made prisoner, and 33 aircraft were destroyed during SAR operations. This measure, however, returned valuable air crews to the fleet and improved the morale of naval aviators, who knew the Navy would do its utmost to rescue them from hostile territory or waters.

This psychological support was crucial because the air units of Task Force 77 carried out their missions in one of the world's most difficult operational environments. During the winter Northeast Monsoon from November to March, the weather in the Gulf of Tonkin and over most of North Vietnam is characterized by dense clouds and heavy rainfall. Conditions are especially harsh during a weather phenomenon known as the Crachin. Thick clouds with ceilings as low as 500 feet blanket the area and are accompanied by fog and persistent drizzle. Conversely, during the summer Southwest Monsoon from May to September, the skies are usually clear and dry. These general weather patterns are almost reversed in South Vietnam and Laos. This situation allowed shifting of air resources to more favorable areas. Still, throughout the year high temperatures and humidity, typhoons, tropical storms, and thundershowers increased the difficulty and danger of operating in Southeast Asia.

Quoted from:

By Sea, Air, and Land An Illustrated History of the US Navy and War in Southeast Asia

Chapter 3: The Years of Combat, 1965-1968

Department of the Navy -- Naval Historical Center

 

 

1966 Deployment
bullet History of HS-6 SAR Detachment A written by Ron Clarke
 
RESCUE MISSIONS
bullet1July 1966 -
HS-6 SAR Det A arrives onboard USS Yorktown (CVS-10) - Lt(jg) Rick Grant and AX3 Gary Smith fly a "Familiarization" flight to North SAR with Lt Reid Carlton of HS-4. The mission turns deadly when Cdr Charles H. Peters, CO of VA-155 flying off the USS Constellation (CVA-64) ejects from his crippled A-4E Skyhawk (BuNo. 150017) at extremely low altitude among the islands of the Fai Tsi Long Archipelago. As the helo crew searches for Cdr Peters among the islands, the helo is damaged in the tail pylon by enemy fire. A USAF A-1 Sandy from the 602nd ASC providing cover for the rescue effort is also struck by enemy fire and crashes into the Gulf of Tonkin, killing its pilot, USAF Maj Robert C. Williams. Neither Cdr Peters nor Maj Williams are ever found. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet1July 1966 -
HS-6 assumes Combat SAR responsibilities in the Tonkin Gulf and takes custody of four SAR-configured, armored SH-3s from HS-4.
bullet2 July 1966 -
SAR Det A transfers to USS Constellation (CVA-64) with 3 armored SH-3A SAR helos; another SAR helo is at NAS Cubi Point, PI and an additional 2 are on board the USS Kearsarge (CVS-33) as it transits to Yankee Station with the remainder of HS-6 assets including 15 ASW configured SH-3As.
bullet5 July 1966 -
Cdr Warren Lockwood/Lt(jg) Ollie Donelan/AX1 Tom Goen/ADJ1 Vincent "Vic" Vicari - Lt Neal E. Holben of VA-155, pilot of an A-4E Skyhawk (BuNo. 151026) off the USS Constellation (CVA-64), is downed by AAA from a NVN gunboat in the vicinity of the Fai Tsi Long island chain on 4 July and spend the night in his life raft. Lt Holben is unable to leave his raft due to injuries. Crew lands helo in water - Petty Officer Goen enters water to assist Lt Holben after his raft capsizes. Petty Officer Goen is swept away from helo while Lt Holben is being hauled aboard. Helo lifts from water, re-locates Petty Officer Goen and returns to recover him. Crew draws small arms and mortar fire during rescue. RESCAP is provided by A-6 Intruders.  Read rescue synopsis. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet7 July 1966 -
Lt Ron Clarke/Lt(jg) Jerry Smith/AX3 Jimmy Conrad/ADJ2 George Armstrong - Lcdr William Isenhour of VA-216, pilot of an A-4C Skyhawk (BuNo. 148456) off the USS Hancock (CVA-19), was shot down during a low pass over the outskirts of Haiphong Harbor. Helo crew skillfully and rapidly affects rescue from Haiphong Harbor while under enemy fire. Heavy SARCAP support suppresses enemy fire. Read rescue synopsis. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet12 July 1966 -
Lt Bill Waechter/Lt(jg) Bob Wildman/ADJ2 Harley Olsen/AX1 Michael Brantly - penetrate 35 miles northwest of Haiphong to rescue VF-162 pilot Lt(jg) Richard F. Adams from a high altitude karst mountain area. Lt Adams was flying a F-8E Crusader (BuNo. 150902) from the USS Oriskany (CVA-34) when he was downed by small arms fire. RESCAP is provided by four A-1 Skyraiders (Callsign: Locket) from VA-152, also flying from the Oriskany. Crew draws fire during ingress and egress. Read rescue synopsis. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors. Read another account about Lt Adams second shoot down and rescue on page 31 of "F-8 Crusader Units of the Vietnam War" by Peter B. Mersky.
bullet13 July 1966 -
SAR Det A transfers to USS Ranger (CVA-61).
bullet15 July 1966 -
Cdr Warren Lockwood/Lt(jg) Ollie Donelan/AX1 Tom Goen/ADJ1 Vincent "Vic" Vicari penetrate the Grand Norway Island group to rescue 388th TFW  pilot Capt C.L. Hambry, USAF, from the water. Capt Hambry's F-105D Thunderchief (#59-1761) was hit by AAA in the vicinity of Cam Pha, east of Haiphong. He was able to get "feet wet" before ejecting.
bullet24 July 1966 -
Lcdr R. D. Nichols/Lt(jg) Rick Grant/AX3 Gary Smith/AMH2 Royce Roberts are vectored to search for and rescue a downed pilot A-4E Skyhawk (BuNo 150040) pilot from the USS Ranger (CVA-61). Lt E. L. Foss from VA-55 is eventually located and rescued approximately 1,300 yards off the NVN coast in an area known to be heavily defended by AAA and automatic weapons. Read After Action Report Read rescue synopsis.
bullet27 July 1966 -
Lt Ron Clarke/Lt(jg) Jerry Smith/AX3 Jimmy Conrad/ADJ2 George Armstrong - conduct a successful night rescue of downed USAF RF-4C (#64-1040) pilot Capt Marvin V. Mayfield approximately 3 miles inland near Dong Hoi, North Viet Nam. Crew is under continuous fire but lands helicopter within 15 feet of survivor, effects rescue and departs rapidly seaward continuing to evade heavy enemy fire. Read rescue synopsis. Crewmember accounts of rescue and pictures. A USAF Jolly Green HH-3 attempts to rescue Capt Mayfield's backseater, 1st Lt R.D. Clark, at daybreak but is heavily damaged by enemy fire and retreats seaward. Lt Clark is eventually rescued by a USMC helo. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet11 August 1966 -
Lcdr R. D. Nichols/Lt(jg) Rick Grant/AX3 Gary Smith/AMH2 Royce Roberts are vectored among Fai Tsi Long island chain to locate and rescue VF-111 pilot Lt(jg) Cody A. Balisteri, the downed pilot of a F-8E Crusader (BuNo 150880) off the USS Oriskany (CVA-34). He was finally located on Isle Des L'Union at base of a steep 400' cliff. Petty Officer Smith enters the water and swims to shore with a life raft to affect the rescue since Lt(jg) Balisteri had abandoned his Mae West and raft. Once Petty Officer Smith and Lt(jg) Balisteri swim clear of the surf line the helo is landed in the water to rescue both men after the rescue hoist jams. Read rescue synopsis. Tragically, Lt(jg) Balisteri was killed in the fire aboard the Oriskany on 26 October 1966. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet13 August 1966 -
Lcdr George Tarrico/Lt(jg) Rick Grant/AX3 Gary Smith/ATR2 Arnie Hardin make an unopposed rescue of VF-111 Crusader pilot Lcdr N. S. Levy flying off the USS Oriskany (CVA-34). His F-8E (BuNo 150866) went down in approximately the same area as Lt(jg) Balisteri did on 11 August. Tragically, Lcdr Levy also perishes in the  Oriskany  fire on 26  October  1966. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet 20 August 1966 -
Lt Bill Roy/Lt Vann Goodloe/AX3 Rodger Sitko/AX3 Russell Sprague - Indian Gal 51 (non-armored SH-3) to the rescue of RF-4C pilot Captain Tiff Hawks (Callsign "Torpedo"), USAF.  SARCAP by an A-1H "Locket" flight from USS Oriskany (CVA-34) led by Lt John A. Feldhaus, USN. Read Tiff's account of his shoot-down, evasion and rescue (caution - 12 MB PDF file - broadband users only). Read rescue synopsis. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet21 August 1966 -
Unidentified HS-6 crew makes unopposed, routine rescue of USAF Capt Norman L. Wells of the 354th TFS well clear of the coast after his F-105D Thunderchief, Serial # 59-1770, was hit by AAA fire over Kep Airfield while on his 75th mission. Capt. Wells was subsequently shot down on 29 August 1966 and held as a POW until repatriated on 4 March 1973.
bullet27 August 1966 -
Cdr Bob Vermilya/Lt(jg) Vern Von Sydow/AXC Tom Grisham/AX3 Rodger Sitko flying a night ASW training mission in an unarmored SH-3A respond to a "Mayday" call from a USAF F-4C from the 497th TFS that successfully made it "feet wet" after being hit over NVN. Maj J.E. Barrow and 1st Lt T.H. Walsh were eventually located and rescued approximately 3 miles off the NVN coast. It is unclear which pilot Cdr Vermilya's crew rescued. Read rescue synopsis. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet27 August 1966 -
Lcdr Dave Humphreys/Lt(jg) Dick Lynas/AX3 Dave Hannum/AX1 Kenneth White also flying in an unarmored SH-3A as part of the same night ASW training exercise as Cdr Vermilya's crew, rescued the second downed USAF pilot close to the NVN shoreline. Read rescue synopsis. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet29 August 1966 -
Lt Bill Roy, his crew and Lt Bob Stemsrud (the HS-6 Flight Surgeon), MEDIVAC the two USAF survivors to hospital in Da Nang in an unarmored SH-3A. Approaching the hospital helo landing pad enemy fire ruptures the aft fuel cell - fortunately helo lands safely.
bullet31 August 1966 -
Cdr Bob Vermilya/Ens Bill Runyon/AWC Tom Grisham/ADR2 Jerry Dunford - perform a daring rescue of RF-8C pilot Lcdr Tommy Tucker of VFP-63 under heavy enemy fire deep in Haiphong Harbor. Lcdr Tucker's Photo Crusader (BuNo 146847) off the USS Oriskany (CVA-34) was hit by 37mm ground fire as he was attempting to photograph a foreign tanker in the harbor.   Read rescue synopsis. PH-2 Mike Delamore, USN, was aboard the helo and recorded the rescue.  Click here for his rescue pictures. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet2 September 1966 -
SAR Det B transfers to USS Intrepid (CVA-11).
bullet12 September 1966 -
SAR Det B returns to USS Kearsarge. Squadron now has 6 armored SH-3A SAR helos on board the Kearsarge.
bullet13 September 1966 -
SAR Det C assumes SAR duties.
bullet14 September 1966 -
Lt W. P. Matthews/Lcdr Leon Houghlum/AX3 Don Stanford/AX3 Chester Wood - vectored to position deep inside the Fai Tsi Long island chain to rescue USAF F-105 Thunderchief pilot 1st Lt John Casper of the 421st TFS. Heavy enemy fire drives off USAF UH-16. A-1 RESCAP suppress enemy fire. Read - rescue synopsis. Read newspaper account. Read Don Stanford's Air Medal citation. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet17 September 1966 -
Lcdr Bob McCaffery and crew rescue VA-22 pilot Lt(jg) R. A. Hegstrum from the water at 19˚50' N, 106˚15' E. His A-4C Skyhawk (BuNo. 148488) off the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) was downed by AAA fire on a mission over NVN.
bullet22 September 1966 -
SAR Det C transfers from USS Kearsarge to USS Constellation (CVA-64).
bullet28 September 1966 -
SAR Det C returns to USS Kearsarge.
bullet2 October 1966 -
Lt(jg) Gale Prickett/Lt(jg) Dick Lynas and crew while on a logistics flight in one of the squadron's ASW configured SH-3As, rescue AMH3 Harrison (flight deck crewman) after he is blown off the USS Oriskany's (CVA-34) flight deck. Read Dick's recollection of the rescue.
bullet7 October 1966 -
SAR Det C transferred to USS Intrepid (CVA-11)
bullet9 October 1966 -
Lt Bob Burnand/Lt Ross Mordhorst/AX3 Roy Powell/AMH2 Royce Roberts attempt to rescue Lcdr Charles Tanner and Lt Ross Terry of VF-154. Flying off the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) their F-4B was shot down about 30 miles south of Hanoi and approimately 50 miles in from the coast. Indian Gal 66 is cleared to go "feet dry" even though the downed airmen had not been precisely located. RESCAP is provided by VA-176 A-1 Skyraiders from the USS Intrepid (CVA-11). During the course of the rescue attempt all aircraft draw heavy fire and four MIG-17s tangle with the RESCAP force.  Lt(jg) Tom Patton shoots down one of the MIGs. The rescue attempt is ultimately called off when the SAR helo runs dangerously low on fuel. The helo crew jettisons everything in an attempt to decrease weight as it heads seaward. USS Wiltsie (DD-716) steams into extremely shallow water close to shore to provide HIFR. Read more here. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet12 October 1966 -
Lt Bob Burnand/Lt(jg) Doug Heggie/AXC Kenneth White/AX3 Rodger Sitko attempt to rescue the A-1H SPAD pilot of "Canasta 572" (BuNo 135323). Lt Deane Woods from VA-25 flying off the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) had ejected ejected 25 miles inland after being hit by ground fire. Radio contact is established with Lt Woods but the helo crew is unable to establish visual contact. Crew persists in search efforts despite dangerously high main gear box temperatures and heavy enemy fire which riddles the helo and wounds AXC Kenneth White. Crew continues rescue efforts until nightfall forces them to withdraw. Read rescue synopsis. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet13-16 October 1966 -
Lt Bob Burnand/Lt Ross Mordhorst/AX3 Roy Powell/AMH2 Royce Roberts resume efforts to rescue the A-1 SPAD pilot of "Canasta 572", Lt Dean Woods shot down on 12 October. The crew again persists in rescue efforts despite being subjected to intense enemy fire. The mission eventually evolves into a multi-day/multi-sortie mission until 16 October when a 16 member "Shining Brass" Special Ops team is inserted on the ground to locate Lt Woods. The team almost immediately  engages in a fire fight with a North Vietnamese patrol and has to be extracted. Read rescue synopsis. Read about "Shining Brass" team leader Richard Meadows. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet12-16 October 1966 -
Lcdr Dave Murphy/Ens Ed Marsyla/ADJ1 "Vic" Vicari/AX2 Steve Caple participate in the multi-day/multi-sortie "Shining Brass" Special Ops effort to rescue Lt Deane Woods shot down on 12 October after being hit by ground fire. While hovering to extract the "Shining Brass" on 16 October, Indian Gal 69 has the #1 engine shot out by enemy fire after boarding only six team members - the crew successfully flies out of the hover on a single-engine and heads toward the beach - the helo is again heavily damaged by AAA fire as it goes "feet wet" - the tail rotor flight controls are severely damaged but crew manages to reach the open sea and successfully ditches. During the egress to the safety of the sea, all crewmembers and "Shining Brass" teams members are wounded.  Read rescue synopsis. View pictures of Indian Gal 69's emergency water landing, crew rescue and subsequent sinking of the helo. Read Steve Caple's recollection of the rescue attempt. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet14 October 1966 -
Lt Vann Goodloe/Lt(jg) Buck Carlton/AX3 Ted Williams/ADJ2 George Armstrong penetrate the heavily defended coast and proceed 60 miles inland over North Viet Nam in support of rescue efforts to recover downed USAF pilot Maj R. P. Taylor of the 354th TFS. This is the deepest penetration of NVN air space by a Navy CSAR helo at that time. Maj Taylor is eventually rescued by a Jolly Green. Crew also draws fire on egress. Read rescue summary. See photo of crew after mission. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet24 October 1966 -
Lcdr George Tarrico/Lt(jg) Rick Grant/ATR2 Arnie Hardin/AX3 Gary Smith locate and rescue downed pilot from among heavily defended enemy islands. Crew successfully avoids drawing enemy fire with low level evasion tactics. Read rescue synopsis.
bullet1 November 1966 -
Lcdr Gerry Griffin/Lt(jg) Bill Hobdy/and crew attempt to rescue VA-72 pilot Lt Allen Carpenter from Haiphong Harbor. Lt Carpenter, in his A-4E Skyhawk (BuNo. 151138) was flying an Iron Hand SAM suppression mission off the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) when he was hit by AAA. He ejected over water but was captured by a small boat before the SAR helo could reach him. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
   
bulletIndian Gal Airways Going Out of Business Notification as Kearsarge leaves Yankee Station on 23 November 1966

    HS-6 was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for the above "exceptionally meritorious service"

1967-8 Deployment
RESCUE MISSIONS  
bullet1 October 1967 -
HS-6 Executive Officer CDR F. X. McCarthy and SAR Det A arrive aboard the USS Hornet (CVS-8) to relive HS-2 of CSAR responsibilities.  Remainder of HS-6 is in transit to Yokosuka, Japan aboard the USS Kearsarge (CVS-33). After an inport period, Kearsarge transits to the Gulf of Tonkin, arriving 23 October 1967.
bullet6 October 1967 -
SAR Det A assumes CSAR responsibilities from HS-2 and cross-decks to the USS Intrepid (CVA-11). SAR Det A later cross-decks again, this time to the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43).
bullet9 October 1967 -
Lcdr George Cagle/Lt(jg) Jerry Smith/ADJ2 George Armstrong/AXAN Alan Nobles make an unopposed, open sea rescue of Lt(jg) Laurence Cunningham, an A-4E pilot from VA-164 flying off the USS Oriskany (CVA-34). His Skyhawk (BuNo 152085) was hit while attacking a pontoon bridge at Nao Quan in NVN. The engine flamed out as he was going "feet wet" and after several restart attempts he ejected passing through 3,000 feet. Read excerpt from "Leave No Man Behind - the Saga of Combat Search and Rescue" by George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips. This excerpt used with the gracious permission of the authors.
bullet23 October 1967 -
Aircrewman AX1 Tom Goen is killed when his helo strikes the water as it took off from the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) while SAR Det A is cross-decking back to the Kearsarge. Other three crew members and passengers escape unharmed. Read C.O. Al Fox's comments regarding Tom on the second page of his 5 November 1967 letter home to HS-6 families.
bullet26 October 1967 -
Lt Rick Grant/Ens Dave Weighton/AX3 Gary Smith and a second crewman crew flying in Big Mutha 70 make a routine, open water rescue of USAF F-105 Thunderchief pilot Capt Martin Scott of the 354th TFS after his engine flames out due to  lack of oil pressure. The Thud had been hit while conducting a strike on Kep Airfield. Later the same day the crew rescues VA-163 A-4E pilot Lt(jg) Ralph Foulks about three miles from the coast of NVN. Flying off the USS Oriskany (CVA-34) his Skyhawk (BuNo 149963) was struck by AAA fire over NVN but he manages to go "feet wet" before ejecting. Snoopy takes note of the same crew making two rescues in one day. Lt(jg) Foulks was later killed on 5 January 1968 when his A-4E (BuNo 150131) was shot down over NVN.
bullet16 December 1967 -
Lcdr Steve Coakley/Lt(jg) Bill Medley/AX3 Russell Sprague/AXAN Randall Amero rescue Lt(jg) S. L. Vanhorn, the RIO of a VF-21 F-4B flying off the USS Ranger (CVA-61). The Phantom (BuNo 151429)  was hit while attacking a ferry crossing and made it "feet wet" before the crew was forced to eject.  The rescue was affected under sporadic enemy fire near coast of North Viet Nam. The pilot was rescued by an HC-7 Clementine crew also positioned at the "coast out" point.
bullet17 December 1967 -
Lcdr George Cagle/Lt(jg) Jim Payton/AXAN Alan Nobles/ADJ2 George Armstrong are launched shortly before midnight from "Alert 5" SAR posture in response to a report that a VS-29 Stoof had located two downed airmen close to the NVN coast. Their 497th TFS F-4D (Ser. 66-7757) was hit by enemy ground fire while attacking the Hau Hung Ferry. MAJ Laird Guttersen (pilot) and 1st LT S.P. Sox (WSO) nursed the crippled Phantom "feet wet" before ejecting at 17-30'N/106N/48'E. The helo and survivors come under light machine gun fire during the course of the night rescue. Subsequently, Maj Guttersen was shot down and captured on 23 February 1968.
bullet29 December 1967 -
Lcdr Jim McGill/Lt(jg) Gordy Thomas/AX2 Rodger Sitko/AX3 Curtis Williams rescued two VF-161 aviators, Lt J.F. Dowd and his RIO, LTJG G.K. Flint. Their F-4B (BuNo 150449) was struck by antiaircraft fire near the Fai Tsi Long  Archipelago just off Haiphong while on a routine weather recce mission. Both men ejected as the cockpit filled with smoke and were spotted minutes later by VA-25 A-1 Skyraider pilots. The Big Mother 71 crew was guided to the scene by the SPADs from VA-25. Dowd and Flint commented later: "It went like clockwork. Except, in the cold water, it was an awfully slow clock." Read Gordon's recollection of the mission and summary from VA-25 squadron history.
bullet2 January 1968 -
Lcdr Leo Keiffer/Lt Ed Marsyla/AX2 Thomas Monroe/AXAN Daniel Abbott pluck Ltjg Craig M. Taylor, F-8C pilot of VF-111 off the USS Oriskany (CVA-34) from the midst of a fleet of hostile fishing craft located very close to the Vietnamese beach. Ltjg Taylor's Crusader (BuNo. 146989) suffered total electrical failure while escorting a RF-8C on a photo-recon mission over the Than Hoa area. The pilot reports that he was mighty happy when "Big Mutha" arrived to save him from possible capture. Lt Taylor later died in an flight mishap at NAS Miramar.
bullet10 January 1968 -
Lt Bob Wildman/Lt(jg) Don Sanborn/AX2 Jarvis/AXAN Larry Wahl accomplish 2 separate rescues while on Logistic missions.
bullet11 January 1968 -
Lt Bob Wildman/Lt(jg) Arne Bruflat/AX2 Jarvis/AXAN Larry Wahl  rescued Lcdr D.R. Weichman of VA-164 whose A-4E Skyhawk (BuNo. 151152) was hit while on a Operation Steel Tiger covert bombing mission over Laos. Lcdr Weichman was attempting to return to his home carrier, the USS Oriskany (CVA-34) when loss of flight control forced him to eject. During the ejection sequence his leg was broken. This was the third rescue in two days for Wildman/Jarvis/Wahl while flying Logistic missions. Click here for rescue pictures.
bullet25 January 1968 -
Lt Vern Von Sydow/Lt(jg) Jim Rooney/AX2 J.W. Jones/AXAN Roland Cockerham flying Big Mutha 73 are scrambled and launch in less than 3 minutes from the South SAR ship, USS Dewey (DLG-14), to rescue Cdr Thomas E. Woolcock, CO of VA-153. While flying a strike mission off the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) his A-4E Skyhawk (BuNo. 150057) was hit by a SAM. He was able to make it "Feet Wet" before ejecting approximately 5 miles East of Vinh, NVN. The Big Mutha crew rescued him from the water between the USS Bordelon (DD-881) and HMAS Perth (DDG-25) and the NVN shore batteries which were engaged in a heavy exchange of gun fire. Read the Rescue After Action Report. Read the Stars & Stripes article. Read Lt(jg) Rooney's Navy Commendation Medal citation. Thomas Woolcock passed away in 2008.
bullet30 January 1968 -
HC-7 Detachment 110 arrives on USS Kearsarge (CVS-33) to begin orientation prior to assuming Navy H-3 Big Mother CSAR responsibilities in the Gulf of Tonkin from HS-6. HC-7 Det 110 would go on to provide continuous on station, carrier-based Navy CSAR coverage until the end of the Vietnam conflict.
bulletSkipper Al Fox's draft End of Cruise Report on recommendations to improve CSAR Operations.
bullet15 February 1968 -
AX-3 Alan Nobles, AX-3 Bob Peters and AX-3 Chris Thomas volunteer for TAD assignment to HC-7 in ordered to provide a cadre of combat experienced H-3 qualified CSAR air crewmen to augment HC-7s newly formed Detachment 110.
bullet18 February 1968 -
HS-6 turns over Big Mother H-3 CSAR responsibility to HC-7 in hangar deck ceremony aboard the USS Kearsarge.
bullet19 February 1968 -
HS-6 aboard the USS Kearsarge leaves Yankee Station en route to the Sea of Japan in response to the seizure of the USS Pueblo by North Korea.
bullet15 April 1968 -
AX-3 Bob Peters (TAD from HS-6) flying with HC-7's Lt(jg) Don Nicholson/Ens Jeff Wiant/AD(J)-3 Jeffry English affect the rescue of Lcdr J. F. Farnsworth and Lt(jg) J. M. Sarncky from VF-114 under day combat conditions. Their F-4B off the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) went down after a mid-air collision with another Phantom from VF-114 while returning to the Kitty Hawk. The crew of the other F-4B was also successfully rescued by another helicopter.
bullet8 May 1968 -
AX-3 Alan Nobles (TAD from HS-6) flying with HC-7's Lt Gary McConnell/Lt(jg) John Nichols/ATN-2 John Cullivan affect the rescue of USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) pilot Lt Dennis Lawrence of VA-56 after his A-4E Skyhawk (BuNo. 152005) was shot down pulling up after a rocket attack. Lt Lawrence originally headed for the water but turned towards the mountains in the Southern panhandle when he realized the wasn't going to make "feet wet." Lt Lawrence successful evaded capture and was rescued by the Big Mother crew under enemy fire. Read rescue as reported in the "E", the USS Enterprise's (CVAN-65) newspaper. Read UPI wire service account of the rescue.
bullet21 May 1968 -
AX-3 Chris Thomas (TAD from HS-6) flying with HC-7's Lt(jg) Michael White/Ens Diekman/AE-2 Bobby Childress affect the rescue of Lt(jg) J. A. Douglas of VA-93 under routine day conditions. Flying an A-4F off the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) Lt(jg) Douglas' Skyhawk (BuNo. 154988) was stuck by ground fire 15 miles north of Vinh. He was able to make it "feet wet" before ejecting about 10 miles off the coast.

Updated:04/03/11