Monday, July 18, 2011

VO 67 Mud River

The following was sent to me by an old friend, Dave T. I had never heard of it. Not even a rumor, which normally exist whenever "top secret operations" are on going. And it even escaped the prying eyes of the media who have no respect for secret operations or how many people die because of their "scoop."

The P2V Neptune, also known in the Navy as the SP2H, replaced the P5M Marlin in many patrol squadrons although the P5M did hang on for a while doing coast patrol duty during Vietnam.

The P5M was a huge target and I had a friend who was shot down in the China Sea and lived to tell about it. He was in an open raft for over a week. According to him an escape/evasion manuever was to get so low over the water that the air disturbance would create a wake that the MIG's fire control radar could lock on and thus miss the aircraft. Must not have worked at least one time.

But I digress.

The Navy's Observation Squadron Sixty-Seven (VO-67) existed for just a little over a year, a total of 500 days, from February 1967 to July 1968. The "Observation" in the name is meaningless. It hid, at the time, what was a highly classified mission. The "67" stood for the year it came into being. VO-67 was a vital part of project Muscle Shoals. The mission of the project was to detect, classify, hinder and penalize the North Vietnamese Army infiltration into the South. Steel Tiger was the code name for the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos. IGLOO WHITE was the code-name for the technologies associated with the project located at NKP and operated by USAF Task Force Alpha.


Like the P5, the Neptune was slow. But, like the wake to fool the fire control of the MIGS:

The concept of the VO-67 mission was not totally unique. As Navy ASW crews search for and track submarines in our world's oceans, VO-67 would search the sea of green jungle in Laos and Vietnam for truck and troop movements south along the famous "Ho Chi Minh Trail". The dangerous air space above the trail, "The Hard Air", that place where death lingered will remain etched in the minds of all who served there. The trail was regarded as one of the most heavily defended areas in the Vietnam War. Many 37 and 57mm radar controlled AAA guns and small arms awaited the slow lumbering OP-2E Neptune's as they made there long straight line run in to implant the coded sensors. ..... At times approaching the target area at 50 feet above the terrain then popping up to 500 feet just before the target, implant sensors, and then a max-power jinking clime out. VO-67 was also the only aircraft squadron, of any service, to use the famous Norden Bombsight during the Vietnam War


Estimates of 75% loss of VO-67 Aircraft and combat crews by planners fortunately did not occur. Thanks to the Air Force FAC Pilots training and intelligence reports only 3 aircraft and 20 crewmembers were lost


I don't know the manning level of VO 67 but a typical P2 squadron had 12 aircraft with a crew of 11 each. A loss of 3 would be 25% and 20 crewmembers, which sounds like almost two complete crews to me. Better than the projection but big numbers when taken from a small group.

May their souls have found peace.

And may all the demonstrators whose protests extended that war rot in hell.

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