First B-52 Raids on North Vietnam - History

First B-52 Raids on North Vietnam - History

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April 12, 1966

First B-52 Raids on North Vietnam

Bombing Raid

The US launches the first B-52 raids on North Vietnam, targeting the Mugia Pass. That same day, the Viet Cong launch a rocket attack on Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, which kills 7 US troops and destroys 2 helicopters and 3 transport aircraft.

From air power to infantry to chemicals, the weapons used in the Vietnam War were more devastating than those of any previous conflict. United States and South Vietnamese forces relied heavily on their superior air power, including B-52 bombers and other aircraft that dropped . read more

Agent Orange was a powerful herbicide used by U.S. military forces during the Vietnam War to eliminate forest cover and crops for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops. The U.S. program, codenamed Operation Ranch Hand, sprayed more than 20 million gallons of various herbicides . read more

What It Was Like to Blast Vietnam in a B-52

Listen to rare audio from a dangerous mission over Hanoi.

Last week, crowds of young Vietnamese cheered President Obama as he visited Hanoi and lifted a U.S. arms embargo on Vietnam.

On a Tuesday night nearly forty-four years ago, the parents of those young Vietnamese were doing their best to kill U.S. airmen over Hanoi.

Given that Obama’s trip occurred so close to Memorial Day, it seems fitting to look back at a rare artifact of one the last battles fought between America and Vietnam. Audio tapes recorded the radio and intercom chatter aboard one of the B-52s that struck Hanoi and Haiphong on December 26, 1972.

The big Strategic Air Command bombers were President Richard Nixon’s big stick to compel North Vietnam’s leaders to sign a peace agreement, and finally, finally get the United States out of a conflict that most Americans just wanted to forget. But on that night after Christmas, the big eight-engined bombers ran into an dense Soviet-made network of fighters, anti-aircraft guns and especially surface-to-air missiles that could take down a B-52 from their bombing altitude of thirty-three thousand feet.

Poor U.S. tactics didn’t help. Strategic Air Command planners, accustomed to rigid procedures for aiming nuclear-armed bombers at the Soviet Union, persisted with inflexible bombing missions that sent the B-52s over the same flight paths and the same altitudes, and making it easier for the same North Vietnamese SAM crews to track their targets. Some B-52s lacked adequate jammers to disrupt radar and SAM guidance systems. Two bombers were shot down or fatally damaged, out of a total of fifteen bombers brought down by the North Vietnamese.

Listen to these five YouTube videos that offer a glimpse of what it must have been to fly into an inferno of fiery missiles, exploding bombs and flaming aircraft. In a twenty-first-century world, where airpower consists of a few high-tech planes delivering a few smart bombs, the sounds of a hundred bombers flying into the teeth of a tough air defense network truly seems to belong to a different era, one that has more in common with B-17s over Berlin than F-35s that one day may fly over Syria. But it’s a measure of time’s passage that the Vietnam War is chronologically closer to World War II than the War on Terror.

Either way, what shines from these tapes is the coolness and professionalism of B-52 crews under heavy fire. Let this Memorial Day be a testament to their bravery.

The audio tapes can be found here:

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.


Much of this information was taken from a History Channel documentary, the pages of the St. Louis Park Dispatch, and materials provided by Marv Davidov, founder of the Honeywell Project. Please contact us if you have additional information.

U.S. “advisors” arrived beginning in 1950 to help the South Vietnamese beat back Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh, who were seeking to unite the country, but were seen as dangerous Communists. Justification for entering the otherwise civil war was the so-called “domino theory,” which posited that if Vietnam fell, then Laos, Cambodia, etc. would also fall.

U.S. Military Assistance and Advisory Group (MAAG) trained Vietnamese forces under Lieutenant General Samuel Williams. The first American was killed on July 8, 1959.

John F. Kennedy was elected President and pressed for expansion of U.S. Special Forces. Lt. General Lionel McGarr assumed command in Vietnam.

The first U.S. Special Forces are deployed to Vietnam.

Major General Charles Timmes assumed command. Counter insurgency escalated and additional advisors were sent. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MAVC) was established under General Paul Harkins.

Two Minnesotans were killed or declared missing in 1962.

The Diem government was overthrown and Diem and his brother Nhu were assassinated.

President Kennedy assassinated on November 22, 1963.

Three Minnesotans were killed or declared missing in 1963.

General William C. Westmoreland assumed command of MACV on June 20.

Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 2, 1964, giving President Johnson broad powers to deploy troops. The name came from the so-called Gulf of Tonkin Incident, where the USS Maddox was attacked by the North Vietnamese. It is widely thought now that this attack never actually happened and was instead a misreading of radar. Johnson ordered the attack on North Vietnamese patrol boat bases.

Two Minnesotans were killed or declared missing in 1964.

On March 2, 1965, Operation Rolling Thunder began, with the U.S. bombing North Vietnam. Conspicuously absent from the target list was Haiphong Harbor, which frustrated the U.S. troops. The harbor could not be bombed because the Soviet Union kept a ship there and the U.S. did not want the war escalated to include the USSR or China.

On March 3, 1965, the first 3,500 ground troops landed, with Marines deployed to defend the air base near DaNang. General Westmoreland’s strategy was simply to find Viet Cong and kill them, with the assumption that if the U.S. killed enough of his people, Ho Chi Mihn would give up. The first US Marine infantry battalion arrived in Da Nang on March 8. By the end of the year 200,000 US troops were in Vietnam.

An article in the August 15, 1965, issue of the Dispatch reported that the September draft call had increased as a result of President Johnson’s decision to step up military manpower in Vietnam. Col. Robert P. Knight, director of Selective Service in Minnesota, reported that the quota for Minnesota was 805, while the national total was 27,400. Hennepin County Local Board No. 49, which included St. Louis Park, had a quota of 26 men for September 1965.

33 Minnesotans were killed or declared missing in 1965.

A headline in the January 12, 1966, issue of the Echo:

Park Boys Now Serve Armed Forces in Viet Nam

Vietnamese Villagers Evoke Sympathy as Victims of “Hideous Treachery”

MaryAnne London interviewed the mother of brothers Matthew and Paul Solovskoy, and Dave Stimson. All three former Park students has enlisted. Mrs. Solovskoy said that her sons had enlisted “because of the exciting army atmosphere of their childhood. They just never got the military out of their systems.” Mrs. Stimson “deduced” that Dave joined because “he didn’t know why he was in School.” A letter home from one of the Solovskoy brothers said:

The first time I heard the sound of mortar rounds was when a suicide squad attacked our camp. I was scared beyond belief. I will never, as long as I live, forget that sound.

Flares and bursting bombs lit up the area with an eerie whiteness, but fear vanished as we were too busy with keeping alert and alive. We were ordered to shoot at everything that moved, as we knew anything outside was bogie. This was wrong, but I believe that it kept us alive that night.

After seeing the bodies of my buddies torn up with shrapnel and a friend with a shoulder pumping a bright red blood, this has become a personal war. I hoped I’d be spared the act of actual killing, but it was either him or me, mom!

The boys reacted with compassion towards the villagers, who “just want to be left alone to raise their food. Matt Solovskoy wrote that “the Vietnamese kids are the cutest imaginable, but are covered with sores. We should be sending doctors, medicine and kindness.”

Paul wrote to his mother, “You know, this war is bring about the greatest thing that could happen to the United States, nationalism. Do you know the full meaning of the word? I spent one hour in history class in tenth grade listening to a fine lecture by Mr. Roy on nationalism. Our whole country would be a million times better off if it had more of that spirit.”

  • George Paul Solovskoy served in the military from 1963 to 1967. He died from a head injury in France in 1972.
  • Matthew Solovskoy served in the military from 1964 to 1967. He died of lung cancer in 2008.

The first B-52 raids on North Vietnam began on April 12, 1966.

The Minnesota Committee to end the War in Vietnam conducted a Teach-In at Coffman Memorial Union at the U of M on November 7, 1966.

111 Minnesotans were killed or declared missing in 1966.

Operation Cedar Falls began in the Iron Triangle near Saigon in January. On February 12, Operation Junction City began northwest of Saigon.

The June 9, 1967, issue of Westwood Jr. High’s Westwinds newspaper reported that the school’s first debate team debated “Resolved: That the U.S. should withdraw all armed forces out of Vietnam.”

Vietnam Veterans Against the War was founded by six Vietnam war veterans, including Jan “Barry” Crumb, Mark Donnelly, and David Braum, in New York City in June, 1967, after they marched together in the April 15, 1967 Spring Mobilization to End the War anti-war demonstration with over 400,000 other protesters.

About 200-400 people participated in a Peace March on August 5, 1967, to commemorate the bombing of Hiroshima and to protest the U.S.’s increasing involvement in Vietnam. The march started at the Mayo Auditorium on the St. Paul Campus of the U of M and traveled down Raymond Ave. and University Ave., ending at Loring Park. The march was announced in the news segment the previous day, which was the day the Monkees took over as guest disk jockeys at KDWB. There was also a rally at the Mayo Auditorium on the night of August 4 the Tribune’s report said that one of the main speakers, John Wilson from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, had to cancel.

An October 25, 1967, article in the Echo reminded boys that within five days after he becomes 18 he must register with the Selective Service System. “This means that some time thereafter he will probably either face the prospect of being drafted or enlisting into some branch of the armed forces.”

The Echo embarked on a series of articles describing what could be expected in the various branches of the military, starting with the Marines.

In November 1967 Park High Principal Bertil Johnson stated that students were entitled to hear different views on controversial subjects, thus approving 11th grade English teacher David Litsey’s request to allow 1963 Park graduate Lester Stern to address the class. Stern had been a participant in the March on Washington.

By the end of 1967 U.S. troop strength is nearly 500,000.

208 Minnesotans were killed or declared missing in 1967.

The generation gap was real, with sides lining up supporting the government or protesting its actions. One Parkite remembers that “In the late sixties Readers Digest included a flag decal in an issue of their magazine. Shortly after that John Prine came out with his song ‘Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore.'” The undated ad below from the Star and Tribune also countered the so-called “super-patriot” by selling “Peace” and “Equality” decals. Many years later we are still seeking Peace and Equality.

The Tet Offensive began on January 30-31, 1968, when the Viet Cong attacked Saigon and over 100 towns, villages, and cities. This surprise attack contradicted statements by Johnson and Westmoreland that the end was in sight.

The city of Hue was retaken by U.S. and South Vietnamese forces on February 24, 1968, ending the Tet Offensive.

On February 27, 1968, Walter Cronkite went on the air and opined that the war could not end any other way than in a stalemate.

On March 16, 1968, American troops massacred hundreds of civilians in the Village of My Lai. An American helicopter crew landed and put a stop to it. The incident was covered up by officers until November 1969. Only. Lt. William Calley was ever convicted, sentenced to 40 months, mostly spent in his apartment at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The Park High Echo reported that Norman Mailer spoke against the war at Northrup Auditorium in March 1968.

On March 31, 1968, President Johnson announced that he would not send the additional 200,000 troops that General Westmoreland wanted, that he was initiating peace talks, and that he would not run for re-election.

On April 5, 1968, the Siege at Khe Sanh was broken.

The Paris Peace Talks began on May 11, 1968.

On June 10, 1968, General Westmoreland was replaced by General Creighton Abrams. Abrams ended the body count method of determining success, the “find and kill as many as you can” battle plan, and instead sought to win the “hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese people.

On June 24, 1968, Vietnam became the longest armed conflict in U.S. history.

At the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Police and demonstrators clash violently as the country looked on August 26-29, 1968.

On November 6, 1968, Richard Nixon was elected president.

On December 8, 1968, activist Marv Davidov organized the Honeywell Project, with the purpose of stopping Honeywell from making deadly cluster bombs that were killing civilians in Laos. Davidov was a major force in Twin Cities activism and merited a half page obituary in the StarTribune when he died on January 14, 2012 at age 80.

Cluster bomb – photo courtesy Marv Davidov

At the end of 1968 there were 540,000 Americans in Vietnam.

332 Minnesotans were killed or declared missing in 1968.

Nixon was inaugurated in January 1969, promising “peace with honor.”

The Park High Echo of January 29, 1969, included two pages on the draft. Included was a notice about a study series to take place at Westwood Lutheran Church. An interesting note said “Warn us of your coming by calling…”

  • February 10: “The Law Says” – Maj. Abrahamson
  • February 17: “Resistance & C.O.” – Dave Pence, resistor
  • February 24: “If I Enlist” – The Military

The same issue noted that Park’s Debate topic was “Resolved: That the United States should establish a system of compulsory national service by all citizens.”

The Twin City Draft Information Center (TCDIC) was the Minnesota area coordinator of the Resistance, a nationwide movement of men who refuse all cooperation with the Selective Service. It started at the draft card burnings at the Mobilization in New York on April 15, 1967, and spread to nearly every large city, coming to the Twin Cities in September 1967. By 1969 the local group had 17 full time and 100 part time counselors, led by former U of M student Greg Mills. The Echo reported: “The purpose of the counseling is not to persuade men to take any particular course of action, but rather to inform them of their alternatives and help them to understand fully the decisions they must make.”

Nixon ordered the bombing of Cambodia in March 1969.

In May 1969 the Honeywell Project leafleted workers at the St. Louis Park plant, handing out information about cluster bombs. Concerned citizens tried to get the City Council to change the zoning law to get rid of the plant.

In May 1969 400-500 St. Louis Park High School students participated in a two-day walkout in protest of the war.

In May 1969 anti-war demonstrators gathered outside the Federal Building, one dressed as “Death.” In a speech, the mayor said that the draft contains some inequities, but he said resistance to war had been present in the country in virtually all periods of warfare in the nation’s history. He urged the draftees to accept their call with “commitment and dedication.” A demonstrator identified as Larson called the draft “a stench in our lives” and said the mayor’s talk had “insulted the intelligence” of the draftees. Minneapolis Star photo by Russell Rull.

Also in May 1969 was the Battle of Hamburger Hill, a brutal and deadly fight. The battle was televised and Americans looked on with horror. Once the hill was taken it was abandoned and immediately reclaimed by the MVA.

Nixon withdrew 25,000 American troops on June 8, 1969.

October 15, 1969, was Moratorium Day, when the Student Mobilization Committee demanded “Peace Now” and gathered at Northrop Auditorium for speeches by Walter Mondale and Julian Bond. A number of St. Louis Park High School students joined the march to the Federal Building. The protesters had a license for the march from Mayor Stenvig. Others walked out of classes carrying candles. Those at Central Jr. High were told to get away from the windows.

Mayor Charles Stenvig on right. Minneapolis Star & Tribune Photo “A flying wedge of Minneapolis police officers in helmets and carrying riot clubs moved down the Nicollet Mall from 6th Street to 5th Street shortly after noon today to clear the area of Vietnam Moratorium Day demonstrators.” Minneapolis Star & Tribune Photo

The My Lai Massacre, which took place in March 1968, hit the media in November 1969 and was responsible for people calling veterans “baby killers” upon their return to the States.

After a noon rally at Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota, demonstrators marched to the Old Federal Building in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, November 13, 1969. The 20-degree weather and a blustery wind kept the crowd to about 2,500, down from the 10,000 that gathered on October 15, 1969. The crowd was reported to be mostly high school and college aged. The Tribune reported that “the first of an expected 1,000 or more Minnesotans left Thursday night for the mass antiwar march in Washington, DC on Saturday. The first bus, containing students from Macalester College, St. John’s College, St. Benedict’s College and the University of Minnesota, took off after a night rally at the Minneapolis Auditorium.”

Marchers crossed the Third Ave. bridge on their way to the Old Federal Building. Minneapolis Tribune Photo by Powell Krueger

On December 12, 1969, the Honeywell Project leafleted workers at all plants in the Twin Cities, including the St. Louis Park plant, alerting them to the evils of the cluster bombs made at the plant. The Minneapolis Tribune reported:

About 70 persons ignored trespass warnings from Honeywell Inc. security officials Friday and staged a lively but peaceful demonstration on a company-owned street in front of Honeywell’s main office at 2701 4th Ave. So.

Another 70 to 80 persons heeded the warnings and confined their marching to 28th St., which runs along the south side of the company office and parking lots.

No move was made to interfere with the demonstration, and the protesters left after about 45 minutes of marching, singing and slogan shouting.

Minneapolis Tribune Photo by Kent Kobersteen

An article in the December 17, 1969 Park High Echo reported that the recently enacted lottery will not affect most Park students this year those who become 19 years old in 1970 will go into the lottery for 1971. However, there were at least four teachers were eligible for the draft and were seeking teaching deferments. The article also listed various organizations at the U of M:

  • The Young Socialist Alliance described themselves as Trotskyist
  • Students Against Selective Service, headed by John Crocker
  • The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in Minneapolis were aligned with the Worker-Student Alliance. Members were self-declared Maoists. The Weathermen and the Revolutionary Youth Movement had already split from the SDS.
  • Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam was the force behind moratoria in October and November 1969. Mimi Harary was the regional organizer.

The article also described the conservative Young Americans for Freedom, which was founded in 1960. The organization’s beliefs included:

  • Trading with Russia is “national suicide.”
  • Social Security is “fraud against young people.”
  • The minimum wage is a “crime against the Negro.”
  • Victory in Vietnam is an “American imperative.”

At the end of 1969 there were 480,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam.

244 Minnesotans were killed or declared missing in 1969.

The April 8, 1970, Echo announced a three day “Draft Class” for seniors, featuring speakers from the American Friends Service Committee and the Selective Service. The class was instigated by senior Joel Levie.

On April 28, 1970, a group including Jerry Rubin and Dennis Banks marched from the Fair Oaks Park in Minneapolis to Honeywell Headquarters. The demonstration was marred by violence and mace.

U.S. and South Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia on April 30, 1970. On May 1 President Nixon announced the expansion to the public. U.S. troops could go no further than 19 miles into the country, for no longer than 2 months.

The radical magazine Hundred Flowers reported that a student strike at the University of Minnesota on May 4 drew 8,000 people outside the student union lasting one week and involving one-fifth of the student population. Demonstrations took place for a week, but the magazine reported that they were poorly organized.

On May 4, 1970, at Kent State University, a similar demonstration took place, but ended in tragedy when Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on protesting students, killing four and wounding nine others. At least some of those killed turned out to be onlooking students, not protesters.

On May 6, 1970, a Wednesday, approximately 600 Park High students attended a rally after school. Student Irving Barr was a moving force.

On May 7 and 8, 1970, 400-500 Park High students staged a student strike by walking out of their classrooms at 7:45 am. On Friday afternoon, students leafleted the city.

On Saturday, May 9, 1970, approximately 150 Park students joined a March for Peace from Hamline University to the Capitol, with the slogan “No Business as Usual.” An estimated 40,000 people participated in the march, which was organized by Barry Knight. At the end of the march participants heard speakers such as Indian activists Clyde Bellecort and Dennis Banks, and the Paisleys entertained the crowd.

Demonstrators on East River Road on way to Capitol, May 9, 1970

On Monday, May 11, 1970, a meeting was held at the Jewish Community Center, and two factions emerged – those who wanted to keep the activity at the high school level, and those who wanted to involve the entire community. As a result, an organization called Park Action Coalition for Students (PACS) was formed.

On June 4, 1970, PACS sponsored a Teach-In at the high school. B. Robert Lewis of the School Board approved the meeting, as long as the students could pay for the required insurance. The Chamber of Commerce came up with the money. A panel of five speakers spoke to about 150 people.

On May 20, 1970, Margie Levie, Gloria Kamman, and others organized Mothers For Peace, with 50 members. The group carried out a public education campaign, and urged people (among other things) not to pay the 10 percent tax on phone bills levied in 1966 to pay for the war. The group also called for the cessation of all American military involvement in Southeast Asia by the end of 1971.

A program was held at the Jewish Community Center on June 13, 1970, which attracted hundreds of concerned citizens.

The last major confrontation between US and North Vietnamese ground troops was the Battle of Fire Support Base Ripcord, which took place between July 1 and July 23, 1970. Unlike Hamburger Hill, this infantry battle was not televised.


From the website

The Minnesota 8 was one part of a larger group called “The Minnesota Conspiracy to Save Lives,” whose members raided Selective Service draft boards in various non-urban areas of Minnesota on July 10, 1970. The FBI arrested eight men in three draft boards: Alexandria, Little Falls, and Winona. One other draft raid was successfully conducted that evening [200-250 A-1 records were successfully stolen in Wabasha.] No one from the successful raid, which included a woman, was ever arrested. Three trials were held from November 2, 1970, through January 18, 1971, in the Minnesota Federal district courts in Minneapolis and St. Paul. One of the 8 [Cliff Ulen] pleaded guilty, and he received probation. The other seven received the maximum sentence of five years in Federal prison.

The men were charged with destruction of national defense materials, national defense premises, or national defense utilities.

  • Brad Beneke – Minneapolis
  • Frank Kroncke – Minneapolis
  • Don Olson – Minneapolis
  • Pete Simmons – Brooklyn Center
  • Bill Tilton – Minneapolis
  • Mike Therriault – Minneapolis
  • Chuck Turchick – St. Louis Park
  • Cliff Ulen – Minneapolis

Photo by Cheryl Walsh Bellville

On July 16, 1970, about 300 people marched from the Minneapolis Auditorium to the Hennepin County Courthouse. Members of the group took down the American flag and raised the flag of the Viet Cong a recent veteran took the flag down. A priest and a woman were arrested but charges were later dropped.

Minneapolis Star photo by Larry Schreiber

At the end of 1970 there were 280,000 U.S. troops on the ground.

121 Minnesotans were killed or declared missing in 1970.

The American policy had moved to “Vietnamization,” whereas the South Vietnamese were to replace American troops. On February 1, 1971, the South Vietnamese invaded Laos to try to cut off the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The U.S. Congress forbade any American troops to participate, and the action was a failure.

On February 10, 1971, about 250 students marched from the U of M campus to the Federal Building on Washington Ave. downtown. They threw some snowballs, distributed leaflets, and got into “rap groups with people about the war.”

On November 6, 1971, there was a 5-state march on the Minnesota capitol to protest the war in Southeast Asia. The march was endorsed by Governor Wendell Anderson, Senator Walter Mondale, and former Senator Eugene McCarthy. There were 17 such marches around the country. The march was coordinated by Dave Riehle, and included representatives from the gay community, women, veterans, teachers, unions, and local politicians.

At the end of 1971 U.S. troop strength was 140,000.

49 Minnesotans were killed or declared missing in 1971.


This section is not intended to include every action taken during this tumultuous time, but hopefully captures the highlights. Much of the information for this section comes from the book Take the Streets!, written by Ed Felien. Although he notes that the book was written in the summer of 1972, it was not published until August 2008.

The period between April 11 May 15, 1972 and were fraught with violence: During the worst day, police arrested 33 protesters and hospitals admitted 20 demonstrators and seven police officers.

Felien notes that there were several organizations active at the U of M in 1972. At the time, enrollment was about 45,000 students. Organizations included:

  • The New American Movement
  • Students for a Democratic Society
  • Young Socialist Alliance (“Trots”)
  • Student Mobilization Committee
  • Minnesota Peace Action Coalition
  • Working People for Peace
  • Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars
  • Minnesota Clergy and Laity Concerned
  • Vietnam Veterans Against the War

In the spring of 1972 there were 70,000 U.S. ground troops in Vietnam. The U.S. started bombing North Vietnam for the first time since 1968. The Easter Offensive began on March 30, 1972.

It was announced that the US was bombing the Port of Haiphong.

About 600 U of M students went to the Air Force Recruiting Office in Dinkytown. About 60 protesters went into the office and were locked in by the police until they were let go with the promise to move away from the area.

From there about 200 members of the crowd went to Morrill Hall (the Administration Building) and to demand the end to the ROTC program. Given no satisfaction, the group moved to the ROTC Armory about a block away. Their goal was to shut down the ROTC program, either by persuading University President Malcolm Moos to abolish it or to shut it down physically. The group “took over” the building but by 2:30 pm they had vacated.

That night the Committee of Concerned Asian Students proposed a “Camp In” on the Mall. In all, the night-time protest was peaceful.

The second night of the Camp In was not so quiet – Felien reports that just as everyone was going to sleep, groundskeepers started to spray the area with herbicides.

1,000 people came to a noon rally and about 600 moved to Morrill Hall for speeches and music. One of the plate glass doors of the building was broken during a surge to break through police lines. This demonstration was over by 5:00 pm. That night the Camp In was disturbed by the sound of jackhammers at about 2:30 am.

A snowstorm kept people away, but Felien reports that “about 43 hearty soulds still had fight enough to charge the administration building and close it down again.”

President Moos sent a telegram to Nixon that read, in part, “I implore you to order the end of the bombing and to expedite the total and complete withdrawal of all American armed forces from Southeast Asia.”

The Minnesota Clergy and Laity Concerned demonstrated at the New Federal Building in downtown Minneapolis, with about 80 participants.

A “Day of Reflection” Rally on the steps of Northrop Auditorium featured professor Mulford Q. Sibley, who urged students on to further militancy. At about 1:30 pm, the about 150 people left at the rally moved over to Morrill Hall, but were not able to close it down.

The Honeywell Project organized a march of about 600 protesters from the Art Institute to Honeywell headquarters in Minneapolis. The march was times to coincide with a stockholders meeting.

It was announced that the U.S. was blockading and mining Haiphong Harbor.

1,500 students held a rally on Northrop Mall.

It was a day of violence, starting with an antiwar rally on Northrop Plaza that drew about 2,000 people. From there the crowd headed to the Air Force Recruiting Station in Dinkytown, but the officers had moved out. The crowd, which had grown to about 3,000, headed to the University Armory, but failed in the attempt to occupy the building. Instead they smashed windows and used a wrought iron fence that was torn from the front of the building to block traffic on University Avenue. Felien reports that a Frat house donated a junk car and set it on fire. Mayor Stenvig sent the Minneapolis Police Tactical Squad to establish law and order, and CN, CS, and pepper gas was used to disperse the crowd 32 people were arrested.

Once University Ave. was cleared at about 4:30 pm, the crowd moved to Washington Ave. and Church Street, in front of Coffman Union. About 1,500 students occupied Washington Ave. while another 500 protesters sat in the middle of Oak Street, five blocks north. About 70 police carrying clubs and wearing gas masks forced the crowd down Washington to join the others at Church Street. A barricade was built across Washington Ave., 10 ft. high and 10 ft. wide, made of chain link fence, trash cans, cement blocks, lumber, and whatever else the protesters could find. After a battle the police were called off because of fatigue, and about 300-500 protesters stayed at the barricade all night, playing rock ‘n’ roll and sitting around bonfires.

Governor Wendell Anderson called in 150 National Guardsmen, and they secured the Recruiting Station and Armory.

The usual noon rally drew 2,000 to 3,000 people, and one of the 25 speakers was Eugene McCarthy, who was running for President at the time. A tense moment came when trucks filled with M-16 rifles were being delivered to the Armory – the Guardsmen in charge were convinced that it was a huge mistake and took them away.

From about 4:30 to 5:30 pm, about 1,000 protesters marched to Interstate 94 at the University Ave. exit. About 200 people moved into the freeway, blocking lanes in both directions. Felien says that the blockade was meant to open debate, and only lasted an hour.

The Tribune reported that “University officials spent the day in conference with city and state officials seeking ways to avoid a violent confrontation between students and some 150 National Guardsmen…”

After another night of bonfires at the barricade on Washington Ave., at 5 am the Tactical Squad and the Guardsmen came and removed the barricade using eight dump trucks and two front-end loaders.

Friday came in gray and cold. At the noon rally at Coffman Union, a new group called the Constituent Assembly was proposed as a permanent organization that would consist of two members (one male, one female) of existing groups, and one representative from every group of 20 protesters at the rally. 2,000 to 3,000 people headed to Washington Ave., and about 1,000 people helped build another barricade. At 1:50 pm President Moos appeared and asked them to remove the barricade. By now people were tired – the police backed off, people went home, and although more barricades were built, at 4:30 am the police came with bulldozers and took them down, serenaded by protesters singing “Give Peace a Chance.”

A march to the State Capitol in St. Paul was planned, with a goal of 50,000 to 100,000 participants, but rain kept the crowd to about 12,000. After a rally at Northrop Auditorium, the marched went along the river and down Summit Ave., although at Selby Ave. about 2,000 people broke off with the intent to engage people in St. Paul’s ghetto. Felien estimates that about 100 people joined the march. They were also joined along the way by additional groups, primarily from other colleges. By 5:30 pm it was all over.

President Moos called an open meeting to coordinate anti-war activities, which was attended by about 100 people. The protesters presented their demands to abolish the ROTC and all secret was research. Felien reports that Moos left the meeting, complaining about the domination of the discussion by Paula Giese, an outspoken Humanities professor.

About 1,000 students were on strike, and the noon rally went on as usual. 200 to 300 people marched to Morrill Hall to reiterate the demands of the day before, and Moos came out but failed to satisfy. The decision was made to occupy Johnston Hall at about 1:45 pm but they weren’t sure what their purpose was. All they could do was hold up employees’ paychecks, which were generated there, which they did for about three hours. They left through the windows, and Felien says, “The occupation of Johnston Hall was the last act of civil disobedience. Defiance of authorities had sputtered out and stalled.”

One question was what to do about the rest of the academic quarter? Dr. Edward Coen, Economic Professor (and father of St. Louis Park’s Joel and Ethan Coen) proposed that faculty grade students based on their work up to May 11. This proposal was voted down by the Administration, as was a proposal to suspend all classes. Many classes were suspended, and it appears that the situation was met on a case-by-case basis.

In October 1972 POW/MIA bracelets could be found on the wrists of many Park High and Junior High school students. Each bracelet had the name and other information on a soldier who was a prisoner of war or missing in action in Vietnam. Often they were returned to the families of the men, especially if they were killed in action.

In October 1972 a draft cease-fire agreement was readied, but South Vietnam wouldn’t sign.

In December 1972 U.S. airpower bombed Hanoi and the Haiphong Harbor.

By the end of 1972 U.S. combat troops numbered less than 30,000.

12 Minnesotans were killed or declared missing in 1972.

Only when President Nixon secretly promised to bring back American bombers if North Vietnam violates the treaty would the South agree to sign the Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973.
The first 91 American POWs were freed in February 1973. Some had been held for nine years.

The United States ceased offensive ground operations and the majority of its troops withdrew from Vietnam by March 29, 1973. It retained an embassy in Saigon.

The last American POWs arrived at Clark Air Force Base.

Three Minnesotans were killed or declared missing in 1973.

North Vietnam escalated fighting against South Vietnam.

President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, and Gerald Ford became President.

On March 1, 1975, the North attacked the South and Ford did not honor Nixon’s secret promise to bring back American bombers.

On April 30, 1975, 2,000 people, including South Vietnamese officials and the last of the U.S. Marines, were evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. Four hours later, the MVA entered the city.
With the Northern victory, the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam with a communist-controlled government based in the new capital of Hanoi.

Of approximately 60,000 Minnesotans who served in Vietnam, 1,120 were killed or declared missing. The Department of Defense counts 1,077 fatal casualties of the Vietnam War for Home-State-of-Record Minnesotans.

Category B Agents

Category B agents are also easy to transmit and/or virulent among a population, but is less likely to kill or cause panic. Still, they should be taken seriously. Some, like Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis can have lasting effects.

7. Glanders

Glanders can enter the body through the skin and eyes, but also via the nose and lungs. The symptoms are similar to the flu or common cold, but once it’s in the bloodstream, it can be fatal within seven to ten days.

I’m not going to include a photo, because it’s really gross to look at.

Stupid Glanders.

The bacteria is at the top of the list for potential bioterrorism agents and was even believed to be intentionally spread to the Russian Army by the Germans in WWI. The Russians allegedly used it in Afghanistan during their ten-year occupation.

8. Brucellosis

This is usually caused by drinking raw milk or imbibing other raw dairy products. If an animal has brucellosis, they’re transmitting it to you. It’s also an inhalation hazard that can affect hunters dressing wild game. Symptoms are flu-like when inhaled and soon inflame the organs, especially the liver and spleen. Symptoms can last anywhere from a matter of weeks to years.

First Vietnam, now Brucellosis.

Brucellosis was once called both “Bang’s Disease” and “Malta Fever.” It has been weaponized since the 50s, with a lethality estimate of one to two percent. Just kill me with fire if I have the flu for two years.

9. Q-fever

Like most of the agents on the list, Q-fever is also spread via inhalation or contacts with infected domestic animals – unless the Russians bombed your town with it. The agent can survive for up to 60 days on some surfaces.

No, Q-Bert didn’t die from Q Fever. Don’t be silly. It was cancer.

When the American Biological Weapons arsenal was destroyed in the early 1970s, the U.S. had just under 5,100 gallons of Q-fever.

10. Viral Encephalitis

The worst part about this agent is that there is no effective drug treatment for it, and that any treatment is merely supportive – meaning that there is no way to treat the cause of the disease, only to manage the symptoms.

Pictured: how your body determines your response to Encephalitis.

The incubation period is fast, one to six days, and causes flu-like symptoms. It can incapacitate the infected for up to two weeks and cause swelling of the brain. Up to 30 percent of infected persons have permanent neurological conditions, like seizures and paralysis.

11. Staphylococcal Enterotoxin

Staph infections are pretty common but as a biological agent, it’s stable to store and weaponize as an aerosol agent. At low doses, it can incapacitate and it can kill at higher doses. The biggest concern is that a mass infection of a population is extremely difficult to treat effectively.

There’s at least one surefire treatment.

This agent can infect food and water but is deadliest when inhaled. High doses of inhaled Staph can lead to shock and multi-organ failure. Symptoms of any dosage appear within 1-8 hours.


With imports into North Vietnam down 35-50% and with PAVN forces stalled, Hanoi became willing to resume talks and make concessions. As a result, Nixon ordered bombing above the 20th Parallel to cease on October 23, effectively ending Operation Linebacker. In the course of the campaign, American forces lost 134 aircraft to all causes while downing 63 enemy fighters.

Considered a success, Operation Linebacker was critical to halting the Easter Offensive and damaging PAVN forces. An effective interdiction campaign, it began a new era of aerial warfare with the mass introduction of precision-guided munitions. Despite Kissinger's proclamation that "Peace is at hand," American aircraft were compelled to return to North Vietnam in December. Flying Operation Linebacker II, they again struck targets in an attempt to force North Vietnamese to resume talks.

First B-52 Raids on North Vietnam - History

President Johnson orders first B-52 bombing raids on North Vietnam.

Supreme Court rules that police arrests must include advice to suspects of their rights when they are about to interrogate the suspect. The Miranda Warning: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to be speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense." Arrests can still be valid without the Miranda Warning, except any statements of self-incrimination cannot be used against the suspect.

Richard Speck murders eight student nurses.

The bludgeoned and stabbed body of Valerie Percy, daughter of Senator Charles H. Percy, is found in her bedroom in the family mansion in Kenilworth, Illinois. She is believed to have been killed by burglars.

Congress enacts safety standards for automobiles.

U.S. troop involvement in Vietnam increases from over 200,000 to over 400,000.

U.S. government builds Fermilab , an energy research and development facility, near Batavia.

Elk Grove High School opens. District 214 enrollment passes 10,000 students.

B-52 Stratofortress History

For more than 35 years B-52 Stratofortresses have been the primary manned strategic bomber force for the United States. The B-52 is capable of dropping or launching a significant array of weapons in the U.S. inventory. This includes gravity bombs, cluster bombs and precision guided missiles.

An appreciation for the uniqueness of the B-52 requires a survey of over 35 years of modifications, missions, and changes in national security strategy. One must examine not only roles and missions but changing profiles, tactics, and weapons improvements in order to focus on the adaptive process. Certain key characteristics have made that process possible -- without these characteristics, the B-52 would not have met the challenges of almost three decades of service.

In 1945, the Army Air Corps initiated a design competition for a new second generation strategic bomber to follow the B-36. Following further requirements definition by the Army Air Corps in 1946, Boeing was awarded a design contract for this new aircraft. The original requirements specified an aircraft that could carry a 10,000-pound bomb load, 5,000 miles, at a tactical operating altitude of 35,000 feet. This aircraft was to be capable of cruising at a minimum of 450 miles per hour (mph) at its tactical altitude.

In trying to fulfill this ambitious requirement, Boeing faced serious problems in selecting an engine that could provide both the required speed and range. The emergence of the swept- wing, pure jet B-47, coupled with the Air Force's disenchantment over very large propeller engines, caused Boeing to initiate an in-house study with its own money. This study was for an all jet bomber, able to fly the desired mission, using a new engine being designed by Pratt and Whitney. The results of this study, and further testing of the B-47, led Boeing towards the final eight engine jet design of the B-52. As the design matured, additional technology was taken from the B-36 and the B-47. Thus technology, in turn, became a primary determinant of operational requirements. Military aircraft designs matched available technology and then incorporated refinements that appeared technically or scientifically sound to achieve best performances.

By early 1949, Boeing was preparing two prototypes, the XB-52 and YB-52, both of which had been contracted for in early 1947. Although the YB was designated for service test, both models were used to refine the original design. These aircraft, weighing 390,000 pounds apiece, would be two of the largest aircraft ever built.

Even as these airships were being built, SAC requested Boeing to examine the possibility of developing a reconnaissance version. This was the first hint of interest in expanding the original nuclear strike mission specified for the B-52. The result of the SAC request was a design which could be assigned either a bombing or reconnaissance mission with no sacrifice in efficiency or performance. Although this capability was not integrated into the aircraft until introduction of the B-52B, it marked the initial swing towards mission flexibility in the B-52.

The major design emphasis was placed on superior performance with minimum airplane and system complexity. This was to be achieved by a straightforward design which provided a high standard of systems utility and functional reliability. To do this, however, required a number of innovations not anticipated in the original specifications. Some of the design features, like the on-board hydraulic system, were physically the largest yet built, while others like the pneumatic system which powered many aircraft accessories were radical departures from conventional designs. Nonetheless, the original flight test in 1952 proved successful, with performance exceeding the original specifications.

Despite initial optimism, it was apparent that additional development would be required. Of the original batch of 13 aircraft, which would normally have carried a test prefix but were so costly and vital that they were regarded as likely to go straight into the active inventory, the first three were completed as B-52A's and the rest as B-52B's. The A's, which never entered the active inventory, were used for additional development work.

Delivery of the B-52B in 1955 marked the first of over 740 aircraft, a serial production that included seven different models with each offering technological and operational improvements.

The use of serial production greatly improved the ultimate utility of the B-52 weapon system.

(1) Increases in internal fuel capacity created by design changes from a bladder to an integral wing and advances in engine technology with the introduction of the fanjet resulted in a 1,400-nm increase in combat radius.

(2) Technology advances in basic avionics designs, specifically within the bomb-nay and heading systems, improved both navigation and weapons delivery accuracy. The original components of these serial improvements formed the basis of subsequent updates to incorporate new weapons, delivery tactics, and methods of navigation.

(3) Refined and larger capacity subsystems between each series improved general subsystem performance and reliability. The larger subsystem capacities of later models proved to be a major key in B-52 flexibility and adaptability to changing mission requirements. For example, in the early series designs, small capacity electric alternators and dependency on pneumatically supported subsystems limited avionics growth to small marginal demand systems. Although adequate to support the initial configuration, these production subsystems offered limited flexibility with only small growth capacity. The larger capacity subsystems of later mission design and series (MDS) B-52's, redesigned to reduce pneumatic dependency, proved to be much more flexible and adaptable to the demands of improved bombing, navigation, electronic defense equipment, and other future modifications.

(4) Serial production also provided more timely improvements in aircraft defense by incorporating new technology in later MDS production without the expense or delays of modifying an entire fleet of aircraft. Redesigned and later totally new fire control systems, coupled with upgraded ECM suites, increased the survivability of each new series.

Although not new, this idea of serial production had a profound impact on the usefulness of the B-52. To appreciate this fact, however, it is necessary to understand how the weapon system has been able to adapt over time to changing requirements. To quote Mr. Walter Boyne, Assistant Director of the National Air and Space Museum: ''Had the original . . . design not been so superior, the Air Force would have opted long ago for a new airframe."

B-52 Becomes Operational

When the first production B-52 was being delivered in the mid-1950's, US national security strategy was based upon nuclear superiority and an ability to respond to any aggression with massive retaliation. The primary force objectives outlined at the time were (1) to deter war, (2) resolve conflicts on terms favorable to the United States, and (3) maintain a high state of readiness at a reasonable cost. In short, US strategic forces were prepared to fight a nuclear war with tactics similar to World War II. US nuclear forces, through strategic airpower, provided a nuclear umbrella for America and its allies.

B-52 capabilities became the benchmark for future bomber aircraft. Concurrently, there was a growing awareness of Soviet air defense improvements and its potential impact on US bomber forces. General Curtis LeMay, then Commander of SAC, expressed concern that large aircraft like the B-52 would soon require additional ECM equipment for self protection. As a result, in May 1958, Sperry, the prime ECM contractor, brought in eight additional companies to help design a major update of the whole ECM systems Improved defensive systems were incorporated as engineering change proposals in the midst of production.

During the same period, SAC issued a new requirement for a low level bombing and navigation capability to improve bomber penetration and survival. By 1958, operational reports from covert U-2 operations indicated "that the Russians were tracking some of the U-2 flights and that surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) were being fired . . . some of which were coming uncomfortably close to the U-2s operating altitude." This confrontation helped prompt revision of tactics for the B-52 and was the first of several new, major changes.

Although the new low level requirement would apply to the other SAC bombers, it would have its greatest impact upon the B-52. To fly the new attack profile, the B-52C through H models were modified with a new terrain avoidance radar, an improved radar altimeter, increased cooling capacity for sustained low altitude operations, modified equipment mounts, and a general strengthening of the aircraft's secondary structures. The goal was to permit reliable, all-weather operation at 500 feet, to avoid detection, and to minimize encounters with enemy defenses. Low level training for SAC bomber crews began in the late 1950's, with actual aircraft modification beginning in 1961.

While the low level penetration tactic was being refined, new weapons developments in the form of the ADM-20 Quail and the AGM-28 Hound Dog were also being pursued. The Quail, an improved defensive capability initiated in the late 1950's, was a decoy missile designed to be carried in the aft bomb bay of a B-52 for launch while en route to the target. The missile was programmed by the crew to fly at approximately the same speed and altitude as the B-52. Its primary mission was to confuse enemy radar by creating a reflected image similar to the carrier aircraft.


The Quail system was retrofitted in 1960 on the B-52E through G and was subsequently added to the B-52H. This missile was the first of a number of unique capabilities added to various models of the B-52. It was unique because the B-52 could carry four of these 13-foot-long 1,200-pound missiles in its 27-foot-long bomb bay in addition to the regular nuclear payload. The decoy system proved to be a workable option for penetration enhancement of the large radar cross section bomber because it served to dilute and ultimately saturate the Soviet defense system. Defense improvements and system maintenance problems forced retirement of the ADM-20 in the mid- 1970's.

In a program similar to Quail, North American Aviation developed a miniature vehicle powered by a turbojet engine. Named the Hound Dog, the AGM-28 missile could fly at altitudes from 500 to 60,000 feet at speeds above Mach 2. Programmed by the crew during captive carry, it was used to penetrate high threat terminal defenses, allowing the bomber to avoid overflight. The missile could perform feint attacks or preset maneuvers while flying its nuclear warhead out to a 600-mile range. The B-52C and all subsequent models were modified to carry two AGM-28 missiles, one under each wing on large hard points. The modification to carry AGM-28's had two major impacts on B-52 operations. First, like the low level capability being developed, the addition of Hound Dog altered the B-52's nuclear strike profile. The second major impact was the degradation of the B-52's range. Two Hound Dog missiles and the associated launch gear, totaling over 40,000 pounds, were forcing the B-52 to carry less than full fuel loads in order to remain within design weight limits. When carrying the AGM-28, the normal procedure was to run the missile's engines in flight to augment the bomber's thrust. To accomplish this and still get maximum range after launch, the missile was refueled by the bomber during captive carriage. In addition, these 45-foot-long missiles created a drag penalty that increased fuel consumption. This reduced the bomber's range on the order of 8 to 17 percent and increased tanker dependency.

The use of extended low altitude operations to insure the B-52's penetration capability further degraded the design strike range. The overall inefficiency of jet engine operations at low level, coupled with slower operating speeds, greatly reduced range at low altitude. For example, if the B-52H flew at high altitude on a nuclear strike mission, it had a maximum unrefueled range of approximately 9,000 nm. On a similar strike mission with 2,400 nm flown at 500 feet, the operations planners could count on only a 6,300-nm range with the addition of one refueling.

Despite the reduction in range resulting from the added weight, drag of new weapons, and the penalties of low altitude flight, strategic planners were beginning to appreciate the inherent flexibility of the large bomber. The changing penetration profiles and development of air-to-surface missiles, which allowed the bomber to avoid the heavily defended areas, was a recognition of improving Soviet defensive capabilities and marked a change in US tactics for strategic warfare. Flexibility became the watchword and adaptability the key to continued bomber operations.

In addition to tactical weapons developments for the B-52, the United States and Great Britain were pursuing a common initiative that would arm the heavy bombers of both nations with a new air-to-surface ballistic missile, Skybolt. Although a few B-52's were actually modified to carry this system, Skybolt never became operational. Bill Gunston, in his book Bombers of the West, describes this missile program as "marked by all the headwinds and diversions of an enterprise that is dominated by politics rather than mere technical problems." Secretary of Defense McNamara, in discussing ways of extending the life of the B-52 in an era of increasingly sophisticated enemy air defenses, dismissed the Skybolt program as having the disadvantages of both the bomber and the ICBM.

Although the Kennedy administration cancelled the Skybolt program, it accelerated the forces of change by announcing a new national security strategy called Flexible Response. This strategy was initially based upon withholding an "Assured Destruction" capability with a goal of damage limitation in a nuclear exchange. The strategy shift from massive nuclear retaliation to flexible response resulted in new emphasis being placed upon the full spectrum of operations, thus necessitating larger conventional force capabilities. Under this new approach, conventional forces were to be sufficiently large to prevent escalation of any hostility to the nuclear threshold.

Secretary of Defense McNamara did not favor the strategic bomber as a major deterrent system yet, he did recognize its utility and potential flexibility. In testimony to Congress, he described the strategic retaliatory forces as needing sufficient flexibility to permit a choice of strategies suitable to

(1) strike back decisively across the entire spectrum of the Soviet target system simultaneously

(2) strike Soviet military installations associated with their long-range nuclear forces in an effort to reduce the power of any follow-on attack and

(3) if necessary, strike back at Soviet urban and industrial complexes in a controlled and deliberate manner.

He continued by saying the bomber's utility lay not in numbers or promptness but in its ability to be employed selectively against hard counterforce targets that are not time sensitive.

In 1961, as a demonstration of new flexible response options and in recognition of a demonstrated Soviet ICBM threat, the United States commenced a strategic option unique to the heavy bomberairborne alert. The physical size, endurance, payload, and range of the B-52 made the 27- to 30-hour missions feasible. Through in-flight refueling, an adequate number of bombers could be kept continuously airborne to meet national objectives. This alert posture often included medium range bombers, but their limited range and endurance further taxed the available aerial refueling capability. As General Powers, then the Commander of SAC, explained to Congress: "This demonstration of resolve with airborne alert must impress Mr. Khruschev [so] that he cannot strike this country with impunity."

The general acquisition strategy of the early 1960's supported a buildup of the ICBM and SLBM legs of the TRIAD with only limited modification to the bomber force. As a result of the great operating cost differential between the newer missile systems and the older aircraft, the prompt "Assured Destruction" capability of the ICBM was less expensive than its bomber counterpart. Believing that the true value of the strategic bomber lies in a limited counterforce potential, the Secretary of Defense suggested that the existing B-52's, originally designed for a 10-year life, could satisfactorily provide this capability. The only unknown was how long a limited force of bombers could penetrate the expanding Soviet air defense umbrella.29 As a hedge against this uncertainty, Secretary McNamara authorized studies for a possible B-52 replacement. No major capability updates were initiated for the B-52, and only those improvements needed to continue the force were supported.

With the change in strategy and the lessening of interest in the strategic bomber, production of the B-52 ended in the summer of 1962 after a run of nearly 7 1/2 years. The last of the B-52's, an H model, was delivered to the 4135 th Strategic Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota, in October 1962. Although physically resembling the other B-52's, this last MDS marked the first time in the history of strategic bombing that an aircraft had been designed explicitly for a low altitude penetration mission. It required about 120 structural modifications to withstand the aerodynamic forces encountered at low level. Once production terminated, however, subsequent improvements became a function of the versatility and adaptability of the original design.

Even as the B-52 was losing support for its traditional strategic nuclear strike role, a brush-fire insurgency in South Vietnam was beginning to test the flexible response capability of the conventional forces. By 1965, SAC's B-52's were being called upon for bombing support for friendly forces in South Vietnam. Initially, raids were conducted by B-52F's carrying 51 750-pound general purpose bombs, but rapid plans were made to increase the conventional capability of the B-52D force for a sustained SAC operational presence. This program, dubbed Big Belly, upped the internal weapons load of the D model from 27 to 84 of the 500-pound bombs and added a 24-weapon carriage externally. With the completion of Big Belly, the B-52D would carry nearly 60,000 pounds of ordnance. Although other models of the B-52 were also used in Southeast Asia, only the B-52D was modified for the high density conventional capacity, a capability that no existing aircraft can rival. This rapid change in missions for the B-52 was made possible only because of the volumetric capacity, enormous lifting abilities of the aircraft, and structural integrity of the basic design. The net result was a geometric increase in conventional firepower.

The surge requirement for World War II type area bombing generated other changes within the B-52 force. As a large portion of the active B-52 fleet was integrated into the war effort, the aircraft underwent modifications to improve ECM effectiveness against the SAM and interceptor threat possessed by the North Vietnamese. The firepower versatility of the B-52 was expanded by certifying the aircraft for a greater number of conventional weapons such as mines and cluster bomb units. Such weapon payloads boosted the psychological value of the strategic bomber as a terror weapon to the adversaries.

The initial experience in Southesast Asia of long-range B-52 operations in a hostile air defense environment caused a change in thinking regarding the utility of strategic aircraft. The war diverted funds needed for strategic modernization, while at home independent studies into the need for a new penetrating bomber generated a wide difference of opinion. The Air Force sought an immediate replacement for the B-52, requiring an aircraft that had broad spectrum applications that was capable of supporting both the traditional nuclear role and the newly emphasized conventional role. The Secretary of Defense, however, sought less costly options with the hope that weapons improvements and/or tactics changes would provide the desired survivability for the penetrating bomber force. With the B-52 beginning to prove its value in actual combat over Vietnam, its worth as a nuclear penetrator was being viewed with increasing skepticism. During the mid 1960's the Soviet air defense system blossomed to approximately 9,000 SAM missiles and 3,500 interceptor aircraft. These large numbers and the practical experience of Southeast Asia demonstrated the density and sophistication of the defense environment. This served to reinforce both Air Force and DOD studies which predicted high attrition rates for the existing attack profiles of current bombers in the high threat environment.

As early as February 1965, the Secretary of Defense indicated an interest in a new ballistic short-range attack missile as a means of reducing aircraft exposure. This weapon, being studied in conjunction with the manned strategic aircraft, would preclude the need of penetrating heavily defended target areas. In 1966, as in earlier testimony to Congress, Secretary McNamara again played down the role of the manned bomber in the current force structure and the need to expend monies for a B-52 replacement. He further recommended that a force of approximately 255 B-52G's and H's would be adequate insurance against failure of the ICBM leg of the TRIAD. As an additional initiative, Secretary McNamara recommended that a bomber version of the F-111 be built as a countervalue system to complement the older and more vulnerable B-52 and that the new short-range attack missile (now called SRAM) be accelerated to coincide with the new bomber. The Secretary also directed that preliminary avionics integration design studies be initiated to permit a SRAM retrofit for the B-52 should it be required.

  • a. Planning for the B-52 and FB-111 to carry SRAM.
  • b. Work on a wide range of electromagnetic warfare devices drawing on Southeast Asia experience.
  • c. Developmental work on a new bomber.
  • d. Studies of more advanced bomber penetration aids designed to be used on existing heavy bombers as well as the FB-111 and/or another advanced bomber whenever feasible.

The first step of the Secretary's programs, the addition of SRAM to the B-52, would provide a large increase in nuclear firepower. The G and H models were ultimately modified to carry up to 20 of these supersonic short-range nuclear missiles without downloading existing gravity weapons. Eight SRAMs were carried internally on a special rotary launcher in the aft bomb bay, and 12 SRAMs were mounted on wing pylons with 6 missiles under each wing. The total weight of the missiles and their launch gear was approximately 68,000 pounds. In addition to the missiles, a number of aircraft systems modifications were made to add interface equipment for programming and launching the SRAM.

As part of the second step of the Secretary's program, the Phase VI ECM modification was proposed for the B-52G and H. Called Phase VI, because it was the sixth major ECM program for the B-52, it improved the aircraft's self-protection capability in the dense SAM environment. The equipment added during this modification would expand signal coverage, improve threat warning, provide new countermeasures techniques, and increase the quantity of expendables. The power requirements of this modification would also consume most of the excess electrical capacity on the B-52G.

In addition to improved countermeasures, the Air Force recommended that the B-52G and H also be modified with the electro-optical viewing system (EVS) to enhance low altitude penetration. EVS is a system containing a low-light television and a forward-looking infrared camera to display information needed for penetration at lower altitude. It improves the pilot's probability of hazard avoidance and gives the crew a true damage/assessment strike capability. The addition of a low-light television and a forward-looking infrared system was the first major application of this technology for terrain avoidance uses. The sensors were outgrowths of equipment used for special operations in Southeast Asia, and when integrated with the existing B-52 avionics, improved the aircraft's overall mission effectiveness under all conditions.


SRAM, Phase VI ECM, and EVS, like Hound Dog, Quail, and the use of low level tactics, marked a major shift in the B-52's utility. The modifications of the late 1950's and early 1960's had been applicable to a large portion of the entire B-52 fleet and had greatly altered the tactics and weapons used for strategic nuclear attack. The modifications of the late 1960's and early 1970's were quantum leaps in technology applicable to only a small portion of the B-52 force. By 1970, approximately half the total inventory of B-52's built had been retired with only half of those remaining scheduled for SRAM, Phase VI, and EVS. These updates, although not substantially altering the missions established in the early 1960's, would greatly change the overall capabilities of the B-52 as a strategic bomber. They would also serve as baseline requirements thought necessary for future aircraft development.

These modifications, in addition to substantial capability improvements, had a second, very important impact on the B-52 since those changes would use a large percentage of the remaining excess subsystem support capacity so much in fact, that these updates could not be considered for the older B-52D and F without costly upgrades to their electrical, hydraulic, and environmental control systems. Additional subsystem capacities designed into the later production B- 52's provided the edge which allowed this next round of capability improvements. At the completion of SRAM, Phase VI, and EVS, the operating weight of the G and H models had grown by nearly 24,000 pounds over the initial delivery weighty This new operating weight was extracting a penalty on operational range on the order of 8 to 11 percent. But this loss was acceptable when compared to the associated increase in capability.

The introduction of the first of these modifications in the early 1970's was accompanied by a refinement in national security strategy. Implemented under Secretary of Defense Schlesinger, this new strategy was oriented towards providing the NCA more flexibility through increased options in the use of the military instrument. As part of this option-oriented strategy. the bomber concept of operations required increased flexibility to provide a capability across the entire spectrum of conflict. The modifications were excellent complements to this new strategy, giving the B-52 greater flexibility, responsiveness, and survivability.

The need for flexibility within the new strategy returned the heavy bomber to a prominent place within the TRIAD. The heavy bomber emphasized both size and range so that sufficient penetration aids could be carried to cope successfully with the projected defenses and once into enemy territory, a large enough payload would be available to effectively do the job. In addition to SRAM, a second new missile weapon was being discussed for the B-52. Christened SCUD, for subsonic-cruise unarmed decoy, this system would, like Quail, resemble the B-52 on radar. As an active decoy, it would carry ECM and other devices, and it had a range of several hundred miles. Eventually, plans called for the missile to carry a nuclear warhead as an armed decoy so that even after discrimination from the bomber, defense assets would have to be diverted to destroy it.

The introduction of SCAD as a candidate system in 1969 was to portend a third major profile change for the B-52, that of a cruise missile carrier. The SCAD concept was devised and validated based upon the projected threat of the 1980's. At the time, SCAD was not envisioned as a replacement for the penetrating bomber but like earlier modifications, an adjunct to extend the life of the B-52. Although SCAD was never deployed operationally, the concept of a long-range cruise missile weapon ultimately was accepted, becoming known as the air launched cruise missile (ALCM-A).

With SRAM, the bomber could strike heavily defended targets without entering the terminal defenses the cruise missile provided the alternative of striking from greater distances and thereby increasing the lethal footprint of the bomber. A larger laydown footprint for the strike system translated directly into greater versatility and flexibility of response, effectively giving back to the B-52 the range which the added weight of past modifications had taken away. With the greater footprint, a larger target base could be covered by a fixed number of delivery vehicles. It was believed that a large number of cruise missile-type weapons would serve to dilute and eventually saturate enemy defenses, thereby improving the survivability of the launch vehicle. These characteristics were becoming operationally important in a relatively dense, high threat environment with an expanding target base.

By the early 1970's, it was apparent that the Soviets would stop at nothing less than military parity with the United States. The Nixon administration, in continuing the national commitment to a TRIAD, authorized development of a prototype B-1 bomber as a replacement for the B-52.

Development of a new bomber throughout the early and mid- 1970's paralleled continued contemporary research into cruise missile technology. Technology had developed propulsion, guidance, and structural materials for a cruise missile that could greatly alter the profile of the bomber aircraft. In June 1977, President Carter announced his intent not to produce the B-1 but to again extend the life of the B-52 by modifying it to carry a longer range air launched cruise missile, the ALCM-B. With the associated avionics changes, this proved to be the largest single modification ever made to the B-52. It would have the greatest impact in terms of overall aircraft capability and potential missions. Unlike previous weapons developments, the ALCM-B captured the latest in technology to allow for a small, long-range, highly accurate weapon. Unlike the Hound Dog, 20 ALCMs would be carried on the B-52. And unlike the SRAM, the ALCM-B would allow the carrier aircraft, in many instances, to avoid overflying the enemy homeland. As envisioned by the planners, ALCM carriage would remove the B-52 from its penetrator role to the less demanding and less threatened role of a missile launch platform. The B-52 cruise missile carrier would, in many cases, launch its payload beyond the range of the majority of land-based threats. By avoiding both the terminal SAM threat and the en-route LD/SD fighter threat, the B-52 will remain a viable weapon carrier throughout this decade and into the next. It is interesting to note that in the 1980's the B-52 will perform the mission it was originally designed fora long-range, high-altitude bombing platform.

These proposed modifications in role change would drastically alter the original design capabilities of the B-52. Virtually, the entire bombing and navigation systems would be replaced by a state-of-the-art digital navigation system.

Of all the changes, however, the ones with the greatest impact were the ones that affected the physical characteristics of the aircraft. When fully integrated into the B-52, the 20 ALCM-B's and their launch equipment will weigh approximately 76,000 pounds. The aircraft will carry six of the 20-foot-long missiles under each wing on 40-foot-long pylons. The eight remaining missiles are carried internally like SRAM. But to carry these weapons, the B-52 must download an amount of fuel equal to their weight to remain within the maximum gross weight limit. In addition, a range penalty of approximately 10 percent results from the added drag of the pylon-mounted missiles. It is estimated that the total range penalty for displaced fuel and drag may approach 25 percent. In addition to decreasing aircraft range, the ALCM requires electrical, hydraulic, and cooling support from the B-52's subsystems. In some cases, this exceeds the existing capacity of the B-52, for these systems already represent over 20 years of modifications.


The advent of the ALCM and its integration further extended the useful life of the B-52. In 1982, as the first B-52G cruise missile carrier assumed alert, the weapon system is well into its third decade of operation. The original nuclear mission has been expanded and the strike profile has come full circle as the B-52 has adapted to- changing national strategies and priorities. Its unique characteristics have allowed it to achieve different objectives, in different circumstances, against different adversaries. Through this adaptive process, the capabilities of the B-52 have been broadened to provide firepower across the spectrum of conflict. Even though technology has advanced tenfold since the advent of the B-52, it still remains the mainstay of the bomber force.

First B-52 Raids on North Vietnam - History

Operation Pleime-Chupong B-52 Strike?

- Is there such an operation called “Operation Pleime-Chupong B-52 Strike”?

= Yes. That’s the code name given to the B-52 Strike Operation used in direct tactical support of the First Cavalry Division’s fight in the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965 ̣(Air Force Historical Studies Office):

These B-52s were used primarily in saturation bombing of Viet Cong base areas, but later they were used in direct tactical support of […] the First Cavalry Division’s fight in the Ia Drang Valley.

- Who coined that name?

General McChristian says that the campaign started in Pleime on October 20 (page 6):

The Chu Pong base was known to exist well prior to the Pleime attack and J2 MACV had taken this area under study in September 1965 as a possible B-52 target.

and he indicates on the map where the B-52's struck in Chupong on November 18.

This code name is known only within the COMUSMACV circle outside of it (CINCPAC, JGS, Defense Department, State Department), it is known as the Arc Light operation in tactical support of Operation Silver Bayonet I at Ia Drang Valley.

- Where can one find a copy of this document?

= At the US Army Heritage & Education Center - The US Army, Military History Institute - The US Army War College Library, Carlisle, PA 17013.

- What are the other known Arc Light operations in its early days of the Vietnam War?

= The first one code-named Arc Light I operation took place on 18 June 1965 (MACV: The Years of Escalation, 1962-1967):

The first B-52 raid, code-named Arc Light I, took place on 18 June [1965], against a suspected concentration of Viet Cong troop concentration in War Zone D, forty miles north of Saigon.

= the Ho Bo Woods Arc Light operation that was scheduled to take place on 17 September 1965 but was aborted by the State Department (General Westmoreland’s history notes):

Saturday, 18 September: We had hoped to have a B-52 strike on the morning of 17 September to support an operation of the 173d Brigade but at 11 p.m. the evening before it was cancelled. The strike was requested based on some excellent intelligence and I took a personal interest to insure that a nearby village would not endangered. We were under the impression that strike had been approved and had planned accordingly until we heard that the State Department had disallowed it.

= the first Arc Light operation used as tactical support to the 1st Air Cavalry Division conducting Operation Silver Bayonet I at Ia Drang Valley in November 1965 (classified as-code named 'Pleime-Chupong campaign').

= the second Arc Light operation used as tactical support to the Marine Corps’ Operation Harvest Moon in December 1965 (Harvest Moon operation Dec 1965):

On the afternoon of the 11th, Platt was visited by Brigadier General William DePuy, General Westmoreland's J-3, who suggested that USAF B-52s from Guam could strike the objective area before the Marines entered. General Platt accepted the offer and the first of several B-52 raids occurred on the morning of the 12th.

= and the most talked about Niagara Arc Light operation at Khe Sanh in 1968.

However, COMUSMACV has actually been executing a fairly amounts of B-52 strikes in the year of 1965: one mission in June, 6 missions in July, 10 missions in August, 20 missions in September, 23 missions in October, 39 missions in November, and 39 missions in December (Project CHECO report, Arc Light 1965-1966, 15 Sep 67).

- How was the Pleime-Chupong Arc Light operation different from the other Arc Light tactical support operations?

= One, in the general cases, the planning was done by COMUSMACV who then notified the ARVN Corps Commander of the execution while in this particular case, the planning was done by II Corps Command who then notified COMUSMACV for the execution.

= Two, in the general cases, the purpose of the strikes was either of strategic nature to disrupt enemy bases, or of tactical nature in support of ground forces while in this particular case, the B-52 strike was used as the main thrust, supported by the ground force used as the secondary thrust.

- Who was the mastermind of the Pleime-Chupong Arc Light operation?

= Colonel Hieu, II Corps Chief of Staff. He provided the operational concept and the intelligence of the entire operation. He coordinated the operational team comprising Brigadier General William DePuy, J-3/MACV, Major General Richard Larsen, IFFV Commander, and Brigadier General Richard Knowles, 1st Air Cavalry Division Forward Commander. General DePuy coordinated with the SAC in the execution of the B-52 strikes. The deployment and maneuvering of the 1st Air Cavalry Division units during the preparatory phase (Long Reach operation) were assumed by Brigadier General Knowles, 1st Air Cav Div Forward Commander (operational command) and Major General Larsen, IFFV Commander (operational control). It was closely monitored by General Westmoreland at MACV and by General Ngo Duc Thang and General Nguyen Huu Co (J3 and Chief of Operations respectively) at the Joint General Staff.

- Under what protocol was the operation carried out?

= The modus operandi of the operation was set by II Corps Command: Joint intelligence and support activities, commonly-shared concept of operations and results, separate TAOR, command, deployment of forces, conduct of activities, reserve (Why Pleime, chapter VIII):

In phase III, the operations had been conducted through a close cooperation between ARVN and US Forces: that was the latest procedure ever put into application since the second World War. It is characterized by: Joint intelligence and support activities Commonly-shared concept of operations and results Separate TAOR Separate command Separate deployment of forces Separate conduct of activities Separate reserve.

- How was the working relationship of the ARVN-US team?

= It was, according to General Westmoreland, “The effectiveness of this highly organized, closely integrated, cooperative effort has not often been emulated in modern warfare” (Why Pleime, Preface). General Westmoreland took the matter into his hands in not allowing any manipulative attempts from either side (General Westmoreland’s History Notes):

Sunday, 17 October- I was concerned about reports that General Vinh Loc of II Corps was proceeding on his own without coordinating with American forces.

He also clamped down on any “prima donna” complex behaviors (General Westmoreland’s History Notes):

Saturday, 6 November- During the course of the day I had a chance to talk to General Larsen, Colonel Mataxis and General Kinnard. I congratulated General Kinnard on the successes being achieved by elements of his division in Pleiku and made the passing observation that they were apparently getting over their prima donna complex.

- How closely did General Westmoreland supervise the execution of this operation?

= Throughout the Pleime-Chupong campaign, General Westmoreland paid frequent visits to the various headquarters at corps, division, brigade, and battalion levels - to have the first hand grasp of the situation at all time (General Westmorland’s History Notes (29 August-29 November 1965)"): on 19 October, 1st Air Cavalry Division Officers on 28 October, Lt Colonel Clark, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade on 31 October, General Larsen, IFFV on 6 November, General Kinnard, 1st Air Cavalry Division on 18 November, Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore, 1/7 Air Cavalry Battalion, and Colonel Tim Brown, 3rd Air Cavalry Brigade, and General Vinh Loc, II Corps and General Larsen, IFFV on 25 November, ARVN Airborne Task Force, and 2nd Air Cavalry Brigade at Duc Co.

When it was over, he gave a first handed outline of the campaign (Preface, Why Pleime):

From the standpoint of employment of joint forces, the Plei Me battle was a classic. The signal successes of the latter phases could, perhaps, never have been realized had it not been for the judgment and foresight of Vietnamese leadership. The initial preparatory effort on the ground, paving the way for the introduction of the 1st Air Cavalry Division, was accomplished by Vietnamese forces. Similarly the very successful final phase exploitation was accomplished largely by the Vietnamese Airborne Brigade. The effectiveness of this highly organized, closely integrated, cooperative effort has not often been emulated in modern warfare.

- Did General William DePuy write an AAR of this operation?

= Unlike General McChristian, J-2/MACV, General DePuy did not seem to have left any written record of his participation in the Pleime-Chupong Arc Light operation.

This fact, coupled with General Westmoreland’s silence on the Arc Light action at Chupong in his History Notes, has led historians to conclude that there is no such operation as planned by a joint ARVN (Colonel Hieu) - US (Brigadier General DePuy) team.

- Is there an official record that indicates General DePuy’s involvement in this operation by name?

= Yes, in the G3 Journal/IFFV (G3 Journal/IFFV, 11/15/65):

10:30H: MAVC J3 (Gen DePuy) Gen DePuy called Col Barrow and asked if Arc Light had been cleared with CG II Corps. Col Barrow replied yes, CG II Corps has approved Arc Light. Target area approved by Col Barrow and Col McCord. Also Gen DePuy wanted to know if the elem of 1st Cav had received the 151600H restriction on not going west of YA grid line. Col Barrow informed Gen De Puy that the 1st Cav had acknowledged receipt of the restriction and would comply. Gen DePuy personally changed target configuration. Gen DePuy stated that this is the fastest a strike of this nature had ever been laid-on.

- Where can one discover such a plan?

= Firstly, in General McChristian’s Intelligence Aspect of Plei Me/Chu Pong Campaign, which shows the time-frame of the coordination between the B-52 strike and 1st Air Cavalry from the beginning at Pleime to the end at Chupong. And secondly, in General Vinh Loc’s Why Pleime and Pleime, Trận Chiến Lịch Sử, in General Kinnar’s Pleiku Campaign, and in General Larsen’s G3 Journal/IFFV, which depicts the various aspects of the combined B-52 strike-1ACD operation.

- What was the initial plan of the Arc Light operation at Chu Pong?

= The initial plan was studied in September 1965, long before the siege of the Pleime camp (Intelligence Aspect of Pleime/ Chu Pong Campaign, page 6):

The Chu Pong base was known to exist well prior to the Pleime attack and J2 MACV had taken this area under study in September 1965 as a possible B-52 target.

The plan studied the feasibility of using B-52 strike to destroy the three NVA Regiments – 32nd, 33rd, and 66th - coming down from the North, as they regrouped in assembly areas in the Chupong Massif to stage for an attack of the Pleime camp. The NVA B3 Field Front was planning to launch the attack by December 1965: the 32nd Regiment was already operating in the Central Highlands since January the 33rd Regiment started operating in September and the 66th Regiment would close in by mid-November.

Thus the initial operation code-named Chupong operation (Forward, Intelligence Aspect of Pleime/Chupong Campaign):

When it became apparent that during the Chu Pong Campaign a sizeable battle was in the making, the ACofS, J2, requested the field forces to maintain accurate records of actions taken and results thereof for inclusion in an after-action report.

was scheduled to enter in action by December 1965.

- Why was it renamed Pleime-Chupong campaign?

= When the NVA B3 Field Front decided to advance the attack of the Pleime camp to October 20 with only two readied Regiments – 32nd and 33rd – while the 66th was still on its way down the Ho Chi Minh trail, II Corps Command had to put on hold the B-52 strike until the arrival of the 66th Regiment and to adjust its plan accordingly. Now the plan had two phases. The Pleime phase: to interdict the enemy’s attack at Pleime and the Chupong phase: to repulse the two attacking regiments back to Chupong. The Chupong phase introduced the supportive role assumed by the 1st Air Cavalry Division in rounding up and fixing the enemy units into targets available for B-52 strikes.

On October 27, when the Dan Thang 21 operation was wrapping up, II Corps Command assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Division the conduct of the Long Reach (Trường Chinh) operation which unfolded in two subsequent operations: All the Way conducted by the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade from October 27 to November 9, and Silver Bayonet I conducted by the 3rd Air Cavalry Brigade from November 9 to 17. II Corps Command assumed the operational control of this operation through General Larsen, IFFV Commander.

How were the enemy troops set up into becoming targets available for B-52 strikes?

= Firstly, after the attacking troops retreat to Chupong, and knowing the enemy was earger for revenge (Pleime, Trận Chiến Lịch Sử, page 94):

With Dan Thang 21 operation finished, the Pleime camp was back on its footing, but among the two VC Regiments that had joined in the attack, we only inflicted 400 kills upon the enemy. The withdrawal was a rational and intelligent initiative taken by the VC Field Front Command. But the enemy would attempt to take revenge and the remote Pleime camp remains an eyesore to them.

II Corps kept the Pleime camp under its responsibility so that it still appeared weak and vulnerable and thus still tempting to the enemy’s palate (G3 Journal/IFFV, 10/30/65):

- 00:50H: II Corps (Major Black) - At 292350 Col Williams called Col Hieu, CofS II Corps. II Corps requested that 1st Cav TAOR be extended to include the Plei Me area except the camp itself. From present line on NS grid line ZA14 east to NS grid line AR77, on EW grid line ZA/AR15, south on AR77 to EW grid line 00, then west to NW grid line ZA14. Col Buchan, Gen Knowles, Col Williams and Col Mataxis agree.

= Secondly, after the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade succeeded in herding the two 32nd and 33rd Regiments back to Chupong, the 3rd Air Cavalry Brigade was ordered to switch the operational direction from west to east to entice the three 32nd, 33rd and 66th Regiments into regrouping in assembly areas in order to stage an attack of the Pleime camp for the second time (Pleiku Campaign, page 67, 76, 76):

By this time Field Force Vietnam had asked the division to consider moving this operation east of Pleime.

The movement and shift in emphasis from west to east were to further stimulate a forthcoming decision from the NVA division headquarters.

With American units seemingly withdrawing to the east of Pleime, the decision was to attempt to regain its early advantage with an attack. The target once again was the Pleime CIDG Camp. The division headquarters set the date for attack at 16 November, and issued orders to its three regiments.

= Thirdly, due to the required 72 hour lead time for B-52 strike, the earliest first waves of B-52 strikes could only be scheduled the earliest for November 15, at which time the NVA units would have already moved out of the assembly areas, there was a need to create a diversion to fix the targets. For that purpose, on November 14, the 1/7 Air Cavalry Battalion was inserted at the footstep of Chupong, next to the position of the 66th Regiment which was the enemy’s main force in this second attack. Arrangements were made to have this battalion pulled out on November 16 to allow the B-52 strikes to bomb the positions of the 66th Regiment units at and in the vicinity of the LZ X-Ray on November 17.

= Fourthly, on November 18, the Airborne Brigade was brought in to finish off the operation.

General Knowles reveals that the purpose of the insertion of the Air Cavalry troops at LZ X-Ray on November 14 was to “grab the tiger by its tail” and to hit its head with B-52 airstrikes from November 15 to 16. He also explains the reason for pulling out of LZ X-Ray on November 17 and moving to LZ Albany was “to grab the tiger by its tail from another direction” and continued to hit its head with B-52 bombs from November 17 to 20.

In summary, the Pleime-Chupong Arc Light operation was executed in five steps: 1/ interdict the attack at Pleime 2/ repulse the attack to Chupong 3/ prepare and fix the targets 4/ strike and 5/ finish off. The operation lasts 38 days and 38 nights from beginning to end.

What was the key element that had made the Pleime-Chupong Arc Light operation a notable success?

= The success of this Arc Light Pleime-Chupong campaign was made possible due to an accurate and solid real-time intelligence of the enemy military situation (Pleime, Trận Chiến Lịch Sử, page 94):

The battle from phases 2 and 3 also introduced an aspect never seen up to now because for almost 20 years, during the Franco-Vietnamese war, seldom pursuit operation was considered after each time the enemy made an appearance and when it was conducted, no significant results had been achieved. Therefore this time around, the determination not to allow the enemy to escape, coupled with the solid intelligence on the enemy situationhad permitted the battle to develop to the maximum degree and scale and at the same token lead to the biggest victory ever achieved by the ARVN and its Allied.

This solid intelligence was obtained by a unique method: the radio intercepts of Chine Advisors’ un-coded communications in Mandarin by the ARVN intelligence apparatus provided by the Taiwanese Government since the time of President Diem’s Government (Pleime, Trận Chiến Lịch Sử, page 124):

The natural corridors often mentioned by General Delange in 1951 would not be efficient without the existence of Cambodia, without the concealment of Red Chinese advisors who enjoyed full amenities living in Phnom Penh, without the excellent communication by ways of telephone and air-gram between Phnom Penh and Hanoi.

The Chinese Advisors, who were also embedded in the NVA forces at regimental level, conversed freely between them, unaware that their radio communications were eavesdropped by the ARVN intelligence teams. This intelligence source allowed II Corps Command to know precisely all B3 Field Front Command’s planning in real-time and to schedule accordingly the first B-52 strike’s time over target (TOT) set for 1600H on November 15 and to have the 1/7 Air Cavalry Battalion inserted at the footstep of Chu Pong Massif on November 14 to fix the targets for the B-52 strikes.

Unlike in the cases of other B-52 strike operations, the casualties caused by the Arc Light strikes were not assessed by sending in ground troops into the strike areas. They were provided by listening to the casualties reports of the Chinese Advisors themselves. It was why II Corps Command was so sure the enemy had lost 2/3 of their strength, after two days of B-52 strikes on November 17 (Why Pleime, chapter VI) :

The intelligence estimate on enemy capabilities, made on 17 November indicated that nearly 2/3 of their strength had been wiped off through the engagements in Phases I and II.

and to send in the Airborne Task Force into Ia Drang to finish off the operation.

How successful was the Pleime-Chupong Arc Light operation?

= General McChristian noted in his report (Intelligence Aspect of Plei Me/Chu Pong Campaign, page 67):

During the period between 15 and 22 Nov there were 14 B-52 strikes conducted in the area of operations in support of Operation Silver Bayonet. This was the first operation to make tactical use of the B-52, and a total of 76 B-52s dropped almost 3900 – 750 lb bombs in the vicinity of the Chu Pong base area. Later interrogation of a NVA captive revealed that the 1st and 3rd Bns of the 32nd NVA suffered 33% casualties during the encounter, the majority of which were due to B-52 strikes.

It is noteworthy to point out that General McChristian took the precaution to conceal the radio intercepts intelligence by naming as the source from the interrogation of NVA captive in this instance, or to captured documents in other instances (Intelligence Aspect of Plei Me/Chu Pong Campaign, page 41):

On 9 November 1965, a captured document listed the following casualties for the 33rd Regiment.

Nguyen Van Tin
13 March 2016

  • Why Pleime
  • Pleime, Trận Chiến Lịch Sử
  • Pleime Battle Viewed From G3/I Field Force Vietnam
  • Long Reach Operation Viewed From G3/I Field Force Vietnam
  • LZ X-Ray Battle and LZ Albany Battle Viewed From G3/I Field Force Vietnam
  • Than Phong 7 Operation Viewed From G3/I Field Force Vietnam
  • Arc Light Strike at Chupong-Iadrang Viewed From G3/IFFV
  • Pleiku Campaign
  • Intelligence Aspects at Pleime_Chupong Campaign
  • Excerpts of General Westmorland’s History Notes re: Pleime-Chupong-Iadrang Campaign
  • LZ X-Ray Battle (General Knowles)
  • LZ X-Ray After Action Report - LTC Hal Moore and Colonel Hieu
  • Than Phong 7
  • 52nd Combat Aviation Battalion in Support of Pleime Campaign
  • CIDG in Camp Defense (Plei Me)
  • Viet Cong Requested Red China's Aid

- Books, Articles

* Pleiku, the Dawn of Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam, J.D. Coleman, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1988.

* We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, Random House, New York, 1992.

* "First Strike at River Drang", Military History, Oct 1984, pp 44-52, Per. Interview with H.W.O Kinnard, 1st Cavalry Division Commanding General, Cochran, Alexander S.

* The Siege of Pleime, Project CHECO Report, 24 February 1966, HQ PACAF, Tactical Evaluation Center.

First B-52 Raids on North Vietnam - History

History of the Strategic Air Command

Prelude to History, Dec 15,1972

On the 17th of December, after a 48 hour advance warning was sent to the operational headquarters, controlling SAC and PACAF combat units in Southeast Asia, The Following Orders were transmitted at the direction of President Richard
M. Nixon, by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to CINCSAC, CINCPAC, CINCPACAF, and the Strategic Air Command (8th Air Force) and Pacific Air Forces (13th Air Force) Units at Andersen, Kadena, Clark, CCK, U-Tapao, & other Western
Pacific bases:


Aircraft Quantity Base Special Missions / Units
B-52D 54 RTNAF U-Tapao, Thailand 307th Strategic Wing)
KC-135A 53 (Appox) RTNAF U-Tapao, Thailand Strategic Wing - Provisional
10 Takhli RTAFB, Thailand SW-P 310 / AREFS-P 4101
B-52D 53 Andersen AFB, Guam (43rd Strategic Wing)
B-52G 99 Andersen AFB, Guam (Strategic Wing - Provisional 72)
KC-135A 59* (Appox) Kadena
AB, Okinawa
(376th Strategic Wing)
KC-135A 7 Kadena AB, Okinawa Combat Lightning
(Radio Relay)
KC-135Q 5/6/12** Kadena
AB, Okinawa
Giant Bear TTF (SR-71) 6 Kadena AB, Okinawa Support
RC-135M (376th SW / 82nd Strat Recon Sq)
Reconnaissance - ELINT
KC-135A 25 Clark AB, Philippines (376th SW / AREFS-P 4102)
SR-71A 4 Kadena AB, Okinawa Reconnaissance -
Post Strike
U-2 / DC-130 2 / 2 RTNAFU-Tapao, Thailand Reconnaissance - Pre /Post

Later, on the night of 18 Dec 1972, a 97th BW crew (Lt Col Don Rissi and crew from the 340th BS) driving B52G 58-0201 - call sign: Charcoal 01 was the first B-52 loss to hostile fire during Linebacker II operations *** when it was hit by
two Surface to Air Missiles ([email protected]'s) over Yen Vien Rail Yards This was the crew that was scheduled to be riding a KC -135 east to Blythville, but the replacement crew was late getting to Guam due heavy snows at Loring. (Col Rissi, & Gunner Walter Fergerson were KIA Lt Robert J. Thomas was MIA (The father of the late Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker Derrick Thomas) was listed for Years as MIA. The remaining three members were able to bail out, were captured by the NVA but were later returned to active duty from the POW camps. Other B52's were shot down, more crewmembers were lost, and some were returned: but we, in the proud tradition of the Strategic Air Command, extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all who were part of the SAC Team Effort, including PACAF & other commands' support units. You deserve, and
hopefully, receive the respect of our countrymen for your dedication and devotion to duty. I am proud to part of the effort that allowed an American Officer in Hanoi to comment, "Pack your bags, Boys we are going home".

I would like to thank several former US Air Force members (Flight Crew and Support Crews alike) supporting Linebacker II missions, for help in writing this history. It was first posted in Dec 2000 on the U-Tapao Alumni Association but the last several days went unfinished as I had a computer crash.

Terry L Horstead
TSgt USAF (Retired)
TDY from the 99th BW at Westover

(SSgt Terry Horstead was on the morning of 16 Dec 1972, TDY to the 305th OMS at Grissom AFB, Indiana from Westover AFB, Massachusetts (just having completed a 214 Day TDY trip to Kadena, CCK, U-Tapao, and Andersen (KC-135A Strip Alert)-(Extension Auth by SECDEF due to Deployment Bases having manpower shortages at the 179 Day rotation mark of the Bullets hot deployments) was flying a 305 AREFW (99th BW TDY Acft) KC-135A 60-0361 south for a RC-135 refueling just north of Cuba, when we were told to contact SAC on the radio and were diverted to March AFB, California and deployed to Guam
International Airport / NAS Brewer Field, for duty as an emergency air refueling tanker (as needed) for the Linebacker II missions, returning to Grissom during the first week of January 1973.)

2nd Email from Terry
Day 2 (Dec 19/20, 1972)
Order of Battle:

Wave 1: Targeted to bomb the Kinh No Complex with the following aircraft:
0 B52D's from the 307th SW, U-Tapao RTAFB, Thailand
12 B52D's from the 43rd SW, Andersen AB, Guam
9 B52G' from the SW (P), 72 Andersen AB, Guam

Wave 2: Targeted to bomb the Bac Giang Trans-Shipment Center & Warehouse Complex with the following aircraft:
15 B52D's from the 307th SW, U-Tapao RTAFB, Thailand
0 B52D' from the 43rd SW, Andersen AB, Guam
21 B52G' from SW (P), 72 Andersen AB, Guam

Wave 3: Targeted to bomb the Yen Vien Complex
(9 B-52D's) & the Thai Nguyen Termal Power Plant 31 miles North-west of Hanoi (27 B-52's):
15 B52D's from the 307th SW, U-Tapao RTAFB, Thailand
15 B52D's from the 43rd SW, Andersen AB, Guam
6 B52G' from SW (P), 72, Andersen AB, Guam

Wave 1 had approx. 60 SAM's fired at it with no hits. Wave 2 had approx. 58 SAM's launched and Hazel 03
(B-52G 58-0254) with degraded ECM was hit approximately 13 miles inbound to the target, but was still capable of delivering the bombs on the target with recovery at U-Tapao. Hazel 03 was the only G-model to be hit and not go down. ThreeCells behind Hazel Cell was Ivory 01 (B-52D 56-0692) flown by Maj. John C. Dalton from the 99th BW, Westover AFB, MA, was hit by the SAM Site designated as VN-549 SAM. VN-549 over the next week, was the torn in the side of the Linebacker fleet by becoming the most lethal site in North Viet Nam. Ivory 01 was in the PTT and broadside to VN549 when it was hit causing extensive damage and loss of No 5, 6, & 7 engines. The crew was lead aircraft of the 1st cell on the 1st night, was hit on the second night and made a successful landing on the US Marine Base at Nam Phong Thailand. Later picked up by the Klong Hopper (a 314th TAW C-130 Detached to U-Tapao), and returned to U-Tapao and back in the schedule for night number four. Wave 3 hit the targets with no Acft hit, NVN fired over 180 SAM's on Night 2. Wave 1 had
approx. 60 SAM's fired at it with no hits.

2nd Email from Terry
Day 3
TAC-AIR kept up the pressure with 20 A-7's at Yen Bai Airfield (MIG 17 & 21's) and 54 F-4's hitting radar & communication facilities with BDA missions being flown by RF4C's, U-2's & SR-71's

The stage was set for disaster on Day 3 because SAC Planners decided to fly Day 3 with the same tactics as on Day 1 & 2. Wave 1 consisted of 15 B52D's from the 307th SW at U-Tapao, 6 B52D's from the 43rd SW, and 12 B52G' from
SW(P) 72 at Andersen, Targeting the Hanoi Railroad Repair Facility (6 B-52D's) and Yen Vien Rail Yard and the adjacent Ai Mo Warehouse area, with 33 F-111's striking Airbases, RADCOM facilities, and Bac Giang Thermal Power Plant. Wave 2 consisted of 9 B52D's from the 43rd SW and 18 B52G's from SW(P) 72 at Andersen, Targeting the Hanoi Rail
Yards. U-Tapao was not tasked to support Wave 2. Wave 3 consisted of 18 B52D's from the 307th SW at U-Tapao, 9 B52D's from the 43rd SW at Andersen, and 12 B52G's from SW(P) 72 at Andersen, targeting the Hanoi Rail Yards.
The first target was bombed with only 4 SAM's being fired with no hit's. Even though the 6 D's were within range of 11 SAM Site's, the worst was to come for the remaining 27 aircraft.
Quilt cell was inbound when Quilt 01 & 03 both lost 2 jammer / transmitter's prior to the IP. Quilt 03, (B52G 57-6496) flown by Capt Terry Gelonick (744th BS, 456th Bomb Wing at Beale AFB, Ca), was hit during the Post Target Turn (PTT) with a TOT of 2209L (Hanoi) flying between 35,000 & 37,000 feet. About 15 seconds prior to "Bombs Away", a SAM flew past the left wing with the proximity fuse failing to detonate the missile but close enough for the motor exhaust to light up the cockpit. Just after dropping the bombs, as the doors were closing and starting into the 60 degree PTT, the aircraft was hit. Co-pilot 1st Lt. William Arcuri noticed loss of fuel in the left wing (Fuel Indication was working / Electrical was working) and loss of pressurization due to four 6 inch holes in the structure back by the Gunner's station. EWO Capt Craig Paul was hit and badly bleeding, and Gunner SSgt Roy Madden had a shattered leg that had to be amputated after being released as a POW. As the aircraft started to lose
altitude and flight control further complicated due to the loss hydraulics in the tail section, Capt Gelonick order the crew to bail out of the aircraft. EWO Capt Craig Paul and R/N Warren Spencer were both Killed in Action, and the remaining crew members were returned in March of 1973.
Four Cells behind Quilt was Brass Cell with a Phase VI ECM Modified Aircraft (Brass 03) and two unmodified G's. Brass 02 (B52G 57-6481) was Hit with 2 SAM's, one under the wing and one under the fuselage. The crew, commanded by Capt John Ellinger (42nd BW, 69th BS at Loring AFB, Maine), was able to nurse the stricken aircraft out of North Viet Nam, across Laos and over the Mekong River near NKP. As the aircraft dropped thru 9,500 feet, Capt Ellinger order the crew to bail out. The only injuries were twisted knees (EWO) and rope burns when the pilot landed in trees and became tangled in the chute cords, and the R/N had a dislocated shoulder. The crew, after being flown back to Guam, was returned to Loring.
Three Cells back was Orange Cell. Orange 03 (B52D 56-622) was commanded by Major John Stuart, (S-01 Crew) a Standboard Pilot from the 99th BW from Westover AFB. As Orange 01 & 02 was starting their PTT's, Orange 03 was hit during bomb release, entered a flat spin and crashed near the Target. Four crewmembers were MIA with only Copilot 1st Lt. Paul Granger and Navigator Capt Thomas Klomann surviving to become POW's.
As the 2nd Wave approached the targets, HQ SAC staff decided the G's did not have of the ECM suite modifications needed to protect themselves from the SAM II's and recalled the B-52G's. However, the remaining 6 B-52D's attacked the target with NO losses.
Next coming into harms way was Guam launched Straw 02, a (B52D 56-669), at 34,000 feet, flown by Capt. Deverl Johnson and his crew from the 306th BW, 367th BS at McCoy AFB, at Orlando, Fla. Hit while in the PTT, 2 seconds after bomb release, by a missile believed fired by VN-549, everything in the airplane went black, with No 7 & 8 engines on fire, Pitot Static (Airspeed and Altitude) were the only instruments working, (I assume the Standby Compass also worked for heading info). Capt Johnson was trying to get the airplane out of NVN and headed towards the hazards of Laos. They didn't take prisoners in Laos. The airplane looked like swiss cheese and with the loss of the electrical power, the crew was unable to control the fuel valves, causing a major fuel imbalance about 30 minutes after getting hit, and at that point, Capt. Johnson ordered a bailout as the aircraft had dropped to about 15,000 ft. The crew was down in Laos, and was picked up by an HH-53, with the only injury
was to the R/N, who was hit in the explosion and was not known to have left the airplane. (In 1981 a US spy Satellite picked up what looked like "52" stamped in the grass in the impact area. It is possible the R/N did make it out of the airplane and was missed by the rescue forces). Unfortunately, Wave 3 consisted of too many G-models and could not be recalled as was done with Wave 2. General John Myers, after weighing all facts, issued the final order to Press On.
Next in trouble was Olive 1, ( B-52G 58-0198) flown by Lt Col James Nagahiro & crew from the 325th BS of the 92nd Bomb Wing at Fairchild, with Lt Col Keith Heggen (DAMC-Deputy Airborne Mission Commander-TDY from the 97th BW at Blythville AFB), struck the Kinh No Complex, and was hit in the PTT by a SAM missile. Only three of the seven-man crew was able to egress from 58-0198. Lt Col. Nagaharo, the Nav Capt Lynn Beens, and the DAMC Lt Col. Heggen were the only three known to have left the airplane however, Col. Heggen died of wounds while being held at the Hanoi Hilton. The remaining crewmembers were listed as MIA.
Two Cells back was Tan 03, (B52G 58-0169) flown by Capt. Randall Craddock and his 340th BS crew from the 97th BW at Blythville AFB, Arkansas. After Bomb Nav failure, the ship became separated (about 6 Miles) from the rest of the cell and lost mutual protection of the combined ECM Suites, thus becoming easy pray to NVN SAM II's. The only survivor was the Gunner, SSgt James Lollar, who was able to eject just as the aircraft disintegrated. The remaining 5 crew members were listed as MIA.
A little later, Aqua 03, flown by Capt Chris Quill, was the last G to go-"Downtown" in the Hanoi high threat area. The last cell to cross the target was Brick Cell. Brick O2, a B52D, assigned to strike the Hanoi Petroleum Products Storage Area, was hit by a SAM II leaving numerous holes in the right wing, but was able to recover back at U-Tapao*. (Was this 55-116?) And as a Legend in his own Time. On this night Capt J.R. Smith flew his 500th combat mission. While on the bomb run with SAM's flying all over town, EWO Capt Smith reached for a whistle he carried on all flights. After successfully hacking into the NVN GCI network, he blew the whistle and called a "Time Out". The stunned SAM II forces did not launch a missile for the next 90 seconds, thus allowing his crew to complete the bomb run and get thru the PTT.
Results of Day 3: Over 200 SAM's fired at the Strike Force resulting in the loss of 4 G's and 2 D's with a third D Damaged - All lost G's were unmodified ECM (Short tailed) aircraft, all 4 aircraft lost and 1 damaged aircraft were hit in the post target turn.

Terry L Horstead
TDY from the 99th BW at Westover

Order of Battle:
Wave 1: 30 B-52D's from the 307th SW at U-Tapao were to target the MIG Bases at QUANG TE (6-B52D's), BAC MAI (12-B52D's), and the VAN DIEN SUPPLY DEPOT (12-B52D's). Wave 2: Not Tasked Wave 3: Not Tasked

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