For those who served in the RVAH Community, their families, and friends!

It's now been 50 years since RVAH-12 deployed to the Gulf of Tonkin aboard USS Constellation.  As a memorial, I have been tweeting remembrances for significant daily events.  Follow me on twitter @rodanderson.

I have compiled these tweets (and supporting materials) in a web site that may be of some interest:  50 years ago in a flight log.  Any additions, updates, or corrections gratefully received.

Rod Anderson

RVAH-12  1967-69

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I have a jpeg image from that cruise taken in thieves alley Yokosuka. I'll try to attach it to this.

Left-AMH1 Jim Manasco, AIMD (?)

2nd Left-RD2 "Nasty" Stockton, IOIC

Center-Unknown Brtit Merchie

Right-Unknown (or can't remember)

Just curious about the loss of BuNo 149302 on 17 Aug 1967 with loss of pilot CDR Dion and RAN LT(j.g.) Hom. Was the aircraft lost RVAH-12's PECM Bird? Strange circumstances!
Me too. Depending on what you reference, it's not clear if it was classified as an accident or combat loss. So the Navy was confused as well.

It was the PECM bird, and was flying a PECM mission, out of range of ground based air defenses (SA-2's, etc.). Would not be impossible for a MiG to intercept if we weren't alert. I suspect the MiG-21 has a relatively small radar cross section and might be hard to detect from skin return if the IFF was turned off.

How's this for a conspiracy: The NVN ran a special operation to shoot down a PECM aircraft. PECM tracks were fairly repetitive and were almost always flown at a similar time (early evening). A MiG-19 or -21 should have been detectable by our surface radar net, but perhaps clever routing could allow the aircraft to get into the Gulf without detection. Turning off the IFF would preclude detection by our exploitation equipment. The interceptor could get within AA-2 Aphid range without detection. The event was consistent with an IR missile strike (seconds between event and communications ceasing). If the missile impacted one of the engine tailpipes as one would expect, the other other engine, CSD, and generator might continue to operate for a few seconds before the aircraft came apart, long enough for a emergency call.

The operation is successful. The US accident investigation established these facts, but this information is not released.

Pure conjecture, of course, But if this event took place, I don't wonder if the US authorities would not be interested in publicizing it.

I was unaware of this at the time (August 1967), but only because at the time we in RVAH-11 aboard USS Forrestal (CVA-59) were kind of busy with our own problems. When you're watching what is now the Training Film that resulted from the 16MM Plat Camera, the last Vigilante shown upside down in Tonkin Gulf after being pushed off the Flight Deck was our PECM Bird and I later heard the Navy had a fit about that! The thought was Tonkin Gulf wasn't all that deep and those Russkie and ChiCom "Fishing Boats" (the ones with all the antennas they needed to locate and catch fish) would surely retrieve the PECM Gear from the plane after we left.

Anyway, your "conspiracy theory," like good humor, may be based on knowledge of real life, factual events. Sort of like a couple of F-4 Phantoms from Cecil Field dropping in at NAS Sanford, refueling, and departing as escorts for an RA-5C Vigilante to head south for a tourist, photo-taking tour from one end to the other of a tropical island run by Commies. Now and then, the return to NAS Sanford may lack one of the Phantoms, but that must have been the result of a "tragic training accident" and little more. Could happen all the time in the 1960s, right?
By the way, Rod, I failed to mention MY most vivid thought is that A HALF CENTURY (50 YEARS!) after the fact we are somehow blessed with the ability to, we hope, intelligently remember all we did and, more importantly, remember our shipmates who have not been able to watch their children grow and prosper. With RVAH-11 on July 29, 1967 aboard USS Forrestal (CVA-59) was my 23rd Birthday and, obviously, a day I'll never forget. I'm sure the the friends, families, and shipmates of RVAH-12 AND RVAH-11 sailors who were lost will never cease to remember their sacrifices. When it's all said and done, that's who we are and what it's all about, isn't it?




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