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Linebacker Raids - effective or not

Unread postPosted: 05 Apr 2006, 00:43
by serino
I am moving this post over from the General category. Any insights from the Vets would be like fruit from the gods...well, it would be nice! :roll:

This is a post for any Vietnam Vets or anybody who has an opinion. I am reading a book about the strategic bombing in the Vietnam War and there doesn't seem to be a consensis on whether it was successful and/or intelligent. What were the feelings of the pilots and crews who participated? What were their opinions about the way the operation was run? It seems that there were many problems (from the top, down) that clogged the toilet for the ones actually flying and maintaining the aircraft. I appreciate any input, and any references would be greatly appreciated! :shock:

Unread postPosted: 05 Apr 2006, 17:14
by elp
Linebacker II brought the commies to the peace table. So that = effective. Shame on us for not having a Linebacker III when the commies moved south later. Make Hanoi and Haiphong harbor nothing but rubble.

Unread postPosted: 06 Apr 2006, 00:57
by serino
Mess with the Best, die like the rest - eh, elp! :nono:

Unread postPosted: 10 Apr 2006, 15:42
by Snake-1
Linebacker II should have happened six years earlier then what it did. Johnson's and McNamara's concept of controlled response was a totally unsuccessful political move and cost us way to many lifes. The "Same Route-- Same Time -- Same Target" day after day on senseless targets was as stupid as you can get. THe Wild Weasels were ORDERED to stay away from the SAM Sites that were either being built or were up and running for fear of killing Russians who were there to build them. So was the idea that you couldn't fire at them until they fired at you. The result was alot more tennants in the Hanoi Hilton.
Imagine if you will what the result would have been if we did the 12 days of xmas in 69 or 70. A good primer for what not to do and what you should do is offered on the Military Channel with a segment titled "Rolling Thunder" and "Linebacker II". THe air leaders of today flew the line at that time, learned the lessons well, and didn't make the same mistakes in Iraq.


Unread postPosted: 11 Apr 2006, 21:59
by serino
Thanks, Snake. I will see if I can watch the programs. I just checked out a book called "Rolling Thunder" - looks way cool with F-22's on the front. :D

Unread postPosted: 11 Apr 2006, 22:19
by LordOfBunnies
I'm sure I'm going to take some flak for this question, but I do want to know the answer. If the Vietnam War had been run as a military war (as opposed to the politicians controlling it) would it have been possible to win it (as opposed to falling back until we just pulled out)? I know what's been taught to me in history class and I've heard some people speak, but things that Gums and Snake seem to say contradict what is written in these books. I'm quite confident I'll catch hell for this, but my curiosity screams at me.

Unread postPosted: 11 Apr 2006, 23:31
by Snake-1
The Vietnam thing is going to generate many opinions and positions and each has to be weighed against the time, atmosphere, leanings of the populace, and position of the author. You've got to remember the peace and hippy movements of the era and Jane Fonda's of the time -- all popular with the younger generate. It was not uncommon for a person in uniform to be spit on or worse at the time for doing a job that they swore to do. As in any war the media is going to take the most sensational issue of the moment such as Me Lai and tout it as the norm for all in uniform. Most reporters came in country sat at the bar in their Hotel and wrote any story that was given to them. I took alot of reporters on sorties with me in the A-37, briefed them in detail on all we were doing and why, but never once recognized my words in the article.

If you question this take a look at what is happening in Iraq/Afghanistan, etc. You don't hear the good thing we are doing at re-building schools, hospitals, infrastructure, etc. Instead you get what some seasoned or cub reporter gets from his informant again without leaving the hotel -- which they will never tell you.

The conclusion is as it has always been -- go to the horses mouth -- and get it first hand and then weigh it against the credibility of what is written in the media. I'm sure there are a gross of guys right here on the net that can offer some very enlightening tidbits either on Nam or the Mid east. Please don't take for granted the writings of those who want to change history to their liking.

As to the success of Line backer II here are my thoughts. If you conduct a battle from the leaders in the field who have their finger on the pulse of time sensitive operations and targets, and if you consolidate all your actions and assets to bring the enemy to think twice about continuing a war, and if you continue to apply the necessary pressure to convince the enemy that you are going to continue these operations until he surrenders, all in the minimum time with minimum loss of life then the mission is successful.
Look at what was accomplished in the 12 days of Christmas of 72 and the saturation bombing in the north using upgraded tactics from the field commanders. Within the first couple of days the NVA ran out of SAM and their re-supply route to replenish them was cut. The same for the Triple A sites. Without the SAMs or Triple A the Migs didn't dare come up in force because we owned the sky and weren't about to give it back again. From Day 7 on it was like flying over Kansas at high noon. Overtures by the NVA to re-start the peace talks began near the end of the 12 days and very shortly after own troops were coming home from the Hanoi Hilton. In only 12 days we accomplished what the media said was a lost cause and could have probably forced a surrender in very short order if we continued. Now imagine these results if this approach was embraces five or six years earlier. There would be a lot less names on the wall today if that happened.

So if someone tells you that this operations wasn't successful I check his/her credentials, and political leanings very carefully before I put any faith in them.

Finally, and a point I keep bringing up, is that the leaders of the first and second Iraq conflict were in Nam, learned their lessons well and with the blessings of the President were extremely successful with an absolute minimum loss of lives or equipment. The Air Boss there was a line fighter pilot in Nam.

Gums ---- Busch--- Chime in here!!!!!


Unread postPosted: 12 Apr 2006, 05:11
by Gums

Thot the Snake left Korat before the 12 Days of Christmas Blitz, but he has it right.

I only flew three days of the Blitz, and I can tell you that the last day I flew you could have flown a Cessna 152 Downtown and only had to worry about the seven-level AAA gunners.

What did we accomplish? Well, we got a "truce" that lasted for about a year and a half. We also got all our buddies home, out of prison(see "Return With Honor", and realize that over half the folks you see interviewed were classmates of mine from the Zoo)

Problem with that whole fiasco was one side knew what they wanted and were prepared to die to achive their goal. The other side had many good folks, but the leadership and infrastructure did not have that same elan. It's sad, as I have many acquaintances from the losing side.

Snake is spot on about one very important thing, maybe two. If we had done in 1965 what we did in 1972 things would have been different. There would not have been 7 years for Trail construction and other things. Maybe the "good guys" would have had the time to get their act together and decide if living free was best for them. Second, the folks that were in command during the Storm were Vee Vets and they KNEW how to do it right. They were also prepared to fall on their swords if the politicians started the same crapola.

There are many issues here, and we really need another forum. Iraq is not like WW2. Neither was Korea or VietNam. Then there was the stupid thing in the Balkans.

War is a terrible thing, and those of us who have been there and have the tee-shirts will all agree that there should be a better way. But sometimes you have to make a stand and do what your heart tells you is the right thing. Then let the historians shame or praise you 50 years later. Very last thing you listen to is the press.

Off soapbox and back to building custom fishin' rods. And ain't it neat that a few of us made it?

Unread postPosted: 12 Apr 2006, 05:47
by Snake-1

I were there but not with the Demons.


Unread postPosted: 12 Apr 2006, 20:34
by serino
What a treat to have the voices of our Warriors that were really there! You gentleman have no idea what a privilege it is to hear history straight from the horse's mouth (sorry!). I watch and read all I can about military history, but there is nothing more exciting than talking to a Veteran who WAS THERE. You guys planning on writing any memiors? My pencil is poised, but my degree is in Physics - could make it happen!
Thank you. :salute:

Unread postPosted: 12 Apr 2006, 21:56
by Purplehaze
My dear MS. Serino,

I will give you all the details I can........

Unread postPosted: 12 Apr 2006, 22:09
by serino
What a treat to have the voices of our Warriors that were really there! You gentleman have no idea what a privilege it is to hear history straight from the horse's mouth (sorry!). I watch and read all I can about military history, but there is nothing more exciting than talking to a Veteran who WAS THERE. You guys planning on writing any memiors? My pencil is poised, but my degree is in Physics - could make it happen!
Thank you. :salute:

Unread postPosted: 22 Apr 2006, 12:12
by RoAF
There are some sources that claim that a MiG-21 MF number 5121 red flown by Pham Tuan shot down a B-52 on the night of Dec. 27 1972. However, all American sources denie any B-52 lost to interceptors. So what happened after all? I hope the ones who were there (Gums, Snake-1, ...) could shed some light on this.

Unread postPosted: 25 Apr 2006, 14:35
by Meathook
My thoughts, it was a long time ago (back in 1971) for me, I find it hard to believe that so much time has passed. So many people that gave their lives on both sides, it is sometimes hard to tell what was right or what was wrong with that whole war.

For me, I feel since the USA was engaged and occupying land there, we should have gone all out to win it fast. But as many will agree or disagree, after WWII, Korea and then the Nam, I think America was tired of war, didn't want war (hell, who does). Politicians felt we needed to be there to stop the spread of Communism (that can be debated till we are all blue in the face) but I feel the American public was just flat tired and misjudged the level of help the Vietnamese had from China and Russia. I think the war there stopped a war in the mainland USA from the other superpower, but that's just my thought on it.

Man, this can spin so many ways but since we were there, we should have, could have won it if not for civilian leadership that did not understand the mindset of the enemy (both Chinese or Russian). the Vietnamese were caught in the middle of a "power struggle" but I feel they fought as hard as they took. Did I like it, hell no! Like far too many, I lost friends there, hell, I almost lost myself there (bad rocket attack I managed to survive). If we had pounded these guys from the git-go, it never would have lasted ten years, no way in hell.

Bad leadership from Washington and a few whinnies on the ground (Generals that worried about there advancements ad taking heat for making their own decision, thank god not too many) caused that war to endure far too long. We had the right weapons, technology, super dedicated ground and aircrews coupled with great ground forces. There was no way in hell we should not have won it...again, politics was the downfall in my book.

The best men I ever served with (under those circumstances) was in that hell hole. I have lost count the number of times my F4 crew would come back and tell me they bombed a worthless piece of jungle, what a damn shame how many aircrew we lost in those useless campaigns and when our folks came back and debriefed, the targets could have been reassessed but there hands were tired to make the missions count. It was a damn shame to lose good men when real targets were available but the balance of power by Washington had to be met, it was all bullshit as far as I am concerned.

Linebacker I and II made the news because Washington wanted it too, the crews were brave and strong, dedicated and looked forward to really bombing something worthwhile (finally). They did great in the face os overwhelming triple A threats, countless SAMS and every clown with a gun going after them, but they stood firm and did their jobs.

I hated that god damned war It was too confusing, far too many folks killed on both sides). I landed at Danang in March 1971, we (our squadron and cargo handler folks) were still unloading the C-141 when a rocket attack occurred. One hit the aircraft and killed fifteen of the folks still in it (trying to unload our sh*t). Blew out the windows at base operations, knocked us all to the ground where I was standing (trying to in process).

What a welcome the zipperheads gave us that day. I guess I am still pissed about losing it and my friends. The second mission (of my aircraft) god only knows what they dropped their load on but on the way home, they are about twenty miles out and they decided to turn off they ECM (we found this out later), they get blown out of the sky, both bailed out.

They survived the bailout, running around the jungle looking for shelter while "Huey's being assigned to recover, are in route" (recovery op). But first, the chopper is looking for folks to help "mann" the 50 cal, OJT on that weapon was given on the spot. I heard about it (looking for gunners) and wanted to help pick up my crew (I had no idea what the hell I was getting into)...I would never forget it.

Twenty minutes later (and that was considered fast back then to launch recovery chopper) we were at the spot last reported by my guys. A fire fight develops almost instantly as we hover at the pick up location. I see off in the distance two guys running towards us, we open fire above and around them, trying to give them some room to make it to us. I hear the ping-ping of rounds hitting the armored plating around the open door (where I am firing the 50), I am scared out of my wits (19 years old).

We are firing, they (Cong, VC Regs) are firing, somehow the aircrew is making a run for it, towards us. People are coming out of the jungle, then falling like stick figures, the crew gets closer, mortars go off all around them (I still cant believe I witnessed this my first time out). One of my crew is blown backwards, the other keeps running, he then must have realized the other was hit, he stops, turns to go after him (god bless him for that) and is blown up (bits and pieces of him go everywhere) a puff of smoke going off, he is gone!

I was dumbfounded, the other guy manages to get up, he us running towards us now (he must have been just knocked down), he gets closer, closer..the fighting is more intensified (if you can believe that), he actually made it into the doorway way, I look right at him, he (least I thought) I saw a smile and as we reach for him to pull him into the chopper, he then gets hit, his heads explodes, parts of him are all over was all for nothing. I found myself weeping, scared and pissed off all at the same time, I had no idea I could feel that way, then I felt useless as we headed back to base.

I hate that whole event, I live with it daily, I see it often, nothing makes it go away. No one tells you how to turn that off, is there a switch somewhere? To be so close and far, the whole damn war was that way. Yes, we could have, should have won it.

Far too many men and women died for what...I am still lost by that, what did we win, we didn't (not in my book). Then to come back to the USA and be yelled at, spit on at San Francisco airport by peace nicks and walking*t!

Our USAF inventory, US Navy inventory, US Army and Marine way the little zippers should have lasted so long...shame on the US government (who I love and still serve) for letting that happen to Americas children, sons and daughters...shame on them all, the dumbasses.

Sorry to go a bit, I may not have flown missions in Vietnam (dropped bombs, air to air campaigns etc) but going into the jungle as often as I did, crewing F4's, surviving countless rocket attacks until one day the SOB's almost get me and then not knowing if I would ever see my crew again after a launch....well, I never got used to it (few did).

I salute all those that died there and damn the politicians that caused it, it is one thing (in my book) to die during battle when your out to win it, fighting of your country, all out that is, then to play at it as we were told to do, that is another thing and that is what I despise about the war or the way it was waged.

I better stop, least some of us got to come home, hell, some are still coming home (but not the way I would love to see them coming home)...god bless them all.

I sure wish I had been at Clark Air Base when many of our POWS were released, God..I wish I had been there for that. WE have to learn from our mistakes, we cant half a$$ conflicts again, Gulf War I was the way it needs to work, we go in, we do it right fast and hard, fast and it, do it now!

I love the military and all it offered me (good and bad) but if we are to live in peace, people in general have to stop acting like ***** and try living together...what a pipe dream that is, maybe one day....maybe.

I went off track...sorry, sometimes ....memories suck royal!

It was no cakewalk for the guys flying those sorties either...Salute to them all

Unread postPosted: 25 Apr 2006, 22:37
by Snake-1

I salute you!!!

It is not easy to talk about that screwed up war so long ago, and even harder for those like you who lost someone as close as a breath away and face the associated demons for all these years. You are a grand gentlemen and hero in every sense of the word and I'd be proud to fly with you anywhere at any time.

As you are aware my stories are in two categories; one to teach the younger snake eaters about the traps and political interference we faced so they could avoid it in the future, and second, to tell of the feats and trials of an old fighter jock who is at pasture.

I have avoided the third which you have faced because I have been lucky enough not to lose anyone in combat but know several who have and the mental and sometimes physical changes they encountered, neither of which is easy. It is a load they will carry until they meet their comrades on the other side.

One that comes to mind is that of Tom Zorn a Thud Jock (and I believe Wild Weasel) who after a mud-moving sortie in PAC 6 was hit egressing seaward and was hit after getting "Feet Wet". After ejecting successfully he was machine gunned while floating down in his chute. He was dead before he hit the water. The Navy "Big Mother" was there before the gun boats and found him still hanging in his harness 30 feet below the surface. His lead still wonders to this day if he could have done anything to preclude his death.

So know in your quiet moments that there are others out here that carry the same load.

Ride easy my friend, ride easy.