Sergeant, U.S. Air Force
Served with 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, November 1969 to March 1970; at headquarters, 7th Air Force, April 1970 to November 1970; 544th Aerospace Reconnaissance Technical Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, January 1971 to June 1972.
Memory: “In the 460th TRW, I provided intelligence support for RF-4C Phantom and RF-101 Voodoo air crews who flew reconnaissance missions over the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos and Cambodia. These missions were to identify potential targets and conduct bomb damage assessment.
“One of my memories of that assignment was of ‘French Leave' missions in which the photographic interpreters would determine the photographic frames where overflight of the Cambodian border occurred and have those frames removed from the film negatives before additional positive reels were developed for further distribution.
“My next unit was the Requirements Branch, Directorate for Intelligence, HQ-7th AF. There I monitored intercepts from road-watch teams, again along the Ho Chi Minh trail. I updated the status of short take-off and landing airstrips in Laos for Air America (CIA) and maintained the KIP (Key Indigenous Personnel) roster, which later would be critical for the eventual withdrawal of South Vietnamese allies from the Saigon Embassy in April 1975.
“One of my most memorable moments of that assignment was ... to determine which radio stations of a myriad of stations was most accurate in reflecting the actual combat in which the enemy engaged. The results were that the Vietnamese-language broadcast of BBC scored the highest and from that moment on, I listened to it for my personal information on the progress of the war.
“Upon returning from Vietnam, I was stationed with the 544th ARTW at Offutt for the remainder of my enlistment. I was assigned to the Target Studies Branch, where I would assemble target files on (biological and chemical warfare) sites in China and the former Soviet Union. The photo intelligence was collected by U-2 and SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft and satellites as part of the program where film canisters were jettisoned from space and their parachutes snatched by specially equipped C-130 aircraft. The film went to photo interpreters in vaults several stories underground at Offutt.
“The aerial photography was highly detailed and one of the most interesting applications was the use of infrared film that would reveal the thermal shadows left on the tarmac of Chinese aircraft that were moved into bunkers in anticipation of our overflights. These images were so detailed that a skilled photographic interpreter could determine the number and types of munitions whose tips protruded the width of the wings.”