Narrative of an F-100 “troops in contact” alert scramble May 3rd 1968 by the 615th TFS. Flight Lead Capt Jim Martin, and wingman Capt Win Reither, call sign Blade 3, from Phan Rang Air Base (AB), South Vietnam. The flight was launched from the alert pad.
Ordinance was napalm, Mk-82 high drags (500 lb. snake eyes), and 20 MM cannon—well suited for troops in contact.
Flight lead Martin, USAFA ’63, had been in country for 11 months and had 275 missions. He had 450 hours in the aircraft. Reither 50 missions and 160 F-100 hours.
Target was troops in contact in IV Corps South Vietnam, 36 NM NE of Binh Thuy AB.
Ground fire was reported by the Forward Air Controller (FAC) consisting of automatic weapons and small arms fire. As a result, Martin chose reciprocal headings for the attack. At the time, neither of us noticed any ground fire. We bombed, napped, and strafed for a fast paced 10 minutes.
Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) as reported by the FAC was 100% on target with 30% target covered, one structure and one bunker destroyed.
Following Martin’s last pass, the FAC reported fuel streaming from his aircraft. He immediately lit the afterburner and headed toward Bien Hoa AB, training a stream of fire as the leaking fuel ignited. He later reported that he heard a loud bang just aft of the cockpit as he pulled off the target. This turned out to be a 50 cal. hit to the utility hydraulic system, completely disabling that system. Martin reported remembering some advice from a North American tech rep due to the loss of several aircraft that took hits in the forward fuselage tank resulting in fuel starvation and flame out. Adhering to that advice (which was not in the book), he turned off the AC Generator, which stopped the transfer of fuel from the aft tanks into the forward tank. After lowering the landing gear using the manual gear extension due to the loss of hydraulics, he landed the aircraft at Bien Hoa with zero indicated on the fuel gauge. Taking the AC Gen off line saved just enough fuel to land safely.
Comments from Capt. Reither:
As I rejoined I saw Jim's aircraft streaming fuel. He lit his afterburner and headed north to Bien Hoa Air Base as I chased him. The afterburner ignited the streaming fuel, making quite a fireball. I followed him to touchdown and recovered my own aircraft at Phan Rang. Post flight inspection discovered a small caliber hole in trailing flaps on my aircraft.
Following the mission, the Army responded with a letter of commendation for the flight.
Our squadron ops officer, Major Burt Field, was notified of enemy KBA.