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Fog in North Vietnam

The view: Looking into North Vietnam in the fall of 1972

The pilot: Dale Hill

The airplane: North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco

The mission: Flying from northeast Thailand to the Plaine de Jarres (the PDJ) in northern Laos skirted the border of North Vietnam

The memory: Looking east across the Annamite Range that lies between North Vietnam (NVN) and northern Laos with the monsoon weather over NVN. On this particular mission, I stayed in Laos. A few weeks later, I flew down the “Fish’s Mouth” (at one point, the border between NVN and Laos looks like the mouth of a fish jumping out of the water, east to west, to catch a lure). That later mission was memorable as it was my only one into NVN when I was sent to search for an A-7 pilot who went missing in that area. Unfortunately, I didn’t locate him and he was later declared MIA.

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Dale Hill
4 replies
  1. John Stipetich
    John Stipetich says:

    Hi Dale, another old FAC here. Read your story and loved the photo. Thanks for sharing. I think we missed each other. In December 1971 I was given the opportunity to go home early. (I was a theater you might say instructor at Phan Rang. We’d do two rides with new fellows. Well, as you recall the powers that were, were downsizing our forces. I had my assignment – C5 to Dover. So, they offered to let me go home early. My end of tour was February 1972. This was my 2nd consecutive tour and I found the mission fun, so I asked to go to NKP to finish the full tour. Yes, I got some strange stares. But where I messed up was not realizing I would not be flying 4B. So I flew an OV-10 up. How little I knew about the Air Force and how it worked. I definitely was as naive a kid as one might imagine. But at least I bought some Four Season Gold Bracelets at the Thai Restaurant on base. Darn wished I had bought some Rolex watches, especially some gold oysters in Hong Kong. ($400/each)

    Did you know Gary Ferentchak at NKP? He did the Pave Nail mission.

    The years sure have passed. (smile) congratulations on the grandchildren. I only have two. Both boys 8 & 4 who seem to like flying even at the young age.

    My son is a C5M Examiner Reserves at Lackland and a FO for United out of LA. He also has the distinction of being the only American to ever be accused of STEALING a C5!!!

    And Maj. Gen Edward Thomas head of Air Force recruiting (Randolph) wonders why the AF has a retention challenge. (smile)

    We were darn lucky to be in the Air Force and young at the time we were. You must have had a few fun times during Linebacker? I was at Dover when it started up. Killing time, working as the command post junior controller waiting for C5 initial training to start. When the NVA started up, I called Randolph to request being let return for 6 months since I was still current. They replied, “No, stay at Dover!”

    That was the beginning of obtaining more of a true insight in many realms of life. And now our grandchildren have a $31 trillion debt to pay and what future ahead?

    • Dale Hill
      Dale Hill says:

      A.R. I leave for COS next Monday for a FAC reunion! I asked Fralfank to join me, but he’s still a working stiff! Looks like this will be the penultimate reunion with our fini in 2024!

      Cheers, Bud!


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