The pilot: Dale Hill
The airplane: OV-10 Bronco
The mission: Flying as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) over the PDJ trying to interdict the flow of enemy weapons, supplies, and troops moving along the Ho Chi Mihn Trail from North Vietnam to South Vietnam. You can see the results of many airstrikes in carrying out this mission.
The memory: As a FAC in southeast Asia, it was important to always know where you were and how to expeditiously get the fighter aircraft carrying their bombs to join up with you. We used a lot of terrain features that were easily spotted and widely known by those who flew over that terrain for navigation. Pictured is Arrowhead Lake which is dry because the dam at the far end that had created the lake was blown up, leaving the lakebed in the shape of an arrowhead. There were other geographical formations such as river bends and karst formations (karst is limestone that jutted out of the jungle in places), which helped us to stay oriented throughout the region. There were bends in the river like the “Catcher’s Mitt”, “Spade”, “Snoopy’s Nose”, or the karst that looked like a “Rooster Tail”, and “Road-Runner Lake” among others. It was easy to get someone to join up with you when you radioed, “I’m about five klicks (kilometers) north of Arrowhead.”