Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vietnam Veterans Day

Today, most appropriately, was proclaimed Vietnam Veterans Day by the president of the United States. Less than two decades after the end of World War II, the United States entered the war in Vietnam in the early 1960s, and began one of our longest and most challenging wars. More than a decade of conflict, on March 29, 1973, the last of our troops left Vietnam.

More than 3 million Americans answered our country's call and served with honor, and today we bestow honor on those who fought on behalf of this nation and pay tribute to those we have laid to rest. More than 58,000 made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our Nation.

On behalf of the Air Force Association, we give our most sincere gratitude, honor and respect for the men and women of the U.S. military who fought in Vietnam. 
During AFA's 2011 Air & Space Conference, pilots part of the Commando Sabre Operation (call sign "MISTY") were among five individuals/groups selected for the AFA Lifetime Achievement Award. These awards are handed out annually, and recognizes not a single achievement, but a lifetime of work in the advancement of aerospace. Below is a video AFA created in honor of the MISTY pilots:

In 1967, the US forces in Vietnam faced a major problem. Supplies were flowing at a prodigious rate from the North to Viet Cong forces in the South down the Ho Chi Minh trail. The Air Force utilized a fleet of propeller-driven forward air control (FAC) aircraft to help high-tech fighters spot targets, but overwhelming losses forced 7th Air Force leadership to curtail these FAC missions. Still requiring eyes in the sky, the Air Force tasked then-Major Bud Day to form a top secret squadron populated with combat-experienced fighter pilots, all of whom were volunteers, to fly the venerable F-100F in a "Fast FAC" capacity. Utilizing the call sign "Misty," these individuals pioneered a new array of tactics to fly fast and low over enemy territory. The dedication to duty displayed by the Misty FACs is nothing short of legendary. Of the 157 pilots who flew Misty missions, 34 were shot down (two of them twice), three were captured, and 7 declared MIA. Despite overwhelming loss rates and constant danger, Misty crews got into their cockpits and carried out their assigned missions day after day. The tactics they developed serve as the corner stone for current FAC operations.

For more information about the Air Force's role in the Vietnam war, check out one of our past Mitchell Reports: 

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