"Arclight"

Discussion in 'The VMBB True Story Tellers' started by Guest, Feb 26, 2003.

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    Mithrandir
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    (5/16/01 3:49:46 pm)
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    “Arclight”


    All of us in VN, at one time or another , heard of the infamous “Arclight” missions…..

    An “Arclight” was the AF name for a B-52 saturation bombing mission…..generally…. a wing flew at 50,000 feet and dropped it ordinance in an overlapping pattern that insured that nothing in it survived……

    The strike from start to finish could last a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on how many were in the wing or how many wings were involved…..

    The A Shau was normally the AO for these missions.

    When viewed at night…. a spectacular light would flash across the sky and then be gone….

    Most of these missions were nowhere close to us and almost always across our front… sometimes from left to right and other from right to left …

    A few… a very few we could view head-on…..

    That is, as we looked out to the front of our AO we could see the flashes of the Arclight coming right at us!!

    Even fewer… behind us

    It was always miles away….

    It was always a site…..…

    Except one night in particular…….

    The mission was easy… go out beyond LZ Jane and pick up three or four SF dudes and bring them home…..the SF chops were too few away for some reason and we got volunteered….. Oh well… easy trip……

    The SGM had sent two loaders and one Gunship.. quad 60’s only… no pods….only one mission load…..and three of us to go along as general security……

    However… they didn’t tell anybody that they were being persued.

    And worse, by a company of NVA they had stirred up….

    And worse than worse, they had called for an Arclight……

    And worse, the AF committed the mission…..(OK’d it for execution)…

    And worse….. the SF dudes gave the co-ordinates as the DZ we were to land in….

    Sooooooooo, knowing none of this… otherwise called “fat, dumb and happy”

    The rotor guys executed a picture perfect landing, we security guys got out a assumed the positions…..

    And before we knew it… the SF guys ran past us and were IN THE CHOP yelling for us to LETS GO A$$HOLES!!!!!

    Somehow, time has a way of slowing down just at the wrong moment…….

    The light was coming…….

    AND AS GOD IS MY GOD …….. IT WAS COMING AT US!!!!!!!

    The Gunship had not landed with us and was standing off a click or two..

    The two chops were in the air….and can not move fast enough for us….

    For God…

    For nothing on earth nor heaven!!!!

    Because HELL was coming !!!!

    The arc was all around us…….. to the left and to the right with us in the middle…….

    Everything behind us was gone…. all things on the left and right were gone……..

    And we were smack dab in the middle!!!!!

    Concussion pushed one chop up and away as if a child had thrown it….. it wobbled…. wobbled some more then stabilized…..and flew on….excellent pilot… good pilot …….we love you pilot!!!!!

    However, my chop…… MY CHOP……. the Jesus nut broke……….

    Now…. for those of you that don’t know or have never heard this particular terminology before….please allow me to explain…. the is a rather large gear, multi-toothed gear high up in the junction of the rotor blades….. up where the governor and blade pitch stuff is……. if it snaps… breaks… or otherwise fails… then the chop cannot “rotor down” very well because everything just starts to fall apart……

    So… the first thing you hear from your pilot is ………..JESUS!!!!!!!

    The next sound you hear is OOOUUUUUFFFFFFF and possibly several bounces before stopping……

    We were lucky… the chop was only about 50 foot off the ground when it broke… the landing was hard… but not really a crash…..

    We bailed out just as a second concussion wave hit….. lost my hearing…. cover…..ruck….my harness was stripped from me (as was two of the other guys)….getting hit by dirt, tree limbs…. and stuff that we never did identify.

    No one wounded…. no one dead…….we were officially one mile away from the bombs…….

    It took us about ten minutes before anyone could function… the concussion had slapped all of us silly……

    And killed whatever was chasing the SF dudes…..

    Chop two came back… we loaded into a rather crowded and rather pissed group of eagles…. and went home……

    Looking back…….. beautifully plowed ground for as far as we could see……

    I never wanted to be closer…..



    out












    Indybear57
    Moderator
    Posts: 294
    (5/16/01 4:37:51 pm)
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    Is that what they called a "pucker factor of 10"? Mith, you are a treasure! Your stories are great (and sometimes moving) and you tell them well. Thanks for joining the family!

    Mike L

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 38
    (5/16/01 4:42:57 pm)
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    Indybear57.....and to all others......

    for some reason... these events are coming out freely.... I have never told my family, my wife, son, nor daughter any of this......only a few guys in the 12th SF (a reserve unit) and that was in '79......


    all of the other Vet boards... for some reason... I have never trusted.......

    this one calls to me...

    Thank you for your support and kind words.........

    Tac401
    Administrator
    Posts: 704
    (5/16/01 5:24:52 pm)
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    You belong here with us Mith and we welcome you
    whole heartedly, thanks so much for being here,
    you are an asset to us and our site!

    JD
    The Firearms Forum Vietnam Memories Bulletin Board Contact Administrator

    dap22
    Senior Chief Moderator II
    Posts: 534
    (5/16/01 6:56:23 pm)
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    Mith......after flying hueys for 23 years, I learned one thing about the Jesus nut........if it goes in any way, shape or form, you go either to heaven or hell because the rotor system separates!!

    Once again, great story.....keep em coming!

    Edited by: dap22 at: 5/16/01 8:43:17 pm

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 39
    (5/16/01 8:22:25 pm)
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    DAP22...

    my life was obviously protected somehow...
    and all the rotor heads I have ever talked to that had that happen (not many...) ALL of them say that calling that gear the Jesus nut... fits.....

    NO one ever calls on the evil one... only Jesus or mommy....

    no insult meant to anyone who calls or have called for mom.....it is the human thing to do...

    Oh yeah... "Oh Shit" fits too...


    out

    gorourke
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 26
    (5/16/01 10:56:20 pm)
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    Mith,

    Another great story. You’re a scribe of the first order, and your prose stirs the memory. Thanks for joining us and sharing your tour.

    My unit had the task of sweeping through the NVA Headquarters “COSVN”, near the Krek Rubber Plantation in Cambodia north of War Zone C. This sweep was just hours after four waves of B52s brought Arclight to that NVA sanctuary. After the strike on COSVN, located in thick woods and on a slope, was not accessible by our tracks, so one platoon went in on foot. Lucky for me, at this time I was NCOIC and in the TC of the command track, I did not have to dismount. I did hear the sweep on the radio, and talked with the men when they returned. They described a scene from hell, bloated, black dismembered and maggot filled corpse’s. I have memories of such sights myself, but this time the horror was 150+. The gore was too much, even for these seasoned grunts, the men radioed our CO to let them the hell out of there.

    P. Gary


    Edited by: gorourke at: 5/17/01 7:40:38 am

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 42
    (5/17/01 8:09:25 am)
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    gorourke....

    what many failed to realize is that an arclight did not have to hit you to kill you....

    if you were inbetween the bomb paths... the overlapping concussion could do the trick.....

    many bodies were just torn apart......with no scrapnal marks at all....

    I have only gone in after an arclight on two occasions....I tried to avoid the duty after that....


    over..

    homer4
    Moderator
    Posts: 605
    (5/23/01 9:52:08 pm)
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    That's exactly right Mith.Concussion rips the body to shreds and will in some cases (depending on proximity) will absolutely vaporize a human being. Incredible power!

    Occasionaly we would have to take a platoon along with us and chop out to an area where an Arc Light was missioned (A/E,Assessment and Evaluation)and guys (for those never having seen the aftermath) you can not imagine the amount of devastation that they brought to the area! Everything leveled in a 50 meter radius and destruction much further beyond even to 200 meters...craters 30ft across and 8-10ft deep...a 500lber rips the earth apart. I personaly seen and walked a mission where a 1/4 mile wide and over a mile of forest was ripped to nearly sticks.Just incredible! God help anyone in that.

    Somehow I seem to recall some 30 500lb HE bombs per plane and usually 3 B-52's per cell. Can you imagine when they would send 3-4-5 or more cells!,as they did to Hanoi and Haiphong.Good Night!

    My brother Chris was ASA in Thailand and he was crypting these missions...still feels bad about any part that he had in them.

    Our little units never had access to them...That was MACV S2 stuff...probably at Saigon.
    ...and two hard boiled eggs.