||U.S.A.F. CHECO Report (UNCLASSIFIED)
Original Classification: TOP SECRET
AIR FORCE EYES ONLY
E xamination of
THE FALL OF SITE 85
9 AUGUST 1968
Directorate, Tactical Evaluation
CAPT EDWARD VALLENTINY
Project CHECO 7th AF, DOAC
COPY 71 OF 141 COPIES
/// END OF COVER PAGE ###|
This is a facsimile of an official government document that has been de-classified,
edited for brevity and concise reporting and available to the public under Federal Laws.
The counterinsurgency and
unconventional warfare environment of Southeast Asia has resulted in the
employment of USAF airpower to meet a multitude of spectrum of USAF areospace
vehicles, support equipment, and manpower. As a result, there has been an
accumulation of operational data and experiences that, as a priority, must be
collected, documented, and analyzed as to current and future impact upon USAF
policies, concepts, and doctrine.
Fortunately, the value of collecting
and documenting our SEA experiences Current Operations. was established to meet
the Air Staff requirement. Managed by Hq PACAF, with elements at Hq 7AD and
7AF/13AF, Project CHECO provides a scholarly, "on-going" historical examination,
documentation, and reporting on the overall documentation and examination which
is being accomplished. Along with the other CHECO publications, this is an
authentic source for an assessment of the effectivemess of USAF airpower in
MILTON B. ADAMS, Major General, USAF
Chief of Staff
TABLE OF CONTENTS - THE FALL OF SITE 85
Site 85 Operations Nov 67-Mar 68
The Physical Site and Defensive Concepts
Estimated Enemy Objectives
Enemy Clearing Operations
The First Attempt
Enemy Activity in January
Enemy Air Attack
Preparation for the Final Attempt
Defensive Reactions in January
Airstrike Support for Site 85
Enemy Activity 22 Jan-16 Feb
Activity in Late February
Final Enemy Moves
Evacuation Arrangements at the Site
Final Enemy Attack
Report Figures -
No. Vietnam Missions
Barrel Roll Missions
Barrel Roll Map (Added to Report)
Sorties Around Site
Site 85 was an important friendly
guerrilla base in Northeast Laos. In mid-1967, steps were begun to establish a
TSQ-81 facility near Site 85 atop a steep 5500-foot ridge called
Phou Pha Thi,
located only 25 kilometers from the North Vietnamese/Laotian border and 45
kilometers west of Sam Neua, Laos. A TACAN facility had already been established
atop Phou Pha Thi and was operational in August 1966.
This base and its facilities were commonly called Site 85.
In essence, the TSQ-81 was a modified
version of the Strategic Air Command's (SAC) Radar Bomb Scoring (RBS) system.
While the SAC system was designed to predict bomb impact points for simulated
drops, the TSQ system was used to direct and control attacking jet fighters and
bombers to their targets and also provide tham with precise bomb release points,
under radar control.
Similar systems had been established
earlier in South Vietnam and one existed in Thailand. (These systems were
grouped under a common nickname, Combat Skyspot.) The TSQ facility at Site 85
differed primarily in that the equipment was specially designed in small
packages to be helilifted to remote locations. The nickname for operations under
Site 85 direction was Commando Club.
However, Site 85 was much more unique
that a specially designed radar bombing facility. Site 85 was the only facility
of its kind in Laos. It was the only facility which could provide ground
vectored radar bombing in the northern target areas of both North Vietnam and
Laos, thereby enhancing USAF all-weather strike capabilities in these two areas.
Finally, the site was established and operated by American technicians in a
manner designed not to violate the 1962 Geneva Agreements and to "guarantee" the
"neutrality" of Laos. However, the location of a site at
Phou Pha Thi to direct
bomb strikes against North Vietnam was ultra sensitive from both the political
and miliary standpoint.
Meo guerrillas trained by CAS
personnel provided the primary force for defense of the site on
Phou Pha Thi. In the event these defenders came under
heavy enemy attack and loss of the site appeared imminent, plans called for evacuating
the American personnel manning the TSQ/TACAN facility and destroying the equipment to
keep it from falling into enemy hands. However, early on the morning of 11 March, a
force of twenty heavily armed infiltrators launched a surprise attack on the facilities
atop Phou Pha Thi before the evacuation plan could be
implemented. Of the 16 American personnel manning the site, only six were successfully
evacuated, with one being killed by enemy forces firing on the rescue helicopters.
Four of the five remaining personnel had been wounded during the enemy attack on the site.
This report relates the story of the fall of Site 85 and attempts to place events
surrounding its loss in proper perspective.
THE FALL OF SITE 85
The war in Northeast Laos has been
characterized by conditions which are generally the reverse of those existing in
South Vietnam. The enemy, Pather Lao (PL), with considerable North Vietnamese
Army (NVA) support and participation, has usually operated as a more
conventional military force. Here he controls many of the larger population
centers and is bound for sustenance to the transportation system. 1]
Friendly forces in Northeast Laos, on
the other hand, operate more as guerrillas with the restrictions in supply and
manpower that are usually associated with that status. From a few "secure"
islands within this sea of enemy control, the guerrillas, the Auto-Defense de
Choc (ADC) forces of Meo General Vang Pao, conduct harassing activities against
the enemy and gather important intelligence data. These data are needed to
provide targeting information for friendly strike and interdiction programs
against the enemy and his supply lines to Laos and South Vietnam. 2]
Therefore, bound to a more passive
role by both necessity and capabilities, these guerrilla forces have not
generally had the reason to "stand and fight" except at a few vital locations.
Site 85 was listed as one of these vital locations. 3]
Site 85 Operations Nov 67 - Mar 68
This study does not propose to offer
a definitive inquiry into the tactics, use, or problems in operations on the TSQ
and TACAN facilities at Site 85 during the period November 1867 to 11 March 1968
- the day it was captured by the enemy. However, some data on TSQ operations are
offered to convey the value of this installation to the USAF mission against the
The TSQ-81 facility at Site 85 was
established to help enhance USAF all weather strike capabilities against the
northern route packages in North Vietnam and targets in Northeastern Laos. Since
the weather over North Vietnam generally turns unfavorable for air operations in
mid-October and does not begin to improve until April, it was imperative that
the site be operational when the weather deteriorated. It became operational at
the end of October. 4]
Excluding Route Package I, the following data indicate the use of the TSQ-81 facility
in directing actual strikes against North Vietnam. 5]
|Missions Under Commando Club
|Percentage Under Commando Club
Throughout this period, 427 strike
missions were flown over the northern portions of North Vietnam. The facility at
Site 85 directed 99, slightly over 23% of the total.
Similar data for actual strikes in the
Barrel Roll area of Northeast Laos disclosed the following: 6]
|Missions Under Commando Club
|Percentage Under Commando Club
The reason for the major differences
in data for the month of February and the first 10 days of March as contrasted
to earlier figures was that USAF sortie allocations shifted sharply to Barrel
Roll to help disrupt the enemy buildup against Site 85. Site 85 was located just
West of the B sector of Barrel Roll.
Throughout this period, 1,472 strike
missions were flown into Barrel Roll; 408 or 27.7% were directed by Site 85. 7]
Combining the stories into North
Vietnam and Barrel Roll,
it can be seen that the site at Phou Pha Thi directed
nearly 27% of all strike missions flown in the two areas from 1 November 1967
until the site fell on 11 March 1968. 8]
The Physical Site and Defensive Concepts
In addition to housing the TSQ-81 and
TACAN (Channel 97), Site 85 was a major supply point for guerrilla operations in
Northeastern Laos. The older site consisted of a closed 600-foot runway with
associated buildings near coordinates UH6860. The TSQ and TACAN locations were
northwest of this point on higher ground at coordinates UH66276106 (20 26'42" N
103 43' 05" E). 9]
The TACAN and TSQ facilities were
situated on the western rim of a steep ridge that looked down on a nearby
heliport, only 300 yards away and on the same ridge. The ridge ran in a
north-northwesterly direction, fitfully rising to the highest point, Phou Pha
Thi, at an elevation of 1686 meters, about 2 1/2 kilometers (KM) from the TSQ
location. The TSQ/TACAN elevation was about 1700 meters, or about 5580 feet; the
heliport elevation was about 5300 feet. This ridge, generally called Phou Pha
Thi in its entriety, dominated the local area. 10]
For the defense of Site 85, Meo
guerrillas were to provide the primary force. Although greatly outnumbered by
the potential forces which the enemy could draw upon, the concept for the
defense of Site 85 depended on exploiting the unique geography of the area, an
intelligence net to warn of approaching enemy forces, and the impact of properly
placed airstrikes. At worst, it was envisioned that the necessary technical
personnel could be evacuated and the equipment destroyed if the site was in
danger of being overrun. 11]
Due to the sensitivity of the site,
evacuation could be required for either political or military reasons. The fact
remained that, although Site 85 was deemed to be defensively strong, if the
enemy was "judged to be fully intent on capturing it and withstanding the
accompanying losses, the political rules necessitated that the TSQ and TACAN be
destroyed and American technicians be evacuated, so that neither these personnel
nor the equipment would fall into enemy hands. Sensibly, there could be no
pre-established "time"at which to relinquish this increasingly valuable asset;
that decision rested on judgment and circumstances. Also, if the enemy posed
such a threat to the site that the site was to be destroyed and the personnel
evacuated, then there was little sense in "fighting to the last man" to defend
what had become only "real estate", bereft of its primary importance. These
factors made up the dilema of the defense of Site 85. 12]
One of the advantages of the TSQ
installation at Site 85 was that the system possessed the capability to provide
direction of airstrikes in its own defense. Although the U.S. Ambassador in
Vientine had withdrawn blanket approval on 8 December 1967 for Commando Club
directed strikes in the Barrel Roll area, he continued to give approval for
strikes on an individual basis. 13] In line with this policy, on 23 December he
authorized strikes against six enemy "strong points" approximately 20 kilometers
east and southeast of Site 85. These targets were only the first to be
stipulated as "part of the planned defense at Site 85." 14]
Four days later a formal plan, in
coordination some weeks, was distributed which defined procedures for the self-defense of Site 85.
The key role in the plan was played
by the Local Area Defense Commander (LADC), the local Meo commander. In essence,
the plan rested on three assumptions: 15]
The LADC would have from 1-24 hours
notice of enemy concentration or buildup which would indicate an imminent attack.
The LADC would know the local terrain and potential locations where an enemy buildup might be expected.
The LADC would have communications
contact with the U.S. Embassy at Vientiane as well as the TSQ-81 facility at the Site.
The concept was that if the enemy
threatened the site, the LADC would coordinate with the Embassy in Vientiane and
get authorization to call for airstrikes. With authority given, the Embassy
would then notify 7AF that execution authority had been given to the LADC. When
the enemy attack was imminent, the LADC would contact the Embassy and recieve
final execution authority. Thereupon, the LADC was authorized to notify the
TSQ-81 commander of the requirement for the strike and supply him with the
target coordinates (hopefully pre-computed, otherwise a 10-minute delay ensued). 16]
At this point, the TSQ commander was
to contact 7AF via secure voice and request the strike force. Seventh Air Force
was then to provide the strike forces as circumstances and time allowed, even
calling upon the Airborne Command and Control Center (ABCCC) to divert airborne
missions if necessary.
Aircraft were to be vectored to TSQ
control an the strikes would be carried out. Strikes conducted under emergency
conditions were authorized within a 600-foot proximity to friendly forces;
otherwise 1000 meters was the limit. Authority for requesting additional strikes
rested with LADC who would coordinate the need with available air or ground
Estimated Enemy Objectives
In a December 1967 briefing for
CINCPACAF, a CAS representative discussed estimates of upcoming enemy objectives
in Northeastern Laos: 18]
"Because of his complete dependence
on surface transportation, the enemy must mount all his major offensive actions
during the dry season. The dry season generally starts in mid-October and
continues until June. The major advantage which the enemy has is the stiffening
of the PL force by first class NVA military personnel and the fact that the
enemy can reinforce at will by bringing in additional NVA units from North
Vietnam at any time during the dry season.
"All available intelligence which we
believe to be reliable and relatively complete indicate that the enemy plans to
capture the following objectives during the coming dry season: Site 220, Site
205, Site 36, Site 85, and Site 201.....during November the enemy trucks and
troops entering Laos have increased at an alarming rate."
It was futher estimated that the
enemy would apply pressure to General Vang Pao's southern defensive line which
protected Vientiane and Mekong River valley. Apparently the enemy hoped that
pressure on General Vang Pao would prevent him from sending reinforcements to
frustrate enemy plans in Sam Neua province near the Vietnamese-Laotian border.
Enemy Clearing Operations
With the addition of 3 NVA battalions
in November, the enemy began a concentrated effort to clear friendly forces away
from their vital Routes 6, 68, 611 which ran from near the North
Vietnamese-Laotian border northeast of Sam Neua towards the Plaine des Jarres.
20] All of the sites mentioned earlier as estimated enemy objectives were
located within approximately 15-25 kilometers (km) of these routes.
One of the first clearing operations
occured on 19 November 1967, when an enemy force of 150 men attacked Site 179
(Ban Nhot Phat, 20 km west of Route 68 and 17 km south of Site 85, Phou Pha
Thi). After a short, spirited defense, friendly troops withdrew to the north and
by 24 November the were able to reoccupy Site 179 virtually unopposed.
For the succeeding weeks, PL/NVA
activity was concentrated mainly in areas east and southeast of Highway Routes
6, 68, 611 and many of the friendly outposts in this area were captured by the
enemy. Along with the outposts, Site 220 fell on 6 December 1967. In addition,
the enemy continued to build up supplies and manpower. 22]
Informants in the Sam Neua area had
given information to friendly sources that enemy activity was not to be limited
to areas east of the highway routes. Troops of two enemy battalions who had
moved southwest from Sam Neua, on 5 December 1967, had boasted that Houei Kha
Moun (Site 111, only 10km north of Site 85) and
Phou Pha Thi (Site 85) were also to be captured in December. 23]
The First Attempt
On the evening of 15 December 1967,
an estimated two enemy companies probed ADC defenses near Phou Den Din (UH7660)
only 12 km east of Site 85. After dark, contact with the enemy was broken. Early
the next morning, 30 enemy troops attacked and captured these same ADC
positions, but ADC forces recaptured them later in the day. Repulsed, the enemy
returned with mortars and by 1700L on 16 December began shelling Phou Den Din.
The defenders held out and this initial move toward
Phou Pha Thi degenerated into mere harassment. 24]
Two companies of PL were sighted two
days later moving toward Phou Den Din. Although it was not established whether
these were the same two companies which had attacked previously or were
reinforcements, this force was struck hard by pro-government aircraft and, by 26
December, were reported returning to
Sam Neau. 25] The enemy had been
discouraged for the time being; subsequently, he would resume his efforts toward
Site 85 with a new twist.
The security of the facilities at
Site 85 was an issue of constant attention. As early as 20 October 1967, before
the site was judged operational, two so-called "agents" with a camera had been
apprehended upon reaching the summit of Phou Pha Thi.
However, CAS interrogation, film evaluation, and investigation revealed that the suspects
were in fact bona fide Buddhist monks. The CAS final report stated that no
pictures of the site or approaches thereto had been taken and the interrogation
had gained negative results. The monks were released to Laotian government and
military authorities for further disposition at their discretion. 26]
The increased enemy activity in
December continued to prompt responsive concern for Site 85's safety, 27] but
the situation in the immediate vicinity remained unchanged. The overrun of Site
61, a TACAN station inSouthern Laos, called attention in late December to the
security of all TACAN sites in Laos. 28] The American Embassy at Vientiane reported: 29]
"Lima Site 85, Channel 97. CAS had
done an analysis of this site....Briefly stated there are 200 troops in
immediate vicinity of site; and additional 800 troops in the lower portion of
the mountain...believe reasonable security exists and feel that adequate warning
will be provided in case evacuation is determined necessary. An emergency plan
This same report described the
situation at each of three TACAN sites in Laos, and remarked on the potential
danger of these sites if the enemy decided on a major commitment of troops. The
report concluded: 30]
"Also there is always the possibility
that a small skilled commando/sabotage team could penetrate and damage/destroy
any of the three. The enemy also has the capability of moving artillary or
mortare within range of any of the sites. It is the consensus here that ....,
all reasonable precautions are being taken to safeguard the sites."
Enemy Activity in January
Site 111 (UH 6868), some 8 km north
of Site 85, recieved minor shelling on the last day of 1967. There followed 10
days of relative inactivity in the close proximity of
Phou Pha Thi (Site 85),
although scattered sightings were reported 15 km to the east. 31]
The enemy continued to clear out
friendly pockets east of the highway routes and a CAS report of 8 January
commented on the enemy's effectiveness in the endeavor: 32]
"The enemy has succeeeded in driving
most of the pro-government forces from the area east of Route 6. This will
affect the road-watch coverage of this key enemy supply line into the area east
of Kakhang and into Xieng Khouang Province. General Vang Pao will probably soon
attempt to replace units again."
A minor jolt to the security of Site
85 was recieved on 10 January, when a five-man PL patrol was discovered only two
km north of Site 85 and at the base of the ridge. 33] They were dispersed,
withdrawing to the north. A major jolt came two days later.
Enemy Air Attack
The enemy's second attempt against
Site 85 came in the form of a surprise attack. CAS reported 13 January 1968:
"Four dark green aircraft flying in a
northwesterly direction passed the vicinity of Muong Sang (UH 8350) at 1300
hours on 12 January. When the four reached Ban Housi Soui (UH 7852), two of the
aircraft broke from formation and orbited in the Houei Souk area, while the
second two aircraft, which were AN-2 Colts, continued to
Phou Pha Thi (UH 6860)
and commenced bombing runs while flying on an approximate heading of 304
In three passes, the two
Russian-built Colts rocketed, strafed, and bombed the summit of the mountain.
Two women civilians and two guerrillas were killed, and two guerrillas were
wounded. One of the attacking Colts was shot down and crashed and burned near UH
606865. 35] Apparently two crew members escaped and an ADC team reported nothing
was salvagable at the crash site. 36] The other attacking aircraft was also hit
and crashed some 25 km to the northwest while trying to clear a ridge at UH
570895. A ground team recovered numerous pieces of equipment from this second
wreckage and found three dead crew members. The bodies were identified as
Vietnamese. 37] The site suffered negligible damage; no ground attack materialized. 38]
Initial reports stated that the enemy
had used 250-pound bombs. However, subsequent investigations at the site and of
the aircraft wreckage by a 7AF Intelligence team revealed that 120 mm mortar
rounds had been converted to "bombs". Dropped through tubes in the floor of the
AN-2, the "bombs" became armed in the slip stream and detonated on impact. The
rockets were 57 mm, and were carried in rocket pods under the wing of the AN-2.
The succeeding day, the Embassy at Vientiane commented on this attempt: 39]
"We can conclude that aerial attaack
represented enemy effort to get at navigation facility which could be reached on
ground only at heavy cost. Theoretically, enemy could resort to this technique
again, either at Site 85 or elsewhere. However, it should be noted that this
attack was largely unsuccessful and two aircraft were lost.
"On basis of available information we
regard aerial raid as highly unusual variation in normal pattern of enemy
tactics and do not believe this one incident necessarily introduces new
dimension to war in Laos....we are presently reviewing questions of air defense
at Site 85...."
Apparently the enemy was also aware
that the air attack had been "largely unsuccessful", for within a few days he
began further troop movements toward what became the third and final attempt to
take Phou Pha Thi (Site 85).
Preparation for the Final Attempt
Discounting the exeception of a few
probes, the flushing of the PL five man patrol, and the repulsed attempt at Phou
Den Din (12 km east of Phou Pha Thi) in mid-December,
the enemy had made no determined ground moves against Site 85 prior to mid-January.
Almost at once, following the
unsuccessful Colt attack of 12 January, this trend was reversed. On 14 Jnauary,
a force of about 300 PL and NVA troops equipped with mortars and one recoilless
rifle (RR) were located only 15 km north-northeast of Site 85. By 17 January,
100 enemy troops had shifted to positions only 13 k, north of
Phou Pha Thi (Site 85) and enough concern was
generated by these moves to include Lao refugees to begin fleeing the Site 111 area
(8km north of Phou Pha Thi).
CAS commented on the 20th: 40]
"If the enemy could move in large
nembers of troops into an area north of Phou Pha Thi,
he would have the second jaw for a pincer movement. Probably the first indication
of a serious enemy intent to take Phou Pha Thi would
be the capture of Phou Den Din (UH 7661)...."
That indication was not long in
coming. An informant had reported that on 19 January a five battalion group of
PL and NVA had moved west from Sam Neua (VH 0158). These units separated into
two task forces, one force of three battalions with one 105 mm howitzer moved
allegedly to attack Phou Den Din, 12 km east of Site 85 (UH 7661); the other two
battalions, also possessing a 105 mm howitzer, were to capture a location about
19 km southeast of Phou Pha Thi. 41]
Three days later these positions, as
well as Site 179 (17 km south of Site 85), fell to the enemy. 42] A pattern of
encirclement of Phou Pha Thi from the north clockwise
to the south was beginning to take shape.
This pattern was not ignored by
friendly forces at Phou Pha Thi. They fully realized
that the enemy could mount a heavy assault against Site 85 if he was willing to
accept the losses. They were also aware that a combined attack of artillery and
mortar fire and a ground assault, with a repeat AN-2 Colt attack, was a possibility.
But as January drew to a close, the primary concern of the defenders of Site 85 was
the threat of the enemy moving near enough to direct artillery, mortar, and rocket fire
against Phou Pha Thi. 43]
Defensive Reactions in January
Subsequent to the AN-2 Colt attack,
the air defense of the site had been bolstered by the addition of two captured
12.7 mm aircraft guns, 44] and later a captured Russian 85 mm antiaircraft gun.
45] Reinforcement of the garrison at that time was not deemed necessary. 46]
However, to counter the threat of enemy artillery firing from long ranges and
the enemy concentrating supplies and men against the site, four measures were
taken. First, the guerrillas planned to maintain a 12 km defensive perimeter
around Phou Pha Thi. Second, a 105 mm howitzer was
transported by helicopter from Site 98 to Site 85. 47] Third, the guerrilla
defenders in the area stepped up their small patrol activity to identify and
locate enemy positions for subsequent airstrikes. Finally, on 2 February General
Vang Pao placed one of his two top field commanders in charge of the
Phou Pha Thi area and gave him the
mission of recapturing certain positions, among them Phou Den Din and Site 179.
48] However, these two positions were never retaken.
Airstrike Support for Site 85
The following information, for the
period 1 December 1967 - 31 January 1968, indicates the total USAF air
commitment in actual strike sorties in Barrel Roll and the generally increased
attention devoted to the Site 85 area (primarily east of Site 85, from which
direction the threat was developing): 49]
|MISSION SORTIES / PERIOD
|Within 30 km of Site 85
The general, though certainly not
exclusive, modus operandi was to launch A-1 aircraft to strike targets in the
morning; these aircraft would then perform as FACs for later fragged and
diverted jets. Similar strike activities were conducted in the afternoon,
although by no means were all strikes FAC-directed. During hours of darkness
A-26s were used to patrol the area on armed recce missions. In addition,
beginning the end of November, the Site 85 facility began directing strikes in
the Barrel Roll area. 50]
Procedures had already been
established for Site 85 to direct airstrikes in its own defense. Although by the
end of January, 92 strike missions in the Barrel Roll area had been directed by
the site, 51] no test of self defense strike procedures had been conducted: On
25 January, such a "test exercise" was initiated by the Site. However, the test
was not pre-announced and was not coordinated with higher headquarters
beforehand. Futhermore, the proper procedures were not followed. Under such
circumstances, and where there had been no prior indication of actual danger to
the site, difficulties developed in trying to provide the requested support for
a "test" when resources were vitally needed elsewhere for combat operations.
At the site, this test was judged a
failure, 53] but even with the unfavorable conditions under which the test was
held, the exercise was anything but a total loss. Subsequently, additional
procedures for conducting tests were worked out. 54] Other changes in actual
procedures, described later in this study, greatly simplified operations as more
experience was disseminated and the enemy threat mounted. When circumstances
called for actual implementation, there was no repeat of the difficulties
experienced in the test.
It has already been pointed out that
during the month of January, 165 actual strike sorties were flown within 30 km
of Site 85, mostly to the east where the threat was building. Over 64% of these
were launched after 22 January, and followed the enemy successes at Phou Den Din
and to the south. The number of strikes rose to a peak on 30 January when 45
sorties, over one-quarter of the monthly total, hit within the 30 km area of
Site 85. This increased effort was permitted by the fact that no ROLLING THUNDER
mission flew on that day due to the Test truce. 55]
On the 31st, the same day as the
outbreak of the Tet Offensive in South Vietnam, no strikes hit within 30 km of
Phou Pha Thi. On 1 February, thirty strike sorties
hit around Site 85. This was followed by twelve days of reduced air activity in
close proximity to the site. Of the 473 strike sorties which USAF flew within
30 km of Site 85 in February, only 52 were flown from 1-13 February. 56]
Midway in this period of relative
inactivity, on 7 February, 7 AF at Tan Son Nhut queried the office of the Air
Attache in Vientiane about the dangers to Site 85. The message ended:
"Do you have targets in area on which
you desire strikes? 7 AF will attempt to provide whatever assistance deemed
necessary to insure safety of LS-85."
The Attache Office responded the next day, 8 February, summarizing the defensive situation: 58]
"The approaches to the top of Phou Pha Thi are]...virtually
a vertical climb and those avenues which can be traversed are heavily mined...The enemy
is presently maneuvering up to, and occasionally inside a 12 km radius of
Phou Pha Thi. He is probably trying to get
into position to mount a combined 105 mm plus mortar assault to be followed by
ground probes. CAS ADC troops are maintaining a 12 km perimeter around the site
and as long as they are able to do this, do not believe Site 85 can be
The message from the Attache Office
went on to state that if the enemy concentrated a large enough force (four
battalions) and was willing to accept the losses, Phou Pha Thi
could be taken. This course was expected to be preceded by sufficient warning to permit site
destruction and evacuation. Regarding airstrike requirements, the message concluded: 59]
"In order to prevent the enemy from
concentrating the necessary force to assault this position, responsive air
strikes are a vital ingredient. We now have in place on Phou Pha Thi a forward
air guide capable of directing such strikes. In addition we have validated nine
targets outside of the 12 km perimeter to the east for Commando Club strikes of
enemy activity is noted...Appreciate your offer of assistance. We feel that
daily and nightly strike sorties on a regular daily basis will do much to
discourage troops and/or artillery from concentrating in the area and at the
present we have no special target requiring special assistance."
Enemy Activity 22 Jan-16 Feb
After capturing Phou Den Din on the
early morning of 22 January, the enemy lapsed into relative quiescence until the
evening of 30 January. 60] It should be remembered that during this period, USAF
strikes near Phou Pha Thi were reaching the peak for the
month of January. Intelligence estimates remarked that the enemy was probably waiting until he
could move 105 mm howitzers into positions from which to bombard the site.
About 1930L, on 30 January, enemy
troops exploded defensive mines off the southern end of
Phou Pha Thi. This was followed by a thirty-minute enemy
mortar attack around the southern outpost high on the ridge. After this, contact with
the enemy was broken. 62] The TSQ commander quickly reported that while there had been
an attack near the site, it amounted to no more that a probe. Futhermore, there had
been no injuries to personnel at the site nor damage to the equipment. To be safe
however, flare ships and A-26s were directed to the area but nothing more developed. 63]
Later assessments confirmed that no enemy troops had reached the top of the ridge;
only the bottom defenses had been tested. 64]
That same evening enemy pressure had
caused ADC troops to pull out of a village, Muong Yut, only nine km southeast of
Phou Pha Thi. Evidently, this enemy pressure had been
exerted by only a small force and the position was later recaptured. 65]
From the period 31 January - 16
February, enemy contacts were few; however, enemy units encountered were
generally of near company or even battalion size. Perhaps signigicantly, one
near battalion-sized force was contacted no more than six km west of
Phou Pha Thi; another company sized unit was discovered
only 11 km to the southwest. Both of these encounters were the initial contacts to
the west of Site 85. The threat remained primarily
to the east. On 14 February, Muong Yut, nine km southeast of
Phou Pha Thi, changed twice again, with the position
finally remaining under ADC control. 66]
In general, it appeared that the
enemy force, while increasing, was respecting an approximate twelve km circle
around Phou Pha Thi. The only exceptions were the contacts
west and southwest of Site 85 and the exchange of the village, Muong Yut. 67]
It was during this period that there
existed a definite lull in air attacks against enemy units in the Site 85 area.
Apparently, there was no expressed urgent demand for strikes in support of Site
85. Although the Attache Office in Vientiane had informed 7AF on 8 February that
"no special target requiring special assistance" existed and only regular daily
support was needed, a CAS report of 6 February had described a road under
construction from UH 853564 to UH 835572. This construction had been noted since
1 February. 68] On 9 Febraury,CAS reported again concerning this road
construction, which was an extension of
Route 602 (Fig. 5) 69]
"If trafficable, Route 602 would
provide the enemy with much easier access from Sam Neua to staging areas in the
vicinity of Ban Hon Non (UH 812553) and Phou Chik Nou (UH 8157). It would afford
the enemy the opportunity to roll in weapons for an attack on
Phou Pha Thi.
Interpretation of photography dated 31 January reveals intermittent road
construction on Route 602 from UH 853563 northwest along the south slope of the
ridgeline...The construction ends approximately one kilometer northeast of the
enemy strong point at Phou Chik Nou (UH 817579)."
Trucks were reported rolling on Route
602 on 11 February. 70] Unsuccessful strikes had been conducted against enemy
positions at Phou Chik Nou by 13 February. Apparently the enemy was well dug in.
Although four F-105s, returning with ordnance unexpended against North Vietnam,
were directed against Route 602 on 2 February, no other strikes have been
identified as having been directed at Route 602 until 14 February. 72] By 16
February, Route 602 had been extended to approximately one km east of Phou Den
Din; 73] this was only 13 km from Phou Pha Thi.
During this period, the enemy did not
attempt to hide his intentions in the area. CAS reports abounded with references
to Communist sponsored propaganda meetings in which spokesmen predicted the
coming attack on Phou Pha Thi, cautioned villagers
to stay clear of the objective, conscripted men to serve as soldiers and coolies,
confiscated food supplies, and offered distorted promises of what was to come
(a twenty aircraft MIG attack and even Communist Chinese participation if the
PL/NVA attempt failed). 74]
Activity in Late February
Although airstrikes began increasing
in the Phou Pha Thi area in mid-February, so too,
did enemy activity. To the east of Site 85, the twelve km perimeter was penetrated
on 20 February. Muong Yut, that often exchanged village nine km southeast of Site 85,
fell again to the enemy. Within four days, the ADC was seeking to recapture it. 75]
On 21 February, four additional
PL/NVA battalions arrived in Phou Den Din and moved out to positions just inside
the twelve km perimeter. 76] However, the attackers of
Phou Pha Thi were not able to proceed so easily with
their moves against Site 85. Fortune had momentarily favored the defenders.
An ADC ambush some eight km southeast
of Phou Pha Thi had killed a small party of North Vietnamese
on 18 February. Apparently, one of the victims had been an NVA officer, and recovered from
his body was a small notebook which contained detailed information concerning enemy
plans and strong points for the coming attack on Phou Pha Thi. 77]
Information from the notebook yielded the following data in addition to enemy positions: 78]
Three NVA and one PL battalions were to make-up the attacking force.
Final battlefield reconnaissance was
to be conducted on 22 February. (CAS estimated the attack would commence 23 February).
The enemy used the word "TACAN" as it appears in English and was aware of its exact location.
The main assault force was to be one
NVA battalion attacking from the northeast: the other battalions were to attack
the main trails to Phou Pha Thi.
Stocks of ammunition for all heavy weapons were low and re-supply was needed.
Friendly response to enemy activity
and the new information was rapid and effective. Already on 17 February the
Ambassador at Vientiane had authorized visual and armed reconnaissance missions
along Route 602 eastward from Phou Den Din and more targets were authorized
around Site 85. 79] Small patrols were dispatched by the ADC defenders to select
targets in the local area for artillery fire and airstrikes. Special
reconnaissance teams of General Vang Pao's irregulars were even ranging east of
Sam Neua trying to identify depots supplying the enemy forces in the Phou Pha
Thi region. In addition, two 4.2 inch mortars and another 105 mm howitzer were
sent to Phou Pha Thi and the garrison was increased by fifty men. 80]
Effective at 1800 on 21 February, the
U.S. Ambassador to Laos authorized the LADC at Site 85 to task the TSQ facility
to strike any target within a twelve km radius of the peak at
Phou Pha Thi. This authorizatio was limited in that
strikes could be placed no closer than 500 meters from known villages and that
Commando Club strikes were still to be conducted via secure voice channels through
the Radio Relay Aircraft (RRA). A list of nineteen still active villages accompanied
the authorization. 81]
Starting 20 February and extending to
the fall of Site 85, early on the morning of 11 March, a determined air effort
of constantly increasing intensity was directed in its defense. 82] On 23
February, a message from the JCS to CINCPAC denoted that increased air support
was "urgently" needed. 83] From 20-29 February, 342 strike sorties hit within 30
km of Site 85, most much closer than 30 km. In addition, other sorties struck
east of Sam Neua against depots and supply concentrations. The latter attacks
hit outside of the 30 km area and were not included in totals listed above. 84]
Route 602 was among the targets
attacked, but the enemy has already assigned over 400 road workers the task of
keeping this vital line open. Later, bulldozers were also brought in. Execpt for
intermittent closures due to road cuts, the enemy continued to use this artery.
There was no doubt that airstrikes and artillery fire were retarding enemy
acitvities, but they were not eliminating his presence or pressure within the
twelve km defensive perimeter around Site 85. 85]
An unofficial estimate by an unnamed
staff officer in one CAS report dated 25 Febuary 1968 summed up the status as of
that day and was extremely prophetic of coming events: 86]
"As a result of the enemy's
penetrating the 12 kilometer radius around Phou Pha Thi
in force and occupying key postitions within the lower right hand quadrant of this
perimeter as well as positions just outside the perimeter at Phou Den Din, he
represents an imminent threat to the security of the TACAN site and other installations
at Phou Pha Thi. It is clear that the enemy will continue
to attempt to consolidate his gains in the Phou Pha Thi area
during the next two weeks while making arrangements for his final assault by three or four
battalions. If, however, ADC units continue to harass successfully the enemy on the ground
and if aircraft continue to strike enemy concentrations in and around
Phou Pha Thi and in the area east of
Sam Neua, the TACAN and other sites at
Phou Pha Thi will continue to be viable for the next two weeks.
It is not possible to predict, however, the stats of security at
Phou Pha Thi beyond 10 March because of the enemy's
willingness to continue to escalate his commitment in this area."
The American Ambassador in Laos was
impressed with this estimate and commented on his feelings concerning Site 85 in
a 26 February telegram to the Chief of Staff USAF: 87]
"...Enemy forward movement (toward
Site 85) had been inexorable over the past months and neither air or ground
resources which are available to us appear adequate to deter his
"...Although we are not...throwing in
the towel, we believe you should be aware of our current estimate that we may be
able to assure security of this site for no more than the next two
"You will recall that, when we
arranged this installation, I made clear that our principle defense effort would
rest upon guerrilla units who operated with mobile tactics and that we could
not...guarantee a static defense. Our irregular units in this area are already
stretched thin and have many other significant obligations related to the
defense of population centers which make it impossible for us to look with any
great hope upon the chances for effective reinforcement. Therefore, the moment
of truth may be approaching for this site.
"This TSQ is using its own inherent
capabilities in the defense effort. Airstrike sorties are being provided in
respectable numbers. But, in the final analysis, it seems doubtful that the site
can be held in the face of consistent enemy determination.
"Therefore, we are in touch with USAF
authorities on evacuation and destruction plans. We are fairly confident both
should be able to be carried out in orderly fashion. Moreover, we are examining
possibilities of finding another useful site in the same general area which will
provide roughly the same coverage."
As conceived in evacuation plans, the
decision to evacuate was reserved for the Ambassador, Vientiane. First priority
of evacuees was allocated to the 13 TSQ/TACAN personnel; however, enough
helicopters were to be provided to permit a total of 155 to be lifted out. The
others, guerrillas, were to be extracted when the Local Area Defense Commander
deemed appropriate. Five helicopters, three USAF and two Air America, were
designated as the force required to accomplish the evacuation. 88]
To provide an immediate capability,
the two Air America helicopters were to remain overnight (RON) each night at
nearby Lima Site 98; USAF helicopters were to come from Thailand-based
resources. 89] Subsequently, some USAF messages expressed the desire for Air
America helicopters to RON Sitr 85, not 98. 90] However, this was not changed;
it was feared helicopter presence at Site 85 would have provoked an enemy
attempt to destrou these lucrative targets. If they had been destroyed, the
planned emergency lift capability would have vanished. 91] But the point was
well taken, for weather also might have disrupted the rescue flight from Site 98
to Site 85.
Following a decision to evacuate, the
Ambassador was to notify 7/13 AF TACC at Udorn AB, Thailand who could in turn
notify 7AF at Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam. Weather permitting, 7 AF was to scramble
or divert four A-1 aircraft to provide cover for the evacuation, suppress enemy
fire, and FAC or subsequent jet strikes. The LADC and an attache-provided FAC
were to help direct the strikes. The plan allowed a limited night evacuation
capability (the RON helicopters at Site 98), but pre-supposed a daylight effort. 92]
Final Enemy Moves
Enemy movements from 1-9 March are
depicted in Fig. 6. Throughout the early days of March, enemy forces continued
their advance, elimination friendly pockets of resistance en route, until by 9
March, when the enemy deployed into what might be termed "jump off points", Phou
Pha Thi was virtually surronded, except for the northwest quadrant. The enemy
positions also threatened Site 111, only eight km north of Site 85.
Approximately four enemy battalions stood poised for the attack. 93]
On 2 March, a review of the USAF
rules of engagement for airstrikes around Site 85 revealed the changes which had
occured as the enemy threat mounted: 94]
Any target in the twelve km defensive perimeter could be struck under FAC control.
The restriction against strikes
within 500 meters of villages only applied to Commando Club (TSQ) directed
strikes, unless the target was validated by the LADC.
Any Commando Club strikes could be
diverted by the LADC to validated targets in the twelve km perimeter.
For a distance of ten km along Route
602 east of Phou Den Din, strikes were authorized under FAC or Commando Club
control (this included "Gravel" and CBUs).
Use of CBU and "Gravel" was
authorized anywhere in the twelve km perimeter if validated by the LADC and if
targets were at least 500 meters from friendly troops.
The restriction of using only secure
voice contact with supporting aircraft could be waived with Vientiane Embassy
approval when under threat to imminent attack.
"Gravel seeding" was accomplished on
some confirmed supply routes east of Site 85 on 5 March. 95] CBUs were used in
the area around Site 85 in February. The use of CBU under Commando Club control
was an innovation. Bombing tables were not available to be used in conjunction
with the TSQ, but experience and "know how" of the 7/13AF personnel at Udorn AF
Base in Thailand allowed them to improvise effectively until precise tables
To facilitate around the clock
capability of the TSQ facility, five more technicians were sent to Site 85 (the
total number of Americans was now 19). More targets and sorties were allocated
for night operations. On 5 March a message from 7AF to DOCO PACAF indicated
conditions for evacuation, relocation of the facility, and remarked on the value
of the site: 96]
"...due to the desirability of
maintaining air presence over NVA during present inclement weather period, Site
85 probably would not be evacuated until capture appeared imminent. The fact
that complete security could not be assured in the original plan is noted...."
In another message, later on 5 March,
from PACAF to the Deputy Commander 7/13AF, with the commanders of 7AF and 13AF
as informational addressees, CINCPACAF commented: 97]
"Receiving daily reports concerning
growing threat to Site 85. Difficult to evaluate situation from here. Request
you consult CAS sources and provide me your estimate of threat, including
anticipated time of attack, and friendly capabilities to defend.
"You are authorized to direct
evacuation of site and destruction of equipment when in your judgement such
action is necessary. Your plan, OPlan 439-68, is approved for this purpose. Keep
7th and 13th Air Forces and this headquarters informed of your intentions this
regard. Insure that all preparations are made for emergency evacuation as required."
From 1-10 March, USAF carried out 314
strike sorties within 30 km of Site 85. Over 76% of these were directed by the
TSQ facility at Site 85. Among the targets struck frequently was the vital Route 602. 98]
On 29 February, airstrikes had
destroyed two bulldozers and killed the operating crews used to supplement road
clearing operations. Until serviceable bulldozers could be brought in, work was
suspended. 99] However, enemy resupply could not be halted; coolies. too, had
been carrying supplies to enemy troops. One of their major routes, just north of
Route 602, was subjected to a combined CBU/Gravel raid on 5 March. 100]
Even though the weather in the
vicinity of the site had deteriorated, the air attacks continued. 101] But, it
was becoming increasingly difficult to estimate enemy strenghts and fix their
locations because they had deployed into numerous small concentrations. 102]
Evacuation Arrangements at the Site
On 9 March, at Site 85, the senior
CAS adviser briefed the senior Air Force representative on the fact that an
attack could come at any time. The evacuation plan was reviewed at that time and
it was agreed that if evacuation was ordered, the TACAN/TSQ personnel would, if
possible, proceed to the Command Post area near the helicopter pad (at lower
elevation and 1/4 mile from the TSQ facility) where they would be picked up by
helicopters. If this movement was not possible, the technicians were to wait for
the pickup at the TSQ site. It must be noted that a few feet from the entrance
of the supply van (Fig. 7), there were webbed belts or slings hooked up to allow
the technicians to descend to a lower ledge a short distance down from the site
level. Below this ledge, there existed a sheer drop of well over 1400 feet. The
CAS adviser's comment was that: 103]
"The technique of personnel hanging
over the cliff by straps was not discussed as a serious escape or evasion plan."
About 2000L on the evening of 9
March, Site 85 reported enemy contacts around the site. Additional sorties were
requested throughout the night and a number of flights were diverted to support
the defenders. However, the enemy apparently had not mounted a serious attack.
To lend support for the next day, 13 missions loaded with CBU and 750-pound
bombs were fragged into the area. 104]
On 10 March, friendly patrols
continued to report enemy activities and the movements of villagers fleeing the
general area. 105] To help restore guerrilla influence into certain areas west
of Site 85, as well as to attempt to recapture some villages and outposts,
General Vang Pao began making plans to introduce nearly two battalions of his
Meos to the region west of Site 85. 106] Unfortunately, these forces were to be
of no help to Site 85.
Final Enemy Attack
Although weather in the Site 85 area
had been generally poor in early March, good weather prevailed throughout most
of 10 and 11 March. The afternoon forecast for BARREL ROLL on 10 March called
for 2000 foot scattered with occasional rain showers. Attache reports at 0138L
and 0247L on 11 March termed the weather "workable" and that it "permits air
defense." A survivor reported the weather on the morning of the 11th was clear.
Later, on the day of the 11th, the weather deteriorated again
Shortly after 1800L on the evening of
10 March, mortar, artillery and rocket rounds from Phou Den Din began falling on
the defenders of Phou Pha Thi. 107] Early in the barrage,
the 105mm Howitzer positions near the summit of Phou Pha Thi sustained a direct hit.
The living quarters immediately next to the TACAN/TSQ facility had suffered some damage,
and by 183L the technicians had sought shelter in a bunker just north of the
living quarters. 108] Prior to retiring to the bunker, site personnel notified
7/13 TACC at Udorn AB, Thailand of the attack and reported they were abandoning
the radio. 109] Contact via portable radio was maintained with the senior CAS
representative in the command bunker near the helipad. 110]
At Udorn, plans were radidly
developing to divert sorties to Site 85. Flare ships had to be provided to allow
visual strikes because with the TSQ personnel in their bunker, the site could
not direct airstrikes. Airborne A-26s were already being diverted. Additional
tanker support was required for eight flights of F-4s being sent from Ubon. 111]
When the barrage ceased at 1845L, the
technicians left the bunker and returned to operating the TSQ/TACAN equipment.
Only minor shrapnel damage to the TACAN antenna was sustained and no American
casualties had been suffered. 112] By 1950L, many of the flights which had been
in the process of being diverted were returned to their fragged missions, and
until midnight, two A-26s an five F-4s hit targets in the Site 85 area. All of
these were under TSQ direction. In adition, six A-1s were readied to support the
site and the pilots were placed in crew rest. From 0001L to 0700L, 11 March,
three A-26s and five F-4s supported Site 85; the last time on target was 0320L. 113]
By 2020L the Ambassador at Vientiane
had judged circumstances to be serious enough to authorize the site to conduct
the direction of sorties via clear voice transmissions. 114] However, the lull
in activity at the site continued. At 2100L, heavy fighting was reported at Ban
Pha Thi, a village at lower elevations on the
Phou Pha Thi ridge, only 1 1/2 km
south of Site 85. Allegedly, the enemy was using flashlights to facilitate his
climb to the village, By 2117L, fighting was going on only 1/2 hour wald from
the site atop Phou Pha Thi. 115]
An entry in the 7/13 AF TACC log
noted that at 2105L the Ambassador in Vientiane was already considering
evacuating the personnel from Site 85 at first light. However, this decision was
not made at that time. At 2150L the Deputy Commander, 7/13 AF contacted the
Attache's Office in Vientiane concerning the possible evacuation of the site.
It was indicated that evacuation should only be effected as a last resort if the
situation became untenable; furthermore, the situation should be followed on an
hour to hour basis. These views were to be expressed to the Ambassador. Any
decision to evacuate was to be relayed to the Deputy Commander at once. 116]
At 2121L, intermittent mortaring and
shelling of positions around Site 85 was begun again, 117] but the TSQ facility
continued to operate and direct missions. Shortly after this resumption of
shelling, the Ambassador decided to conduct a partial evacuation of American
personnel. Nine personnel were to be evacuated at 0815L on the 11th. 118]
The situation remained static at the
site until about 0300L. On the lower slopes of the ridge, sporadic but violent
firefights broke out; however, the enemy had not succeeded in overrunning any of
the major outposts. As a matter of fact, the senior CAS representative later commented: 119]
"Commo was maintained from the CP
with all the defending outposts at Site 85 throughout the attack on Site 85
during the period 10 to 11 March... (the) ... defenders gave a good account of
themselves and they held fast under heavy incoming fire."
At the TSQ/TACAN location, it has
already been related that, with the lull in the barrage after 1945L, the
technicians had left the bunker and returned to operating the facilities. While
one crew operated the TSQ facility, some of the other men tried to get some
sleep. Apparently, since the living quarters had been damaged, and sometime
later the technicians' bunker was also hit, some of the American personnel took
sleeping bags and descended the slings to seek rest and shelter among the rocks
down the steep slope only a few feet from one of the entrances to the
TSQ/Supply/Communications structure. 120]
Shortly after 0300L, on 11 March,
either automatic weapons fire, shelling, or both once more caused the crew to
abandon the facility in haste. At this point all radio contact with the TSQ
location and personnel was severed, even that via portable radio with the
command bunker near the helipad. 121]
As the technicians came running out
of the operations structure, they were met with a hail of small arms automatic
weapons fire from closre range. These men scrambled for safety down the slings
which were only a few feet away. But apparently three Americans were killed at
once--among then the TSQ senior officer and commander. 122]
The crucial fact concerning the
equipment at the site was that it was not destroyed. The detonation devices had
not been triggered and the TSQ personnel never again entered the command
building. In an interview with survivors, some questions concerning the
detonation devices were raised when it was revealed that explosives for
demolition of the site had earlier been thrown over the side of the cliff to
prevent them from being hit by incoming shells. However, the charges which were
to destroy the classified equipment were pre-mounted and could not have been
easily or swiftly removed. Extra charges were available to destroy other
equipment and facilities at the site, and apparently it had been these extra
charges which were thrown away. 123]
Evidently a small force of
approximately twenty enemy troops (most likely North Vietnamese as judged by the
unfamiliar language) had somehow infiltrated to the summit. No mine detonations,
shouts, or other warnings preceded the volley which hit the Americans exiting
the operations structure. It has been only guessed that either the enemy
infiltrated the more gradual but still treacherous northeastern side of Phou Pha
THi or that this small force scaled the almost sheer northwestern face. Noneof
the outposts was aware of this enemy force atop the summit. 124]
Seemingly familiar with the layout of
the site, the camouflaged fatigue-clad invaders methodically threw grenades into
most of the buildings. but it was not clear if the TSQ facility was also blown up. 125]
At about 0315L, the senior CAS
representative in the command bunker near the helipad observed the TACAN beacon
"go up in smoke", but it was thought at the time that a mortar round had done
the damage. Meanwhile the helipad area was under paticularly heavy shelling and
small arms fire. 126]
Subsequently, enemy troops at the
site discovered the escape slings leading down the slope and directed automatic
weapons fire in that direction. Some of the Americans down the slope returned
the fire and it was estimated that five or six of the enemy were killed. After
pulling back from the American line of fire from below, the attackers responded
by lobbing some fifteen to twenty grenades onto the slope and then
intermittently spraying the area with automatic weapons' fire. It was deduced
that most of the American casualties were suffered at this time. 127]
In Vientiane, meanwhile, the
situation was being closely monitored. Plans for the partial evacuation had been
finalized at 0015L for implementation at 0815L the next morning. Incoming
reports indicated that air support was sufficient, weather was good, and the
situation remained static. 128] Although unaware of the fate of the TSQ
facility, American officals at Vientiane were to become cognizannt later that
increased enemy fire was being directed at the site. Hence, at 0515L on 11
March, the Ambassador decided to evacuate all Americans from Site 85 at 0715L. 129]
An attache report summed up the
situation at Site 85 as it was known in Vientiane at 0540L: 130]
"As of 10/2240Z: Heavy mortar and
small arms fire on top of Phou Pha Thi (Site 85).
Embassy ordered evacuation of all repeat all U.S. personnel.
"CAS estimates their outer positions will hold but place untenable as operating radar site.
"TACAN unit reported burning and
damage to other TSQ equipment. Steps being taken to destroy all remaining
equipment prior to evacuation."
Shortly before 0700L, incoming fire
ceased; at 0620L smoke had been observed rising from the TACAN site. (Fig. 9)
About 0700L, the helicopters were standing by, ready to come in, but were
drawing enemy fire from the top of the summit. The senior CAS advisor with the
Meo guerrillas proceeded to the TSQ/TACAN site to ascertain the status there and
determine from where the fire directed at the helicopters originated. 131]
Upon arrival at the TACAN location,
the CAS representative found the living quarters locked and the TACAN severely
damaged. The senior CAS representative then called out to any Americans who
might have been hiding nearby, but he recieved no response. Coming around the
west side of the complex, shots were exchanged with one enemy soldier dressed in
"typical North Vietnamese/Pathet Lao uniform." After circling further south and
west, two more of the enemy were encountered, one manning a machine gun behind
sandbags. Fire was exchanged and one of the enemy was hit, but the friendly
force beat a hasty retreat down the hill toward the command bunker. En route,
the CAS representative was wounded slightly in the leg. 132]
Back at the bunker, the CAS
representative estimated that either the TSQ-81 was in enemy hands or they were
conducting a raid, hence friendly heavy weapons fire was directed at the TSQ
site and some hits were scored. A-1Es in the area apparently noted that the
defenders were firing at the site and also delivered their ordnance on the TSQ
location. The CAS representative was of the opinion that the TSQ gear was
demolished. However, this was incorrect. Unfortunately, as one survivor reported
later, the A-1E attack forced one enemy soldier to scurry for safety down the
slope and en route, he engaged in a firefight with another American survivor,
killing him. 133]
The helicopters were then able to
come in and perform the rescue attempts. Of the 19 Americans at the site, only
five technicians and two CAS people were extracted. One of the CAS people was
wounded; five of the six technicians were wounded, one of them being hit while
in the helicopter---this man died en route to Site 36 and Udorn AB, Thailand.
The remaining eleven Americans were presumed dead. 134]
Return flights by helicopters were
able to recover a few American and Laotian bodies, lus some wounded defenders
from the summit, but they continued to draw occasional fire. 135]
Apparently the defenders around the
site still held the the trail systems to the summit as late as 0730L. 136] Soom
thereafter, the guerrilla defenders melted away to regroup at other locations
for airlift to safer areas. It was not expected that the enemy offensive would
halt with the fall of Site 85. 137] In fact, Site 111 fell on 12 March; to the
east, enemy pressure mounted at Site 184; Site 239 and Site 107 were abondoned
due to enemy activity; on 13 March Site 204 was subjected to heavy but sporadic
enemy fire. 138] By 12 March, 129 of 203 defenders of Site 85 had definitely
As early as 0940L on 11 March the
Deputy Commander 7/13AF at Udorn AB, Thailand had begun coordination to utilize
some of the available helicopters to airlift a force of approxinately 200
Laotian military personnel to Site 85 in order to recapture the site, but this
design was delayed indefinitely so that a maximum effort could be exerted to try
to recover the remaining U.S. personnel and friendly forces. 139]
After the evacuation of Americans and
friendly forces was completed on the morning of 11 March, only three tasks
remained to be performed:
Missing Americans had to be accounted
for, either by recovering them as they still evaded capture or by recovering
their bodies and establishing their death.
Site 85 had to be destroyed so that
the equipment would not fall into enemy hands for subsequent analysis. In
addition, any politically embarrassing evidence had to be eliminated.
The Prime Minister of Laos, Souvanna
Phouma, had to be informed of the situation to permit him to prepare a position
against potential communist charges of American involvment at Site 85.
As more details of casualties were
obtained from survivors and a concentrated search and rescue effort was
conducted at the site, American losses became somewhat clearer. 140] Of the
nineteen Americans at the site, sixteen had been site technicians, two were CAS
representatives, and there had been one Attache Office FAC. The CAS
representatives and the FAC were rescued. The senior CAS representative had been
slightly wounded. Of the sixteen American technicians, five were extracted (one
died en route), eight were known to be dead, and three others were unaccounted
for, but presumed dead. There was the possibility that the bodies of the missing
three men might have fallen from the ledge where the Americans hid. Off the
ledge, there was a sheer drop of almost 2,000 feet. 141]
Presuming those who were not
evacuated on the morning of 11 March were dead, a fairly concentrated air effort
was launched on that same day to destroy the technical and personal equipment
left behind on Site 85. 142] The major phase of this activity ended on 15 March
but further examination revealed one strike each at Site 85 on 19, 22, and 28
March. The 22 March strike included a Bull-Pup missile. 143]
On the morning of 13 March, the
American Ambassador met with Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma of Laos. The
Ambassador related that the facilities at Site 85 had not been destroyed prior
to evacuation, but that USAF napalm strikes were being delivered against the
site. He also told of the American losses and that some of the bodies had not
been found. The Ambassador reported Phouma's reaction: 144]
"Souvanna winced at these two items
of information and said they increased the risks that enemy could be able, if he
chose, to make some pretty damaging disclosures."
Both the Ambassador and the Prime
Minister noted that no mention of incriminating evidence had yet been made by
either the Laotian Communist or North Vietnamese Racios. They agreed that the
best thing to do was to "sit tight" and see what evidence the enemy had
accumulated and what he planned to do with it. The Ambassador's report of the
meeting concluded with the following comment: 145]
"Souvanna obviously does...not wish
to make decision on posture he will take towards potential Communist
exploitation of this incident until he knows how damaging their evidence is. He
urged me to destroy as much evidence as we can rapidly. Since his position is
understandable, I did not repeat not try to press him one way or another on
It is difficult to firmly establish
the enemy intentions without access to enemy documents and plans. Of course
these were not available for this study. However, after analyzing the data which
were available, a number of observations are offered. 146]
Apparently Site 85 was not the single
target of enemy aims in the dry season offensive which began November 1967.
Indeed, Site 85 appeared to have been only one of the friendly strong points
which the enemy seemed determined to reduce in this area.
It is generally assumed that the
enemy mounted his activities against Site 85 in order to destroy the Top Secret
TSQ facilities at Phou Pha Thi. However, no documentary
evidence of this fact has been found in the research for this study, although the
existence of such a specific objective can be neither confirmed nor denied. Certainly
the enemy was aware of this guerrilla base near his vital supply routes; he also knew
that there was a TACAN at Site 85. These two factors, alone, would have provided
Guerrilla forces do not normally
stand and fight it out; generally this is not their function, unless they are
called upon to defend a very vital interest. Realizing this, the enemy first
attempted to eliminate friendly forces at this site with as small a commitment
on his part as possible.
However, to supplement a small
commitment, the enemy used a full barrage of propaganda. CAS reports for the
entire period contained numerous references to Communist-held meetings and
soldiers' statements which indicated enemy determination to capture Site 85. He
used this tactic to enlist the active and passive support of the local populace;
he may, also, have counted on these statements reaching the guerrilla defenders,
thereby, undermining their will to resist and making them think it was senseless
to stand and fight.
The first two attempts to take Phou
Pha Thi, the small force advance which stalled at Phou Den Din in mid-December
and the AN-2 Colt attack, were certainly not large commitments. After these
failures, the enemy was forced to concentrate more troops and develop elaborate
plans and support for them.
Although airpower was to be a major
factor in the defense of Site 85, it could not be applied without limitations
and restrictions. Defense of Site 85 was not the sole task of limited air
resources in the Southeast Asian conflict. For example, during this same period,
the 1968 Tet Offensive was underway in South Vietnam, the Marine outpost, Khe
Sanh, was under siege, and there existed an unprecedented flow of enemy logistic
traffic which had to be interdicted.
In addition, airpower could no be
applied without major restrictions. As early as 8 December 1967, the U.S.
Ambassador to Vietiane had withdrawn blanket approval for Commando Club strikes
in BARREL ROLL, and instead, approved them on an individual basis. By 8 February
1968, only nine targets around Site 85 and outside the 12 km circle had been
approved for Commando Club operations. With Commando Club strikes outside the 12
km circle limited to only approved targets, visual means had to be utilized if
newly discovered targets, not on the authorized list, were also to be attacked.
Visual strikes were limited by bad weather, which was particularly poor in early
March. Hence, the defense of the site hinged considerably on the capability to
visually acquire targets to be struck.
Within the 12 km circle, similar
restrictions applied. It was not until 12 February that authorization was
extended to the Local Area Defense Commander (LADC) to task the TSQ facility to
conduct strikes against any target within the 12 km circle.
The application of airpower aroung
Site 85 was intended to be responsive. Therefore, if the demand lessened or if
targets could not be definitely fixed, the air effort proportionally contracted,
for, there were other requirements elsewhere which had to be met. This was
demonstrated by the lull in early February.
Airpower was the vital ingredient in
halting what most probably was an enemy plan to take Site 85 in late February.
But at that stage of events, as the accurate unofficial estimate of 25 February
pointed out, even with successful ground harassment and continued airstrikes,
the security of the site was doubtful after 10 March, because the attackers
appeared willing to mount the necessary effort and accept the accompanying losses.
On the night of 10-11 March, the
Attache Office in Vientiane reported at 0138L on the situation at Site 85 and
stated that "sufficient resources" were available. At 0247L, the terms used were
"sufficient air support". Unknown to anyone not at the TSQ location, the
facilities were lost to the enemy no more than one hour later.
Site 85 had provided direction to
about 1/4 of the USAF missions over North Vietnam and
BARREL ROLL from November
1967 to 11 March 1968. No other facility existed to provide a similar coverage
over these areas. While this loss was a serious blow to the USAF air effort, it
was not crippling.
The possibility that evacuation might
have to be carried out was fully realized. Plans to accomplish the evacuation
existed. However, a set of circumstances developed which negated their timely
execution. Had personnel at either Vientiane or the command post at Site 85 been
aware of the situation at the TSQ/TACAN location atop Phou Pha Tie, steps might
have been taken to eliminate the infiltrators, safely evacuate the technicians,
and destroy the classified facilities. But the loss of intersite communications
between the personnel at the facility and the command post prevented this
action. Subsequent decisions were based on incomplete and erroneous information.
One question, basic to the relation
of events in the fall of Site 85, has not been fully answered by available
documentation and information: how did a twenty man team, armed with automatic
weapons reach the top of Phou Pha Thi unnoticed?
Messages already quoted in this study
described the defensive arrangements at the site. The northwestern side of the
mountain was a sheer cliff of nearly 2,000 feet. Other approaches were heavily
mined. In addition, by early January there were "200 troops in immediate
vicinity of site: and additional 800 troops in the lower portions of the
It has been surmised that the enemy
infiltrators scaled the 2,000 foot cliff. This theory might appear to account
for the lack of any kind of warning before the enemy force hit the American
technicians and captured the summit. However, this does not explain how twenty
heavily armed soldiers climbed a 2,000 foot cliff at night, unnoticed by 200
defenders. Nor does it relate why these twenty infiltrators were not eliminated
by the defenders atop Phou Pha Thi. Apparently the
friendly troops at lower elevations held fast against the enemy attacks.
On 14 March 1968, the Commander, 7AF, sent a message to the American Ambassador in Vientiane: 147]
"I am concerned about the need for a
postmortem analysis on the loss of Site 85. In terms of assessing whether future
sites should be established believe it important to determine how a relatively
small force was able to take such an allegedly well defended installation. No
indications have been recieved here as to what efforts if any were made by local
defense forces on site to defend installation, especially in view of clear
indications of impending attack. Your views on how future sites might be
defended in view of experience with Site 85 would be appreciated."
The Ambassador replied on 16 March.
He concurred that a post mortem on the loss of Site 85 was in order, and
suggested that procedures for such an analysis be jointly developed by 7AF and
Embassy representatives. Regarding the size of the enemy forces, the Ambassador
"Believe you should understand,
however, that enemy force was not...`relatively small.' Our intelligence
indicates their numbers between five and seven battalions, with artillery and
rocket support, considerably outnumbering local defense forces, which never
numbered more than 1,000 men in 12 kilometer defensive perimeter which drawn
around Site 85."
It was also emphasized by the
Ambassador that his office had "made clear from the beginning" that the site
could not be defended against a determined and superior enemy force. He also
stated that the Embassy had given regular and accurate estimates of the Site's
progressive deterioration, and as early as 26 February, had advised that the
site would probably not be held beyond 10 March. "Therefore its fall should have
come as not surprise to anyone," he said. The Ambassador made the following
additional observations: 149]
"The manner in which enemy
accomplished its fall is, however, instructive, and should, I think be carefully
studied with view to future operations. Artillery fire, at relatively long
range, was suprisingly accurate. According fragmentary reports of survivors,
direct hits were scored, very early in the barrage, upon personnel quarters,
operations structure, and bunkers. It seems possible that installations were
rendered effectively inoperable even before destruction order was given. There
may be some lessons in this which should be studied with respect to length of
time technical personnel should be required stay at their posts after
installation falls within artillery range. In hindsight, it seems to me we
should have pulled all technicians out morning March 10 even if this means
losing the last several hours of the installation's capabilities.
"What concerns me most is not the
defensive action, but the disruption of preplanned evacuation procedure. It is
still not clear why technical personnel went over cliff to a narrow ledge rather
than down trail to chopper pad. CAS and local personnel subsequently went up
same trail to installation searching for technicians, so we know trail was
traversable, even if under artillery fire. It is also not clear to me how small
Vietnamese suicide squad got to installation site, although it seems they must
have scaled the cliff which all of us considered impassable."
Within a few weeks of the fall of
Site 85, the President ordered the cessation of bombing over the northern
two-thirds of North Vietnam. As of the publication of this study, bombing in
this area has not been resumed. No replacment facility for the TSQ-81 has been
built. During a farewell visit with the American Ambassador in Vientiane on 2
July, the 7AF Commander discussed with him the requirement for additional
navigational aids in North Laos and agreed to reexamine requirements. The
Ambassador reported on the discussion: 150]
"We both feel that, in current
circumstances, there is no justifiable requirement for MSQ installation in Laos.
Therefore, our site selection in country of in neighboring Thailand ought, for
the time being, concern itself with TACAN sites. In this connection General
Momyer agreed to review prospects for TACAN at Site 36 and one on prominent hill
in Thailand. I agreed reexamine MSQ problem again in event bombing operations
resume north of 20th parallel."
1. Laos situation Briefing, CAS to
CINCPACAF, Sep. 67.
4. (TS) Interview with Maj Arlie
R. Conner, Commando Club Project Officer, DOSO, 7/13AF, Udorn AB, Thailand, 25
March 68. (Hereafter cited: Oprep-4 extracts.); (TS) discussions with Capt
Thomas E. Penick, DOCAW, 7AF, Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN.
5. (S) Oprep-4 extracts,
1 Nov 67 - 10 Mar 68, Hq 7/13AF, Udorn AB, Thailand, and Hq 7AF, Tan Son Nhut
AB, RVN. (Hereafter cited: Oprep-4 extracts.); (TS) discussions with Capt Thomas
E. Penick, DOCAW, 7AF, Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN.
9. (TS) Interview with Conner, 25 Mar 68.
13. (TS) Msg, USAIRA, Vientiane, Laos to Hq 7AF, Subj:
Site 85, 8 Dec 67.
14. (S) Msg, USAIRA, Vientiane, to Hq 7AF, Subj: Site 85,
23 Dec 67.
15. (TS) Hq 7AF Opord 439-68, Supplement II to Annex B, Appendix
III, effective 27 Dec 67.
18. (S) North Laos
briefing, CAS to CINCPACAF, Dec 67.>
20. (C) CAS Report,
Field Office, Vientiane, (FOV) 12520, 27 Nov 67.
22. (CNF) CAS
Report, FOV 12780, 24 Dec 67.
24. (CNF) CAS Report, FOV 12705,
18 Dec 67.
25. (CNF) CAS Report, FOV 12842, 31 Dec 67.
26. (SNF) Report,
AFSSO, 7/13AF to AFSSO, PACAF, Subj: Interrogation of Monks, 3 Nov 67.
(S) Msg, CSAF to USDAO, Vientiane, Laos, 7 Dec 67.
28. (S) Msg, DIA to JANAF,
Vientiane, Laos, 27 Dec 67.
29. (S) Msg, American Embassy, Vientiane, Laos to
CINCPAC, 3 Jan 68.
31. (C) CAS Report, FOV 12923, 8 Jan
33. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13021, 15 Jan 68.
34. (CNF) CAS
Report, FOV 12971, Subj: Aircraft Involved in the Attack on
Phou Pha Thi, 13 Jan 68. Doc. 1.
36. Ibid; (S/NF) Msg, American Embassy, Vientiane,
Laos to Secretary of State, 12 Jan 68.
37. (SNF) CAS Report, FOV 12986, Subj:
Conditions at Phou Pha Thi after Air Attack, 15 Jan 68.
38. (CNF) CAS Report, FOV 12964, Subj: Enemy Air Attack on Site 85, 12 Jan 68.
39. (S) Msg, American Embassy, Vientiane, Laos to Secretary of State,
Subj: Air Attack on Site 85, 13 Jan 68. Doc 4.
40. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13057, 20 Jan 68.
41. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13098, 25 Jan 68.
42. (C) CAS Report, FOV
13068, 22 Jan 68.
43. (SNF) CAS Report, FOV 13100, Subj: Security Appraisal
of Site 85, late Jan 68. Doc 5.
44. (SNF) Report, Subj: AA Installations at
Site 85, DI, 7/13AF, Udorn AB, Thailand to AFSSO, 13 AF, Clark AB, Philippines,
17 Jan 68.
45. (SNF) Msg, Dep Comdr 7/13AF to Hq 7AF, Subj: AAA Defenses
TACAN Channel 97, 1 Feb 68. Doc. 6.
46. (SNF) Report, AA Installations at
Site 85, DI, 7/13AF to AFSSO, Hq 13AF, 17 Jan 68.
47. (S) Msg, JUSMAGT to Dep
Comdr 7/13AF, 26 Jan 68.
48. (SNF) CAS Report, FOV 13100, late Jan 68; and
(S/LIMDIS) Memo on Changes at Site 85, 4802 JLD to DI, 7/13AF, 1 Feb 68.
(S) Oprep-4 extracts.
52. (TS/NF) Rpt, DO, 7/13AF
to Dep Comdr, 7/13AF and DO, 7AF, 25 Jan 68.
54. (S) Msg, 7AF to
7/13AF, DOSO, 5 Feb 68.
55. (S) Oprep-4 extracts.
Msg, 7AF to AIRA, Vientiane, Laos, 7 Feb 68.
58. (S) Msg, USAIRA, Vientiane,
Laos to Hq 7AF, 8 Feb 68. Doc. 7.
60. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13141,
30 Jan 68.
62. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13153, 31 Jan 68.
1330Z 30 Jan 68 entry, 7/13AF TACC Log. (Hereafter cited: Entry in 7/13AF TACC
64. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13153, 31 Jan 68.
66. (C) CAS
FOV Reports, 31 Jan 68-16 Feb 68.
68. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13220,
6 Feb 68.
69. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13249, 9 Feb 68.
70. (C) CAS Report, FOV
13347, 19 Feb 68.
71. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13288, 13 Feb 68.
73. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13347, 19 Feb 68.
74. (C) CAS
FOV Report, 23 Feb 68, no FOV number.
75. (SNF) CAS Report, FOV 13429, 25 Feb
68, Doc. 8;
(C) CAS Reports FOV 13415, 24 Feb 68 and FOV 13375, 20 Feb 68,
76. (SNF) CAS Report, FOV 13429, 25 Feb 68.
77. (CNF) CAS Report,
FOV unknown, 23 Feb 68; and CAS Report, FOV 13468, 28 Feb 68. Doc. 10.
79. (TSNF) Msg, USAIRA, Vientiane, Laos to Hq 7AF, 17 Feb 68.
(SNF) CAS Report, FOV 13429, 25 Feb 68.
81. (TS) Msg, USAIRA, Vientiane, Laos
to Hq 7AF, 21 Feb 68.
82. (S) Oprep-4 extracts.
83. (S) Msg, JCS to
CINPAC, 23 Feb 68. Doc. 11.
84. (S) Oprep-4 extracts.
85. (SNF) CAS
Report, FOV 13429, 25 Feb 68.
87. (S) Msg, American Ambassador,
Vientiane, Laos to CSAF, 26 Feb 68.
88. (S) Memo on Emergency Evacuation Plan
for Site 85, CAS to DO, 7/13AF 24 Feb 68.
90. (TSNF) Memo on
Helicopter RON at Site 98, Dep Comdr 7/13AF to American Ambassador, Vientiane,
Laos, 2 Mar 68.
91. (TSNF) Msg, USAIRA, Vientiane, Laos to 7/13AF, 4 Mar
92. (S) Memo on Emergency Evacuation Plan for Site 85, CAS to DO, 7/13AF,
24 Feb 68.
93. (S) Movements plotted from data and locations contained in CAS
94. (TS) Msg, 7AF to USAIRA, Vientiane, Laos, 2 Mar 68.
(S) Oprep-4 extracts.
96. (TS.LIMDIS) Msg, 7AF, Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN to
CINCPACAF, DOCO, 051215Z Mar 68.
97. (S) Msg, CINPACAF to 7/13AF, 5 Mar
98. (S) Oprep-4 extracts.
99. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13613, 10 Mar
100. (S) Oprep-4 extracts.
101. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13596, 9 Mar
102. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13599, 9 Mar 68.
103. (SNF) Undated
debriefing of unnamed senior CAS representative at Site 85.
Debriefing Report.) Doc. 12.
104. (S) Entries in 7/13AF TACC Log, 9 Mar
105. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13612, 10 Mar 68.
106. (C) Memo Subj:
Projected Meo Moves, CAS to 7/13AF, 10 Mar 68.
107. (S) Interview with two
wounded survivors of Site 85, 11 Mar 68 at Udorn AB, Thailand.
cited: Interview with Survivors)
108. (SNF) Msg, AFSSO, Udorn AB, Thailand to
AFSSO, 7AF, 11 Mar 68. Doc. 13.
109. (S) Entry in 7/13AF TACC Log, 10 Mar
110. (SNF) Debriefing Report. Doc.12.
111. (S) Entry in 7/13AF TACC
Log, 10 Mar 68.
112. (S) Interview with Survivors.
113. (S) Oprep-4
extracts; (S) Entry in 7/13AF TACC Log, 10 Mar 68.
114. (S) Msg, JANAF,
Vientiane, Laos to JCS, 10 Mar 68.
115. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13619, 10 Mar
116. (S) Entry in 7/13AF TACC Log, 10 Mar 68.
117. (SNF) Msg, AFSSO,
Udorn AB, Thailand to AFSSO, 7AF, 11 Mar 68.
118. (S) Msg, JANAF, Vientiane,
Laos to JCS, 10 Mar 68.
119. (SNF) Debriefing Report. Doc. 12.
Interview with survivors.
126. (SNF) Debriefing Report. Doc. 12.
Interview with survivors.
128. (S) Msg, JANAF, Vientiane, Laos to JCS, 10-11
129. (SNF) Debriefing Report.
130. (S) Msg, JANAF, Vientiane, Laos
to JCS, 10 Mar 68.
131. (SNF) Debriefing Report.
134. (S) Msg, USAIRA, Vientiane, Laos to DIA, 11 Mar 68. DOC.
135. (S) Msg, 432TRW, DOCP, Udorn Ab, Thailand to AIG 913, 11 Mar
136. (S) CAS Report, FOV 13620, 11 Mar 68. Doc. 15.
137. (S) CAS
Report, FOV 13640, 12 Mar 68; (S) Msg, American Embassy, Vientiane, Laos
Secretary of State, 12 Mar 68. Doc. 16.
عة138. (C) CAS Report, FOV 13680, 14
139. (S) Entry in 7/13AF TACC Log, 11 Mar 68.
140. (TS) Msg,
USAIRA, Vientiane, Laos to 7AF, 12 Mar 68. Doc 17.
141. (S) Msg, American
Embassy, Vientiane, Laos to Secretary of State, 12 Mar 68.
(S) Oprep-4 extracts.
144. (TS) Msg, American Embassy, Vientiane, Laos to
Secretary of State, 13 Mar 68. Doc 18.
146. (S) Discussions
with Brig Gen G. J. Keegan, Jr. DCS/ Intelligence, Hq 7AF, 10 Jun 68.
(S) Msg, 7AF to American Embassy, Vientiane, Laos, 14 Mar 68.
148. (S) Msg,
American Embassy, Vientiane, Laos to Hq 7AF, Vientiane 5181, personal for Gen
Momyer fm Amb. Sullivan, 16 Mar 68.
150. (S) Msg, American
Embassy, Vientiane, Laos to Sec State, Vientiane 7592, 3 Jul 68.
Airborne Command and Control Center
Auto Defense de Choc
Cluster Bomb Unit
Forward Air Controller
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Local Area Defense Commander
North Vietnamese Army
Radar Bomb Scoring
Remain Over Night
Radio Relay Aircraft
Strategic Air Command
Tactical Air Control
Tactical Air Control Center
United States Air Force
This is a facsimile of an official government document that has been de-classified,
edited for brevity and concise reporting and available to the public under Federal Laws.