Lucky Devils Hit ’em Hard
(from Phan Fare, The Happy Valley Weekly, December 19, 1968, Phan Rang AB News No. 142 “Stories worth telling”)
Two F-100 Supersabre pilots of the 614th TFS “Lucky Devils”, Phan Rang Air Base, had an excellent mission recently in support of the allied Toan Thang Offensive. The pilots were Capt. Jerald J. Erskine and 1st Lt. Frederick J. Erickson.
Scrambled from the alert pad at Phan Rang, the jet jockeys reached the target which the forward air controller (FAC) described as Viet Cong (VC) in the open.
“What he had,” said Lieutenant Erickson, “was a bunch of Sampans that had hidden under some trees along the edge of a canal. Waiting for him to leave, only he didn’t leave. We got secondary explosions on almost every pass, one of which was the biggest I’ve seen since I’ve been in Vietnam. It had a two hundred foot fireball, with a 1200 foot column of smoke.”
The pilots received heavy ground fire throughout the mission, especially on their strafe passes. The final bomb damage assessment for the strike was five bunkers destroyed, three damaged, five secondary explosions, three sampans destroyed and 10 enemy soldiers killed by air (KBA).
The FAC also credited the two with 200 meters of trench uncovered.
“It was a good mission,” concluded Lieutenant Erickson, “It was really satisfying to see our bombs do such a good job on the target. The FAC wasn’t sure what the secondary explosions were, but from the way they blew up and kept blowing while we were in the area, we’re pretty sure that it was a good-sized ammo cache.”