Allen T. Lamb, Jr.


 

Preferred Name: Allen

Nickname/Call Sign:

Date of Birth: September 26, 1931

Highest Military Grade Held: Lieutenant Colonel

Hometown:

Biography

Captain Allen T. Lamb, Jr., won the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Tactical Fighter Pilot over North Vietnam on 22 December 1965. On that date, Captain Lamb participated in a strike on an SA-2 missile site on the Red River approximately fifty miles northwest of Hanoi, North Vietnam. Despite accurate anti-aircraft fire and the knowledge that another SA-2 missile site was in the immediate area, Captain Lamb repeatedly made strafing passes at hazardously low altitudes to assure the destruction of the target. Through excellent teamwork and superb airmanship, Captain Lamb was able to find and destroy an SA-2 missile site which was not previously known to exist.
(source: https://valor.militarytimes.com/hero/43017)

Allen Lamb – Caterpillar Club

March 28, 1963, was going to be a busy day for Allen Lamb. First, the young captain had a night tanker mission, acting as an IP for some general’s landing currency. The next morning he needed to be on the road to Fort Bragg rather early. At 0800, he was to begin jump school with the airborne grunts.

Allen Lamb F-100He hustled around his bird, eying the time anxiously. With the general in the flight, it wouldn’t do to be late. Once his engine rumbled to life, he completed his after start checks, then glanced around the ramp at Myrtle Beach as the din of six idling Super Sabres flooded the senses of those in the area.

He would be one of the two IPs in the flight. In case one IP aborted, the general needed a backup or he, too, would have to abort. “Actually,” Lamb thought with a chuckle, “with an IP in the back of the general’s ‘F,’ we have about 33 percent instructor pilots in this gaggle. Could be dangerous.”

It was just about dusk as the first element rolled. Lamb noted the time. They should be right on schedule for the tanker.

Lined up on the runway as the last element, he glanced at his young wingman, just back from Hun school and raring to go. They went through the usual signals for run-up and released brakes. The Huns jumped to life as the afterburners kicked in. Once airborne, cleaned up, and out of burner, they closed on the flight of four ahead.

The join-up was smooth and quick. Five and Six were tucked in trail as the main flight approached the cloud deck in fingertip. Once on top, Five and Six would move to the left wing for the short flight to the tanker track.

Lead radioed a channel change to Approach Control, and all six acknowledged. That would be the last transmission Allen Lamb was to hear that night. Nothing seemed to work with his radio, so he concentrated on flying smooth trail formation; his new wingman would need all the breaks he could give him.

At about 20 thousand feet in the climb, they broke out beneath a darkening sky. As per the briefing, Lamb began a slow move out to the left wing position. As he pulled up on the wing, he glanced over at Six, only to see him wobbling a bit and beginning to move forward after initially slipping a bit behind.

Positioned between the Hun off to his right and his wingman, Lamb held a nice, steady number Five position.

But on his left wing, things weren’t going all that well for number Six. As Lamb added power to move forward on the wing, Six felt himself sliding back and added a gob of power.

Too much power, the young pilot realized as he slid past his leader. Reducing power he suddenly remembered his navigation lights. He was supposed to have gone “brightflash” on them. Already, things were piling up pretty high on the inexperienced pilot. As he looked in the cockpit to go “bright-flash” on the lights, he suddenly realized he’d reduced power way too much. He was rapidly sliding back into number Five!

Allen Lamb was looking back at the lead four-ship when Six hit him. The right rear horizontal slab of number Six’s plane smashed into his cockpit area, bending lots of sheet metal and jamming the throttle at about 97% power. The impact also jammed the left console into the ejection seat handle.

Charter member Jack is also a Contributing Editor on The Intake staff. He flew three tours in Vietnam, including 102 missions as a Misty. He is attributed with more combat missions in SEA than any other F-100 pilot (572).

As Six tumbled out of control, the pilot ejected into the darkened skies…. (More on his fate, later. Ed.) All Lamb knew was that there had been a loud crash, then his stick and throttle froze! He was out of control, spiraling down into the blackness. Looking back over his head he could see lights on the ground. “Probably Columbia (South Carolina),” he thought.

He attempted to raise the ejection handles, but, jammed from the collision, they would not come up. He was trapped in the wildly plummeting airplane.

Desperately, he unstrapped from the lap belt and shoulder harness, blew the canopy, and attempted to crawl out of the cockpit with his chute and survival kit, but the windblast pinned him in the cockpit, snapping his head back violently, and preventing him from leaping over the side.

Really in trouble now, he clawed frantically, pulling himself back into the seat. Still, he could not raise the ejection handles or locate either trigger. Again, he attempted to stand and, once more, the severe windblast pinned him in the cockpit. This time, as he clawed his way back into the cockpit, he must have jostled the ejection handles in such a way that the right handle finally deployed…exposing the trigger.

The last time he saw the airspeed indicator, the needle was pointing somewhere between 1.0 and 1.1 mach.

He was supersonic!

This time, he frantically grabbed at the ejection seat and found the right trigger exposed…which he pulled with all his might as he forced his head back and assumed the best ejection position he could manage. (To this day he has no idea where his left arm was as he pulled the trigger.)

The seat fired with Lamb unstrapped, causing him to roll backward over the seat as he and it cleared the plane and hit the brick-wall-like wind blast. With no idea how high he was, he clawed for the D-ring and pulled it with a mighty yank, realizing he was head down as the chute streamed out between his legs. The opening shock hit him like a sledgehammer, jerking him upright as he swung wildly under the canopy. He saw at least two panels missing, but otherwise, the chute seemed okay.

 He realized his mask was still attached and found it filled with liquid as he unsnapped it. His blood! Looking around, all he could see was a milky darkness below. “Could it be water?” he thought and removed his helmet after deploying the underarm life preservers. He threw the helmet. “Thousand one, thousand two…” And he heard a splash. He was over water! And very low.

At that moment, he realized his survival kit was gone…probably ripped away during the ejection. Then, he hit the water. Instantly, he felt the cold and the chute’s canopy settled over him. His water survival training probably saved his life. He’d been through this very scenario at the PACAF Water Survival School and began carefully threading his way to the edge of the canopy. “Thank god,” he thought, “The folks at Myrtle Beach still wore LPUs or I would have been a goner at this point without the survival kit.”

As he cleared himself of the heavy fabric, he was still entangled in shroud lines. Putting the shroud cutter to good use, he cut himself free of the heavy lines and canopy and distanced himself from the slowly sinking parachute.

Then, he had time to look around. Nothing. It was a very dark night. He could see nothing.

All Lamb knew was that he was in a fairly large body of water. He saw nothing. Nor could he hear the slightest sound. He was utterly alone.

His wingman, meanwhile, had successfully ejected from his tumbling bird and went through a fairly normal chute opening, descent and landing. He came down in knee-deep water in the very same lake as his leader. Spying a structure nearby, he found two men working on a lakeside cabin they were remodeling. Their fireplace was a godsend.

When he explained that one of his flight members may well have also ejected and was probably in the lake somewhere, they produced a phone. He called the base to alert them of the accident, and the two cabin workers promptly launched in their motorboat to search for Allen Lamb. Their search tactic was simple. They would turn off the motor periodically, yell like hell for “Captain Lamb,” and then listen for a reply. It was a big lake, and they repeated this drill for hours. But they didn’t give up….

Meanwhile, back in the flight, number Three had seen the collision and called out, “Lead, Six just ran into Five!” Lead’s immediate “Mayday” call initiated a massive Air Force search and rescue effort. For Allen Lamb, help was on the way…but from an unexpected quarter.

Lake Murray, northwest of Columbia, S.C., is a very large freshwater lake, stretching some 25 miles along the main length of the lake itself. A lot of water for two folks in a motorboat to search.

AlLen Lamb F-100 Map

But there, in Lake Murray, March’s cold waters began to gnaw at Lamb. He sang out loud to keep himself warm. At one point, he’d considered removing his g-suit as a weight saving measure but thought better of it because the g-suit provided considerable protection from the frigid water.

In the distance, he heard helicopters…searching for him, he hoped. Then, he realized he had absolutely no signaling devices on him!

Hours went by, and Lamb began to feel the effects of hypothermia. His shivering got worse, and the numbness in his fingers became extreme. He knew from his survival training that he was approaching a serious degree of exposure. He didn’t know just how long he could last but kept singing and moving his arms and legs to stimulate what warmth he could generate. His situation was growing tense, as hour after freezing hour, he floated helplessly in the LPUs.

Then, miracle of all miracles, he heard voices yelling, “Captain Lamb, Captain Lamb!”

As he yelled in response, he quietly cursed the 9th Air Force Stan/Eval folks for requiring the aircrews to remove their emergency flares—“for safety reasons,” they said. Now, he floated in a huge lake with no signaling devices of any kind: his flashlight had been ripped away in the ejection, and he had no flares hidden in his g-suit (as so many of the other guys were doing in defiance of the 9th AF Stan/Eval mandates).

Eventually, though, the cabin worker rescuers finally heard “Captain Lamb’s” weak replies and homed in on him in the darkness. They pulled him from the water, but when Lamb stood for the first time, excruciating pain shot through his body “like a hot poker in his back,” and he collapsed. The two men stretched him out as comfortably as they could and covered the violently shivering pilot with blankets for the ride to shore.

It was now 0130 in the morning. Lamb had been in the water over four and a half hours!

Once they reached the shoreline, his rescuers sprang into action. One of the men ran to the cabin, grabbed an axe, and chopped a side door off at the hinges to use as a crude stretcher. They laid Allen out on his back and carried him into the cabin, laying him down next to the fireplace, then, ever so gingerly, stripped him of his wet clothes.

A helo from Shaw AFB arrived soon after that and transported the severely injured and distressed pilot to the USAF hospital. So severe was his pain by the time he arrived, it took five aides to hold him down on the x-ray table. Examination revealed he had fractured three vertebrae in his back and two in his neck.

The doctors solemnly explained that in all probability, he would never fly again. “Bull shit!” thought Lamb, and as soon as possible he threw himself into rehab with a vengeance. But, for the first five weeks, he lay immobile. Then, little by little, the actual work of rehabilitating his back and neck began.

Seven months later, he went through a flight status review with the flight surgeons. They explained that if he could do 100 jumping jacks, 100 sit ups and 100 push ups in 12 minutes, they would return him to flight status.

“Fine,” replied the determined Lamb, “I will see you in six weeks!” Highly motivated, partly because of the pending loss of flight pay, and an overwhelming desire to beat the odds, he enlisted the help of the wing’s Ground Liaison Officer. The two of them “went at it” two to three hours per day, doing serious rehabilitation work…and it paid off.

Six weeks later, the very fit young Captain Lamb miraculously performed those exercises exactly as required, and in November of 1963, Captain Allen Lamb returned to flying duties. Just eight months after his supersonic ejection and frightening ordeal, in January 1964, he entered and graduated from the Army Jump School.

Thus, one of the most remarkable physical health recoveries in the history of USAF aviation ended. It was a victory over very bad odds by a very determined man.

And, oh yes, Lamb would go on to complete over one hundred parachute jumps with the U.S. Army.

But back then, no one knew what a Wild Weasel was. That adventure for Allen Lamb (and others) was yet to come.

EPILOGUE: While jumping from airplanes gives this writer the willies, it’s been a part of Allen Lamb’s life since his younger days. Before going to Korea as a tail gunner, he bailed out of a burning B-29 during a training mission, one of two crew members to make it out alive. And before leaving for combat in Korea, he switched to B-26s, once more as a gunner. When his plane was hit by AAA over North Korea, he again found himself in a parachute.

With his supersonic ejection from a Hun, he has the perhaps unique distinction of jumping out of a four-engined airplane, a twin-engined airplane and a single-engined airplane. At the time of this accident, Allen was one of only seven American military pilots to survive a supersonic ejection from a jet fighter. Four of those folks later passed away from injuries received in the ejection. Lastly, at that time, he was the only American military fighter pilot to return to flight status after punching out supersonic and the only one known to have punched out while unstrapped from his seat.

(source: Published in the Intake Magazine, Vol 1, NoXX)

 Lt Col Allen Lamb, USAF (ret.), in his own words…

Lamb and Donnovan’s F-100

The first SAM kill by Wild Weasels showed that good technology and solid tactics are fine things to have, but great teamwork is what gets the job done.
I was taking off from Korat Air Base in Thailand two days after Bob Trier became the first Wild Weasel killed in action. Bob and his pilot, John Pitchford, had fallen to a SAM site while leading a strike package of F-105s against the Kep airfield, located about thirty miles northwest of Hanoi. After punching out of their stricken F-100F, Bob had apparently shot it out with North Vietnamese militia and lost, while John would spend seven years as a POW. Of course, we didn’t know any of that at the time. All we knew is that the Wild Weasels were off to a bad start.
It was December 22, 1965, and we hadn’t killed a single SAM, yet. At least the mission we were rolling on that morning was more to our liking. It was a so-called “Iron Hand” strike, which was code for a Wild Weasel mission, with the objective of hunting and killing a SAM site, as opposed to leading a strike against a known target. Our F-100F was loaded with LAU-3 canisters of 2.75-in. HEAT and HEAP rockets and two external fuel tanks. Jack Donnovan, my EWO, had flown back seat to Bob Schwartz, the operations officer, on the day Bob Trier was killed. Their F-100F has been leading a second strike package against the same target. Like Pitchford and Trier, they were supposed to sniff out radar threats with their Vector IV and IR-133 radar-warning receivers. Weasels also carried the WR-300 launch-warning receivers, which could detect the increased signals when a SAM was about to launch.
The most dangerous threats were the SA-2 Guideline SAM sites with their Fan Song radars. This is what the Wild Weasels were born to tackle. These missiles had come as a nasty shock to US aircrews operating over North Vietnam in 1965. On July 24 of that year, an SA-2 exploded in the middle of a strike force of F-4 Phantom IIs, knocking down one aircraft and damaging all the others in the flight. Losses to SAMs became regular occurrences. Something had to be done about it.
I had been the first pilot picked for the Wild Weasel program per request of General Benny Puttman, who was commander of the Tactical Air Warfare Center at Eglin AFB. This is where the Wild Weasels would be pulled together. Col Charlie Joseph, Tactical Air Command Coordinator, had come down to Myrtle Beach AFB where I was stationed on September 15, 1965, to have lunch and ask me to volunteer for something without telling me what the job was. I knew Col Joseph from Misawa, and I said yes. He handed me orders TDY (Temporary Duty) to Eglin with variations in itinerary authorized (these carried me all the way to Nam).
I disappeared from Myrtle Beach the next morning, and the rest is history. The original orders said the assignment would be to fly an F-100F command post (another job for the two-seater), but Joseph told me after I was on board that I would be hunting and killing SAM sites in North Vietnam. Quite hush-hush on everything. One of the first pilots broke security by talking to a nurse at the beach club at happy hour. We were being watched. He was gone the next morning and lost his career. We were all chewed out and kept isolated from then on. There were to be two birds, but later this was upgraded to four in case we lost one and one was out of commission, etc. Ultimately, there were five crews assembled for the four aircraft. In the days before the Shrike anti-radiation missile, Wild Weasels attacked enemy SAM sites with cannon and rockets and initially fin napalm, although this latter weapon was the 7th Air Force’s idea, not the aircrews’. We didn’t like napalm, nor bombs for that matter because the parameters for using dropped ordnance were more restrictive than for rockets. We could get off snap-shots with rockets, something we couldn’t do with fin napalm or bombs. Iron Hand strikes typically consisted of a Wild Weasel leading four F-105s heavily laden with bombs or rockets or both for pasting the SAM sites. The “Thuds” didn’t carry any special electronics for ferreting out enemy radars. That was our job.
Nevertheless, we didn’t just mark the target, as some have claimed. We went in first with rockets and came back around with cannon even before some of the Thuds had started on a first run. The F-100F was an excellent hunter-killer in that it was very agile. I was very fond of it, and of my ability to fly it. In those days, I had “World’s Greatest Fighter Pilot” printed on my helmet – backward so I could read it in the mirror. No apologies for youth: That was the sort of attitude we all had. I just put my attitude in writing.
Jack Donnovan’s contribution to the vernacular when introduced to the Wild Weasel concept was more enduring, and became the semi-official motto of the Wild Weasel profession: YGBSM – “You gotta be shitting me.” This was the natural response of an educated man, a veteran EWO on B-52s and the like, upon learning that he was to fly back seat to a self-absorbed fighter pilot while acting as flypaper for enemy SAMs. What would you say?
Our flight that December morning was call sign “Spruce” and our F-100F was “Spruce 5”. The F-105s (Spruce 1-4) – took off after right after we did. Everything was standard through form-up and refueling at tanker over Laos. We took the lead at our pre-briefed initial point, and with two Thuds on each wing, we headed for the Red River Valley, a floodplain that was home to some of the best air-defense systems in North Vietnam. The mission parameters were fairly fluid after that. We didn’t have a specific objective or a series of known targets. Our job was to probe the enemy’s air defenses until they warmed up to take a shot at us.
There was complete radio silence after going to the strike frequency. A little after noontime, Jack told me that the Vector IV had picked up a Fan Song radar in search mode about 100+ nautical miles out. I pushed the engine up to 98 percent and locked the throttle. This gave us 595 knots airspeed, just under max while carrying ordnance. After I started homing in, I transmitted “Tallyho.” That was it. I kept the SAM at 10 to 11 o’clock so he wouldn’t get the idea I was going after him. When I could, I dropped into shallow valleys to mask our approach. Every now and again, I’d pop up for Jack to get a cut. This went on for about 10 to 15 minutes.
After breaking out into the Red River Valley I followed the strobes on the Vector and turned up with the river alongside. The IR 133 had receiver antennas located on either side of the fuselage in line with the cockpit for homing on target. The strobes started curling off at 12 o’clock, both to the right and left. And I knew we were right on top of him. I started climbing for altitude and Jack kept calling out SAM positions literally left and right. The right one turned out to be a second site. I was passing through 3,000 feet, nose high, and I rolled inverted while still climbing to look.
Jack started calling the first site to the right. I said it was to the left because I could see it below. “Right!” he said. “Left!” I said. “Right!” he said. “Look outside!” I said. Jack did and saw that we were inverted, so the signals from the left and right antennas were reversed. “OK, left,” he agreed.
I rolled in to line up the site but came in way too low. Later, some of the Thud drivers told me they thought I was going to mark the target with my aircraft. My rockets hit short, but as I pulled off there was a bright flash. I figured I must have hit the oxidizer van for the SA-2s’ liquid-fuel motors. I called out the site, and the F-105 lead, Don Langwell, said that he had it. He went in, and Spruce 2, Van Heywood, came after him, firing rockets on the site. We all broke the cardinal rule – “one pass, haul ass” – to assure the kill. I came back around for a second pass in front of Spruce 4, Art Brattkus (the F-100s were agile birds!), and went down in beside Spruce 3, Bob Bush, who was hitting the AAA alongside the Red River (Bob Bush would be KIA on a subsequent mission). On this pass, I strafed the control van, and he went off the air. Each of the Thuds came around again, expending all their 20mm ammunition. Jack was now calling out the second SAM site, but we had nothing left to hit it with. But we really blew away the site that we did hit.
We got out of there, rejoined, and refueled. There was a USO show with Bob Hope that day at Korat, and we made a flyover with the F-100 leading and two F-105s on each wing. A number of people down there knew that meant we had made a SAM kill and left the show early to celebrate.
After landing, we debriefed and went to the club. What a party. Jack drank martinis. After a while, he started holding them by the rim with his thumb and finger. And began dropping them. The more he drank the more he dropped. The club was raising Cain as they were running out of glasses, so we taped a glass in his hand. After dinner he drank creme dementhe and went around sticking out his green tongue.
All six of us in Spruce Flight received the Distinguished Flying Cross for killing the first SAM site. Jack would fly twelve more missions with me before going stateside in February 1966 to get the ball rolling on what would become the Wild Weasel School at Nellis AFB. I stayed in Southeast Asia for a total of six months and received credit for two more SAM kills. When we flew together, Jack said he would sleep through my air refuelings and would tell me to wake him up on ingress for him to go to work. The only time he looked outside was when I told him to take a look at Hanoi and the flak. Jack and I were a very strong team; we lived together and flew together, and we always knew what the other was thinking, even before he thought it. We were closer than many marriages. Jack also named his second son after me.

(Source: from the website: edefense.blogspot.com, Https://edefense.blogspot.com/2005/11/in-their-own-words-8-eleven-stories.html) Friday, November 11, 2005

Units Assigned

  • 506th Tactical Fighter Wing, Tinker AFB, OK
  • 457th Tactical Fighter Squadron/471sst Tactical Fighter Squadron, Misawa AB, Japan
  • 531st Tactical Fighter Squadron, Myrtle Beach AFB, SC
  • 353rd Tactical Fighter Squadron/354th Tactical Fighter Wing, Eglin & Korat AB, Thailand, (Wild Weasel)

Awards & Decorations

 Distinguished Flying Cross

Flight Info

F-100 D
F-4
F-16

Military Education

Civilian Education

Biography

Biography

Captain Allen T. Lamb, Jr., won the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Tactical Fighter Pilot over North Vietnam on 22 December 1965. On that date, Captain Lamb participated in a strike on an SA-2 missile site on the Red River approximately fifty miles northwest of Hanoi, North Vietnam. Despite accurate anti-aircraft fire and the knowledge that another SA-2 missile site was in the immediate area, Captain Lamb repeatedly made strafing passes at hazardously low altitudes to assure the destruction of the target. Through excellent teamwork and superb airmanship, Captain Lamb was able to find and destroy an SA-2 missile site which was not previously known to exist.
(source: https://valor.militarytimes.com/hero/43017)

Caterpillar Club

Allen Lamb – Caterpillar Club

March 28, 1963, was going to be a busy day for Allen Lamb. First, the young captain had a night tanker mission, acting as an IP for some general’s landing currency. The next morning he needed to be on the road to Fort Bragg rather early. At 0800, he was to begin jump school with the airborne grunts.

Allen Lamb F-100He hustled around his bird, eying the time anxiously. With the general in the flight, it wouldn’t do to be late. Once his engine rumbled to life, he completed his after start checks, then glanced around the ramp at Myrtle Beach as the din of six idling Super Sabres flooded the senses of those in the area.

He would be one of the two IPs in the flight. In case one IP aborted, the general needed a backup or he, too, would have to abort. “Actually,” Lamb thought with a chuckle, “with an IP in the back of the general’s ‘F,’ we have about 33 percent instructor pilots in this gaggle. Could be dangerous.”

It was just about dusk as the first element rolled. Lamb noted the time. They should be right on schedule for the tanker.

Lined up on the runway as the last element, he glanced at his young wingman, just back from Hun school and raring to go. They went through the usual signals for run-up and released brakes. The Huns jumped to life as the afterburners kicked in. Once airborne, cleaned up, and out of burner, they closed on the flight of four ahead.

The join-up was smooth and quick. Five and Six were tucked in trail as the main flight approached the cloud deck in fingertip. Once on top, Five and Six would move to the left wing for the short flight to the tanker track.

Lead radioed a channel change to Approach Control, and all six acknowledged. That would be the last transmission Allen Lamb was to hear that night. Nothing seemed to work with his radio, so he concentrated on flying smooth trail formation; his new wingman would need all the breaks he could give him.

At about 20 thousand feet in the climb, they broke out beneath a darkening sky. As per the briefing, Lamb began a slow move out to the left wing position. As he pulled up on the wing, he glanced over at Six, only to see him wobbling a bit and beginning to move forward after initially slipping a bit behind.

Positioned between the Hun off to his right and his wingman, Lamb held a nice, steady number Five position.

But on his left wing, things weren’t going all that well for number Six. As Lamb added power to move forward on the wing, Six felt himself sliding back and added a gob of power.

Too much power, the young pilot realized as he slid past his leader. Reducing power he suddenly remembered his navigation lights. He was supposed to have gone “brightflash” on them. Already, things were piling up pretty high on the inexperienced pilot. As he looked in the cockpit to go “bright-flash” on the lights, he suddenly realized he’d reduced power way too much. He was rapidly sliding back into number Five!

Allen Lamb was looking back at the lead four-ship when Six hit him. The right rear horizontal slab of number Six’s plane smashed into his cockpit area, bending lots of sheet metal and jamming the throttle at about 97% power. The impact also jammed the left console into the ejection seat handle.

Charter member Jack is also a Contributing Editor on The Intake staff. He flew three tours in Vietnam, including 102 missions as a Misty. He is attributed with more combat missions in SEA than any other F-100 pilot (572).

As Six tumbled out of control, the pilot ejected into the darkened skies…. (More on his fate, later. Ed.) All Lamb knew was that there had been a loud crash, then his stick and throttle froze! He was out of control, spiraling down into the blackness. Looking back over his head he could see lights on the ground. “Probably Columbia (South Carolina),” he thought.

He attempted to raise the ejection handles, but, jammed from the collision, they would not come up. He was trapped in the wildly plummeting airplane.

Desperately, he unstrapped from the lap belt and shoulder harness, blew the canopy, and attempted to crawl out of the cockpit with his chute and survival kit, but the windblast pinned him in the cockpit, snapping his head back violently, and preventing him from leaping over the side.

Really in trouble now, he clawed frantically, pulling himself back into the seat. Still, he could not raise the ejection handles or locate either trigger. Again, he attempted to stand and, once more, the severe windblast pinned him in the cockpit. This time, as he clawed his way back into the cockpit, he must have jostled the ejection handles in such a way that the right handle finally deployed…exposing the trigger.

The last time he saw the airspeed indicator, the needle was pointing somewhere between 1.0 and 1.1 mach.

He was supersonic!

This time, he frantically grabbed at the ejection seat and found the right trigger exposed…which he pulled with all his might as he forced his head back and assumed the best ejection position he could manage. (To this day he has no idea where his left arm was as he pulled the trigger.)

The seat fired with Lamb unstrapped, causing him to roll backward over the seat as he and it cleared the plane and hit the brick-wall-like wind blast. With no idea how high he was, he clawed for the D-ring and pulled it with a mighty yank, realizing he was head down as the chute streamed out between his legs. The opening shock hit him like a sledgehammer, jerking him upright as he swung wildly under the canopy. He saw at least two panels missing, but otherwise, the chute seemed okay.

 He realized his mask was still attached and found it filled with liquid as he unsnapped it. His blood! Looking around, all he could see was a milky darkness below. “Could it be water?” he thought and removed his helmet after deploying the underarm life preservers. He threw the helmet. “Thousand one, thousand two…” And he heard a splash. He was over water! And very low.

At that moment, he realized his survival kit was gone…probably ripped away during the ejection. Then, he hit the water. Instantly, he felt the cold and the chute’s canopy settled over him. His water survival training probably saved his life. He’d been through this very scenario at the PACAF Water Survival School and began carefully threading his way to the edge of the canopy. “Thank god,” he thought, “The folks at Myrtle Beach still wore LPUs or I would have been a goner at this point without the survival kit.”

As he cleared himself of the heavy fabric, he was still entangled in shroud lines. Putting the shroud cutter to good use, he cut himself free of the heavy lines and canopy and distanced himself from the slowly sinking parachute.

Then, he had time to look around. Nothing. It was a very dark night. He could see nothing.

All Lamb knew was that he was in a fairly large body of water. He saw nothing. Nor could he hear the slightest sound. He was utterly alone.

His wingman, meanwhile, had successfully ejected from his tumbling bird and went through a fairly normal chute opening, descent and landing. He came down in knee-deep water in the very same lake as his leader. Spying a structure nearby, he found two men working on a lakeside cabin they were remodeling. Their fireplace was a godsend.

When he explained that one of his flight members may well have also ejected and was probably in the lake somewhere, they produced a phone. He called the base to alert them of the accident, and the two cabin workers promptly launched in their motorboat to search for Allen Lamb. Their search tactic was simple. They would turn off the motor periodically, yell like hell for “Captain Lamb,” and then listen for a reply. It was a big lake, and they repeated this drill for hours. But they didn’t give up….

Meanwhile, back in the flight, number Three had seen the collision and called out, “Lead, Six just ran into Five!” Lead’s immediate “Mayday” call initiated a massive Air Force search and rescue effort. For Allen Lamb, help was on the way…but from an unexpected quarter.

Lake Murray, northwest of Columbia, S.C., is a very large freshwater lake, stretching some 25 miles along the main length of the lake itself. A lot of water for two folks in a motorboat to search.

AlLen Lamb F-100 Map

But there, in Lake Murray, March’s cold waters began to gnaw at Lamb. He sang out loud to keep himself warm. At one point, he’d considered removing his g-suit as a weight saving measure but thought better of it because the g-suit provided considerable protection from the frigid water.

In the distance, he heard helicopters…searching for him, he hoped. Then, he realized he had absolutely no signaling devices on him!

Hours went by, and Lamb began to feel the effects of hypothermia. His shivering got worse, and the numbness in his fingers became extreme. He knew from his survival training that he was approaching a serious degree of exposure. He didn’t know just how long he could last but kept singing and moving his arms and legs to stimulate what warmth he could generate. His situation was growing tense, as hour after freezing hour, he floated helplessly in the LPUs.

Then, miracle of all miracles, he heard voices yelling, “Captain Lamb, Captain Lamb!”

As he yelled in response, he quietly cursed the 9th Air Force Stan/Eval folks for requiring the aircrews to remove their emergency flares—“for safety reasons,” they said. Now, he floated in a huge lake with no signaling devices of any kind: his flashlight had been ripped away in the ejection, and he had no flares hidden in his g-suit (as so many of the other guys were doing in defiance of the 9th AF Stan/Eval mandates).

Eventually, though, the cabin worker rescuers finally heard “Captain Lamb’s” weak replies and homed in on him in the darkness. They pulled him from the water, but when Lamb stood for the first time, excruciating pain shot through his body “like a hot poker in his back,” and he collapsed. The two men stretched him out as comfortably as they could and covered the violently shivering pilot with blankets for the ride to shore.

It was now 0130 in the morning. Lamb had been in the water over four and a half hours!

Once they reached the shoreline, his rescuers sprang into action. One of the men ran to the cabin, grabbed an axe, and chopped a side door off at the hinges to use as a crude stretcher. They laid Allen out on his back and carried him into the cabin, laying him down next to the fireplace, then, ever so gingerly, stripped him of his wet clothes.

A helo from Shaw AFB arrived soon after that and transported the severely injured and distressed pilot to the USAF hospital. So severe was his pain by the time he arrived, it took five aides to hold him down on the x-ray table. Examination revealed he had fractured three vertebrae in his back and two in his neck.

The doctors solemnly explained that in all probability, he would never fly again. “Bull shit!” thought Lamb, and as soon as possible he threw himself into rehab with a vengeance. But, for the first five weeks, he lay immobile. Then, little by little, the actual work of rehabilitating his back and neck began.

Seven months later, he went through a flight status review with the flight surgeons. They explained that if he could do 100 jumping jacks, 100 sit ups and 100 push ups in 12 minutes, they would return him to flight status.

“Fine,” replied the determined Lamb, “I will see you in six weeks!” Highly motivated, partly because of the pending loss of flight pay, and an overwhelming desire to beat the odds, he enlisted the help of the wing’s Ground Liaison Officer. The two of them “went at it” two to three hours per day, doing serious rehabilitation work…and it paid off.

Six weeks later, the very fit young Captain Lamb miraculously performed those exercises exactly as required, and in November of 1963, Captain Allen Lamb returned to flying duties. Just eight months after his supersonic ejection and frightening ordeal, in January 1964, he entered and graduated from the Army Jump School.

Thus, one of the most remarkable physical health recoveries in the history of USAF aviation ended. It was a victory over very bad odds by a very determined man.

And, oh yes, Lamb would go on to complete over one hundred parachute jumps with the U.S. Army.

But back then, no one knew what a Wild Weasel was. That adventure for Allen Lamb (and others) was yet to come.

EPILOGUE: While jumping from airplanes gives this writer the willies, it’s been a part of Allen Lamb’s life since his younger days. Before going to Korea as a tail gunner, he bailed out of a burning B-29 during a training mission, one of two crew members to make it out alive. And before leaving for combat in Korea, he switched to B-26s, once more as a gunner. When his plane was hit by AAA over North Korea, he again found himself in a parachute.

With his supersonic ejection from a Hun, he has the perhaps unique distinction of jumping out of a four-engined airplane, a twin-engined airplane and a single-engined airplane. At the time of this accident, Allen was one of only seven American military pilots to survive a supersonic ejection from a jet fighter. Four of those folks later passed away from injuries received in the ejection. Lastly, at that time, he was the only American military fighter pilot to return to flight status after punching out supersonic and the only one known to have punched out while unstrapped from his seat.

(source: Published in the Intake Magazine, Vol 1, NoXX)

Wild Weasel

 Lt Col Allen Lamb, USAF (ret.), in his own words…

Lamb and Donnovan’s F-100

The first SAM kill by Wild Weasels showed that good technology and solid tactics are fine things to have, but great teamwork is what gets the job done.
I was taking off from Korat Air Base in Thailand two days after Bob Trier became the first Wild Weasel killed in action. Bob and his pilot, John Pitchford, had fallen to a SAM site while leading a strike package of F-105s against the Kep airfield, located about thirty miles northwest of Hanoi. After punching out of their stricken F-100F, Bob had apparently shot it out with North Vietnamese militia and lost, while John would spend seven years as a POW. Of course, we didn’t know any of that at the time. All we knew is that the Wild Weasels were off to a bad start.
It was December 22, 1965, and we hadn’t killed a single SAM, yet. At least the mission we were rolling on that morning was more to our liking. It was a so-called “Iron Hand” strike, which was code for a Wild Weasel mission, with the objective of hunting and killing a SAM site, as opposed to leading a strike against a known target. Our F-100F was loaded with LAU-3 canisters of 2.75-in. HEAT and HEAP rockets and two external fuel tanks. Jack Donnovan, my EWO, had flown back seat to Bob Schwartz, the operations officer, on the day Bob Trier was killed. Their F-100F has been leading a second strike package against the same target. Like Pitchford and Trier, they were supposed to sniff out radar threats with their Vector IV and IR-133 radar-warning receivers. Weasels also carried the WR-300 launch-warning receivers, which could detect the increased signals when a SAM was about to launch.
The most dangerous threats were the SA-2 Guideline SAM sites with their Fan Song radars. This is what the Wild Weasels were born to tackle. These missiles had come as a nasty shock to US aircrews operating over North Vietnam in 1965. On July 24 of that year, an SA-2 exploded in the middle of a strike force of F-4 Phantom IIs, knocking down one aircraft and damaging all the others in the flight. Losses to SAMs became regular occurrences. Something had to be done about it.
I had been the first pilot picked for the Wild Weasel program per request of General Benny Puttman, who was commander of the Tactical Air Warfare Center at Eglin AFB. This is where the Wild Weasels would be pulled together. Col Charlie Joseph, Tactical Air Command Coordinator, had come down to Myrtle Beach AFB where I was stationed on September 15, 1965, to have lunch and ask me to volunteer for something without telling me what the job was. I knew Col Joseph from Misawa, and I said yes. He handed me orders TDY (Temporary Duty) to Eglin with variations in itinerary authorized (these carried me all the way to Nam).
I disappeared from Myrtle Beach the next morning, and the rest is history. The original orders said the assignment would be to fly an F-100F command post (another job for the two-seater), but Joseph told me after I was on board that I would be hunting and killing SAM sites in North Vietnam. Quite hush-hush on everything. One of the first pilots broke security by talking to a nurse at the beach club at happy hour. We were being watched. He was gone the next morning and lost his career. We were all chewed out and kept isolated from then on. There were to be two birds, but later this was upgraded to four in case we lost one and one was out of commission, etc. Ultimately, there were five crews assembled for the four aircraft. In the days before the Shrike anti-radiation missile, Wild Weasels attacked enemy SAM sites with cannon and rockets and initially fin napalm, although this latter weapon was the 7th Air Force’s idea, not the aircrews’. We didn’t like napalm, nor bombs for that matter because the parameters for using dropped ordnance were more restrictive than for rockets. We could get off snap-shots with rockets, something we couldn’t do with fin napalm or bombs. Iron Hand strikes typically consisted of a Wild Weasel leading four F-105s heavily laden with bombs or rockets or both for pasting the SAM sites. The “Thuds” didn’t carry any special electronics for ferreting out enemy radars. That was our job.
Nevertheless, we didn’t just mark the target, as some have claimed. We went in first with rockets and came back around with cannon even before some of the Thuds had started on a first run. The F-100F was an excellent hunter-killer in that it was very agile. I was very fond of it, and of my ability to fly it. In those days, I had “World’s Greatest Fighter Pilot” printed on my helmet – backward so I could read it in the mirror. No apologies for youth: That was the sort of attitude we all had. I just put my attitude in writing.
Jack Donnovan’s contribution to the vernacular when introduced to the Wild Weasel concept was more enduring, and became the semi-official motto of the Wild Weasel profession: YGBSM – “You gotta be shitting me.” This was the natural response of an educated man, a veteran EWO on B-52s and the like, upon learning that he was to fly back seat to a self-absorbed fighter pilot while acting as flypaper for enemy SAMs. What would you say?
Our flight that December morning was call sign “Spruce” and our F-100F was “Spruce 5”. The F-105s (Spruce 1-4) – took off after right after we did. Everything was standard through form-up and refueling at tanker over Laos. We took the lead at our pre-briefed initial point, and with two Thuds on each wing, we headed for the Red River Valley, a floodplain that was home to some of the best air-defense systems in North Vietnam. The mission parameters were fairly fluid after that. We didn’t have a specific objective or a series of known targets. Our job was to probe the enemy’s air defenses until they warmed up to take a shot at us.
There was complete radio silence after going to the strike frequency. A little after noontime, Jack told me that the Vector IV had picked up a Fan Song radar in search mode about 100+ nautical miles out. I pushed the engine up to 98 percent and locked the throttle. This gave us 595 knots airspeed, just under max while carrying ordnance. After I started homing in, I transmitted “Tallyho.” That was it. I kept the SAM at 10 to 11 o’clock so he wouldn’t get the idea I was going after him. When I could, I dropped into shallow valleys to mask our approach. Every now and again, I’d pop up for Jack to get a cut. This went on for about 10 to 15 minutes.
After breaking out into the Red River Valley I followed the strobes on the Vector and turned up with the river alongside. The IR 133 had receiver antennas located on either side of the fuselage in line with the cockpit for homing on target. The strobes started curling off at 12 o’clock, both to the right and left. And I knew we were right on top of him. I started climbing for altitude and Jack kept calling out SAM positions literally left and right. The right one turned out to be a second site. I was passing through 3,000 feet, nose high, and I rolled inverted while still climbing to look.
Jack started calling the first site to the right. I said it was to the left because I could see it below. “Right!” he said. “Left!” I said. “Right!” he said. “Look outside!” I said. Jack did and saw that we were inverted, so the signals from the left and right antennas were reversed. “OK, left,” he agreed.
I rolled in to line up the site but came in way too low. Later, some of the Thud drivers told me they thought I was going to mark the target with my aircraft. My rockets hit short, but as I pulled off there was a bright flash. I figured I must have hit the oxidizer van for the SA-2s’ liquid-fuel motors. I called out the site, and the F-105 lead, Don Langwell, said that he had it. He went in, and Spruce 2, Van Heywood, came after him, firing rockets on the site. We all broke the cardinal rule – “one pass, haul ass” – to assure the kill. I came back around for a second pass in front of Spruce 4, Art Brattkus (the F-100s were agile birds!), and went down in beside Spruce 3, Bob Bush, who was hitting the AAA alongside the Red River (Bob Bush would be KIA on a subsequent mission). On this pass, I strafed the control van, and he went off the air. Each of the Thuds came around again, expending all their 20mm ammunition. Jack was now calling out the second SAM site, but we had nothing left to hit it with. But we really blew away the site that we did hit.
We got out of there, rejoined, and refueled. There was a USO show with Bob Hope that day at Korat, and we made a flyover with the F-100 leading and two F-105s on each wing. A number of people down there knew that meant we had made a SAM kill and left the show early to celebrate.
After landing, we debriefed and went to the club. What a party. Jack drank martinis. After a while, he started holding them by the rim with his thumb and finger. And began dropping them. The more he drank the more he dropped. The club was raising Cain as they were running out of glasses, so we taped a glass in his hand. After dinner he drank creme dementhe and went around sticking out his green tongue.
All six of us in Spruce Flight received the Distinguished Flying Cross for killing the first SAM site. Jack would fly twelve more missions with me before going stateside in February 1966 to get the ball rolling on what would become the Wild Weasel School at Nellis AFB. I stayed in Southeast Asia for a total of six months and received credit for two more SAM kills. When we flew together, Jack said he would sleep through my air refuelings and would tell me to wake him up on ingress for him to go to work. The only time he looked outside was when I told him to take a look at Hanoi and the flak. Jack and I were a very strong team; we lived together and flew together, and we always knew what the other was thinking, even before he thought it. We were closer than many marriages. Jack also named his second son after me.

(Source: from the website: edefense.blogspot.com, Https://edefense.blogspot.com/2005/11/in-their-own-words-8-eleven-stories.html) Friday, November 11, 2005

Units - Education - Awards - Flight Info

Units Assigned

  • 506th Tactical Fighter Wing, Tinker AFB, OK
  • 457th Tactical Fighter Squadron/471sst Tactical Fighter Squadron, Misawa AB, Japan
  • 531st Tactical Fighter Squadron, Myrtle Beach AFB, SC
  • 353rd Tactical Fighter Squadron/354th Tactical Fighter Wing, Eglin & Korat AB, Thailand, (Wild Weasel)

Awards & Decorations

 Distinguished Flying Cross

Flight Info

F-100 D
F-4
F-16

Military Education

Civilian Education

Images
Video
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