29 September 1954 – The North American F-100 Super Sabre entered service with the United States Air Force‘s 479th Fighter Wing. Initially, the new wing maintained tactical proficiency with the World War II-era F-51Ds inherited from the Air National Guard, then in February 1953 upgrading to the North American F-86H Sabre jet aircraft. The wing
Paul Raymond Legan - EWO
Paul Legan flew in new B-52H’s as an Electronics Warfare Officer for three years when he noticed an ad in the base daily bulletin to fly as an EWO in an F-100. Unlike the TAC pilots, most of the SAC EWO’s were aware of the defense suppression mission and all aspects of the Soviet SA-2 system as it started to be deployed in North Vietnam.
“Russian technicians were assisting with the SA-2 and Chinese technicians outlined an integrated gun laying system to defend the SAM sites. The first SAM sites in North Vietnam were detected in April 1965. US military commanders wanted to destroy them right away, but Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara refused permission, fearing that Soviet technicians might be killed and the conflict would escalate. John T. McNaughton, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, ridiculed the need to strike the SAMs. “You don’t think the North Vietnamese are going to use them!” he scoffed. “Putting them in is just a political ploy by the Russians to appease Hanoi.”
McNaughton’s surmise was soon discredited. On July 24, 1965, an SA-2 shot down an Air Force F-4C, the first of 110 USAF aircraft lost to SAMs in Southeast Asia. The White House approved a retaliatory airstrike, but by the time it got there, the SAM batteries were long gone. Instead, dummy missiles had been placed at the site as a “flak trap.” The attacking aircraft were lured within range of concealed air defense guns, which shot down four of them.” (1)
Knowing this hazard, Paul volunteered to train as an F-100 Wild Weasel. Initially, six two-seat F-100F’s were retrofitted with receivers to pick up fire control and tracking radars for use with the Soviet SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missile system. He flew 38 Wild Weasel F-100 Missions and decided that was enough. He asked to be reassigned and returned to his home B-52H unit in Grand Forks and was honorably discharged in 1966.
After leaving active duty, Paul worked in the electronics industry for several years while attaining a master’s degree in social work and counseling. After earning his master’s degree, he worked for the county of Riverside in California as a social worker in child protective services until retirement.