On 14 July 1968, I was leading a flight of 4-Ds out of Phu Cat AB, RVN. We were loaded with 2 Unfinned Napalm , 2 MK-82 Hi-Drag, and 20 MM. Our target was in the A Shau Valley, under FAC control. It was not good weather. The FAC marked the target and cleared us hot. I think he also cleared the VC gunner hot also. As I rolled in they opened up. I told everyone that we would only make 2 passes and to keep it moving. On my 2nd pass, old Charlie got lucky. I took 3 hits. I turned east (I liked the water), cleaned the wings , plugged in the burner and made the standard “Oh Shit” Mayday call. By the time I got “feet wet” the old bird was burning good , all the lights were on and the flight controls didn’t respond.
I guess it was almost like a controlled bailout. The wind blast was more than expected, and I had a problem getting stabilized (was on my back in a flat spin). (Should have gone to jump school) Then I noticed that I still had the “Gold Key”and it hadn’t stayed with the seat. So I pulled the “D Ring” and really slowed down (fast), turned off the beeper in the chute, deployed the seat pack life raft and inflated my water wings. Got wet, got into my dingy and waited about 10-15 minutes.
Two Marine cargo choppers stopped by and gave me a lift and ride to their base near Hue. Got a clean/dry flt suit and ride to Da Nang AB. — Jim “Hog” Piner