Hey No Sweat, Raven 25! In late 1972 as the NVA prepared to launch another major attack against Bouam Loung, the remote mountaintop base deep in the NVA territory, a MIG bombed and strafed the site, killing five and wounding 24, sparkled from the firepower...Darrel Whitcomb, on leave for Christmas, missed the fireworks at Site 32. He received a phone call from Laos, asking him to return. Ravens Hal Mischler and Skip Jackson were both dead and a couple of others had been shot down.
Soon after Whitcomb returned, Colonel Moua Cher Pao gave a party at Bouam Loung. Beneath billowing orange and white parachutes and a sign in large Lao script that read "The Day of Victory Celebration at Bouam Loung 1973," soldiers, pilots, SKY advisors, and civilians gathered to hear Pat Landry from CIA headquarters in Udorn, Genral James Hughes, Commander of 7/13 Air Force at Udorn, and General Vang Pao. Everyone toasted the victorious defense of Site 32, the Fortress. There was a ba-sii ceremony for the SKY men and the honored guests. Daniels, his wrists laced with ba-sii strings, spoke. Then Vang Pao took the pilots on a tour of the site. There was an extraordinary stench coming from the bodies on the wires lower down on the mountainsides. To Whitcomb, it was a grim warning to anyone who thought about taking Site 32. "To me, it said: "You attack us and this is what will happen to you."
That night there was a party with more speeches, dancing, and drinking. Nockateng (Chao Pha Khao) pilot Ly Tou told about Whitcomb's heroism, explaining how he had flown low and directed artillery against the enemy - until he was shot down - to save the men in Pressure's unit. (editor’s note: Whitcomb received the Silver Star medal for this mission, page 297-98) Later in the evening, the Hmong coerced Captain Whitcomb, who was quite shy and by this time quite drunk, to dance with several young Hmong maidens. He did - much to the delight of the onlookers. Since few Americans had ever been on the ground at Bouam Loung and since the FAC pilots who flew in its support were usually Hmong, Whitcomb considered his trip to Bouam Loung a special occasion.
A few days after the party, Whitcomb loaded his aircraft with his personal arsenal. Into the back he threw an AR-15 with 200 rounds, an M-79 grenade launcher with 40 rounds, and two hand grenades. In addition, he wore 38 and 45 caliber pistols. On several occasions when the situation on the ground was desperate, he had flown down to about 100 feet and fired these weapons out the windows at the enemy. After John Carroll's death, he was determined that if he crashed he would fight it out. This day, he flew alone. Since he did not plan to work with friendlies on the ground, he did not need a backseater interpreter. His targets were far to the north: NVA truck convoys.
‘I was flying south of Bouam Loung along Route 7, at about 2,000 feet, looking for convoys. I opened the windows to recon for trucks. Suddenly I heard shells whooshing by the aircraft. I looked down. Along the road I saw a 37mm gun firing at me. Shells exploded above me as I turned and jinked. But I couldn’t get away. He was getting closer and closer. I needed help. I called Cricket: ‘I need an air strike. I’m taking a lot of fire. I’ve got a gun that won’t let me go.’ I considered rolling in and shooting him with a rocket but in order to do that I would have solved his aiming problems.”
Xiong Ty Lou, flying nearby, heard Whitcomb call Cricket for help. He radioed Whitcomb. “Raven 25, I see you. I see the gun, too.” Ly Tou headed toward Whitcomb’s position. “I saw him roll in from the north and hit the gun with two rockets, allowing me to get away,” remembered Whitcomb. “He saved my life. A few days later, I saw Ly Tou at Long Chieng. I shook his hand, hugged him, and thanked him for saving my life. He smiled and said, ‘Hey no sweat, Raven 25!’”
– excerpt from “Tragic Mountains” by Jane Hamilton-Merritt pages 301-02 with permission from Darrel Whitcomb.
Forward Air Controller Memorial, Dayton OH
Nat'l Museum of the United States Air Force Memorial Park
Ravens: Williams, Roper, Ownby, Whitcomb, Stanford & Hatch.
click on photo for more information
(click on photo above for 1998 Air & Space magazine article)
Ravens of Long Tieng By Ralph Wetterhahn
Raven's Ed Gunter and Jack Drummond were the featured speakers of Warbirds in Review at EAA AirVenture 2009 for the 60th anniversary celebration of the T-28 organized by Jim Stitt of the Trojan Horsemen, filmed by Helen Murphy:
After Warbirds in Review, the Trojan Horsemen flew Ed Gunter and Jack Drummond in T-28 formation. This is Jack's inflight video set to warrior musician's Toby Hughes and Chip Dockery's "Delta Dawn:"
"WE CALLED 'EM TANGOS"
"Most of these pilots had not flown the T-28 before and they never used the name "Trojan." Instead they called their D's "Tangos," which is the military alphabet word for the letter T." (excerpt from "Final Tour of Duty" by Robert Genat)
BuNo 137799 N28YF
AT-28D Nomad "Lumpy"
Owned and operated by Bob Collins
L-R: Jim Roper, Ross Leonard, Darrel Whitcomb, Alan Daines, Lew Hatch, Brian Wages, Ed Gunter, Chuck Hightower, John Swanson and Jim Cochran.
Raven Plaque Dedication
United States Air Force Academy
Colorado Springs, CO
June 5, 2014
click on plaque to enlarge
Photographs, videos and stories have copyrights. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited.
Rescue of Raven 11 shot down over Luang Prabang, Laos
Featuring Mike Kelly, Raven 11 and Bill Collier, Air America Pilot
Helen Murphy © 2009-2019 All Rights Reserved