Feeling Useless

At the tail end of the movie "The Quiet American" a series of newspaper headlines appear showing the escalation of U.S participation in theVietnamese war. One headline dated March 2, 1965 chronicles the initial raid of U.S. planes against Hanoi.

That day has a special meaning for me. The Towers was the farthest north naval vessel in the Tonkin Gulf. Our task was to be "tomcat" for > communicating with carrier-based planes heading to Hanoi. I believe the carrier was the Hancock. I was assigned as Air Control Officer for the Towers.

No sooner had the raid commenced than my radar screen was literally covered with blips. There was no way for one person to communicate with, and track, more than a handful of the planes.

At one time I received a "mayday" signal from one of the planes. I called out the call sign of one of the other planes and told him I had him at such-and-such a bearing and so many miles from the distressed pilot.

"Not me, Pegleg", was his reply. "I'm feet dry." So he was back on the Hancock, which was probably 300 miles south of the location of the downed pilot. Talk about feeling useless.

Lynn Dreeszen, Ltjg