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B-52 Bombers over South Vietnam! . . .
B-52 Taxiing
 

Guam to Nam
Operation Arclight: South Vietnam
18 June 1965
 
B-52 Take offOperation B-52 Arc Light [video] - 133rd Provisional Wing B52s take off from Andersen AFB, Guam, and strike South Vietnam targets---3,000-miles nonstop!

Enemy bunkers were often the targets--but this time, friendliest were the only humans in the area as countless iron-bombs rained down.

From a quiet tree branch, Charlie watched as the night's stars moved quizzically toward him, wondering if a flock of the American satellites were orbiting above. Eight miles overhead streaked a flight of eighteen silver bombers, as first-dawn silhouetted mountain tops to the southeast. Another twenty minutes until sunrise, yet the B-52 squadron mirrored starlight- brilliance in promise of another scorching day.

The tail gunner squinted at the rising sun, which had pursued them 3,000 miles from Guam. He'd just received permission to test fire his four .50s, and swiveled them to blast the sun out of the sky. He had smug satisfaction when the sun dipped again below the horizon. Racing the sun westward, he had already watch it rise and sit repeatedly with changes in flight altitude in search of favorable tailwinds. Finally, they had leveled out and the sun had won the race, as it always did.

B-52 Formation He glanced from his overhead cockpit at those stratofortresses above him, etched silver against the still purple night sky, and then at those below, carved gray and white against the black sea. To earthlings below, the night was still heavy upon them. For the moment, it seemed as if he were flying in the cobalt-black of deep space, as all colors were etched razor-sharp in the high-altitude subzero void. The gunner looked once more toward the sun which bobbed slowly on the earth's curvature. He noticed the trailing aircraft were now in full daylight, contrasting the earth and sea below which melted into black nothingness.

The eight-jet Stratofortress, one of many in the flight of bombers, was flying too high to be seen or heard by the enemy below. At 40,000 feet his strategic-bomber, modified to carry "iron bombs," cruised contentedly. Approaching Đà Nẵng's coast line, the pilot watched the silent rhythm of twinkling city lights below competing with reflected starlight in the South China Sea. Hazy dots, then freckles of amber, and finally the city in its glory looking for all the world like any other American city at altitude. Orange dewdrops sparked around the nearby Đà Nẵng Air Base. He recognized the firefly-light as parachute flares dropped from flare ships circling the giant base.

 B-52: Bombs Away Miles past the sleeping city, the Captain flipped his bomb- arming switch, arming the B-52: Bombs Awayeighty-four 500- pound bombs internally and twenty- four 750-pound bombs on underwing racks. Bombs Away.

He thought briefly of the 30x15 foot deep craters each bomb would cause, and shrugged -- not my problem.

B-52 Bomb bay release


Then wondered for the thousandth time why its okay for B52s and arty to blow away entire villages, but if a ground- pounding -grunt torches one little hut it's his ass. Again ... not my problem. Good-guys, bad-guys, and mamasans -- they're all friendliest to someone, and someone else's problem to figure out.

B-52 Turning for Guam Thousands of feet below, the jungle waited as it had since the dawn of time-- impenetrable. The flight of BUFFs (Big Ugly Fat Fellows) was preparing to turn for home, another mission forgotten, while the earth below waited to further evolve.

The Squadron's strike pattern would saturate an area of 1,100 by 2,200 yards, and flatten the jungle as effectively as Krakatau East of Java ... or was it west? ... blasting furrows through 20 story tall trees for a mile and a half. The pilot began his turn South, but knew that soon--he hoped--they would fly North (future Operation Rolling Thunder). But for now ... the world was about to end for some poor clods ....

Jungle Bomb Strike Pattern (181K)

Charlie watched the sparkling stars pass directly overhead, now drifting slowly south. All is as it should be, he thought ... and suddenly was homesick for the village where he was born and raised: the grayish smoke in the evening and vines of long squash, green with its leaves ... covering a wooden scaffold ... and the little butterflies ...
and the pagoda ....

Check out War Stories!'
B-52 Stratofortress;
Rolling Thunder: North Vietnam;
Downtown Hanoi; Guam to Nam!

1966 B-52 Arc Light [video]/Young Tiger First Unit Deployment

Read One Magic Moment: about the last B-52 shot down over North Vietnam.

B-52 Cammied

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