Walkabout: A spontaneous journey through the wilderness of one’s choosing in an effort to satisfy one’s itchy feet, a need to be elsewhere, the craving for the open road, that space over the horizon…yes… something like that… you can’t quite touch it so you have to go find it because it’s you just know it’s there…Or maybe it just feels good to go walking around …
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Why go to The Plain of Jars?
Why should I go to The Plain of Jars in Laos?
Here is the answer:
First, a little background…..
My father was a saver. He saved every piece of paperwork he received in his 24 years of service in the USAF. I have spent many, many hours reading, organizing, filing and putting everything into chronological order. He never talked about what he was doing in Thailand. But I found a map and started researching. And reading. And asking questions. Searching Google and Wiki. I finally figured out what in the hell he was doing over there.
7 June 1966 – Appointed Deputy Staff Office Top Secret Control officer in Osan, Korea.15 June 1966 – Notified via Special Order of reassignment to flying duties in C-47 aircraft.8 August 1966 – Transferred from Osan, Korea to Udorn, Thailand. Top Secret.
I have spent hundreds of hours on the web searching and have bought and read numerous books on the secret war in Laos.
If you spend time searching Google or Wiki for these key words: “Dogpatch”, “Moonbeam”, “Alley Cat”, “Airborne Command and Control”, “RC-47D”, “Operation Steel Tiger”, “Operation Barrel Roll”, “Operation Half Moon”, “Cricket”, “Vang Pao”, “Long Tieng”, “CIA Laos 1966”, “Butterflys”, “Ravens” – you will get an idea of what was going on over Laos in 1966.
For example, this is an excerpt from Wiki about Operation Barrel Roll :
“Barrel Roll was one of the most closely held secrets and one of the most unknown components of the American military commitment in Southeast Asia. Due to the ostensible neutrality of Laos, guaranteed by the Geneva Conference of 1954 and 1962, both the U.S. and North Vietnam strove to maintain the secrecy of their operations and only slowly escalated military actions there. As much as both parties would have liked to have publicized their enemy’s own alleged violation of the accords, both had more to gain by keeping their own roles quiet.”
I have searched many blogs and user groups and asked many questions. I received the following response from a Yahoo user group about some of my questions:
>>Fishbike53, read the following information word for word all the way to the end. You will find some interesting info about C-47’s in 1966.
Ø > SYNOPSIS: On July 19, 1966, an RC47D aircraft departed Udorn Airfield in
> > Thailand en route to Sam Neua, Laos. The crew aboard the aircraft
> > included Capt. Robert E. Hoskinson, pilot; Maj. Galileo F. Bossio, 1Lt.
> > Vincent A. Chiarello, Capt. Bernard Conklin, 1Lt. Robert J. Di Tommaso,
> > SSgt. James S. Hall, TSgt. John M. Mamiya and TSgt. Herbert E. Smith,
> > crewmen. The aircraft was an unarmed RC47D Command and Control airship
> > (Dogpatch 2).
> > When the aircraft was 10-20 miles south of Sam Neua, it was attacked by
> > enemy fighters. Radio contact was lost and the families were initially
> > told there was no further word of the plane or crew – that they had all
> > been lost on an operational mission in North Vietnam.
> > It was later learned, however, that at least one, possibly two
> > parachutes were observed in the air from persons on the ground, and the
> > loss had occurred not in North Vietnam, but at 201200N 1041700E, which
> > is in Laos.
> > Primary objective of the C-47 in Laos at that point in the war was
> > visual reconnaissance. American forces worked closely with CAS (CIA)
> > primarily to weaken the communist supply link to South Vietnam via the
> > “Ho Chi Minh Trail”. This particular plane, however, was working in
> > support of the CIA’s secret indigenous army which was attempting to
> > prevent a communist takeover in Laos.
> > The crewmembers on these missions were normally highly trained in
> > electronic surveillance techniques as well as versed in codes and
> > languages. Accordingly, and as “there was no war in Laos”, certain
> > details of the mission, such as the precise location of loss, were
> > originally distorted. Later reports indicate that some of the crew
> > survived the attack on July 29, 1966. According to a March, 1974 list
> > published by the National League of Families of POW/MIAs, Bossio
> > survived the incident and was missing in Laos. One 1971 report states
> > that as many as 5 of the crew were captured. Chiarello and Di Tommaso
> > were identified as survivors by Capt. Adair of Project Dogpatch. U.S.
> > Air Force records still reflect the loss as having occurred in North
> > Vietnam.
> > Related information (edited for grammar) below provided by Keith
> > Rohring:
> > This RC-47D was ‘bristling’ with electronics – the mission was
> > essentially to fly near the Ho Chi Minh Trail at precise dates and times
> > to pick up Hmong tribes people’s broadcasts of who was on the trail,
> > when, where, and how many. . .
> > Some team members of the SOG team were land based, operating along the
> > Trail, in Cambodia etc, leaving these gizmo-radios for the Hmong to use
> > to transmit, with a calendar of when they were to send. . . The
> > ‘observer’ status was unofficial, as there were folks who were traveling
> > onboard mission flights to become acclimatized to what was going on –
> > Chiarello and Cooperman were in an intelligence outfit – working at the
> > end of the Udorn runway in a shack at the time.
> > That’s where they were when the coin flip occurred. . . There are 8
> > names on Panel 09 around line 85 that were onboard that flight –
> > Chiarello was the odd man – the others were assigned to “chairs” as
> > crew, navigators, listeners, and charters of traffic. Of course,
> > everyone on these flights got their ‘flight pay’ – if qualified) –
> > combat pay and tax exemption – normally, C-47 crews based in Thailand
> > would make trips into South Vietnam to get their tax exemption – if
> > based and flying in Thailand alone; there was none of the above, just
> > regular flight pay.
So on July 19,1966, a C-47 flown by Capt. Hoskinson was performing Command and Control activity out of Udorn, Thailand, and was shot down over Sam Neua, Laos. On June 15, a month before Capt. Hoskinson’s plane was shot down, my father was notified that he was being sent to Udorn to do the same mission. On August 10 , 21 days after Hoskinson was shot down, my father was in Udorn and getting into a C47 and headed over the Plain of Jars in Laos to perform a similar mission.
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This is why I am headed to the Plain of Jars. To travel overland some what he flew over.