Butterflies (non pilot, non officer, FAC troops) who inside Air America aircraft
marked targets by dropping smoke cannisters out windows, were replaced by Project 404, the Steve Canyon Program or Ravens.
Also during the year the USAF installed a tactical air navigation system on Mt. Phou Pha Thi, Lima Site 85. Construction techs
were shuttled from Udorn to LS-85 via Swiss Pilatus Porter PC-6s.
6 Jan 1966
Maj. Gen. Charles R. Bond Jr. became Deputy Commander of the 7/13AF at Udorn.
30 Jan 1966
President Johnson orders a resumption of the bombing in North Vietnam following
a pause since 30 Dec 1965. The bombing halt was in hope of bringing the North Vietnamese to negotiations for a war's end.
555th TFS arrives. F-4C Phantom II
10 Feb 1966
Approx date, Vint Lawrence departs Long Tieng at the end of his assignment.
17 Feb 1966
5th Bn, 168th Regiment, NVA attacked and overrun Nakhang, the large staging base
north of PDJ. U.S. jets destroyed weapons, fortifications, support buildings, ammunition and POL supplies to deny the enemy
use. Napalm was used in northern Laos for the first time.
1 Apr 1966
Udorn Headquarters Command was designated as 7/13th Air Force following the establishment
of the 7th Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon.
2 Apr 1966
A detachment of the 20th Helicopter Squadron based in Nha Trang, RVN, relocated
to Udorn. This unit was equipped with CH-3 helicopters and made incursions into Laos and North Vietnam as part of the "Secret
War in Laos."
8 Apr 1966
6232nd CSG redesignated as 630 CSG, reporting directly to the Deputy Commander 7th
Air Force/13th Air Force (7/13AF) F-104Cs.
Four squadrons of F-104C aircraft of the 479th TFS were assigned to Udorn. These
were soon involved in airstrikes against targets in South and North Vietnam, exchanging its role of air superiority for that
of ground attack. The Starfighter took part in Operation Bolo which was a successful attempt to lure North Vietnamese fighters
into combat. However, the F-104s failed to engage whereas F-4 Phantoms scored heavily.
555th TFS departs to Ubon.
6 Jun 1966
435th TFS & 476th TFS arrive from Da Nang. F-104C
8 Jun 1966
Eight A-26As were deployed to Nakhon Phanom from England AFB, Louisiana under
the Big Eagle program to evaluate the A-26A as a night interdiction weapons system over Laos. Along with aircraft deployment
came 31 officers and 111 airmen and equipment, TDY for 179 days.
10 Jun 1966
Detachment 6, 1st Air Commando Wing (ACW), which had conducted Waterpump operations
since 16 March 1964, was redesignated Detachment 1, 606th Air Commando Sq., and was assigned to the newly formed Lucky Tiger
Sq. Waterpump headquarters remained at Udorn. Lucky Tiger absorbed the Waterpump detachment with no break in operational training
of pilots and maintenance personnel. Det. 1 operated from an Air America hangar at Udorn but was scheduled to receive its
own hangar with maintenance and operations facilities
16 Jun 1966
Det 15, 10th Weather Sq arrives from Hurlburt Field Florida
20 Jun 1966
Big Eagle aircrews flew their first missions and for the next four days 26 armed
reconnaissance sorties were flown during daylight with 0-1F Cricket FACs from the 23d Tactical Air Support Sq. The following
week Big Eagle assumed its primary mission of night armed reconnaissance in Central Laos
29 Jun 1966
The initial strikeon POL sites near Hanoi was conducted as F-105s hit a 32-tank
farm 4 miles from the capital. The target was completely destroyed. Also a Big Eagle B-26A and crew was lost as a result of
enemy ground fire
Theodore G. Shackley replaced Douglas Blaufarb as CIA's Vientiane Station Chief.
He was determined to change Udorn from a country store to a supermarket. He would pursue bigger weapons and more airstrikes.
Bill Lair continued to be in charge daily of the war in northern Laos while Pat Landry controlled the south. Maj. Richard
Secord of the USAF arrived to be a liason between the CIA and USAF. He was a protege of Col. Heine Aderholt of the Air Commandos.
9 Jul 1966
Rolling Thunder expanded as U.S. aircraft bombed additional POL facilities and
increased bombing of rail lines to the east and northwest of Hanoi.
22 Jul 1966
476th TFS deploy 12 additional F-104s from Da Nang.
A secret project to build a TACAN navigational aid on LS-85, "The Rock" in
Northern Laos was completed. Techs deployed from Clark AB, Philippines to Udorn with equipment for construction and were housed
downtown Udon Thani.
15 Aug 1966
45th TRS departs for Ton Son Nhut.
North Vietnamese pilots suddenly attempt to interrupt Rolling Thunder operations
by flying MiG-21s with infrared-homing air-to-air missiles from air bases at Phuc Yen, Hoa Loc, Kep, Kien An and Gia Lam.
Gen Momyer diverted F-4Cs from normal strike missions to aerial combat against the MiGs.
18 Sep 1966
Udorn is designated 432nd TRW while the 630th CSG was placed under the new wing
and redesignated 432nd CSG. The wing consisted of RF-4Cs and RF-101Cs of the 11th and 20th TRS. The two squadrons accounted
for more than 80 percent of all reconnaissance over North Vietnam. Col. Robert W. Shick becomes Commander of the newly organized
432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (TRW).
18 Sep 1966
630th CSG placed under 432nd TRW, RF-104C
18 Sep 1966
20th TRS arrives from Kadena. RF-101Cs.
A handsome 37-year-old Kao Boontiem joined the Communists in 1951 when he was
barely 21. At the time of defection and arrest in October 1966, he was in command of a guerrilla detachment of 60 armed men
operating in the vicinity of Ubon where a USAF operation exists for the purpose of daily strikes against North Vietnam. Since
his renunciation of Communism, Kao has cooperated with Thai authorities in their counter-insurgency operations in the area,
earning a personal award from province governor, Mr. Phat Bunyaratapan. Kao revealed he was provided only 3000 baht ($150)
each month to obtain food and medicine and to finance operations of his 60 guerrillas. He received orders over an agent radio
set from a headquarters in Bangkok.
15 Oct 1966
The USAF Air Attache (USAIRA) at Vientiane advised CINCPACAF that A-26s were
conducting night interdiction in Laos with an excellent degree of success. Ambassador Sullivan requested the A-26s be used
as a replacement for the AC-47s which were not yet in place.
25 Oct 1966
11th TRS arrives from Mountain Home AFB Idaho. RF-4Cs. Also at Udorn, Gen. Bond
called a planning conference because of the decision to utilize A-26s in the Barrel Roll region. The conclusion was to increase
operations in Barrel Roll in coming weeks and hit the enemy in their bivouac areas before they dispersed to attack friendly
areas in the Sam Neua Province and attack the increased vehicle traffic.
Oct - Dec 1966
Dry roads permitted NV trucks to roll into Sam Neua Province with increased numbers.
Richard Secord devised a plan to utilize Meo road watch teams commanded by Tall
Man and Red Man. The men spoke English and were experienced in calling in strikes. Operation Night Watch was
to interdict the trucks along Routes 6 and 65 with A-26 Nimrods based at Nakom Phanom. A-26s flew to Sam Neua Province nightly and their road watch teams and controllers directed aircraft to targets.
In a week's time, Nov 2 to 9, A-26s destroyed or damaged 67 trucks, four antiaircraft guns, one bulldozer and killed
384 enemy troops including 154 troops identified as North Vietnamese. Many others were wounded. Traffic was at a trickle by
10 November along Routes 6 and 65 and Meo intelligence thoght enemy ammunition and rice supplies were low with about 20 trucks
carrying the load at night in groups of five or six. Meo commanders believed the air strikes would prevent the enemy's dry-season
1 Nov 1966
Big Eagle A-26s were fragged for four sorties per night in the Barrel Roll area.
A-26s worked in tandem with F-104s, A-1Es and Meo guerrillas on the ground. Roadwatch teams passed real-time intelligence
to them about moving trucks and active truck parks along the Trail. November and December were moths when the North Vietnamese
were resupplied, strengthened and launched offensives. A-026s were flying five sorties in the Steel Tiger area.
26 Nov 1966
A-26 sorties were reduced to seven per night, four in Steel Tiger and three in
Barrel Roll. Bad weather sorties in the north were diverted to Steel Tiger.
29 Nov 1966
A large convoy of trucks was spotted by an A-26 crew in the Barrel Roll area.
Capt Billy L. Green and navigator, 1st Lt Robert L. Tidwell (Nimrod 32) were flying an armed reconnaissance mission when they
spotted truck lights about ten miles away. They discovered 15 trucks traveling southeast on Route 65 spaced at 300 meters
with lights on. A scout car and three 10-wheel trucks were destroyed as they tried to escape.
Road watch leader "Tall Man" was accidentally killed by his rear guard while
enroute to base camp. The USAF flew 447 sorties in Barrel Roll during December destroying 31 trucks. A-26s flew 20 of the
USAF missions amd were credited with 27 of the 31 vehicles reported. In Steel Tiger the USAF flew 2,546 sorties with 163 trucks
destroyed or damaged. The A-26s were credited with 99 of the kills although they flew only 175 sorties.
A-26A aircrews and support personnel began arriving PCS at Nakhon Phanom and
the detachment officially became part of the Lucky Tiger force. The 606th ACS Commander, Col Harry C. Aderholt arrived 9 December
1966 and immediately began studying ways to exploit the A-26A capability in Laos. He was also interested in integrating T-28s
into the interdiction system. By January T-28s were a part of Lucky Tiger.
25 Dec 1966
In Barrel Roll near Nong Het on Route 7, a convoy of trucks was active. Four
strafing sorties destroyed or damaged 11 trucks plus POL fires continued to burn for four hours.
26 Dec 1966
Col. Aderholt addressed the effectiveness of A-26A operations under the Big Eagle
concept. "From 1 Nov 1966 to 24 Dec 1966, A-26A aircraft of Det 1, 603d ACS patrolled in both Barrel Roll and Steel Tiger
frequently aided by direct contact with road watch teams. They attacked targets of opportunity nightly. However thiws small
unit has been unable to provide adequate covereage over operational areas throughout the hours of darkness. Road watch teams
and photo reconnaissance continue to confirm heavy enemy traffic on BR and ST routes. It is important to note that these same
sources reported complete stoppage of traffic for a short period of time on Barrel Roll routes when four A-26A sorties per
night were fragged into this area 1-12 November 1966. Intelligence reports on 13 November indicated that all traffic had stopped
after less than two weeks of harrassment by A-26A night armed reconnaissance."
American troop numbers reach 400,000 in South Vietnam. Also U.S. fighters shot
down 23 MiGs during 1966, 17 credited to the USAF while losing 9 aircraft, 5 USAF.