More About FACs
A Shau Valley
Close Air Support
Hammer 51 Rescue
Search for Jolly 23
The Sunken Sampan
January 1968, III Corps
Joe Sowa in O-1 51-4653
© Joe Sowa
FAC Joe Sowa, Jade 03, noticed something unusual while on a visual
reconnaissance mission northeast of Bien Hoa in 1968.
Because of his sharp eye and curiosity, he was able to obtain some
Here are his story and bomb damage assessment (BDA) photos.
Definitions of some terms and abbreviations have been added in
brackets "[ ]." Otherwise, the words are his.
Dong Nhai river northeast of Bien Hoa. Late January 1968, just
before TET got started.
I found this river crossing and spotted something in the water along
the river bank.
It's the nose of a boat sunk to hide it underwater so they can use it
during the night.
Turned out there were several being camoflaged the same way.
Normal thought would have been to put a strike on it right away.
I played it cagey and took a chance on a
Skyspot [radar-directed bombing technique]
for that night. Two Huns [F-100s] put 8 bombs on the river crossing with spectacular results. Got their attention.
Sunken sampan discovered by Joe Sowa,
Dong Nhai River (1968) © Joe Sowa
I figured the charlies would be doing their business around midnight so I requested a Skyspot for that time on the south side of the crossing.
We all know that Skyspots were likely to be anywhere from a few hundred to a klick [kilometer] off target.
So, when I went to BDA this strike early the next morning, I didn't expect to see a direct hit.
BDA photo taken the morning after bombing mission.
Note that the road has been used after the bombing.
Click on image for larger view. © Joe Sowa
Several storage pits had apparently blown up.
The resulting fire exposed trenches and fighting positions along the
There was lots of debris strewn about, like mortar base plates and
I can't recall what the black ring was. Appears to be a large
The road is well used, as you would expect it to be before the big
TET attack. Sometimes everything goes like its supposed to.
Joe Sowa, Jade03
Joe Sowa (right) watches Jay Cappel prepare to take-off
in an O-1 from Nui Dat
RVN (1968) © Joe Sowa
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