The mission briefer told us that Air Force legal people were available for those of us who didn’t have wills in place. Boy, what an uplifting thing to tell us !! I didn’t have a will, but I felt that getting one done would be like accepting the inevitable end result, so I chose not to have a will done. Besides, my wife and I didn’t have much in the way of assets, anyway……
As an Electronic Warfare Officer, none of my previous training or experience (100+ missions) could have prepared me for the gauntlet of SAM sites that we had to go through on the way to the target. I was trying to deal with a dozen or so SAM sites on my ECM equipment, along with numerous AAA sites as well…..and some of them were shifting frequencies as I hit them with jamming. So, I was chasing some of them up and down their frequency range and trying to avoid letting any of their signals remain uncovered, as 8 seconds of un-jammed tracking by a SAM
site was considered enough for them to calculate an intercept.
To make matters worse, the ECM equipment in our G model B-52s was definitely inferior as compared to that equipment that the D models used. Bottom line: Even with our best ECM efforts, we needed a lot of luck as well. And our bomb run tactics made matters much worse: We had to make a big turn as soon as bombs were released, which sent most of our ECM jamming signals sideways rather than down towards the SAM sites. Many of the B-52s that were shot down were hit as they made that big turn. Looking back on it, I’m surprised that we didn’t lose even more B-52s. After a few days, our superiors finally wised up and eliminated the “big turn” strategy. By that time, however, a lot of lives had been unnecessarily lost.
More from (Capt.) Johnny L. Blye
January 14, 2015