South Vietnamese Regional Force
During the Vietnam War, the South Vietnamese Regional Forces were Army of the Republic of Vietnam militia. Recruited locally, they fell into two broad groups - Regional Forces and the more local-level Popular Forces. In 1964, the Regional Forces were integrated into the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and placed under the command of the Joint General Staff. Fielded as village-level or province-level defence forces, these units were militia-men while working part or full-time. Given the worse equipment available, they served as a front-line force against armed attacks but were marginalised and demoralised during the American-intervention, as ARVN Regular Forces were relegated to guarding duty. Following Vietnamization these units once again came back to prominence as they became better trained and tasked with carrying out wider area operations despite lacking artillery and air support, they would serve as front-line provincial defence units while Regular Forces were deployed against conventional People's Army of Vietnam forces, grew to number 250,000 by 1974.
The concept of Regional and Popular Forces is in-line with countering the Local Force and Main Force structure of the Viet Cong as they lacked firepower support, while the ARVN Regular Forces fought the PAVN. Local militia came to play a effective role in the war, as the style of small-unit warfare was better suited for guerrilla conflicts with most more familiar with the region and terrain. Despite being poorly paid, these forces were much more capable at detecting infiltration and holding civilian areas. Accounting for an estimated 2-5% of war budget, they were thought to have accounted for 30% of casualties inflicted upon VC/NVA throughout the entire war. Part of this derives in these units being more capable of engaging in small-unit, highly-mobile tactics which proved difficult for slow-moving equipment-heavy units. During the early 1960s the Regional Forces manned the country-wide outpost system and defended critical points, such as bridges and ferries. There were half of them in the Mekong Delta region.
Regional Forces played a key role in regional security in the early phase of the war, while RF/PF members were marginalised and side-lined during the American-intervention as Regular Force Army of the Republic of Vietnam Units were relegated to guarding bases and areas, badly affecting morale and purpose. When U. S. forces began to withdraw from South Vietnam during 1969 and the ARVN began the task of fighting the communist main force units, Regional Forces took on a new importance. For the first time, they were deployed outside their home areas and were sometimes attached to ARVN units. By 1973 the Regional Forces had grown to 1,810 companies, some of which were consolidated into battalions. Charged with local defense under provincial government control, they were too armed and equipped, marginally trained, lacked the unit cohesion to withstand attack by regular People's Army of Vietnam units supported by tanks and artillery. Most forces were subdued, retreated or were destroyed during the Easter Offensive
Republic of Vietnam Military Forces
The Republic of Vietnam Military Forces, were the official armed defense forces of South Vietnam, a state that existed from 1955 to 1975 in the southern half of what is now Vietnam. The RVNMF was responsible for the defense of South Vietnam since the state's independence from France in October 1955 to its demise in April 1975; the QLVNCH was formally established on December 30, 1955 by the strongman and republican first South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem, which he declared on October 26 that year after winning a rigged referendum for either making South Vietnam a constitutional monarchy, or a presidential republic. Created out from ex-French Union Army colonial Indochinese auxiliary units, gathered earlier on July 1951 into the French-led Vietnamese National Army – VNA, Armée Nationale Vietnamiènne in French, the armed forces of the new state consisted in the mid-1950s of ground and naval branches of service, respectively: Army of the Republic of Vietnam Republic of Vietnam Air Force Republic of Vietnam Navy Republic of Vietnam Marine Division Their roles were defined as follows: to protect the sovereignty of the free Vietnamese nation and that of the Republic.
Cambodian Civil War First Indochina War Khmer National Armed Forces Laotian Civil War Royal Lao Armed Forces Republic of Vietnam Air Force Republic of Vietnam Navy Republic of Vietnam National Police Republic of Vietnam Marine Division South Vietnamese military ranks and insignia Vietnam People's Army Vietnamese National Army Vietnam War Weapons of the Vietnam War Gordon L. Rottman and Ron Volstad, US Army Special Forces 1952-84, Elite series 4, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1985. ISBN 9780850456103 Gordon L. Rottman and Ron Volstad, Vietnam Airborne, Elite Series 29, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1990. ISBN 0-85045-941-9 Gordon L. Rottman and Ramiro Bujeiro, Army of the Republic of Vietnam 1955-75, Men-at-arms series 458, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford 2010. ISBN 978-1-84908-182-5 Kenneth Conboy and Simon McCouaig, South-East Asian Special Forces, Elite series 33, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1991. ISBN 9781855321069 Lee E. Russell and Mike Chappell, Armies of the Vietnam War 2, Men-at-arms series 143, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1983.
ISBN 0-85045-514-6. Leroy Thompson, Michael Chappell, Malcolm McGregor and Ken MacSwan, Uniforms of the Indo-China and Vietnam Wars, Blandford Press, London 1984. ASIN: B001VO7QSI Martin Windrow and Mike Chappell, The French Indochina War 1946-54, Men-at-arms series 322, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford 1998. ISBN 978-1-85532-789-4 Phillip Katcher and Mike Chappell, Armies of the Vietnam War 1962-1975, Men-at-arms series 104, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1980. ISBN 978-0-85045-360-7 Jade Ngoc Quang Huynh, South Wind Changing, Graywolf Press, Minnesota 1994. ASIN: B01FIW8BJG Mark Moyar, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U. K. 2009. ISBN 978-0521757638, 0521757630 Neil L. Jamieson, Understanding Vietnam, The Regents of the University of California press and Los Angeles, California 1995. ASIN: B00749ZBRC Nguyen Cao Ky, How we lost the Vietnam War, Stein & Day Pub 1979. ISBN 978-0812860160, 0812860160 Tran Van Don, Our Endless War: Inside Vietnam, Presidio Press, California 1978.
ISBN 978-0891410195, 0891410198
Phan Rang Air Base
Phan Rang Air Base is a Vietnam People's Air Force military airfield in Vietnam. It is located 5.2 miles north-northwest of Phan Rang – Tháp Chàm in Ninh Thuận Province. Built by the Imperial Japanese Army about 1942, the airfield was used by the French Air Force during the First Indochina War abandoned in 1954; the United States rebuilt the airfield in 1965 and it was used by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force and the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War in the II Corps Tactical Zone of South Vietnam. It was seized by the People's Army of Vietnam in April 1975 and has been in use by the VPAF since; the airfield at Phan Rang was used by the Japanese during World War II. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the French Air Force used the same 3,500-foot runway, abandoned the facility when French control over Indochina ended in 1954. In April 1965 CINCPAC instructed an engineering survey for a new airfield at Phan Rang. In July 1965 it was planned that 3 fighter squadrons would be deployed to Phan Rang Air Base once it was completed in October.
In late-August 1965 the newly arrived US Army 62nd Engineer Battalion was ordered to build a jet-capable airfield at Phan Rang. Commencing construction in September the Army Engineers built a 10,000-foot AM-2 aluminum matting runway and open aircraft revetments. Bad weather and shortages of concrete and aluminum matting delayed the base construction, with the completion date progressively delayed to December 1965 and April 1966. With the movement of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division to Phan Rang to provide security for base construction the 62nd Engineer Battalion was required to construct a base for the 1st Brigade. While the 62nd Engineers constructed the temporary runway, American construction consortium RMK-BRJ was working on a permanent 10,000-foot concrete runway and parking areas. In January 1966 the USAF 554th RED HORSE Squadron arrived at the base to assist with construction; the temporary aluminum runway became operational on 20 February and by mid-March all the interim facilities were operational.
Heavy rain in May 1966 and rushed construction led to damage to the aluminum runway and taxiways and in June the 62nd Engineers rebuilt the taxiways while the 554th RED HORSE and RMK-BRJ rebuilt the runway, reducing its available length to 6,000-foot. The 62nd Engineers built a 46,000-barrel fuel storage area, a six-inch pipeline to the beach and two 8-inch submarine pipelines from the beach to an offshore floating mooring and discharge facility. On 12 October 1966 RMK-BMJ completed 4 connecting taxiways. By the end of the year the base was completed with powerplant and sewage system, operations and other structures; the USAF forces stationed there were under the command of the United States Pacific Air Forces Seventh Air Force. In addition, the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps had aviation and other support units stationed at Phan Rang. Due to the delays in completion of the base, the F-4C Phantom II equipped 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron was diverted from Phan Rang to Cam Ranh Air Base and the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron went to Da Nang Air Base.
On 14 March 1966 the F-4C equipped 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron arrived at the base becoming the first USAF squadron to deploy there. On 20 March 1966 the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing was the first permanent USAF organization to be stationed at Phan Rang Air Base; the rain damage to the base in May 1966 delayed the deployment of the 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron from Cam Ranh AB and the 480th TFS from Da Nang AB. The squadrons assigned to the 366th TFW during this period were: 352d Tactical Fighter Squadron: from 15 August 1966 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron Detachment 1, 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron: from 15 May 1966 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron: from 18 September 1966 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron: from 16 July 1966The US population at the base increased from 118 in March 1966 to over 4,500 in September 1966; this increase led to pressure on accommodation and maintenance facilities which were still under construction. On 10 October 1966, the 366th TFW and the 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron moved to Da Nang AB and the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing at Da Nang AB moved to Phan Rang.
On 10 October 1966 the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing took over as the host unit at Phan Rang. Units assigned to the 35th TFW were: 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 30 April 1968 – 18 April 1969 352d Tactical Fighter Squadron: 10 October 1966 – 31 July 1971 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 10 October 1966 – 8 January 1967 and 14 April 1969 – 15 March 1971 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 10 October 1966 – 31 July 1971 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 10 October 1966 – 31 July 1971 Missions included air support of ground forces, interdiction and armed reconnaissance, strike assessment photography, escort and direct air support, rapid reaction alert, it struck enemy bases and supply caches in the Parrot's Beak just inside the Cambodian border, April–May 1970 and provided close air support and interdiction in support of South Vietnamese operations in Laos and Cambodia, January–June 1971. The B-57 Canberra equipped 8th and 13th Bombardment Squadrons relocated to Phan Rang with the 35th TFW. B-57 units assigned to the 35th TFWA at Phan Rang w
1963 South Vietnamese coup
In November 1963, President Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam was deposed by a group of Army of the Republic of Vietnam officers who disagreed with his handling of both the Buddhist crisis and the Viet Cong threat to the regime. The Kennedy administration had been aware of the coup planning, but Cable 243 from the United States Department of State to U. S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. stated that it was U. S. policy not to try to stop it. Lucien Conein, the Central Intelligence Agency's liaison between the U. S. Embassy and the coup planners, told them that the U. S. would not intervene to stop it. Conein provided funds to the coup leaders; the coup was started on 1 November. It proceeded smoothly as many loyalist leaders were captured after being caught off-guard and casualties were light. Diệm was executed the next day along with his brother and adviser Ngô Đình Nhu. Diệm's road to political power began in July 1954, when he was appointed the Prime Minister of the State of Vietnam by former Emperor Bảo Đại, Head of State.
Bảo Đại disliked Diệm but selected him in the hopes that he would attract United States aid, but the two became embroiled in a power struggle. The issue was brought to a head when Diệm scheduled a referendum for October 1955, rigged by his brother Nhu, proclaimed himself the President of the newly created Republic of Vietnam, he proceeded to strengthen his nepotistic rule over the country. A constitution was written by a rubber stamp legislature which gave Diệm the power to create laws by decree and arbitrarily give himself emergency powers. Dissidents, both communist and nationalist, were jailed and executed in the thousands, elections were rigged. Opposition candidates were threatened with being charged for conspiring with the Vietnam People's Army, which carried the death penalty, in many areas, large numbers of ARVN troops were sent to stuff ballot boxes. Diệm kept the control of the nation within the hands of his family, promotions in the ARVN were given on the basis of loyalty rather than merit.
Two unsuccessful attempts had been made to depose Diệm. South Vietnam's Buddhist majority had long been discontented with Diệm's strong favoritism towards Roman Catholics. Public servants and army officers had long been promoted on the basis of religious preference, government contracts, US aid, business favours and tax concessions were preferentially given to Catholics; the Roman Catholic Church was the largest landowner in the country, its holdings were exempt from land reform. In the countryside, Catholics were de facto exempt from performing corvée labour and in some rural areas, it was claimed that Catholic priests led private armies against Buddhist villages. In 1957, Diệm dedicated the nation to the Virgin Mary. Discontent with Diệm and Nhu exploded into mass protest during mid-1963 when nine Buddhists died at the hand of Diệm's army and police on Vesak, the birthday of Gautama Buddha. In response, the US government was concerned about the possibility "for the Dim/Nhu government to succeed and for us to continue to support them."
The response by Ambassador Nolting was, "We should take it slow and easy and see if we can live with the Diem government." As a result of this potential inability to support the Diem/Nhu government, the United States government discussed a proposed coup. In a telegram to the American Embassy in Saigon, Mr. Hilsman expresses that at some point should we need "political liquidation" we should "urgently examine all possible alternative leadership and make detailed plans as to how we might bring about Diem's replacement if this should become necessary." In May 1963, a law against the flying of religious flags was selectively enforced. Many Buddhists defied a protest was ended when government forces opened fire. With Diệm remaining intransigent in the face of escalating Buddhist demands for religious equality, sections of society began calling for his removal from power; the key turning point came shortly after midnight on 21 August, when Nhu's Special Forces raided and vandalised Buddhist pagodas across the country, arresting thousands of monks and causing a death toll estimated to be in the hundreds.
Numerous coup plans had been explored by the army before, but the plotters intensified their activities with increased confidence after the administration of US President John F. Kennedy authorised the US embassy to explore the possibility of a leadership change through Cable 243, they felt Diệm's policies were making their allied regime in South Vietnam politically unsustainable. There were many conspiracies against Diệm in 1963, many by different cliques of military officers independent from one another. According to the historian Ellen Hammer, there were "perhaps as many as six and more" different plots, these spanned the gamut of society to include civilian politicians, union leaders, university students. In mid-1963, one group was composed of mid-level officers such as colonels and captains. Đỗ Mậu was in this group, coordinated by Trần Kim Tuyến, South Vietnam's director of intelligence. Tuyến had been a palace insider, but a rift had developed in recent years, he began plotting as early as 1962.
As South Vietnam was a police state, Tuyến had many contacts. Anothe
The fleur-de-lis or fleur-de-lys is a stylized lily, used as a decorative design or motif. Many of the Catholic saints of France St. Joseph, are depicted with a lily. Since France is a Catholic nation, the fleur-de-lis became "at one and the same time, political, artistic and symbolic" in French heraldry; the fleur-de-lis is represented in Unicode at U+269C in the Miscellaneous Symbols block. While the fleur-de-lis has appeared on countless European coats of arms and flags over the centuries, it is associated with the French monarchy in a historical context, continues to appear in the arms of the King of Spain and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and members of the House of Bourbon, it remains an enduring symbol of France which appears on French postage stamps, although it has never been adopted by any of the French republics. According to French historian Georges Duby, the three petals represent the three medieval social estates: the commoners, the nobility, the clergy, it remains unclear where the fleur-de-lis originated, though it has retained an association with French nobility.
It is used in French city emblems as in the coat of arms of the city of Lille, Saint-Denis, Clermont-Ferrand, Boulogne-Billancourt and Calais. Some cities, faithful to the French Crown were awarded a heraldic augmentation of two or three fleurs-de-lis on the chief of their coat of arms; the fleur-de-lis was the symbol of the core of the French kingdom. It has appeared on the coat-of-arms of other historical provinces of France including Burgundy, Picardy, Orléanais, Maine, Artois, Dauphiné, Saintonge and the County of La Marche. Many of the current French departments use the symbol on their coats-of-arms to express this heritage. In Italy, the fleur de lis, called giglio, is known from the crest of the city of Florence. In the Florentine fleurs-de-lis, the stamens are always posed between the petals. Argent on gules background, the emblem became the standard of the imperial party in Florence, causing the town government, which maintained a staunch Guelph stance, being opposed to the imperial pretensions on city states, to reverse the color pattern to the final gules lily on argent background.
This heraldic charge is known as the Florentine lily to distinguish it from the conventional design. As an emblem of the city, it is therefore found in icons of Zenobius, its first bishop, associated with Florence's patron Saint John the Baptist in the Florentine fiorino. Several towns subjugated by Florence or founded within the territory of the Florentine Republic adopted a variation of the Florentine lily in their crests without the stamens; the heraldic fleur-de-lis is still widespread: among the numerous cities which use it as a symbol are some whose names echo the word'lily', for example, Liljendal and Lelystad, Netherlands. This is called canting arms in heraldic terminology. Other European examples of municipal coats-of-arms bearing the fleur-de-lis include Lincoln in England, Morcín in Spain, Wiesbaden in Germany, Skierniewice in Poland and Jurbarkas in Lithuania; the Swiss municipality of Schlieren and the Estonian municipality of Jõelähtme have a fleur-de-lis on their coats. In Malta, the town of Santa Venera has three red fleurs-de-lis on its coat of arms.
These are derived from an arch, part of the Wignacourt Aqueduct that had three sculpted fleurs-de-lis on top, as they were the heraldic symbols of Alof de Wignacourt, the Grand Master who financed its building. Another suburb which developed around the area became known as Fleur-de-Lys, it features a red fleur-de-lis on its flag and coat of arms; the coat of arms of the medieval Kingdom of Bosnia contained six fleurs-de-lis, understood as the native Bosnian or Golden Lily, Lilium bosniacum. This emblem was revived in 1992 as a national symbol of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and was the flag of Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1992 to 1998; the state insignia were changed in 1999. The former flag of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina contains a fleur-de-lis alongside the Croatian chequy. Fleurs appear in the flags and arms of many cantons, municipalities and towns, it is still used as official insignia of the Bosniak Regiment of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the United Kingdom, a fleur-de-lis has appeared in the official arms of the Norroy King of Arms for hundreds of years.
A silver fleur-de-lis on a blue background is the arms of the Barons Digby. In English and Canadian heraldry the fleur-de-lis is the cadence mark of a sixth son. In Mauritius, slaves were branded with a fleur-de-lis, when being punished for escaping or stealing food; the Welsh poet Hedd Wyn used Fleur de Lys as his pen name when he won his chair at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, the national poetry contest. Fleurs-de-lis appear on the logos of many organizations. During the 20th century the symbol was adopted by various Scouting organizations worldwide for their badges. Architects and designers use it alone and as a repeated motif in a wide range of contexts, from ironwork to bookbinding where a French context is implied; the symbol is often used on a compass rose to mark the north direction, a tradition started
Phù Cát Air Base
Phù Cát Air Base was a United States Air Force and Republic of Vietnam Air Force facility used during the Vietnam War. It is located north of the city of Qui Nhơn in southern Vietnam. In late 1965, with the buildup of US airpower in South Vietnam, the existing air bases were becoming overcrowded. In September, plans to build an air base at Qui Nhon were suspended when the site conditions were found to be unsuitable. In January 1966 a site in Phù Cát District 24 km north of Qui Nhon was identified. In late February 1966 Military Assistance Command, Vietnam decided to build a new jet-capable base at Phù Cát. In April 1966 forces from the Republic of Korea Army Tiger Division secured the area for base construction, with the construction crews arriving in May; the Vietcong harassed construction with booby-traps and sniper fire killing 3 Korean soldiers. On 23 December 1966 USAF units began moving to the half-completed base. At this time the runway was a 3,000-foot long dirt strip while the taxiways and parking areas were covered in Pierced steel planking.
The 459th and 537th Troop Carrier Squadrons both equipped with C-7As began operations from the base on 1 January 1967. Base facilities by this time included wooden barracks, a mess hall, recreation facilities and utilities. By late March 1967 a 10,000-foot by 125-foot asphalt runway together with sealed taxiways and parking aprons had been completed. In the year a fuel line was constructed to the base from a tank facility on the outskirts of Qui Nhon; the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing began operations from the base in April 1967. The 37th TFW comprised the following F-100 equipped squadrons: 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, transferred from the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Bien Hoa Air Base Detachment 1, 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron, transferred from the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing at Phan Rang Air BaseWhile based at Phù Cát, a detachment from the 416th pioneered fast Forward Air Control operations using two-seat F-100Fs under the code-name Commando Sabre and the call sign Misty. In September 1967 a detachment from the 4th Air Commando Squadron equipped with 4 AC-47 Spooky gunships began operating from the base.
In September 1969 the 4th Air Commando Squadron ceased operating from the base and moved its forward operating base to Da Nang Air Base. On 3 February 1968 the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron was attached to the 37th TFW. On 5 May 1968 the 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron an Iowa Air National Guard unit equipped with F-100Cs deployed to Phù Cát AB. Detachment 13 of the 38th Air Rescue Squadron would be established at the base, renamed Detachment 13, 3rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group in July 1971, it would remain there until November 1971 when it was inactivated. On 13 April 1969, Detachment 1 612th TFS left the base and was replaced by the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron equipped with F-4Cs which moved from Da Nang AB. On 11 May the 174th TFS returned followed by the 355th TFS on 15 May. On 27 May the 416th TFS transferred to Tuy Hoa Air Base and the Commando Sabre Fast FACs were inactivated. On 24 June the 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron equipped with F-4Ds transferred to the base from Da Nang AB.
In November B Flight, 18th Special Operations Squadron equipped with 3 AC-119K gunships deployed to the base where they operated against supply routes in Laos. During 1969 40 concrete and steel "Wonderarch" aircraft shelters were constructed at the base. On 1 February 1970 the base was hit by a People's Army of Vietnam rocket attack killing one Airman and wounding 15 others. In March B Flight 18th SOS moved to Da Nang AB, while A Flight 17th Special Operations Squadron equipped with AC-119Gs moving from Tuy Hoa Air Base replaced them at Phù Cát AB. On 1 April the 37th TFW was redesignated as the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing. In June the 459th Troop Carrier Squadron was inactivated; the 537th Troop Carrier Squadron would be inactivated during the year with its aircraft transferred to the RVNAF. On 29 December A Flight 17th SOS was inactivated and its aircraft transferred to B Flight at Phan Rang AB. On 31 August 1971 the 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron equipped with EC-47N/Ps departed from the base.
On 8 October the 389th TFS flew its last combat mission and on 26 October its aircraft began returning to the US. On 20 October the 480th TFS flew its and the 12th TFW's last combat mission and on 17 November 1971 the 12th TFW was inactivated. On 23 December 12 Security Police Squadron was inactivated. On 1 January 1972 the base was formally turned over to the RVNAF; the 412st Transport Squadron formed at the base in 1970 operating C-7As inherited from the 537th Troop Carrier Squadron. On 17 May 1974 the base was attacked by 3rd Division; the attack was repulsed by the 263rd Battalions of the South Vietnamese Regional Forces. In mid-March 1975 Qui Nhon and Phù Cát AB were defended by the ARVN 40th Regiment and the Bình Định Regional Forces, however the 40th Regiment was soon redeployed to Khanh Duong to keep open the route for ARVN escaping from Buôn Ma Thuột; the 2nd Air Division provided air support for the 22nd Division and was trying to destroy equipment abandoned during the evacuation of Pleiku.
On the morning of 30 March the Regional Forces defending the base abandoned their positions and by afternoon the base was under attack by VC who were held back by the base security forces. With more VC gathering for renewed attacks, the base commander contacted the 92nd Air Wing at Phan Rang AB for help; the Wing commander, Colonel Le Van Thao organised a flight of 40 A-37s and they carried out
South Vietnam Air Force
The South Vietnam Air Force the Republic of Vietnam Air Force was the aerial branch of the Republic of Vietnam Military Forces, the official military of the Republic of Vietnam from 1955 to 1975. The VNAF began with a few hand-picked men chosen to fly alongside French pilots during the State of Vietnam era, it grew into the world's sixth largest air force at the height of its power, in 1974. It is an neglected chapter of the history of the Vietnam War as they operated in the shadow of the United States Air Force, it was dissolved in 1975 after the Fall of Saigon. In March 1949, Emperor Bảo Đại requested that the French help set up a Vietnamese military air arm. Pressure was maintained with the assistance of Lt. Col. Nguyễn Văn Hinh, who had flown the B-26 Marauder with the French Air Force during the Second World War. In March 1952, a training school was set up at Nha Trang, the following year two army co-operation squadrons began missions flying the Morane-Saulnier MS.500 Criquet light aircraft.
In 1954, the French allocated a number of Dassault MD.315 Flamant armed light transports to the inventory of this Vietnamese air arm. Vietnamese pilot trainees began to be sent to France for more advanced training. In May 1954, with the fall of Dien Bien Phu, the position of France changed, on January 31, 1955, the Vietnam Air Force was inaugurated; the RVNAF consisted of 58 aircraft and about 1,300 personnel. Aircraft consisted of C-47 Skytrains, Grumman F8F Bearcats. French instructors for pilots and mechanics remained until late 1956, transferred 69 F8F Bearcat aircraft to the VNAF, which throughout the late 1950s were the main strike aircraft. In May 1956, by agreement with the South Vietnamese government, the United States Air Force assumed some training and administrative roles of the RVNAF. Teams from Clark Air Force Base began in 1957 to organize the RVNAF into a model of the USAF when the French training contracts expired. Unlike the ARVN, the VNAF was an all-volunteer service, remaining so until its demise in 1975.
The VNAF recruiting center was located at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Recruits were given a screening test, followed by a physical examination. Basic requirements for service in the VNAF was to be a Vietnamese citizen. S. 9th grade education for airmen. If a volunteer met all the qualifications, the recruit was sent to basic training at the ARVN training base at Lam Song. Non-commissioned officer training was held at Bien Hoa Air Base. After two months of training, or four months for aviation cadets, the recruit was given an aptitude test and progressed to specialized technical training. From there, he was sent to one of the ARVN wings for journeymen training. Aviation cadets pursued three additional months of specialized training after completing their initial four-month training course; some were sent to the United States for advanced pilot training while non-rated officers pursued training in South Vietnam for their non-flying assignments. This training lasted about nine months, whereupon a cadet served in an operational unit for about a year before receiving a commission as a second lieutenant.
Women served in the VNAF. The Women's Armed Forces Corps was formed to fill non-combat duties beginning in December 1965. Women were assigned to VNAF wings, the Air Logistics Wing, performing duties as personnel specialists and other administrative roles. During the final 1975 offensive, it was not a case of a massive collapse; the ARVN forces in Long Khánh were fighting to the death. A cooperative effort between the ARVN and the VNAF enabled ARVN troops there to hold on. CH-47 helicopters brought in 193 tons of artillery ammunition over two days. A-1 Skyraiders flew in and C-130 Hercules transports dropped massive 15,000-pound daisy cutter bombs on enemy positions. Flying against intense antiaircraft fire, they took a heavy toll on the NVA divisions around Xuân Lộc. On 28 April at 18:06 three A-37 Dragonflys piloted by former VNAF pilots who had defected to the Vietnamese People's Air Force at the fall of Danang, dropped 6 Mk81 250 lb bombs on the VNAF flightline at Tan Son Nhut Air Base destroying several aircraft.
VNAF Northrop F-5s were unable to intercept the A-37s. At dawn on 29 April the VNAF began to haphazardly depart Tan Son Nhut Air Base as A-37s, F-5s, C-7s, C-119s and C-130s departed for Thailand while UH-1s took off in search of the ships of the U. S. Task Force 76 offshore. At 08:00 Lieutenant General Trần Văn Minh, commander of the VNAF, 30 of his staff arrived at the American DAO Compound, demanding evacuation; this signified the complete loss of command and control of the VNAF. Some VNAF aircraft did stay to continue to fight the advancing NVA however. One AC-119K gunship from the 821st Attack Squadron had spent the night of 28/29 April dropping flares and firing on the approaching NVA. At dawn on 29 April two A-1 Skyraiders began patrolling the perimeter of Tan Son Nhut at 2500 feet until Maj. Trương Phùng, one of the two Skyraider pilots was shot down by an SA-7. At 07:00 the AC-119K "Tinh Long" flew by Lt. Trang van Thanh was firing on NVA to the east of Tan Son Nhut when it was hit by a SA-7 missile, fell in flames to the ground.
Sgt. Son, one of the AC-119K gunners tried to escape but his chute tangled in the tail of the airplane. Despite sporadic artillery and rocket fire, Binh Thuy Air Base remained operational throughout 29 April and on the morning of