ON THIS DAY 1965: Third Big Air Strike in Vietnam

Archive front page: Evening News 12 Feb 1965

Archive front page: Evening News 12 Feb 1965 - Credit: Archant

As part of a new daily online series we look back on what was making the news on this day in Norfolk. Today, we look at the Eastern Daily Press page of February 12th, 1965.

More than 150 U.S. and South Vietnamese planes yesterday blasted two targets in North Vietnam with tons of bombs in the third big reprisal strike this week. Three U.S. Navy jets were lost.

A U.S. military spokesman in Saigon said that over 100 U.S. Navy jets from three carriers steaming in the South China sea raided a military barracks area in Chanh Hoa, about 160 miles north of the 17th parallel.

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The U.S. Navy's top supersonic plane, the F-4 Phantom, took part in the air strikes for the first time. The military spokesman said according to preliminary reports the strikes were quite successfull. The Navy also sent in Skyraiders, Skyhawks - known as bantam bombers - and Crusaders. A Skyhawk, a Crusader and a Skyraider dive-bomber were lost.

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One of the planes landed at a South Vietnam base when two of its bombs became stuck. The aircraft blew up after the pilot had managed to escape. Ninety minutes after the Navy strike, 28 U.S. Air Force 5-100 Super Sabres and f-105 Thunderchiefs, with an equal number of South Vietnamese Skyraiders, dropped 80 tons of bombs on a barracks area at Chap Li, about 40 miles north of the border.

Six damaged

None of the planes in the second wave were lost, although six Vietnamese Skyraiders were damaged by small-arms fire. The three planes which were lost came from the carrier Coral Sea. The pilots of two were saved, but the third is listed as missing. He was identified as Lieut-Cmdr Robert H Schumaker. Hanoi Radio claimed earlier that a pilot of that name had been captured.

The U.S. spokesman in Sargon said the attacks followed a series of aggressive Communist actions including the attack on U.S. military billet in Qui Nhon, in which 12 Americans and Vietnamese were killed and more than 40 wounded or missing.

In Washington, Mr George Reedy, Presidential Press Secretary, told reporters that President Johnson had ordered the latest retaliatory raids at the end of a meeting of the National Security Council. The President spent a restless night. He woke on at least four occasions in the early hours and called the situation room in the White House basement for a briefing.

The President has been in close personal touch with Mr Wilson during the Vietnam crisis and has talked to him over the direct line between the White House and Whitehall.

Increased Alert

Britain supports the attitude and action of the U.S. and is unlikely to accept the proposal in the motion tabled by 50 Labour MPs that she should take the initiative in seeking a cease-fire and a political settlement. The U.S. Tactical Air Command has been on increased alert since last Sunday because of the crisis, an Air Force spokesman disclosed yesterday.

The new alert status became known as San Francisco echoed to the roar of at least 35 huge B-52 jet bombers and KC-135 jet tankers flying on a course which could take them over the great circle rout to Tokyo and Saigon.

Colonel Rodger Howard, Commander of a Strategic Air Command detachment at nearby Travis Air Force Base reported; 'Elements of the Fifth Bomb Wing at Travis are participating in a classifed Strategic Air Command operational training exercise.'

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