The Squqdron That Never Was Charles Schleininger corsair email@example.com
"So ultra-secret was VO-67 that when
some of its members applied for
veterans compensation, they were told
their unit never existed. For 3 decades the
squadron was, seemingly, a non-entity. ...
VO-67 - the "O" stood for observation -
was formed at NAS Alameda, California,
on February 15, 1967 ... Its mission: to
implant sensors along the ... Ho Chi Minh
Trail in order to detect the movement of ...
convoys & troops so that other units could
strike them. ... VO-67 was an "interim
solution" until USAF F-4 Phantoms could
be modified to carry & deliver the special
sensors with accuracy.
The squadron flew a dozen ASW SP - 2E
Neptunes, designated OP - 2Es, modified
for low level, high-speed operations. Its
search radar, large fiberglass dome &
MAD gear with its sizeable, aft fiberglass
boom was removed & the hydraulic
system modified so that pressure could
be shut off in case of battle damage. Heavy
armor plating was added along with 2,
underwing SUU - 11 6-barrell miniguns, 2
aft station mounted M-60 machine guns,
radar detection electronics & an aft chaff
dispenser. Special bomb bay racks
carried acoubuoys (modified sonobuoys)
while multiple wing racks accommodated
seismic sensors (ADSIDS). The sensors
& acoubuoys were camouflaged as
jungle green plants & implanted along
the Trail as well as around a key allied
base at Khe Sanh ...
... because the Navy no longer had a
bombsight for straight & level bombing ... a
dozen WWII ... Norden bombsights were ...
installed. Retired Norden technicians
refurbished the sleights & a retired USAF
bombardier helped train the aircrew.
Yellowed manuals & brittle training films
from yesteryear also helped.
... All pilots & most copilots were qualified
as plane commanders. The third pilot
qualified as bombardiers. A mix of
experienced & newly graduated NFOs
were assigned as navigators. ... They
trained ... in Florida, Panama & California.
The Neptunes departed Alameda
November 16, 1967 ... to their ...
destination, Nakon Phanom Royal Thai
VO-67 flew its first combat mission on
November 25th. Sensors had to be
planted with pinpoint accuracy. Missed
drops necessitated re-flying ... . Orbiting
EC-121s monitored the sensors &
relayed detected ... movements to the
Infiltration Surveillance Center that
enabled TF Alpha to call in strike aircraft.
Typically, an OP_2E flew at 12,000 feet to
the target area ... jinked down to 2,500
feet where it leveled off, dropped the
string of sensors & made a jinking
high-powered climb back to altitude ... For
acoubuoy implants, the OP_2Es
approached the target at tree-top level,
popped up to 500 feet, released, dropped
back down & sped to a relatively safe
area before executing a jinking climb
back to 12,000 feet. ...
There were casualties. CDR D. Olsen's
Crew 2 was lost on January 11th, 1968 &
CDR G. Hayden Crew 5 on February 17th,
shot down ... CDR P. Milius (Crew 7) was
hit on February 27th with one crewman, J.
Hartzheim killed instantly. CDR Milius ...
controlled the Neptune until his crew ...
bailed out. he was never seen to hit the
silk, Milius was presumed KIA . Years
later, ... was awarded the Navy Cross
posthumously. An Aegis Guided Missile
Destroyer (DDG-69) is named after him.
VO-67 was disestablished in June 1968
& the ... missions were transferred to
CAPT M. R. Schultz, CHC, USNR (Ret.) -
Wings of Gold - Fall 99
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