Wednesday, May 26, 2010

USAF at Ubon Thailand RTAFB - Vietnam War Era

Thanks Michael, formerly of the Royal Australian Air Force at Ubon, for these Vietnam War Era photographs! They say a lot...and maybe we can help write the history books!

Royal Australian Air Force use of Ubon

On 31 May 1962 the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) sent a detachment of eight CAC-27 Sabre fighters to Ubon RTAFB. This detachment was later expanded and designated as No. 79 Squadron. The Australian facilities were known as RAAF Ubon.

The mission of No. 79 Squadron was to assist the Thai and Laotian governments in actions against communist insurgents during the early years of the Vietnam War. With the deployment of United States Air Force fighters to Ubon, the unit also performed joint exercises and provided air defense for the USAF attack aircraft and bombers based at Ubon.

No. 79 Squadron did not, however, fly any operations over nearby Cambodia, South Vietnam or Laos. The unit's strength during the entire period was about 150-200 men.

Sir Edmund Hillary visited the base on 25 January 1967.

The Squadron lost Sabre A94-986 aircraft due to engine failure at 1043h on 3 January 1968. The aircraft crashed on approach into farms outside the town (1.2 nautical miles from the runway at 249 degrees true). The pilot, Pilot Officer Mark McGrath was killed. A three year old Thai girl named Prataisre Sangdang later died from burns sustained in the accident. The homes of Mr Nuan, Mr Krasam, Mr Thongkam and Mr Tue were totally destroyed. That of Mr Sok was partly destroyed. Ten pigs belonging to Mr Sok were killed as were 15 belonging to Mr Oh. Outbuildings beloning to Mr Wiruch and to Mrs Sim were also damaged.

The Squadron re-deployed to Butterworth in Malaysia on 31 August 1968.

[edit]United States Air Force use of Ubon

From 1965 to 1974, the base was a front-line facility of the United States Air Force (USAF) during the Vietnam War. Ubon was the location for TACAN station Channel 51 and was referenced by that identifier in voice communications during air missions.

The APO for Ubon was APO San Francisco, 96304

[edit]8th Tactical Fighter Wing

The 8th Tactical Fighter Wing arrived at Ubon on 8 December 1965 from George AFB, California as part of the US deployment of forces for Operation Rolling Thunder and became the host unit.

At Ubon, the 8th TFW's mission included bombardment, ground support, air defense, interdiction, and armed reconnaissance. The operational squadrons of the 8th TFW were:

Squadron deployed from 33d TFW Eglin AFB Florida. Transferred to 432d TFW at Udorn RTAFB. Replaced by 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, also from 33d TFW 25 May 1968 - 5 July 1974 (F-4D Tail Code: FA)
McDonnell F-4D-29-MC Phantom Serial Number 66-0234 of the 476th Tactical Fighter Squadron with laser guided bombs on a mission north. This aircraft survived the war and eventually was sent to AMARC for scrapping 29 September 1989

On 23 April 1966, the 8th TFW scored its first MiG kills of the Vietnam War, shooting down two MiG-17 fighters. By the end of June 1966, after only six months in the theater, the wing had flown more than 10,000 combat sorties, achieving a 99 per cent sortie rate for which they received many commendations.

Beginning in May 1967, new F-4D aircraft from the 4th TFW at Eglin AFB were delivered to Ubon, re-equipping the 433d, 497th and the 555th TFSs. This gave the wing the distinction of being the first in Southeast Asia to be operationally equipped with F-4Ds.

In May 1968, the wing was the first to use laser-guided bombs (LGBs) in combat. During its final years of combat, the 8th TFW used B-57s for night attacks, AC-130 gunships for ground support and armed reconnaissance, and F-4Ds for fast-forward air control, interdiction, escort, armed reconnaissance, and other special missions.

After North Vietnam invaded the Republic of Vietnam in March 1972, the 8th TFW was augmented by additional F-4 units. To make room for these forces, the B-57 squadron moved to the Philippines. The wing continued combat in Vietnam until mid-January 1973, in Laos until 22 February 1973, and in Cambodia until 15 August 1973.

The last scheduled F-4 training flight occurred on 16 July 1974, and on 16 September the wing moved without personnel or equipment toKunsan AB, South Korea, where it absorbed resources of the 3d TFW.


Anonymous said...


Bill Robbins said...

To set the record straight, I, Bill Robbins, arrived at Ubon AFB with the 45th TFS on 4 April, 1965. I was assigned to the 45th A&E squadron and worked on the F-4c radar. The following is a matter of record.

In 1965, the 45th TFS was sent from their home base at MacDill to Southeast Asia. Under the command of Colonel William A. Alden, they arrived at Ubon Royal Thai AFB in Thailand on 4 April. The 45th was the first F-4 Phantom II unit to arrive in SEA. They achieved another first a little over three months later, when on 10 July 1965, two F-4C Phantoms from the 45th TFS shot down two North Vietnamese MiG-17s. This was the first U.S. Air Force aerial victory of the Vietnam War. Captain Thomas Roberts was the pilot of one of the F-4s, and Captain Ronald Anderson was his backseat Weapon Systems Officer. Captain Kenneth Holcombe with Captain Arthur Clark as WSO piloted the other F-4.

The 45th TFS left Ubon on 10 August 1965, and returned to MacDill AFB.

Ed Phillips said...

Bill Robbins is correct. The 45th TFS out of MacDill AFB FL bagged the first two MIG kills for the USAF in the Vietnam war. The 47th TFS from MacDill arrived in July 1965 and replaced the 45th TFS and continued the great job they had been doing. Both units preceded the 8th TFW at Ubon and set the stage for all that was to follow.
Ed Phillips

Steve Kirkwood said...

Please help me find a 100 Mission pilot shown in a photo with Robin Olds at Ubon. I own the photo and would like to get it to the young pilot! I can email a scan of the photo and perhaps someone will recognize the young pilot? Sincerely, Steve Kirkwood.