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MORE UNTOLD STORIES:
Banner thumb VNAF F-5 PILOTS
Banner thumb THE LAST FLYING MISSION IN SAIGON
VNAF Photo  •TRACING LOST SHANGRILA
Banner thumbBIEN HOA CEMETERY
Banner thumbA-1H -vs- MIG17
Banner thumb VNAF AIR WAR
Banner thumb FLIGHT OF THE REBELS
Banner thumb CAUTIONARY TALE
USS Kirk USS KIRK's MISSION
Angel ARVN RANGERS
Angel ANGELS IN RED HATS
LongTan  •LONG TAN BATTLE
Horror Highway  •HORROR HIGHWAY
LongTan  •A POW STORY
Lam Son  •LAM SON 719
Ashau  •ASHAU RESCUE
NDTV Force  •PEOPLES FORCE
Vung Ro  •VUNG RO
Fighting  • FIGHTING TO THE END
Biased  • BIASED REPORTS
Bat 21  • BAT 21
Fighting  • RVN NAVY HISTORY
Carroll  • SURRENDER AT CARROLL
Betrayed  •THE BETRAYED
Village  •TO KEEP A VILLAGE FREE
Psyoperation  • SPYC. OPERATIONS
Misty  •MISTY OPERATIONS
Doctor TomDooley  •DR. TOM DOOLEY
Black April  •THE BLACK APRIL
Final Takeoff  • FINAL TAKE OFF
Flight 4 Freedom  • FLIGHT FOR FREEDOM
Myth of Trang Bang  • TRANG BANG'S MYTH
Dakseang  •FAREWELL DAK-SEANG
Duc Hue  •DUC HUE's BATTLE
An Loc  •BATTLE OF AN LOC
Paracel  •PARACEL'S BATTLE
Paracel  •BATTLE OF XUAN LOC
Lawrence  •VIETNAM'S LAWRENCE
Son Tay  • SON TAY RAID

UNTOLD STORY section - vnafmamn.com

    You are viewing the first Untold Story, "VINH BIET SAIGON" (Farewell Saigon). The original version of the story about the VNAF Tinh Long 07 that formerly appeared on this page had been put together long ago from different sources. However, the chaotic event of April 29, 1975 was recently clarified by better eyewitness accounts and the updated story appears below. We do know for sure that there were at least three VNAF C-119 aircraft that crashed in the vicinity of Saigon on the morning of that fateful day. More untold stories of the Vietnam War will be added in the future. All the untold stories are listed on the left column of this page; we hope you enjoy reading them.

farewell
PAINTINGS SALUTING THE FALLEN HEROES
TruongPhung Tinh Long Tinh Long

It was on April 29, 1975, one day before South Vietnam ceased to exist as a country, that a desperate aerial struggle was taking place above Saigon. A lone, twin-prop AC-119K gunship piloted by Lt. Thanh "Cambodge," so nicknamed because he had dark skin like Cambodians, and Lt. Tao Thuan of the 821st Attack Squadron had been in the air all night defending the Tan Son Nhut Air Base perimeter against North Vietnamese forces. Early that morning, the AC-119K had to land in order to refuel and re-arm its two 20 mm cannon and four Miniguns that were spewing devastating firepower against the enemy. The 821st Operations Officer, Lt. Col. Chung, asked the AC-119K crew not to take off again, but the airmen insisted on resuming their solo aerial fight

AC-119K photo

The plane soon took off again and sometime later it was joined by two A-1H Skyraiders belonging to the 514th Fighter Squadron out of Binh Thuy Air Base. The lead plane was piloted by Maj. Dinh Van Son and his wingman was Lt. Thai Ngoc Tuong Van. These three aircraft then worked together to repeatedly strafe the NVA and VC troops that were advancing on Tan Son Nhut and defended the base the best they could. Lt. Thanh flew his gunship high above the two Skyraiders, dropping flares and firing tracers to indicate targets for the fighters because there was no forward air control plane to do so.

About 7 a.m., the valiant effort by the crew of the AC-119K was suddenly halted by an SA-7 Strella shoulder-fired missile. While the gunship was flying at about 3,000 feet, the missile scored a direct hit and severed one of the tail-booms, causing the aircraft to burst into flames and spiral downward. One of the plane's gunners, Sgt. Son, managed to bail out, but the canopy of his parachute got caught in the tail of the AC-119K, and he and the other crew members plunged to their deaths with the crippled aircraft. Lt. Tuong Van, in his Skyraider, had just completed a bombing run when he saw the large plane break up in the air and crash. Despite the loss, Van and Maj. Son continued to press their attacks until they no longer had ammunition. Both pilots lived to see another day and later settled in the U.S. During the same time the fight above Tan Son Nhut was taking place, Maj. Truong Phung and Capt. Phuc of the 518th Fighter Squadron were flying two other Skyraiders over the southwest part of Saigon for a close air-support mission in the Cu Xa Phu Lam area. Capt. Phuc, acting as Maj. Phung's wingman, had the interesting nickname of "Oi," which means "to throw up," since he often did so when first learning to fly.

The two A-1s worked together to repeatedly strike the advancing troops, but Maj. Truong Phung's plane was eventually hit by another SA-7 Strella missile and plummeted to the ground, killing him. Capt. Phuc continued fighting alone, strafing the enemy until all his ammunition was expended. Phuc then flew to Tan Son Nhut Air Base and landed his Skyraider; he survived that fateful day and is currently living in central California.

From a tactical point of view, these missions were pointless. The involved aviators knew they would not able to stop the enemy forever, and they were fully aware that their country was lost. Still, they chose to take a stand and defend their beloved South Vietnam to the bitter end. They could have left the desperate situation and headed immediately for Thailand, like so many did in those final days, but they did not. They did far more than their duty and some of these gallant airmen paid the highest price for doing so.
(Source: vnaf.net)