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War Stories

Amazing Scout Pilots

John Spencer

F Troop Commander February to August 1972

Not long after I took command of F Troop we were asked to support a CIA mission to locate a North Vietnamese Hospital in III Corps. Our CIA contact was an operative code named Felix. We set up a meeting with Felix and he gave us much info on just where he thought the hospital might be located. It was underground and would be difficult to find.

On the morning of the mission I was slated to fly with Ron Radcliffe as the right seat in his LOH. Following our route into the search area was to be a ARVN motorized column.

As we neared the search area we flew close to a tree line at NOE. Suddenly there was an explosion very near the LOH. Scared the hell out of me as it was just outside my side of the aircraft. I asked Ron what he thought it could have been and he remarked, "Claymore but turned the wrong way." Seems as though the NVA couldn't understand the directions for setting them up.

We continued on the search when suddenly Ron whipped the LOH around in a 360 degree turn. I asked him what was going on and he stated that he had seen a bloody rag draped over a bush. When he got the LOH back around the rag was gone. From this we knew we had found the approximate location of a hole but still couldn't see it.

We dropped smoke and soon the RVN lead elements closed in, found the entrance and began putting tear gas down in the hole. This led to the discovery of other entrances and air holes and soon an entire hospital staff poured out.

We had to leave as we were getting low on fuel but later learned that an entire NVA hospital with doctors, nurses, electric generators, medicines, etc, were found at the location. It was very sophisticated.

I tell this little store to illustrate how good our Scout Pilots were at finding things. I feel sure that the D Troop Scouts were every bit as good and some of them became part of the F Troop family.