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View from the Front: Vietnam

Rounding out the headlines from the latest news from Southeast Asia is this series of reports of varied Navy activity in Vietnam. ALL HANDS continues to report the background story that comes directly from Navy ships and units on the scene.

Scratch Two Migs

Commander Harold L. Marr is handy with scissors, as he proved recently in the skies over North Vietnam. In this case, of course, the scissors were not the clothripping kind, but a nickname for a type of dogfight maneuver, which usually results in the ripping up of one of the aircraft involved.

It happened about 31 miles north of Haiphong, when four Mig-17s attacked a flight of F8 Crusaders from the carrier USS Hancock (CVA 19). Chalk up a Mig for CDR Marr.

The four Crusaders were flying combat air patrol, protecting A4 Skyhawks bombing the Dai Tan military complex, when the Migs came at them.

As the Migs made a low run attack from below the Crusaders, the Navy flyers broke into their formation, and there ensued a three- or four-minute dogfight, with all eight jets turning and twisting at high speeds.

CDR Marr got the advantage of one of the Migs, and launched his Sidewinder missiles at him. The first missed the mark, but the second sent the Mig crashing to the ground.

Then CDR Marr found himself astern a second Mig. Having run out of Sidewinders, be began firing his 20mm cannon at the enemy fighter. He later reported that he was chewing on the Mig's starboard wingtip when he ran out of ammo and had to return to the ship.

If CDR Marr's wingman, Lieutenant (jg) Philip V. Vampatella, was disappointed in not getting one of the Migs himself, his disappointment was not to last long. Less than two weeks later, he got one of his own.

His was one of four F8 Crusaders flying protective cover for the pilot of a downed F8 photo plane. Vampatella's Crusader was hit by ground fire, which tore off part of his plane's tail section.

With his aircraft damaged, Vampatella started back to Hancock. Meanwhile, four Mig-17s attacked the Crusaders that remained over the downed flyer. Hearing the alert, Vampatella turned back.

Although his plane was badly damaged, and difficult to control at high speed, he remained in the fight until his fuel was so low that he could stay no longer.

As he broke away and headed back to the ship, one of the Migs trailed him. Vampatella went to afterburner, and finally saw the pursuing aircraft make a turn to the left, giving up the chase.

At this point, Vampatella turned his Crusader to a firing position, and let loose a Sidewinder missile, which went up the tail pipe of the Mig, leaving it burning and trailing smoke in a steep descending turn.

Vampatella then returned to his ship.

CATMEN of USS Oriskany hook up catapult bridle as a plane is readied for mission. Below: BIG BIRD GOES HUNTING - P5 Marlin takes off near tender USS Salisbury Sound to patrol Vietnamese coast.


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