Below are several photos and
video clips from Bob Windholz's six-year Navy career, many from his tour
in Vietnam. The descriptions accompanying each photo are in Bob's own
Click on play list in order to select movie.
Video of Helicopter being lifted from the deck of USS Jouett
The helicopter in this video is removing the badly
damaged remains of Lt. Clyde E. Lassen's helicopter. Lt. Lassen earned
the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism. Pictured is LCDR John
Holtzclaw, rescued by Lt. Lassen. (Photo: National Museum of Naval
Additional footage on clip shows destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Clyde Lassen, LT(jg) Leroy Cook, Aviation Machinists Mate Third Class
Don West and Aviation Electrician Second Class Bruce Dallas. (Photo:
National Museum of Naval Aviation).
conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and
beyond the call of duty as pilot and aircraft commander of a search and
rescue helicopter, attached to Helicopter Support Squadron 7, during
operations against enemy forces in North Vietnam. Launched shortly after
midnight to attempt the rescue of two downed aviators, Lt. (then Lt.
(J.G.)) Lassen skillfully piloted
Clyde Lassen Story - Click to enlarge - ESC key to exit
his aircraft over unknown and hostile
terrain to a steep, tree-covered hill on which the survivors had been
located. Although enemy fire was being directed at the helicopter, he
initially landed in a clear area near the base of the hill, but, due to
the dense undergrowth, the survivors could not reach the helicopter.
With the aid of flare illumination, Lt. Lassen successfully accomplished
a hover between two trees at the survivors' position. Illumination was
abruptly lost as the last of the flares were expended, and the
helicopter collided with a tree, commencing a sharp descent. Expertly
righting his aircraft and maneuvering clear, Lt. Lassen remained in the
area, determined to make another rescue attempt, and encouraged the
downed aviators while awaiting resumption of flare illumination. After
another unsuccessful illuminated rescue attempt, and with his fuel
dangerously low and his aircraft significantly damaged, he launched
again and commenced another approach in the face of the continuing enemy
opposition. When flare illumination was again lost, Lt. Lassen, fully
aware of the dangers in clearly revealing his position to the enemy,
turned on his landing lights and completed the landing. On this attempt,
the survivors were able to make their way to the helicopter. En route
to the coast, he encountered and successfully evaded additional hostile
antiaircraft fire and, with fuel for only five minutes of flight
remaining, landed safely aboard U.S.S. Jouett (DLG-29). Source: Smithsonian Air & Space
After clicking the above link take a look at the comment
by Bob Winholtz below the article. He was OIC of the Security Group
Detachment on the Jouett where Clyde Lassen landed his bullet riddled
Ride Along in an EA-1"Q" Skyraider
Taking off from the USS America, CVA-66, during
Caribbean exercises in the spring of 1966. The A-1, ECM detection and
counter measures [Queen model], was one of the last models of the A-1 in
the inventory of the United States Navy or Air Force. ).
Most of the A-1s had been sent to
Vietnam for use in that conflict either by the Vietnamese themselves or
by our Navy and Air Force flying ground support missions. Electronic
detection aircraft were flown by the Navy and Air Force, primarily EB-57
depicted in such movies as BAT-21 starring Gene Hackman. The Navy had
the EA3 flown by VQ-1 out of Atsugi, Japan and detached to carriers in
the Gulf of Tonkin. Some of these aircraft are shown in my videos on the
America. The A-3 is a twin engine jet with the engines mounted on pods
on the wings and which weighs roughly 70,000 pounds. There is also an
RA-5C shown in the video, which was being used for reconnaissance
missions after its nuclear delivery role was curtailed. The A-5 was
popularly depicted in the Buzz Sawyer cartoons during the Vietnam era by
Roy Crane until his death in 1977. The RA-5C "Vigilante" is one of the
most modern aircraft designs and the Navy required, because of its cost
and sophistication, that it be flown by more senior officers, such as
Lt. Commanders (Army/USAF Major equivalent in rank).
My first recollection of landing on a carrier in the A-1
was the landing speed of about 90 knots made somewhat tense by a 30
knot wind and a ship's speed of around 25 knots. Our ground speed
approaching the "boat" was less than the speed of a car on a highway. I
was worried that we might not catch the boat!
Bob Windholz on the USS Jouett's 3 Inch Gun Turrett
The DLGs had one 3" gun, one 5" gun and a full complement of
state-of-the-art missiles. The photos and super 8 movies were made for
my wife and family to ensure that I was alright and to share in my
experience. Most servicemen in the gulf were not at risk to the same
degree as the fliers at "Yankee Station" (carrier location in the Gulf
of Tonkin) or the grunts (Marine/Navy/Army ground troops and special
forces) in-country (Vietnam). The Vietnam experience was tragic for the
Vietnamese, our country, our service people and especially for those who
did not make it back and their families. The Vietnam War search engine is a fantastic resource for finding our fallen comrades by hometown, branch of service and other database locators.
Video from 1967 Featuring the US Navy Blue Angels Flying the F11
This super 8 was taken during 1967 at Andrews Air
Force Base in Washington, DC. At the time I was assigned to the DLIEC
[Defense Language Institute East Coast] at Anacostia. At BNAO [later
NFO/Naval Flight Officer] school in Pensacola the Angels shared a hanger
with the school.
Pensacola is their home base and we
got to see them practice when they weren't performing around the world.
They are a fantastic group and from what I remember, great guys.
A Look Around the Flight Deck of The USS America Featuring a F-4 Phantom Flyby
flight operation footage from the USS America. Because of the varied
content, we will attempt to show the contents by time into the video. At
:55 an EA1-Q is shown. The white pods are where chaff—silvery material
jettisoned to confuse enemy radars—is stored. F-4s on the flight deck
are shown at :20. At :35 you can see rescue helicopters (angels). The
angels take off to monitor each launch and recovery for flight
operations. The carrier catapults are steam operated and the odds of an
error are slight (cold cat shot) but do happen. The bow (front) cat
shots are the most dangerous because of the risk of the ship going over
the plane after the errant cat shot. AT 1:05 is a shot of an RA-5C
(Vigilante). There are one or two Vigilante shots of both launches and
recoveries on other videos. From 1:31 until the end of the video there
are F-4 (Phantom) landings, one wave-off and at 2:13 an EA-3 recovery.
E-2B Hawkeye Launch, FlyBy and Recovery
US Navy had an on-board AWACS plane. It was called the E-2. The
strange-looking dome on top of the plane is a very powerful radar that
allowed the carrier task force to monitor all military activity at sea
for around 250 miles. Inside the plane's fuselage a moderately sized
crew monitors all airborne, surface and (from other sources) sub-surface
activity. It used computer technology circa 1965. I can only guess how
sophisticated these aircraft are now.
During carrier operations, to simulate war conditions,
the carrier went to EMCON (emissions control), meaning all the
electrical emitting devices were turned off. Any flight crew on air ops
could not use the normal navigational aids to find the carrier. The
carrier pilots used a mechanical nav board upon which they would plot
the carrier's course (as given in pre-flight) and the NFO would plot the
course of the aircraft to the allotted time of the hop (flight). If the
carrier maintained the announced course and the NFO didn't foul up the
plot, you got back to the carrier for a recovery. If not, a crew could
be in the deep stuff. One day we did a double cycle (four hours) and we
were set to recover after dark. We were the only plane that landed and
until we found out why, we were a bit unnerved. It seems the last launch
was canceled due to a mishap. Very strange feeling coming back to fully
lit deck and being the only plane landing.
Air Operations Featuring A-4 Skyhawk, SH-2 Sea Sprite and RA-5C Recovery
recoveries: A-4 Skyhawk landing at start of video. Another A-4 recovery
at :43 and 1:08. Finally an RA-5C recovering at 1:30. Aircraft crew
and equipment work as a well-rehearsed, carefully choreographed team.
The various functions of the flight deck crew are identified by the
colors they wear:
Yellow for deck officers
catapult officer and aircraft directors
Purple for fuel handlers
Green for catapult and arresting gear crews
Blue for chock chain runners
Red for crash and salvage teams and ordnance personnel
Launching Aircraft from the America - Up Close and Personal
Launches of the E-2 at :25; An A-1 at :30 and a bomb
loaded F-4 at :37. These videos were shot from the port catwalk off the
bow catapult. I wore the Mickey Mouse ears used by flight deck crew and
fear what might have happened if the "air boss" or "old man" got p.o.'d.
Firing of Missile from the USS Jouett
The USS Jouett had "Terrier" missiles, which were
state-of-the-art in Vietnam for at shipboard SAMs [surface to air
missiles]. On one occasion we were close to the North Vietnam coast
during bombing raids on Vinh.
After March 1968, President Johnson put
all of North Vietnam above 20 degrees North Latitude off-limits for
bombing missions. The Navy was confined to missions south of this
no-bomb latitude. A lead Navy target was Vinh. Vinh was an assembly
point for funneling arms south to the war below the DMZ. The North
Vietnamese air force used an airfield called Bai Thong for marshalling
Mig-21s for interdiction of our planes on bombing missions near Vinh.
Late in the afternoon, when missions were being conducted against Vinh,
the Migs would fly to the west and engage our aircraft when the setting
sun was behind the Migs. One afternoon an F-4 flying CAP (combat air
patrol) engaged a Mig-21. The command came from the commander at "Yankee
Station" (carrier location in Gulf of Tonkin) to "take the Mig with the
F-4. Our DLG had missiles on the rail with the Mig closing on our ship.
The probability of a shoot down of the Mig by our ship's Terriers was
around 96 percent (if my memory is correct). Ultimately the F-4 engaged
the Mig and the Mig won the day by shooting down the F-4. My own feeling
after that experience was one of sadness for the downed crew and anger
for the arrogance shown by the commander at "Yankee Station". Two fliers
were lost or captured when our missiles could have done the job without
risking two airmen. In fairness to the Yankee Station commander, I
never heard their side of the story but would love to hear that
explanation some day. The F-4 crew would have probably preferred to
engage the Mig, just like they did, knowing the risks. Our guys were
gutsy and aggressive. Maybe that's why Top Gun school was established in
A great video of air operations from inside the cockpit of an EA-1 Skyraider.
Video of air operations from inside the Cockpit of an EA-1 Skyraider/ECM/Radar Jamming/Chaff bird
carriers, not engaged in actual combat operations, constantly practice
and rehearse for war. The USS America (CVA-66) was in the Caribbean near
Puerto Rico for fleet operations/exercises. The bombs on the F-4s and
A-4s were intended for Viegas Island, Puerto Rico. Check out marine Gunny Mac's page.
Viegas made political headlines during successful efforts by local
people to stop using Viegas for a bombing range by the US Navy. The
super 8 movie camera was purchased by me on this cruise for about
$60.00. It is not claimed that these videos are of professional quality
but they do bring back memories. Commence Navy Air Operations:
Let's start with an F-4 cat shot. At :25 check out a
bird from VAW-33's detachment. No. 810 is now on permanent display at
the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. Check out the photo below on
this page taken by a prominent local judge. At :53 an A-4 gets a cat
shot. Senator John McCain was shot down over Vietnam in this type of
plane. It was a mainstay in the Israeli Air Force in the 1967 Mideast
War. At 1:12 an RA-5C, the most graceful plane in the Navy, gets a kick
in the butt. Notice the red from the after-burners kicking in. All navy
jets take off at max power or military power [1:37]. At 1:55 old number
810 gets ready for its launch. BOLTER, BOLTER, BOLTER. See a hot shot in
an F-4 miss the arresting wire at 2:45. The graceful A-1 recovers at
3:00. Launch time again. F-4, carrying a bomb load gets the catapult at
3:15 from the waist catapult. At 3:25 an RA-5C takes its turn to launch.
Inside the cockpit of our A-1 skyraider at 3:38 with an A-3 preparing
for the first launch off the bow cats first sun out. At 4:00 the angels
[rescue chopper] get off the deck. At 4:08 the A-3, all 70,000 pounds
gets a shot off the deck. 4:25, it's the A-1's turn. At 4:48 we get a
shot of "Pilot Mac", who I haven't seen in almost 40 years. Mac was a
very serious guy and great pilot. An NFO [Flight Officer] could trust
Mac. I hope he's well. Mac was an Academy grad. There was always a
Russian trawler near a carrier. They never got a free ride trying to do
their thing at 4:58. From 5:15 until the video ends, the recovery on the
America from inside the cockpit. Notice the MLS [Mirror Landing System]
on the left side of the deck at 5:58.
EA-1 Skyraider from VAW-33 autographed by Senator John McCain
John McCain was very gracious in signing this photo. Senator McCain
flew the attack version of the A-1 on his operational tour before flying
the A-4, in which he was shot down by North Vietnamese SAMS.
The A-1, called the straight six or Spad, was a
workhorse in the Korean War. It could about carry its own weight in
armament [20,000 lbs.]. It had a powerful engine [Wright R-3350-26W]
with incredible right torque on takeoff. I recall our pilots extending
their entire left foot to the rudder pedal on takeoff just to counter
the torque. The plane was brought to the fleet after WWII. It could stay
aloft for long periods and carried enough ordnance to make it very
popular with the ground troops. Napalm is a great equalizer. The attack
A-1 is seen in the "Bridges of Toko-Ri", starring William Holden and the
Vietnam era movie, "Flight of the Crusader."
EA-1F Skyraider Located at The National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida
VAW-33's aircraft ID 810 as seen in the carrier videos is on permanent
display at the museum. Just a coincidence. This photo was taken by a
dear friend who gave it to me and who came to VAW-33 a few months after I
transferred to language school in 1967. He is an attorney in Atlanta.
USS Jouett (DLG-29)
United States Navy Belknap Class Ship
North American T-2C Buckeye
first jet I ever flew in was the flight to Pensacola on July 15, 1964.
It was a commercial flight from Newark to Atlanta [my guess] and then a
flight to Florida. This was my first commercial flight. Our children
have more flights than this on jets before they reach one or two years
of age. The flight syllabus at NAO school included the EXPEDITOR
(C-45/RC-45J) (See below) and the Buckeye T-2B. We called the C-45 the
"bugsmasher" and it was generally called by that name. It was a rough
ride and for a pre-WWII plane you could understand why. It was used as a
navigational trainer. We had about 3-4 students and one instructor per
flight. All the flight instructors fought to fly the T-2. The old prop
jocks just wanted to "dogfight" and the jet jocks were bored. It was too
slow. For us it was great. It had dual sets of controls and if we were
lucky we got some stick time. In order to fly in the T-2 you had to
qualify for the OMIAS card. To get the OMIAS card it was necessary to
qualify in the ejection seat trainer and the high altitude pressure
chamber. Once you did these tests you were ready. The T-2 was used by
cadets/students who qualified for the jet program after T-34s. The best
students got the jets. The prop guys went to Whiting field and learned
to fly T-28s.
The rumor in 1964-1965 at Pensacola was that the CIA was
recruiting T-28 qualified pilots to enter into mercenary contracts to
fly for two years as civilians in some civil war in Africa. Again, this
was a rumor to us. The material quoted below may or may not corroborate
"The counterinsurgency campaign was a joint operation between the United States and Belgium,
and on much the same terms as the previous collaboration in Katanga.
President Johnson's Secretary of State Dean Rusk approved a 7 August
1964 policy paper requiring an "immediate effort...with Belgians to help
Tshombe raise gendarme-mercenary force along with bolstering whatever
force there is to hold present strong points and to start rebel roll
back." Already in progress, however, was a CIA/Defense Department
program to provide the Congolese with what the New York Times later
dubbed "an instant air force." Early in 1964, the CIA began providing
Cuban exile pilots through a Miami proprietary (Caribbean Marine Aero
Corporation) "to fly armed Italian T6 training planes against 'Muleist'
insurgents in the western Kwilu Province. By April the Defense
Department had agreed to provide six T-28 fighters, ten C-47 transports,
six H-21 heavy duty helicopters, spare parts, 100 technicians, as well
as 'several' counterinsurgency advisers!"
Victor Marchetti's book is cited in footnotes. Marchetti has an interesting CIA history. I remember the rumors; you decide.
Beech T-34 Mentor
In 1964 the Mentor was the initial aircraft in which navy pilot
trainees received instruction. Most instructors were second-tour
officers who returned to the training command after their initial
operational tour. This training took place at Saufley Field in
In the spring of 1964, having never flown in any
aircraft, my navy recruiter scheduled me for an orientation flight at
NAS Lakehurst, NJ. After some very mild aerobatics the pilot, a navy
Commander, asked me if I wanted the stick. "Sir, what's a stick?" I hate
to admit it here, but I declined. I had no idea then how stable the
T-34 is and how, with sufficient altitude, I could have tried anything
and the pilot could have undone any quagmire I created. Thank God, no
nausea. The T-34 is a great aircraft and I would fly in one any day.
Beech C-45 Kansan
We flew these at NAO school. "The Old Bugsmasher" and that's what we called them.
The 1964 Blue Angels Team
Dick Oliver gave me a tour of the Blue Angels part of the hangar shared
by NAO school and the Blue Angels. He got me this autographed photo
without my even making a request just because he was one hell of a guy.
He is the second angel from the left. Unfortunately, he was lost in a
Blue Angel performance a few years later over the Great Lakes. He would
have made a great contribution had he lived.
They are a fantastic group and great guys from what I remember.
"Don't Eyeball Me, Mister"
This is not from the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman." These new
cadets are part of the navy brew for 1964. Many of these cadets probably
flew missions over Vietnam after joining a squadron. Hopefully,
everyone survived the war.
Pre-Flight school was culture shock on a large scale.
Being screamed at is not fun. We had marine drill instructors in charge
of our military education. They were not overly nasty but then again
they were not overly nice. We learned what eyeballing was. We learned
that eyeballing and being in love could be synonymous. We learned to
watch, listen and shut up.
In early August 1964 the Gulf of Tonkin incident came at
us with a vengeance. We had been in Pre-Flight School since July 15,
1964. Gunnery Sgt. Arthur was our drill instructor and was providing us
with close order drill, when word of the Tonkin incident became public.
Gunny Arthur was a Korean War vet and possibly a WWII vet. The prospects
of war did not make him sad. Gunny Arthur gave a pep talk, in pure
Marine lingo, on what he thought of the oncoming war. He was almost
prescient about this. I remember his pep-talk to us was like watching
John Wayne in a war movie. Both funny and serious at the same time. It
was the expressed vitality of a professional soldier, almost hungry for
war. I do not mean this as a rebuke. Gunny Arthur was a warrior and that
day our class got a sense of his ardor.
The link in the prior paragraph takes those who are interested to a web
site about the Tonkin incident. I cannot speak to its complete
accuracy. However, I believe it may very well be accurate. It would be a
resource for anyone interested in the Vietnam War era. The Maddox or
Turner Joy had a detachment aboard from the Philippines. Those
detachments had a portable suprad that was put in place at the Subic Bay
Naval Station, Philippines. By 1968 the DLGs had internal suprads
(supplementary radio shacks) which housed CTs (Communication
Technicians). I was in charge of two such detachments on two ships. The
report of the Tonkin attack as transmitted to Washington was written by
the onboard Security Group Detachment and was archived at the Naval
Communications Station, San Miguel, Philippines. Any who doubt the
occurrence of the actual attack on the Turner Joy and Maddox can now
believe it did happen. Whether a war should have resulted from that
incident was a presidential decision causing the military to comply with
command orders. One can be reasonably skeptical about the choices made
by President Johnson with advice from his political and military staff.
Personally, history has rendered a strong verdict against most choices
made in 1964 regarding Vietnam.
Contact Robert S. Windholz, LLC today
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