Rocket Attack on Ton Son Nhut Air Base

by Cal Korf (CK) and Brice Gilson

This rocket attack occurred in late February 1968. According to Brice, the dates of 19 & 24 February seem about right as to when they had the rocket and mortar attacks which lasted 5 or 6 nights in a row.The major damage as indicated in the photos happened on one night, although there was a week's worth of fairly consistent bombardment, always in the wee hours of the morning. These photos were the property of the USAF and were limited in revealing the entirety of the damage. The Air Force was trying to keep a tight lid on specific details and limited access regarding visitation of the flight line.One of the significant disasters was a rocket hit on the mortuary trailers totally knocking out the refrigeration system. These trailers were fairly close to the MIBARS II trailers. The stench that emanated from the mortuary trailers was overwhelming. In addition to the total destruction of several 101's there was an F-4 and C-130 that were significantly destroyed.

Brice Gilson: "I remember CK arranged a flight line pass for several of us to drive out to the flight line to see the aircraft revetments and parking ramps that were hit. The one thing I remember most was the RF-4 in the revetment with a dud rocket half buried into the PSP under the aircraft’s wing. I remember thinking at the time that as the aircraft revetments were all lined up in a row, once the VC had the range; all they had to do was crank the mortars across from one end to the other. Later they also found a dud rocket that had penetrated the roof of the 460th headquarters. I think it was found when they were having a change of command ceremony."

CK: "As an aside to the rocket attack story I can relate the story that resulted in the cessation of the rocket attacks on Ton Son Nhut. The night that GEN Creighton Abrams assumed command of MACV from GEN Westmoreland we had a rocket attack of 17 missiles (none of which caused significant damage). The next morning I was in attendance at the morning briefing and GEN Abrams told the staff that he wanted the rocket attacks stopped. The briefers commenced providing the stock line that they had been feeding GEN Westmoreland that the VC just came out in the late night, launched the rockets, and disappeared into the night. GEN Abrams interrupted them and said: "You didn't hear me, I said I wanted the rocket attacks stopped. Every time one of them lands it chills my ass". The 460th Wing Cmdr, BG Robert Holbury briefed the Wing on the immediate mission. All three squadrons were given the mission of "mapping" the greater Saigon area and they were to fly at 500 feet. His final instructions were: "You all be careful out there". They flew the mission and all other air traffic was suspended during the operation. I believe that MIBARS produced the aerial map and an infantry battalion was detached from III Corps and assigned constant perimeter security for the greater Saigon area. We did not have another rocket landing in the vicinity of Ton Son Nhut or MACV during the duration of my assignment after that."

All pictures provided by Cal Korf
122mm Rocket Motor
RB-57 Canberra slightly damaged

Air Traffic Control Tower
This was a C-130

Base Chappel

F-101 Voodoo Remnants

Part of MIBARS II Complex
Driver ws in the cab of this fuel truck and survived

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