The Red Baron and Casper the Ghost

So this morning on the way in to the Smile Hi, we saw the Red Baron doing his crop dusting thing off Road 24.5. The Red Baron is a red low-wing monoplane, like an Air Tractor 502, though I'm not certain of exactly what it is.

But it is similar enough to the Lockheed YO-3 QuietStar, sometimes called 'Casper' by the troops, that it gave me one of those instant remembrances. I hesitate to call it a 'flashback,' as that often has a negative connotation.

During the last half of 1970, two Caspers were stationed at Binh Thuy, in Can Tho province. These things were so quiet, that all you could hear was a slight flutter from the prop as it approached, and maybe a slight 'rushing' noise from airflow over the wings, and that would be as it passed overhead, only a couple of hundred feet up. In addition to this silent operation, the Caspers also had a night vision periscope in the belly, which the pilot could use to observe the ground.

There were a couple of crews of local "freedom fighters" possessed of a Soviet M1938 120mm mortar, and a Chinese copy of the US M20 75mm recoiless rifle. Both crews had developed the annoying habit of lobbing in a couple of dozen rounds in the wee hours of the morning, to see what they could stir up. Among the things they did blow up were the chow hall and the water purification plant. The chow hall was not seen as much of a loss, but the water plant most certainly was.

The US Navy had a squadron of OV-10's at Binh Thuy, the Black Ponies. Unlike USAF OV-10's, which were used almost exclusively in a FAC role, the Black Ponies were shooters, and they were armed to the teeth. The two Caspers arrived, and they and the Black Ponies hatched a scheme ... the Caspers would go up about sunset, and the Black Ponies would rotate through starting about thirty minutes later. A couple of Ponies would be on station throughout the night.

We were sitting on the roof of the radar van the evening all this came to pass. We caught the movement of the Casper launching, but of course heard nothing. He turned and came back over the radar site, which was located right at the extreme edge of the perimeter, right where the tanglefoot and other wire and booby trap encumbrances began. Though he passed about a hundred feet overhead, we heard nothing but the aforementioned flutter and rushing noise. Whispering Death, you might say. A while later a couple of Black Ponies went up.

We were running Arc Light strikes along the Cambodian border (possibly in the same area where John Kerry had spent his Christmas fighting off the Commie hordes), so we went back to that. But we had the Ponies and Caspers up on one of the radios. About 1 in the morning the Casper picked up some movement and got a solid ID on the recoiless rifle crew. This was perhaps a thousand yards out from the perimeter, over toward the river. The 'river' was the Bassac, which drains the Ton Le Sap in Cambodia, and runs parallel to and south of the Mekong as that river empties out in the South China Sea.

The night was a black as the inside of a water buffalo. But we had some idea of where the Caspers and Ponies were, so we looked out that way. Shortly, we saw a dribble of brilliant white 'sapphires' tinged with blue fall out of the sky down to the ground ... and then the ground lit up like the 4th of July. These were the 2.75" rockets fired by the Ponies. Thus endeth the recoiless rifle crew.

Some people went out the next day and recovered the recoiless rifle and a bunch of rounds, and what was left of the crew. The VNAF who ran the base (it was actually a Vietnamese base, not US) hung the corpses up by their feet out in front of the main gate, on the main road. I'm not so sure this was a way to win anyone's hearts and minds, but it did seem to put the mortar crew off, as they never bothered us again. The recoiless rifle was put on display over by base HQ, along with other such memorabilia from previous engagements.

So thanks and a tip of the hat to the Red Baron for triggering what, some 44 years later, and a bit clouded by all those years, was one of those "Say, that reminds me of the time ..." moments.

Historical references:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binh_Thuy_Air_Base (if you enlarge the aerial photo of the base, you can barely discern the radar site, top left, a blob just off the perimeter road.)

http://www.blackpony.org/enhfl110run.jpg (a Pony armed and ready to roll)

And a pretty good blurb on the Chinese recoiless rifle, including a short clip of it being fired, possibly in Afganistan or Iraq: It remains a very popular item in the arsenals of 'freedom fighters' everywhere.




Here's an op-ed from an Obamanian drug policy adviser, Kevin Sabet.

What we here at Blogger Central find most interesting is ... this thing is published on CNN. The only thing that would be more amazing would be if it were on MSNBC. But if it were, it wouldn't be noticed. Does anyone watch MSNBC any more?

We wander afield ...

Here's the piece:

Colorado's troubles with pot

There is one excerpt we just have to share:

In fact, more than 450,000 incidents of emergency room admissions related to marijuana occur every year, andheavy marijuana use in adolescenceis connected to an 8-point reduction of IQ later in life, irrespective of alcohol use.

Heh heh heh ... based on observations of our local weed proponents, I'd say that estimation of IQ degeneration is a bit on the conservative side.

The Wall

The Repubs are making noises again about The Wall.  Not that Wall. This Wall:

Return of the Fence

The GOP is sounding a clarion call to renew the efforts to build a Wall, to keep all the illegals out.

(Note that the term 'illegal' is in some quarters being cloaked in the horror of 'the n-word,' but that hasn't reached Blogger Central quite yet.)

The Repubs, ever the students of history, want to build a wall from sea-to-shining-sea, down south.

Apparently this is because such things have always worked so well in the past. There's Hadrian's Wall, for example. Or perhaps they are looking at the successes of our good friends and benefactors, the Chinese, with their Great Wall?

Or perhaps the Berlin Wall, a study in reverse psychology?

Let's not forget the Antonine Wall, and the various Limes of Rome.

There are lots of walled cities throughout history. I believe most of them are in ruins, though some serve very well as very nice tourist destinations.

Then there's the Grogan Wall, and the Gates of Alexander. Still there, in bits and pieces, left lying there by the barbarians as they passed through.

More recently, we all no doubt remember McNamara's Wall: MUSCLE SHOALS/IGLOO WHITE. I remember that one very well, because, as Elmer Keith said, "Hell ... I was there!"

The list goes on ... I suppose, though, our wall would work, because, well, that was then and now is now, and we have, like drones, and even better sensors, and lots and lots of munny that we don't need for anything else.

We could call ours "Socrates' Wall". Because, as Socrates said: “Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”

I wonder ... if the Mexican government, joining forces with the governments of the various Central American countries, were to build a Wall along the border to keep people *in,* would John Boehner then stand before that wall, oh, down in El Paso, and say something dramatic like "Ich bin ein Ciudad de México-er!" to tumultuous cheers from his Republican compatriots?

Or is it simply that the GOP, having no better idea than the rest of us what to do about this mess, are simply playing to the emotions of a pile of people, who, ignorant of history, want to doom us to repeat it?