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aircraft. The 56th's HC-130s, dubbed "King Birds," acquired their name from the squadron's callsign, "King," and they, like the AC-130's of the l6th SOS, had Korat as their temporary nesting place.12


The 3d ARRG operated the Joint Rescue Coordination Center at Nakhon Phanom. Known as "Joker," it coordinated the activities of both the rescue aircraft and their supporting escorts. The units required to perform this type of operation were known as a Rescort Package.


Crews and aircraft for the Rescort Package usually came from the 40th ARRS, the 56th ARRS, the 23d TASS, and the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron. The HC-130s coordinated the operation and refueled the HH-53s, who performed the actual pick-up of the downed crcwmembers. In addition to the 'Jolly Greens," the "King Birds" also controlled the OV-lOs, serving as on-scene tactical support for use against any enemy targets near the rescue site which threatened or intimidated the slow, low-flying, rescue helicopters.13 The Rescort operation was so well developed that a simulator installed at Udorn trained all newly arriving pilots on Rescort procedures, further enhancing the chances for mission success.


One of the units which redeployed from Korat AB, Thailand, to Clark Air Force Base, Philippines, was the 7th Air Command and Control Squadron. Even though the squadron moved in May 1974, its crews stood ready to return to Utapao, Thailand, at a moment's notice.14 The squadron's aircraft, EC-130Es, modified to operate as airborne command centers, had served in Southeast Asia since the unit's formation at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam, in September 1965. Each Hercules was specially configured to allow for insertion of an airconditioned command and control capsule containing communications equipment, operator stations, and display boards. Designed to function during major operations as an airborne battlefield command and control center (ABCCC), the 7th ACCS, call sign "Cricket," performed that mission on a round-the-clock basis by always having a minimum of two aircraft on station. Carrying a battle staff of 12, "Cricket's" crew consisted of a director known as an airborne mission commander (AMC) and three sections: a five-man operations section, a two-man intelligence team, and a four-man communications unit. The aircraft contained 20 air-to-air and air-to-ground radios linking the command and control team to the outside world via 24 radio antennas. Despite all this state-of-the-art electronics equipment, the aircraft lacked a radar capable of identifying all targets in its vicinity. This type of equipment would have provided the battle staff with a real-time picture of the airborne elements it hoped to command and control. Without it, the AMC had to rely exclusively on the plane's sophisticated communications equipment and other aircraft radio calls for situation updates and display information. Aviation Week & Space Technology editor Benjamin M. Elson aptly summarized the consequences of this shortcoming; "Since the EC-130E does not carry search or track radar, the battle staff cannot provide positive control or insure separation of aircraft in a combat zone."15 The Forces Afloat


During the period January to July 1973, as Operation End Sweep (the removal of mines from North Vietnam's harbors required by the Paris Peace Accords) progressed, the North Vietnamese were reminded daily that the U.S. Seventh Fleet still controlled the South China Sea. In the months following the completion of the minesweeping operation, the Seventh Fleet may have been out of sight, but it was never far from the minds of the North Vietnamese leaders.'8


The Seventh Fleet, largest of the deployed fleets of the United States, operated in an area bounded by the Mariana Islands on the east, by the Arabian Sea on the west. the Sea of Okhotsk to the North, and Australia to the south.17 In addition to approximately 60 ships, the Seventh Fleet contained a Marine amphibious task force of varying size, consisting of ground, aviation, and support elements, a carrier air wing, and all the crews necessary to man and operate this force. All totaled it comprised a force of 60,000 sailors and Marines and more than 500 aircraft of all types.


Task Force 72 was responsible for antisubmarine warfare and served as the eyes and ears of the Seventh Fleet. Charged with search, reconnaissance, and surveillance, specially-equipped aircraft of this task force operated from Japan, the Philippines, and Guam.


While the fleet depended upon bases for refit and upkeep, as well as stores and supplies of all kinds, its range was extended by the mobile logistic support units of Task Porcc 73. The oilers, ammunition ships, stores ships, and ships that combined two or more of these capabilities were a vital part of the Seventh Fleet. The fast combat support ship (AOE) became the most valued supply support vessel in the Seventh Fleet because of its enormous capacity to carry critical stores. It carried more fuel than the largest fleet oiler and more ammunition than the largest ammunition ship. The combat stores ship with its refrigerated food








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