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Air to Ground Missile
Old 03-17-2018, 10:57 AM   #32
JOHN JONES
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JOHN JONES is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: ENGLAND
Posts: 1,182
Default Air to Ground Missile

The Last few months were very perilous for the remaining Avn assets,
left in the Deltaregion of Vietnam. John Harris relates the precautions taken
at the time. Also from Joe Whites Scrapbook, how the fortunes of war smiled on
him, the day of the shoot down.
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"Less than one week before I arrived at the 18th Corps Avn Co (CAC) at Can Tho, on 31 Oct 72, a CH-47C from our Chinook platoon dubbed the “Hillclimbers”, was shot down by an SA-7 near Don Tam in the Delta, killing all 12 Americans on board; 4 crew & 8 pax returning from Saigon. Immediately afterwards, due to the vulnerability to SA-7’s, USARV put out that no Americans could ride in Chinooks unless it was a tactical emergency. There was a mad scramble and over the next month or so, prototype flare dispensers were obtained from NAS China Lake and installed ASAP on the back ramps of 47’s. There was a fifth CE added to each crew & his job was to stare out the back ramp and look for the telltale smoke launch signature from a missile launch on the ground and/or the smoke trail of an upward spiraling missile as it locked on the engine exhaust enroute to the 47. Once a missile was observed to be inbound, the CE’s were instructed to manually fire a cluster of three flares downward from the ramp dispenser, in hopes that the cluster’s IR signature would be more intense and therefore, decoy the missile away from the aircraft.
Circa mid-December 72, one of our 47’s was flying straight and level, above 3,000 ft agl when SP5 James Scroggins, a 2nd tour 47 CE who was on the back ramp, observed an SA-7 inbound. As instructed, he fired three flares and the SA-7 did in fact track the flares instead of the aircraft & exploded in flight below & aft of the 47. Our C.O., MAJ Jerry Childers, who was not even 47 rated, was riding in the jump seat when that happened. He put SP5 Scroggins in for a DFC as if he had not both seen the inbound missile and then not fired those flares exactly as directed, the aircraft and everyone would have almost certainly been destroyed. In early Feb. 73, after the cease-fire & during our company’s final A&D ceremony, the highest award given out was the DFC which was awarded to Scroggins for being the first person to ever successfully decoy a heat seeking missile in flight from a helicopter; I believe the 1st Avn Bde Cdr, BG Mackmull, pinned it on himself.
Sadly, a few weeks later, SP5 Scroggins would become the last Army Aviation Crewmember to be KIA in the Vietnam War as he died from wounds/burns received as the 47 he was crewing was shot down as also, the last US Army helicopter lost in Vietnam. Ironically, they were shot down by the NVA while unarmed and after just having (I’m not kidding) resupplied a group of NVA/VC near An Loc, as part of the “peace keeping” arrangements."

Very sad. John Harris
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