This just showed up on the River Rat’s Newsletter this week… Great read!
“Boy, the latest issue of MIG Sweep had two RSVP shockers in it.
Robby Risner and Burt Spalding.
God I hate to think that they are gone.
I first met Robby in April of ’65 at the Than Hoa Bridge strike.
He was circling the target calling bombers in by call sign and giving assistance in their bombing. “Aim about 50ft right as there is some wind.”
He kept circling the target as 57s went off all around him and I thought “man SOME BALLS.” I was a flak suppression F-100 from Danang and he said good hit.
The NVA HAD PULLED THOSE STEEL HULLED 80FT SWATOWS EITHER SIDE OF THE BRIDGE AS FLAK SITES. THEY LOOKED LIKE PORCUPINES.
THE NEXT DAY WE WENT BACK TO THE SAME TARGET AND THERE HE WAS AGAIN, THIS TIME I WAS A MIG CAP AND RESCAP. ROBBIE GOT HIT AND PUNCHED OUT ABOUT A HALF MILE OFF HE COAST LINE.
HE WAS ON GUARD AND SAID THEY WERE SHOOTING AT HIM WITH A 57 FROM THE COAST. I WAS CAPPING AND COULDN’T SEE THE GUN EMPLACEMENT. YOU CAN PICTURE HIM, BANG, SPLASH, PADDLE PADDLE BANG, SPLASH, PADDLE PADDLE, ANYWAY I FINALLY SAW THE GUN EMPLACEMENT OUT ON A SPIT ALL SANDBAGGED IN, I POPPED UP TO ABOUT 15000 AND ROLLED ABOUT VERTICAL AND FIRED ABOUT 200 ROUNDS INTO THE PIT, EXPLODING THE AMMO AND STOPPING THE FIRING.
WE HAD ALPHA, BRAVO AND CHARLIE HU-16S ON STANDBY AND I CALLED BRAVO AND THEY STARTED OUR WAY. WE TOOK TURNS GOING TO THE TANKER TO TOP OFF AND CONTINUED TO CAP HIM, SHOOTING UP SOME BOATS THAT WERE TRYING TO GET TO HIM. ANYWAY BRAVO LANDED ON THE WATER AND I SAW THEM PULL HIM INTO THE SA-16 AND START TAKE OFF. WOW WHAT A TAKE OFF, I KNOW IT WAS AT LEAST 5 MILES. AIRBORNE — SPLASH —- AIRBORNE — SPLASH. I THEN ASKED BRAVO IF WE COULD LEAVE HIM WITH CHARLIE AND WE WOULD GO HIT SOME MORE BOATS. HE SAID “NO — WE HAVE DAMAGE”, I HADN’T SEEN ANY OTHER GUNS SHOOTING OUT THERE — BUT-SO WE STAYED WITH HIM AND CIRCLED HIM ALL THE WAY TO DANANG. TURNS OUT THE DAMAGE WAS FROM THE LANDING, HE HAD TAKEN OFF FROM DANANG WITH ABOUT 16HRS FUEL ONBOARD INCLUDING DROP TANKS. WELL – YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO WATER LAND WITH THE DROP TANKS FULL.-THE YOUNG LT. FLYING WAS A LITTLE EXCITED AND FORGOT ABOUT THE TANKS. THE DAMAGE WAS FROM THE LANDING WHICH KNOCKED OUT THE RH WINDSHIELD AND I BELIEVE PART OF THE RADIO RACK.
THAT EVENING AT THE BAR ROBBIE SAID THANKS FOR TAKING CARE OF THE 57 AND THE CAP. HE SAID HE WAS SURE GLAD TO SEE THE DUMBO COMING , BUT ON THE LANDING, HE SAID THE SWELLS WERE ABOUT 6-8FT AND WHEN THE DUMBO LANDED ALL HE COULD SEE WAS THE TAIL STICKING UP FROM OVER A SWELL AND HE SAID, “DAMN THERE ARE 10 OF US IN THE WATER NOW!”
THE NEXT THING HE NOTICED WAS THE DUMBO BACKING OUT FROM THE SWELL WITH A LOT OF ROARING AND GURGLING THEN TAXIING UP TO HIM. HE SAID THE LITTLE KID HELPING HIM INTO THE AIRPLANE WAS SO SCARED HE COULDN’T GET HIM TO REACH AND GET HIS PROTECTION INC HELMET SITTING RIGHT IN THE DOOR.
ANYWAY, HIS HELMET WAS NOW GONE.
ROBBIE WAS A REAL HERO AND A HELL OF A LEADER AND PILOT.
WE’LL MISSED, GOD BLESS.
LEO CANAVAN LT.COL RET
612 TFS, 615TFS 523TFS 457TFS
57B— F-80, F-84F,F-86,F-100,F-4,F-105.
FRONTIER/ CONTINENTAL/UNITED AIRLINES
31,000 + HRS”