No BDA, but One Hell of an Airshow!

In the early 80’s I ran into (Retired) M/Gen. Peter DeLonga at an airshow at Kelly Field, TX, and he shared a great story with us – about an “airshow” he put on in Vietnam.

In 1970 he was flying F-4’s in Vietnam. However, under his command he had several other aircraft he was responsible for. One day the A-37 guys asked him if he would fly a mission with them. He said he was a bit reluctant to, but they did work for him and he wanted to show his support for them.

So one Saturday morning he suited up and took off in an A-37 with 4 250-pound bombs on board and a full load of 7.62mm ammo for the gun. He soon made contact with a FAC (Forward Air Controller) and asked for a target. There were no shortage of them…

The FAC soon briefed him on his target: a long, skinny island in the middle of a river. General DeLonga was briefed to fly 4 passes, South to North, dropping one bomb on each pass – progressively “walking” them up the island. He did as briefed, rolling in on the island, jinking like crazy to avoid ground fire and releasing one bomb per pass. When all his bombs were dropped, he was told by the FAC to begin strafing tases with the gun. And again, down the chute he came, jinking hard left then right to avoid ground fire then strafing the island, South to North.

When he had expended his ammunition he pulled off for a BDA (Bomb Damage Assessment) report.

“Oh,” the FAC reported, “there is no ‘bomb damage per se.’ We just had some new Army guys show up in-country and they wanted to see an airshow! The Army guys had been sitting on the river bank, drinking beer while General DeLonga was working his ass off to put “bombs on target!” And so the War went…

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