"Aces of The Eighth" by Jack Fellows

Linebacker II. Forty Four Years Ago

Buster McGee sent me a great email from John Morrissey. I asked permission to forward it. Here’s his reply:
On 12/31/2016 6:18 PM, John Morrissey wrote:
Hi Jim (that’s my Maiden name…),
It would be an honor to provide the requested piece to the Headhunters. My F-105 class at Nellis in the summer of 1963 was mostly with the fine fighter pilots from Itazuke. Great men all. I reprinted the LB II piece below for your convenience and ‘tightened’ it up a bit. Use it any way you like. Keep your Mach up! John.

While this piece is not Headhunter specific, nor fighter-specific, it shows how airpower, massively and tactically applied without interference from the political class (whether from the government or the Pentagon) can quickly and decisively end a war and a brave 17AD Commander who put mission above career and made it all happen. Enjoy. Thank you, John.

Thursday, 29 December, 2016

Of course, this is for those that were there. But more importantly it was for those who were not, as well as others who were never told.

Forty four years ago today was the last day of the Eleven Days of Linebacker II. I received this poignant reminder from my squadron mate Fred Buhl . A reminder that unearthed many memories of those eleven days. Fred and I flew most every day of Linebacker II; either a strike mission to the Hanoi area or Search and Rescue missions for those downed on previous days, or nights. There were many of our airmen who had ejected over NVN and/or Laos who needed to be rescued.

And others who were beyond helping.

There were fighter aircraft overhead Hanoi and Haiphong during the days and our “Trump Cards”, the B-52s, at night, every day and every night, dealing with a “Steel Sky” created by the dense Soviet air defense system of coordinated AAA, Surface to Air Missiles and the MIGS.

A few of us had been on the first USAF strike mission into North Vietnam on the 2nd of March, 1965. Our Air Force lost seven fighters that day. (Not a typo). My Squadron Commander during Linebacker II , Lt. Col. Charlie Copin, was also my Flight Commander on that first day in March of 1965.

The feeling of being on “The first and the last” was euphoric for us! Finally – fighting without a straight jacket!
While most Americans remember “D Day”, the Flag on the Hill at Iwo Jima, the Alamo, the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, Gettysburg, and some perhaps Michener’s Bridges of Toko Ri, few have ever heard of Linebacker II, the eleven days in December of 1972, when we won the eight year military war in Vietnam after they finally let us fight without our arms tied behind our backs.

There was a general ‘stand down’ before the operation to get the airplanes ready and to brief hundreds of aircrews for the B-52s and fighters. When we went into that first briefing we realized that our President, Mr. Nixon, had had enough of Uncle Ho, Le Doc Tho, and the NVN BS. No, this time we were going to send them a message they would understand – loudly and clearly!

The cost was high, but the “V” initialed the Paris Peace Accords 8 days later on 6 January, 1973 and we began bringing our POW’s back from the horrid and torturous North Vietnam prisons on the 12th of February.

This is a somewhat poignant post during this Christmas season. Below is a short film about Linebacker II and the true heroes, the rough men who stayed awake nights so others could sleep comfortably in their warm beds-the men who went in harm’s way, whilst the biggest concerns for many back home were long holiday shopping queues.

You may recognize some of these men. My hope is that we never forget any of them.

Once a Thud Driver

Note: The video begins with the Name “Sully”. It is not the Sully of the Miracle on the Hudson. Don’t try this on an iPhone. It will play, but the essence will be minimized. A “Stiff one to Hand” suggested.

To view the film, click here:

“SULLY- A General’s Decision”


  1. When I was assigned to 8th AF back in 84-88 my boss LtCol Alex Napier, was an EWO during Linebacker II as was our senior gunner Marv (Maddog) Myers. They would get together during our Friday afternoon “training sessions” and talk about Linebackers I and II. According to them it was no picnic.

    • Something I would like to add to my previous comment. The restrictions placed on the aircrews during Nam really hand tied the aircrews. In my case, it was the EC-47 and the restrictions put on us as to where we could go, etc. The rubber plantations were “off limits” to us. Our EC-47 crew consisted of Pilot, Co-pilot, Nav, Flt Mech and three Morse Code Intercept operators. The BUFF crew comments about flying the same routes, is similar to the us flying the same “dead” areas in South Vietnam day after day. The “talking heads” in Washington had no clue who we were fighting over there.

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