dawned on Latall that Captain Laramy had not
described his last hits on the target, either.
Now It’s a Rescue Mission
Latall throttled back as much as he dared in
order to get a better look around.
Over his left shoulder, he saw an
airplane behind him, staggering
from his left rear to his right
rear. It was the O-1. There was
no smoke or flame, but Latall
could clearly see orange fluid
streaming from the O-1’s nose
area. It was obvious Benchmark
15 was going to crash or crash
land. At that moment, Van Es
broadcast that Helborne 513 was
available for a ResCAP—rescue
combat air patrol—ready to
orbit over the O-1 until a rescue
helicopter could get there.
By then, both A-4s had used
more than their allotted fuel for
the mission. Any further flying
over Hue would endanger their
return to Chu Lai. Nevertheless,
the A- 4 pilots decided to stay
longer. No sooner was the
decision made than the O-1
broke out of it glide toward the
Perfume River. Its nose pitched
up and it fell to earth.
As the O-1 fell, Latall once
again came over the target, but
he did not feel he could drop
more bombs blindly, so he
turned off his master armament
switch and just made a dummy
run. If nothing else, the dummy
run would put NVA heads down,
thus affording the friendly
infantry some small respite.
Latall was coming off the
dummy run when someone
called on the radio to report that
a ground rescue party was on the
way to the crash scene. Helborne
513 was directed to drop the
remaining bombs on the target
and head home.
The A- 4 pilots ignored those
instructions and radioed that
they were remaining over Hue.
They made several more dummy
runs over the target and passes
over the O-1, discouraging both
NVA movement against 1/5 and
any efforts by NVA soldiers to
get to the downed spotter plane.
Before the A-4s could drop
any more bombs, Hue-Phu Bai
Frantic calls from Chu Lai that evening
revealed that the Army O-1 pilot had been
shot and killed as Latall was making his
second hot pass.
For its time, the Scooter was extremely maneuverable and had a 720-degree roll rate per second. But it also had an
in-flight refueling probe giving it longer endurance when needed for a mission. (Photo by Ted Carlson)