Napalm Delivery (50 year old video frames)

Monday, June 10, 1968

A treeline to our south in Arizona Territory was a constant source of irritation to Marines on Hill 65.  It was close to the river, adjacent to the abandoned village of My Hoa (2).  Incoming mortars were always initiated from this area, about 2,000 meters away.  Since my arrival in January, I witnessed numerous air strikes and artillery bombardment on this plot of trees.  It was in the free fire zone, and anything moving in the area was considered enemy.

At mid-morning the scream of jets flying nearby in close formation got our attention.  It was in preparation for a bombing mission, and I went to get my camera.  Moving into position for filming a Super 8 movie clip of the event, I missed the first pass but could hear it.

The location was marked by a WP rocket fired from an observer plane overhead.  The first run was the loud rumble of 20mm cannons strafing the target area.  As the second plane attacked with its cannons, the lead jet approached at a low angle and released its payload of Napalm (jellied gas) tanks.  The treeline exploded in a fiery, billowing ball of flame and black smoke.  The second A-4 Skyhawk repeated the spectacle and joined the lead pilot in an aerial victory roll heading back to the Da Nang airbase.

Marines from 3/7 crossed the river in Amtracs and assaulted the treeline . . . there was no resistance.  The success of the airstrike was a temporary and minor loss for the NVA/VC.  Lieutenant Westerfield theorized the importance of this enemy location . . . it lined up in a perfect azimuth reading to the angle of Hill 65.  Distance could be easily calculated with a protractor, and if the calculation was off, the rounds would still land on our hill.

Next Edition:  Charlie Ridge

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