On May 15, 1974, an EC-47Q, serial number 45-15204, touched down at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, marking the end of the USAF Airborne Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) mission in the Vietnam War.
The need for ARDF had first been recognized 13 years earlier when an Army soldier attempting to “fix” a low-powered Viet Cong transmitter became the first American to die in combat in Vietnam. Over the next five years, the Air Force examined the feasibility of conducting the “fixing the enemy” mission from the air.
Beginning in 1966, under the project name Phyllis Ann, the Air Force eventually modified more than 60 World War II-era C-47 “Gooney Birds” to perform the ARDF mission. Flying from seven bases scattered across Vietnam and Thailand, crews from three Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadrons teamed with USAF Security Service “backend” crews to fly thousands of missions in support of US and Allied operations throughout Southeast Asia. The Security Service crews were made up of Morse intercept operators, linguists, analysts, and maintenance technicians assigned to the 6994th Security Squadron, many of whom were trained at Goodfellow AFB.
This exhibit chronicles the startup of the ARDF mission, with some emphasis on the critical training conducted at Goodfellow. Many other facets of the daily operations, morale and welfare, sports, and community activities of the 6994th Security Squadron personnel are also depicted in the photos, documents and digital slide shows.
The loss of aircraft and crew was always a possibility, and eventually hostile fire, crashes, and a ground attack claimed the lives of 36 EC-47 crewmembers - 17 of them from the 6994th Security Squadron and its detachments. Of particular note is the display case showing artifacts from the CAP-72 crash site in Laos. These artifacts were recovered by Mr. Paul Clever, son of CAP-72 crewmember TSgt Louis Clever, along with Paul’s wife, Nita, during their trip into the Laotian jungle in December, 2012. The Clever Family donated these items for display following the CAP-72 repatriation ceremony held at Olive Branch, Mississippi, on Memorial Day, 2013.
Strategically located just inside the Norma Brown Headquarters Building, this exhibit is a logical extension of the static display EC-47 replica aircraft that was put in place on October 28, 2005.