Supporting Material for "Widening the War in '64"
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The principal source consulted for OPLAN 34A was The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the War in Vietnam, 1960-1968, Part 2, by Graham A. Cosmas, published in 2012 by Office of Joint History, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is available in digital format.
NSAM 273 and OPLAN 34A are discussed on pages 6-10 and 16-19. The NSAM 273 quotations on line 4 are from page 7. The four recommendations quoted in paragraph 2 are from pages 7 and 8. The possible options under OPLAN 34A are discussed on pages 9 and 10. Pages 16-19 describe the early days of the plan.
Virtually all the information (including names of crew members) thus far availble about SOUR GRAPES may be found on pages 1499-1502 of Volume III in Larry Tart's multivolume USAFSS history, Freedom Through Vigilance.
Chuck Semich, linguist on the project, provided the following insight in 1998 emails:
Would never forget the S/N. It was AF919. Our mission was on the order of a "survey" to see if it would be productive to fly 203 type missions there (obviously it turned out to be given what was to ensue after we left). We had Viet and Chinese lingies aboard. I have a video tape of our bird and some of the crew (just a couple of minutes--made from old movie film). Also have some photos of the crew at both Saigon and Danang.
I seem to recall that Hawkeye went from Korea to VN around the same time we took the Rose Bowl bird. We were definitely in VN together. Sour Grapes was the name of the project that this particular Rose Bowl bird and crew flew in VN. It was basically a survey. We re-outfitted the back end with equipment from the 130 unit in Yokota. It was newer and better gear and primarily VHF/UHF range.
Chuck also provided these photos. Click on an image for a larger view.
SOUR GRAPES, Believed to be 45-0919
U/I crew members (Da Nang ?)
Hootch, location unknown
HAWKEYE in Vietnam
Dennis Adolph contributed the material quoted in the main narrative, as well as several photos which can be found on the 6994th Security Squadron website. These color photos clearly show that in 1964, 45-0925 was painted in the standard USAF "white top" transport scheme of the day. Photos H-021 and H-022 showing "Old Hawkeye" at Grenier Field, NH, were taken some years later when the aircraft underwent an upgrade to "production" EC-47 standards. The wrecked aircraft in H-019 - H021 is a C47, but it is emphatically not the HAWKEYE bird, which was ultimately transferred to the VNAF in 1973.
SIGINT and the Tonkin Gulf Incidents and Intelligence Failure of a Second Kind
There is no shortage of material on the Tonkin Gulf incidents. The primary reference source for these sections was NSA historian Robert J. Hanyok's Skunks, Bogies, Silent Hounds, and the Flying Fish: The Gulf of Tonkin Mystery, 2-4 August 1964. Two other NSA articles were also useful: an abbreviated discussion of the events, and another relating to presidential decisions during and after the attacks.
Although rarely noted in post-war histories of the war, there was a third Tonkin Gulf "incident" on 18 September, again involving a pair of U.S. destroyers on a DESOTO mission. In a virtual repeat of the 4 August battle, the ships fired nearly 300 rounds at unseen targets. SIGINT again confirmed that the North Vietnamese were aware of the presence of the American vessels, but this time the analysts were more circumspect. An initial warning message was countermanded, correctly noting that a North Vietnamese alert was likely in response to possible 34A raids rather than as a planned attack against the destroyers. A daylight search of the "battle" area revealed no debris and not so much as an oil slick, but the affair was never resolved. Shortly thereafter, the DESOTO patrols were in effect suspended. (See Hanyok, pp. 45-46, and the JCS history. referenced above, pp. 133-134.)