Cat. no. 69-24

Taco, Airstrike 2 March 1969

Date: Dec-69
Item Type: Painting
Support: Canvas (Cotton Or Linen)
Owner: USAF Academy
Dimensions: 36 X 46
Agent / Institution: Baker Gallery Lubbock

Taco, 36 x 46

This is a painting of an Air Strike in South Vietnam. "Taco" was the
tactical call sign of the 188th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the New
Mexico Air National Guard. The view is from north to south from a
point about Latitude 14 degrees 01" North Longitude l08 degrees 55"
East. This is about ten miles west of Phu Cat Air Base and twenty
miles or more west of Qui Nhon in Binh Dinh Province. The action
depicts one of a series of strikes conducted by an element of two
"taco" F-100s against elements of the 507th Battalion, 18th Regiment
North Vietnamese Army, which was in contact with portions of the 1st
Regt (Be Koh) and Cavalry Regt (Bung Gay) of the Capitol Division
(Meang Hoh) Republic of Korea Army on March 2, 1969. This action began
as a pincer movement by the two Korean Regiments several days earlier
attempting to trap a group of Viet Cong crossing the Go Bor plains. As
the operation proceeded, the first Regiment began air lifting its
Regimental Headquarters and elements of its Second Battalion to the
prominent peak at the center rear of the painting to close the south
end of a pocket made by the closing regiments, the 1st Regiment coming
from the east and the Cavalry regiment holding the ridges to the west
(right of the painting). On the 28th of February, near sundown, I was
observing from an 0-1 when I saw a U.S. Army helicopter transporting
Korean Infantry gets shot down east of the peak. Another helicopter
went to its aid and was also hit and in the failing light the Koreans
put artillery in on the east side of the peak to neutralize the enemy
fire and pin them down so they could not move against the partial
Headquarters company and company from the second battalion on the peak
and saddle back to the west. Bad weather that night prevented air
support and these partially inserted elements were in contact with
what they realized was a heavier force than their expected quarry. As
the weather cleared on March 1, the Koreans elected to continue their
insertion of troops only to run into heavy and accurate antiaircraft
fire from the eastern spur of the peak aforesaid, which got four more
helicopters, and I believe five Koreans and an American (I know the
pilot of the first helicopter downed on February 28 was hit), and it
looked as if continued insertion might e too costly. Meanwhile, I
hunted, and couldn't find the NVA marksman. However, Koreans in the
valley and on the peak took bearings on the sound of his anti-aircraft
127 MM. and gave me a location and I put a set of F-100s from the Iowa
National Guard on that target. The operation proceeded without hitch
after that, and the Koreans captured the destroyed gun that evening.
By the next day the pocket had closed and the Koreans were up to the
points shown by their colored smoke signals, and we put in successive
strikes as the NVA fled to the north. The Foreward Air Controller in
the white Cessna (Lt Bentley in this case) has just put his white
phosphorous mark in a valley north of the previous strike where the
jungle is still afire and a "Taco" has released his bombs on the new

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