|In the fall of 1964 twenty 20 B-57Bs of the 8th and 13th Tactical Bomb Squadrons were deployed to the Bien Hoa air base near Saigon, marking the first deployment of jet combat aircraft to Vietnam. The initial deployment got off on the wrong foot. The first two B-57Bs to land collided with each other on the ground and blocked the runway at Bien Hoa, forcing the rest of the flight to divert to Tan Son Nhut Airport on the other side of Saigon. One of the B-57Bs dived into the ground during approach at Tan Son Nhut and was destroyed, killing both crew members.|
During the next few weeks, more B-57Bs were moved from Clark AFB to Bien Hoa to make good these losses. Initially, the B-57Bs were restricted to unarmed reconnaissance missions, but actual combat was not delayed very long.
On November 1, 1964, Viet Cong squads shelled the airfield at Bien Hoa with mortars, destroying five of the B-57s parked there and damaging 15 others. On 19 Feb 1965, the B-57Bs were released for armed combat operations with the first mission taking place the same day. The B-57Bs hit North Vietnamese territory for the first time on March 2, some 25 miles north of the DMZ.
On May 16, 1965, while waiting to take off on a mission, a B-57B exploded on the ground at Bien Hoa, setting off a whole chain of secondary explosions. The resulting conflagration destroyed ten B-57s, eleven VNAF A-1H Skyraiders, and a US Navy F-8 Crusader and caused numerous casualties among air and ground crewmen - at least 26 men died in the explosions and fires..