Hensell, Ron, Capt

Aircrew
 
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Current Service Status
USAF Veteran
Current/Last Rank
Captain
Current/Last Primary AFSC/MOS
1535B-Navigator
Current/Last AFSC Group
Aircrew
Primary Unit
1968-1970, 1535B, 13th Air Force
Previously Held AFSC/MOS
1525Z-Navigator-Bombardier
Service Years
1965 - 1971
Officer Collar Insignia
Captain

 Official Badges 

Tactical Air Command Pacific Air Forces


 Unofficial Badges 

C-130 Hercules 1000 Hour C-130 Hercules 2000 Hour




 Additional Information
What are you doing now:
Not Specified
   
Other Comments:
Not Specified
   


Operation Barrel Roll - Laos/Ho Chi Minh trail
From Month/Year
January / 1965
To Month/Year
May / 1973

Description
Operation Barrel Roll was a covert U.S. Air Force 2nd Air Division (later the Seventh Air Force) and U.S. Navy Task Force 77, interdiction and close air support campaign conducted in the Kingdom of Laos between 14 December 1964 and 29 March 1973 conc
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
January / 1967
To Month/Year
December / 1968
 
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
   
Personal Memories

Memories
We got a call for a mission along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in central Laos.  When we arrived, there was an active conflict going on between A-1 Skyraiders, FACs and anti-aircraft weapons on the ground.  As I researched for this missive I noted that the A-1s with the call sign, “Sandy” normally provided cover for air rescue missions.  I believe we were called because a "Blind Bat" FAC had been shot down. I recall that there were a number of A-1 aircraft involved.  The A-1 was an old World War II fighter-bomber airplane.  It was very maneuverable but only flew at about 190 MPH.  It did not normally fly at night because it had a reciprocal, (piston) engine and thus was very noisy.  Also, on climb out… especially important…with full power applied, the exhaust would be flaming!  A terrific target for anti-aircraft weapons! 
We made contact with the FAC and decided our best role would be in support of the A-1s.  The plan was, when the A-1s climbed out of a dive bomb run, the anti-aircraft weapons would fire and give us a target.  We would then dive in and bomb the anti-aircraft weapons.  It worked very well!  We got at least one anti-aircraft weapon and crew.  At the end of the mission, one of the FAC pilots said he was going to put us in for Silver Star medal.  We never heard from that pilot again and since we did not bomb vehicles, we accomplished nothing medal worthy in that mission.


The following is a narrative, I believe, of that mission by by Captain Harold W. Lowe a "Blind Bat" forward air controller.
"On the night following the downing of Blind Bat 01, I took off as Blind Bat 04 with a throw-together crew. The call sign Blind Bat 01 was never used again. We flew directly to Delta 18, and with one of the Yellowbird B-57's loitering overhead, we set up an ambush of the AAA site that we thought most likely hit 01. We figured that if we could get this guy shooting, Blind Bat 04 could mark his location and Yellowbird could strike. Our tactic was to orbit and flare just up the road from the gun, simulating a pending strike on an approaching convoy. On the third or fourth orbit, the gunners just couldn't stand it anymore and let us have it with a 10 or 15 round burst. Yellowbird was on the perch and rolled in on the target immediately. He released 3 of his 4 iron bombs (500 pounders). He missed, but succeeded in getting the 37 to lay on another long burst. The Yellowbird pilot must have done a hammerhead directly over the gun, (We performed an Immelman in order to maintain visual contact with the AA emplacement.) because what our crew saw next was all but unbelievable. With his anti-collision beacon ON, (We kept the anti-collision lights on to avoid other combat aircraft in the vicinity.) the Yellowbird released his last iron bomb and four napalms in a true vertical attack. With numerous secondaries going off, this guy made pass after pass with his 20mm until he was totally out of ammunition. One can only assume that this guy flying his B-57 out of Phan Rang was some kind of PISSED! We never knew for sure if we got the right gun, but some gun crew paid dearly that night."
We were not "pissed."  We were just doing our job.
Ron


 

   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  20 Also There at This Battle:
 
  • Albee, Richard, TSgt, (1957-1977)
  • Bonner, John, Lt Col, (1968-1989)
  • Bopp, Timothy, Sgt, (1966-1970)
  • Hopkins, Dick, SSgt, (1961-1969)
  • Horton, David, CMSgt, (1962-1983)
  • Jones, Donald R., MSgt, (1960-1980)
  • Miller, John, SSgt, (1966-1969)
  • Mitchell, Albert, Sgt, (1965-1969)
  • Sandoval, Joe, Sgt, (1966-1969)
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