21st Special Operations Squadron 1967 - 1975
Page 7

Last Revised: December 14, 1998

Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base (Continued)

I did not notice, being busy with the A-26, but the 21st had arrived. They began to assemble the helicopters, weapons systems, and began to learn the ways of combat flying in theater. December and January were busy times. Tet '68 was only weeks away, though at the time that did not mean anything to the crews or to the Marines at Khe Sanh, RVN. Khe Sanh was coming under siege and the 21st was about to contribute to the effort in a significant way.

MUSCLE SHOALS was about to gain a new dimension. The 21st Helicopter Sq. was about to become operational, and not a moment too soon. MUSCLE SHOALS/IGLOO WHITE under direction of 7th AF (Saigon) in conjunction with TASK FORCE ALPHA based at NKP was being called in to assist the surrounded Marines.


Though I had yet to learn it, the 21st Helicopter Squadron was but one piece in a highly complex puzzle that spanned most of the bases in Thailand and many of the units scattered about the Southeast Asian theater.

And so the unit, code named Task Force Alpha, began using our capabilities. In February I finally joined my unit, leaving behind many shortened friendships that I had begun making, for part of my welcome to the 21st was a security briefing where I was told that I could not talk about what I was doing, what the unit was doing or where we were going. Severe penalties were mentioned. I took it all in and decided that I had come to the right place. By the way, the security briefings would continue throughout my tenure with the 21st.

Task Force Alpha or TFA was hidden away in a barbed wire enclosed compound on the base at NKP. Housed here were the IBM 360 computers that allowed the entire system to function. Those highly advanced (for those days) computers would correlate the data coming in "real-time" from thousands of sensor we would drop on and around the Ho Chi Minh Trail in an effort to stop the infiltration of both supplies and troops into South Vietnam.

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