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  A Shau Valley
    • Hué Cit Airfield
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    • Battle at Hua Cu
    • McNamara Line
    • Choke Points
Ranch Hand
Arc Light
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  Search for Jolly 23
  Jungle Penetrator



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Heavy Weight from Hué Cit


Hué Citadel runway 12 showing the close proximity of the An Hoa gate.    (Photo © Tom Pilsch)

I always remembered the Hué Citadel airfield being tight for the less-than-stellar performance of the O-2, but I did not realize how bad it was until I saw the FLIP airfield plate many years later.   The 60 ft. watchtower 1500 ft. from the approach end of Runway 12 (shown in photo above) was not a problem on landing, but it did loom very large in my windshield during takeoff one hot summer afternoon in 1968.

I was scheduled to take a US advisor and his ARVN counterpart up to reconnoiter an area for a coming operation.   The American was average sized as was the Vietnamese officer (in other words, I did not take a close look at them nor did I weigh and figure them into my mental weight and balance calculations that day!).   I also did not take note of the field gear (weapons and ammo, helmets, flack vests and web gear) they brought with them into the back of the bird.   Naturally, I had a full load of rockets and gas. (You can see where this is going.)

My trusty Oscar Deuce did not leap into the air.   We did get airborne just prior to the end of the 2,400 ft. runway but were hardly climbing.   The watchtower over the Citadel's An Hoa gate and the wall seemed huge in front of me.   I momentarily considered punching off the rockets, but there were women working in the field at the end of the runway as well as hooches just beyond.   Skidding to the left as we strained into the air, we were about level with the tower when we cleared the wall -- a lot closer than I had wanted to be.   My passengers did not say a word; I guess they figured I was trying to give them a good show.

During a wet period that fall our ALO ran an airplane off the end of the runway, and shortly thereafter O-2 operations were terminated at Hué Cit.   We moved our operation to the Phu Bai airfield ten miles south of Hué.  

Hué Citadel Airfield            Hué            MACV Compound