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"Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

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  • "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

    I'm looking for anyone who flew APD "Sniffer" missions out of Marble Mountain in Vietnam.

    I flew these missions during the late '68, early '69 timeframe as "Sniffer" operator from H&MS 16. I think the operational squadrons were VMO-2, and/or HML-167 (I'm trying to clarify my memory). During this timeframe, I remember losing one of our guys in to enemy fire (in addition to the Huey crew). He was Cecil "Barrel" Wagner. Another one of guys was shot in the foot (Sam ? from Memphis area). But this is the extent of my memory.

    I read posts from Sgt Doug Cunningham who flew these missions from a few years back, but nothing recently. If you're still out there please let me know.

    Regards,

    Merlin Clayton
    Regards,

    Merlin Clayton
    VietNam: April, 1968 - Nov 30, 1969
    H&MS-16, HMM-165, HMM-263, HML-167, VMO-2

  • #2
    Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

    Merlin, Doug Cunningham was in Marina Del Rey, CA as of last year: 310-333-0737. I live right next to you in St. Peters, MO 636-441-5623. I was a pilot with HML-167 Dec. '69 to Dec. '70. I flew the sniffer mission many times. We lost an APD Operator in 1970 Cpl. David C. Bugman 28 April 1970 when the aircraft crashed. Both pilots were pulled out alive, but David died in the crash.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

      Allyn,

      It's a small world after all.

      I think I was done flying the Sniffer missions by late '68 because I transferred to an operational CH-46 squadron in early 69 after my first year in-country. I think I finally left VN in late November '69.

      Did not know/remember Cpl Bugman who was KIA. But he probably came to H&MS 16 long after I left.

      I know that Sgt Cunningham was flying the missions at about the same time as me since he reflected on the death of Cpl Wagner in Sep 68 .

      Are you a part of the VFW or Marine Corps League in the area?

      Regards
      Regards,

      Merlin Clayton
      VietNam: April, 1968 - Nov 30, 1969
      H&MS-16, HMM-165, HMM-263, HML-167, VMO-2

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

        I belong to Marine Corps League Det. 725 we meet 1st Wed. of each month at the American Leigon Post in "Old Town St. Peters" at 7:00 PM. I live at 26 Country Creek Dr.
        St. Peters, MO. Give me a call: 636-441-5623

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

          I love it when a plan comes together!
          Semper Fidelis
          Joe


          Phu Bai tower:
          YW-11 for Phu Bai DASC-
          Remember, These are "A" models!
          YW-11 BuNo-151939
          '65 Model CH-46A

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

            I was involved in the rescue mission for Comprise 45 as the on scene FAC when Hostage DUKE had to RTB. I have an audio tape (30 min) of part of the rescue - didn't have time to remove and reinsert the tape when it ran out. Also have a copy of the KING airborne command post logs covering the rescue.

            Others on tape were Comprise 4, 10 and 17; Scardace 21 and 53; Chatterbox 26; King 4 (USAF C-130 command post); Spad 1-1 and 1-2 (USAF A-1's out of Da Nang); Jolly Green 33.

            Hostage IGOR
            Hostage IGOR

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

              I was with VMO-2 68-70 and we used to fly cover for the sniffer chopper, usually early morning hardly any wind and they flew right at treetop level. Don't remember taking fire. only flew 3 or 4 of those missions.

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              • #8
                Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

                Believe we had a few, but I was always on something else. Semper Fi, and READY-APP.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

                  There was always two gunships flying chase a couple miles back from the "sniffer" chopper which was a slick because of the APD equipment.

                  The mission of the gunships was to mark the maps when the sniffer operator radioed "mark 1" (urea/ammonia), or "mark 2" (smoke). And of course when the sniffer slick got into the bad stuff, the gunships would come in with guns and rockets blazing while calling in the zoomies from DaNang which were supposed to be setting on the runway hot and ready to go (at least that's what I was told).

                  Big problem with the sniffer missions during my timeframe was that the equipment did not work but 50% of the time. It was relatively new and very unreliable technology back then. So even though we calibrated the equipment over the villages before each mission, many times you didn't know you were on top of the enemy until all hell broke loose. This happened too many times and we lost two crews to sniffer missions when I was in-country.
                  Regards,

                  Merlin Clayton
                  VietNam: April, 1968 - Nov 30, 1969
                  H&MS-16, HMM-165, HMM-263, HML-167, VMO-2

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

                    Originally posted by Phillip Moss View Post
                    I was with VMO-2 68-70 and we used to fly cover for the sniffer chopper, usually early morning hardly any wind and they flew right at treetop level. Don't remember taking fire. only flew 3 or 4 of those missions.
                    I was with HML 167 in "68, flew 2 sniffer missions and all we picked up was elephant and monkey dung. Views were nice, but was glad to get back in my gunner position!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

                      The "sniffer" didn't pick up dung, but did pick up urea/ammonia (i.e., urine) in large concentrations from any mammal (monkeys included). That's why, unless the sniffer slick drew enemy fire, you didn't know whether you were calling air strikes in on a population of monkeys, or VC/NVA.

                      Do you remember the sniffer operators on the missions you flew with HML-167?
                      Regards,

                      Merlin Clayton
                      VietNam: April, 1968 - Nov 30, 1969
                      H&MS-16, HMM-165, HMM-263, HML-167, VMO-2

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

                        I remember flying what we called "Sniffer Chase". There were two UH-1E's up front, two Cobra's behind them, a 46 followed the Cobra's and a 53 flying behind the 46. This would have been in the fall of 1970.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

                          Originally posted by mclayton View Post
                          The "sniffer" didn't pick up dung, but did pick up urea/ammonia (i.e., urine) in large concentrations from any mammal (monkeys included). That's why, unless the sniffer slick drew enemy fire, you didn't know whether you were calling air strikes in on a population of monkeys, or VC/NVA.

                          Do you remember the sniffer operators on the missions you flew with HML-167?
                          Pilot was Cpt John Henry Key. Crew Chief Jimmy Norsworthy (VMO 2), whom was KIA

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

                            Originally posted by popasmoke View Post
                            I remember flying what we called "Sniffer Chase". There were two UH-1E's up front, two Cobra's behind them, a 46 followed the Cobra's and a 53 flying behind the 46. This would have been in the fall of 1970.
                            WOW!

                            The mission configuration was drastically changed from '68 to '70.

                            As I stated in a previous reply, the "sniffer" chopper was a lone Huey slick on the treetops, with two Huey gunships a few miles back marking maps when we detected enemy (or monkeys). When we took fire on the treetops, the gunships came in with guns and rockets and called in air strikes from the zoomies at DaNang.

                            Sounds like your mission configuration was structured to pull out downed crews. That ever happen?

                            I actually finished my Vietnam extension tour with HMM-263 in the summer and fall of '69. But to my recollection, never flew a mission with them.

                            Regards,

                            Merlin Clayton
                            H&MS-16, HMM-165, HMM-263
                            Regards,

                            Merlin Clayton
                            VietNam: April, 1968 - Nov 30, 1969
                            H&MS-16, HMM-165, HMM-263, HML-167, VMO-2

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: "Sniffer" Missions in Vietnam

                              I didn't see what good they were. Glad we weren't involved very much. Semper Fi, and READY-APP.

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