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United States Air Force 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon AF TH

F- 4C Phantom II

 

20 December 1965

"Satan's Angels"
Major Robert Duncan "Bob" Jeffrey

 

Major Robert Jeffrey USAF

 

 I was the aircraft commander of an F-4C, 433TFS, 8th TFW, Ubon Air Base, Thailand.  Lt. George Mims was my Weapon Systems Operator. We were a four ship with the mission of protecting F-105s striking a railroad bridge near the Chinese border. We had a full set of drop tanks, AIM 7s and AIM 9s.   We departed Ubon, flew East across S Viet Nam, up the Gulf of Tonkin where we refueled, turning back West paralleling the Chinese border, feet dry north of Haiphong.  I was number 2 in Deer Flight.  The flight lead was concerned with SAMs so he decided to descend below a solid undercast to avoid their effective envelope.  We tightened up and penetrated the clouds breaking out at around 1500' AGL below them in a valley surrounded by karst mountains.  We were fortunate he didn't kill the entire flight doing that.  He then flew us over an airfield near the Lang Son railroad yards.  This appeared to be a training field since it was a dirt strip with small trainer type aircraft located in keyhole revetments along the runway.  Unfortunately, this airfield was defended by Chinese AAA crews with radar controlled 57mm AAA.  They opened up on us.  I was flying off of lead on the south side looking north across the flight.  I felt my aircraft shudder and saw the red fireball 57s spray down the flight narrowly missing the other aircraft.  I called flak, broke hard left and selected afterburners.  Within seconds, every warning light in the cockpit illuminated and the aircraft exploded.  The aircraft desintigrated into a fireball.  The cockpit section was tumbling with fire coming around the sides and top of my ejection seat.  I gave the ejection command to George but I don't think the intercom was working because I wasn't getting any sidetone.  The F-4C was new in the inventory and did not have the command ejection system installed yet.  I was pinned forward by the G forces and was looking at the floor, unable to sit upright because of the forces.  I tried to get my hands above my head to grab the face curtain and initiate the ejection sequence but the G forces were so high I couldn't raise my arms that high.  I remember thinking to myself, "I'm not going to die in this aircraft" and was able to get my hands together and reach the alternate handle between my legs.  I heard the canopy blow, then the seat went.  I lost my vision momentarily at that point and remember hearing the parachute canopy open.  I looked down but couldn't focus my eyes.  My chute opened around 400' AGL and I was above a rice paddy being shot at by farmers.  Fortunately, they were farmers and couldn't shoot worth a damn.  I could hear the rounds going by and one tore the side of by boot off just grazing my ankle.  I tried to release my seat pack survival kit but the handle was jammed and I landed with it strapped to by butt.  This flipped me on my back completely knocking the wind out of me.  As I was trying to get my lungs working again, I was pounced on by the farmers and captured.  Unfortunately George was unable to eject and perished in the crash.  The next seven years were a lot tougher.

Bob Jeffrey
December 2005

 

      Some extracts used in this Biography  were  provided thanks to the generosity of Charles and Mary Schantag  who also gave permission to include the  following POWNET biography  link               (please use your browser Back Arrow to return to this page)

Major Robert Duncan "Bob" Jeffrey