Retterbush

Click on the link below to listen to the audio tape made by Lt. Dan Autrey (WSO) of a mission he and Major Gary Retterbush (pilot) flew in the F-4 in Route Pack VI over North Vietnam in the summer or fall of 1972.  They were in Lark 3, one of four F-4s in Lark flight that was flying strike escort for the F-4 bombers.  The job of the strike escort F-4s was to protect the F-4 bombers from being attached by Migs.

You will hear the Navy ship in the Gulf of Tonkin with the call sign of Red Crown making radio calls warning the F-4s as to the location of Migs.  Red Crown gives the U.S. aircraft the range and bearing of airborne Migs from Bullseye, the code name for Hanoi.  For example, if Red Crown says “blue bandits, Bullseye 305 for 53 it means there are Mig-21s 53 miles northwest of Hanoi on the 305 radial from Hanoi.

At 15 minutes and 14 seconds into the audio you will hear Lt. Col. Lyle Beckers, the flight leader of Lark flight in Lark 1 and the commander of the 35th Tactical Fighter Squadron, say “Break Lark 3 left” when he saw two Mig-21s fire four heat seeking missiles at Gary and Dan.  As Gary turned the Phantom hard left and put five Gs on the airplane Dan looked back at his six o’clock and saw four supersonic and deadly missiles coming at him.  Dan then said what anybody would say in that situation, “Oh shit.”

Audio tape of Lark 3 Being Attached by 2 Mig-21s