Christmas ’72 Stories, Epilogue: Linebacker II and the POWs – Prelude to Coming Home

Note this post includes two videos, the first discussing B-52 tactics and the second finishing with comments from our POWs during the days of the Christmas operations.

On the third night of LB II three B-52s were shot down on the first raid. Seventh Air Force Headquarters Headquarters in Saigon and SAC Headquarters in Omaha went into shock. As a result they recalled the six B-52Gs targeted for Hanoi on the second raid, with the result that the North Vietnamese had done something that the Germans, Japanese, Soviets, Chinese, and North Koreans had never been able to to achieve – they had made an American bombing raid abort for fear of losses (Michelle, The Eleven Days of Christmas).

On the third wave, two more G’s were lost with nine of twelve cremembers lost.  When Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Moorer was briefed on the third night losses of the B-52′s, he picked up the phone and called the SAC Command post - “they’re setting their God-damned watches by the timing of your bombing runs!” 

Brigadier General Glenn Sullivan at U-Tapao had had enough with the SAC/Omaha imposed “same  way, same time, single file bomber streams that were costing lives and aircraft. At 0930 the next morning, General Sullivan Sent a U-Tapao developed set of recommended new tactics directly (copy only to Eighth Air Force in Guam) to  General J.C. Meyer, Commander of SAC. Things changed, but Sullivan’s action came at the cost of his career- one more assignment, not promoted and retired.

The videoes above and below plus the website Triumph and Tragedy at 30,000 Feet are the products of General Sullivan’s son, G. Ray Sullivan, Jr. Well worth the time.

It Was the Chance to Explore Further”

Editor’s note: About eight minutes into the video, the POWs begin discussing those nights of Christmas

Sully, Linebacker II

My father and I talked about Linebacker II, but I just didn’t understand…

He always talked about writing a book recounting his experience. I listened, but didn’t know what questions to ask.  He showed me books – one of which was Karl Eschmann’s Linebacker – The Untold Story of the Air Raids Over North Vietnam and a video that he was involved in which piqued my interest… then, he passed away without the chance to explore further.  Reading  Marshall Michel’s The Eleven Days of Christmas rekindled the fire.

“Barry and I began researching the idea, and discovered it was a story of immense importance to the era of Vietnam and further to strategic ideals employed in military operations today.  We also found it is filled with many personal stories of triumph and tragedy.  The documentary project began…”

– G. Ray Sullivan, Jr

Sully, Linebacker II was published on Dec 14, 2012

Linebacker II was the primary military mission that led to the ending of the US involvement in the Vietnam War and secured the release of our POW’s, some of which had been held in extreme, unimaginable, and torturous conditions for more than 7 years. We would like to honor all of those involved in this often overlooked, historical mission which was quite possibly, the most intense military operation in our nation’s history into the most heavily guarded area in North Vietnam.

With the 40th anniversary of Linebacker II taking place December 18, 2012, we wanted to honor and acknowledge the date and all those involved in the mission with the release of the segment depicting the events original date of December 18, 1972.
This is the first segment, which will be included in a fully produced documentary available for DVD and film festival release. Over 75 hours of original footage has been captured over the last 10 years and has been converted to high-definition imagery. As each segment is completed, it will be added to this YouTube channel.

“Sully” will focus on the story of the decisions made by Brigadier General Glenn Sullivan, leading to the success of the mission, and his son’s own search for understanding and truths of his father’s involvement.

For more info check http://www.linebacker2.com/

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