Sgt. Joey Hill was the crew chief of the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron‘s F-4D tail number 650784 on February 21, 1972, when Major Robert Lodge & Capt. Roger Locher got their first of three MiG kills. Watch these two videos Joey made with his pictures and the two mission audio tapes given to him by Roger Locher and Bob Lodge. The audio tapes are the actual cockpit voice recordings of the two missions during which Lodge & Locher shot down their first and second of three MiGs.
They got their third MiG on May 10, 1972, but were immediately shot down by an unseen MiG. Major Lodge elected not to eject because on that day Intel briefed the aircrews that their mission would take them deep into North Vietnam into an area where helicopter rescue was not possible. Major Lodge had told people that he would never become a prisoner of war. Roger Locher ejected safely and escaped and evaded on the ground for 22 days before getting on his radio and calling for help. Roger knew he had to walk west far enough to an area where the helicopters could get to him. For more about Locher’s incredible story in his own words and Brig. Gen. Steve Richie’s story of the rescue read “Roger Locher Describes Shooting Down a MiG, Getting Shot Down by a MiG-19, Ejecting & Evading Capture on the Ground in North Vietnam for 23 Days.”
On May 11, 1972, General Vogt, Commander of the 7th Air Force, cancelled all strike missions into North Vietnam and dedicated over 150 aircraft and USAF resources to rescuing one American. Although many risked their lives that day the USAF did not suffer a single loss. Contrast the importance the U.S. gave to saving American lives in 1972 to the dishonorable mindset and abandonment of the four Americans who died in the Benghazi, Libya, consulate on September 11, 2012, when President Obama refused the doomed American’s cries for help. General Vogt spared no resource to save Roger Locher, but President Obama chose to ignore Ambassador Steven’s pleas because the President had to go to Las Vegas.
The following video contains the audio of the February 21, 1972, MiG kill mission.
On May 8, 1972, Major Robert Lodge, gave another combat mission audio tape to Sgt. Hill. On this day Bob Lodge and Capt. Locher shot down their second MiG 21 while flying F4_D 650784.
Listen to the actual combat missions to hear Bob and Roger talking intra-cockpit and the radio transmissions made by other aircrews in the strike force and Red Crown, the Navy airborne warning ship in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Here is a translation of some of the jargon used by the aircrews and Red Crown:
- Falcon 62 = Lodge & Locher’s call sign on the February 21, 1972 mission.
- Oyster 01 = Lodge & Licher’s call sign on the May 8, 1972, mission
- triple A or AAA = antiaircraft artillery = guns on the ground shooting at F-4s
- mach = airspeed in relation to the speed of sound where mach 1 = the speed of sound, which is 700+ miles per hour depending on the altitude and other factors
- beeping noises = various types of radar energy hitting Falcon 62 and picked up and decoded by the radar homing and warning aka RHAW gear
- on the nose = at the airplane’s 12 o’clock position
- Red Crown = Navy ship in the Gulf of Tonkin that could detect all airplanes airborne over North Vietnam and identify them as friend or foe. Red Crown warned US aircraft of approaching MiGs and vectored US airplanes to MiGs to shoot down the MiGs.
- Disco = USAF equivalent of Red Crown, but it was an EC-121 radar airplane airborne over Laos.
- Bandit = enemy MiG airplane
- Blue Bandit = enemy MiG-21 airplane
- Bulls-eye = Hanoi, North Vietnam aka “downtown.”
- 067/22 = location of a Bandit where the first number “067” is the radial (bearing off of downtown Hanoi and the second number “22” is the number of nautical miles the Bandit is from downtown Hanoi.
- Guard = UHF radio frequency 243.0, a radio frequency monitored most of the time by airborne F-4s and used in emergencies such as when somebody got shot down and was calling for help on the personal radio all aircrew men carried.
- pecker head = enemy MiG airplane
- SAM = surface to air missile, a 32 foot long Soviet made SA-2 radar guided flying
- shit hot = shit hot
- overtake = knots at which your airplane is approaching another airplane – two airplanes heading directly at each other at 500 knots each have an overtake of 1,000 knots.
- RTB = return to base
What a fantastic story! hope Obama reads it!!!
Was fascinating to hear how a MiG is really hunted. I wrote about Bob Lodge and Roger Locher in my book “Angel’s Truck Stop: A Woman’s Love, Laughter,and Loss during the Vietnam War.” It’s good to know the man who kept their F-4 flying in top notch condition.
Thank you for the nice comments.
Joey, what did you do after Viet Nam? Roger was in my UPT class.
I work as a Critical Care RN to this day. I travel the U.S. on contract to various hospitals on contracts. Thanks for asking. Joey
I’m proud to call you my brother