THE ARTISTS AND THEIR STORIES BEHIND VIETNAM'S WARTIME ART
1 November 1964: Biên Hòa Air Force Base Attacked
The Attack on Biên Hòa
At 2:00 am, a Việt Cộng mortar team penetrated the Biên Hòa base perimeter. The 30-minute barrage destroyed five B-57s and three A-1H Skyraider attack aircraft. A Kaman HH-43 Huskie helicopter and two Douglas C-47 Dakota transport aircraft joined the list. Vietnamese communists killed four US and two South Vietnamese personnel. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended reprisal attacks against the North Vietnamese. However, President Lyndon Johnson ordered the replacement of the lost aircraft instead. He convened a National Security Council group to consider available political and military options.
On 6 November the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) launched a 32 aircraft retaliatory attack. Led by Air Vice Marshal Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, the ARVN claimed to have killed 500 soldiers.
Michael M. Myers shared his own personal experience of the attack on Biên Hòa Air Force Base. Mr Myers, stationed at Biên Hòa with Navy Squadron VA-152, trained South Vietnamese pilots to fly the Skyraiders from 22 April until 1 December 1964. While operating in South Vietnam, the squadron came under the control of the Chief Air Force Advisory Group in Saigon.1
“We were sleeping on Halloween night when at about 0200 hours on 1 November I woke to what I first thought was thunder but soon realized were mortars. Being in Ordnance, I headed to our Spads [Douglas A1 Skyraiders] on the flightline where a lot of the mortars had already destroyed several US aircraft including at least three B-57s. We were lucky; none of our Spads were hit. It was quite some time before retaliation was granted and at that point the hit and run VC [Việt Cộng] were gone and Army choppers lit up the sky with 50 calibre machine gun rounds and tracers. We found out later that the VC were firing their mortars from our bomb dump within our compound. I’m not sure how many military personnel were killed and injured. There was a direct hit on our dispensary and the injured and dying were housed in the chow hall next door. After I left the flightline, I was asked to comfort two dying soldiers. I found out later that they were two soldiers I saw the night before celebrating going home the next day.”
Michael M. Myers, Ordnance, Navy Squadron VA-152 Det Zulu, 13 March 2019