“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The One Man Show at Bong Son-Tribute to an American Warrior

Note: There is an irony in that this was prepared before the NYC aviation incident.

The best meal of the day in any Air Force chow hall was midnight breakfast. It was lightly attended, well prepared and you could enjoy it in a leisurely fashion. On one occasion over a coffee and cigarette, I opened the GI tabloid, "Stars and Stripes" and learned of the death of Maj. William McAllister, "Mac the FAC."

I have never forgot the story of this great pilot, a brave balls to the wall American airman. He was a fighter pilot that changed to flying a single engine Cessna, for the purpose of supporting ground troops by marking targets for the fighter jockeys.Having been one himself, he knew the game and what they needed to help the grunts catching hell on the ground. The man had some major stones and died a warrior's death and a hero, flying a plane that we associate with amateur aviation. Here's how..

The One-Man Show at Bong Son

Air Force Magazine on Line
Photo credit: Talking Proud

Among the most courageous forward air controllers was a former fighter pilot called "Mac the FAC."

When awards of the Air Force Cross in the Vietnam War are tabulated by mission area, the forward air controllers (FACS) rank third, exceeded only by tactical fighter pilots and helicopter rescue crews. The mission of the FACs was to find targets and mark them with smoke rockets for attention by fighters or ground fire. It was sweaty work, especially in the early years of the war when FACs flew light planes like the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog, designed for private pilots back home, not for war. The degree of danger was in direct proportion to the aggressiveness of the individual FAC. One of the most skillful and determined was a former fighter pilot, Maj. William McAllister.
In early 1964, McAllister was assigned to the 22d ARVN Division, flying out of Qui Nhon on the east coast of Vietnam. He rapidly earned a reputation for daring, accuracy, and sound tactical judgment. Some FACs would fire their rockets from an altitude of a few hundred feet. Not McAllister, known to the fighter pilots and ground troops with whom he worked as "Mac the FAC." He went in on his target at treetop level, and although the O-1 was not equipped with a sight, McAllister developed uncanny accuracy, often attacking a target with his four rockets before the fighters arrived. He was, in short, one of the best in the business. Since targets invariably shot back, his aggressive style drew an unusual number of hits on the O-1, which did nothing to dampen the combative spirit of Mac the FAC.

On the afternoon of March 25, 1965, McAllister flew the prelude to a mission that was to earn him the Air Force Cross. A detachment of Vietnamese Marines was pinned down in a narrow valley surrounded by 3,000-foot mountains near Bong Son, 50 miles north of Qui Nhon. In marginal weather with a ceiling lowering from 1,200 feet, McAllister, under frequent heavy fire from small arms and automatic weapons, directed a series of attacks by A-1Es against enemy forces, enabling the ARVN Marines to gain their objective. He then remained in the area, a target for Viet Cong gunners, while a helicopter from Qui Nhon evacuated two US Marine advisors who had been wounded. Low on fuel and with engine problems, McAllister limped back to base, ending another successful three-hour mission.

At 11 that evening, the ARVN Marines again called for help. Grabbing the first in-commission Bird Dog he could find, Major McAllister headed for Bong Son, flying under a low overcast that extended up to 8,500 feet. After finding the valley, which was barely wide enough for tight 360-degree turns, he called for flares. The assigned C-123 flareship could not enter the valley under a 500-foot ceiling. McAllister told the C-123's pilot to climb above the overcast and drop flares from 10,000 feet, using a radar fix from Pleiku. When the first flares fell off-target, he steered the flareship into position for accurate release, using dead reckoning. The intense light of the flares created a double hazard for the FAC: His O-1 now was illuminated against the overcast, making it a clear target for enemy fire, while the light of the flares threatened to blind him and set up perfect conditions for vertigo.

When enemy fire became too hot, "Mac the FAC" climbed into the overcast and orbited in the narrow valley, using the meager instruments with which the Bird Dog was equipped. He then requested the Air Support Operations Center at Pleiku to send a succession of flareships that would illuminate the combat area until dawn. Under the light of the flares, the Marines were able to reorganize themselves and hold off the VC attackers. Major McAllister helped disrupt the attack by firing an M1 out the window of the Bird Dog after his rockets were expended.

Nearly three hours after takeoff and with his fuel gauges hovering on empty, McAllister flew out of the valley, his O-1 ventilated by bullet holes. Shortly after his departure, the VC broke off their attack, confused and disorganized by the defenses "Mac the FAC" had directed while contending with weather, terrain, and enemy fire for which the little Cessna was not designed.

Before McAllister could be awarded the Air Force Cross--only the ninth of the Vietnam War up to that time--he was killed in an accident on what would have been his last mission before returning to the States. He left behind a record of valor that was an inspiration for those who were to come in the long remaining years of that war.
More info good photos

May God bless "Mac the Fac."


  1. Storm'd at with shot and shell,
    Boldly he flew and well,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of Hell

    Flash'd as he turn'd in air,
    Rockerting the gunners there,
    Charging an army, while
    All the world wonder'd:
    Plunged in the battery-smoke
    Right over theirs line he smoked;

    Cannon to right of him,
    Cannon to left of him,
    Cannon behind him
    Volley'd and thunder'd;
    Storm'd at with shot and shell,
    While night and cieling fell,
    He that had flown & fought so well
    Came thro' the jaws of Death
    Back from the mouth of Hell

  2. rufus
    With the election so far off, I'd have let it ride, but you were so happy when Mr Ford was announced by SurveyUSA to be down by 2 points.

    Now your favorite pollster Rasmussen has Mr Ford up 2 points.

    Rasmussen 10/10 - 10/10 500 LV
    Corker - 46% Ford - 48% Ford +2%

    But still, that's
    "To close to call"

  3. Meanwhile Cindy Sheethead is a Nobel peace prize finalist. I knew it would be someone like Arafat or Carter.

  4. I'll join you, and pledge not to. Deserve ain't the issue--it's the contortion, I can't see it.

  5. The jihad, the Supreme Court. The top threats in play.

  6. Teresita
    Meanwhile Cindy Sheethead is a Nobel peace prize finalist.

    That is so unfair to Khaled Mashaal after all he is doing to get the US/Euro gravy train turned back on, er I mean all he is doing to promote peace in the middle east.

    Hamas politburo leader Khaled Mashaal reiterated Wednesday that his group would not recognize Israel. .. Mashaal said he was willing to accept a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, as well as a hudna [truce] with Israel but not to recognize the "occupation."
    Although he refused to recognize the "legitimacy of the occupation," Mashaal admitted the "Zionist entity" was an established fact. "There is an entity whose name is Israel, yes, but I am not interested in recognizing it," said Mashaal.

    And please don't get me started Condi Rice.

  7. The sound and the fury is all I'd realy need, buddy.
    More than enough satisfaction, just in the knowledge that the target was in close proximity of the load's release.

  8. Sounds like Jim Baker is on the team, doesn't it?

  9. There are two statues in a park; one of a nude man and one of a nude woman.

    They had been facing each other across a pathway for a hundred years, when one day an angel comes down from the sky and, with a single gesture, brings the two to life.

    The angel tells them, "As a reward for being so patient through a hundred blazing summers and dismal winters, you have been given life for thirty minutes to do what you've wished to do the most."

    He looks at her, she looks at him, and they go running behind the shrubbery.

    The angel waits patiently as the bushes rustle and giggling ensues.

    After fifteen minutes, the two return, out of breath and laughing.

    The angel tells them, "Um, you have fifteen minutes left, would you care to do it again?"

    He asks her. "Shall we?"

    She eagerly replies, "Oh, yes, let's! But let's change positions!"

    "Okay!" he says, "This time, you hold the pigeon down, and I'll shit on its head."

  10. If James Baker is off the Reservation, look out.
    He'll ride with the Home Team as far as he can, but he's not goin' to the Little Big Horn with Jr.

  11. First it was in Iraq, the bad guys get Police vehicles and uniforms. Now. on the Mexican border, the coyyyotes have learned a varient of that trick.

    "SELLS, AZ - — Thirty illegal entrants were found in a vehicle that had been made up to look like a U.S. Border Patrol transport van, authorities said.

    The vehicle was seized Wednesday near San Miguel on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation about 70 miles southwest of Tucson.

    The van had horizontal green stripes along the sides, Border Patrol emblems on its doors and the words “Border Patrol” written across the rear. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Casa Grande station came in contact with the van while responding to activity in the area.

    After seeing the agents, the driver turned the van around and tried to return to Mexico.

    Authorities said the male driver abandoned the van about 100 yards from the border and sprinted into Mexico, leaving behind the 30 illegal immigrants.

    All 30 were taken to the law-enforcement center on the reservation and processed for illegally entering the United States

    Baghdad or Bisbee, the battle is in both. I care a damned sight more about Bisbee.

  12. Hewitt just had Audio of Reid Hanging up the phone!

    Democratic leader's $1 million land deal under scrutiny
    Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid is awaiting word from the Senate ethics committee on whether he failed to properly account for a business deal that allowed him to collect a $1.1 million windfall on land he hadn't personally owned for three yea...

  13. What the investigation will find, is every real estate deal in the whole city of Vegas, and half the commercial deals the congressmen have made, have some smelly associations--and that'll be the end of it. Won't make it to the weekend. Commercial real estate is how business lawyers beat their hourly rates--damn near every deal has 'victims'.

  14. Dontcha remember Woody Guthrie? "...some rob you with a six-gun,
    some with a fountain pen...." ?

  15. It's Vegas, Baby!

    As with Mr Hastert's earmarked exit ramp and his million dollar share of the profits, no one really cares about it.

    Need some sex or drugs, but sex is best for a story to get legs.

  16. Real news and commentary from the fellows at Westhawk.

    Learn something new each day.
    Often there.

  17. rat, i can find WHawk anyway, but FYI, the link is broken.

  18. oh well.
    Have to find it on your own then.

    blogger is so....googled

  19. Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote Charge of the Light Brigade

    which served as the basis of my edited version

  20. Need some sex or drugs, but sex is best for a story to get legs.

    If you're talking about Hillary's legs I think we should go with the drugs instead.

  21. Now, now--let's not be catty. It's her mind, not them Steinway legs, that will do us in.