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The 1/92nd Field Artillery
Association - Vietnam

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Arial Observer (AO)

by Harry Harrington

I'm a what, an “Arial Observer”
One day in the spring of 67, at Artillery Hill I was advised by Major Foust that I would be driven to the Army Air base to be an Arial Observer. I questioned him, and I said that I had no experience doing this. I was told “Don't worry, you are a forward observer. It is the same thing; you're just up in an airplane you will have your map; it is the same as the one that you use while on the ground, and when you see the enemy, just radio the location back to the TOC, and direct fire on the enemy.”


At the air base, I was looking up at several airplanes, wondering which one was the one that I would be on, when someone walked up to me and asked what I was doing. I explained my mission and was told that I was looking too high and that I would be on a smaller plane, an O1A1-“Bird Dog”. It was a good thing that I was “ somewhat thinner” then. Today, there would be no way that I could get into that size plane.

I managed to climb into the rear seat, (there were only two), and squished my M-16 between my legs. There was a rack of several different smoke grenades on my right. We headed west with the window open so I could look down on the terrain for any bad guys. After a while, I advised the captain that none of the terrain below was similar to my map. His response was—“We're “OK”, just keep checking your map. Still several minutes later nothing corresponded to my map, so I rapped him on the back of his helmet and said in a loud voice….,”Captain, I think that we passed the border back there, we're deep in Cambodia” His response was, “Shut up Lieutenant, I've been doing this for five months, and I know exactly where we are.” A few minutes later, all I heard was “O SH--!!: We then turned and headed back to Pleiku.

Thank God that my next mission was with a different pilot and was very- very successful!!!

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