I am Col Robert G. Clapp, USMC(ret). During most of 1969 I flew with
Playboy FACs as a TACA (tactical air coordinator airborne). We flew the
TA4-F. Call sign: "Playboy". I was Playboy 77. The birds belonged to
H&MS-11, a squadron of MAG-11, based at DaNang. We did fly some missions
"in-country", but most of our operations were in Laos along the Ho Chi Minh
Trail. We ran the roads looking for anything which might prove interesting
as a possible target for strike aircraft. We also, at times, were given a
specific place to check out closely, and if deemed appropriate we would call
7th AF ( which had overall control) for a strike. We then controlled the
strike a/c, which might be AF, Navy, or Marine.
Though we generally moved along at about 400 kts roughly 3-500 ft above
ground, and constantly changing heading and altitude, we rarely got shot at
from anywhere in our forward quadrant. Usually enemy fire came from
behind, and only a short burst, making it hard to judge just where it had
come from. It was usually 50 cal or 23mm.
We got so familiar with the trails system that we almost could tell if a
bush had moved from the day before.
We would go out on a double mission each time. Run the roads, come back
near the border, tank with a Marine C-130, and go back for another go at it,
then bingoing back to DaNang, home base weather permitting.
Hope this has been of some help.
Sincerely, Bob Clapp, or "Shadow" as my Personal call sign was.