Herman “Al” Allan Heuss, Pilot
71st SOS, Nha Trang, 1968-69

Darke County, Ohio was my birthplace in 1931. I graduated from Jackson Township High School in 1948 and Ball State University in 1952. As an alternative to the draft I entered the United States Air Force through AFROTC in August of 1952 at Atterbury AFB, Indiana. My current address is Union City, Indiana.

I was a pilot, instructor pilot (IP), and Standardization Evaluation Flight Examiner (SEFE) with the 71st Special Operations Squadron at Nha Trang Air Base, RVN. I became Chief of the 14th SOW Stan/Eval section in April 1969 and served in that capacity until our tour ended on 6 June 1969.

One of the most exciting missions I flew occurred in March 1969. The mission was scheduled for patrol in the whiskey box. Upon arrival at our position near the Cambodian border, we immediately tried to contact Silent 15, a LRP (Long Range Patrol) team on the ground. After several attempts at contact, Silent 15 came up on FM radio but was difficult to read. The team was being pursued by a hostile force and was on the move. The team took cover and we located their position. Silent 15 asked us to fire a short gun burst to orient our fire. The burst was within 50 meters of their position. He advised us that the hostiles were within 20 meters of their position. He requested that the burst be moved closer. As the IP on the flight and the crew being inexperienced, I got into the left seat and continued the mission as the aircraft commander. Silent 15 moved again and after re-establishing their position, I continued firing and moving closer and closer to Silent 15. The fire was effective for an hour or so, but then he asked for more fire and announced that he needed bursts within 15 meters and then down to 5 meters. We were able to protect Silent 15 until the hostiles broke off the pursuit and Silent 15 was able to set up a protective perimeter. We left the area at first light with a hearty thank you from Silent 15.

One thing that I will always remember about my time with AC-119 gunships is that we were able to document the validity of the AC-119G gunship as a formidable weapon system. I will also remember the dedication of all the personnel of the 71st SOS. They performed with distinction and accomplished our mission in a truly outstanding fashion.

On 18 June 1969, the 71st SOS was released from active reserves at Bakalar AFB, Indiana.