This Air Force Pilot Ended a 15 Hour Siege By Bombing His Own Base
It may be 50 years later, but 1st Lt. “Fearless” Fred Abrams still gets excited every time he sees an F-100 Super Sabre that he flew in Vietnam shortly after the Tet Offensive. It was in the F-100 that he stopped an onslaught of Vietnam troops pushing further into Bien Hoa Air Base, the base he was stationed at.
On the morning of Jan. 31, 1968, Adams awoke to hell on earth — his base, the place that he was supposed to be able to relax from the hell he had to endure day in and day out. The Viet Cong had conducted a surprise attack that decimated the men protecting the base.
According to Air Force Times, the VC came from the east and had a stronghold on the perimeter of the gate. After hours of fighting, the VC broke through the east side gate and were dug in a large two storied building.
Typically, you could drop artillery on the building, but it was danger close. “The whole east end was hot,” Abrams recalled. Army Air Force troops did their best to push the VC from the building, but it seemed like every time they would get some footing they would be overrun and pushed back further to the west side of the base.
Adams was itching to get into his F-100 and issue some payback. Unfortunately for Adams and the other American troops, an F-100 was hit with an RPG recently and crashed in the runway, laying debris that could lift into the engine of Adams F-100 causing it to explode.
His commander told him to stay by his F-100 and be ready when he gave the order. Hours had passed since, but Adams finally got his orders and his wish. As he took off, Adams and the other F-100 pilots were riddled with small arms.
He knew he had to disregard his fear and push forward. “You don’t think about it,” he said. “We have an expression called ‘Golden BB’: If they’re gonna hit you, they’re gonna hit you. And if you’re lucky, you make it through and don’t get hit. I’ve been shot up a bunch; I didn’t even take a hit that day.”
Adams and his fellow pilots were only armed with 500-pound bombs. They had three chances to make a strafe run at the enemy. He wasn’t concerned for his safety but the safety of the American troops who were fighting on the ground below him.
“I was really puckering,” Abrams said. “If you miss, you’ve just killed your own guys, and that’s about the worst thing you could do. … You think a lot, ‘I can’t make a mistake, I can’t make a mistake.’”
Adams had quite the task ahead of him as there was no way to easily distinguish who was VC and who was American.The Air Force Times reported that Adams flew at 500 miles per hour and at a 15-degree angle when he dropped the bombs.
He knew he had no room for error. Thankfully, his calculations were correct, and he was able to successfully push the VC back into the jungle. Adams received the Distinguished Flying Cross for successfully protecting hundreds of men stationed at the base.
“The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Lieutenant Abrams reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force,” the citation read.