Caribou Association

The Caribou Mission


A brief historical perspective is provided by two quotes from The United States Air Force In Southeast Asia 1961 - 19731


"Also assigned to the 834th Air Division — but employed outside the centralized scheduling system — were six squadrons of C-7A Caribou transports. These twin-engine reciprocating aircraft had been purchased by the U.S. Army in the early 1960’s to support its airmobile forces. An Army Caribou company deployed to South Vietnam in the spring of 1962. By 1966 the force had expanded to six companies and operated under the scheduling and mission control of specified Army corps and divisions. In April 1966 the Army and Air Force chiefs of staff agreed to transfer the Caribous to the Air Force. Later that year, USAF air and ground crewmen entered the Army companies as trainees and replacements. On 1 January 1967 the six companies officially became Air Force squadrons, based at three locations and assigned to the 483d Tactical Airlift Wing at Cam Ranh Bay. For the most part, the squadrons continued to operate under Army scheduling. The Air Force acquiesced in this "dedicated user" procedure, although it was a departure from its doctrine of centralized control."

"The small payload capacity of the C-7 Caribou normally discouraged its use in major tactical operations. On the other hand, excellent maneuverability at low altitude and slow airspeed enabled the Caribou to make accurate drops into small places. Furthermore, its small payloads were appropriate for garrisons lacking heavy recovery equipment; finally, simplicity of construction minimized the C-7’s vulnerability to ground fire. Thus, the Caribou was used frequently for emergency drops, of which three were particularly noteworthy--the resupply of Duc Lap in August 1968, Ben Het in the spring of 1969, and Dak Seang a year later. The garrisons at all three survived heavy enemy pressure with the help of air-delivered supplies; hostile fire was severe in each instance, necessitating special tactics. At Duc Lap, the Caribous flew in at tree-top level, popping up to 300 feet at the last moment for the release. At Ben Het, the C-7’s made run-ins at intervals of about 20 seconds, in coordination with preplanned fire suppression from covering fighter aircraft. Similar tactics were less successful at Dak Seang, where three aircraft were lost in the first week of operations. The force then went over to night drops, the drop zone marked by signal fires and airborne flareships. During the battle, the C-7’s made 125 drops over Dak Seang, releasing 250 tons; the garrison recovered 94 percent of these supplies. Airlift efforts during 1969-1971 included massive support of the allied incursions into Cambodia and southern Laos. During 9 weeks commencing on 28 April 1970, aircraft of the 834th Air Division delivered 60,000 tons to more than 20 airfields in South Vietnam immediately adjacent to Cambodia. Ammunition lifts from Bien Hoa for a short period approached 1,000 tons daily. Missions into Cambodia were less extensive, but included more than 150 C-7 flights into the border strip at 0 Rang and several C-130 ammunition drops to U.S. forces near 0 Rang."


More to come....  (Come on guys, help me out!)
Unit Patches
  1. The United States Air Force In Southeast Asia 1961 - 1973, edited by Carl Berger, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C., 1984


13 Jan 2009 03:35 PM

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