On July 15, 1967, Captain Oscar R. "Ron" Adams, USAF, was flying as a forward air controller in an O-1 Bird Dog over the Quan Loi area of South Vietnam. The mission was a strike against a suspected Viet Cong base camp near the Cambodian border.
"It seemed a pretty peaceful place," wrote Adams many years later. "There was a lot of triple canopy jungle with a number of open areas. These open areas were covered with elephant grass about three to five feet high. I picked out the area of the suspected camp near a stream. Most of these camps were underground and hard to find until we could drop bombs and open them up."
Dice flight out of Bien Hoa soon checked in with Adams who gave them his position and asked what ordnance they were carrying. Dice 01 informed the forward air controller that they were armed with 500-pound bombs.
"I briefed them on the area: no friendlies around, the direction to attack from, and -- in case of trouble and they had to eject -- where to head for a safe area. I rolled in and fired one of my smoke rockets to mark the target and then directed Dice 01 where to drop his bomb relative to my mark. I cleared him in to drop, turned to follow him to see where he dropped, and then directed Dice 02 to drop his bomb, corrected from lead's bomb."
On the third pass Dice 01 reported ground fire, but Adams had not yet seen any. As Dice 02 pulled off the target the FAC was rolling around to find the lead. Suddenly an emergency call came over the radio -- Dice 02 had just ejected from his fighter-bomber.
"As I turned my plane around to locate Dice 02, I found him above and behind me. His chute had just opened, and he was in a slow descent. I immediately called on the emergency frequency to put out the word that we had a downed pilot and to alert air rescue."
Adams flew toward Dice 02 and watched him land in one of the large, open triangle-shaped areas near the tree line. After the pilot was on the ground Adams contacted him on the guard frequency and told him to stay put. Changing channels he learned that Dice 01 had only five more minutes before he would be "bingo fuel." The FAC called his command center to request more air cover and was informed that a flight of F-4s were being diverted to his location, and that another flight was being ordered up.
"Just about that time," wrote Adams, "I could see emerging from the opposite tree line a large number of enemy soldiers looking for the downed airman. I began orbiting over an area away from the downed airman and the approaching troops, hoping to make them believe that I was over the downed airman, in an attempt to pull them toward me rather than toward him."
After one last pass, Dice 01 departed the area. Adams contacted the F-4s as they approached only to learn that they, too, were short on fuel and could only make a couple of passes. At this point the command center reported that air rescue was still 30 minutes out, but that another flight of F-100s would be there in ten.
"The VC were getting brave and making their way toward my decoy orbit location. I turned and fired a smoke rocket at them, which slowed them down but also made them mad, and they started concentrating their fire toward me. This at least kept them from looking for the downed airman. I did this a couple of times but ran out of rockets, and they began moving to where they thought the pilot was."
Now the forward air controller got really creative, pulling out his AR-14, a cut-down version of the M-16, opening his side window and shooting at the VC. This brought the enemy's attention back to the Bird Dog, and away from the pilot.
"About this time an Army helicopter contacted me and asked if he could help; he was very near the area, and I welcomed his help. I directed him around behind the downed pilot. From his hiding place behind the jungle area, he was able to pop over the jungle and set down right next to the downed pilot. The gunner in the chopper jumped out and assisted the pilot into the chopper."
While the VC were taken by complete surprise, they were still able to fire on the Huey before it flew over the tree line. The chopper pilot called Adams, reported that his bird had been hit, and asked him to stay with him because he didn't know how long he could stay in the air.
"He made it about three miles away," wrote Adams, "before he had to land. By that time air rescue had arrived and picked everyone up. . . . It was a great day for all; everyone made it back safe and sound."
For his "devotion to duty" and skill in assisting the rescue of the downed pilot, Captain Adams was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
"I believed in what I was doing," concluded Adams, "and I was devoted to it. As a United States Air Force officer I had taken an oath to defend my country; I was committed (devoted) to do the very best job I could."
Source: Supersonic Saints: Thrilling Stories from LDS Pilots compiled by John Bytheway (Deseret Book: Salt Lake City, 2007) pgs 110-117.