The Wild Weasels


The Wild Weasel program and missions at Takhli RTAFB were flown by the two-seat version of the F-105.  The EWO (Electronic Warfare Officer), or "Bear" as they were affectionately known as, sat behind the pilot and operated the electronic sensors and countermeasures.  The degree of trust and confidence required between these two men cannot be overstated.  Their lives truly depended on each other's abilities and communications skills.  

The purpose of the Wild Weasel missions in Air Force terms was to detect and destroy or suppress enemy radar sites that fired and controlled missiles against our strike force, which closely followed the Weasels into the target area.  In simpler terms, it was for the Weasels to make themselves the target, and when the enemy locked on them with their radars, to try to fire back before the enemy pulled the trigger.  Sort of like a cowboy shootout at high noon, but letting the opponent draw and aim first.

The earliest missions results were nothing short of tragic, with brave men risking their lives against unthinkable odds.  As better equipment evolved and techniques were refined, the missions became merely impossible.  The degree to which this is true is reflected in the Discovery Channel TV series "Suicide Missions" which has an excellent episode dedicated solely to these death-defying efforts.  Here then, are some reminders of these men doing their duty in spite of all the difficulties.....


  This photo, courtesy Ed Rock (kneeling third from left), shows the earliest group of Wild Weasel pilots.

This photo should probably be in the "In Memoriam"  section.  Here is the fate some of those in it - First Row: Kneeling from the left - Bob Sandvick (POW), Curt Hartzell, Ed Rock, Joe Brand (KIA), Ben (Bird) Newsome, (KIA), Ed ?, ?, Standing from the left - Tom Pyle, ?, Norb Maier (POW), Mike Gilroy (Air Force Cross), Bobbie Martin, Ed Larson (Wounded and returned to US), Gene Pemberton (KIA), Bubby Reinbold (Wounded and returned to US).  Gene Pemberton was from my home town and his body was returned home for burial several years later.  (More on Gene coming in the "In Memoriam" section soon).


 Norm Frith and Ben Fuller were a Weasel team.  Here we see Norm's photo of himself mounting their aircraft - Ol' What's 'Er Name.

Norm Frith's 100 Mission Photo, signed by fellow pilots, perhaps one will see the name of a friend here.  GC 'Gus' Gustafson of the team of 'Gus & Russ' (Russell Brownlee) was a favorite of mine. 


Norm and Ben returning from a trip to Yen Bai, their 100th mission and ticket home.  Note that between the photo above and this one they have wiped out three SAM (Surface to Air Missile) sites as shown by the three missiles painted between their canopies.  Photo courtesy Norm Frith

My own photo of Ol' What's 'Er Name, tail number 63-8329.  Her proud crew chief was Jim Lobdell, a very active member of our Takhli group.




Back to Photo Gallery Page

 Back to Home Page