F-105 Crashes At NKP
by George L. Conklin  
  K9 Handler  Circa 1970-1971

Having been only 350 air miles from Hanoi, North Vietnam, Nakhon Phanom (Naked Fanny as we locals called it) was safe haven for many of the “fast movers”; F-4s, F-105s, F-5s, and some of the navy’s A-7, A-4s, A-6s and many other battle damaged Aircraft Who flew missions over “The North”, the “Ho Chi Min Trail” or The “trail” as it was more commonly known. Well this particular day wasn’t so different. As I don’t remember the day, I do remember that I was down town at “Johnny’s “ (a quaint little bar along the Mekong river) with some of the local talent. Having to work that night, I decided that I would catch a decent meal. We had pretty good chow at the “Skyraider Inn”. Named after our many A-1 Skyraiders (call sign HOBO / SANDY ).So I jumped on the bus and got off at the main gate and took a taxi back to the hooch.

It was when I got back to the hooch, that I heard of this F-105 Thunderchief (Thud as they were called) was inbound with battle damage, a fire warning light and smoke in the cockpit. Word traveled fast. Well this Lt. Col. couldn’t make it in and “punched out”. He “hit the silk “about a quarter mile out . The aircraft impacted just outside the base perimeter and the debris splash took out our concertina wire, tangle foot and numerous trip flares. Leaving a gaping hole in our defenses. Continuing on, the aircraft (or what was left of it) slid across the perimeter road and slammed into the observation tower and the M-60 machine gun bunker at it’s base . B-29 or Bravo-two Nine (as it was better known) which was located at the end of the active runway, Was now destroyed. Given the fact that it was daylight, there was no U.S.A.F. Security Policeman posted there, but we did lose the life of the Thai guard posted in the bunker. The pilot, made it out just fine.

At guardmount that night, I was Taken aside and met with my flight chief, kennel master and some brass from the head shed. I was the Briefed on the “events of the day” and was promptly given my post. Yep, you guessed it..... .That gaping hole at Bravo two nine..... My mission, was to enter that area just off base and “secure it”. I was assured that there was no ordnance left in the area as EOD cleared it and deemed the area safe. Yea right.; the checks in the mail too..... . Hell, there was 20 mike-mike rounds scattered all over the place. Well, who am I to argue. After checking out my assigned weapon and a few extra “slap flares” (hand fired parachute illumination flares). I then proceeded to the kennels and picked up my best friend and partner-”Ango” (ear tag 0k31). A dark dog of 5 years and about 75 pounds. He knew his job and did it well..... . . This night he was to save my life.........

Upon entering the area I immediately sized up the situation, Wind direction, cover and concealment and the best way out should things really heat up, bunker locations etc. Call sign: “Night Fighter Six Four”. Earlier at the briefing it was best determined that I clear the area and then take-up a defensive position where as if any one entered the area I would call in the dog’s alert and then receive the necessary help from the sectors QRT (quick reaction team) the QRF (quick reaction force) and of course the Thai AF As well as our nightly orbiting HH-3E / HH 53 Helicopter with flare kicker, “Sunspot “search light and 7.62 minniguns. We also had a very eager mortar pit crew at our disposal and K-sat (K-9 security alert team). Now the vegetation was something else, as you could get down on your hands and knees and see for many yards. Yet , if you stood on your feet you then could only see for a few feet.

As Ango and my self were clearing the area; he stopped and looking over his right shoulder, streaked passed me and proceeded to rip into one of three individuals lurking under this bush just inches by my side. I let him chew, as I was know very busy with two others that failed to heed my challenge. I’m now ‘”popping illumination” and squeak’n and freak’n on the radio. It did not take long for the QRF in their M-113 to come bust’n in, as did the QRT from bravo sector in their 706 / v100 armored car. I had learned later that they were never very far away.

Well, One Thai national got away, which we figured was OK as he / she could tell the others that..... “It’s not the dark you have to be afraid of..... .. But what hunts in the dark” and that you don’t fool around with those K-9 cops at NKP. One of the other teams caught another and of course Ango, my dog, had his trophy. As things settled down and we debriefed. It was then determined that the Thai that Ango had got had a US issue bayonet on him (I wonder where he got that?) and at the time the dog had struck all this guy would have had to do was to thrust his hand and arm up and he would have got me between the ribs and probably my liver. I would have just bled out..... . . Right there.

Well things settled down, and pretty soon it was business as usual, A few months latter I rotated back to the “World” and my new duty station. Of course, saying good by to Ango was hard; did ya ever see a grown man cry?..... . . Now today, thirty years later as I reflect back, the good Lord had his hand on my shoulder as he did for all of us during those difficult times. I often think of the good old days at NKP. Someday I hope to return for some closure and to reminisce. But there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of “Ango”

Photo Above: A Skycrane, a heavy lift helicopter prepares to recover a crashed A1E.


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Arrival at NKP    F-105 Crash at NKP    NKP Memorial

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