Even with the advances in weapons, avionics, and communication that bring situational awareness to new levels, the human element in warfare remains constant; the heightened senses, the reflexive reliance on training, the anxiety tempered with professionalism. Almost 40 years ago, during Operation Linebacker, B-52 crews were executing bombing runs over Hanoi, while flying through a hornet's nest of SAM (Surface to Air Missile) sites.
This video contains audio, with caption, of a B-52 mission over Hanoi. For those who haven't worn the uniform, or who haven't been on this type of mission, this will give you a taste, albeit a bitter one. For those who have lived this, well, … I reckon it's personal. I'm hoping my pulse will return to normal at some point. Early in the recording, one of our aircraft takes a direct hit. The buzzers you will hear signal open parachutes, though several on board were killed instantly. As the mission continues, you will hear the pilot and crew navigate a seemingly endless maze of SAM sites, and SAM launches as they continue to their target. According to the ticker, this recording lasts just under 10 minutes, but it must have been hellishly long for the aircrew.
If you have ten minutes to spare, listen to what these men did for each other, and for you. Just as those who currently wear the uniform sign their oath to the Constitution in blood, so too did those who served in Vietnam. Their valor and fidelity will not be forgotten.