History Quotes, Lexicon, Legends
YGBSM: The Origin of our Battlecry
A great motto of the Wild Weasel crews is YGBSM: "You Gotta Be Sh-tting Me." It was B-52 Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) veteran Jack Donovan's natural response when he was introduced to the tactics and mission details as part of the first Weasels. His exact reply was: "you want me to fly in the back of a little tiny fighter aircraft with a crazy fighter pilot who thinks he's invincible, home in on a SAM site in North Vietnam, and shoot it before it shoots me, you gotta be sh-tting me!" His vernacular stuck and YGBSM is prominently displayed on the patch of some squadrons, adding to the legend of the Wild Weasel.
The First Sam Kill
"Weasel Sighted SAM--Killed Same"
Capts. Allen Lamb (pilot) and Jack Donovan (EWO) achieved the first Wild Weasel SAM kill on Dec. 22, 1965, while covering a strike force northwest of Hanoi, North Vietnam. Capt. Donovan began picking up radar signals and called out the coordinates. Capt. Lamb guided their F-100F to the site and spotted the camouflaged radar van. He attacked it with a salvo of 2.75-inch rockets and 20mm fire, destroying the van and a nearby SA-2. Four single-seat F-105s accompanying them finished off the SAM site with rockets. The cabled message to the Joint Chiefs of Staff read "Weasel sighted SAM--killed same."
North Vietnamese SA-2 Missile
Medal of Honor Mission--March 10,1967
"On March 10, 1967, Capts. Merlyn Dethlefsen (pilot) Kevin "Mike" Gilroy (EWO) were No. 3 in a four-plane Iron Hand formation on the first mission against the very heavily defended Thai Nguyen steel mill, about 50 miles north of Hanoi. During the first attack run, an anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) shot down the flight leader and heavily damaged his wingman. This left only Dethlefsen and Gilroy's EF-105F and their F-105D wingman, Maj. Kenneth Bell, to support the bombers.
Though standard tactics called for only one attack pass against such heavy defenses (or two at the very most), Dethlefsen and Gilroy made several passes through intense AAA. Despite being heavily damaged by AAA fire and attacked by MiGs twice, they did not jettison their ordnance and escape. Remarkably, they flew two passes after the strikers left, silencing one site with a Shrike and destroying another with bombs and 20mm fire. Ignoring AAA and MiG gunfire damage to his F-105D, Maj. Bell remained with Dethlefsen and Gilroy through the engagement. Both aircraft made it safely back to base."
Medal of Honor Mission--April 19, 1967
On April 19, 1967, Major Thorsness and his Electronic Warfare Officer, Captain Harold E. Johnson, flying F-105F AF Ser. No. 63-8301, led Kingfish flight (three F-105F Weasel aircraft and an F-105D single-seater) on a Wild Weasel SAM suppression mission. The strike force target was JCS target 22.00, the Xuan Mai army training compound, near heavily defended Hanoi. Thorsness directed Kingfish 03 and 04, the second element of F-105s, to troll north while he and his wingman maneuvered south, forcing defending gunners to divide their attention. Thorsness located two SAM sites and fired a Shrike missile to attack one, whose radar went off the air. He destroyed the second with cluster bombs, scoring a direct hit.
Baghdad was lit up like a Christmas Tree
Lt Col "John Boy" Walton was the Commander of the 561st Black Knights and in the first Wild Weasel attack on Baghdad he was amazed that most of the city had their lights on even though they were under attack. The picture below is a good example of it. When asked by reporters after the mission he stated "Baghdad was lit up like a Christmas Tree" calling attention to both the SAMS, AAA, City lights and explosions. That quote made over 10 papers in the US.
First In and Last Out--its what Wild Weasels Do!
The Wild Weasels from the beginning with the F-100s were developing combat tactics during missions to North Vietnam and soon they realized that being the first in ahead of the strikers would allow them to gather information to attack radar sites and to protect strike packages during their ingress. When last out, the Weasels were able to protect the strike package egresses and keep the SAM operators busy. This tactic worked in Vietnam and again in Iraq. It was an ethos that meant the Weasels would do everything in their power to draw fire from Surface to Air systems and allow the strikers to hit their targets and return home.
For well over 30 years Fighter Pilots and Electronic Warfare Officers (EWOs) have been flying two seat versions of the Wild Weasel. It has been an amazing marriage of groups and in the early days the EWOs picked up the name "Bears" for their work and a natural disposition for the continued use of the mantra YGBSM! Please click on the link to see versions of the call sign "Bear.
Flying Wild Weasel missions involved a variety of airframes but just one philosophy: Do unto SAMS before they do unto you.
“Colonel” Roscoe – 388th Tactical Fighter Wing Mascot
Roscoe was a sandy colored, multi-breed mongrel who had been designated by the aircrews at Korat as the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing’s official mascot with the rank of full Colonel. He arrived in Thailand in 1966 with an F-105 pilot transferring out of Japan. A couple of months after his arrival, Roscoe’s master was shot down and never recovered. This broke Roscoe’s heart, and he went into a severe health slump. Pilots of the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron adopted the tawny canine and nursed him back to health.
The most junior officer in the squadron was designated as the “Roscoe Control Officer” and was charged with keeping the dog’s food bowl full and his shots up to date. The cunning canine’s rank afforded him free access to any part of the base he wanted to use, and whenever he entered a room, all the airmen were called to attention. He would travel from place to place by flagging down passing military drivers who would gladly put him in the soft passenger’s seat for his ride. His favorite hangout was the Korat Officers’ Club where he could get petted and talked to by all the smelly pilots gathered there for lunch or dinner. These visits also generated several unsanctioned steak or chicken contributions to Roscoe’s diet.
During the most active periods of the war, Roscoe attended all the mission briefings in the Wing auditorium, including Operation Linebacker I and II in 1972. If he was calm or napped during the briefing, everyone knew the mission would be easy—a cake walk. If he paced about nervously, the crews knew to anticipate heavy threat activities during the flight and a higher than normal loss rate. His predictive skills proved to be highly accurate. At the conclusion of the mission briefing, most pilots would seek out Roscoe to give his head a quick pat in a superstitious effort to increase their probability of a safe return.
He spent most mealtimes wandering from table to table, checking in with all the Phantom crews that were there as if it was some sort of social obligation he had to fulfill. As was his long-time habit, he attended every mission briefing we held as the prelude to Operation Frequent Wind in Korat’s Fort Apache.
Sadly, Roscoe died of a heart attack in late 1975. His heroic career spanned ten years of unselfish support to the combat crews. He was buried near the Officers’ Club with full military honors.