The Society of Wild Weasels

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."

Further Reading

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."

The Full Story

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.[8] The strike force target was JCS target 22.00, the Xuan Mai army training compound, near heavily defended Hanoi.[9] 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.

The Bears

     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.

How EWOs Became Bears with both Pilot and EWO Versions


     Flying Wild Weasel missions involved a variety of airframes but just one philosophy: Do unto SAMS before they do unto you.

The Full Story

Address: Society of Wild Weasels, P.O. Box 877, Silver Spring, MD 20918


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