Jack's Distinquished Flying Cross

Tiff Hawk's Recovery Report
Distinquished Flying Cross
The DFC National Memorial
Tiff Hawk's Recovery Report
Richard Milikin
USS Kearsarge CVS33
Sikorsky H-3 Sea King
Return to CDR John A Feldhaus Web Site

The following report was written by Edwin T. (Tiff) Hawks aboard the USS Kearsarge, CVS33, immediately following his rescue on August 20, 1966.

LTJG Vann Goodloe, the co-pilot of Indian Gal 56 said

"The photo below is not me, it is of LT Bill Roy and Tiff in the cockpit of our H-3 as we are heading back out to sea...I took the photo. The H-3 was not the fastest thing in the air (about 135-140 knots on that particular day, and while we were "jinking" and manuvering out of Indian Country (courtesy of Jack's guidance), I just grabbed my Pentax 35mm camera and shot the photo. You may ask, "Who was flying the helo at the time?" We had it trimmed for a brief moment."




Name: HAWKS, Edwin T. Jr.

Grade: Captain, USAF

Position: Aircraft Commander

Experience in Acft: 200 hrs

Previous Survival/E&E Experience: USAF Survival School, Stead AFB; 460 TRW Theater Indoctrination, Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN


“After ejection of our 7th or 8th cartrIdge it appeared that we were hit in the lower aft right center of the fuselage with a dull hollow piercing sound. Immediately upon hearing this sound the aircraft lurched forward, down, out of control and the entire aircraft burst into flames. Communications were impossible between the acft cmdr and the pilot, and nothing could be seen but fire. The acft was out of control, seemed to be going straight down or in a spin. I was pulling both negative and positive G’s and I was bouncing around inside the cockpit. All this happened very quickly, probably within three seconds.

“I reached for the face curtain handle and immediately realized I couldn’t reach It, my left hand grasped the alternate handle and I pulled it upward. Before I left the acft, It seemed like I was falling straight down in a big bucket of flames I never thought I could get out. Behind me the fire was very intense. I don’t see how the rear seat pilot could have gotten out; of course, this Is pure speculation. My reaction was quick and I just barely made it out In time.


“The ejection was good, and apparently normal. When I was conscious that I was out of the cockpit, descending in the chute I couldn’t really believe that I got out of the cockpit. I had no vision for the first half of the decent, probably for 5 to 7 seconds, and then began to return but was blurred. A few seconds later my vision was almost normal. Loss of my vision was apparently from the G’s and windblast during the ejection. When my vision cleared I was facing, I think, South, and could see what may have been the fire from the crash, however, there were some napalm strikes in this area. It seemed to encompass an area a half mile wide by a half to two miles long, all over the ground. My helmet was crooked on my head, the oxygen mask was choking me and the chinstrap was unfastened. I righted my helmet, adjusted the oxygen mask and fastened the chinstrap. I began try to focus on the horizon to see what little I could see. I never thought to deploy the seat kit because my first thought was that I’d be hitting the ground almost immediately.

“So far I had been conscious about 12 to 15 seconds. I reached for the rlsers, put my feet together, buckled my knees and at that time I hit in a thicket. I could not see the ground as I went down. I did deploy LPU just before hitting the ground. I landed in a thicket approximately 5 ft. high; it was forest undergrowth which cushioned my impact with the ground. I landed on my back and was not really hurt at all. My right shoulder was sore and badly bruised, possibly from hitting the canopy rail during ejection, and my right instep was badly bruised. I had picked up some burns on my left wrist and the back of my neck and ears where the helmet had not covered, before ejection.


“I had apparently landed 2-4OO ft up from a valley and could see downwards. I could hear Vietnamese down in the valley. The voices seemed to be about one mile away; the crash site was approximately two miles away and I could see the flames, at times reflecting on the haze layer. I stayed on my back, tried to determine if I was injured, and. started to pull the parachute down below the thicket. I had difficulty getting out of the harness because my shoulder was, badly bruised. I disconnected the oxygen mask from the lead on the harness. This is very important; the oxygen supply from the bailout bottle was very noisy. The sound could be heard some distance away because the forest was very dark and quiet. I tried to cover it up, stuffed it with leaves and tried to stuff it, underground but the ground was dry and crumbly and it wouldn’t stay put. I rolled up the chute, helmet, harness, seat survival kit, and LPU and put them under the thicket. My ejection leg straps were dangling and noisy so I removed them. I retained my anti-G suit and survival vest.

“I sat for a few minutes trying to get my bearings. I knew where the crash site was and that I was beyond it to the West. I decided to walk in the opposite direction, away from the crash site, up the mountain. I had a little trouble walking at first through the thicket and dense undergrowth. I took my time and kept walking in the same direction all the time even if it was slowly. It was so dark, pitch black, that I didn’t know what was out there. I took my flashlight out and at first covered it with my hand, just letting out a little light. I had to discipline myself from using it; due to my anxiety I used It twice before putting it away in a pocket of my G-suit.

“I found my way through the thickets by pushing through the places of least resistance. I would pick out a direction in which I wanted to walk, try to find the point where I wanted to go, and then try to ease my way through. Whenever I had to go 180o away from the original point still I would work my way eventually toward the tree or target that I’d selected. Occasionally I heard the sound of animals, rats, snakes, all kinds of sounds. In survival school I had heard that we shouldn’t be concerned about sounds in the jungle and so I ignored them. Whenever I’d come on to some obstacle such as a strange sound or something which looked like two eyes staring at me, I would vary my route, keeping the same objective and work my way around to It. All these systems were used going up the mountain.

“I had a baby bottle, plastic, with water. I stopped to drink water probably
5 minutes after I started up. After seeing that half the bottle of water was gone, I still had a half inch left at pickup. I tried to conserve It.

“After I’d been’ walking about 15-20 minutes I came on a jungle forest path. It was a hard dirt, slightly eroded path which appeared to go around the mountain and It had a lot of leaves and didn’t appear to be much used. I heard no noise as the area seemed uninhabited. I was in a hurry to get as far away from my gear through the thicket as possible. I knew I was disobeying the E and E advice to stay off trails, but felt I had to take the chance.

“I desperately needed jungle boots. The path which I thought went up the mountain eventually led down the NE side of the mountain, heading North. I appeared to be going between the saddleback of the mountain while trying to get to the top of the mountain which was on my left. Walking on the path was difficult and exhausting because I didn’t have jungle boots with cleats on them. I started 90 off the path, down hill to divert anyone who might be following and made a big circle up the hill, crossing the path and continuing upward. The slope was pitched at about a 50 - 70 angle. Since I had fallen numerous times on the path and in the thickets and despite having only been walking for 45 minutes, I was very tired and stopped to rest numerous times despite the voices heard behind me. I realized I had to rest or I couldn’t make it. I continued straight up the hill, 900 to the ridge line, stopping every ten yards and leaning or sitting against the tree to relax. I tried not to sit down completely because I knew I’d get too sore and wouldn’t be able to get up. I wouId have been too tired to continue.

“At times throughout the climb around and up the hill I started to wonder about my family and occasionally thought about the Vietnamese. I could hear them down in the valley, with some dogs and with what sounded like a gong evidently used for signaling purposes. It was a very soft sound on the gong, which had a very methodical beat.

“I transmitted on my radio from the time I left the landing site, all n1ght long every fifteen minutes. At times I stopped transmitting for 30 minutes or so because I didn’t hear any aircraft. I tried to remove my family, personal situation, and emotional problems from my mind because they would only bother me emotionally. My enemy was that mountain. I didn’t care about anything else; just getting to the top. I can’t emphasize enough the necessity to concentrate on the job at hand. I must admit when I heard the VC talking, the gong and the dogs barking, I moved out smartly. Another thing in my favor was the cool breeze on the side of the mountain which gave me a bit of cool fresh air and covered the noise I was making going through the thicket and forest. When the wind stopped blowing, and I thought the Vietnamese could hear me, I would stop. When the wind blew and the trees and brush would move, I ran or crawled under thickets, trying to make any little progress I could. I was tired but just couldn’t stop. I had no idea of the time because I lost my watch.

“It was about 0530 local at this time, and with first light I could start to see bushes and gaps in foliage and walking was much easier. By that time I was 3/4 way up the mountain and from there to the top my morale was better. Walking was easier and very soon, within 45 minutes, I made it to the top. A few times coming up the mountain I fell on dry steam beds, rocks and other obstacles. A couple of times I got dirt in my mouth. I tried to clean my mouth with my tee shirt to conserve water. A few minutes before getting to the top I noticed that I had lost my weapon, a 38 pistol. I had taken it from my survival vest and put it in my GI holster, which did not have a positive means to secure the flap.

“At this time I got rid of my anti-G suit, the web belt, holster and cartridges and took only what I needed. I folded up the excess and hid it under the brush. On the top I was near the South side of the top of the mountain. I could still hear the Vietnamese occasionally, with what began to sound like three dogs and a gong. It was very difficult to judge their distance. They seemed very close at times and made me a bit apprehensive. Birds and other forest animals became noisier with more Iight, which was a good thing. I thought the enemy troops were mostly on the SE side of the slope below me.

“The mountain ridgeline got higher to the north, so I cut up the ridgeline, looking for an open clearing with nearby underbrush in which to hide. Between 0310 and 0745 no aircraft flew over at altitude to hear my beeper. About 0745 I heard two jets go over, which turned out to be TOMAHAWK flight, two Fl05’s. Under the thicket I couldn’t tell what type of aircraft, and they went right over. After transmitting the beeper for ten seconds I gave a call.

“Here I’d like to mention something. When I first started climbing, for the first hour I couldn’t remember my call sign at all. All I could recall was TORNADO, which I knew was wrong, but was close. I almost panicked because I couldn’t recall it. So I tried to get hold of myself. I tried to recall how I’d used the call sign when talking to the GCI site. I recalled spelling it phonetically. Eventually, I remembered my comment to the GCI site, which was “TORPEDO, like submarine.”

“I called ‘Aircraft flying overhead, this is “TORPEDO,” they replied, ‘Roger, TOMAHAWAWK.’ Apparently they were in the area on an armed reconnaissance mission. They said ‘Roger, have fixed your position. We’ll get someone in right away.‘ About, 25 minutes later at 0810, LOCKET flight, two A1E’s arrived. They had slight trouble locating me. I gave them the beeper signal. I didn’t know No. 2 was flying high and No. 1 was flying low. No. 1 picked the wrong mountain. I gave directions to No. 2 which he followed, but I realized I was controlling the wrong aircraft. Eventually I directed LOCKET 1 over my position at 50ft. He said ‘I have you, get back in thicket.’ I told them the enemy was coming up the SE side of the mountain; I was just over the ridge on the NW side. I told LOCKET I didn’t have my weapon, that I was trying to stay quiet and stay put because the Vietnamese were only 200 feet away over the ridge.

“At this time I estimated that the choppers were about 45 minutes away. Actually they were 120 miles away, taking another 1:15 to get there. That last 20 minutes I didn’t know if I’d get out of there. I had remained calm until then. The last 20 minutes really looked dark. I suggested LOCKET strafe the SE side of the mountain. He tried to divert the Vietnamese down the side of the mountain with maneuvers, circling as if I were there. About 20 minutes to go it was obvious they were coming up the hill. It was either that LOCKET would get them or they would get me, because they were not being diverted. Then LOCKET really got down close to them. In return he started to get AAA from the south end of the base of the mountain, and getting AW and SA on the mountain.

“About this time LOCKET told me to move out to a better clearing up the ridgeline to the north. I moved out, and found the clearing about 50 yards away, just as he said, with no difficulty. It was on a knoll, and I dropped behind some bushes on the north side. Every time the A1E’s would go over the mountain top they would get a lot of AW and small arms fire, and It was getting heavier. The Vietnamese started firing across the knoll into the bushes apparently to get me flushed out and running and disrupt the rescue; I don’t think they were trying to kill me.

“Shortly before the rescue chopper, Indian Gal 51, was due I was told to let off my smoke fIare. I went out into the middle of the clearing; for some reason the NVN troops didn’t shoot me. The smoke blew off the mountain quickly, and so I lit the night end of the flare and threw it to the side of the clearing. I could see the chopper coming in from 6 miles out the NE at about 6000 ft. It was making a gradual descent to the top of the knoll.

“With 5 minutes to go, LOCKET flight began constant, heavy strafing; they made numerous passes from NW to SE, driving the enemy back into the woods. As the chopper approached I ran down and around the north side of the knoll to the chopper. There was AW fire all around me. I grabbed the jungle penetrator seat, threw my legs around it, and held on. As I went airborne I remembered to put the harness on to keep me from falling off in case I got shot. They took off through the trees, hoisting me up; the pickup was made at 0925 local. The chopper climbed away from the mountain, receiving intense heavy AW fire. It had no armor plating.”