Week of July 23
On July 24, 1965, F-105 Thunderchiefs were attacking an explosives factory in North Vietnam. A flight of four F-4C Phantoms provided air cover while and EB-66 Destroyer provided electronic surveillance and support. The EB-66 picked up signals from an SA-2 Guideline (S-75 Dvina) SAM "Fang Song" guidance radar system and tried to warn the Phantoms. One missile exploded beneath the Phantom piloted by Capt. Richard Keirn. The Radar Intercept Officer, Capt. Roscoe Fobair, was killed in the attack; but Keirn was able to eject. He was then captured and held as a POW until 1972.
Prior to this event, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara limited the bombing of SAM sites in North Vietnam in order to avoid confrontations with the Chinese or Soviet Union. This event, however, changed that policy; and prompted a retaliatory raid on North Vietnamese SAM sites on July 27 with 45 Thunderchiefs and 58 other aircraft striking known sites.1
1Jacob Van Staaveren, Gradual Failure: The Air War over North Vietnam, 1965-1966 (Wash DC: Air Force History and Museums Program, 2002), pp. 162-66; Tucker, ed., The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History, p. 666. Available at http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-100526-034.pdf.