Christmas Day, 1968 was just another day for MACV-SOG Spike Team Idaho. Early that morning ST Idaho was loaded onto Kingbees and flown to the Quang Tri launch site.

That day’s target was one of the MA targets west of the DMZ in Laos, along the river that ran through the DMZ. In the briefing room there was a large map with all of the DMZ targets and all of the MA targets in Laos. Maps of the target area that we carried to the field were just small sections of the larger maps, the theory being that if captured, the small map was useless to the enemy.

On the target map, there were a series of MA targets, MA-10 through MA-16 or 18. The smaller numbers, MA-10 and MA-11, were the first target areas directly west of the South Vietnamese border. Our MA target was a larger number and thus, farther into Laos, near an area where NVA fuel lines were reported to be under construction. The NVA needed fuel to move its trucks and men down the Ho Chi Minh Trail Complex and it was more efficient to have a pipeline, instead of individual trucks, moving the gasoline south.

As we looked at the map, we noticed a disturbing trend: there were more anti-aircraft weapons cropping up throughout the AO. The launch site staff was vigilant in warning the helicopter pilots and Covey about any new 37mm or 12.7mm sites in the AO. More than once, the Kingbee pilots would point out a location where they had come under fire from NVA gunners. Because of the increase in anti-aircraft batteries along the DMZ and MA targets, the Kingbee pilots said they would fly straight to the LZ along the nap-of-the-earth. There would be no auto-rotation, downward spiral insertions into the LZ today.