S upporting the widespread land war in Viet Nam is a vigorous and unrelenting air assault that is spearheaded by pilots of the U.S. Navy. Deployed on five aircraft carriers off the coast of Viet Nam, 400 Navy aircraft attack the enemy almost daily to seek out and destroy his bases, depots and vehicles. Called Task Force 77 or the "Attack Carrier Striking Force" of the Seventh Fleet, this armada of 30 ships-including missile-firing cruisers and destroyers—is assigned the difficult task of cutting off war supplies flowing from North Viet Nam to enemy forces in the south. A key unit in the armada is a bomber squadron best known as the Silver Foxes, and a pilot who has served with distinction in the Silver Foxes is 26-year-old Lieutenant Albert R. Hyde of Constantine, Mich. In 20 months with the squadron Al has made 211 missions and earned 17 Air Medals, three unit commendations and the Viet Nam Service Medal, plus a recommendation for the Distinguished Flying Cross. Though he doesn't read or speak Vietnamese, Al finds his way in North Viet Nam more easily than in California, where he has lived two years. He flies his missions without maps, but knows the country so well he is often able to elude enemy fire. Al's plane has been hit nine times, but he managed to land his A-4E Skyhawk jet safely aboard each time. He was more scared trying to land a damaged jet on board his carrier, the USS Constellation, one night than he was at being hit. As for the future, Al is to be reassigned soon: "I hope to go to a test pilot school and continue my career on that line." On scheduled flight missions Navy pilots like It. Hyde walk leisurely to minimize stress in the cockpit. Before a launch It. Hyde checks his gun pod to be sure that all equipment and weapons are in good working In preparation for a catapult launching. It Hyde's air- order. The lieutenant, like all Navy combat piiots, wears an ammunition belt and carries survival gear. craft is pushed into position by his flight deck crew^ Waiting in hit cockpit, It. Hyde watches hi« fellow pilot* being launched-from the flight deck. A jet plan* roan off the deck of the Constellation in the Veteran pilot It. Hyde (bottom) laughs and tells Tonkin Gulf, where the aircraft carrier Is on patrol. his roommate he's too busy flying to worry. It. Hyde doodles with a new guitar. He's been too busy with his tight schedule to learn many chords. ThU Week's PICTURE SHOW-AP Nnwfoeww*.
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