1st MIBARS In Vietnam!

The Hand-held Camera Program

First Mission

Testing Possibilities For Short-Term Response:

Volunteers With Conventional Cameras 

Flying On Short Notice or Below Bad Weather 

 To Photograph Targets In the Combat Zone

Photo: US Army 0-1 Bird Dog aircraft waits on the PSP, or perforated steel plating, surface of the 21st Reconnaissance Airplane Company's apron at Marble Mountain Air Facility for clearance to taxi to the active runway for take-off

Photo Credit: MIV

Above: "Marble Mountain Tower: Taxi for Take-Off, Two Souls On Board."  US Army O-1 "Bird Dog" aircraft, with "B" Detachment photographer-observer in the back seat, ready for clearance to the active runway for a two-ship photo reconnaissance mission from Marble Mountain Air Facility to the A Shau Valley in late 1967.

The curious Forward Air Controller (FAC), of course, was among the first advised of the Imagery Interpretation Section's conclusions following examination of the pictures from what was to be the first Hand-held Camera Program mission.   The analysis was passed up the chain of command in I Corps for appropriate operational action.  Concurrently, "B" Detachment advised the 1st MIBARS battalion headquarters in Saigon of the successful reconnaissance flight and eventually, key personnel in organizations supported by 1st MIBARS in the DaNang area were apprized of the potential for future use of a hand-held aerial photography capability.

Photo: portion of a briefing board prepared to display photography from "B Detachment's first hand-held camera program mission

Photo Credit: MIV

Left:  Mounted on a briefing board, are "B" Detachment's first Hand-held Camera Program photographs.    The low-level view of the target area revealed suspicious and overly-defensive behavior on the part of the people on the ground, as well as what appeared to be numerous openings to underground structures.  Since a large number of apparent non-combatants were present, analysts suspected the presence of a Viet Cong indoctrination camp -- a type of facility established throughout the countryside to control local populations. [Months later, the Reproduction Section processed captured film of activities at what may have been the very same or a similar camp.  Click here for EXPANDED CAPABILITIES]  "B" Detachment's conclusion was subsequently confirmed by a ground force that was sent to the location.  The indoctrination center was destroyed with minimal impact on the civilian population. 

Right:  "B" Detachment Executive Officer/Imagery Interpretation Section Chief (at right in the photograph) briefs a Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) I Corps general staff on "B" Detachment's first Hand-held Camera Program mission.  The Viet Cong used indoctrination centers throughout South Vietnam to recruit fighters, monitor happenings in local areas, levy villagers for food, and store arms, ammunition and supplies.  Therefore, knowledge of their locations was important to MACV advisors who worked closely with the ARVN. 

Photo: "B" Detachment Executive Officer uses the briefing board to present photographs from the first hand-held camera mission to a MACV advisor to the Headquarters, I Corps Tactical Zone

Photo Credit: MIV

Hand-held Camera ORIGINS

First Results

Flying With the FACS

 Instructions From The Pilot

On Patrol With the 21st RAC

Wings Over DaNang 

The A Shau Valley 

Recollections From the Back Seat

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