"B" Detachment's commanding officer decided to send
a man back to the questioned area the following morning with the FAC.
If the same ground activity was observed, his plan was to obtain fresh,
low-level photographs of the movement using two hand-held held cameras that
were in the detachment's property inventory -- a Pentax 35-mm single lens reflex (SLR)
and a larger 70-mm
aerial camera. The photographs would then be "read-out"
-- i.e., evaluated -- by Imagery Interpretation Section specialists in
an attempt to determine the validity of the possible target. The services of two volunteers were secured for the
following day. The mission was scheduled for early morning, but
given the uncertainty of the season, a back-up flight was also planned for
the afternoon. The morning flight was aborted due to bad weather, but
the afternoon flight was able to reach the target area where the
scattering of people on the ground was observed taking place once again. Pictures
were taken -- thus beginning what came to be known as "B"
Detachment's Hand-held Camera
Program. From then on, at its own initiative or when requested to do so by
other intelligence organizations,
"B" Detachment volunteer personnel flew photo missions to obtain
timely and close-up imagery of small targets or special areas of
"B" Detachment's commander
became battalion commander a short time later, and similar hand-held photography programs were ultimately established in other 1st MIBARS field detachments.
|Expansion of the 1st MIBARS Intel
"Our basic mission was to interpret Air Force
imagery and convey our findings in a timely fashion to the
appropriate Corps Tactical Zone. Since the vast majority of our
target areas were under heavy foliage the results of our efforts
were not of great value. We felt it was imperative that a way be
found to improve our photo coverage. This need led to the
development of "hand-held" missions. My staff
[NOTE: LTC Matta moved to Saigon as battalion commander early in
1967 - Site Administrator] christened our effort as the "LATTA" program for Low
Altitude Tactical [Target] Acquisition. One wise guy suggested that we
deem it Medium Altitude [Tactical Target Acquisition, or "MATTA"]
but was voted down.
[Forty years have elapsed, and I do not recall specifically] how we came to have the
necessary camera equipment and the helicopter [Click Here For "D"
Detachment and the Baby Huey] that would provide
the stable platform needed to get the imagery we had to have.
Fortunately, we did have a qualified chopper pilot in our unit
which helped. I suspect that General McChristian had a lot to do
with our success in getting what was necessary. He was a first
class supporter of any effort to improve the intel [military
LTC Tony Matta, "B" Detachment and
HQ, Commanding Officer, 1966-1968