Cider FACs at Sui Tre

submitted by: Alva Leon Matheson

I believe one reason for the lack of references to Cider FACs is two Brigades were at Pleiku along with one Brigade from the 25th Div. The 3rd Brigade at Dau Tieng was transferred to the 25th at Cu Chi sometime in late 1967.
The battle of Sui Tre was on of the biggest engagement at the time. Terry Forbes was one of the FACs going back to F-100s. Toni England had just recently arrived. I wrote up their citation for the Silver Star. Terry was with us at Ft Lewis.
Walt Sager and I also had assignments to Tuy Hoa. About that time, the experience level in the F-100 was pretty low. When the Army said the FACs had to be fighter pilots with an 1115 AFSC, that drained a lot of experience from TAC bases. Several of us were IPs at Luke and I had recently graduated from Fighter Weapons School. After a few months in country the “powers that be” i.e. Momeyer decided to let high time F-100 pilots transfer after six months as a FAC.
Walt Sager and I were notified about the shoot down and “scrambled” around 0800. It was about a 20 minute flight to Sui Tre, and when we arrived, we could see black pajamas all around the North perimeter.
The Bn CO asked us to put strikes in there. The ceiling was 1,200’ to 1,500’ with broken clouds. Tops were around 2,500’ to 3,000’. We had to climb up so the F-4s and F-100s could see us and follow down through a hole. All they could do was drop nape and strafe due to the low cloud cover. A couple of times we would climb above the clouds and when the fighters couldn’t spot us, we would activate one of the smoke cans we had on each wing. A Stars & Stripes article later recounted that the O-1 had a fire on the wing, but dived to put it out.
When gas ran low, Walt and I returned to Dau Tieng to gas up. Another Cider FAC had relieved us. We returned to Sui Tre and put in some strikes further out on the perimeter, and flew recon to make sure no more bad guys were around.
The next day I got a chopper ride to the base camp. Photo attached. You can see Tay Ninh mountain in the background. A couple of the folks I talked to said the “beehive” artillery rounds really helped save the day.
Walt and I finished our tour at Tuy Hoa and came back on the same airplane. He went to Luke and I went to Cannon.
Sorry to ramble so much, but when I stumbled across the Charlie Co. website, it really brought back some memories, especially having been there. Ray.