Co-pilot William Arcuri’s last B-52 mission and his prisoner-of-war experience
The electronic warfare officer yells into the microphone, “SAM uplink — 5 o’clock, SAM 6 o’clock, SAM 7 o’clock.”
Four Soviet made SAM-2 surface-to-air missiles, each armed with a 288-pound fragmentation warhead, are racing up at more than 2,600 miles an hour toward the third group of B-52s that had just bombed a railyard north of Hanoi.
A B-52G Stratofortress flying at 38,000 feet out of Anderson Air Force Base in Guam, code-named Quilt 3, is just beginning evasive maneuvers free of its deadly payload. The huge bomber, piloted by Capt. Terry Geloneck and co-piloted by Capt. William Youl Arcuri, along with the rest of the crew, can only hold their breaths as the first SAM races up and misses. Within 30 seconds three more SAMs, or “flying telephone poles,” as the aircrews call them, race toward the B-52 and begin exploding along the bomber’s airframe.