POW recalls mission that led to capture 50 years ago (Richard Smith)

On Oct. 25, 1967, now retired Lt. Col. Richard Smith and his wingmen had orders to bomb the Paul Doumer Bridge in North Vietnam; the bridge was a mile long and one of the most heavily defended positions in Southeast Asia.

Smith said that leading up to the mission, he and his wingmen had a feeling one of them would not make it back. One of them didn’t.

“To be a fighter or a bomber pilot you have got to believe that if someone is going to get shot down, you just have to look around the room and say, ‘I wonder which one of the son-of-a-guns it’s going to be, because it won’t be me,’” Smith said. “That was the mentality you had to have.”

Prior to that day, Smith conducted a bombing mission in the F-105 Thunderchief. He said pilots would usually fly two out of every three days, but there were so many missions, he flew almost every day.

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