The Bomber Pilots Like Their Work (The enlisted men are not so gung‐ho) (James Souder)

EACH day for the past year, when the clouds aren’t too thick overhead, the North Vietnamese soldiers, drivers and engineers who travel the Ho Chi Minh trail down southern Laos can expect to witness the same thing. With the trucks pulled over and covered with branches, and the gasoline stored in camouflaged revetments, three specks come wheeling out of the eastern sky and start in over the trail. The two outside planes take the banking turn more steeply to cut their speed and fall behind the center plane, which plunges into a dive over the jungle. If anyone on the ground were still watching, he would see the two olive‐drab bombs drop from the plane like eggs, wobble for a moment in the air and then plunge toward the ground. The jet pulls out of the dive at over 3,000 feet—too high for anyone to spot the NAVY markings on its hull. The men on the ground feel the shock of the bombs before they hear the explosion. Perhaps the bombs hit a truck, or a bunker. More likely, the bombs have put two more craters in the jungle, next to ones blown the day before or the year before; conical holes filling with green water or already blurred under a mat of creepers and brush.

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