Installation of the TSQ-81 at Phou Pha Thi
Lima Site 85, Laos

Photos Courtesy of Lt/Col Douglas Farnsworth
unless otherwise noted

Throughout this story you may click on any picture to enlarge

In April of 1967 the Air Force issued a contract to The Reeves Instrument Corporation based in New York to develop a mobile, light weight, air transportable version of the MSQ-77 Radar Bombing Control System to be called the TSQ-81.  Within a few months the first unit was Sent to a government airfield in Bryan Texas for testing/bug fixes and practice assembly/disassembly. 

 

It was then shipped to NKP (Nakhon Phanom  RTAFB, Thailand) and became TSQ-81 code name "BROMO". 

Photos Courtesy of
Col. Gerald Clayton

 


The second unit was sent to Bryan for evaluation. It passed testing and was designated TSQ-81 Serial Number 13. The equipment,  housed in two 12x9x40 foot metal shelters, was disassembled and transported to Udorn RTAFB in Thailand.  This unit was destined to be installed at Lima Site 85, Laos, code name "COMMANDO CLUB" 
 

Lt/Col Farnsworth comments: "Mid summer of 1967 I reported to Lt/Col Alan Randle at Barksdale and we immediately left for Austin, TX.  On the drive down I received the only briefing I ever received regarding this project.  Needless to say, the briefing was informal and lacking in detail.  On arrival at the Bryan air strip I inspected the site, familiarized myself as best I could and asked lots of questions.  The next morning Randle left for Barksdale after telling me to supervise the loading of the equipment and accompany it to Udorn. And to send the men home.  The men who were to install the site were already in place in Laos.  After arrival at Udorn I was given an Air America ID card.  All other identification was left behind.  The next day I was flown to the site by a Pony Express chopper."
 
{Source: ltr Lt/Col Farnsworth to Dr. Timothy Castle 28 August 2000}

The installation started in August 1967.  The installation crew was from Headquarters and various detachments of the (1st CEG) 1st Combat Evaluation Group.  There were 20 members in this select group.

 

Lt/Col Doug Farnsworth, Hq
CMSgt Andy Born, Hq
SSgt Charles W. Pearman, Det 3
SSgt George J. Dotson, Det 4
SSgt Billy V. Wheat, Det 9
SSgt Bill C. Boyd, Det 7
SSgt Ralph E. Barnhart, Det 6
SSgt John L. Redfearn, Det 4
SSgt Larry T. Bean, Hq
A1C Heinz A. Hardy, Det 4
A1C Johnny A. McLaughlin, Det 9
A1C Billy D. O'Dell, Det 9
A1C Edward W. Harkins, Det 3
A1C Robert L. Wood, Det 9
A1C Keith W. Johnson, Det 13
A1C John W. Pritchett Jr., Hq
A1C Jon L. Ramsay, Ramey AFB, TDY
A2C Thomas J. Flaherty Jr., Det 3
A2C Charles W. Long, Det 8
A2C Richard J. Colgan, Det 9

 

Lt/Col Farnsworth comments: "Shortly after arrival I became concerned with the men's living conditions.  Too little attention had been given to the needs for water, rations and mail service.  Much to my surprise we had no radios, no direct communications with Udorn. All communications were to be relayed by written message delivered by helicopter.  In an emergency I could use a non-secure radio owned by Federal Electronics located in the TACAN maintenance shed.  Neither method of communications was adequate or reliable.  Even worse, there was absolutely no plan for evacuation in the event of hostile action or other emergency.  I relayed my concern to 7/13 AF and Randle.  In reply I was told, in so many words, not to worry.
     Our rations improved substantially when we started buying much of our food and having it delivered, courtesy of the Pony Express chopper pilots.  Mail delivery was improved although it was screened.  Water always remained a problem, although it need not have been".
{Source: ltr Lt/Col Farnsworth to Dr. Timothy Castle 28 August 2000}



Left to right

CMSgt Andy Born

Lt/Col Doug Farnsworth

 

Lt/Col Farnsworth comments on this picture: "The small silver object below my left arm is a Pilatus Porter.  An aircraft produced in Switzerland designed for STOL (Short Take Off and Landing).  It was landing on a dirt strip just below the site".   Lt/Col Farnsworth also points out that "the cliff behind us was a sheer drop off but climbable".  This is an important comment to keep in mind when you read the story of the loss of this site.
{Source: e-mail Lt/Col Farnsworth to Ron Haden 24 Jul 2002}

 

George Dotson
(Deceased 8 Feb 1998)

Tom Flaherty

Bill Boyd

Johnny McLaughlin

Billy O'Dell

 

George Dotson

Johnny McLaughlin

Heinz Hardy 

(Heinz reports that he gave his necklace  to his youngest daughter in 2001)

BREAK TIME

Tom Flaherty (looking back), John McLaughlin, Billy O'Dell, George Dotson, Bill Boyd, Lt/Col Farnsworth, (Local)

Lt/Col Farnsworth comments on this picture:  "I don't recall who the photographer was but am guessing that it was CMS Born.  This pic was taken on the way back from the range marker.  the marker was a several mile walk through some rather tough terrain.  Especially tough since we all carried tools and various odds and ends we might need.  we carefully followed the local and did not step off what passed for a trail.  I questioned the local, who spoke very basic English, and he advised me that the area contained numerous landmines.  I asked whose mines and he replied, many many peoples, Japanese, Chinese, American, NVA and Pathet Lao.  Which is logical when you recall that this area has been fought over many times."
   
[Webmaster note]  I recall that when I first went to Lima Site 85 (late September '67) some of the trail from the chopper pad to the site was lined with yellow rope. We were cautioned not to venture beyond the rope for this same reason. It was also rumored that the Poppy fields were mined.  I wasn't interested in Poppies anyway.
   "As I best remember we had stopped for a break on the way back from the marker at the locals insistence.  His shack was a ways off the trail we had been using but he wanted us to see it and promised us a treat.  I was somewhat apprehensive about the treat but it turned out to be a very old, rusty can of blueberries.  I don't remember if he ever opened the can but I do remember we gave him cigarettes.
   We made several trips back to the range marker but this first time was the only time we employed the local.  Born and I had agreed that we wanted to minimize as much as possible all contacts with the locals.  We had been visited by several monks in their saffron robes but they did not impress us as being monks.  However, we had to play it cool as we definitely did not wish to attract more attention by some unintended insult or affront to a religious entity".
{Source: ltr Lt/Col Farnsworth to Ron Haden 25 Jul 2002}

Copyright 2002
CONTINUE