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Linebacker II: A View From The Rock Revived

Linebacker II: A View From The Rock Revived

5.0 2
by Tommy Towery
This is a narrative drawn from the era of the Southeast Asian conflict, detailing a unique event in that lengthy struggle. The event was called LINEBACKER II - the Christmas 1972 bombing of North Vietnam by B-52 bombers. It so differed from the many others, however, in its execution and outcome, that it stands alone. For the first time in contemporary warfare, heavy


This is a narrative drawn from the era of the Southeast Asian conflict, detailing a unique event in that lengthy struggle. The event was called LINEBACKER II - the Christmas 1972 bombing of North Vietnam by B-52 bombers. It so differed from the many others, however, in its execution and outcome, that it stands alone. For the first time in contemporary warfare, heavy jet bombers were employed in their designed role to conduct extended strategic operations against the warmaking capacity of a hostile nation.

This monograph tells part of the story of Strategic Air Command’s participation in LINEBACKER II. In so doing, it addresses the efforts of a complex mixture of Air Force and sister service operations, with all services working in concert towards a common goal. Rather than develop a complete chronology or blow-by-blow account, which are matters of record in other works, the campaign is pursued more from the personal perspective.

Herein is described the impact of LINEBACKER II on those in command, plus those in operations, maintenance and support who undergirded the effort, and the crewmembers. The narrative tells how they successfully met a staggering challenge. There was no book to follow. In only eleven days of intense combat operations they wrote their own book as they supported and flew the missions. That book revealed an across-the-board ability to radically change complex procedures and tactics on short notice, and a commensurate ability of aircrew and support personnel to execute them to near perfection.

Linebacker II: A View from the Rock was first published in 1976 by the Airpower Research Institute of the Air War College, located at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The credits list Brig. General James R. McCarthy and Lt. Colonel George B. Allison, and the General Editor, Colonel Robert B. Rayfield. It was assigned ISBN 0-912799-31-5.
In 1979 it was reformatted and reprinted by the Office of Air Force History as USAF Southeast Asia Monograph Series, Volume VI, Monograph 8. Booksellers now list the printed version of the book as “Out of Print--Limited Availability”. Even the reprint is no longer available for sale by the Supt. of Docs., Government Printing Office, according to the G.P.O’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.
The Air Force Historical Studies Office’s website contains a 1985 PDF image version of the book. Their copyright policy states “The AFHSO Web site is provided as a public service by the Air Force History and Museums program. Information presented on this Web site is public information and may be redistributed or copied.”
The PDF version on their site is a series of 226 “pictures” of the individual pages of the book, and not “text” in the traditional sense that can be copied into a word processor or published as a readable e-book.
To transform the book into something that could be republished required the lengthy process of working with each individual page using OCR software to extract the words from the pictures. Next, the text from each converted page had to be edited to correct any misrecognized letters, line spacing, or various other errors created by sometimes poorly scans of the original pages. These edited sections of text were then individually copied and pasted into a word processing program and reformatted into a complete document. Each photo in the book required extraction from the printed pages, transformation into grayscale images, and editing with photo editing software to be restored to the best quality possible. Some still retained a poor image due to the original scan. The corrected pictures were copied and inserted back into their original positions inside the text of the book. In accomplishing this, some grammatical and style errors were corrected but no attempt was made to alter any factual data or content of any of the original manuscript.
To augment this revived book, an introduction and personal insights by this author (an Arc Light Mission Planner in the Linebacker II Operation) have been included.
The fundamental goal of this project is to once again make the out-of-print book available to the general public in a readable format for historical purposes. No attempt is made to claim authorship of any portion of the public domain content of this book as original work. Only the added insights in the introduction were written by me.

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Tommy Towery
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Meet the Author

Major, USAF (Ret.) earned a B.S. degree in Journalism in 1968 from Memphis State University where he also earned a commission as a 2nd Lt. through the AFROTC program. Attended Navigator Training and Electronic Warfare Officer Training at Mather AFB, CA. Following B-52 CCTS training in B-52F models at Castle AFB, CA he was assigned to the 20th Bomb Squadron at Carswell AFB, TX flying B-52C and B-52D models. He served as a 7th Bomb Wing Combat Intelligence briefer and a Penetration Aids staff officer while grounded from flying status for kidney stones. He was deployed for six months to Guam as part of “Operation Bullet Shot” and was assigned to 8th Air Force Bomber Operations as an Arc Light mission planner. Three month after returning from his first deployment he was sent on a second six-month TDY to Guam where he worked as an Arc Light planner in the 43rd Bomb Wing Bomber Operations. It was during this assignment that he flew on B-52 combat missions as a staff officer and helped plan Linebacker II missions. Upon return to full flight duty status he was assigned to a B-52D crew at Carswell AFB, TX. Shortly thereafter he deployed to Guam and Thailand with his first crew and later progressed from crew duty to instructor to standboard duty on Crew S-1. In 1976 he and his crew received the Mathis Trophy, awarded to the top bomber unit based on combined results in bombing and navigation in the SAC Bomb-Nav Competition.

Following his B-52 assignment he was transferred to the RC-135 program at Offutt AFB, NE and flew operation reconnaissance missions from forward operating bases. In 1983 he was assigned to a four-year tour as an Electronic Warfare Intelligence officer and briefer at RAF Mildenhall, UK. Upon his return to the states he spent his last year of active duty as an Electronic Warfare Intelligence officer with the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Offutt AFB, NE. During his career he logged over 1,600 hours in B-52s and over 5,000 hours total flight time. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and the South Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm.

On December 31, 2008 he retired from his position as a computer specialist at the University of Memphis and lives in Memphis, Tennessee, with his wife Sue.

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