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Published on Sep 23, 2011
During AFA's 2011 Air & Space Conference, pilots part of the Commando Sabre Operation (call sign "MISTY") were among five individuals/groups selected for the AFA Lifetime Achievement Award. These awards are handed out annually, and recognizes not a single achievement, but a lifetime of work in the advancement of aerospace.
In 1967, the US forces in Vietnam faced a major problem. Supplies were flowing at a prodigious rate from the North to Viet Cong forces in the South down the Ho Chi Minh trail. The Air Force utilized a fleet of propeller-driven forward air control (FAC) aircraft to help high-tech fighters spot targets, but overwhelming losses forced 7th Air Force leadership to curtail these FAC missions. Still requiring eyes in the sky, the Air Force tasked then-Major Bud Day to form a top secret squadron populated with combat-experienced fighter pilots, all of whom were volunteers, to fly the venerable F-100F in a "Fast FAC" capacity. Utilizing the call sign "Misty," these individuals pioneered a new array of tactics to fly fast and low over enemy territory. The dedication to duty displayed by the Misty FACs is nothing short of legendary. Of the 157 pilots who flew Misty missions, 34 were shot down (two of them twice), three were captured, and 7 declared MIA. Despite overwhelming loss rates and constant danger, Misty crews got into their cockpits and carried out their assigned missions day after day. The tactics they developed serve as the corner stone for current FAC operations.