PANO – In early July 1965, Colonel Sygankov, Chief Officer of the training center, announced the decision to prepare 2 missile battalions for combat. The decision was made by the center and the Vietnam Air Defence Force.

As planned, Battalions 63 and 64 (Air Defence Regiment 236) were selected as the units using SA-75 missiles for the first air defence battle. This was a difficult task as the SA-75 system to be used for combat then had been employed for training for a long time. Moreover, the system parameters were completely different from the standard characteristics while only a few spare parts were transported to Vietnam.

Despite difficulties, the decision was still implemented with effort. With the high determination to gain victory right in the first battle, the Soviet specialists and learners of the training center tried their best in preparation. After less than a week’s time, the missile system was ready.

Soviet Union military experts and Vietnamese troops before deploying forces for the combat position on July 22nd 1965.

In late July 1965, the two battalions were ready for combat. Lieutenant Colonel Boris Stepanovich Mozaev and Captain Nguyen Van Than were co-assigned as the chief officers of Battalion 63, Lieutenant Colonel Phedor Pavlovich Ilinukh and Captain Nguyen Van Ninh as chief officers of Battalion 64. Senior Lieutenant Vladislav Mikhailovich Konstantinov was then the technician of the command vehicle and missile control officer.

On July 22 and 23, 1965, the battalions deployed forces for their combat positions. It was best to move at night and in the morning of July 24, all forces were deployed. The terrains were rough and only three out of six launchers were assembled. The two battalions were positioned more than 10km from each other.

As the operator of Battalion 63 opened the radar, various targets appeared on the screen. The unit was highly determined not to lose any missile. One missile had to bring down one target.

At 2:20pm on July 24, two small flying dots were spotted on the radar screen of Battalion 63. They were two US F4 Phantoms. Five minutes later, Senior Lieutenant Konstantinov fired two missiles. The first missile hit the target and the report from the obtuse angle officer confirmed that the second one also brought down one aircraft. Battalion 64 also shot down another “Phantom”. All together, that day, the two battalions shot down three out of four US aircraft, capturing two pilots.

“Right after that, we quickly dissembled and camouflaged the system in the woods nearby. At night, Colonel Sygankov came and hailed our efforts and feat of arms,” Colonel Konstantinov recalled.

The Air Defence Force of Vietnam scored its glorious feat of arms when winning the very first battle.

(To be continued)

Translated by Huu Duong