By: David Matthews
The 100th AMMS began in 1962 when a small cadre of personnel with drone experience was assigned to the 4080th Strategic Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB. The wing designation changed shortly after to the 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, and the reconnaissance drone detachment became the 100th AMMS. The 100th SRW operated the U-2 aircraft in several locations worldwide, and the addition of the AMMS` reconnaissance drones fit the wing`s mission. The AMMS was manned from other AMMS units, taking advantage of the fact that the number of Hounddog squadrons was being reduced. At the same time, 'orphans` from Mace, Atlas, and other SAC programs were also brought on board. After a very short training period, the 100th set up operating locations at Kadena AFB, Okinawa, Bien Hoa AB, SVN, and Danang AB, SVN. The Kadena operation only lasted a few months in 1963/4. The first operational mission out of Bien Hoa took place on 20 August 1964. The facilities at Bien Hoa included hangar space for checkout and refurbishment of the drones after each flight, as well as space for build-up of replacements (that`s why we didn`t put a man in it, right?). The Bien Hoa operation included two DC-130A (later DC-130E) aircraft, each capable of carrying two drones, and usually eight or ten built-up drones. The operation at Danang was the recovery center after flight, and was the home of the ground-based command guidance trailer as well as the two CH-3 mid-air recovery helicopters. The drones were brought into Danang after recovery, post-flighted and rehung on the DC-130 for return to Bien Hoa. After several rocket hits on the DC-130s and the U-2s, the 100th moved the main operating base to U Tapao AB, Thailand in July of 1970. Not long afterward, the recovery operation moved from Danang to Nakon Phanom (NKP) Thailand. Operations continued at these sites until peace broke out, with the last operational flight taking place on 30 April, 1975. Missions flown in Viet Nam were under the nickname Buffalo Hunter, and included photo intelligence, electronic intelligence, and even, during Linebacker II, leaflet dropping. Over 3000 operational sorties were flown over the combat area, with about 500 losses (251 confirmed "killed").
After the USS Pueblo incident, and the shooting down of a US Navy EC-121 electronic intelligence aircraft, the 100th was tasked to set up an operating location at Osan AB, Republic of South Korea. This mission, called Combat Dawn, lasted from Feb, 1970 to June, 1975, and was entirely devoted to electronic intelligence activities.
In 1976, the manned reconnaissance mission was consolidated by moving the U-2 aircraft to Beale AFB, CA. SAC disbanded the 100th AMMS, and the reconnaissance drones, now called RPVs, were turned over to TAC. Most of the SAC personnel were retained by SAC, either at D-M in the Titan wing, or by reassignment to SRAM or Minuteman units.
NOTE: Several members of the 100th AMMS accumulated more than 1600 days of TDY in Viet Nam during the 64-70 time frame!