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April 16, 2020

50 YEARS AGO • APRIL 16, 1970


DANANG, Vietnam – Chief Warrant Officer Harley L. (Chet) Huntley of Thompson Falls flies with pilots of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) to photograph the wing’s role in Vietnam.

Huntley, photographic officer for the 1st MAW, has recently been flying in the back seat of the OV-10 Bronco observation plane taking motion picture footage of Marine Corps aircraft flying combat missions. His motion picture footage is sent to the combat pictorial center at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. for processing. After the film is processed, it is screened for use in Marine Corps public release motion pictures.

“The Bronco is ideal for aerial photography,” Huntley stated. “Being a subsonic aircraft it has the mobility necessary for good aerial photography. As a forward air control aircraft it gives me the opportunity to shoot footage of Marine aircraft during air strikes coordinated by the Bronco.”

Concerning the OV-10 Bronco: You could do quite a bit of damage while you were waiting for the heavier stuff, says Dennis Darnell, who was a first lieutenant in VMO-2, an observation squadron supporting the First Marine Division at Da Nang. And if the situation was right, you wouldn’t even need the heavier stuff. You could get Medevac or troop transport helicopters in and pluck U.S. infantry out of difficult situations and that would be the end of it. The OV-10 was armed with four 7.62-mm machine guns and a variety of external weapons. For the Marines, the ordinary load was four rocket pods: two with white phosphorus rockets for marking targets and two with 2.75-inch, folding-fin rockets for striking them.

Forward air controllers, or FACs, are the flying equivalent of army scouts who range ahead of the main unit to locate the enemy and quickly report its location and strength. The FAC’s mission is to call in artillery, fighter-bombers, or naval gunfire to reduce or eliminate the threat.

The Bronco arrived in Vietnam in 1968. It didn’t take long for it to develop a reputation that made the Viet Cong think twice about shooting at it. After a while, the enemy knew that it was a FAC aircraft, says Darnell. We got cut some slack because if they missed, they knew that within a few minutes we could bring the world down around their ears.

If a guy fired at us, the pilot would go into a steady orbit around the gun pit and the bomb would come in, says Darnell. And the enemy realized that if they saw an OV-10 go into a standard left-hand turn, they’d better stop shooting because they were about to get hit with a laser-guided bomb.

30 YEARS AGO APRIL 19, 1990


The saving of the large cottonwood trees in the Memorial Rose Garden Park of east Thompson Falls is being blamed for narrower sidewalks and an obstructed sidewalk in front of Doug’s True Value in Thompson Falls.

Many business owners along Main Street didn’t expect the impacts to their sidewalks. In most cases, where there was formally a 10-foot span, the distance has been cut to 7-1/2 feet, and in the case in front of True Value, the sidewalk narrowed to 6-1/2 feet.

Complicating some of the narrow sidewalk spans is the angle parking that was kept from True Value west to the Post Office (now Thompson Falls Family Pharmacy). In that area, the front bumper of the car will also protrude over the outer edge of the sidewalk.

The plans for the Main Street project show that the street was brought closer to the south side of the right of way in order to avoid the large trees in the park. And in the case of True Value, that included a slight bending of the street center line directly west of his building so that the street could make an easy transition front west to east to avoid the trees.

The result there was a narrowing of the sidewalk in front of his building.

Several businesses along Main Street have expressed concern why the trees in the park were not removed, when years ago, foresighted citizens planted a second row behind the front row with the idea that the larger trees would eventually have to be removed.


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