First Lieutenant Robert Houghton and Captain Earl Aman in one aircraft, and 1st Lt. Steve Wayne and Captain Robert Pardo were tasked with flying escort and anticipated encountering both Migs and anti-aircraft fire during their mission.
During their flight towards the target Houghton and Aman’s aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, but assessing they could still complete the mission they continued on to the target and dropped their ordinance.
No enemy MiGs appeared, but the anti-aircraft fire remained heavy.
Aman and Houghton nosed their plane down through the enemy fire and dropped their bombs on the target, as did the other F-4s and the F-105s. As they came off the target their aircraft was badly damaged, and it became clear they would never make it back to base.
Pardo and Wayne’s aircraft was also hit coming off the target, and warning lights flashed the danger to the crew. Knowing that Aman and Houghton were in trouble and that bailing out over North Vietnam was a bad idea, Pardo decided to help Aman and Houghton rather than flee back to base himself.
Now it gets dicey. First Pardo asked Aman to drop their drag chute so he could place the nose of his F-4 into the empty hole and push the other F-4; however, due to turbulence that didn’t work.
Undaunted Pardo then tried to position his aircraft under the other F-4 to provide enough lift to get out of North Vietnam. Again that did not work.
Finally he asked Houghton and Aman to drop their tail hook which Pardo placed on his windscreen and began to push the wounded F-4 towards Laos. But cracks appeared in the windscreen of Pardo’s aircraft, so he had to position the tailhook at the junction of the windscreen and fuselage.
Meanwhile everything was going to pot; however, they both managed to get over Laos before bailing out of their crippled aircraft
Video On Pardo’s Push
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