The Deactivation of the 361st TEWS

Deactivation of the 361st TEWS

Extracted From De-classified 460th TRW History Documents.

The 361st TEWS officially was deactivated on 30 June, 1974 following several months of uncertainty regarding its termination date. It had been programmed for phaseout no later then 4-7 June, but its deactivation was moved to June 30th. Since 1974 began, the squadron had been gradually phasing back its operations and curtailing aircrews and support personnel. On 27 March 1974, the squadron was notified that 361st TEWS operations would terminate 15 May 1974 when it flew its last seven missions.

Before it was deactivated, the 361st TEWS was the last organization of its kind in SEA. Its primary mission had been to conduct day and night Airborne Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) collectioin operations against enemy forces in Vietnam,Laos, Cambodia and in Thailand. The intelligence data gathered by the 361st TEWS was provided to requesting agencies as directed by USSAG which was located at NKP.

Personnel of the 361st recognized that it might be called upon to ferry the EC-47's out of Thailand to Clark AB for temporary storage. Without previous guidance or instruction, the squadron initiated overwater briefings for aircrews on 8 April and 29 May 1974. The first series covered such things as clearances, flight plans, weather, fuel computations, and the extensive updating of overwater navigation procedures. The second series included briefings on aircraft transfer and emergency procedures, search and rescue capabilities and administrative requirements. All aircrew training was accomplished for remaining aircrews, and the squadron began phasing down its crew force from six crews to three crews.

During the current quarter, the squadron flew ARDF missions over Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where enemy pressure continued to be placed on supply routes north and south of that city. Other areas also were sampled for enemy targets. On 10 May, the TEWS daily sortie rate was increased from five to seven sorties to cover suspected Communist activity in northeastern Thailand.

361st TEWS operations were finished on 15 May, and squadron efforts were directed toward planning the ferrying operation. Two weeks prior to the last operatioinal mission, it was learned that the squadron would deactivate on 4 June 1974.

Project officers were designated to assure closeout operations were completed. On 18 May 1974, the wings Operating Location (OL-1) at Ubon was closed, and the EC-47 aircraft were returned to NKP pending their disposition. The first EC-47A declared excess to NKP's needs was flown to Clark AB by Major Robin Purdie on 10 May. A "Sawadee" or going away party was held on 1 June in honor of personnel who supported the TEWS mission and for departing squadron personnel.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Charles D. Gragg, the last commander of the 361st TEWS, "the C-47 proved itself again in its new role of electronic surveilance."

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