Secret Thank You Letter

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Below is the secret thank you letter that April Oliver refers to when she tells her confidential source that she has a "DOD document confirming that sarin gas was used on Tailwind". The entire evidence she refers to is in the very last sentence. The "briefer" mentioned in the letter is none other than 1Lt Robert Van Biskirk. This document is available in the National Archives and is not classified.




8 OCT 1970


Colonel Larry M. Killpack
8th Tactical Fighter Wing

Dear Colonel Killpack

Recently I attended a briefing given General Abrams, COMUSMACV, On "Tailwind", an operation conducted between 11 and 14 September by a force under MACV direction. In support of this action, elements under the operational control of this command flew 76 tactical sorties and, in addition, provided forward air control. Unfortunately, classification prohibits further description of the operation.

The briefer had been a member of the element on the ground. He presented, in well documented terms, how his unit repeatedly engaged enemy forces, and how critical tactical air support was to the success of the action. In all, 173 enemy killed by tactical air were claimed, a figure which may be on the conservative side. Describing the air support as "magnificent", the briefer further stated the mission could not have been accomplished without the coordinated, accurate air support his forces received. I am attaching a copy of some excerpts from his presentation,

At the close of the briefing, General Abrams stated he "was convinced it was a valuable operation executed with great skill and a demonstration of tremendous courage".

The professionalism demonstrated by your crews in. support of this important action was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Air Force. I have been informed that a special "well done" and thank you" is due Major Edward B. Flora and the crew of MOODY 2.

I commend you and all the men of the 8th TFIV who contributed to the achievments of "Tailwind".



General, USAF

1 Atch
Excerpts from



"The friendly lives saved cannot be reckoned, however, the inference is clear. Of the 136 men participating, three were killed, 50 wounded. Only five of the wounded required hospitalization."

"The 1st Platoon reported only 1 enemy confirmed killed, but estimated that 35 enemy were killed by Spectre aircraft which provided support throughout the night. Third section reported 30 enemy killed by air, in their segment of the perimeter, and the 2d section reported 2 enemy killed by air, and no enemy killed by ground actions. The Spectre aircraft was unable to read the signals from the, companies transponders or mini-ponders. The pilot stated his equipment was old, and he adjusted his A/C fire continuously from the flashes of B-40 rockets. exploding hand grenades, and trip flares that the company reported to him. Throughout the night of D+1, 1st and 3rd platoon members could hear the enemy cry out, groan, moan, and other sounds of pain. They could hear many objects being dragged away within 5 meters of their positions. After the A/C would fire, they could hear the enemy run and bang into trees as they fled in panic; they could hear some cry out as they died. Shortly thereafter, they could hear the sound of heavy objects again being dragged away from their positions, then more enemy signals and incoming grenades. The, company estimated the aircraft as having killed a minimum of 67 enemy throughout the night."

"The TAC Air was successful on the 1st enemy squad and killed approximately half of the other squad."

"TAC Air was directed throughout the areas where earlier contact had occurred. The enemy did not make contact with the element agai until the following day."

"Due to the canopy thinning out, the base camp was marked with a white phosphorous grenade and TAC Air was brought to bear on the enemy soldiers fleeing to the front and the right flank. The enemy who had remained in the center of the base camp took up positions in huts which were assaulted and destroyed. The first section killed a confirmed 54 enemy in huts, bunkers and spider holes. Two of these were NVA Sr. Master Sergeants. The 2nd section killed 17 enemy on the left flank. TAC Air killed an estimated 25 fleeing enemy soldiers."

"We cannot say enough good things about the air support we received They were magnificent. Without their 76 sorties our job would not have been possible."

Although not set forth in the formal presentation, comments from men on the ground attest to the accurate and effective delivery of CBU-  5 "everytime it was brought in."  

NOTE: The above reference to "CBU-  5" is the one mentioned in Floyd Abrams report as being illegible. The character before the "5" is simply not legible, although by comparing it to other numbers on the page it appears that it is more likely a "2", rather than a "1" as Oliver concluded. It is upon this document, and this reference, that April Oliver based all of her allegations about Nerve Agent use on Tailwind. It is this document which she referred to when she told interviewees that she had a secret DOD document which confirmed the use of Nerve Agent. The original document is not stamped "Secret" or even "Confidential" and is available to anyone at the National Archives and Records Administration.

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Creation Date: Friday, July 24, 1998
Last Modified: Friday, July 24, 1998
Copyright © Ray Smith, 1998