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PersonID673720
Name (Last, First Middle)Stovall, Dale E.
Branch at time of eventUSAF
RankCaptain
Graduation1967
SquadronCS 09
Home TownToppenish
Home StateWA
High SchoolToppenish High School, Toppenish, WA.
High School ActivitiesFootball,Baseball,Track
Post High SchoolNone
Academy ExperiencesTrack, Supt's List(3),Dean's List(3),Comm's List(3)
Academic Degree MajorBS- Engrng Mamagement USAFA 1967 SOS(R)1971 ASCS(R)1976 NatlWC 1980
Active Duty Assignments67-68: PltTng ReeseAFB; 68-70: Plt 8MASq McChordAFB; 70-72: Plt 44AR&RSq PatrickAFB; 72: Plt 40 AR&RSq NakhonPhanomABTH; 73: Sh JaAA SpecialHonor JabaraAwardWinner; 73-75: DyContrCmdPost/InstrPlt/OpnsStaffO HqAR&RSq ScottAFB; 76-79: Cmdr Det9 67AR&RWg ZaragozaABSP; 80-81: AirOpnsO AirliftForcesDiv DptyDirForceDev DCS Plans&Opns HqUSAF; 82-83: AsstDpty DirSpecPlans DCS Plans&Opns HqUSAF; 83-84: MiliFellow CounForeignRelations NYNY; 84-86: AsstDpty/DptyCmdrOpns 438MAWg McGuireAFB; 86-87: V-Cmdr 1SpecOpnsWg HurlburtFld; 87-89: Cmdr 1SpecOpnsWg HurlburtFld; 89: DptyDirPlansPolicy&Doctrine USSpecOpnsCmd MacDillAFB; 90-91: V-Cmdr AFSpecOpnsCmd 91-93: DptyCommandingGen JSOC USSOCOM FtBragg; 93-95:
Civilian PositionsCorpPlt Westwind/Citation 500 WACorp Missoula MT; 95: FirstO MD-11 FederalExpressCorp;
Award Year1973
Award Summary InformationThe rescue of Capt. Locher was one of twelve rescues Capt. Stovall made during his tour of duty in Southeast Asia. Capt. Locher had evaded the North Vietnamese for 22 days while attempting to contact friendly aircraft with his survival radio. On 1 June after receiving his approximate position, Capt. Stovall led a formation of two Jolly Green HH-53 rescue helicopters into North Vietnam' Unescorted, completely exposed to enemy MIG aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, radar controlled antiaircraft artillery, and automatic weapons, he flew at low level for over 100 miles. Locher's position was about five miles northeast of Yen Bai Airfield. Yen Bai, 60 miles northeast of Hanoi, is one of the most active MIG airfields in the North and is located in the Red River Valley, one of the most heavily defended areas in the world. Arriving at a low ridgeline four miles south of the Red River, the helicopters held as A-1Hs (Sandys) crossed the river to attempt to pinpoint the survivor's position' The Sandys had preceded the helicopter to the hold point As the Sandys crossed the River, a massive barrage of antiaircraft artillery was directed at them' While the search and rescue (SAR) forces were in the area of Yen Bai, 16 SAMs were fired at the F-4 aircraft flying overhead and at the Sandys as they crossed the Red River Valley. After the SAMfirings a MIG-21 from Yen Bai made a high speed pass at the Super Jolly Green formation. Captain Stovall immediately began evasive maneuvers and successfully evaded the MIG. A few minutes later the MIG again engaged the helicopters. Displaying superior pilot ability, Captain Stovall again successfully evaded the MIG. The Sandys, unable to locate Locher, rejoined the helicopters. With no offensive weapons or support aircraft to adequately defend their extremely vulnerable aircraft from MIGs and running critically low on fuel, the SAR forces departed the area' After two hours of low level flying over the hostile area, Captain Stovall exited North Vietnam. Arriving at their home base, the SAR forces were assembled for debriefing and the intensive flight planning required for another rescue attempt on the morning of 2 June 1972. Debriefings by the rescue forces concluded that a second attempt to rescue Locher would be extremely hazardous and only volunteers would be selected for the mission. Captain Stovall immediately volunteered and was selected to command the second attempt. The second rescue attempt on 2 June was to coincide with a strike by F-4s on Yen Bai to attempt to eliminate the MIG threat. Captain Stovall led his rescue team unescorted into North Vietnam, flying at treetop level. After crossing the Black River, the formation was faced with the decision to hold at their predesignated point and await escort or continue to the final holding point near the Red River. With the need for exact timing, Captain Stovall decided to the formation unescorted for 125 miles into North Vietnam in order to arrive at the final holding point as the strike on Yen Bai was in progress. Captain Stovall reached the final holding point, which was within sight of Yen Bai. The position was extremely close to the SAM sites and radar controlled antiaircraft artillery in the Red River Valley. The Sandys were under fire by 37 and 57 mm antiaircraft artillery and SAMs as they tried to locate Captain Locher's position. His position was finally located but it was impossible for the rescue helicopters to fly directly to him because of the antiaircraft fire and SAMs. Finding that the only possibility of reaching Captain Locher would require flying at low level for 50 miles over the densely inhabited area of North Vietnam, Captain Stovall departed the holding point as the Sandys rejoined with the helicopters. Utilizing terrain masking by flying at treetop level, the SAR aircraft arrived at the point the Sandys had selected for crossing the Red River Valley. The SAR force found that to cross the Red River they would have to overfly numerous villages, military installations, and a heavily defended route structure. Approaching the Red River Valley, Captain Stovallís aircraft began receiving small arms fire from military installations on the south bank. With his gunners directing suppression fire, he evaded the threat and crossed the Red River. Again, ground fire was directed at his vulnerable helicopter from numerous villages on the north bank. Stovall was continually evading ground fire until reaching the rugged terrain on the north side of the valley. After; crossing the Red River seventeen miles northwest of yen Bai, the rescue forces were faced-with the crossing of Song Chay River and its densely populated valley. With Captain Stovall maneuvering his helicopter to avoid the ground fire from the numerous villages and the gunners firing their miniguns, the formation successfully crossed the open valley. Wfrit" traversing the two level valleys and unable to utilize terrain masking, Captain Stovall's aircraft was extremely exposed to the enemy SAMs and MIGs at yen Bai. After crossing the valley, Captain Stovall turned southeast following the ridgeline to the survivor's position. With the Sandys leading the way, he crossed the last ridgeline to the survivorís position. Unable to locate Locher's flare, Captain Stovall overflew his position. He turned the aircraft around, and began hover taxiing back up the very steep slope. At this time, Stovall's ship was completely exposed to tfre hostile gun positions and enemy troops in the Valley. Spotting Locherís signal mirror, Captain Stovall brought the helicopter into a hover over him. The helicopter was receiving ground fire while Locher was lifted into the aircraft. With the survivor aboard, Captain Stovall applied maximum power to climb over the near vertical ridge. Captain Stovall led the formation back across the Song Chay River and the Red River while receiving ground fire from the many villages in the valleys. Finally exiting the Red River Valley after one and a half hours of low level flying, Captain Stovall began the 100 mile flight out of North Vietnam, utilizing terrain masking until reaching the Black River. In a team effort Captain Stovall voluntarily penetrated the heavily defended Red River Valley of North Vietnam to rescue a fellow airman. At great risk to his own life, he repeatedly braved North Vietnamese MIGs, SAMs, antiaircraft artillery fire, and ground forces to successfully recover Captain Locher from deep in North Vietnam. Capt. Stovall was awarded the Air Force Cross for his actions on 2 June L972.
Involved Crew MembersNone
Burial Site/DateN/A
Aeronautical Speciality RatingCommand Pilot
Notable Military and Civilian Decorations & AwardsAFC,SS(2),DSSM,LM(2),DFC(2),MSM(2),AM(6),AFCM Outstanding Young Man of America 1976 Jabara Award 1973
CommentsRetired BGen.1993
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