I am familiar with the Spooky missions over Vietnam and Laos at that time as I was there from 1967-1970. The Spooky gun ships flew at 4000-8000 feet AGL. They dropped flares to illuminate the target area. If he was flying over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos during that time, his aircraft was vulnerable to 37MM and some 57MM anti-aircraft fire, which was a rarity in South Viet Nam at that time. Spooky was a gunship which flew at night and had Gattling guns that were devistating to the enemy. As far as being a "suicide" mission, this, I doubt. Also, if an aircraft was shot down in Laos, few, if any prisioners were taken. The Pathet Lao (cousins of the Viet Cong) rarely took prisioners unless there were North Vietnamese advisors with them.
Missions like his were flown every night for years. There were a few Spookys shot down and a couple of the Spectre C-130 Gunships were also shot down over Laos in later years.
Men like your father were very brave and you should be proud of him and his service to his country. I was in awe of these men who went out into the night, like I go to the office every day. God bless them and their families.
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