As was pointed out by Mike Wells, we used to have a Flare Ship on standby every night at Soc Trang in the event we were attacked, or some one else needed flare support.† This story concerns an event that happened when I was assigned to be a member of the flare ship crew.† As it happens, we would launch this ship each night at 11 or 12 PM and remain airborne for two hours in an orbit over the airfield.† On this particular night, I was AC and one of the Maintenance Officers was the first pilot, I donít remember his name but he was CW-2 assigned to the Maintenance Platoon, the other individuals were the regular members of the Warrior 25 crew, CE Pappy Gillespie and our gunner, I donít remember the gunnerís name either.† Anyway, we had launched and were into our boring flight around the airfield, waiting to be called for support or for the airfield to be attacked.† As we were turning orbits, we noticed a strange airborne light in the immediate vicinity of Soc Trang International Airfield.† This light appeared to be stationary, or moving very, very slowly, in a vertical motion.† Being smart and very clever aviators, we immediately called the tower to see if they had any reported traffic in our airspace, the reply came back as negative, no reported traffic.† Our next step was to call Paddy Control (our Radar flight following service in the Delta) and ask the same question, again the answer was negative, no reported traffic in our area.† At this point, we decided to see if we could get closer to see if we could identify this strange white light.† As we approached the light, it would seem to move away from us at high speed and then stop.† This was getting really strange, we made several passes at the light with no success, each time it would appear to move away at high speed.† So being intelligent, proficient and capable aviators, we again called both Soc Trang Tower and Paddy Control to confirm that there was no traffic in our airspace, of course both responses were again negative.† Now the debates starts amongst the crew, what is this, could it be a UFO?† If it is, should we report it as such?† We made a couple of more passes at this thing with the same results, every time we would close on it, it would move away at high speed!† The only variation is that the light would increase in altitude, so we had to climb to stay with it.† We were still debating whether or not to report this as a UFO.† Before doing that, we again called the Tower to confirm that there was no traffic in our area.† During the conversation with the tower, we asked if anything unusual had been observed by them, or had anything been launched from the airfield, the answer came back, nothing unusual, no aircraft launched other than us.† But the Tower did mention that there had been a weather balloon launched about thirty minutes ago, now the ďlightsĒ started to come on!† We asked if there was a light on the balloon and the answer was yes, thatís how they made their observations.† Now it becomes apparent that thatís what we were seeing and chasing, a weather balloon!† As we continued to observe the light, sure enough, it continued itís vertical climb until it disappeared.† Needless to say, we didnít contact the tower or anyone else again until it was time to land.† So ended the great UFO chase, much to our chagrin and embarrassment.† Fortunately, we were the only ones that knew about it, and we managed not to make fools of our selves by reporting the ďSoc Trang UFOĒ, through pure stupidity and dumb luck!† I often wondered if the weather observer or the Tower personnel observed our antics that night, I never dared to ask!† And we agreed among the crew not to talk about this adventure with anyone else, so I think that this may be the first time that this particular story has ever been told!
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