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Karl Polifka Collection (1821) Finding Aid

Item Number: 18210000000
 Collection

Scope and Contents

Less than a quarter of a linear foot of moving images and documents donated by Karl Polifka, who served first with the 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron (Qui Nhon and Gia Nghia), and was transferred to Detachment 1, 56th Special Operations Wing (Udorn RTAFB).

The moving images include a VHS copy of the documentary titled 'Ravens', which documents the role of the Ravens (covert Forward Air Controllers) in the Secret War in Laos to coordinate air support against the North Vietnamese and the Pathet Lao. Also included is a recording made by Polifka of one of his FAC missions flying from Udorn to Long Tieng. The collection also includes a memoir written by Polifka discussing his first tour as a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam and as a Raven in Laos.

Dates

  • 25 August 2006

Biographical / Historical

Karl Polifka was born in 1942 in Watsonville, California. In 1967, Polifka volunteered for the United States Air Force, beginning a 24-year career in the service. Approximately 27 months of this time was spent in Southeast Asia. From 28 September 1968 through 28 March 1969, Polifka served with the 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron (21st TASS) as a Forward Air Controller flying O-1F aircraft. He was stationed at Qui Nhon, II Corps, RVN until November 1968, at which time he was transferred to Gia Nghia, II Corps, RVN and promoted in rank to 1st Lieutenant. Polifka was then transferred to Detachment 1, 56th Special Operations Wing, based in Udorn, RTAFB, Thailand. During this time, he served again as a FAC with Raven 45 in Laos as part of Project 404, where he flew O-1F, T-28 D, and U-17 (C-185) aircraft near Long Tien, April 1969 - December 1969. Polifka was then transferred out of the area until April 1972, when he joined the 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, based out of Udorn RTAFB, Thailand. There he flew RF-4C aircraft and was ranked as a captain until the end of his service in Southeast Asia in April 1973. Between 1968 and 1973, Polifka was involved in minor Special Forces troops-in-contact situations in the Southern Central Highlands, Vietnam and larger engagements associated with various Lima Sites in the Military Region (MR) II area in Laos, culminating with Operation About Face (15 August 1969 - 1970), the taking of the Plain of Jars. In Thailand, Polifka was also involved in Linebacker I and Linebacker II, North Vietnam operations.

After Vietnam, Polifka served as action officer in the Intelligence Systems Division of the Air Staff (Pentagon) from 1973-1977. His next year, he wrote basic doctrine and was the primary officer of the ^D'1977 Air Force-Army Reconnaissance Study^D>'. He then attended the Armed Forces Staff College and in 1979, he became a B-52H aircraft commander at Minot, AFB in North Dakota. In 1982, he then became Branch Chief of Intelligence Plans, Air Staff. From 1985-1988, Polifka was assigned to USAFE HQ, Ramstein AFB in Germany. He then attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. and became the Deputy Director of Intelligence, US Central Command, MacDill AFB, Florida

Polifka retired from his service on 1 February 1991 ranked as Colonel. For his service, Polifka received the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal with twenty-seven Oak Leaf Clusters, and the usual unit citations.



Title
Finding Aid
Length (Linear Feet)
0.2
Pages
1
Location(s)
Cold Storage Vault, Individual Collections - P; AV Collection
4
Moving Images

1821VI2355 - Birds of a Feather: Ravens (VHS)
1821VI3347 Super 8 mm film FAC mission in Thailand
1821VI3348 DVD FAC mission in Thailand
1821VI3349 VHS FAC mission in Thailand

Click here to view all Moving Images
  • Box 01: [01] [TTU - Southwest Collections Building, [Individual Collections - P ]]
  • 1: [1] [TTU - Southwest Collections Building, Stacks [D058.7 ]]

Inventory

  • "An Account of My First Time in Southeast Asia: First Tour" by Karl Polifka
4
Moving Images

1821VI2355 - Birds of a Feather: Ravens (VHS)
1821VI3347 Super 8 mm film FAC mission in Thailand
1821VI3348 DVD FAC mission in Thailand
1821VI3349 VHS FAC mission in Thailand

Click here to view all Moving Images

Pub Credit Line
18210000000, Karl Polifka Collection, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University

Added: 25 Aug 2006 [Updated: 19 Aug 2019]