As mentioned in the post on The elusive Col Tomb

This is an amazing document originally published in classified form by the NSA in the 1980s for internal training, then declassified and released in 2007.  It gives perspective on an amazing swathe of history through a rarely-available lens.

Read the whole document here


You’ll note crossed-out classification markings throughout and codewords, which denote intel from intercepted communications.  And some parts are completely “redacted” (blanked out), which always fires the imagination. What are they not saying?



Here’s the official “declassification” stamp, showing a Freedom of Information case number.

Even the preface is interesting. I wonder what’s in the separate History Office study?


The most airpower-relevant stories are in the Vietnam sections, and I’ve pasted in the part on Col Toon/Tomb below.  Based on what’s revealed here, I can’t see how researchers so casually dismiss the legend.  Clearly the NSA had much evidence of his existence (even though he wasn’t the MiG-17 pilot killed by Cunningham & Driscoll).  If you know of other info that refutes this, I’d love to see it…








5 thoughts on “Colonel Toon was real according to the NSA

  1. Amazing that our intel community had so close a watch on their comm channels.
    This is a good reason our fighters flew each mission with different call signs each day. Also that the Israeli Air Force (and perhaps others) fighter pilots names are classified. Our current practice of “cutsie nicknames” of our warriors is maybe a bad idea. I can see the enemy knowing when “Maverick and Iceman” are in the air and staying on the ground.


    1. Zipper,
      Good point on the OPSEC considerations. I can tell you that is indeed a factor for today’s US military, and they follow good ‘call sign’ discipline. Missions are still assigned rotating call signs, such as ‘Harley’ or ‘Rambo’. Harley1, 2, 3 and 4 might be a flight of F-16s for that mission. Next day, could be something else. But, individual pilots are usually tagged early in their career with a personal call sign too. They don’t normally use them during missions, but they often stick for a lifetime. Even non-flyers (like me), can get tagged with a call sign.


    1. Update:

      Maybe the Vietnamese ace Americans called Col Tomb actually Pham Tuan?

      Pham Tuan is a Vietnamese hero who flew in the Vietnam War. On December 27, 1972 Pham Tuan shot down a B-52 during the Xmas bombing! After the war Pham Tuan became a Cosmonaut.
      Pham Tuan retired as lieutenant general!

      BTW! Listening to Tuan in the google translator sounds a little like Toon or Tune! Hummm!


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