Did The US Navy Really Drop a Toilet on Vietnam?

Philip S. Naudus

How did a toilet get attached to the bottom of this airplane’s wing?US Navy (Public domain)

On November 5 1965, US Skyraider 572 was being prepared for takeoff when the crew decided to attach something extra to the aircraft — a toilet.

During the Vietnam War, supply lines were stretched thin so thin that bombers were laden with less than half the weight they could normally carry. Many pilots objected to being sent with loads that were far too small to justify such dangerous missions, but orders were orders. Nevertheless, Commander Clarence W. Stoddard found a creative way to protest his assignment.

On November 5 1965, crew members aboard the USS Enterprise engaged in a secret operation. They removed a malfunctioning toilet from the aircraft carrier, then modified it to fit under the wing of a A-1H Skyraider. The toilet was supposed to have been thrown overboard, but they had discretely saved it for another purpose.

As Stoddard prepared for takeoff, the crew strategically positioned themselves around the aircraft to prevent the ship’s captain from noticing the non-regulation object underneath Skyrader 572. Just as Stoddard started his engines, the crew cleared away. As the captain caught sight of the toilet, he could hardly believe what he was seeing. “What the hell is on 572’s right wing?” the captain exclaimed. But by now, it was too late. Stoddard was already in the air.

As Stoddard moved into position above the target area, he began reading his list of ordinances to the forward air controller. He was carrying six M64s, two M57s, “and one code-named Sani-Flush.”

Once air control gave the green light, Stoddard dropped his load. Because of the toilet’s non-aerodynamic shape, it immediately flipped so its bowl was facing into the wind, flew upwards, then nearly smashed into Stoddard’s aircraft before whistling all the way to the ground.

Normally, the US does not fight dirty. But given the circumstances, retired captain Clint Johnson commended Stoddard for engaging in germ warfare. Sadly, the enemy did not retaliate.

Image by author. Based on images by Hans Isaacson/Unsplash and brgfx/freepik.

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High school teacher by day, koala by night. My wife is a cartoonist with a Ph.D., and she co-authors all of these articles. Our two kids keep us busy, but we try to find time to write and illustrate between vacuuming Cheerios out from under the couch


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