On 1 April 1967 Major David R. Williams, instructor pilot; and then Major Robert A. Govan, pilot; comprised the crew of a T28D aircraft on a night armed reconnaissance mission over eastern Laos. The Nomad's intended flight plan took them from Nakhon Phanom (NKP) Airfield to "FAS Steel Tiger, Delta Echo;" then back to NKP. The target area included Route 911, a major artery in the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail that passed through the Ban Karai Pass. That pass was one of two major ports of entry employed by the North Vietnamese into Laos.
Once in the target area southwest of the Ban Karai Pass, Major Williams established radio contact with the airborne battlefield command and control center (ABCCC). After providing him with current mission information, the ABCCC handed the flight off to the onsite Forward Air Controller (FAC) who would direct air operations in that sector.
The FAC observed two trucks going south on Route 911. He dropped a flare to illuminate the target, but more light was needed as the targets were no longer visible. Major Govan descended to an altitude below the FAC, which was estimated to be 1000 to 2000 feet above the terrain. Another truck was spotted traveling north, and Major Govan dropped two more flares.
The aircraft was observed by the FAC as it rolled out of a northeast heading. After dropping another flare, the FAC reported seeing numerous flashes that appeared to be enemy anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire directed toward the Nomad.