At Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base (Thailand) one would see pilots wearing a shoulder patch with that logo. That was 1968 and we were flying F105 fighter bombers up to Hanoi twice a day, every day. SAM in those days was SA-2, a not very mobile system. A SAM battery consisted of several launchers, a couple of radar trailers, some hootches and "stuff". The Russians had provided the more up to date tracked vehicle mobile SA-6 to the Egyptians in time for the 1967 war with Israel, but the North Viet Nam comrades didn't have it yet.
SA-2 was the SAM designed to get U-2 photo recon flights operating above 70,000 feet. This resulted in a big rocket, about the size and dimensions of a telephone pole. It took the rocket motor quite some time to boost this heavy missile up to real speed. At low altitude, the F105 could out fly SAM. Pilots who survived this feat of airmanship got to wear the patch.
Once SAM was at altitude, with much of his fuel burned off, he was deadly fast, cannon shell fast, too fast to dodge, almost too fast to see. So the effect of SAM was to force us down, into the ground fire. Instead of going in at 25,000 feet, well above any kind of ground fire, we had to fly at 5000 feet. One pilot put it thusly "Even the kids have slingshots."
SAM was a radar guided beast. No heat seekers for him. We carried electronic countermeasures pods to confuse Mr. SAM. The early ones were straight noise jammers. The later QRC 160 pods attempted to spoof SAM by picking up his radar pulses, amplifying them, messing with them, and squirting them back at SAM's radar. A weakness in QRC-160 was the occasional pod that started talking to itself. The receiver would pick up a bit of noise, it would amplify the noise and transmit it. The transmit antenna wasn't far from the receive antenna (how far away can you be when the whole pod was only ten feet long?) The receiver would pick up the transmissions, amplify them again, transmit them again, and within seconds the pod transmitters would be blasting a full power signal. This worried the aircrew, who feared that the comrades could track them and launch at them. So the talkative pods were sent to my ECM shop to shut them up. There was nothing in the technical order about loud mouth pods, fix there fore. So after a lot of trouble shooting and testing, we resorted to ordering some parts that we knew base supply didn't have. After waiting about 30 days for parts, we were allowed to ship the talkative pods back to depot, which got them out of our hair.
The SAM that took out the airliner is a descendent of SA-2. About third or fourth generation. SA-2 was followed by SA-6. SA-6 managed to pack 3 missiles and the radar into a single tracked vehicle. SA-11, the one suspected of airliner shooting, carried six missiles and must have had a new electronics and radar suite, came after SA-6. I have heard of an SA-17, but know little about it. SA-2 fifty years ago would hit airliners at 33,000 feet, no sweat. The later models must be just as effective.