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SamMcGowan

Ralph Krach

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SamMcGowan

No one seems to have mentioned it yet but Ralph Krach, who was once active on the old C-130 forum, passed away back in July. Here is his obituary. http://www.riemannfamily.com/obituaries/Ralph-Krach/

My first encounter with Ralph was in the fall of 1965 and TDY to Mactan and flying the new Bangkok Shuttle. Early one evening around sundown we went into Taklhi, Thailand  with a load of hazardous cargo and were parked on the hazardous cargo ramp. The aerial port ramp tramp told me there was going to be a delay for our outbound load because of a high priority mission. A few minutes later, an unmarked C-130A pulled in and parked beside us next to an Air Force flatbed loaded with airdrop bundles of a type I'd never seen before. As soon as the engines were shut down, the truck started backing up to the ramp. Some marshallers dressed in T-shirts and shorts with combat boots marshalled them in. I was sitting on the ramp of our airplane with Don Sweet, our engineer. After the airplane was parkd, one of the marshallers came over to talk to us. He had a distinct Baltimore accent. He made small talk with us then when the airplane started closing up and starting engines, he slid down off of the ramp and started walking over toward the mysterious airplane. But then he turned around and looked us. "By the way, you didn't see what you think you just saw." A few months later in February I arrived at Naha and was given a classified orientation briefing in which we new arrivals were told about the 6315th Operations Groups and our many missions, one of which belonged to the 21s TCS and was called "E Flight.." Still, it wasn't until I read Chris Robbins' AIR AMERICA that I realized we had seen an E Flight mission in operation. Then even more years later I got in touch with Ralph through the Email group I sat up on AOL back in the 90s. One day I was looking through 315th AD's newspapers The Airlifter that Samantha Wales had loaned me and came across a picture of Ralph receiving an award and realized it had been him that we saw at Taklhi that evening so long ago!

Ralph started out his service in the Army during the Korean War, or perhaps before. He fought in Korea and I was recently told that he fought in the Chosen Reservoir but I'm not certain that is true. He told the group at the first Blind Bat reunion that  he was down on the ground in Korea and looked up at some airplanes and told his buddies "in the next war I'm going to be up there." Ralph enlisted in the Air Force and was trained as a radar repairmen. His only C-130 assignment was at Naha where he was initially in the 51st FMS (at that time all Naha C-130s were assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing and "loaned" to the 6315th Ops Group which provided the crews.) He was selected for E Flight and transferred to the 21st TCS. When the 6315th was tasked to provide C-130s for FAC/Flare missions over Laos, Ralph was one of the E Flight personnel who  flew as kickers. That was in November 1964. The following April, operations started over North Vietnam. Ralph was at Da Nang when sappers blew up two of the mission airplanes and damaged another. After his Naha tour, Ralph went back to SAC and then to  Keesler as an instructor. He retired in Biloxi.

When some of us started talking about having a C-130 flare mission reunion, I suggested Biloxi because Sid Marcus had a hotel there at the time (it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.) Ralph volunteered to put it together and he pretty much did everything single-hand, and he did a bang-up job. I'll never forget on Saturday at noon when he and Marianne came in with several pans of fresh steamed shrimp he and Marianne had cooked themselves. They sat it out with cheese, crackers and other hors dourves. Everyone agreed it was the best reunion they had ever been too.

At some point, Ralph developed Type II diabetes (as have I.) I last talked to him a couple of years ago and he said he wasn't doing very well. It finally got the best of him,

 

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SamMcGowan

I just got word from Howard Worthy that he has some Blind Bat paraphernalia that Ralph's widow Marianne gave him. Howard was planning to take them to the TC/TAA reunion in October and put them out for people to take but his wife is seriously ill and he doubts that he'll be able to go. I don't know what he has. Howard and Ralph were both in the 21st in E Flight. Ralph was an avionics tech and flew as a flare kicker on some of the early missions. He was very active with Blind Bat veterans and hosted the first BB reunion in 2002. If you're interested, Email me at [email protected] and I'll put you in touch with Howard. 

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