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SamMcGowan

Carolina Moon

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Casey Emailed me and asked about the CAROLINA MOON page I had on my old SamC130 site. To be honest, I\'m not sure if I forgot to transfer it to my new domain or if it was one of a number of pages that were accidentally replaced when I tried to use FRONT PAGE several years ago. I\'ll put up a new page about the mission when I find the time, but in the meantime, here is a capsuled version.

CAROLINA MOON was a special mission that came about in the spring of 1966 when Seventh Air Force was unable to knock down the infamous Than Hoa Bridge spanning a gorge known as The Dragons Jaw just north of Vinh. Several missions were flown by F-105s without success in a campaign that was part of a US plan to destroy North Vietnam\'s transporation system. The Thanh Hoa Bridge was one of two that were too strong to be knocked down - the other was the Paul Domer Bridge in Hanoi. The USAF Armaments Labatory at Eglin came up with a means of \"mass-focusing\" the explosive power of a weapon by focusing it in one direction. The problem was that the weapons were too large to be dropped by any combat aircraft in existence then or ever; it was shaped like a pancake. It would, however, fit in the cargo compartment of a C-123 or C-130. TAC decided to try to knock the bridge out with a special mission using C-130s. Two crews from Sewart were sent to Eglin to traing using the weapon. Without looking it up, I think they were from the 61st TCS but could have been the 62nd as they were the only squadrons left at Sewart as the 50th had transferred to PACAF. Two 2nd Aerial Port loadmasters augmented the crews. Magnetically-activated fuzes were used to detonate the weapons after they had been dropped into the river upstream, and floated under the bridge.

In May 1966 the two crews deployed to Da Nang with the weapons. Two missions were flown. The first was \"successful\" in that the crew was able to make their drop and get back to Da Nang, but aerial photos taken the next day revealed that the bridge still stood. The crew had taken a lot of ground fire but managed to evade it. The following night the second crew went out to try their hand and were never heard from again. Parts of their airplane were later shown on TV newsreels by happy people parading them through Hanoi. I\'m not certain, but I believe the site of the crash has been found and excavated.

Now, for a personal note. As it happened, our crew was operating just south of the area on a LAMPLIGHTER mission the night the second C-130 was lost. I had either entirely forgotten about it or never made a connection until Bob Bartunek recalled to me a few years ago that he and the other guys up front had seen a flash to the north that night and were interrogated after we got back to Ubon. Since enlisted men were not normally interrogated, I probably never knew about it other than whatever was said on the Intercom and I may have been off of headseats. Bob tells me that he and the other officers had been briefed about the mission before we took off but since we didn\'t have the need to know, the enlisted men didn\'t know about it.

I found an account of the mission in a book published for the Office of Air Force History by Arno Press called AIR WAR, VIETNAM. It is in many libraries. One of the articles is about the campaign against the Than Hoa Bridge, which wasn\'t brought down until 1972 after the advent of the laser-guided bomb. Back in the 80s I wrote an article for VIETNAM magazine about it, including several paragraphs about CAROLINA MOON. (Incidentally, a number of idiot authors have described the use of C-130s as \"a desperate act\", not realizing that low-altitude attacks are generally the best way to knock out a target as long as the enemy isn\'t expecting it.)

After my article came out in VIETNAM, I got a letter from a young Army troop who saw it in the dental clinic at Ft. Campbell, where he was stationed. He picked the magazine up and read the article. It turned out that he is the son of one of the two loadmasters who were on the airplane that was lost and he had no idea what his dad had been doing when he was lost until he read my article.

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The plane that was lost was from the 62nd. The crash site was found and some remains were brought home. The son you talked to wasn\'t Phillip Stickney was it? His father came home in 1998 but wasn\'t properly identified until several years later. He was buried in the Arkansas Veteran\'s Cemetery on Memorial Day in 2004 after a perfectly timed flyover from a C-130E with a blue 62 stripe on the tail. I know this because of probably the strangest coincidence in my life. I was an FE in the 62nd in 2004. I wore a bracelet for a lot of years with the name SMSgt Philip Joseph Stickney engraved on it. The paper that came with the bracelet when I got it described the mission that you mentioned and how he was lost. I picked that one because he was a Herc sweaty. I had the honor of presenting that bracelet to his family at his burial. Weird huh?

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The plane that was lost was from the 62nd. The crash site was found and some remains were brought home. The son you talked to wasn\'t Phillip Stickney was it? His father came home in 1998 but wasn\'t properly identified until several years later. He was buried in the Arkansas Veteran\'s Cemetery on Memorial Day in 2004 after a perfectly timed flyover from a C-130E with a blue 62 stripe on the tail. I know this because of probably the strangest coincidence in my life. I was an FE in the 62nd in 2004. I wore a bracelet for a lot of years with the name SMSgt Philip Joseph Stickney engraved on it. The paper that came with the bracelet when I got it described the mission that you mentioned and how he was lost. I picked that one because he was a Herc sweaty. I had the honor of presenting that bracelet to his family at his burial. Weird huh?

No, it was the other loadmaster, Elroy Harworth.

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The unit was the 61st TCS not the 62nd TCS. I Went to Murfreesboro, Tn back in 2003 and met with one of the other load masters on the mission "Carolina Moon" Mr. Aubrey Turner. I sat down with him and his wife for about an hour and a half, real nice people. Anyhow, Mr. Turner said this mission was so secret that not even the Air Force Commander at Danang knew it was taking place.

The two aircraft just dropped out of sky and parked at the opposite end of the airfield which upset a few I'm told. After the tower sent several officers down to the aircraft the confusion was put to rest. On the night of the first mission, the first C-130 took so many rounds that it almost did not make it back to Danang. The entire aircraft was in in black-out mode and all lights shut down due to light discipline procedures. The first aircraft did take a beating and from what I was told in 2003, these men where scared as hell during and directly after the initial drop of the so called "pancake mines". Obviously they made it back, had a beer, and tried to go to sleep later on that night. I believe some of the crew slept on the plane and some of the crew did not.

The next day obviously the Thanh Hoa Bridge was still standing. The second C-130, with my father Elroy Harworth on board left Danang on May 31, 1966, and never returned. Elroy Harworth was MIA until 1986, me and my brother went to Hawaii to escort his remains back to Minnesota. He is now buried in Fergus Falls, MN.

You would think that this is all to the story but it's not. I received a phone call about a year and half ago from a gentleman who claimed he had worked for the CIA during the Vietnam war. He basically claimed that the C-130 crash site was still being excavated and body parts where still being removed. Another "tid-bit" of information that shocked the hell out of me was the fact that the "pancake mines" where not mines at all. Then what where they?? If anyone out there can answer this please call me at (715) 629-7086.

I wrote the CIA / Air Force / and even the Socialist Government of Vietnam trying to get answers. Over 35 letters went out to ALL US Government agencies and foreign government agencies involved. I received a phone call from a gentleman who knew information but would not relay it to me, especially in writing.

So what's the big deal? You tell me. Sounds like there is more to this story than what is being told. Given the fact that one person was cut from his parachute right after the crash and later buried with the other crew members was never reported by the Air Force to me or my family. In the end we have a lot of questions that are still 43 years later unanswered.

Where tactical nuclear weapons used? Did some crew members live or parachute out? Why are they still digging at the crash site? Why is everyone still hush-hush? Several eye witness reports from people living in the actual village where the C-130 crashed are on record claiming one man had a parachute on and was hanging from a tree. Who was that man?

When I wrote the Air force Armament Museum in Fla and the Air Force Historical Office, they had never heard of a "MASS FOCUS PANCAKE MINE"

Doesn't that seem a little odd?

I'm here 24/7

Troy Harworth

(715) 629-7086/977-1899

Look up Stoney Beach and REFNO-350

Edited by troyharworth

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I was in the 62nd. TCS at the time. Abury was one of my senior loadmasters.

I have made contact with Johnny Benoit, in LA. He workd on oil rigs down there. I have the air war book as well. I have written Sam in the past.

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The unit was the 61st TCS not the 62nd TCS. I Went to Murfreesboro, Tn back in 2003 and met with one of the other load masters on the mission "Carolina Moon" Mr. Aubrey Turner. I sat down with him and his wife for about an hour and a half, real nice people. Anyhow, Mr. Turner said this mission was so secret that not even the Air Force Commander at Danang knew it was taking place.

The two aircraft just dropped out of sky and parked at the opposite end of the airfield which upset a few I'm told. After the tower sent several officers down to the aircraft the confusion was put to rest. On the night of the first mission, the first C-130 took so many rounds that it almost did not make it back to Danang. The entire aircraft was in in black-out mode and all lights shut down due to light discipline procedures. The first aircraft did take a beating and from what I was told in 2003, these men where scared as hell during and directly after the initial drop of the so called "pancake mines". Obviously they made it back, had a beer, and tried to go to sleep later on that night. I believe some of the crew slept on the plane and some of the crew did not.

The next day obviously the Thanh Hoa Bridge was still standing. The second C-130, with my father Elroy Harworth on board left Danang on May 31, 1966, and never returned. Elroy Harworth was MIA until 1986, me and my brother went to Hawaii to escort his remains back to Minnesota. He is now buried in Fergus Falls, MN.

You would think that this is all to the story but it's not. I received a phone call about a year and half ago from a gentleman who claimed he had worked for the CIA during the Vietnam war. He basically claimed that the C-130 crash site was still being excavated and body parts where still being removed. Another "tid-bit" of information that shocked the hell out of me was the fact that the "pancake mines" where not mines at all. Then what where they?? If anyone out there can answer this please call me at (715) 629-7086.

I wrote the CIA / Air Force / and even the Socialist Government of Vietnam trying to get answers. Over 35 letters went out to ALL US Government agencies and foreign government agencies involved. I received a phone call from a gentleman who knew information but would not relay it to me, especially in writing.

So what's the big deal? You tell me. Sounds like there is more to this story than what is being told. Given the fact that one person was cut from his parachute right after the crash and later buried with the other crew members was never reported by the Air Force to me or my family. In the end we have a lot of questions that are still 43 years later unanswered.

Where tactical nuclear weapons used? Did some crew members live or parachute out? Why are they still digging at the crash site? Why is everyone still hush-hush? Several eye witness reports from people living in the actual village where the C-130 crashed are on record claiming one man had a parachute on and was hanging from a tree. Who was that man?

When I wrote the Air force Armament Museum in Fla and the Air Force Historical Office, they had never heard of a "MASS FOCUS PANCAKE MINE"

Doesn't that seem a little odd?

I'm here 24/7

Troy Harworth

(715) 629-7086/977-1899

Look up Stoney Beach and REFNO-350

They weren't mines, they were specially designed weapons that focused the full force of the explosion in one direction. I seriously doubt that anyone would have bailed out because they were dropping at very low level. I don't know if Aubrey told you or not, but the two crews had discussed whether or not to even wear them since they were going to be so low and their flak vests wouldn't fit over the parachute.

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On 10/12/2009 at 2:31 PM, troyharworth said:

The unit was the 61st TCS not the 62nd TCS. I Went to Murfreesboro, Tn back in 2003 and met with one of the other load masters on the mission "Carolina Moon" Mr. Aubrey Turner. I sat down with him and his wife for about an hour and a half, real nice people. Anyhow, Mr. Turner said this mission was so secret that not even the Air Force Commander at Danang knew it was taking place.

 

The two aircraft just dropped out of sky and parked at the opposite end of the airfield which upset a few I'm told. After the tower sent several officers down to the aircraft the confusion was put to rest. On the night of the first mission, the first C-130 took so many rounds that it almost did not make it back to Danang. The entire aircraft was in in black-out mode and all lights shut down due to light discipline procedures. The first aircraft did take a beating and from what I was told in 2003, these men where scared as hell during and directly after the initial drop of the so called "pancake mines". Obviously they made it back, had a beer, and tried to go to sleep later on that night. I believe some of the crew slept on the plane and some of the crew did not.

 

The next day obviously the Thanh Hoa Bridge was still standing. The second C-130, with my father Elroy Harworth on board left Danang on May 31, 1966, and never returned. Elroy Harworth was MIA until 1986, me and my brother went to Hawaii to escort his remains back to Minnesota. He is now buried in Fergus Falls, MN.

 

You would think that this is all to the story but it's not. I received a phone call about a year and half ago from a gentleman who claimed he had worked for the CIA during the Vietnam war. He basically claimed that the C-130 crash site was still being excavated and body parts where still being removed. Another "tid-bit" of information that shocked the hell out of me was the fact that the "pancake mines" where not mines at all. Then what where they?? If anyone out there can answer this please call me at (715) 629-7086.

 

I wrote the CIA / Air Force / and even the Socialist Government of Vietnam trying to get answers. Over 35 letters went out to ALL US Government agencies and foreign government agencies involved. I received a phone call from a gentleman who knew information but would not relay it to me, especially in writing.

 

So what's the big deal? You tell me. Sounds like there is more to this story than what is being told. Given the fact that one person was cut from his parachute right after the crash and later buried with the other crew members was never reported by the Air Force to me or my family. In the end we have a lot of questions that are still 43 years later unanswered.

 

Where tactical nuclear weapons used? Did some crew members live or parachute out? Why are they still digging at the crash site? Why is everyone still hush-hush? Several eye witness reports from people living in the actual village where the C-130 crashed are on record claiming one man had a parachute on and was hanging from a tree. Who was that man?

 

When I wrote the Air force Armament Museum in Fla and the Air Force Historical Office, they had never heard of a "MASS FOCUS PANCAKE MINE"

Doesn't that seem a little odd?

 

I'm here 24/7

 

Troy Harworth

 

(715) 629-7086/977-1899

 

 

Look up Stoney Beach and REFNO-350

Troy Harworth

My name is Stan Nelson and grew up in west central Minn. I knew your father before he enlisted in the USAF. He enlisted a month after I did. He arrived at Lackland AFB the day I left for Sheppard AFB. In Mar of 1960 he arrived at Sheppard AFB for Boom Operator Training. I was attending helicopter maint training. We were assigned to the same training squadron and we ended up in the same barracks. His course was shorter than my course and he finished up his training a week before I did. When I finished training I went on a 2 week leave. Your dad was on a month's leave because he was headed for Japan and I was assigned to a helicopter unit in west Texas. While on leave we went out on a couple of date nights with some girls he knew in Fergus Falls. A couple of days before leaving, Your dad and I drove upto Grand Forks AFB to get caught up on our pay.  I left for Texas in mid July 1960 which was the last time I saw Your dad. In June 1966 I was stationed in southern Spain. My mother sent me a news paper clipping of your dad's missing in SEA.  I was saddened to hear of his missing in action. The pancake bombs they were dropping were giant "shaped charges" which focused the blast center vertically into the bridge spans. Send me your Email address and I'll send you a copy of some photos of our time at Sheppard AFB. MY Email is: jolly77c@yahoo.com. HP 865-336-9441, CP 704-839-1685.

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I was in the 61st at the time. The two airplanes were both from the 61st, 64-0511 which was the airplane which was lost and 64-0513.  The airplanes were both modified with a second high resolution radar APN-161 and a second navigators station.

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