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56-0474


SamMcGowan
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I've been in contact with the Air Force Historical Records section at Maxwell regarding some articles I've been working on and while I was at it I asked them about the loss of a C-130A from Naha on a leaflet mission to North Korean fighters in August 1963. While they have been unable to find anything in the records, they have advised me that 56-0474, which is shown on Lars Olausson's list as being involved in a defueling fire on August 27. 1963 is shown as having been repaird and reclaimed. Considering that Lars has no information after that fire on that airplane, this is another C-130 mystery. Of course, it's not really a mystery. Obviously they slapped the tail number of the airplane that was shot down on that airframe and continued flying it as if nothing had happened. They sent me the accident report, which shows that the airplane received extensive damage, but makes no mention of it having been destroyed. The historian also advises me that 315th AD records show it as having been repaired. The airplane was being defueled in preparation for being weighed when it caught fire. The fire was extinguished within 6-8 minutes. The fueling truck operator received second degree burns.

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I was at the MCATA dinner last year. A retired Marine came up to me and told me he had been a crew chief in the USAF at Naha, before getting out and later reenlisting in the USMC. He told me that he was working the flight line the night in 63 that the C-130 caught on fire. He described it pretty much as the incident report said. He said the aircraft was destroyed. Wish I could remember his name but he told me he visits this site so maybe he'll come up.

Bob

Looked in my files, back before USAF was so scared of Osama and his boys, the USAF published lists of all the aircraft losses and incidents on line. For calendar year 1963 there was 1 USAF listed C-130 destroyed. When I questioned Lewie Alley at the AF Safety Center, he told me that 56-0474 was the C-130 destroyed according to AF Safety Center records.

Also BO ( is that Before Osama or Before Obama?) AF MPC used to publish on the net lists of USAF casualties from 1947 on. All kinds of casualties, combat losses, accidents, motorcycle accidents, heart attacks you name it. For aircraft losses it gave the type of aircraft. I could not find any C-130 aircrew losses in 1963.

That does not mean that the USAF could not have completely covered something up if it wanted to, but it seems like a Korean shoot down is still only a rumor.

Bob

Edited by bobdaley
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I was at the MCATA dinner last year. A retired Marine came up to me and told me he had been a crew chief in the USAF at Naha, before getting out and later reenlisting in the USMC. He told me that he was working the flight line the night in 63 that the C-130 caught on fire. He described it pretty much as the incident report said. He said the aircraft was destroyed. Wish I could remember his name but he told me he visits this site so maybe he'll come up.

Bob

Looked in my files, back before USAF was so scared of Osama and his boys, the USAF published lists of all the aircraft losses and incidents on line. For calendar year 1963 there was 1 USAF listed C-130 destroyed. When I questioned Lewie Alley at the AF Safety Center, he told me that 56-0474 was the C-130 destroyed according to AF Safety Center records.

Also BO ( is that Before Osama or Before Obama?) AF MPC used to publish on the net lists of USAF casualties from 1947 on. All kinds of casualties, combat losses, accidents, motorcycle accidents, heart attacks you name it. For aircraft losses it gave the type of aircraft. I could not find any C-130 aircrew losses in 1963.

That does not mean that the USAF could not have completely covered something up if it wanted to, but it seems like a Korean shoot down is still only a rumor.

Bob

Well Bob, three people who were there at the time have given me information about the loss. Harry Sullivan, a veteran flight engineer who spent several years at Naha in the 21st in the early to mid-sixties, gave names at the 2006 Troop Carrier Homecoming at Galveston. Charlie Kent, who was 7th Aerial Port Stan/Eval loadmaster, has confirmed it and told how they were throwing the leaflets out the doors at the time. Recently Ed Evers, who was an engineer in the 35th, told me how he got to Naha about two weeks before the airplane was shot down and they took the airplane he was supposed to be crew chief of and gave it to the crew chief of the airplane that was lost and he was given the opportunity to become a flight engineer, which he took. Now the Air Force Historical Research Agency has confirmed that the airplane that was damaged in the defueling fire was repaired and returned to service. In short, it may be a rumor to you but its not a rumor to the guys who were there at the time. And I doubt if the major I flew my first JILLI mission with would have mentioned that we were going on a mission on which an airplane had been shot down a little over two years before if it was a rumor.

Furthermore, an unidentifed airplane was definitely shot down by North Korean fighters on August 6, 1963 with the loss of six personnel, and it has never been identified as anything but an "LT." A retired officer who was at Naha in plans at the time has told me that an article appeared in the Okinawa Times about a C-130 being shot down over the Sea of Japan and that they were told it was a "Sneaky Pete" out of Japan.

Then there is the US Army report on leaflet operations against North Korea that says that the 35th TCS was tasked with developing a leaflet delivery method in conjunction with the US Army 7th Psy Ops group at Machinato in "late 1963," although it goes on to say that missions were flown with C-47s until 1965. Well, the 35th didn't have any C-47s so why would they have been flying the missions with them?

As you know, the first two C-130Es lost in the Vietnam War were both mysteriously "resurrected." Strange things did indeed take place in the Western Pacific in the 50s and 60s.

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If you do a Google search for "Cold War Shoot-Downs" a number of lists will come up. Some of them show the August 6, 1963 loss and some don't, most likely because nearly all of the airplanes shot down during the Cold War were US Air Force Security Service reconnaissance aircraft losses which have since been declassifed. Some of the lists show the August 6, 1963 loss as a "US Army" aircraft but I have learned that this was because one of the list owners made the assumption that "LT" stood for light transport. Some lists show this airplane as a US Air Force airplane.

What is ironic is that at the time, there were brief newspaper articles that a USAF C-130 was shot down by North Korean fighters. I had just finished basic training and went to Amarillo for maintenance training immediately afterwards. The article came out right after I got to Amarillo. After I got to Pope I worked with NCOs who had come from the flight line at Naha and they talked about it. It's not like it was a huge secret at the time. Henry Caudill discussed the incident with me a few weeks after I got to Naha when we were on a Saigon Stage Mission in early 1966. I remember us sitting in the hotel room when he brought it up and told me that "you can die over here and nobody will ever know what happened to you." He went on to tell me that wives of the men who were lost were put on the next airplane to leave the island and no one was allowed to have contact with them. All the women were told was that their husbands had died in a crash. I remember thinking at the time that we were talking about something we shouldn't be discussing.

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My contact at the AFHRA tells me that the dispostion of 474 as recorded in 315th AD records is that it was "salvaged by reclamation." This is a term that is normally used when an airplane is damaged away from home base and is too badly damaged to be flown to a repair station. It can mean any one of a number of things, including stripped of parts or repaired and returned to service. For instance, airplanes that go to Davis-Monthan are categorized with this term. Here is a description of the term from a Korean War vintage unit out of Tachikawa:

Comments: The 6401st Field Maintenance Squadron was part of the Far East Air Material Command (FEAMCOM) based in Tachikawa AFB Japan. I was assigned there in Aug 1950 as an aircraft maintenance technician. In May 1951, I voluntered and was reassigned to the 6401st in Korea, first briefly based in Taegu then relocated to Suwon. A couple of months later the squadron was transfered to Kimpo (K14) near Seoul where it became permanently based.

The 6401st was essentially a salvage and reclamation unit whose mission was to reclaim aircraft that went down away from their home bases. Aircraft that went down at their home bases were reclaimed by their own units. Reclamation of an aircraft fell into primarily three categories. First, if an aircraft could be repaired in the field we did so. It was then picked up by a crew from its home base. Second, sometimes it could be repaired and returned to flight status but was beyond our limited capabilities. We then made temporary repairs for a onetime flight back to FEACOM's overhaul facilities at Tachikawa AFB. The aircraft was usually flown there with the landing gear fixed in the down position. Third, if the aircraft was beyond repair, we salvaged all sensitive equipment (electronics, weapons, etc) and any good parts that were in short supply. The rest of the bird was then cut up and hauled to a nearby salvage yard.

At K-14 we were located off the main base in an area surrounded by barbed wire and patrolled by Korean soldiers being given a rest from frontline duty. We called ourselves the FEAMCOM Retrievers. The entrance to our compound showed a picture of a bird dog with a bird in its mouth. Some of my squadron mates wore a patch depicting the same.

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