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bobdaley

Gary Speer LM on 63-7886

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Back in 66 there was an accident at Dyess. 63-7886 crashed on a night low level.

All on board were killed except one of the LM's A2C Gary Speer.

The son of the FE wrote looking for info about the crash, also wondering about Gary Speer.

Seems I remember he was still alive but "Old Timers"? Anyone have any info on Gary Speer?

Thanks

Bob

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Thanks John Conner sent me his address and e mail this afternoon and I forwarded it on to John Brace's family.

Thanks again,

Bob

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Ralph Bemis sent the following pics of a reunion at Dyess.

The first is left to right Ralph, Donald Leonard, and Gary Speers.

The last 2 are Gary being interviewed.

Bob

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I remember that crash. Doug Kuba was the other loadmaster. I had been the best man at his wedding a month before. Marilyn was his wife's name.

As I remember some one saw the crash and called the local radio station first.

I don't remember any funeral service at all. I might have been gone, CRS.

Bill

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My wife's father was the navigator on that A/C. We are looking for any info we can find on him and the crash, just to satisfy our curiosity. My wife was only 3 at the time, so she does not remember much of him. Any light anyone could shed would be appreciated.

Joe

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Thanks everyone for your help but I found Gary and we have spoken on the phone. My husband's father was the flight mechanic on this crash, John Arthur Brace. Is there a way to find people who might have known him? I am trying to figure this out and hope I am doing all this right. Thanks for all your help....

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I have found Gary Speer everyone but thanks for your help. We have spoken and he has helped with information. My husband is the son of John Brace, The flight mechanic on the C130 crash of 1966. I am trying to find anyone who knew my "father in law". My husband was 3 when he died and we don't know very much. If anyone knows him or can give me any information I would very much appreciate it.

Thanks

Sandy Brace

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I did some research for the co-pilot's daughter earlier in the year. Her husband had posted in another thread. There was some newspaper articles, a copy of the service at the base chapel I had and I believe some names of people who knew the co-pilot. One of the men who pulled Gary from the plane was also at the reunion Ralph mentioned. I did not know the FE, except by name but perhaps some of the members of the 347th knew him.

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How do I find guys from the 347th? I have been searching every where I know of to find ANYONE who knew him. I'm looking to contact them or have them contact me. I have been looking for a guy named Bill Bailey from his basic training school and Andy Franklin from his flight mechanic school that he was friends with. Dire need to find them. Any suggestions or help would be awesome guys.

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I was transfered to Dyess in Jan 1966 as an E-4(A1C). I was being crossed trained from Weapons Control systems on F4c (they over manned the career field) to autopilots and compass systems.

There were 5 of us who came together to Dyess. The AF said we had all the electronics training we needed from our old career field and said we could learn to work on autopilots and compasses through on-the-job- training.

After all these years (46+) some of my memories may be a little off about the crash but I will tell you of my memories as best I can remember.

I was living in the barracks on base when the crash occurred (October 12, 1966, a Saturday). I have no idea what time someone came banging on my door.

I remember it was daylight and very cold.

Whoever came to my door said that a C130 had crashed and they needed someone from the Autopilot shop to go to the crash site immediately to help find all the autopilot components in the wreckage. They needed the components so they could be examined in figuring out why the aircraft crashed.

I guess it would be better to relate what I ultimately understood about the crash. This understanding is NOT from reading any offical report but what was told me by other individuals.

Three C130s were flying in formation (one behingd the other) at an altitude of 1000 feet. These were just routine low-level night training missions.

The normal crew of pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, and load master. As I heard the story the additional young LM had asked to go along and was allowed to go.

The co-pilot left the cockpit to go use the urinal. This is a normal routine occurrance.

At some point the pilot had a heart attack and died. Apparently he did not slup over the control colum and cause the plane to go in a sharp dive(like in the movies).

These training flights were normally 4 hours long. The pilot would normally trim the control surfaces so the plane reqiured little correction to fly straight and level; even with the autopilot off.

The plane slowly started loosing altitude. Since it was gradual noone was alerted that something was wrong.

The plane descended to the point that the 4 turbo props started mowing half circles in the tops of mesquite trees.

The plane finally touched the ground and was skidding along mowing down the trees.

At some point one of the wings dipped down and caught the ground.

When that happen the complete engine left the wing and continued for some ways cutting half circles in the mesquite trees.

At the same time the plane spun around and started sliding backwards.

At some time the fuel tank in the wing ruptured and fuel started spilling into the forward portion of the plane and caught on fire.

I think a certain amount of the above is based upon speculation because of the burnered condition of the bodies.

Now, what I actually saw supports my understanding of what happened.

I was driven to the highway location closes to the crash by the person who was different from the person who came and got me.

I can't remember if there were other people with us.

The first thing I saw on the side of the highway were a bunch of APs and military vehicles.

I couldn't see any evidence of a crash through the thick grove of mesquite trees.

The AP's had used one of there 4 door trucks to blaze a path to the wreck and shuttle people back and forth between the hiway and the site.

Getting into the truck I noticed that the mirrors and door handles had been torn off and the entire length of the sides were pretty much void of paint.

An indication of how thick the trees were.

When we got to the site the fires were out and there were several people looking around at things and taking pictures. There were no bodies. They were already gone.

On the short ride to the site the driver told us to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes, even though it was cold. It seems that the fire had brought the snakes out of hibernation.

The first APs to get there and blaze the trail to the site had shot a lot of them.

Here's what I saw

Standing near the nose of the plane(or where the nose would normally be) and looking back toward where the plane had come from I could see where it had skided.

Beyond that I could see where the props had cut arcs in the trees. It appeared that the plane had moved up and down some likie it had skipped some trees.

Looking over to the side I could see where the wing tip had hit the ground and moving over to get in line I could see where the engine flew threw the trees by itself anf the arc trail in the trees.

Standing at the nose again and looking toward the tail of the plane I saw that between me and where the leading edge of the wings there was basically nothing higher than my knees. It appeared that the focus of the fire had been on the cockpit.

I walked around the pile to an area behind the main wing and mid line of the plane. From there looking toward the tail it looked like any other C130 I had ever been on; like nothing had happened except the tail end was down on the ground.

It was while I was standing there that I looked down and saw a combat boot. It was still laced up and tied. From the bottom eyelets to the toe was totally gone almost like it was cut off with and axe. But the edge had a little bit of singing all the way around. The rest of the boot was still shiney from a spit shine..

All the equipment I was looking for was located either in the cockpit between the pilot and copilot at sitting down thigh level. The other equipment was usually located in equipment racks about 3-4 feet under the cockpit and behind the nose wheel wheel.

The cockpit component was in a pile of rumble about mid shin high and I almost didn't recognize it with all the plactic burent off it.

Of the components under the cockpit I found one still bolted to it's rack but its portion of the rack had been ripped out and was probably 50-75 feet way.

Another, about the size of a medium sized microwave full of electronics I found in two pieces like a giant pair of hands had pulled it apart like tearing a loaf of french bread in to.

The portion that bolted it to its rack was still secure but the rack was out in the trees.

It seems like I spent a few hours there before the officer released me to go back to the base.

I had heard that the kid that made it was in real bad shape and that they had sent him to the big hospital in San Antonio.

Until today I had never know any of their names.

Seems to me that an offical incident report should still exists and that anyone interested should be able to get a copy under the Freedom of Information act.

I hope I've provided someone with a piece of info they wanted to know and not come off as just the ramblings of an old man.

TL MCaughn

TSgt USAF Nov' 63 - Sep '74

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what an extraordinary narrative, I think anyone reading it, who is anywhere familiar with the aircraft can appreciate what you encountered.. and I noted, too, the ages of the kids who lost their fathers......means most of this crew was relatively young, also.... guess the typical crew of the times......let's not forget these folks and all the others like them.....only by the grace of God was it that any of us could have encountered the same fate.... as much fun and all we had, it was definitely a serious business we were in.. This helps remind me how lucky I am to still be around.....

Giz

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Sandy I have a friend named Bill Bailey who went thru basic training in Sep 1964. When did your father in law go thru basic and was it Lackland or Amarillo AFB? Bill

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My father in law, John A. Brace enlisted 9-1-1955. Not sure which AFB though. Ask your friend if he knew him please. He would remember him from the crash. They were to have been very good friends, so hopefully he remembers if it is the same Bill Bailey. Thank you for your help and time.

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I was in England on rotation with the 346th when the crash occurred. What we heard was the pilot was an ex-B47 pilot who had just transferred to C130s. We heard the B47 trim tab switch is located where the 130 interphone switch is located. The airplane was at a turning point in the route, and the pilot probably was acknowledging the new heading to the nav and he had pushed the trim switch forward to talk on the intercom and the airplane descended into the ground. Don't know if this is any more correct than anything else, but that's what we were told back then...

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I was a loadmaster in the 346th and at Dyess when the crash ocurred. We did hot crew changes on those triaining missions. One crew would get off and another get on and do another run around the circuit. That was the last run of the day. These were mostly navigation training runs. As with Jim's comment above, my recollection of the cause (heresay only) was the A/C had recently converted from B-47's and that the mic buttom on those planes was in the same location on the column as the trim tab button on the C-130. I understood that he had possibly hit the trim tab instead of the mic and put down trim into the aircreaft and it flew into the ground at speed. That is my recollection. I remember we did not hear about the crash until the middle of the night. Someone must have read the official report and probably should clear up this as it has been posted so many times in so many ways by lots of old memories.

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Thank you all so much for your memories of what happened back then. Brian and I have decided that no matter what anyone remembers two things are definite. One, John died doing what he loves (flying) and second he died for his country. Those things will never change. We have been trying to find out when the next 347th reunion is and can't find the info. We were told to google the squadron and it would say but have not had any luck yet. Any ideas? Thanks again for all the help.

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Well, John, you and I and Bob all have the same memory ... at least I'm not going senile!!

Based upon your comments about the cause I would have to say that what I heard about the heart attack had to have come from some of the pure speculation that went on at the time.

Working in Maintenance as opposed to operations I rarely taked to anyone in "the know" about the details.

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Thank you all so much for your memories of what happened back then. Brian and I have decided that no matter what anyone remembers two things are definite. One, John died doing what he loves (flying) and second he died for his country. Those things will never change. We have been trying to find out when the next 347th reunion is and can't find the info. We were told to google the squadron and it would say but have not had any luck yet. Any ideas? Thanks again for all the help.

The best source for any reunion info would be Pete Fischer who lives in Abilene. I don't have his current e-mail but he owned a company called Abilene Supply and you might be able to get in touch with him through that company. The big reunion was in 2005 at Dyess and all the Loadmaster went including Gary. Pete maintains a "Buddy List" of all those that attended. I think another smaller group got together a couple years later and went to Branson. I've not heard of another scheduled. I know there is a much bigger C-130 group meeting held every year and includes all the different wings and squadrons. You can PM Sam McGowan who is a big driver behind those meetings. Maybe he knows who from the 347th might be there. Unfortunately most of the flight crew personnel exept Loadmasters who were the youngsters at that time are awfully old or have already passed. I'm 65 now and am one of the baby's from that era. You can tell from the posts how important that time was in all our lives and it would be exactly the same for your John.

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Thanks for info. I have been trying to personal message Sam and it keeps telling me his inbox is full and my message won't send until he deletes some of his messages. Any other idea on how to get in contact with him? Lol. Even though my husband Brian was 3 when his dad died in the crash, he feels a special connection to you all for having served. It definitely shows that it was special to you all. Thanks to you all for serving our country and doing it with the pride you all still show today.

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