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Everything posted by SamMcGowan

  1. You had documentation, Incidentally, SEA service on a DD 214 is NOT proof of boots on the ground as that also applies to service in Thailand. A veteran has to have documentation of actual "service" (which may simply be stopping for an hour on an airline flight to Thailand) in South Vietnam to be presumptive exposure to herbicides.
  2. I never received any of those medals, but they were put on my military personnel file. The only medals I ever actually received were the Air Medal, DFC and Combat Readiness Medal. (I had to ask for the Air Medal after I got the certificate in my vertical file.) As for Vietnam veteran status, the DOD had me in their data base because I was given credit for more than 365 days in country - TDYs from Pope, Naha and Clark. I also got it from the VA because I reenlisted the first time at Cam Ranh and it's in my second DD 214.
  3. Update - I finally was able to get through to the VA and also signed up with the DAV for a VSO. In March 2016 I had a "hearing" with a VA rep that lasted about 5 minutes. They at least sent me to a VA neurologist for a new C&P evaluation. She decided the neuropathy in my legs is moderate and mild in my arms. The VA upgraded me to 60%. A couple of weeks ago I got a letter awarding me Unemployability. The appeals are still on-going. I filed them in 2012 and asked for a board hearing in 2014. At least I'm not getting 100% pay - and Texas doesn't require disabled vets being paid at 100% to pay property taxes. That's all good news. We'll see what happens with the appeals. I should be at least at 70-80% and possibly 100%.
  4. Check his Airman's Performance Report and see if it mentions service in South Vietnam. VA requires the veteran to provide proof of boots on the ground.
  5. VA awards go to the date the claim was filed, period.
  6. I was diagnosed with hearing loss decades ago and filed a claim with the VA when I started going to the VA for medical treatment in early 2011. They awarded me 10% for tinnitus and 0% for hearing loss. Recently, my DAV VSO insisted I have my hearing checked again and file a new claim. I did and more loss was detected. The DAV filed a claim for me and the VA said my rating will remain at 0%. I've been wearing VA-provided hearing aids since 2011.
  7. 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.
  8. I've written a few more since these, and I've put these two out in 6 X 9 format,
  9. www.sammcgowan.com/meyers.html. This link is to the USAF accident report of the Meyers incident. I think I mentioned it on here before but Bob Patterson told me in 2012 that he personally briefed TAC commander Gen. W.W. Momyer on the incident. Bob believes Meyer passed out from hypoxia. As for him being headed anywhere, this more a myth than anything, He actually meandered all over England for TWO HOURS and was in and out of thunderstorms. The man was drunk as a skunk and probably had no idea what he was doing when he took the airplane off.
  10. I started out at Pope in MX in December 1963. USAF had prohibited anyone but pilots from taxiing ANY airplane with more than two engines. I believe a pilot could taxi with an engineer (but remember that a pilot and engineer was the published minimum crew for emergency operations.)
  11. No, they didn't Sonny. I took this picture at CRB around May-June 1967 - no tail code. I don't recall ever seeing an airplane with a tail code at Naha - I left in July 1967. However, Gary Peters sent me some pictures he took on COMMANDO LAVA in July and his wingman has brand new paint with a tail code.
  12. Sonny, by the time you got to Naha, the flare mission had been going on for more than three years. I took this photo in the spring of 1966, I can't say for certain since it might be shadow, but some of those airplanes appear to have black bellies. The paint on the airplanes was different, depending on where they had been painted. Some were painted in the States when they went on IRAN and some were painted at Gifu, Japan. I left Naha in July-early August 1967.
  13. To the best of my knowledge, the first M-121 dropped in SEA was dropped by Major Bob Archer's crew from the 29th TAS. Archer was project officer. The test program was COMBAT TRAP and the operational mission was COMMANDO VAULT. COMMANDO VAULT commenced in early 1969. There were at least a dozen bombs dropped under COMBAT TRAP. Below is the first bomb crew - Bob Archer, Jon O'Donnell, Davy Dawson, Chick Anderson, Mike Huzinko. (Names are in reverse order.) There was no doubt a second loadmaster with them who is not pictured. I believe this photo was taken prior to the first bomb drop. Howie Seaboldt gave it to me just before he died. Archer gave it to him. Archer is still alive and well in Florida. FYI, I only know of one mission when we dropped on an enemy base camp and it was the first mission I flew. I was in country with a 774th crew with MacArthur Rutherford checking me out. The FAC gave us a BDA of 100 KIA. That's the only time I heard a BDA, maybe because the pilots didn't ask for one.
  14. Prior to 1966 all Naha C-130s were silver or gray (corrosion paint.) The Air Force began camouflaging all tactical airplanes, including C-130s. In 1961 JFK authorized the use of USAF C-130s for resupply missions to and within Laos and E Flight was established at Naha in the 21st TCS to maintain the airplanes and provide instructor crews. When the camouflaging took place, the four airplanes were left unpainted so the CIA could continue to claim the unmarked airplanes (all markings were removed when they were baled to the CIA) were not U.S. airplanes.
  15. The answer to this is very simple - The United States officially withdrew from South Vietnam in March 1973. The evacuation of Saigon and the Mayaguez Incident occurred over two years later. There was a C-130 lost at Tan Son Nhut during the final days of the war but because the US was no longer an active participant, it's not on the database of aircraft lost during the war. Neither is the C-5 that crashed outside Saigon.
  16. I was pleasantly surprised recently to learn that the VA has classified me as "unemployable" because the three disabilities I have related to Type II diabetes add up to 60%. I am still rated at 60% disabled but the Unemployability gives me pay at 100% along with other benefits for the 100% rating. I have Type II with neuropathy in both lower extremities. (I also have it in my arms and elsewhere but the VA has yet to rate that.) The condition of my legs was upped from mild to moderate in 2016 with an increase from 10% to 20% for each extremity. However, neither the VA or my DAV VSO's picked up on the change. The status was changed because the local appeals agent noticed that I had asked for Unemployability in 2012. So, you might want to check and see if you have a condition that adds up to 60%.
  17. To be really honest, we rarely knew what we were carrying other than special handling cargo. Most missions carried ammunition and/or POL. Logistical missions carried general cargo. If anything, herbicides would have been corrosive liquids. They most likely weren't labeled at all. I understand that herbicides were marked with a band, which is where the "agent orange" moniker came from. Vietnam veterans are considered presumptive to exposure to herbicides because they were so widely used.
  18. Ken, I was in the 35th and lived and worked with people from the other four squadrons. In fact, I once went in country with a 21st crew.
  19. Not really Sonny. Special missions were just that, "special", but each squadron's primary mission was the troop carrier mission and we all did the same thing. The 21st had E Flight but it was an addendum to the squadron. The squadron's other four flights did the same thing the other four squadrons did. All four squadrons contributed crews to the flare mission, the 35th had the leaflet mission and the 817th had HALO. The 41st had COMMANDO LAVA but it was an airdrop mission of special chemical agents on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Not only were the Naha squadrons the same, so were the other eight C-130 squadrons in PACAF. I was at Clark in 69-70 and did the exact same things I did while at Naha except we had the COMMANDO VAULT bombing mission. But when we weren't bombing, we were hauling trash and people.
  20. I posted this in the historical section last night but it probably should have gone here. The officers and board members of the Troop Carrier/Tactical Airlift Association proposed and designed a memorial to the troop carrier/tactical airlift mission at our 2014 meeting in Tucson. The funds were raised (some $37,000) and the memorial has been placed at the USAF Museum. The attached special newsletter includes photographs and information about the upcoming dedication at the 2018 TC/TAA reunion in Dayton this October. USAF veteran and historian Dr. Alan Gropman will be speaking on the Battle of Kham Duc.. Memorial Special.pdf
  21. Tonight if the first time I've been on here in a long time. I wanted to mention the passing of my good buddy Roy Michael "Stony" Burk back in early December. Stoney died is injuries from a motorcycle accident in late November. I first met him when he was with 5th Aerial Port in France and caught a ride with me from Pope when my crew was going on rotation. We literally met each other at the door to our new squadron at Robins AFB, GA a few years later and became fast friends. After a year on C-141s at Robins, we got orders to Clark and went over on the same plane after driving across the country together and both went to F Troop. I went to C-5s at Charleston and Stoney went to ARRS at McCoy. He went back to Clark originally to the 773rd but the squadron was shutting down so he went to ARRS at Clark. He was in 4th APS at Langley then went to C-5s at Dover where he retired. Stoney got his pilots license and flew fire patrol for the Florida Forestry Service until his retirement a few years ago. We stayed in touch and talked on the phone about once a month. God, I miss him!
  22. I took the picture with the fuel truck sometime around May or June 1967 - I'm pretty sure it was at Tan Son Nhut. The second was at CRB around the same time - no revetments.
  23. Since when was the 374th FMS not part of the 374th TAW? I was at Naha when the 374th TCW replaced the 6315th Ops. Group and the 374th FMS was definitely created as part of the wing. Flight line mechanics were assigned to the flying squadrons but all other maintenance was with the 374th FMS. By the way, no certificate is given for unit citations. A notation is put in an airman's personnel records.
  24. I've got a map of Naha somebody sent me. In fact, I was just looking at it. This one is an engineering map, not one of the maps that were passed out. I'll try to remember to scan it sometime.
  25. If it was a Naha bird, and it obviously was, it was most likely on the flare mission at some time or other. Prior to 1968 when they put some special equipment on Blind Bat airplanes, any airplane on the flight line could be used on the mission. I don't know what tail numbers did what. Tail numbers were how we found the airplanes on the flight line.
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