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Everything posted by SamMcGowan

  1. Dan, the prescription the doctor gave me is for Gabapentin. It seems to be helping. I was given a disability in 2005, but it has only been within the past couple of years that I started getting symptoms of neuropathy. Until back in September when I ran into Bob Antoline from Naha at the PLA gathering in San Antonio, I thought it was arthritis or just getting old. Bob has been diabetic for a number of years. It was more discomfort than real pain, but in December it suddenly got much worse, particularly in my right leg. My current disability is 40%, from 50% for diabetes, foot rash on both feet and groin, all three of which were in my military medical records. @Pat Hatch - you should really ask for PTSD screening. Anybody who went through what your crew did has it, no doubt about it.
  2. Carl Wyrick told me that he was at Nha Trang when this crew was lost and that he packed up their personal belongings to ship them back to CCK. The AC, engineer and loadmaster had all gone to Tachikawa from Pope the previous year when the 776th PCSed to 315th AD. Capt. Graf, the AC, was in the 779th. Billy Clayton, the LM, came out of 3rd APS. I knew him pretty well. We went through a special loadmaster AFSC course at the Pope FTD in the late summer of 1964. I'm not sure about Wheeler, the F/M. I think he was also in the 779th but not certain on that. I had gone to Naha not long after the 776th PCSed and was at Cam Ranh on the A-model shuttle when they went down.
  3. Those are probably leaflets that were dropped in South Vietnam. A lot of different organizations dropped leaflets. FACT SHEET was specific to North Vietnam. It started in April, 1965 and was taken over by the C-130E-Is after they arrived at CCK in order to give them time in North Vietnamese airspace.
  4. http://www.democratandchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011102270337
  5. I recently was contacted by Earl Cole, the nephew of F/E Ralph Lund, a longtime C-130 guy who was in the 41st at Naha and then went to McGuire and from there to CCK. Ralph was killed in September, 1968 on an E-model that was "apparently" lost to ground fire. Earl, however, has heard that they may have been victim to "friendly fire." If anyone has any details, drop me a note at [email protected] and I'll forward it to Earl. Earl is on Facebook.
  6. I'm surprised no one has mentioned it already, but the city of Abilene and Dyess AFB are having a big bash at the end of April to celebrate 50 years of C-130s at Dyess. The first ones stationed there were with the 64th Troop Carrier Wing and were C-130As from Sewart. In 1963 Dyess converted to Es and the 516th replaced the 64th - one squadron of A-models went back to Sewart and the other went to Elemendorf. The 463rd "replaced" the 516th (all paperwork) in 1972 then at some point they changed it to the 317th. They are inviting everyone who has ever been at Dyess in Herks to come back.
  7. My first flight into South Vietnam was in May 1965 and my last was in August 1970. In each case I carried a pistol - usually a .38 but sometimes a .45. At Naha enlisted crewmembers were required to go by the armory and pick up an M-16 and .38 while officers were required to carry a .38. There was something about the engineer and loadmaster taking up stations at the nose and tail if an airplane was grounded at a forward field. When I got to Clark I was issued a Colt .38 snubnose which was kept at the squadron in a locked cabinet under the operations desk. Each crewmember had a weapons card corresponding to their weapon and operations or the duty NCO pulled it out and gave it to him before each flight. (I traded my Colt for a S&W Combat Masterpiece when someone turned me in and my ops clerk buddy held it for me.) On the Blind Bat mission each enlisted man carried both a .38 and an M-16. Loadmaster/flare kickers used to fire them out of the back at targets on the ground until Combat McNorton holed a B-57 and that put an end to that.
  8. The external pylon tanks were not installed on any of the A-models until after the 61st deployed to Christ Church in 1960.
  9. An update to my situation: Back in September I applied to the VA to upgrade my disability for Type II diabetes due to peripheral neuropathy that has developed in my legs. I also asked to be evaluated for hearing loss. I was not scheduled for anything In December I developed severe pains in my legs and decided to seek treatment. It turns out that the VA has opened several outpatient clinics around the area and one is not far from me. That afternoon I went in for a walk-in appointment. When I got there, the reps were unable to access my records because it turns out VA medical and compensation are two different departments and their computers don't talk to each other. It was the week before Christmas and the people in the Regional office had gone home at noon. I spent about two hours with one of the reps and finally got an appointment to see a doctor for a "new patient" evaluation on February 24 - two months away. But I did not get to see a doctor because 4:30 came and everybody went home. The pain continued in my legs but I was able to live with it, but then in early January it got so bad I could hardly walk. I went back to the VA clinic on a walk-in and finally got to see the nurse. She took my vital signs and talked to me and told me I needed to have lab work. I hobbled in again the next day and had the lab work done. I waited about a week and then my pain got really bad, so I went back in with my wife. After waiting for over an hour, the nurse came out and told me I could make an appointment for a few days later or wait another hour or so and the doctor would see me. By this point I was about ready to give up and go to my personal doctor and pay for everything at my own expense - my wife was ready to walk out - but I decided that I was there, and could wait. I finally got in to see the doctor at the end of the day. He looked at my lab work and checked my legs, then gave me a couple of prescriptions and the nurse gave me a wooden cane. My one prescription was for an over-the-counter pain killer which is the same as Aleive although I didn't know that at the time. I was able to pick it up at a local pharmacy with which the VA has a contract, but because it was after 5:00 they couldn't talk to the VA so I had to pay for it. The other was to come from the VA pharmacy at the hospital downtown. Over the next few days the pain lessened somewhat and I was able to quit using the cain, but my prescriptions had not come. Finally, I called the pharmacy and learned that it was not a VA medication and had not been mailed. After a couple of phone calls and a couple of weeks, I finally got the prescription which seems to be helping. They set me up with two more appointments at the VA hospital at the end of March with specialists. On February 24 I went in for the scheduled appointment which went okay. I mentioned the hearing loss issue and said I'd like to be evaluated and also said I would like to have a PTSD evaluation. When I went out, the rep scheduled me for follow-ups and set me up with the shrink, but then he gave me the wrong paperwork. Fortunately, I saw that it had the wrong name before we left the parking lot so I went back in and got the right one. Yet even though I had asked for it, no hearing evaluation has been scheduled. As for my disability, I have not heard anything a form letter a few weeks ago which said basically "we're working on it." I have learned in my experiences with the VA that there are categories for veterans. As it is, I fall into Priority 2 with 40% so I can recieve treatment for my service-connected disability at no cost. There are finanical condition considerations and any veteran who falls into Priority 8 - which is the Priority the average veteran who got out and managed to make a living is in - is not being accepted by the VA for treatment. Check the VA web site to see the priorities and conditions for each. Bear in mind that retirees and non-retirees are NOT the same. Retirees are already elibigle for medical treatment at government expense. Veterans who did not retire - which is the vast majority of veterans - must fall into a priority above Priority 8 or they are not going to be able to be treated by the VA. Veterans with service-connected disabilities will fall into either Priority 1 or 2; Purple Heart holders and former POWS without a service-connected disability are in another category. I feel certain that my disability will be upgraded somewhere above 50% and possibly even 100% since I am no longer able to walk without a limp. But it's been six months now since I applied and so far nothing seems to have been done. I was NOT scheduled for any appointments at all in conjunction with my claim. All of the appointments I have had or am scheduled for were made through the VA medical department after I went to them myself.
  10. There's a lot of confusion about C-130 units that flew in SEA because of the many unit redesignations that took place. Here is a run-down (this only applies to troop carrier/tactical airlift.): 1958-1965 - There were four C-130A squadrons assigned to PACAF, with the fourth arriving in 1963. The 815th was at Tachikawa while the 21st and 817th were at Naha and were joined by the 35th. They were supplemented by TAC rotational squadrons. 1966-1969 - In December 1966 eight TAC squadrons were transferred to PACAF along with two wings. The 41st TCS went to Naha to join the 6315th Operations Group, which became the 374th Troop Carrier Wing in August, 1966 and made the fifth C-130A squadron. The entire 463rd TCW transferred from Langley to the Philippines with its B-models. The wing headquarters was at Mactan until late 1968 when it transferred to Clark. The 772nd and 774th squadrons were also at Mactan, then went to Clark. The 773rd went to Clark and was joined by the 29th TCS from Forbes (which was so inexperienced that they frequently screwed up and got the nickname F-Troop.) Three squadrons of E-models also went to PACAF, the 50th from Sewart, the 345th from Dyess and the 776th from Pope. The 314th wing transferred to PACAF in early 1966 to become the headquarters unit. Previously, each squadron was at a different PACAF base. All three wings were assigned to the 315th Air Division. In early 1968 in reponse to the Pueblo Crisis and the Tet Offensive, several TAC rotational squadrons were sent to PACAF to beef-up C-130 strength. By that time the 834th Air Division had activated at Tan Son Nhut and controlled all airlift operations in South Vietnam (but not Thailand.) 1969 - a squadron from Dyess (346th I think) transferred to CCK. The 815th at Tachikawa inactivated, along with 315th Air Divison. 1970 - troop strength in Vietnam was reduced and several C-130A & B squadrons were earmarked for deactivation. 1971 - the 374th TAW at Naha was shut down but the guidon was flown to CCK to replace the 314th TAW, which transferred to Little Rock to replace the 64th. The 21st TAS also transferred to CCK and replaced the 346th (347th?) Apparently the USAF intended for all of the Naha squadrons to move to CCK but in the end only the 21st transferred and the 35th and 817th inactivated while the 41st guidon flew to Pope where the 464th TAW and it's squadrons were sent into oblivion. The 463rd TAW guidon flew to Dyess, but the 774th remained at Clark until mid-1972. 1972 - PACAF C-130 strength was down to four squadrons again, but only the 21st of the original squadrons remained. The 50th, 345th and 776th were still at CCK. In reponse to the Easter Invasion, several TAC squadrons were sent to PACAF on rotation. 1973 - the 374th moved to Clark. Now you can see why there is no way to have a C-130 unit reunion and have people from the same units since there were so many redesignations, transfers, inactivation, reactivations and general unit confusion.
  11. 62-1788 was an old MATS airplane. According to Lars' booklet, it was at Dyess in 1967 and at Langley, but I'm not sure that's right. Sometime in 1964 or 65 TAC and MATS swapped a number of airplanes because the MATS airplanes had so much flying time. Dyess got some more former MATS airplanes in 1968 when MAC phased out the last of its C-130s.
  12. As I said in a post on the photo, it was assigned to the 464th TCW at Pope at the time and belonged to the 464th Organizational Maintenance Squadron. The OMS was organized in flights with each flight pertaining to a squadron but I have no idea which flight it was in. It transferred to PACAF with the 776th TCS, but that doesn't mean it was an A Flight airplane since airplanes and crewmembers were picked from all four squadrons for the transfer.
  13. Go to the links page on www.troopcarrier.org and you'll find links to a number of C-130-related videos. Some of the sites have dozens, if not hundreds, of military film clips of C-130s.
  14. The 29th tail code was QB. The squadron went to Clark in early '66 before tail codes appeared. Tail codes didn't start appearing on C-130s until mid-1967. We did not have them at all while I was at Naha until just about the time I left. I've got a picture somewhere of a Naha A-model that Gary Peters took on the COMMANDO LAVA with a tail code. The airplane had just come back from IRAN and had just been painted, includign a tail code. COMMANDO LAVA was in July 1967. I left Naha in late July or early August and don't recall even seeing an airplane with a code.
  15. The only place I ever went at Cam Ranh was the beach behind the barracks, but I think there might have been some water skiing for those who wanted to do it. Since we were working six days with one off and then another six, I was always so damned tired I really wasn't interested in any off-base recreation. I waited until I got back to Clark for that! When I was at Cam Ranh from Naha we were living on the main base in a Qounset Hut. When I was back again from Clark, we were on Herky Hill. It seems to me when I was there in 66-67 that we were restricted to the base and that the town was off-limits. Speaking of the beach, one day I got stung by some nettles and went to the dispensary. While I was there there were two grunts there as well. They were still wearing grease paint. They had been on a patrol right on the perimeter and one had been shot in the arm by a Charlie. They were telling me and the medics that there were a bunch of them out there and they'd probably hate the base soon. Don't remember for sure, but I think they did within a few days.
  16. To be honest, the C-130 is not the best soft-field airplane around. But neither is the C-17. In fact, C-130s can be operated off of 2,000 feet. But they need hard-packed dirt or grass at least to do it. If I'm not mistaken, the one in the above picture got stuck.
  17. Today is November 22, 2010. Forty-six years ago crews from the 464th Troop Carrier Wing at Pope were getting ready for the historic RED DRAGON/DRAGON ROUGE mission to deliver Belgian paratroops to rescue whites being held hostage in Stanleyville in the Congo by Simba rebels. I came across this article on The History Net that I wrote back in the 1980s. If I remember correctly, the publisher of Military History had started a new magazine on Cold War operations or something like that and they published it originaily in it. Look at the comments beneath the article. http://www.historynet.com/congo-crisis-operation-dragon-rouge.htm
  18. Don, the Marines and Navy aircraft - except for the MATS airplanes - were not on that gaggle. They did fly into the DR but most of their missions were out of Jacksonville, NC in support of the Marines that went in by ship. I remember some P-51s at Ramey that had been flown out of the DR, but they were operational, not derelict. I've got a couple of slides I took of some ancient British jet fighters that were at San Isidro. I believe they were Gloester Demons. Back in the eighties the late M.E. Morris visited me in Kentucky. He was commander of the Navy ski squadron during the D.R. - I think it was VX6. He told me that they flew missions into the DR in them. Speaking of Mo Morris, during his visit we learned that we were practically neighbors. Of course he was a a lot older than me but we were both from the same general area in West Tennessee. He and his wife were both from Medina, where my grandmother came from. I grew up about ten miles away out in the country.
  19. We flew the bullshit bomber missions in the upper twenties, with the ramp and door open so no cabin altitude. It seems to me we usually dropped at FL270. My buddy Tom Stalvey told me a couple of weeks ago that he flew some HALO drops at FL410. As I recall, the normal max operating altitude for Herks was FL250 because there was no oxygen in the back for troops. For flights above that altitude there had to be an emergency oxygen system. I wouldn't even attempt to make a comment on cabin altitude since it was so long ago, but FAR 25 requirements call for a maximum cabin altitude of 10,000 feet at the maximum certified altitude of any Part 25 certified airplane.
  20. Jim needs to update the picture on his group page. He's got his on picture on the CCK group.
  21. A couple of weeks ago my buddy and former trailer-mate Tom Stalvey spent time me with at my home and then on the TCTAA cruise at the convention. Tom brought a bunch of his photographs with him. In the folder was also a copy of the citation for his Distinguished Flying Cross. I was surprised when I read it because rather than being awarded for a specific mission, his was a real "end of tour" award for his entire tour at Clark with the 29th TAS. Since Tom flew some 25 missions over Khe Sanh on drops, I would have thought he would have gotten it for that. I first heard about "end of tour" DFCs when I first got to Clark in early 1969. They were not being awarded when I was at Naha in 66-67 and in fact, I only know of one DFC that was awarded during my entire tour. It went to Andy Sich, a loadmaster from Tachi, who kicked a flare launcher we were testing out of the paratroop door with a burning flare in it. As I recall, Andy was put in for a Silver Star but it was downgraded. There was something about a comment from the group commander that enlisted men couldn't qualify for DFCs since they weren't in control of the airplane. Since Andy wasn't based at Naha, he got one. John Butterfield's crew later got one for saving their airplane after it was shot up on a COMMANDO LAVA mission just before I left Naha. Sometime in early 1970 I was called into the orderly room by the Awards and Decs. NCO and told that they were putting everyone in for DFCs for their "best" mission. I couldn't think of anything and he said what about such and such. I said, oh yeah. About a year later after I got to Charleston I got a call that I was to report to Wing the next day to be presented a DFC. End of Tour DFCs started in World War II, although they were awarded on the basis of so many missions - 25 with the Eighth Air Force. For Air Transport Command crewmembers flying in China, they were based on 500 hours of operations on the India/China Ferry. Troop Carrier crews got them the same as the bomber and fighter crews, with different criteria for different theaters. Who, besides Tom, got a DFC that was awarded for an entire tour rather than for a specific act?
  22. Hawkins and Powers operated a number of A-models as tankers for a number of years, most of which were originally C-130A-Is that started out at Rhine-Main, Germany. (They weren't used in Vietnam and didn't have the wing mods.) They were painted red and yellow. Since this one is still in military markings, it must be one they got from the boneyard for parts. Get a copy of Lars Olaussan's tail-number book. I've got a bunch of pictures of the Hawkins and Powers airplanes I took when I visited Greybull back in 2000. At one time I had a page about them but accidentally deleted it and never put it back up.
  23. I just got off the phone with Bill Collier, who told me that there is a book out about Lt. Col. Dick Suehr, who commanded the weather squadron at Pope for a long time. When I first got to Pope Col. Suehr was a regular fixture at the Service Club, where he liked to play pinochle and shoot the bull with the young troops. My memories of him are of him in uniform. I knew him quite well but had no idea that he was an ace until something appeared about him in AIRMAN. He did tell me he had flown P-38s. The book was written by an African immigrant and is available on Amazon.com. The title is The Fighter Pilot Who Refused to Die. He had an interesting career. He went to Australia as a young fighter pilot early in World War II and flew P-39s against the Japs before transitioning into P-38s. He was shot down twice and was briefly a POW. After he returned to the US he was assigned to Selfridge Field, Michigan to work with the new 332nd Fighter Group, which was training to go overseas. The 332nd was an all-colored group that went to Italy and later flew P-51s with Fifteenth Air Force. Col. Suehr is one of my fondest memories from Pope. I'm sure a lot of other guys remember him as well. He retired at Pope in 1968 and remained there until his recent death.
  24. Although the turnout for the TCTAA convention was small, those that were there had a fabulous time and enjoyed great camaraderie. Darn near every squadron in TAC and PACAF was represented with the 29th from Clark having the most people. There were four there who had been involved with the flare missions and about the same number who flew COMMANDO VAULT. I'll be putting more info in the next TCTAA newsletter. The TCTAA is an umbrella organization for EVERYONE who was involved with the troop carrier/tactical airlift mission and its successors in some way. If you're not a member yet, you need to join. Details are at www.troopcarrier.org.
  25. The flare mission was different. Each mission was one sortie. They were also out-of-country missions and the criteria was different than it was for trash-hauling missions in-country. The requirements also changed from 25 sorties to 25 fragged missions, then it was raised to 30. Which reminds me of something that deserves its own thread.
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