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SamMcGowan

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Everything posted by SamMcGowan

  1. There was another incident at Naha where Walt "Cecil" Hebdon went out with some troops. Walt was a crew chief at the time and got permission to jump, although the story was spread that he just jumped on a whim.
  2. This incident is true. It happened at Pope in 1964-65. The loadmaster's last name was Tomlinson. His first cousin, Jim Tomlinson, was also at Pope at the same time as was their uncle, who was a pilot in the 778th. I was in OTU at the time and heard the story right after it happened so it was probably in the fall of 1964. I'll try to get his cousin's name from Jim. The trooper threw his sick sack in the loadmaster's face as he went out the door and Tomlinson went out after him. I believe he had skydiving experience.
  3. C-130E 62-1787 was recently identified as the airplane flown by Captain William R. Caldwell's crew as SPARE 617 over An Loc in April 1972. They were hit by heavy ground fire as they approached the drop zone. Jon Sanders, the engineer, was killed and most of the other crew members were wounded. Captain Caldwell and SSgt. Charles L. Shaub were awarded the Air Force Cross for their actions. 787 is current with the Arkansas Air Guard and is slated to go to the Air Force Museum upon retirement. It'll be on public display at the Yankee Air Museum in Yipsilanti, Michigan July 18-19.
  4. That airplane was called the Quan Loi Queen and was supposed to go to the Air Force Museum when it left active service, but it was hit again by rockets in 1972 and written off and left in South Vietnam. I was at Cam Rhan the day that airplane was hit and will never forget seeing Norm Thompson's best friend moping around the barracks that afternoon and evening.
  5. There are some clips from the film on You Tube. I've also set up a Facebook Page for the Horsemen and have linked the videos to it.
  6. http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/airamerica/best/ The above link is to an article on the Texas Tech site about the various contract aviation operators in Southeast Asia during the late unpleasantness. There is a lot of good information. It goes beyond Air America and also covers Bird Air and Continental Air Services. One thing I found interesting is that it shows that the two mysterious 64 E-models were on Air America's books when they were "written off" in February 1972. It is pretty definite based on time frame, modifications, etc. that those two airplanes were the ones used by the HEAVY CHAIN test project at Norton. Jerry Baird, who was the squadron ops officer, sent me a series of E Mails about what they did about ten years ago. (I may have printed them off and still have them but I'm not sure.) Jerry says that there is only one aspect of the operation that was never declassified. They were flying test missions developing new equipment, particularly terrain avoidance radar, that was later used on the MC-130s. They did have an airplane at Nha Trang for a time on a classified mission and that may be where the Air America connection comes in since they were also involved with the DUCK HOOK C-123s that operated out of Nha Trang with civilian crews. When those two airplanes were "written off" the first two C-130Es lost in Southeast Asia were mysteriously resurrected as MC-130Es.
  7. There was also a squadron based in Europe but it didn't get C-130s until the mid-seventies. It was probably the 7405th Support Squadron, but I'm not certain. They operated a menagarie of airplanes including some C-97s and flew a number of covert missions in Europe. Heinie Aderholt mentioned that was a mission similar to E Flight in Europe and I assume this is the one he was talking about. The 7th Air Commando Squadron was at Sembach but this one was different. I got a clue about what they were doing when I was in Citation training with a guy who had been a C-97 crew chief in Germany in the mid-sixties. He told me how that he went on a mission where they dumped a load of cargo at a remote airstrip in the Congo and how they were taking ground fire from the bushes. He said their airplanes would leave spanky clean and come back covered with mud. The 7405th operated in and out of the Berlin Corridor and referred to themselves as the "Berlin for Lunch Bunch" but they apparently were also involved in gun-running for the Agency as well.
  8. There was evidently an E-model based in DC that was used by the 1045th. Back in the early eighties I ran into a friend of mine I had met in Memphis when we enlisted and who was with me all the way through Basic, Jet-mech training at Amarillo and on to Pope. I lost touch with him when I cross-trained. He got out and got his pilot license and was flying for a South Carolina company. He told me went from Pope to Andrews with an E-model that was used for a classified mission. I've since learned that there was an airplane based there that was used for courier missions. Another friend of mine was at Norton later on and he filled me in on what the silver airplanes with blue markings were used for, which was basically the same as the Andrews airplane.
  9. 35th troops at Biloxi at the first Blind Bat reunion. Bob is in the wheelchair. Next to him is a guy named Brown, Larry Lund, me and Bob Bartunek kneeling. Standing behind Bob is Bod DeHass, followed by Bob Kellock, Chet Schrorer and two guys I can't remember their names.
  10. Casey, I'm sure the family will appreciate the arrangement. It is very appropriate because if there was one thing Bob will be remembered for other than his Christian dedication, it is for his patriotism. Bob was very patriotic.
  11. I checked Conboy and Morrison's "The CIA's Secret War in Tibet." It sheds quite a bit of light on the arrangements between the Air Force and the CIA with the C-130s commonly known today as "E Flight." Originally, Air Force airplanes were provided for CIA use by the Air Resupply and Communications Squadrons that were set up at various locations around the world, mostly using B-29s but also a mixture of other airplanes and helicopters. During the French Indo-China War the main base of operations was at Clark, but in 1954 it moved to Kadena. When the ARC wings were deactivated, the 322nd Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium (Special), activated to assume the covert role of supporting CIA covert activities. The squadron retained the mixture of B-29s, C-54s, helicopters and seaplanes but, based on recollections of 21st TCS veterans, also used USAF-supplied C-119s and other transports from the 21st, which at the time was based at Tachikawa. 483rd TCW C-119 veterans have revealed that they started using the term "E Flight" as a code for when they were sent on classified missions. One of the 322nd TCS missions was to support CIA operations with anti-communist indigenous forces in Tibet (and also in another region in that same part of the world.) A special detachment known as Detachment 1 was set up within the 322nd TCS for it's most sensitive missions, using two C-54s and a single C-118 that was a combination of several airframes. Because of the C-118's limited performance the CIA wanted to have use of C-130s when they first came out, but since they focused on "plausible deniability" it wasn't until 1957 that they decided the increase in cability was worth the risk. Ten C-130s were authorized for CIA use in the Pacific, and the 21st TCS was scheduled to move to Okinawa to operate them. Before the move, Billie Mills was sent to Peterson Field to develop procedures and check out the Civil Air Transport pilots on the C-130 (although he had no idea what he was to do until he got there.) In the early sixties the CIA and the Air Force set up the 1045th Operations Training and Evaluation Group at Bolling AFB, DC as the single-manager for joint operations. The Kadena office was redesignated as Det 2 of the 1045th. Heinie Aderholt arrived at Kadena in 1960 as commander. The C-130 operations had begun the previous year while he was on a stateside-assignment. Aderholt improved the operation and was in charge of it until 1962. There were other Air Force units set up to work with the CIA, including the 1198th Operations Training and Evaluation Squadron at Norton, more commonly known as HEAVY CHAIN.
  12. Ken, you're probably not losing your mind, but you might be starting to suffer from CRS. It's easy to confuse things. I think about something and am convinced it happened a certain way, and then I remember - No, it was that way! It's certainly possible that they combined the 35th maintenance and aircrews but none of the many Naha people I've been in contact with over the years have mentioned it. At all of the bases I was at, they kept aircrews together in the same quarters and maintenance in theirs. When I was at Clark we lived in the trailers and before I left they did move some or all of the crew chiefs into the trailers with us.
  13. I Emailed Al Steed, who knew Bob at Charleston, and he tells me that Bob was in the 41st Air Transport Squadron, which became the 41st MAS on New Years Day, 1966. Bob arrived at Naha in 1968.
  14. Hi all, Here is the link to the completed obituary for Bob. http://www.funeralquestions.com/obits/mcdougald/memorial.asp?listing_id=123669 Jim Jim Capps sent out the above link to Bob's obituary. It doesn't say much about his military career, other than that he was a retired USAF Captain. I know he was at Charleston but I don't know which squadron and I don't know if he went to McGuire with the C-130s before he went to Naha or went direct to Naha. He was injured in a motorcycle accident at some point, I think while he was at Naha, and was medically retired. He was wheel-chair bound for the rest of his life but he was still able to get around.
  15. We never got the medals, just a set of orders authorizing the medal and an annotation on our service record. Each squadron had an awards and decs officer and NCO and they were responsible for making sure people got the awards. Originally, you got the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Vietnam service but after the VNSM came out in 1965, you had the option of converting it. I don't think any of the DD 214s issued before 1975 had anything in them about being a Vietnam vet. I've got three and none of them say anything about Vietnam service. One of them shows my reenlistment location at Cam Ranh Bay in July 1966 but that is the only reference to Vietnam.
  16. I checked Bower's and found that he addressed the E Flight operation in Laos in the War in Laos section. He also says that E Flight was established in late 1961. I corresponded with General Aderholt several years ago before the book about him came out and he said he didn't "set up E Flight" but that he was "the customer." There is an entire chapter about the operation in the book about him, including how the airplanes were flown from Naha to Kadena and how the CAT pilots flew to Taklhi with the Air Force crews and received training enroute. He also mentions "The Bagger" who at that time was a 1st Lieutenant in the 21st and was evidently the project officer. The practice of using civilian crews to fly USAF airplanes goes back at least to the French-Indo China War when CAT pilots were trained to fly C-119s for the French. An office was set up at Clark to handle the operation, which involved bringing USAF C-119s from Japan to Clark and then sending them on to French Indo-China with CAT pilots. USAF maintenance personnel were based at Tourane (Da Nang) to maintain them. The CIA decided it wanted to be able to use C-130s in 1957 or early 1958, hence the episode with Billie Mills crew at Petersen Field. Billie's experience is chronicled in Conboy and the late Jim Morrison's book, "The CIA's Secret War in Tibet" but he talked to me in detail about it on the telephone about three years ago. Billie is retired in Alabama now and has been going to the various reunions around the country but he was unable to come to San Antonio in November due to his wife's ill health. I did see him a year ago in Clear Lake at the TCTAA board meeting. He and his crew were sent TDY from Sewart to Japan to train the CAT pilots to fly the Herks. The 21st was at Tachikawa at the time with a mixed-bag of C-119s and other airplanes and from what other 21st vets have told me was heavily involved in covert operations. The squadron transferred to Naha and transitioned into C-130s. There had been an operation at Kadena and another at Clark that used black B-29s. It was evidently that operation that became the office that Heinie Aderholt was in charge of in the late 50s and early 60s. Heinie tells how they were using a couple of C-118s for the missions but due to payload issues, etc. they came up with the idea of getting access to C-130s. The CIA declassified many of its records recently and much of what used to be classified no longer is.
  17. Ken, do you think it's a possibility you might have pulled CQ in the other barracks? There was a CQ room off of the day room. When I was at Naha, the CQs were all NCOS - at least E-4 over four (that was in the days before they started promoting people to E-5 during their first enlistment.) The 35th had the wing on the second floor upstairs to the right. If I remember correctly, the 21st was below us and the 817th was on the other first floor to the left and the 41st was on the left upstairs. 7th Aerial Port was in one of the wings at the back of the building along with the headquarters people and I think the E Flight ground personnel were back there too. There was a cleaners and tailor outlet at the top of the stairs. There were four wings in the building. I don't recall what they did when maintenance transferred into the squadrons when the 374th TCW as activated, but I don't remember anyone moving into that barracks. The location you're referring to corresponds with the layout in the barracks down the hill. When I got to Naha the first barracks coming up the hill belonged to the 6315th Ops Group. At that time maintenance was part of the 51st FIW and their barracks were on up the hill past the BEMO armory. The chow hall was on the other side of the road on up the hill below the Airmen's Club. If I'm not mistaken, when the 374th activated, the barracks where maintenance lived transferred to the 374th wing.
  18. To all, Robert Jr. has confirmed the schedule for Bob's funeral. The service will be held at McDougald funeral home. here is the link with all info: http://www.mcdougaldfuneralhome.com/ http://www.legacy.com/independentmail/Obituaries.asp?Page=Lifestory&PersonId=122354496 January 14- viewing from 6-8PM January 15- 1PM funeral service I do not yet know about the internment. For those who can not attend, please send Robert Jr., Melissa, and Cheryl something to remind them of how we all felt about Bob. regards, Joe I got the above from Joe Tucker. I believe there is a link on the Obit. page for sending flowers.
  19. We were all under 315th Air Division, the C-130s that is. There was a 315th Troop Carrier Group in South Vietnam with C-123s. They were also under 315th AD until 834th AD was set up. They had an "air commando" designation for several years. It was a weird arrangement at Naha before they set up the 374th wing. If I'm not mistaken, the 51st FIW was under the 313th AD at Kadena.
  20. I can't remember exactly what the justification was for the weird arrangement at Naha, with the airplanes and maintenance personnel assigned to the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing and the aircrews and operations personnel assigned to the 6315th Operations Group. It had something to do with AFM 66-1, and was related to the 51st FIW being the host unit on the base at Naha. As far as I know, the 6315th was on the only C-130 troop carrier group. All of the TAC C-130 bases had full wings, complete with Headquarters, OMS and FMS. It may have had to do with when the 21st TCS transferred to Naha in 1958 and equipped with C-130s. Friends of mine I knew at Pope after I got there in 1963 who had come from Naha told me they were assigned to the 51st FIW when they were at Naha.
  21. That was when the 374th Troop Carrier Wing activated at Naha and replaced the 6315th Operations Group. Before that all of the maintenance troops (except those assigned to the 21st for E Flight) were assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing, some in OMS and some in FMS. After the 374th activated flight line maintenance went to the squadrons and everybody else went to the 374th FMS. I wish I could remember more names from maintenance. but since most guys worked in their T-shirts, I mainly knew people by face. One crew chief I remember was named Taylor, who went to the 35th. I remember seeing him again on Herky Hill one night after I got back to Clark. He was drunk as a skunk and singing "On the wings of a Herkybird, I (pooped) a big, black turd..."!!! There was one guy who hung out in the 35th bar, the Sunflower Club, that I knew pretty well but can't remember his name to save my life. Jim Esbeck is a current friend of mine. He's on the board of the TCTAA and was with us in San Antonio and was in Galveston in 2006. Jim came to Naha from Langley in '64 to the 51st OMS and left around May '66. His Email is [email protected] He's also on Facebook. He's a really great guy. He got out after he left Naha and worked for Lockheed for awhile, and is retired out of the Air Force Reserve from Davis-Monthan as an E-8.
  22. I noticed there was some stuff missing or in the wrong place on the Herkepedia. I mentioned it to Joey on the Facebook C-130 Group but at the time didn't remember what I had noticed. Here is a rundown of the original C-130 units: 463rd Troop Carrier Wing - 772nd, 773rd, 774th (joined by 29th TCS at Clark) Was originally at Ardmore, OK, then moved to Sewart around 1958. Transferred to Langley in 1963. Went to the Philippines in December 1965 - Wing Hq and 772nd and 774th at Mactan, 773rd and 29th at Clark. 314th TCW - 50th, 61st and 62nd. Based at Sewart AFB, TN. Second to get C-130s. Wing and 50th transferred to PACAF in December 1965. 317th TCW - 39th, 40th and 41st. Equipped with Herks at Evreux, France. Transferred to Lockbourne 1964. 41st went to Naha. 483rd TCW - 815th and 817th - equipped with Herks at Ashiya. Deactivated in 1960. 815th transferred to Tachikawa directly under 315th AD and 817th to Naha to join 21st TCS. 64th TCW - 17th, 18th and 35th. A sort of bastard unit. Activated at Dyess with A-models from Sewart. Replaced by 516th TCW with 345th, 346th and 347th. 17th went to Alaska, 18th to Sewart. 35th wasn't used but activated at Naha in 1963. 64th Wing reactivated at Sewart in 1966 with 61st and 62nd. Moved to Little Rock. Replaced by 314th in 1971. 516th TCW - 345th, 346th and 347th- Activated at Dyess in 1963 with C-130Es. 464th TCW - 776th, 777th, 778th and 779th. Transitioned from C-123s to C-130Es 1963. 776th went to PACAF in December 1965 (was already TDY) Inactivated in 1971 and replaced (paper only) by 317th. 6315th Operations Group - 21st, 817th, 35th - joined by 41st December 1966. Activated at Naha in 1964 under 315th Air Division as the headquarters for the three C-130 squadrons based there after the 35th activated. (The squadron that went to Naha was actually the 345th, but mid-way across the Pacific they became the 35th.) 313th TCW - 29th, 47th and 48th. Activated at Forbes AFB, Kansas in 1964 with B-models from Sewart. 29th transferred to 315th AD in December 1965. 374th TCW - 21st, 35th, 41st, 817th. Activated at Naha August 1966 to replace the 6315th Ops Group. 316th TCW - 36th, 37th and 38th. Activated at Langley in January 1966 after the 463rd transferred to Clark. There was some shuffing around with some units. For instance, the 345th was a C-123 outfit at Sewart but transitioned into C-130As and moved to Naha and became the 35th. The 345th then moved to Dyess. In December 1966 the 50th from Sewart, 345th from Dyess and the 776th from Pope all PCSed to PACAF to join the 315th Air Division. The 29th left Forbes and went to Clark and the 41st left Lockbourne and went to Naha. All of the troop carrier units were redesignated as "tactical airlift" in August 1967.
  23. Ed is also on Facebook, as is Doc Holloway and Walt (Cecil) Hebdon, who were all engineers in the 35th in 66-67.
  24. I just thought of something - it wasn't the radar. I've got a picture of a Roman Nose from Systems Command that I took at Recife, Brazil when I went through there in the summer of '66. They were using it for down-range missions overwater. I sort of think it was 53-3129, the first Herk. It was later modified into a gunship.
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