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SamMcGowan

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Posts posted by SamMcGowan

  1. I've been doing some research on GPES for my latest novel "Naha War Story", which is set in 1968. It turns out that within a few days after GPES drops started at Khe Sanh, the 1st Cav' broke through and relieved the camp, thus negating the need for drops. Bowers makes no mention of any GPES malfunctions but there were at least two LAPES malfunctions and one platform at least killed Marines. The airplane that crashed at Cam Ranh had an electrical fire. It happened on March 3, 1968 during the siege so people may have thought it had battle damage. (An A-model  crashed at Hue the previous day.) My personal experience with GPES was a checkout at Pope with my crew when we went through exotic training in 1965, GPES was discontinued soon afterwards. Actually, GPES was the preferred extraction method in Vietnam after Khe Sanh but airdrops became few and far between by early 1969. All I dropped was bombs. 

  2. Here is my VA saga. I was awarded a 40% disability for II diabetes and complications in 2006. Around 2008-09 I started noticing pain in my legs that I assumed were arthritis. In 2010 I was in San Antonio for a PLA - whatever they call it - and ran into Bob Antoline, who I knew from Naha. Bob has II diabetes and is having major leg problems. I realized that my pain was probably related to my diabetes so I filed a claim. Later that year I experienced severe pain and decided to go to the VA for medical treatment. Previously, I had been going outside the VA because I was still flying and had take FAA-approved medications. After I went to the VA, I filed for hearing loss and got an additional 10%. To make a long story short, the VA denied my request for an increase for neuropathy because they said it wasn't "severe." They also denied a claim later for sleep apnea, which the VA says I have. I filed an appeal after I got the denial and it was denied. That was in April of last year (2014). I  requested a board hearing. Since that time, I have yet to receive any kind of correspondence from the VA regarding my claim. Last September I went on my eBenefits page and saw that the claims had been closed and a letter had been sent. I have never received such a letter. I wrote a letter and got no reply, but my record shows that they looked at it and denied it. I contacted my Congressmen early this year and have been working with a girl in his office. She hasn't received anything from the VA but has talked to them. A few weeks ago I went to the regional office since I had a medical appointment at the DeBakey hospital. By the time I was called, I only had a few minutes. The counselor told me the claim was closed because I was a "no show." I asked WTF for and he said I hadn't filed a Form 9. He had a letter in my record that plainly showed that I had enclosed two Form 9s with statements. I had my paperwork with me so I looked and found a Form 9. I found another one when I got home. What happened is that I made copies and sent the copy with the statements instead of the originals. (The girl in my Congressman's office says that makes no difference.) I joined the DAV yesterday and asked for representation but have received no reply from the Houston office (I had emailed them before asking for representation but got no response,) They don't answer the phone. I called the national office and was given the number of the regional supervisor. I was told that the Houston supervisor is on medical leave and was given a number to call in DC. I got a voicemail. So far, no one has returned my call. I believe my buddy Tom Stalvey is right - the VA keeps denying claims while hoping the veteran will die and they want have to give them compensation.

  3. Here is the deal on the "boots on the ground" requirement. The Air Force did not keep records for TDY in a member's personnel file. It showed number of days TDY overseas for members based in the States. Later on, they added days in SEA but did not specify South Vietnam. (In my case I reenlisted at CRB so I have documentation.) As far as C-130s go, prior to June 1965 they operated in SVN (and SEA) on an as-needed basis. In June 1965 315th Air Division set up a C-130 rotation to Tan Son Nut. Others were implemented later in the year. In the spring of 1966 315th had three operating locations, one at CRB for A-models, another at Nha Trang for Es and one at Tan Son Nhut for B-models. The Nha Trang operation moved to CRB in early 1967. The CRB and TSN rotations were the primary rotations until December 1971 when the B-models were pulled out SVN operations (CRB closed soon afterwards.) A rotation was set up at Tuy Hoa for E-models and it lasted about a year. During that time, the CCK E's were supplemented by TAC E-models on rotation from the States.

    The problem for C-130 vets is that those rotations are not recorded on our records. Flight crews (and possibly some ground crew) were on blanket orders and the only documentation is travel vouchers. VSM and VNCM medals are not proof of boots on the ground because you get them for overflying the country in B-52s or MAC flights and they were also awarded to troops in Thailand. The VA thus requires that the veteran show some kind of proof. Personally, I think that if a man was in a C-130 squadron and on flight status, they should be automatically considered to have set foot in SVN. This also goes for ground crew since they were sent TDY. It starts getting gray with specialists and other support personnel because not everybody went TDY to SVN. I've written letters to the VA and Congressman and got no reply. Basically, they don't care.

  4. Hi,

    I am a 2 enlistment reservist out of Niagara and served as a mechanic and loadmaster on C 130 A's and E's.

    I am disabled and cannot work, receiving SSD.

    I have gone to the VA to request assistance several time but only to be turned away. They treat me like my service didn't count for anything...I met today with a VVA service rep who was helpful but doubtful if I would receive any help.

     

    My diabetes came on me in the time between my enlistment and was not discovered by USAF at any physical.  I was set to go to Flt engineer school but was denied as I was 2 pounds over weight. I requested a medical examination but was denied.

     

    My diabetes is very sever with little or no feelings in lower legs and feet and I was blind for 1/2 yer due this disease. My vision is slowly returning.

    My contention has always been that I contracted this disease from residual AO that was spilled during transport on these aircraft. Both the A's and E's at Niagara saw service in Viet Nam before coming to the unit..  I was not a 2day a month wonder but was a reserve bum that worked the reserve as a regular job ...hoping to secure an ART position. The problem is that they didnt cut orders but put me on man days which shuts me out from any assistance.

    I am looking to hear from anyone so situated or has any info that may help me. I am so tired of being marginalized by the AF and now the VA.

    Thanks guys1

    You're SOL on this. The VA recently acknowledged that reservists who flew and maintained C-123s that had been used as UC-123s are eligible for benefits. As far as C-130s go, I doubt if anyone ever hauled much of it. Some people got the idea that the red drums used for POL was for Agent Orange. In fact, no one even knew anything about herbicides until toward the end of the war when the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, now the VVA, started complaining about it. As far as II diabetes goes, the VA assumes "presumptive exposure" to herbicides in SNV and acknowledge a "connection" to II diabetes. However, there are a lot of other factors. I have it but so did my dad and grandmother although no one else in my family does. I am also part Indian (but not through that grandmother) and I grew up on a farm in West Tennessee where we had our cotton fields defoliated, both of which can be factors for Type II. In Vietnam, we hauled a lot of liquid but 90% of it was POL.

  5. has anyone gotten a Expeditionary Medal "exchanged" for the RVN Svc Ribbon ? Several official websites say it's authorized. towards the end of the VN war I flew in country with the 776 TAS and in Freq Wind and Eagle Pull in the 7ABCCC. I was a brand new 2Lt and knew nothing. How do I begin investigating this ? I wrote AFMPC and got the "mac salute" plus a few more web links I already knew about. thnx so much. Jim Summers

    I can't comment on the end of the war, but originally the AFEM was awarded for setting foot in SVN. In 1965 the VSM was authorized and it was awarded. Veterans who had been in SVN prior to that time could request to have the AFEM changed to a VSM.

  6. I filed for hearing loss after I was diagnosed with it and given hearing aids by the VA. They gave me 10% for tinnitus. I've been told that is the standard that the VA will give for anything related to hearing. I wrote a statement about how I had flown 6,500 hours in the military and worked on the flight line before that. Now, I was already rated at 40% due to II diabetes and complications (neuropathy in my legs.) The VA uses a system where they add up the points for each disability than rate the veteran based on how they affect them. For instance, my original claim came up with 70 points but they gave me a 40% disabled rating (it was increased to 50% for hearing (tinnitus.) I don't know if they used the hearing tests I had on my flight physicals while still in the USAF or not.

  7. Most of the information below the chart is from a Professor Leeker who did a lot of writing for the UT Dallas Air America Collection.

    Bob

    I take Leeker's records with a grain of salt. He seems to be considering routine transfers for maintenance as transfers to the CIA. I don't know how the Kadena office handled the paperwork when they baled an airplane but he shows practically every airplane in 315th Air Division as being used by the CIA at some time or other.

  8. I don't know if I have posted this photo on here or not - I don' think I have. I took it at Recife, Brazil in July or August 1965. It's one of the first A-models. It went to Systems Command and when I saw it was being used to support downrange missile shots from Patrick. If you want to make prints from it, feel free.

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  9. Casey,

    I would like a print of C-130A 56-0489 in the VN cammo colors. I would like all the A/C specifications on the bottom and maybe work in the TAC and 21st TAS Squadron patches as well as "Sgt. S.R. Cook, Jr., Crew Chief 1967. It will look really nice with the one you did of 56-0533.

    Thanks,

    Sonny

    Sonny, you weren't in TAC at Naha. We were in PACAF. Before they were camouflaged, all of the airplanes at Naha had PACAF patches on the tail. When they were first painted, they had subdued numbers (small) but in mid-1967 tail codes and a larger number were added. This picture was taken in the spring of 1967.

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  10. I may have already posted this link, but if I did, here it is again. Several years ago someone sent me the accident report of the Meyer incident. A couple of years ago I uploaded it to the Internet. Here is the link - www.sammcgowan.com/meyers.html. If you've never read it, read it.

    Remember one thing about the military - it is the most massive rumor mill in the world, ever.

    I just read through the incident report and note that the transcription of the radio communications are not included. I have read it and I thought I had it. Meyer's last words to his wife were, i.e. "It looks like I've got a problem. I'll be right back after I take care of it."

    What I posted goes back several computers. Someone, I forgot who, sent me the report back in late 2000 or early 2001 and I downloaded it onto my Compaq desk top. I replaced that computer with a DELL three or four years ago. The transcript may be on it. If I can find it, I'll upload it. If anyone else has it, perhaps they can upload it. The conversation with General Patterson was three years ago in October 2012 in Warner Robins. I believe Bob is planning to attend the TC/TAA convention in Little Rock this coming May. We were just BSing when he brought the incident up. Bob was one of those involved with the investigation. Although he was based at Lockbourne at the time, he was TDY to USAFE HQ and volunteered to brief General Momyer, the TAC commander, on the incident when he got to Germany. Momyer was very concerned about the morale of the troops and the incidents that led up to Meyer's actions.

  11. I thought I would include this photo. Charlie Armistead and Ralph Bemis were telling me what happened at An Loc. In the photo , Charlie is telling how he was sitting against the CDS bufferboard and holding to tiedowns but the impact was so hard that he was picked up and thrown over the bufferboard and against the 245 bulkhead. Ralph was sitting with his back to the wall under the ladder and holding on to the stanchion. He was thrown across the cargo compartment and into the right side of the 245 bulkhead where he was trapped. Charlie and Robert Kirkpatrick, the nav. worked for half an hour - in a BURNING AIRPLANE - to free him! Some Army helicopters came in and their crewmembers helped get Ralph out of the airplane.

    They told me that they flew for about 15 minutes after they were hit over An Loc. They had the paratroop doors open and were watching the fire in their right wing. When the flap burned off, they told the pilot it was time to get the thing on the ground! Incidentally, this was the eighteenth mission that Ralph had flown on which his airplane took hits. The other seventeen were during his previous tour at Clark when he was right in the middle of the Tet Offensive, Khe Sanh, etc. Ralph was over Kham Duc with a crew waiting their turn to go in when the camp was declared evacuated.

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  12. 233 there on 14 Oct.

    Bob

    There were oodles of them there  a year ago. They're parked behind other types but there are several rows of them and are a number of columns across. There are also a bunch of C-5s.

  13. 15 Oct 67 64-0548 from the 50th was lost at Khe Sanh, 6 crew killed.

    The USMC that was blown on the ground was 149813 on 10 Feb 68, 3 killed.

    AC was famous Marine Aviator CWO Wildfang.

    Bob

    The daughter of the copilot on the October '67 crash is a friend of mine. I also recently learned that her dad, Earl Bjorke, took the place of my AC at Clark, Steve Finch, either for that mission or for the shuttle. Steve went from CCK to Clark on a consecutive tour. I  don't know what Bob means by "blown on the ground." The Marine KC-130B was hit while on approach with a load of fuel bladders and set on fire. It blew up on the runway. Some of the crew got out but their passengers perished. It was one of two Marine KC-130s lost in the Vietnam War. The other collided with a fighter during a refueling mission. A third  C-130, a B, was also lost at Khe Sanh but it was after the siege had been lifted. 

    OK, maybe I have found something. There was a couple of videos made while I was there and some of the 776 TAS was in them. That is probably where I saw the video. I found a link to one of them online, but the link doesn't work. The only place I can find anything about it is one of the videos is archived by Texas Tech. It is not available online. Not sure how you can get to it. Might only be available for viewing there. I copied the info and have a link. The name of the video was "Anything, Any Time, Any Where". There is some clips from the video floating around too.

     

    Item Number

    998VI0618

    Record Number

    67742

    Title

    C-130 Hercules, Vietnam Operations

    Language

    English

    # of Media

    1

    Creation Date

    Undated

    Collection

    Vietnam Archive Collection

    Media Type

    Moving Image (VHS)

    Length

    60:00 min/sec

    Copyright Statement

    Traditions Military Videos

    Publisher

    Traditions Military Videos

    Physical Location

    CS63.3

    Online Status

    Item Not Available Online

    Description

    C-130 Hercules: Anything, Anytime, Anywhere. This video contains three films produced in the 1960s about the C-130. The first film is an overview on the aircraft, described as the most "powerful, versatile and widely used" plane of the day. You'll see clips of the early versions of the plane, beginning with the A model built in 1956 through the camouflaged E model used during the Vietnam War. There are close-ups of the plane cockpit instruments, the passenger area. You'll see the C-130 land on ice and on carriers. The second film is a walk-through of the C-130. It's various sections and equipment (inside and outside the plane) are featured. There are plenty of close-ups and good detailed information. The third film features the 463rd Tactical Airlift Wing operating in Vietnam. You'll follow a unit on some of its missions and witness the logistics of dropping a 15,000 pound bomb in the jungle for the purpose of clearing the land for a runway. You'll also hear crewmen talk about the C-130 and from military passengers, who hopped around Southeast Asia aboard the versatile aircraft. This video also contains a short five-minute segment on the important role the C-130 played during the Siege at Khe Sanh, with film clips of the aircraft supplying the Marines through various types of air-drops. You'll see the aircraft delivering 200-300 tons of supplies a day, dropping bombs around the Marines perimeter to keep the NVA from massing and taking fire by enemy motars.

    Citation

    C-130 Hercules, Vietnam Operations, Undated, Vietnam Archive Collection, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University. Accessed 21 Jan. 2015. <http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/virtualarchive/items.php?item=998VI0618>.

    Pub. Credit Line

    998VI0618, Vietnam Archive Collection, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University

     

    Added: 24 Feb 2002[updated: 27 Nov 2013]

    ___________________________________________________________________________________

     

    If the landing video is not in that one there was another video named "The Way It Is". The introduction was by John Wayne. The landing video might be in it.

     

    Both of them could possibly be online somewhere, but I have not been able to find them.

    Actually, this video is available for purchase online but it is not posted online because it has been copyrighted by Traditions Military Video. I have it in DVD and VHS.

  14. Looks like a lot of F-16s and S3s -- don't see C-130s except waaaaay in the back!

    There were quite a few Herks there last October, mostly from Little Rock. One road goes right by them but I was on the wrong side of the bus to get a decent shot up close. The only way to get in there is on a tour bus. They are being used mostly for parts according to what we were told.

  15. Here are some photos from the 2012 TCTAA meeting in Warner Robins, GA. Stony Burk and Don Short in front of C-124. They were both in Shakies before they went to Herks, Stony at Evreux then at Clark, Orlando and Langley. Next is Don Short, Jim Tomlinson and Sam McGowan, all 35th TCS LMs. Memorial Service in C-130A, Sam McGowan and Stony Burk in C-130A,(Stony is stricking the SEA LM pose - in the left troop door.) Ralph emis and Charlie Armistead (2), Ralph Bemis, Bob Patterson, Major Award

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    They caught me completely by surprise when they presented that glass sculpture to me. It is a very gracious award. I am looking at it right now. Tom Stalvey had it made in Atlanta. I have the name of the company if anyone is interested.

  16. A year ago the TCTAA was in Tucson. One of our trips was to Pima. Here are a few pictures. The people standing next to the A-model are me and Bob Steele, who was in the 35th with me at Naha 66-67. (That airplane needs paint!)

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    Bob Steele is in the first photo in the preceding post. Here are some more photos from Pima. The individual is Mike Schmid, 35th TCS LM, the second is Jim Tomlinson and Bob Steele, 35th LMs and the third is Steel and Schmid with Bill Goodall, 374th FMS, in the middle.

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    More TCTAA at Pima - Mike Welch and Ray Snedegar; Steele, Tomlinson and Schmid with Bill Goodall and Jim Esbeck in the background; Mike Schmid, Ralph Bemis and George Dockery

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  17. The earliest pictures of camouflaged airplanes in the AIRLIFTER collection I have are in the May 16, 1966 issue. There's a picture of a camouflaged B-model in an article on Operation BIRMINGHAM. There's also one of the nose of A-model 476 in camo. If you look at my Flareships page, it shows all (or most) of the C-130As at Ubon at the time and they are all camouflaged. I was at Ubon May-July 1966 and took the picture during that time. I think it was in early June when all of the kickers were called out to the flight line for a demonstration by the AMS people on the dangers presented by flares and advising us to leave them the hell alone and not be trying to take out parachutes to make bombs. (That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of anyway. You already had an incendiary bomb that burned at several thousand degrees and wanted to put in hydraulic fluid that burned at around 800. On the other hand, we had people who weren't exactly rocket scientists.)

    My recollection is that USAF put out an order to camouflage all tactical aircraft in late 1965. Some were painted in the States but most of the PACAF airplanes were painted "locally," meaning in the Pacific. I know for a fact the A-models were painted at the Kawasaki plant in Gifu, Japan. If I'm not mistaken, the B's were painted in Manila and the Es in Taipei. I was told by a 29th TCS vet that their airplanes were already painted when they left Forbes for Clark. I don't know how long it took to paint them all but after the summer of '66, you don't see many silver airplanes in THE AIRLIFTER.

    (I know, I know, the E Flight airplanes at Naha were left unpainted but up until around September or October 1966 we still had unpainted airplanes at Naha that were not assigned  to E Flight.)

  18. I pulled out my volume of AIRLIFTERS. In the July 6, 1966 issue there is a picture of Lt. Charles E. Mays, a black officer, talking to A2C Charles H. Johnson, a 314th OMS mechanic, next to a camouflaged C-130E. At the time, Lt. Mays was TDY to Tachikawa to the CALSU so I assume it was taken at Tachi. The photo was taken sometime prior to July. I don't know the exact date when the 776th transferred from Tachi to CCK but it may have been while the squadron was still at Tachi. I remember RONing at Tachi while the 776th was still there and going over to the barracks and talking to some of my buddies from Pope. That was around March or April. There's one thing for certain, the 314th had camouflaged E-models as early as June 1966.

    Could be that Sgt. Middleton kept Norm and I away from camo birds!! Clear as day remember Norm and I commenting on the occasional camo paint Herk we saw: "ugly"!!!!!!! I'll have to move a couple pictures I have from the other computer over to this one (at a later time), all 130's in silver Oct 1966.

  19. No one seems to have mentioned it yet but Ralph Krach, who was once active on the old C-130 forum, passed away back in July. Here is his obituary. http://www.riemannfamily.com/obituaries/Ralph-Krach/

    My first encounter with Ralph was in the fall of 1965 and TDY to Mactan and flying the new Bangkok Shuttle. Early one evening around sundown we went into Taklhi, Thailand  with a load of hazardous cargo and were parked on the hazardous cargo ramp. The aerial port ramp tramp told me there was going to be a delay for our outbound load because of a high priority mission. A few minutes later, an unmarked C-130A pulled in and parked beside us next to an Air Force flatbed loaded with airdrop bundles of a type I'd never seen before. As soon as the engines were shut down, the truck started backing up to the ramp. Some marshallers dressed in T-shirts and shorts with combat boots marshalled them in. I was sitting on the ramp of our airplane with Don Sweet, our engineer. After the airplane was parkd, one of the marshallers came over to talk to us. He had a distinct Baltimore accent. He made small talk with us then when the airplane started closing up and starting engines, he slid down off of the ramp and started walking over toward the mysterious airplane. But then he turned around and looked us. "By the way, you didn't see what you think you just saw." A few months later in February I arrived at Naha and was given a classified orientation briefing in which we new arrivals were told about the 6315th Operations Groups and our many missions, one of which belonged to the 21s TCS and was called "E Flight.." Still, it wasn't until I read Chris Robbins' AIR AMERICA that I realized we had seen an E Flight mission in operation. Then even more years later I got in touch with Ralph through the Email group I sat up on AOL back in the 90s. One day I was looking through 315th AD's newspapers The Airlifter that Samantha Wales had loaned me and came across a picture of Ralph receiving an award and realized it had been him that we saw at Taklhi that evening so long ago!

    Ralph started out his service in the Army during the Korean War, or perhaps before. He fought in Korea and I was recently told that he fought in the Chosen Reservoir but I'm not certain that is true. He told the group at the first Blind Bat reunion that  he was down on the ground in Korea and looked up at some airplanes and told his buddies "in the next war I'm going to be up there." Ralph enlisted in the Air Force and was trained as a radar repairmen. His only C-130 assignment was at Naha where he was initially in the 51st FMS (at that time all Naha C-130s were assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing and "loaned" to the 6315th Ops Group which provided the crews.) He was selected for E Flight and transferred to the 21st TCS. When the 6315th was tasked to provide C-130s for FAC/Flare missions over Laos, Ralph was one of the E Flight personnel who  flew as kickers. That was in November 1964. The following April, operations started over North Vietnam. Ralph was at Da Nang when sappers blew up two of the mission airplanes and damaged another. After his Naha tour, Ralph went back to SAC and then to  Keesler as an instructor. He retired in Biloxi.

    When some of us started talking about having a C-130 flare mission reunion, I suggested Biloxi because Sid Marcus had a hotel there at the time (it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.) Ralph volunteered to put it together and he pretty much did everything single-hand, and he did a bang-up job. I'll never forget on Saturday at noon when he and Marianne came in with several pans of fresh steamed shrimp he and Marianne had cooked themselves. They sat it out with cheese, crackers and other hors dourves. Everyone agreed it was the best reunion they had ever been too.

    At some point, Ralph developed Type II diabetes (as have I.) I last talked to him a couple of years ago and he said he wasn't doing very well. It finally got the best of him,

     

  20. TRASH HAULERS is the same book that was published originally in 1988 as The C-130 Hercules, Tactical Airlift Missions, 1956-1975 (I hated that title!) by TAB/Aero.  I put out a revision in 2011 but it didn't have pictures. This is the third revision and is in large format with a bunch of pictures, some that were in the original and some that weren't.

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