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SamMcGowan

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Everything posted by SamMcGowan

  1. Bob, You can pull the one off www.sammcgowan.com/flareships.html. I\'d send it to you but today is my wife\'s birthday and we\'re getting ready to go out. Sam
  2. jrkaegi wrote: Those are the ranks they were promoted to as MIAs. The SMS was actually an E-5 loadmaster at the time but he had crosstrained from another field. The Air Force was not good about putting correct AFSCs on casualty reports as they were drawn up by Admin clerks using personnel records and this has caused a lot of confusion. There is a question as to why the FMS troop was on the airplane since maintenance personnel normally did not fly on combat missions. It is believe he may have been onboard to take care of problems with the NOD device since he had an instrument AFSC. However, both he and the AC were from Arkansas so he might have been allowed to go along on a joy ride. The 23rd TASS officer was a recently arrived navigator who went along as an observer before he started his own missions in O-2s. The normal flare mission crew at that time was seven - two pilots, a nav, a flight engineer and three loadmasters. A fourth loadmaster had been part of the crew until the flare chute was modifed with levers to hold the flares and a crewmember was no longer reguired to set on the door. Another possibility for the FMS troop is that he was one of a handful of maintenance personnel who were given temporary assignments as loadmasters during a loadmaster shortage in late 1968-early 1969. Bill Barrett obtained a copy of the 374th TAW history and the flare mission section describes how that loadmasters from other C-130 units were sent TDY to Ubon to augment the Naha crews. Some of the guys who were there at the time have told me that the wing placed some maintenance personnel on temporary flying status with a loadmaster AFSC to fly flare missions, then they went back to maintenance at the end of the tour. The ninth person could have been a loadmaster flying with an experienced crew before he went out with his own crew. All new flare mission personnel flew at least one mission with another crew as an observer before their crew started flying together. This was the first flareship lost over The Trail. A second was lost in November 1969.
  3. Oddly enough, Carl Wyrick, Bobby Gassoitt and I were talking about Captain Corey a few weeks ago when we were in San Antonio but at that time none of us could remember his name. I got it from Don Strobaugh, who is a Combat Control ICON. It seems to me Corey was stationed at Sewart at the time but he came to Pope shortly afterwards and was in charge of the CCT. He could be a bit of an A-hole at times. One day I met him somewhere and he had on a field jacket with no rank and chewed me out for not saluting him. They did set a record for both the highest altitude for a jump from a fixed-wing airplane and the altitude record for the C-130 and perhaps for a turboprop, but it was not the record for the highest alitude for a propeller-driven airplane. B-36s flew higher and an Italian airplane set the high altitude record for a prop-driven airplane.
  4. Unfortunately, the file is too large for the Forum.
  5. If the file is not too large, this is a picture of Balls Four on a COMMANDO LAVA picture that Gary Peters took. He gave me a CD with the pictures at the first Blind Bat reunion in Biloxi in 2002. I\'m not sure if I have a current Email for Gary so DON\'T use the photo without his permission. (He gave me permission to use them.)
  6. Casey Emailed me and asked about the CAROLINA MOON page I had on my old SamC130 site. To be honest, I\'m not sure if I forgot to transfer it to my new domain or if it was one of a number of pages that were accidentally replaced when I tried to use FRONT PAGE several years ago. I\'ll put up a new page about the mission when I find the time, but in the meantime, here is a capsuled version. CAROLINA MOON was a special mission that came about in the spring of 1966 when Seventh Air Force was unable to knock down the infamous Than Hoa Bridge spanning a gorge known as The Dragons Jaw just north of Vinh. Several missions were flown by F-105s without success in a campaign that was part of a US plan to destroy North Vietnam\'s transporation system. The Thanh Hoa Bridge was one of two that were too strong to be knocked down - the other was the Paul Domer Bridge in Hanoi. The USAF Armaments Labatory at Eglin came up with a means of \"mass-focusing\" the explosive power of a weapon by focusing it in one direction. The problem was that the weapons were too large to be dropped by any combat aircraft in existence then or ever; it was shaped like a pancake. It would, however, fit in the cargo compartment of a C-123 or C-130. TAC decided to try to knock the bridge out with a special mission using C-130s. Two crews from Sewart were sent to Eglin to traing using the weapon. Without looking it up, I think they were from the 61st TCS but could have been the 62nd as they were the only squadrons left at Sewart as the 50th had transferred to PACAF. Two 2nd Aerial Port loadmasters augmented the crews. Magnetically-activated fuzes were used to detonate the weapons after they had been dropped into the river upstream, and floated under the bridge. In May 1966 the two crews deployed to Da Nang with the weapons. Two missions were flown. The first was \"successful\" in that the crew was able to make their drop and get back to Da Nang, but aerial photos taken the next day revealed that the bridge still stood. The crew had taken a lot of ground fire but managed to evade it. The following night the second crew went out to try their hand and were never heard from again. Parts of their airplane were later shown on TV newsreels by happy people parading them through Hanoi. I\'m not certain, but I believe the site of the crash has been found and excavated. Now, for a personal note. As it happened, our crew was operating just south of the area on a LAMPLIGHTER mission the night the second C-130 was lost. I had either entirely forgotten about it or never made a connection until Bob Bartunek recalled to me a few years ago that he and the other guys up front had seen a flash to the north that night and were interrogated after we got back to Ubon. Since enlisted men were not normally interrogated, I probably never knew about it other than whatever was said on the Intercom and I may have been off of headseats. Bob tells me that he and the other officers had been briefed about the mission before we took off but since we didn\'t have the need to know, the enlisted men didn\'t know about it. I found an account of the mission in a book published for the Office of Air Force History by Arno Press called AIR WAR, VIETNAM. It is in many libraries. One of the articles is about the campaign against the Than Hoa Bridge, which wasn\'t brought down until 1972 after the advent of the laser-guided bomb. Back in the 80s I wrote an article for VIETNAM magazine about it, including several paragraphs about CAROLINA MOON. (Incidentally, a number of idiot authors have described the use of C-130s as \"a desperate act\", not realizing that low-altitude attacks are generally the best way to knock out a target as long as the enemy isn\'t expecting it.) After my article came out in VIETNAM, I got a letter from a young Army troop who saw it in the dental clinic at Ft. Campbell, where he was stationed. He picked the magazine up and read the article. It turned out that he is the son of one of the two loadmasters who were on the airplane that was lost and he had no idea what his dad had been doing when he was lost until he read my article.
  7. Bob, Unfortunately, the flareships picture is too large for the Forum. It is on a page off of my home page though. Go to www.sammcgowan.com/home.html. The flareships page is off of my military page. I\'ve got several photos I took at Naha that are scans of slides and the files are too large to post here. I\'ll Email them to you if you\'d like. Gary Peters gave me a CD with some pictures he took on a COMMANDO LAVA mission he was on in the summer of 1967 with several inflight shots of one of the first C-130As to have a squadron ID on the tail. I\'m keeping my fingers crossed that it\'s still useable. Sam
  8. Bob, This is a shot of the C-130 flare mission birds at Ubon taken in May-July 1966.
  9. Is there anybody ready to talk about the 35th TCS crew that was shot down off the coast of North Korea on August 6, 1963 yet? Several people who were at Naha at the time have told me bits and pieces of the story but a lot of people are still not willing to admit that it even happened. What is known is that a 35th crew was lost over the Sea of Japan just off of North Korea while on an early leaflet mission. The offical history of the Jilli mission reveals that the 35th was given responsibility for developing a leaflet mission in \"late 1963\" but goes on to say that drops were inexplicably made with C-47s until early 1965. A former Naha officer told me that he remembered an article in the Naha newspaper about a C-130 being shot down by North Korean fighters but that he was told it was one of the Yokota ELINT airplanes (which is the cover story that was spread around Naha.) Harry Sullivan recalled the incident when I was giving a Power Point presentation on C-130 history at the 2006 Troop Carrier/Tactical Airlift Homecoming in Galveston, and gave the name of the flight engineer - Red McCreary or McCreery or something similar. He said that the 35th had just come to Naha from Sewart a few weeks before, which goes along with what I was told when I was in the 35th in 1966. A friend of mine who was a 35th engineer told me a few weeks ago when we were in San Antonio that he had just arrived at Naha when the incident happened. He was assigned to the flight line and was supposed to get the next airplane to come available but after the airplane was shot down, but they gave it to the crew chief of the lost airplane and he was sent to the 35th and then to Sewart to train as a flight engineer instead. The loss is shown on lists of airplanes shot down by North Korean fighters but is mysteriously identified only as an \"LT\" with the loss of six personnel, and most people assume it meant \"light transport\" when it actually meant \"leaflet transport.\" I remember news accounts of a C-130 being shot down at the time, but the story was that the airplane strayed off course while on a flight out of Japan. (It would have had to have strayed way off course to have gotten close to North Korea!) It was mentioned in news accounts at the time of the North Korean shoot-down of Korean Airlines 007. All of the US Cold War losses have been declassified except this one. My guess it is because it simply slipped through the cracks since the airplane was not an AFSS airplane and nobody has ever taken the time to have it declassified through the Freedom of Information Act. The 35th transferred to Naha from Sewart in mid-1963. Actually, the squadron that transferred was the 345th but it became the 35th when it crossed into PACAF. The shoot-down took place within a few weeks after the squadron arrived on base at Naha.
  10. As on ramp This is possibly for the Junction City drop.
  11. The link from the page didn\'t work for me either. I don\'t know what the deal is because it works everywhere else. Here are a few A-model pics.
  12. Guys, all of those barracks were the same! I was in the aircrew barracks which was the one that overlooked the baseball field and was just below the gun position. The maintenance barracks was further up the hill from us toward the Airmen\'s Club. I guess they all had a snack bar in the dayroom since we had one too, but we had to go to the flight line snack bar which was on the other side of the road toward the flight line to get the egg burgers. All we had in our snack bar were hot dogs and soup.
  13. Let me elaborate a bit on this incident. This particular accident occured just southwest of Cam Ranh Bay where there was a pass through the mountains that crews would fly through on the way to Phan Rang. The pilots would be in contact with a Ground Control Site and the radar controllers would provide vectors. For some reason this crew was further east than they should have been and hit the top of a ridge. I\'m not sure if they had taken off from Cam Ranh or Nha Trang. I was in A-models out of Naha and we were operating out of Cam Ranh while the E-models from CCK were flying out of Nha Trang, which was just up the coast a bit. They often picked up loads at Cam Ranh. I don\'t recall how I found out about the accident and who was on the airplane, but I probably got the names from one of the other 776th guys. The pilot, Captain Graf, had been a lieutenant in the 779th. The loadmaster was Billy Clayton who went through the basic loadmaster course with me at the FTD at Pope when we both cross-trained. (There were so many cross-trainees at Pope that ATC set up a special AFSC course on base since we couldn\'t get in to the school at Sheppard for awhile.) I was pretty shook up about it because so many of the crew were people I knew. I didn\'t know it had been written off as a combat loss until I started working on my book and came across the list of C-130 losses at the USAF museum. I suppose they used the premise that since the place where they hit was under VC control that they could have been shot down. The VC owned those mountains which is why the bodies were never recovered.
  14. I assume you know that Puff the Magic Dragon was an AC-47, not a C-130? They started calling them that because of the song. We used to see them working over the mountains just west of Cam Ranh at night - of course we saw the damn things working at all of the other bases every night on night cargo missions!
  15. That airplane flew into the top of the mountain just west of Cam Ranh while trying to go to Phan Rang. At the time the E-models were operating out of Nha Trang. How it got reported as being shot down is beyond me unless it was so the survivors could get triple indemnity on their GI insurance. I knew most of the crew when we were at Pope. Most of them were in the 779th except for the loadmaster, who had been in 3rd Aerial Port. Right after it happened something came out in the FCIF about keeping track of position because the GCI sites did not take terrain into consideration. I think I was flying out of Cam Ranh when it happened but don\'t remember if I was there that night for certain or not.
  16. Since it is an A-model, it\'s probably not going to be worth anything for parts since they are not generally compatible with the later models. You might want to consider donating it to a museum if it can be moved and reassembled. The Air Force doesn\'t even have a C-130 on the parade ground at Lackland.
  17. Bob, Look on the photo page off of my home page at www.sammcgowan.com/home.html. There are several A-model photos on there but the tail numbers are probably not visible in them since some of them are in flight.
  18. When the loadmaster seats were first put in, they were on the left side of the cargo compartment just inside the crew entrance door. We sure as hell sat in them when we were going into one of those places where the bullets were flying all over the place! I was at Naha when they were put in. I left and went to MAC for a little over a year then went to Clark, where the seats were on the right side as Glenn said. I don\'t know if that is where they put them originally or if they had been moved. As for surviving crashes, there were probably more loadmasters who survived crashes than any other position. Unless I used the loadmaster seat, I normally stood up in the left paratroop door with a seat built around me. We were more concerned about getting in and getting back out again before they could zero in on us than we were with crashes. If you were on the ground more than about five minutes, you were dead meat so most loadmasters were at the back of the airplane for landing at forward fields. Some guys would strap in on the chain boxes, reasoning that they might stop a bullet.
  19. When we were in San Antonio a few weeks ago for the TCTAA Convention, we went out to Lackland to tour a C-5, then went to the basic training base and visited the museum. It\'s in the same building it was in when I was there in the summer of 1963. They have turned it into a museum for basic training and one of the things they are trying to do is collect all of the BMTS flight photos. This is probably where these came from. They are looking for accounts of basic training experiences and photographs. I\'ve got the form somewhere but don\'t remember now what I did with it. I was at Lackland in the 3726th BMTS from July 4-August 5, 1963. I\'ve got my flight picture somewhere, or at least I think I still do. We were only there for five weeks then went to Amarillo for jet mech school. A whole bunch of us from Amarillo went to TAC and MATS bases to work on C-130 flight lines. Guys were going to Sewart, Langley and Dyess as well as McGuire but everyone who got orders the week I did went to Pope. There were so many brand new flight line mechanics at Pope that there was an overage of 5-levels. Fifteen of us cross-trained to loadmaster in August 1964 with most of going to the 779th, although a few went to the other three squadrons as well.
  20. Don\'t take everything on this site as verbatim because it isn\'t. Joe Leeker is a German researcher and he mixes up apples, oranges and grapes and tries to come up with applesauce. His main mistake is lumping the CIA C-130 mission in with the U-2 mission and the Naha HIGH GEAR mission which were entirely different missions and not at all related. The U-2 mission was supported by 322nd Air Division with crews from Evereux while the HIGH GEAR mission was Air Force, not CIA. The C-130 mission over Tibet started in 1958 when Billie Mills, then a lieutenant and a brand new aircraft commander, went to Peterson Field, Colorado for what he thought was to take USAF Academy cadets on orientation flights. When he got there he was met by \"men in dark suits\" who told him he was there to work for them. After calling Sewart and talking to the wing commander, who told him to \"do what they tell you but don\'t let them kill you\" he went out and dropped Tibetans on drop zones in the Rockies at Camp Hale, Colorado. They flew at night and dropped on signal fires. The CIA men liked his work and had him and his crew sent to Japan where they trained civilian pilots from Civil Air Transport (CAT), an airline that Claire Chennault started after World War II and financed with US government loans, which eventually led to it be taking over directly by the CIA. At the time the 483rd wing at Ashyia was recieving its own C-130s, but the 21st TCS, which had been at Tachikawa, was also recieving it\'s own airplanes. The 21st had formerly been part of the 374th TCW and after the French Indo-China War had been responsible for providing aircraft and crews for classified missions along the lines of the C-119s \"loaned\" to France before they were ran out of Vietnam. Air America itself had nothing to do with the C-130 mission, which was operated through an Air Force/CIA office at Kadena with civilian pilots employed by CAT. CAT and Air America had a connection but were actually two different companies. The C-123s that Air America operated came from Pope. Carl Wyrick told me a few weeks ago how he had taken the first one to Udorn, where the CIA had it\'s Southeast Asia covert operations office, and trained the pilots to fly them. This would have been around 1962, which is about the same time that E Flight was set up within the 21st at Naha. Previously, the C-130s had been used exclusively in support of the operation in Tibet but after the Laotian Civil War ended, JFK decided to continue supporting the Laotian government clandestinely. That\'s when Air America\'s role in SEA really took off. Bird Air was a company set up by Bird and Sons to service an Air Force contract - not CIA - to operate USAF C-130s on missions into Cambodia. They hired recently retired C-130 crewmembers and reservists to fly airplanes provided by the (new) 374th Tactical Airlift Wing on missions into Phonh Penh, Cambodia after the US had officially pulled out of the Vietnam War except in the advisory role.
  21. Today is Saturday, November 22. Monday, November 24, is the 44th anniversary of the greatest C-130 mission ever flown. There is a page about it on my web site at www.sammcgowan.com/dragon.html but if you want to read an indepth account of the mission, go to http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resources/csi/odom/odom.asp#map7. There are a few discrepancies in the article. For one thing, it doesn\'t mention the 778th TCS although most of the crews involved were from it. It also gives the impression tht Col. Burgess Gradwell of 322nd Air Division was flying the lead airplane. Actually, he was the mission commander and was riding in the lead, but Capt. Warren \"Huey\" Long was the AC and Gradwell was probably riding behind him on the bunk. The article doesn\'t mention the names of the crews but in addition to Huey Long, some of them were Jim Ostrem (who is a member of the TCTAA), B.J. Nunnally, Major Tomlinson, Captain Gonzales and Mack Secord that I can think off of the top of my head. John Coble was Huey\'s navigator. He later went to UPT and became a C-130 pilot. He was with Lockheed for a number of years after he retired.
  22. SamMcGowan wrote: Actually guys, I DID make an announcement about the new domain where I moved my stuff. It\'s in the ANNOUNCEMENTS section as NEW DOMAIN.
  23. Actually, the MC-130E is an E-model with a few modifications. I was at Pope in the 779th when we first got them. They only thing different about them was the Fulton system on the nose and terrian following radar that came off the B-52s. There was no radio operators station or any of the other stuff that was added later. They started showing up at Pope in the summer of 1965. Now, I doubt if they have the time or endured thr kind of punishment the other E-models did in SEA since they weren\'t being used in the crash and dash role out in the boonies. Bowers says there were only about 15-20 missions over North Vietnam and most of those were flown by the DUCK HOOK C-123s. The Stray Goose guys picked up the FACT SHEET mission that the Naha A-models had been flying for several years so they could maintain proficiency operating in hostile airspace. They flew conventional missions supplying SOG teams at the forward fields on the Laotian border.
  24. Sorry guys, I thought I put a notice on here that AOL was shutting down their web hosting service and I purchased my own domain. The home page was already posted above, but I\'ll put it up again - www.sammcgowan.com/home.html. I\'ve shifted most of the stuff from my other pages to the site. If I\'ve missed any, it\'s too late now since AOL shut down the sites on October 31. There is also a lot of stuff on the TCTAA site as well. AND - we want everyone to join!
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