TDY To Tyndal AFB, FL
While TDY to Florida in 1966, we had a few missions to fly the drones. mission complete, We did have a dirty mess in front of hangar. Line Chief at Tyndall said you are not going anywhere until this grease is cleaned up. The good old Sgt Latona said to us, ‘fill up the bug with gas’, we did so and he said to us, ‘open the fuel dump valve and drag it across the front of the hangar’, we did and when completed he said, he said ‘call the Fire Dept. for we have a fuel spill’. The Fire Dept .cleaned up the dirty old mess and then we could leave and return to Davis Monthan AFB. Latona's famous saying was "give me a cigarette".
Bien Hoa Thanksgiving 1965
Supply troop Jim Hart was running down the sidewalk when he saw me he threw me a boneless turkey and said "keep this on ice until I get back, chasing him was the kitchen cop. He never caught him. Later he went back to the dining hall and said "do you have any cooking oil" dumb dumb, turkey tasted very good cooking in a popcorn popper with the oil.
Stateside California Date Unknown
TDY to Point.Magu, Naval Air Station launching an H-Bird from a C-130. The recovery chute was unable to open instead of landing in the water, it landed on San Nick Island. The good old 100 ft parachute opened up and the wind pulled the drone across the island. Navy personnel tied a rope to their jeep to stop the drone. Unable to stop the drone they decided to cut the ties. Later it finally stopped.
I was on a Combat Dawn take-off out of Osan in the fall/winter of '73. We were at rotation speed when the #4 prop uncoupled. The A/C told the crew "We're going" and he continued a very long slow climb out to clear the hills west of the base. The LCO started the R model on the left wing (right wing empty). We declared an emergency on the VHF, feathered the prop, and cleaned out my undies. As we circled toward the pattern the mission commander (OL Commander on the ground) called over secure voice to ask if we could make launch altitude... The A/C (Capt Morgan) told him that he lost one engine and wasn't about to give one away! We landed safely after about fifteen minutes of flight time, and nothing was ever said about Morgan refusing to complete the mission.
The Helicopter Flight From Hell
In the summer of 1973, I was asked to fly with the back-up CH-3 Helicopter from Davis Monthan AFB Az. To NAS Point Mugu to Support a AQM34R Drone Flight Test and Recovery Mission.
Hell # 1: When we took off from Davis Monthan we hit turbulent air and I started to get air sick, so I sat by the side door until we landed at the Marine Base at Yuma Az for refueling. I was so sick from the turbulence that I was glad to be on the ground for awhile.
Returning to Bien Hoa Vietnam from Da Nang Vietnam probably in 1965 or later, i was in the cockpit of the C-130, I can't remember the AC Comander but he was about to crap his pants including me.
Osan AB Korea, Fall of 1974. I believe it was SSgt Scott and I that were asked to fly with the back-up CH-3 Helicopter for one of the AQM34R Drone Recovery’s, we did the flight and returned to Osan AB late in the afternoon but instead of landing the Air Crew decided they had enough fuel to do a few touch and go’s with some auto rotation landings.
So we did a few touch and go’s but when we started up to do the auto rotation the power panel behind the Pilot started shorting out and filled the helicopter with smoke and all I could see was the pilot’s hand reach up and hit the crash alarm and then cut the power; we dropped like a rock.
The Louie Marazo Story
Louie Marazo and I were on Pre-flights. Tank was running the shop back then.
Anyway Louie and I had completed one bird and we were just about finished with the second. I was on my butt, I guess some of you guys could say not again, putting the screws in the belly panel when here comes this car driving up. I don’t remember the car, but I knew who was in it, it was Major Stewart. Yes, the same Major Stewart from the states at DM.
I yelled out to Louie to let him know the Major had pulled up. By the time the Major had gotten out of his car I had finished with the belly panel and Louie had just pulled the safety pin from the pylon.
Take a guess what happened next. The Major walked right up to the bird, ducked under the wing so he could get close enough to Louie to talk and Louie let him have it with ALL GUNS BLAZING.
Yes, Louie suggested in very stong terms that he should get out from under the wing and away from us. The Major was shocked, but he didn’t say a thing and just turned around and walked towards his car and got in it and walked away.
After the Major had left Louie started talking to me and I could see he was shaking. He told me he thought he had blown his career and knew an Article 15 or worse was waiting for me.
We drove the tugs back into the shop and Tom was there and Louie and I told him what happened and Tom burst into laughter. I then started laughing but poor Louie, wasn’t laughing.
NOTHING WAS EVER SAID!
I guess the Major knew he may have been iin the wrong and had it coming. For once he did the right thing and left us 44s alone to do our job.
What GREAT memories.
SSgt Kim A. VanLandingham