War Stories

C-130 Problem
Bien Hoa South Vietnam 1967

C-130 returning from Da Nang Vietnam with two drones to recover and turn around for another mission.AETC right side with LRAFB behind_640x488

Aircraft in landing position, all lights for gears down and locked were lit up guess what?? lights don’t always give you a good indication.

C-130 landed without the nose gear in down position. Nose radome smashed, including equipment in radome.

Only one runway so the runway was shut down for 3 hours until big bertha arrived to lift the aircraft and hand crank nose gear to the down position.

This was a busy runway unlike da nang all flight were sent to other sights until runway was returned to normal activity.

Wilbur Wells

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.

Combat Dawn

I was on a Combat Dawn take-off out of Osan in the fall/winter of ’73. We werdc-130e Combat Dawn launch_1_640x480e 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.

Dave ‘Lethal’ Matthews

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.

Jolly Green with R modelHell # 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.

Hell # 2: When we took off from Yuma my job was to be on the intercom and watch the aft tail area to make sure that everything was OK on take off, well as soon as we left the runway we were back in to the turbulent air again, the helicopter shook so bad that three cans of oil that someone had put in the ramp door trough for storage got thrown out the back dropping on some orange pickers picking oranges in a field at the end of the runway. I got on the intercom and relayed this to the pilot, for a few minutes there was dead silence, then he came on and said he would talk to me about this when we landed at Nas Point Mugu, so I went back to hugging the side door trying not to get sick again.

Hell # 3: CH-3 Helicopters do not have Navigation Equipment and have to fly by sight recognition, so we were following the highway from Yuma up over the mountains all the way to the coast. As soon as we started climbing towards the pass we went in to thick fog and lost sight of the highway. The Pilot asked me to put on my safety harness and asked me to put my head out the door and see if I could see the highway, I replied via intercom that I could see parts of it now and again through the fog. Just then a bunch of rocks sticking out from the side of a mountains went right past my face, I jumped back from fright and yelled over the Intercom “we are to close to the mountains”, no reply came back over the intercom. Just then we broke out of the fog and continued to fly to the coast and then up the coast to Nas Point Mugu.

When we landed the pilot and co-pilot took me aside and said to me, you did not see anything “DO YOU UNDERSTAND” and I replied “YES SIR“ and never told anyone until now. We had a good AQM34R Test Flight and Recovery and not another word was said, the Angles were flying with us that Day.

Ray Nairn

Toilet Paper

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.

Flying peacefully we encountered a near miss. In front of us was an F4C with the name of USS Constallation on the vertical fin, that’s how close it was to us.

Later the C-130 crew found out where the constallation was located. so on the next mission the same AC Commander approached the ship at sea.

Lowered the landing gear as to land on the flight deck and all he could see was a flag man waiving him off, the rear deck opened up on the C-130 and threw out 3 rolls of

Toilet paper. we did get the last laugh.

Wilbur Wells

Angel Flight

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.

When we hit the ground I was thrown around and when I got up off the floor I headed to the door to egress the helicopter, but when I reached the door the Air Crew was already standing in the field off the runway far away from the helicopter yelling at us to get out and run which we did as fast as we could.

After the fire trucks attended to the helicopter the Deputy Commander for Maintenance gave us a ride back to the barracks and told us to report to him in the morning. The next day we reported in and were asked to write a report on what we saw and what we thought might have happened. That is as close to being with the angles that I got during the war.

Ray Nairn

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.dc130e and aqm-34m_640x421

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.


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