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Thread: Got talking to a chap who was a C-130 maintenance officer during the Vietnam War

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    Administrator ianp's Avatar
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    Default Got talking to a chap who was a C-130 maintenance officer during the Vietnam War

    He was in charge of C-130 Spectre gunships and Blindbat flare ships, largely based out of country in such places as Okinawa.

    Apparently there were also 'civilian contractor' (CIA operated) aircraft with no camouflage and removable insignia. He doesn't remember seeing any sterile Benrus watches.

    IAP
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    Senior Member DaveH's Avatar
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    I was in II Corps from 5/66 to 5/67. There were Air America aircraft all over the place. I asked what were they? An airline was the reply. There's no airlines in a war. They were used to haul contraband and personnel to places of interest outside of RVN. Most were DC3s with original recip engines. At that time I never saw any more modern aircraft marked "Air America". There were unmarked French single engined aircraft. They reminded me of the Fiesler Storch as they had turbo prop engines and would land at about 30 mph and reverse the prop and stop in about 20 feet. The French were still very active at that time. They ran most of the municipal services like water end electricity. They also ran rubber plantations and the huge tea farm near Pleiku called Catecka. You would be out somewhere and here would come a black Citroen with a Frenchman in a black suit alongside a beautiful French or Viet woman. Just bopping down the same road that we would get shot at an hour later.
    The gunships were C47s with three 7.62 miniguns each. There were C130s everywhere and I took many flights in them at the cost of my hearing. I can't imagine any gunship mission out of Okinawa, it was just too far. The B52 arc light missions were out of Okinawa and once in awhile You would spot them going over at 30K feet. No sight, no sound, just a world of hurt from nowhere. When I got there there were about 150K GIs in country, when I left there were over 300K. A year later they had made Vietnam into US west, wooden barracks with AC and flushing toilets, PXs and the like. We lived under canvas and sand bags with thousands of rats. In spring of 67 a bubonic plague outbreak killed all of our pet rats in about 2 weeks along with a few thousand Viets. There was always a lot of shifty activity going on in that country. I was so glad to get out of there in one piece.

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    Watched you guys over there on TV almost every night. My Dad would watch CBC Evening News, then would catch CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Watched the whole country go down the drain on TV just after I turned 13yrs old. 9 years later sailed past in the South China Sea as a part of the 4th Canadian Destroyer Squadron on Westpac84, along with two rotating USN Replenishment Ships/Oilers. We sailed south from the P.I. the Indonesia, then sailed closer when traveling north from Thailand to Hong Kong.

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    Pretty sure SR-71's & U2's flew out of Okinawa in those days.

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    Senior Member DaveH's Avatar
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    B52s flew out of Guam and Okinawa. I would think that gunship flights would originate out of Saigon or Chu Lai. I flew many flights in 130s, 123s and CV2. I never took a 130 flight that didn't start with a dirty fuel filter being changed. Sit there sideways while they rev the living snot out of the engines then they'd pore the pitch into the props and off we go. It would accelerate like a dragster. Those things would do 300 on two engines. The C123s were like a piper cub compared to the Hercs. It was mind bending to drive a 13,000 lb truck into a C130, close the door and take off.

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    Administrator ianp's Avatar
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    He was in PACAF and was TDY'd in country.

    IAP
    Order of the Invisible Ethereal Electron with Crossed Wizard's Wands

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    Senior Member DaveH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Morritt View Post
    Pretty sure SR-71's & U2's flew out of Okinawa in those days.
    True Drew. My buddy Mike was on Okinawa inbound for Chu Lai with the Marine airwing and he saw a blackbird going vertical into a fog bank very discreetly. Mike wrenched J79s on F4s for a six month deal around '70 or '71. I had been back and out for three years by then. It was rocket alley with 122mm Russian rockets coming in all the time. US was gathering up their toys and leaving by then. A lot of guys die needlessly when an army decides to leave.

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