Gold Flow: August 3, 1971
legs, an eye examination,
a pregnant woman, an alcoholic, two addicts and sundry others.
Drug testing had become a serious thing. Before leaving Thailand
even TDY types like us
got "gold flow" tests (with two ID checks, a frisk, and a cop who
accompanied you to the bathroom while you filled the bottle). Our
flow" patients were being sent to Cam
for observation. I
liked that choice of destination--if you can't play by the rules in
Thailand, you get a turn in Vietnam.
were zipping along ahead of schedule but that came to a halt at our
fourth stop, Korat. As we taxied out for takeoff, the tower
that thre was smoke coming from our #1 engine! So we shut it
right down and taxied back in. Turned out to be an internal oil
leak, which called for an engine change. Sigh. In our six
missions here we've brought back usable airplanes to U-Tapao just twice!
So our patients
were offloaded and five hours later an airplane arrived to take them on
Bangkok and U-Tapao. At about the same time a C-130B from Cam
Ranh arrived for us and the two gold flows.
The B-model wasn't pressurized and our loadmaster Arne Suvatne
apparently had a
cold. Descending into U-Tapao he got an ear block that was so
painful the flight nurse had the AC climb back up to reduce the
pressure. Like the bends in reverse. We eventually came
down gradually but Arne's ear never did clear. I know that must
have been painful. We whisked him off to the hospital where a doc
worked on him for a while.
And that was my last mission in Thailand. Note to self:
There was a reason they told us not to fly with a
I headed for Pattaya Beach, about a 45-minute drive
from U-Tapao. Pattaya looked like a really nice beach
resort. We had a relaxing dinner then a couple of beers while we
listened to bands at the Nipa Lodge and Pattaya Palace. Then to
bed blissfully unaware that at 9 ayem we would be jangled out of bed by
a call from U-Tapao saying, "Surprise--you're going back to CCK at
noon!" So we packed up and checked out and caught a cab back to
U-Tapao. Never even set foot on the beach, but such are the
vagaries of the AF.
MARS: August 7, 1971
Communication with loved ones back home was more difficult back
then. At CCK you had to go to the central telephone office in
Taichung to make an international call. MARS
filled the gap. A radio
operator at the base would make contact with an amateur radio operator
back in the US, who would "patch through" a phone call to the
destination. There were long lines at the MARS station and
connections were poor, but it was better than nothing.
back at CCK now (at the MARS station). Funny--upon hearing that
my next assignment is Pope, a guy here in the MARS station offered to
give me the address of a good-looking blonde in Fayetteville. I
told him thanks, but that I'd be bringing my own.