I arose at 2 this morn after attempting to sleep several hours.
We showed at 2:30 ayem and finally blocked out at 6 due to some
maintenance and loading delays.
battle unit (130 troops with all their gear). Our
destination was Dong Ha
from the DMZ
. Flying that close to North Vietnam was not
Speaking of comfort, our C-130E could carry up to 92
, but combat
loading did not offer such luxuries as seats. The loadmaster
five empty 463L
, covering the whole cargo floor. Next he
stretched cargo tiedown straps across the pallets, acting as 7'-wide
seat belts. Theoretically everyone would sit in rows facing
and slip their legs under the straps so they have lap
belts--uncomfortable but organized.
In an actual combat environment it
was both uncomfortable and disorganized. The loadmaster opened
the rear cargo door and lowered
the ramp so the troops could enter carrying all their weapons and
equipment. They were instructed to walk forward as far as they
could and keep standing. As the airplane filled up, they were
told to move farther forward and pack in. When no more troops
could stand on the five pallets, the loadmaster closed the ramp, the
troops sat down, and we took off for Dong
There was a traffic overload at Dong Ha, so I ended up holding for over
hour. When I finally got my turn, I shot a GCA approach and the
landing went well. But with all that holding we didn't have
enough gas to make it back to Tan Son Nhut. All the C-130's were
in the same situation and most stopped at Danang
extensive delays there. Phu Cat
was another 120 miles beyond
Danang so I opted to go there and avoid the delays. We had just
enough fuel for one approach and I was watching the fuel gauges
closely. When we landed I shut down
the outboards immediately--I didn't want to run out of fuel before we
were parked. Close.
this messing around put us 10 hours into our crew day,
so I told
mother there was no way we could make it up and back again in 4 more
hours, so they terminated us. I'm just as glad. I was
pretty tired. Tomorrow we have a 0945 show--quite civilized.
Brake Problems, February 2,
We had a civilized departure time, but we had some problems
with brakes and anti-skid, but got it resolved. So I leaped off
for Dong Ha and this time there was no holding. I even made a
pretty good max effort landing.
The antiskid circuit breaker on one wheel popped out so we planned to
get that fixed at Tan Son Nhut
I later learned at
to land at short fields without antiskid. We couldn't get it
The Red Rabbit, February
The day's frag called for two roundtrips to Bien
has been replaced by the
latest Playboy playmate. We actually completed our whole frag!
The Red Rabbit was easy to spot on the ramp--on its crew door steps was
. The navigator's station
had the centerfold of the Playboy playmate of the month under a sheet
of plexiglas. But the best thing about that airplane was that
everything worked! I think its tail number was 64-17680.
When I flew The Red Rabbit I could expect to finish all the legs of my
frag and bring everyone home without breaking down somewhere. The
crew chief did an amazing job. While I was at CCK
to staff sergeant--well deserved.