February 5, 1970

Planes that took GI's home from Vietnam were called "freedom birds".  Back in my C-141 days we were the freedom bird for a plane-load of GI's leaving from Tan Son Nhut.  As we lifted off the runway and I raised the gear handle we heard a loud rumble from the rear of the airplane.  We wondered if there was a landing gear problem, but the indicators looked OK.  The AC asked the loadmaster if he could see anything wrong.  The loadmaster reported back that the sound was OK--it was a plane-load of GI's stamping their feet with joy! 

C-130 crews were also glad to leave Vietnam, even though we knew we'd be back.  I was busy using the rudder pedals so I never stamped my feet.  This particular day we lifted off as usual, I called for gear up as usual, and the copilot raised the gear handle as usual.  But the nose gear didn't make its usual comforting clunk.  And the nose gear indicator light stayed on.  Uh oh.

The first thing I wanted to know was whether that nose gear was part way up.  If it was all the way down, we could land normally, otherwise we were in trouble.  So we put the gear handle back down and all three green lights came on.  "Three in the green"  meant that all three gears were down and locked--good!

I wasn't about to fly to CCK with the gear down or press my luck raising it again.  So I broke off the departure and made a VFR landing to see what was wrong with the nose gear.  I parked the airplane and left the engines running.

The flight engineer (who shall remain unnamed) climbed out the crew door to examine the nose gear.  He returned to the flight deck looking sheepish and holding something redCan you guess what it was and who bought the beer that night?

May 27, 1971

It took us about 2 hours to fly from Tan Son Nhut to Quang Tri and another 2 hours back.  No fuel was available at Quang Tri, but that was OK because we had over 5 hours of fuel onboard. 

We were a few minutes from TSN when Saigon Tea called us.  They asked whether we had enough fuel to turn around and go to back up to Nha Trang, pick up a load, and return to TSN (about a 3-hour round trip).  We didn't.  Nha Trang often had no fuel available, but the load must have been pretty important because they told us to go there anyway.  Cam Ranh Bay was about 15 miles south of Nha Trang, so we could stop there for fuel if necessary.

As we approached Cam Ranh Bay we asked their ALCE to find out whether Nha Trang had fuel available.  They said yes, so we flew on and descended into the traffic pattern at Nha Trang

Nha Trang ALCE called us to ask what cargo we had to offload.  We told them that we were empty and that Saigon Tea had sent us to pick up a load for Tan Son Nhut.  ALCE replied that they had no load for Tan Son Nhut.  Saigon TEA had sent us on a 500-mile wild goose chase! 

So I broke out of the Nha Trang traffic pattern and headed back to Cam Ranh Bay for fuel (which by now was a bit low).  Everybody (including me) complained about slow service at Cam Ranh Bay so I was ready for a lot of ramp time.  But the fuel truck arrived before the props stopped turning!  And aerial port had a load ready for us before refueling was complete!  It was the best service I'd ever seen at CRB.

At the end of the day I wrote a complimentary mission report on service at Cam Ranh Bay.  I also wrote a mission report on Saigon Tea.


Vietnam and Cambodia


Taiwan (CCK)



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