Billy was a loadmaster with the 345th TAS.  This is his story...

At Nha Trang we capped off the brake line for the left front main gear, but on landing at Bien Hoa it locked up, rubbed through all the tread and overheated the wheel and brake.  When we stopped for an engine-running offload of our 130 combat-loaded Vietnamese, we had this conversation over the intercom...

  • "Pilot - Load."
  • "Go pilot."
  • "Jump out and inspect the left main gear and see what you can find."
  • "Load - Pilot.  I didn't see anything.  Give me 5 minutes and I will have them off the plane."

But within a minute the left front main tire blew, injuring several passengers.  It also set the gas turbine compressor on fire on the opposite side of the airplane.

I ran out the back of the plane with my headset on and it jerked me to the ground. I pulled out my .38 because I thought one of the passengers had thrown a grenade.  When I realized the blast was from the outside of the plane I thought we had taken a round.

Both wheel wells were ablaze when an inebriated GI happened by on his way back from the club.  He grabbed the large fire bottle we used during engine starts and turned it onto both flaming wheel wells, putting out the fire.

I ran back up the ramp into the airplane and fought my way upstream through the troops running out the back and down the ramp.  I yelled to the rest of the crew and they T- handled all 4 engines.  Meanwhile the fire truck arrived and blasted us with foam as we all tried to exit through the crew door.  What a day!

The airplane sat on the ramp for a long time awaiting parts, but it was repaired and returned to service several months later.


Vietnam and Cambodia


Taiwan (CCK)



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